Monday, May 24, 2010

Lost Finale Rant

While I'm not much for blogging about TV shows (or much of anything, really), I had been a regular follower of Lost. And like many other fans, I sat down for the 19-hour finale on Sunday, hoping to finally have all the questions the show had created answered once and for all.

Although with the amount of questions I wanted answered, I pretty much knew that it wasn't going to happen. Too bad I didn't realize they weren't going to answer anything. Even up to the last ten minutes of the show, I was expecting some miracle answer to just fall out of the show and explain things. For example:

* What the hell was the island?
* If this damn light in the middle of the island was so important to all these teams, and had the power to warp people through time, teleport people (yeah, the Black Rock was forced 2 miles inland cause of a bad storm. Right.), make Richard Alpert live forever but no one else, and also house the Black Smoke that only came out when Jacob threw the Man in Black's unconscious body into the Indiana Jones temple it was in, and simultaneously take people off the island while forcing others to stay, why didn't they explain it more?
* What the hell was the significance of keeping Jack and co alive if the Black Smoke/Locke Monster needed them to kill each other or die (come on, just arm a good shot vigilante early on and execute them all before they know what's going on)
* What the hell was the point of season 6's 'flash-sideways' purgatory storyline?
* Explain the polar bear from season 1.
* Why was Charles Whitmore also apparently kind of immortal (after all, he was on the Black Rock), but could die when Alpert couldn't? They both made contact with the Smoke Monster.
* Electromagnitism... okay, Desmond could withstand it and no one else could (except apparently Jack in the clutch moment of re-corking the sinking island), but what was it's significance in the overall story?
* Why did they reveal the Smoke Monster early, but not Jacob until around season 3?
* What was the significance of Hurley talking with the ghosts in the previous seasons?
* If Ben could never see Jacob (also never explained), how the hell could he follow his orders and talk with him? Why did Locke see him once and never again?
* Remember when the Others stole all the children in first season? What the hell happened to them?

Some of these things no doubt can be explained by watching the episodes over again; and overall, the show did have a very intriguing concept in the beginning and the two-to-three seasons they spent setting up a showdown with the Others looked really promising (and seemed to be what the show was all about until about season 4), but I personally found when it started getting into the 'main' plot of the Jacob/Man in Black god like storyline, the show really puttered along. They had all these mysteries and questions throughout that had audiences all over trying to guess the next move, but then Jacob took over and those questions seemed to be sidelined for whatever the hell happened in the next three seasons. Remember when Charlie died in season 3 (I think it was, at least), and some arctic base picked up some activity? That looked like it was going to be a mainstay in the series (and followed the story arc up to that point), but it was totally forgotten when the show returned next season.

I also don't totally understand the point of season 5's time skipping adventure. Sure, it was a cool way to integrate all the stuff from the past into the existing story, but it just seemed like a half-hearted way to approach it. The show in the final two seasons really took this right turn into the paranormal, which is a confusing-as-hell move when the audience was in a comfortable groove with the "we're watching a survival show set on this mysterious island". Instead, the show felt like it was "Jack and the gang are doing this.... NOW THIS HAPPENS!"

Now, for season 6. I don't understand the point of the flash-sideways things at all, particularly since I don't care about anything that happens off the island. I know a lot of blogs were saying it was this message that they were all dead in the initial plane crash (which is wrong, btw.. Juliette was in the church with them and she was never in the plane. Same with Desmond, and Penny. So get off that horse, it's been debunked.), but I do remember reading around the start of season 2, Evangeline Lily said in an interview if it was purgatory she "would be so mad, I'd kick a hole through my TV." I know that the producers kept the cast in the dark, but apparently they kept themselves in the dark too. The flash-sideways seemed to be this attempt to give the show a happy ending, but this show was never meant to have a happy ending. If they all died trying to stop the Locke Monster or following Jacob's untold plan (it was untold because the writer's didn't have one), I could accept that because so many characters had been killed throughout the show (some that I liked, such as Boone, Charlie, Echo and Libby) so it wasn't like they were afraid of killing off characters. But instead, they erased a bunch of characters that weren't memorable enough to get in the church and pretended like the ending they gave was good enough. Where was Michael, by the way? He played a pretty critical role in Jacob's "plan" - what with blowing up Whitmore's boat and separating Jin and Sun for the rest of the damn series, yet he wasn't there. So that ending? Not. Good. Enough.

I also didn't like how when the storyline went all Jacob-insane, a lot of the characters started acting in ways their character wouldn't. For example, Sawyer. He was the con-man that went straight, but then vowed revenge on Jack (who he blamed for killing Juliette), but then all was forgiven? Yeah, right. He made his name being this untrustworthy, savvy con artist that only thought of himself, and when all goes to shit, everyone goes back to what they're best at - but he became this afterthought character that always had these plans in season 6 that got people killed more often then not. If anything, the only character that really stayed true to his roots was Ben - from his introduction he always seemed to have the upper hand on others because you never knew where his allegiances were - and true to the end, he was that way (him shooting Whitmore pretty much sold it).

Speaking of Whitmore, what was his significance? He was the leader of these expeditions and experiments with Desmond, and really seemed to be a pain in the Locke Monster's ass, but that war that was supposed to be coming never really happened. And hell, the war was what I was predicting from season 2 on - the Locke/Whitmore war wasn't what I was expecting, but I would have took it.

And remember that water that turned Sayid evil at the start of season 6? Did we just forget about that and Sayid went good again?

Like I said, the show seemed to really lose its focus around season 5 on. It felt like the writers and producers realized that they'd created so many questions that the audience wanted answers for, they knew they couldn't answer them. And sadly, that created the "NOW THIS IS HAPPENING!" mentality the show started to follow. Rather than being intriguing, it became frustrating to watch. As much as it pains me to say it, it was a revelation of poor story writing rather than some master writing.

When the show started, I thought JJ Abrams was some kind of genius our generation had never seen before (but badly needed in the world of shitty reality TV shows). After watching how Lost played out, I'm not so sure now. He's still a great producer with a solid resume of shows, and is always looking to push the envelope either with story or with technology - that I can respect.

Overall, Lost bit off more than it could chew in the end. It is still a good show because it was the first of it's kind in the TV realm, and has created a whole knew genre of similar shows like V (which has a lot of potential) and FlashForward (which was like the poor man's Lost, and was recently not renewed for a season 2), so I'll remember it for that. But it terms of delivering on it's early season promises, it didn't and didn't seem interested in solving the mysteries it created - mysteries that made the show so intriguing and made me want to watch in the first place. But the finale tried so hard to make everything happy in a show that was never meant to have a happy ending.

1 comment:

litreofcola said...

Sidestepping the bulk of your rant for a moment, I read something last week that dovetails nicely with what you've said about the series being driven by NOW THIS HAPPENS! In a discussion on the nature of serial television:

"The payoff, with Lost, lies entirely in things happening, even when you have no idea what those things mean. Here is an example: In the first season, a number of storylines revolve around a locked hatch, which someone discovers in the jungle some distance inland from the cast’s beachside camp. A character named John Locke becomes obsessed with getting it open, and spends long nights looking helplessly at its tiny, darkened window. Near the season’s end, with everything falling to pieces (kidnappings, explosions, death), Locke runs to the hatch and pounds on it, screaming in existential anguish. And a light comes on. The first time I saw this scene, I literally got goosebumps all over my body. Its effect is magical. A few seasons later, we learn that this literal and metaphorical illumination was actually meaningless; the character who turned on the light explains that he was just going for a bathroom break. But this does nothing to diminish the moment. The important thing is that something happened. The important thing is that a light went on.

While this is going on, Lost also dismantles (or at least ignores) the boundaries separating serial television’s well-established collection of genres. A typical episode may begin with an emergency medical procedure, like E.R. in a jungle hut. But then someone will discover a bomb, or a computer station, or a plane in a tree, and lead Jack and his still-recovering patient on a police-style chase. Then someone will be interrogated and tortured, à la 24, until a creature made of thick smoke bursts out of the ground and interrupts everything. Then, flashing variously forward and backward, we spend time with the Korean mob or African drug-runners. Then everybody time-travels, gets sick in the process, and needs Jack to put the gun down and become a doctor again. By now, even casual television viewers are more or less familiar with the sets of possible plot twists that belong to each particular genre, but Lost keeps things suspenseful by trading one set of narrative rules for another five or six times per episode. Lost provides the delirious feeling of watching serial television swallow itself whole."