Thursday, March 20, 2014

Ten Years Lost

Nine years ago I attended the PaleyFest at the Directors Guild for a celebration of the new series Lost.  There was a long line but I was lucky enough to make the cut.  It was an exciting time--a new show had me hooked and there was so much still ahead.  We didn't even know who'd be the first major character to die (even though we know someone was going to buy it before the season ended).  I remember the showrunners asking the audience if they thought Locke was someone they would trust.  A lot of people put up their hands, and slowly, Ian Somherhalder did as well.  (Spoiler:  In the first season, Somerhalder's character, Boone, follows Locke and ends up dead.  Somerhalder knew this already when he raised his hand, but we in the audience only knew him as the guy who was Locke's acolyte.)

Anyway, Lost went on to be a big hit and a major disappointment in its finale. And now, four years later, the PaleyFest hosted the producers, Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse, and some of the actors for a look back.  I'm hoping it'll be available on YouTube soon*.

It's hard to believe, but some still subscribe to the theory that the characters were dead all along. Cuse made it clear that isn't so.  However, Cuse also claimed (spoiler alert) that ending the show with characters in some sort of afterlife was a decision made early in the run.  As I've written before, this was a horrible idea, and I don't know if it makes it worse or better than they planned it for a long time.

As for who was in the outrigger shooting at Juliet and Sawyer:

According to Lindelof, there was a scene written for the finale in which it was explained who was on that boat and what they were doing.

"We wrote that scene, and it was going to air in the final season, and it definitely answered who was on the outrigger," he said, adding: "But all the writers … thought it would be much cooler not to answer. … The scene exists on paper. Years from now, for some excellent charity, we'll probably auction it off."

The writers honestly thought that?  They were that dumb?  You don't set up something like that and not pay it off. It's not even slightly cool, it's just annoying.

They realized fairly quickly that Nikki and Paulo weren't working, and they decided to spend an episode giving them a memorable death rather than just forgetting about them.  That made sense.  Though I'd still rather know who was shooting from the outrigger.

As for other unanswered questions about Lost, Cuse said to answer every single mystery would have been "didactic and boring."

"We [preferred] to tell an emotional story about what happened to the characters," he added, to applause. "I cared more about the characters' journey and what happened to them."

They didn't have to answer everything, just the basics, with satisfactory answers.  There was so much teasing along the way I think they owed it to the viewers. And they did actually answer most things, though some feel they left out some of the big questions.  I'm in favor of an emotional story about the characters, but if they're all placed within an overarching format, that's got to be dealt with as well.

*Here it is. 1:08 long. Coincidence?


Anonymous Lawrence King said...

The ending would have been more tolerable if they really had told an emotional story about the characters' [plural] journey. Instead, we got the story of Jack's journey.

Consider, for example, Sun and Jin's journey. Sun's battle with her magnate father, Jin's struggle with his shame for his father's low status, the daughter that Jin never met -- all these threads were surely essential to Sun and Jin's journey. But all this was thrown away so that they can die underwater (abandoning their daughter) to allow Jack more screen time, and then they are relegated to onlookers in Jack's afterlife.

Think how boring it would be to spend an eternity as a bit-player in someone else's afterlife.

6:29 PM, March 20, 2014  
Anonymous Lawrence King said...

If I ever encounter Cuse or Lindelof (not likely), I'd like to ask them just when this born-again devotion to "character development over sci-fi mysteries" began. Surely it began after the mid-point of season five, when they killed off the best character (Locke) and replaced him with a cipher, solely for the purpose of setting up a shocking "reveal" that was entirely sci-fi-mystery based and utterly destructive of his character's personal arc.

6:33 PM, March 20, 2014  
Blogger LAGuy said...

Sun and Jin didn't quite make it to the end on the island, but they got their big death scene. It would have worked if their main problem was about abandonment and they didn't have a kid. But Lost had a lot of backstory to deal with, and didn't always make it work perfectly, especially since there was so much that was changed or dropped along the way. There's the whole big Jack and Juliet and Sawyer and Kate rectangle, for instance. And there's Hurley's quick flirtation. And Said's momentary jump toward a blonde. And then there's the Locke problem you mention.

For that matter, we never quite find out what's Widmore's deal. And there's also new bad ideas in the final season so you can't even tell any more if the Others are wild-eyed fanatics who may or may not be saving the world, or sad people who made a deal with the devil and are forced to live their lives serving him.

But I could have overlooked these things if they'd figured out a better way to approach the sideways world, rather than it be what almost amounts to an elaborate prank. They did have honest emotion at the end, but that was at the expense of a stirring, satisfying story, tossed aside in favor of gooey sentiment with a bad aftertaste.

Every time I write about this, I'm that much closer to starting a new website where I rewrite the final season just to show how things could have been.

I did watch the video, and you can tell that Lindelof truly did like the idea of this spiritual ending (as did others, I presume, though they might just have been trying to please their boss). There certainly could have been an ending that takes spirituality into account, but not something so bare, ignoring almost everything else that made the show what it was.

7:15 PM, March 20, 2014  
Blogger ColumbusGuy said...

Hey! Isn't that the chick from "The Glades"? Now there's some TV.

1:35 PM, March 21, 2014  

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