Sunday, August 08, 2010

Lost Will Never Be Over

The ending of Lost was, to put it nicely, controversial. Recently producer Damon Lindelof released the five nastiest tweets he received:

"Hey, douche! Instead of backpacking in Europe or whatever the fuck you're doing, how about you give me six years of my life back?"

"My very first tweet. I started this account just to let you know how disappointed I am in you."

"Has anyone accused you of being an emotional terrorist yet? And research these words: closure and actual explanations."

"You suck. Please don't ruin Star Trek by ending it in Klingon purgatory."

"You're a dirty liar. You never knew, you made it all up, you betrayed us all. You betrayed me and I hope you rot, motherfucker."


The fanboys over at AICN responded by throwing more hate his way. (Though it is amazing that Lost can still get more people writing in than any other TV show.) Most of the stuff in the comments section is negative, though a lot of the same people keep writing in--don't they have anything better to do?

A lot of them bring up questions that weren't answered. Sometimes I think these questions were answered. Even more often they bring up stuff that doesn't make sense. Often I think there are explanations (sometimes pretty obvious) but they haven't tried to figure them out.

There are defenders, or course, though they seem to be outnumbered. One guy had a new interpretation of the sideways world which wasn't bad. It's what happens (for whatever reasons) to the characters on the island (or perhaps were on the island) when they're close to death. It's a chance for them to deal with their unresolved conflicts before they're gone. Thus Juliet's "it worked" before she died, and the final scene ending with Jack's eye closing. (Also, presumably, Desmond having a near death experience thanks to Widmore's experiment.)

A lot of people complain that Desmond, as the only guy to destroy the island, is the last guy Jacob should want there. Let's assume we accept Widmore's claim that Jacob told him to bring Desmond. Perhaps Jacob did see Des as a failsafe (just is MIB did) in that if MIB looked like he was going to succeed one way, by (eventually) killing all the candidates, then the only other way to destroy MIB was to make him mortal, which only Des could achieve.

Here's a comment from someone who agrees with me that The Incident created an alternate reality:

how does Widmore's 'device' connect Desmond's consciousness with his 'afterlife' self? not by any scientific means, that's for sure. knowing as we do that Desmond is able to survive shifting consciousness through time, which he survives because of his inner determination to see the woman he loves, it makes more sense that he might be connected to other temporal realities, but the Afterlife? why? and why big electromagnets? they just kill normal people, why not Desmond? clearly, what makes Desmond special is within him, and how what makes him special connects with the power of the island.

Another guy had the intriguing idea that they're stuck in a time loop, and when they walk into that white light at the end, they'll be right back to Jack opening his eye.

Here's one of the more colorful complaints:

Can someone explain to me (without the Maguffin of "The Rules") why Jacob just didn't show up around season two or three or four and say...

"Listen up, motherfuckers, 'cause this is gonna save your lives! You've seen some pretty weird shit go down on this island. Some crazy stuff. Now, I can't explain all of that shit or even most of it. But I can tell you this, I'm a 2,000 year old dude who's trying to stop my brother, the Smoke Monster, from leaving this island. You gotta help me and you gotta trust me. But be careful - that motherfucker is sneaky and he can look like anyone who's dead, but he can't kill, you and you and you and you and you."

"Oh, shit," Jack says. "I been seeing dead motherfuckers for weeks now."

"Yeah, that's my brother fucking with you. But, straight up now, I'm here to help."

"Coolio, Jacob, 'cause, honestly, the Smoke Monster is a vicious fuck and who the fuck is gonna trust somebody who appears as dead people? We're with ya, brother!"

"Did somebody say 'brotha,'" a voice calls out. Everyone turns to see Desmond approaching.

"Hello, brotha," he says as he approaches Jacob.

"Oh, yeah, fuck," Jacob says, "I forgot about him. Yeah, here's the deal. We gotta get this cat the fuck off the island and never, ever, ever, ever let this motherfucker back 'cause he's the only person who can destroy this place and Smokey just might try to use him to do that."

"Well, that's fine with me, brotha," Desmond says. "I got a girl named Penny I'm dying to see."

"Well, then bitches, let's get a motherfucking move on," Jacob says.

And, with that, three or four seasons of ridiculous mayhem and deaths get avoided.

Can someone explain WHY that didn't happen?


The explanations are easy enough. Above all, Jacob believed in free will so much that he hated the idea of explaining things too clearly, especially while the game was afoot. (After he died, he didn't mind so much.) I wouldn't be surprised if he believed the destruction of the light would meant he end of free will. (We don't get to see him reasoning out these thing, wisely or not, over that 2000 year period.) As we saw, Jacob was willing to ensure that people acted as they believed. (As for the Desmond stuff, that's explained above.)

Here's one of the more rational complaints:

A commonly missed point that apologists like to 'fill in the blanks' with, is that the ash ring WAS NOT broken when Locke and Ben went there, but was broken when Ilana went there. So Ben could not have been taking orders from MiB the whole time, since Smokey was free in the jungle. Just wanted to point that out and see if you can make it fit with the information given.

I hate the last 10 minutes, not for unanswered questions, but for the paper-thin game-changing twist that was DESIGNED to fool you thru deceit and no foreshadowing. If I ever re-watch seasons five and six (doubtful) then I'll just continue to see Lindelhof and Cuse shooting me the middle finger as they waste my time building up a sideways world that is DESIGNED to be a twist. It's their narrative shenanigans (underwater island is a lie) that I'll see, not as organic to the story or characters, but constructed with the purpose of being deceitful to the viewer. All the sole purpose of just going 'A HA! Look! the Twist!' Nothing clicks together, nothing is airtight, and nothing works. The truly awesome 'awakening' scenes (and it was really good up till the twist) hold no weight and no longer work. Not only do I see them giggling as they think they pulled a fast one on me, but I feel cheated out of an awesome idea they presented and could have went with, if they were not so dedicated to trying to con me. The Twist feels tacked on and doesn't jive with anything else in the series.


Ben never saw anything in the cabin. As to whether Locke heard MIB or Jacob is an open question, though I strongly suspect it was MIB. (But for all of MIB's "long con," both Jacob and MIB were working on the same people, and those people ultimately did what they wanted to do.)

I agree with the dramatic analysis of the final twist. As powerful as the moment might have been, it seems to rob the sideways world of much of its power. Going for both spirituality and surprise, the producers didn't bring the two worlds together into a dramatic finale, they forever split them asunder so that alta-world hardly means anything. This is why from the start (of the post-finale era) I've preferred to believe it's an alternate reality, and one that they need to work out their problems but then escape from, or the regular world is as finished as if MIB got off the island.

10 Comments:

Anonymous Lawrence King said...

Excellent post. As I have nothing to add to your comments, I will hijack this comment box to respond to your post from exactly one month ago about Lost's Greatest Hits. In that post you listed the greatest moment from each season.

1: Walkabout was great, but I think the launching of the raft in the season finale was greater. It was a moment of total triumph: the Oceanic folks were not only leaving the Island, they were doing it by their own ingenuity and hard work. Never again would the Oceanic folks achieve anything significant by their own power. All their successes (few as they were) would be handed to them by more powerful people playing an ancient game. And as the raft leaves the island, we see the ominous black smoke and ponder what Rousseau's warning might mean.

2. This is a tie. The opening scene is one of the greatest scenes ever. But equally great is the moment when the Island's apparent "natives" confront Jack and his band and lay down the law to them. "This is our island." It's an incredibly complex scene: the Jack/Locke argument and the Jack/Kate frustration are central, and the mysterious Others come into clear view, and while this is all happening we barely have time to register the fact that the bearded Other calls the teenage girl "Alex", confirming our suspicions about her identity.

3. The opening scene is again awesome -- the Others' book club, our first glimpse of Juliet, and the song "Downtown". Yes, it's a total rip from the opening of Season Two, but so awesome that it still works. So much is happening that we might not notice that Juliet's eyes seem a bit red at the beginning.

But this isn't the scene I pick. Rather, I pick the second time we see this scene -- in the episode "One of Us". A totally awesome scene is suddenly reinterpreted. Happy book clubs? Not at all! Ben's tyranny had drove Juliet to despair, and she is crying... she plays the song to try to cheer herself up. Suddenly this scene is not about the powerful Others who are about to torment the Oceanic survivors... it's about Juliet having lost trust in the Others, and how she can now find new hope with the Oceanic folks.

1:27 AM, August 08, 2010  
Anonymous Lawrence King said...

4. Ben and Locke in the Orchid. This is the very best Ben scene in the entire show. It includes Ben's most awesome line, and his even more awesome nod when Locke, full of intensity and seriousness as always, asks him about putting metal in the chamber.

A close runner-up is Jack's expression when he sees the Island vanish. Man of Science, you lose.

5. Hurley versus Doctor Chang. Jin's disgusted look completes the fun.

6. AARGH. The most fun scenes were Desmond in the altaworld -- waking up, getting arrested and then springing Kate and Sayid out of jail. But then it turned out this was all pointless. I'm still not over it.

1:44 AM, August 08, 2010  
Blogger LAGuy said...

Let me comment on your comment about my comment.

First, where are the top moments from seasons 4, 5, and 6? Those seasons intrigue me more, in a way, because they were harder to pick.

As to the launch of the raft, it's funny how that's not a big moment to me. I mean it was nice, but perhaps knowing it wouldn't work (the Hatch was the future of the show, not the raft) took the edge off. In any case, the raft scene wouldn't make my top ten moments for season one, or probably even my top twenty. It's be somewhere between deciding to move to the caves and Hurley walking over that dangerous bridge.

(It's often character moments that I remember best. Sawyer telling Jack about his father, or even Kate telling Sawyer he's not half the man Jack is then Sawyer saying Jack's dead are bigger moments to me than the raft.)

Meeting the natives in Season 2 was huge. It would make my top ten for the season.

On the other hand, I'm amazed anyone would deny the end of Season 3 was its biggest moment. As I noted in the original post, this isn't just a big moment in Lost, this is a big moment in the history of television. I still remember when Kate walked out of the shadows and my mind reeled.

1:50 AM, August 08, 2010  
Blogger LAGuy said...

Sorry, I wrote that last comment too soon, before your second post was up.

The season 4 moments you mention are big. They may make my top ten, though I'd have to think about it. (They're "small" moments, but they're still big.)

I love Hurley versus Chang. In fact, season 5 may have been Hurley's best. He didn't do that much, but when he was on, it was amazing. His talk with Miles was about their powers and Star Wars was just about as good.

I agree in general with your problem with Season 6, but am working my way around it. Still, didn't you find the final moments powerful?

1:54 AM, August 08, 2010  
Anonymous Lawrence King said...

Still, didn't you find the final moments powerful?

In which universe? The final moments in the Altaworld were the most grating part of the entire series for me, and I'm guessing these aren't the moments you are referring to.

The final moments on the island were nice, with Jack closing his eyes after seeing the plane leave. However, I don't think it was as poignant for me as it was for most viewers, because it seemed to depend on the premise that Sawyer, Kate, Claire, Lapidus, Miles, and Richard are truly achieving a victory by escaping from the Island.

And I simply didn't find this plausible. Doesn't it contradict everything that has been said about the Island so far? They have no lives to return to (indeed, Kate will go back to jail for violating her probation).

Except for Richard, the only time that any of these characters were happy -- in their entire lives-- was on the Island, even despite the smoke monster and the Others. Wouldn't, therefore, life on a Hurley-ruled Island be pure bliss? I would expect Kate and Sawyer to finally unite and have the happy life in New Otherton that they always wanted. (Sawyer always loved Kate more than he loved Juliet, so he just needs time.) And if they get a little lonely, Hurley can summon new people to the Island anytime he wants.

Yet Jack's smile tells me that the viewer is expected to be glad that these folks are leaving the Island. So either I'm missing something, or the writers are.

7:28 PM, August 08, 2010  
Anonymous Lawrence King said...

Of course, Claire and Kate need to reunite with Aaron. So a trip to the mainland is needed. But the ending seemed to imply that these six folks -- the Ajira Six! -- were leaving the Island and not returning. (If you understood it differently, let me know.)

7:37 PM, August 08, 2010  
Blogger LAGuy said...

I was referring to the final moments in Altaworld. Even if it makes a mockery of all the drama there we've seen up to that point, still, the realization of all of them as to what's going on (whatever that is) is still a pretty powerful moment. It was to me, anyway, and I'm pretty sure to quite a few others.

The island ending was perfect. Maybe too many had to die along the way, but that was part of the point--the whole deal with the island was a serious business.

The whole series (except perhaps the altaworld) was all about this huge battle for the Earth and life on it itself. It started with Jacob and MIB, but the Losties and a few helpers solved it (assuming Jacob's side was the correct side). That is the ultimate triumph, of course. It's especially Jack's I guess, because he was always central, but it can be shared by everyone. Dealing with this problem (and knowing it's been dealt with) is the solution to whatever issues they had, and now they can return and live full lives.

So in the end, Jack needed to do two things--prevent MIB from fulfilling his plans, and finally getting whoevers left off the island, like he promised. Sure, he did it earlier, but that didn't count because he wasn't ready. Seeing this fulfilled in his final moment was the last victory.

Sure, some need to stay behind. Hurley--who may not want to take on the responsibility, but someone has to--will be the caretaker, and presumably grows in the job. (Of course, assuming he doesn't throw Ben into the light, he may not have a direct antagonist. He'll just have to make sure to keep the light on like Jacob's mom did, but maybe do it in a much more calm manner.) Ben, of those left alive, is the one who needed to stay on the island. His whole life on the island he wanted approval from number one, and he's finally getting it.

As to those on the plane, there's Kate, Sawyer, Claire, Richard, Miles, and Lapidus.

The ostensible reason Kate came to the island was to rescue Claire, so that's a big deal for her. (I'm sure she'll be able to handle her legal problems--she has in the past.) Claire has been stuck on the island the whole series, and, assuming she calms down, will definitely appreciate finally coming home and raising her son.

Sawyer's been stuck on the island the whole time, after being on the raft, on the helicopter, on the sub, etc. Finally, finally, he's going to make it this time. And even if Kate isn't Juliet, and even if He is Jack, I'm sure those two will get along just fine (and I'm sure Jack is happy for them.)

Richard's been stuck on the island longer than the others combined. So he's put in his time and, though he had doubts for a short while, can finally to the mainland and live his life as he was meant to. (They'll all do pretty well, I assume, since they can use all those people and all that money that was available to Ben.)

Miles and Lapidus had their adventures, but it was time for them to go home. (Miles is now rich, by the way.)

The island is now run by a friendly ruler, and who knows, maybe years later they will return. But without all the mysteries, and without the tug of Jacob or MIB, it'd be just like going on a trip to Hawaii (if you knew the governor).

By the way, after thinking about it, I now believe Widmore was in it for himself. Of course, part of the reason is it's more satisfying dramatically. If he's yet another party fighting MIB for Jacob means even less. Better he be another antagonist, still fighting against Ben for control of the island. Sure, he knew there was a big war coming up, and that MIB had to be defeated (both Ben and Widmore believed they were working for Jacob), but now that Jacob is gone, I see Widmore as yet another man searching for the magic that he can exploit. If he can just take out MIB, he'll finally have his glorious return. I guess that means Ben did the right thing to kill him.

8:48 PM, August 08, 2010  
Anonymous Lawrence King said...

Your argument about why the Ajira Six is consistent with Seasons Five and Six, but not with Seasons One through Four.

In S5 and S6, we learned that (1) Eloise insisted that the Oceanic Six had to go back as a group or else they wouldn't find the Island; (2) the MIB wanted the Six to return so he could kill all the candidates; and (3) Jacob wanted the Six to return so he could have a successor. These three missions were all different, but what they have in common was that the return of the Oceanic Six was intended to achieve specific finite goals. These goals having been achieved, everyone except for Jacob's successor can now leave the Island.

But in S1 to S4, we learned that the Island is "a place where miracles happen". In the Orchid at the end of S4, Locke has a heart-to-heart talk with Jack in which he argues that his group should not leave the Island. Locke isn't saying this because Jack has a specific mission -- Locke believes that this applies to everybody. Locke -- the real Locke -- "gets it". Rose and Bernard "get it". The Others in S3 all "got it".

When Jack returned to Los Angeles in the S4 flash-forwards and the first half of S5, he was miserable. When Hurley met Jack on the basketball court, Hurley told Jack they had to go back. Jack told Kate they had to go back. They knew nothing of the great Jacob war, or about being candidates, or anything epic. They just knew, deep inside, that the Island was a place where miracles happen. Kate's horse frightened her, but she was alive then.

Richard's been stuck on the island longer than the others combined.

He was never stuck. He visited the mainland repeatedly. If he had any desire to leave the Island, he could have easily gone AWOL while visiting Orange County or Miami or Portland. Similarly, Ben could have hopped on a submarine at any time and just left. Why didn't they? Because they would rather be on the Island -- a place where miracles happen -- than living pointless lives on the mainland.

That's what the Island was in seasons one through four. And that's why I can't consider it a triumph for people to leave.

10:56 PM, August 08, 2010  
Anonymous Lawrence King said...

Correction: My first sentence should say "Your argument about why it was good for the Ajira Six to leave the Island is consistent with Seasons Five and Six, but not with Seasons One through Four."

10:57 PM, August 08, 2010  
Blogger LAGuy said...

The island is a place where miracles happen. But guess what. THE miracle happened. What Locke felt was they had a destiny. He was right. That destiny was not to live on the island, but to save the island. Save the island, save the world. Locke may enjoy boar hunting, but for the rest, it's time to go back to civilization.

They'd completed their mission. It was time to return. They'd fulfilled their destiny. It was time to return to their lives. And with what they've learned, those lived will be more fulfilling.

Richard could physically get off the island, but he was "stuck" in servitude to the island longer than all the others combined. In fact, he was freed more than all the others by what they did. He could go back to a real life.

For a long time--far longer than the time period of LOST--Jacob (and to a lesser extent MIB) had been behind the scenes pulling the strings. Once he was gone, they were on their own. He had no idea if his plan would work--if anything, it looked like MIB ws winning. But they pulled it together and defeated MIB. The war was over, time for the heroes to return--not a false triumph, like the Oceanic Six, but a real one, even if they only know it.

Hurley had to stay behind, and it was a sacrifice for him. Not so much for Ben, who did love the island, in his own way, as much as Locke. But the others didn't love the island, not in the same way, even if they knew they had a duty to return. I can see why Bernard and Rose wanted to stay, but the rest were done. The adventure was over.

11:22 PM, August 08, 2010  

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