There has been much typing done in the online world since Sunday night’s grand finale to the 6 seasons of the show Lost. Most of what I’ve seen on Facebook and Twitter seems to show me that the general feeling is that people are let down with the ending. The question we are really wrestling with is “What did the ending owe us?” I’ll add my perspective to the growing conversation. Spoilers ahead.
First, Lost did NOT owe us all of the answers. If that is what you hoped for, you are watching the wrong show. Have you ever been more fascinated with a magic trick after
you knew how it was done? Or was there more of a letdown once you had the answer you were looking for? The genius of Lost was that they created a beautifully intriguing story that sucked you in and invited you to spend your own imagination filling in the holes. So we have to acknowledge that there are certain things in the story that just are the way they are (it is a special island, someone made rules for it a long time ago, the smoke was the natural result of Jacob throwing his brother into the light cave, etc.). I thought that their explanation of why the man-in-black had no name was brilliant (their mom thought she was having only one child so she only had one name chosen). It reminds me of why I liked that you never see V’s face in the movie V for Vendetta. There are certain mysteries that are more fun not to know.
Critics of the show, who only know bits and pieces of the story, often criticize it for being unrealistic. Yes, this is an unrealistic story of fiction. If you can’t move past that then you shouldn’t be watching the show. However, I believe that a story like this may create their own system of rules of logic as long as they follow the rules they create. For example, the smoke monster can take human form of dead people as long as they are consistent with it. And this is where I think Lost made their first big mistake. Lost broke their own rules, which then creates an incoherent storyline to follow as well as an unbelievable world. We’ve wondered since the first season how we kept seeing Christian appear to people, and they answered that in this season by telling us that it was smokey appearing as them. Which is fine, except Christian appeared to Jack off the island (and we know that the MIB can’t get off the island, kind of an important detail). Another head-scratcher is Jack’s son David in the flash sideways. Jack and Juliet didn’t have him on the island, which means he was born in this universe that we later learn is like purgatory. Which probably means that he is dead too. So two dead people made a dead child that is growing up in the afterlife?
Their second mistake was opening doors that they couldn’t do anything with. Like I mentioned above with the name of the MIB, you can “answer” things without giving an answer. It shows that you have an idea of what you are doing, but are choosing to omit the full explanation. There are a handful of things that the show put a lot of emphasis on only to completely abandon later. No hint at an explanation. What happened to Walt and why was he special, why was Aaron special, what was the significance of the numbers after all? Again, I’m not expecting answers to everything, but if you open a door and lead us through it, you can’t drop us off a cliff and say that we expected too much without throwing us a rope to get back.
Their second and a half mistake (not enough to be a third) was an overall anticlimactic feeling as things wrapped up. What was the point of the temple and the people guarding it? Why did Jacob start out being so powerful and intriguing and then we like him less and less the more we see of him? Not to mention that “the protector” title didn’t seem to transfer any of his powers. (When Sawyer asks Jack if he feels any different he tells him no.) Richard was apparently right when he thought that he had no purpose once Jacob died, even though they were leading us to believe something else. I know many of us who feel like a lot of the storylines were really just filler. That is a sad conclusion to have for a show as good as this.
I actually thought it was a great ending to the overall arch of the story throughout the six seasons. They sacrifice for one another, they don’t leave each other behind, and in the end they all die and move on together. I thought it was beautiful even if the final shot of Jack’s eye closing was a bit predicable. I just wish they would have patched up some of the gaping holes in the story once they got us there. I was initially planning on re-watching the entire series again once I knew the ending, but now I’m convinced that most of it was written as they went and only the big story arch was planned. I did like imagining Hurley being #1 with Ben his #2 and wondering how long they held those roles for.
Overall, the show was worth the time I invested in it and will be remembered as a groundbreaking use of storytelling with the media of TV. I loved it, just not as much as I expected I would.
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