Sunday, June 6, 2010

LOST In Thought

So, how about that final episode of LOST? That was... interesting.

So all this last season we were led to believe that the characters were still on the island, but were also somehow living in some alternate reality where Flight 815 never crashed. But then at the last minute we find out that it's not really an alternate reality at all, but some sort of heavenly waiting room where time didn't exist and the souls of all the characters were hanging out until they all showed up and could move on into the afterlife together.

I would be lying if I said that's how I thought the series would play out when I watched the first episode six years ago. And so would the writers.

I thought that the first three seasons of the show were brilliant, but once they left the island and then spent all of Season 4 trying to get back, I felt the show kind of lost its way. For one thing I never quite bought the Oceanic 6's motivation for keeping the island a secret. They kept saying it was to protect their friends who were still on the island. Protect them from who? Charles Widmore? It seemed pretty safe from him, since Ben actually moved the island at the end of Season 3. Nobody would have been able to find it anyway, even if they'd known of its existence.

I also felt their reasons for returning to the island were a bit sketchy. I know they wanted to try and rescue the ones they left behind, but honestly, would any sane person deliberately try to go back to an island like that? By the time Season 5 rolled around with all the time travel shenanigans, it all got to be a bit much to keep track of. But I went along with it all, because it was LOST, and what else am I going to watch? Two And A Half Men? I'd rather chew on steel wool.

The show also had a frustrating way of setting up storylines and then just up and abandoning them for no good reason. The whole Ben vs. Widmore thing was a prime example. It looked like those two were heading for an epic confrontation for control of the island, and then POOF! Widmore completely disappears from the show for all of Season 5 (OK, we saw his younger self, but I don't count that) and he doesn't reappear until the tail end of Season 6, when he was disposed of in the most unsatisfying way possible.

They should have spent Season 6 wrapping up everything, but instead they troweled on even more mysteries and added yet more characters to keep track of. I came to the realization sometime in Season 5 that the creators weren't even going to attempt to answer all the questions they raised on the show. So I wasn't totally unprepared with the way it all ended.

Character development seemed to suffer in this final season as well. In the past, the characters were very well defined, and they drove the plot. This last season that all went out the window, and everyone was acting out of character, saying and doing things simply because the script demanded it. There was no real plot, and everyone was just running back and forth, teaming up and switching sides. I lost count of how many times Sawyer switched allegiances between Fake Locke and Widmore and anyone else who was standing around. After a while it was exactly like watching basketball players run up and down the court.

I had my own theories as to what was happening and how it would all play out. I assumed that since Desmond had the power to send his mind into the past or to other timelines, that he was going to use this ability to somehow transport everyone on the island into the non-plane crash dimension, where everyone would live happily ever after. I would have much preferred that to the new-age Kumbaya ending we got.

I didn't think much of the "spiritual" ending when I first saw it, but now that I've had a couple of weeks to think about it, I'm OK with it (I know the producers will breathe a collective sigh of relief knowing that I approve). The scenes of the cast reuniting in the church were very moving, and ultimately satisfying. After everything they'd been through, it was nice to see everyone happy and smiling (and clean!), even if it meant they were all dead.

The final scene on the island with Jack staggering back to the bamboo field where it all began was also quite touching. When Vincent the dog comes out of the jungle to lie down with him so that Jack wouldn't die alone... well, I think I got something in my eye.

It would have been nice if they'd have given us an ending that cleverly tied up all the loose plot threads, an ending so perfect that we'd all have slapped our collective foreheads and exclaimed, "Of course! Why didn't I see that coming?" But it wasn't to be.

It's not the ending I expected or wanted, but ultimately I'm satisfied and I can live with it.

So now what the heck am I going to watch on TV?

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