Wednesday, May 26, 2010
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
I suppose I wouldn’t be a proper nerd without writing more of an in-depth review on the conclusion of Lost, so here goes.
Back in high school, my English teacher explained how the last few chapters of Huckleberry Finn is something that has been constantly debated in the decades since it was written. For those of you who never read the book (or those of you who read it and forgot what happened) the story starts out with the fun and fancy free spirit that ran through it’s prequel, Tom Sawyer. Then the tone shifts to something far more mature as Huck and Jim go down the river. However, the final chapters return to Tom Sawyer’s lighthearted tone.
As my teacher explained it, years went by between when Mark Twain started writing the book and when he finished. What people have debated was how seriously Mark Twain meant for people to take the ending. Was it something he dashed off to put an end to a story that had escaped his control, or was there meant to be something poetic about Huck and Jim reverting to the people they were before their journey began?
Not long after the finale of Lost was over, I sensed a similar debate would start raging among fans of the show. The show raised so many questions but the finale answered so few. So did the producers really know how they wanted the show to end, or did they just come up with something because they told everybody the show would end after six seasons? Also, how much of the show’s mysteries were red herrings and which were simply plotlines the producers forgot or abandoned?
I suppose whether or not you were pleased with the finale depends on whether or not you really cared for the show’s questions to be answered once and for all. Personally, I loved the finale. For a long-format story I invested six years in, I felt the payoff was worth the time spent watching.
Obviously, a lot of the show’s questions went unanswered. Then again, this is a show that had so many questions about it that even the writers of Wired didn’t catch on when some of the answers were given subtly and spread out over the series. (Yes, the polar bears are completely explained over the run of the show.)
I think to answer all of the show’s mysteries would have been a disservice to the fans. What made Lost such a cult hit was the early episodes where we had no idea what was going on, and that fueled our imaginations in a way that most shows simply didn’t.
Think about it. When we talk about TV shows with our friends, it’s usually just a recap of our favorite scenes or lines. At most we talk about whom we think is going to kill or sleep with whom, but we’re never really challenged as viewers. Lost, on the other hand, demanded that its viewers channel their inner Stephen Hawkings.
As viewers, our theories didn’t just involve the characters’ interactions with each other. It involved the very universe in which they existed. We asked ourselves everything from who could be trusted to whether the story was set in the real world or if everybody died and was in some kind of purgatory.
The purgatory theory is especially worth noting because it was a popular one among viewers, and was openly shot down by the producers. For the most part, they were being truthful. The Island wasn’t purgatory, but that’s where the flash-sideways of season six ended up being set.
Instead of a finale that resolves all of the great questions of the Lost universe, we were left with a finale that only resolved their personal storylines. We find out why they were brought there, and what their purpose was. We learn that in some way or another, most of them get happy endings, or at least a chance at redemption, while for others it isn’t so clear.
Quite frankly, I’m fine with that. The best moments of the finale were the ones that reminded you how far the characters had come. After six years it was easy to forget how Charlie went from heroin addict to surrogate father before sacrificing his life, or how Jin and Sun went from being a distant, emotionless couple to being truly in love.
The smoke monster dies, the Island is saved, Rose and Bernard live in peace under the watchful eyes of Ben and Hurley, and Jack dies right where his journey began. Everybody else either dies or escapes the island for good. That’s all I could have asked for. All I cared for was to have the main characters’ plotlines wrapped up. As for all of the other questions, (many of which CollegeHumor.com wrapped up into a nice little video,) they’re things that will keep us talking for years to come.
I’m sure a lot of the show’s unresolved moments were due to plot threads that the producers chose to abandon mid-series. The fact that the Dharma Initiative dropped a crate of food on the Island suggests that the producers might not have decided that the Dharma Initiative was more or less defunct decades before the story began.
Maybe Juliet’s claim that the nuclear bomb worked is proof that the producers hadn’t decided the flash-sideways story would be set in the afterlife until later in the sixth season. Or, maybe as she was dying she had a vision of the afterlife and mistook what she saw as proof that a parallel world existed where the bomb went off.
My point is that the show left much for us to talk about, whether you were pleased with the finale or not. We’ll never officially know if the producers meant for the Dharma Initiative to be a distraction from the Island’s true mysteries or if they began the show intending for all of the strangeness to be the result of their experiments. We’ll never know what was up with the Egyptian motif, or why the Man in Black’s death released the smoke monster while everybody else just died.
But we’ll still talk about it.