Monday, May 24, 2010


The general response is basically the same as mine. When the final shot was over and we saw the word LOST one last time, all of us went, “Hmm…”
I have two opinions about the finale. Like the Man in Black and Jacob, I have a negative (black) response and a positive (white) response.

BLACK (grim and angry)
The left side of my brain—the logical, analytical half that longs for closure and solutions—was thoroughly ripped off. The finale answered nothing significant. Just for starters, here are some questions that have been pending for half a decade:
Why are electromagnetic forces so prevalent?
Why are the pregnant women dying?
Why were the Others so desperate to kidnap children?
What’s with the polar bears?
Why was time travel so important to the plot? (it seems like mere decoration now)
Why was the theme of games so extensively explored?
Why can some of the characters make up “rules” and some can’t?
Who built the lighthouse?
Why are Desmond’s leaps through time so essential to something ultimately spiritual?
Where did Jacob’s “mother” come from?
Why did the giant statue have three toes?
Who built the giant statue and why?
Why did a Smoke Monster come out of the light when Jacob put his brother inside?
Why was the whole world in danger because of the balance of power on the island?
Why were the numbers broadcast and why did they apparently influence events?
And how about the most basic and important question of all?
What is the island? (a vital question that Charlie asks in the pilot “Guys, where are we?”)
And after six years of all these great, suspenseful questions swirling in our heads, what big answer do they give us as the cherry on top?
The modern equivalent of “Love will find a way.”
It was like watching a great murder mystery, finally closing in on who the killer is and having John Cleese burst into the room “Let’s not bicker and argue over who killed who. This is supposed to be a happy occasion.”
I understand there has to be some loose threads in an epic adventure such as this—especially when the impatience of the network and the public start to put pressure on you, but this was way beyond any poetic license as far as attempts at being cryptic.
There seemed to be two facets of the show—a secular side (electromagnetic forces, time travel, quantum mechanics) and a spiritual side (dead people reappearing, light = life, redemption). The finale only attempted to deal with the latter facet. All things spiritual were tied up in a standard-issue, one-size-fits-all, pseudo-spiritual Hallmark moment.
The trail of Easter Eggs merely meandered through a forest of question marks leading us right back to where we started. Although it was fun trying to piece clues together, I feel somewhat cheated. It was like spending six years on a puzzle and right when you think you’re on the verge of getting the big picture, you find out that someone just threw together a bunch of pieces from several different puzzles. They just liked the pretty colors.

WHITE (pleasant and pleased)
The right side of my brain—the emotional, child-like half that longs for great characters with depth and emotionally-charged acting—felt thoroughly satisfied. The finale had some powerful moments for each character. After spending six years watching the lives of these interesting people, I really liked the reconciliations more than I thought I would have. And most of the episode had me completely enthralled.
I was touched more than once as characters were reunited. And of all things, the reunion between Sawyer and Juliet was my favorite—even though it took place in front of a vending machine of all things. (But Juliet was one of my favorites anyway). Those moments really worked. It felt like cheese, but it was great cheese. It was gourmet cheese.
Even though all of this was limited by the realm of television, some of the images in the finale were epic. In particular, the fight between Jack and Locke on the storm-swept cliffs was amazing. It seemed (as they say) iconic.
Despite my disappointment and the approaching misty ending, the acting was consistently incredible. Despite the basic silliness of the final gathering, it was moving. The way everyone became deeply happy when they realized the truth of the situation—this worked because of the great acting. There were more serious spiritual parallels that rang true for me.
The last shot of Jack’s eye closing. How cool was that?
I loved how the story gradually and cleverly came full circle to bring Jack back to the exact spot where he started on the island—including the shoe and Vincent the dog. That was almost ubercool.

ENDGAME (grim and pleased)
All that said, this was still one of the coolest shows to ever hit television. Even if the finale had ended with it all being a dream in the rabbit’s head—the whole ride would have been worth it—the primary reason being the characters. The writers developed these people and gave them depth. Each person was a story that might have stood alone. Just this makes LOST a cut above most of the prime time grout you find growing on your screen most of the time.
It is only with the hope that the creators of LOST will write something new, I restrain myself from taking my TV out into the backyard and burning it. I found the island once. Maybe someday, I will find it again.


julie said...

Hey Bret, I've been reading your commentaries on the episodes for awhile now and I've really enjoyed your insights! I definitely agree with your assessment of the finale... and I also kind of want to throw my TV out. :)
--Julie (taylor) Marling

The Raabs said...

But remember - it is tv. Maybe it was all simply a bunch of pretty-colored puzzles thrown together.

I don't know if I have ever been able to believe that there is a group of "writers" working on these things together, trying to develop the whole story (that there even IS a whole story). IS there a team? Or does the team keep getting changed (people brought in, some walking away frustrated etc).

Maybe it's just a couple guys and gals putting pieces together. I don't know enough about tv-land to decide, but my distrust of things tv leads me to doubt (and our tv cable was cut about 18 months ago). Clear-cut messages have the possibility of turning off too many viewers, so one has to take care to please all the people all the time (as impossible as this is).

Since I didn't and couldn't watch the show, it was fun to follow your play-by-play. You have good insights and I always love reading your writing. Thanks!

rlt said...

"...did we just get M. Night. Shamalonned?" (lostpedia forum)

"So….I figure they then leave the church….and go to IHOP for breakfast." (comment in

Jarud said...

Hey Bret,

I agree with your assessments. I felt they spent too much time developing the "sideways" characters and not enough time answering lingering questions about the island. These unresolved issues would be the same for me as if Tolkien had died just as Gollum fell into the lava flow and someone came along and tacked on "and they lived happily ever after." However, I hope the creators of the show are not such huge fans of Star Wars that they pull a George Lucas and come back a few years from now and do a prequel to Lost and really make a mess of things. I would rather they leave it unfinished than give me Jar Jar Binks in a grass skirt. :)