Lost: Wait, what? [Braak’s View]

Posted: May 24, 2010 in Braak, Threat Quality
Tags: ,


Okay, we all saw it, let’s take a minute to discuss what happened.

They all did NOT die in the plane crash.  I think the answer to what happened is actually dumber than that.

So, when they detonated the hydrogen bomb, Jack and Juliet & al did NOT create a parallel universe where everything was pretty much okay.  What they did was just send the back-in-time people forward in time.  The sideways flashes were not an alternate universe, but actually, essentially, the anteroom to the afterlife.  They were a place outside of time, where all future and past dead people can gather at once, and where people have to work through their own psychological hang-ups in order to move on (to, presumably, heaven), and where they psychically construct scenarios in which they are near to the people that had significant impacts in their lives.

Ironically:  the Island was never purgatory; the alternate universe in which the Island was sunk to the bottom of the ocean WAS.

I have some problems with this.  I would not have had a problem if, by the end of the season finale, the castaways had found a way to shunt themselves into a parallel universe in which they had always been in control of their destinies, and everything, whether it was fucked up or not, was at least a little their own.

Instead, we literally discover that nothing that anyone does matters.  Jack kills Esau (because fuck you Cuse and Lindelof — if you have two diametrically opposed twins and one is named Jacob, you NEED A REASON why the other is not named Esau), but who cares?  Wherever and whenever you die, you still end up in a Unitarian Universalist Church with the people that mattered most in your life.  Juliet died detonating that bomb and sending them forward in time, who cares?  She ended up in the church with everyone else.  Just like Sayyid does, and presumably would have even if he hadn’t sacrificed himself to save everyone else.

But that’s not all.  This purgatory that the writers gave us with the flash-sideways doesn’t actually jive with the characters we know.  Consider:  Jack, by this point in the story, has already well moved past his father.  When, in the last two years, have we heard him talk about Christian?  Hell, six years passed at one point, and he doesn’t say a damn thing about the guy.  He has already moved on from his father’s death, and the pain of his miserable childhood.  Why would we accept that the culmination of his character should be him moving on from his father?

Or look at Sayyid:  why does he end up in purgatory with Shannon?  Sure, he said he loved her, right when she was dying.  But then he got back together with Nadia, and it was HER death that sent him over the edge.  She was the one that he went crazy for, that he killed for, that he was talking about ALL THE TIME.  Nadia was the motivating factor for Sayyid’s entire life — he knew Shannon for THIRTY DAYS.  When was the last time he mentioned pointless, shallow Shannon?

I think that, frankly, this is an example of a show that actually got too smart for it’s own writers.  The team inadvertently created a scenario that was so complex that they didn’t understand it anymore, and consequently couldn’t end it in any meaningful way.  Not that it couldn’t have ended in a meaningful way; I’ll have more to say on this (Holland’s inevitable fatalism notwithstanding) later.

UPDATE!  Remember how, before this season started, Carl and I were trying to guess where it was headed?  And we basically turned out to be completely wrong, because the writers did everything we thought would be the worst possible choice?  And how the solution that we came up with was actually about a thousand times better than the one we got?  Hah.  That was funny.

  1. Carl says:

    In a word, yes. What bugs me most is not the handling of the sideways timeline-as-antechamber-to-eternity as much as the lazy approach to sowing up the ends they’ve been dangling in front of us to get us to tune in. Its lazy and infuriating and it makes me want to kick puppies.

  2. Carl says:

    Did I mention how its lazy? Well it is. Lazy.

  3. Hah. You all got sucked in. Perhaps, part of you wanted Lost to mean something, provide some great revelation about humanity. Wasn’t going to happen. Reason? One word:


    Take a good idea. Make interesting characters. Add some kind of heavy morality. Shake and stir and sift into unrecognizability. Pour into 2 hours or 6 years of 1 hour episodes.

    I knew from that first episode. It had all the hallmarks. Sure, it was exciting and all that, but you could see the set-up, as they tried to convince us that these people mattered somehow. And in the end, they didn’t. Characters are ultimately disposable in any production.

    Yup, it was Patrick Duffy in the shower all over again. And why not? It worked before.

  4. Erin says:

    Wow. I’m really, really glad that I stopped watching a few episodes into season 2. For a while, when I started hearing everyone talk about time travel and alternate universes, I started thinking I’d made a mistake; that I should have stuck with it.

    But, no. It sounds like I made the right call.

  5. braak says:

    @Newt: But Patrick Duffy in the shower didn’t work before; it’s still held up as an example of the worst thing you can do in a TV show, and the only reason Dynasty kept going is because that wasn’t the actual end of the series.

    There are any number of ways that this show could have ended–there are, in fact, any number of shows that have ended well.

  6. Jeff Holland says:

    I’m still sitting with it.

    I’m not entirely happy – mostly because I’m shocked to realize that after all my griping about people who need all the mysteries revealed, I DO in fact feel a little cheated that what I considered to be some fairly big storylines did not get, well, concluded.

    More on this later.

  7. braak says:

    I didn’t need all the mysteries revealed! I don’t think anyone needed ALL the mysteries revealed.

  8. Moff says:

    I’ll say this:

    The ending we got was pretty much exactly the ending the entire sixth season was setting us up for.

  9. braak says:

    Really? You don’t think the flash-sidewayses weren’t, at the very least, grossly misleading as to their nature?

    Which actually brings me to a serious question; it’s one thing if Juliet detonated that bomb and created a parallel time-line. But now, it turns out that she DIDN’T create a parallel timeline….so, what happened there? What were the consequences of the hydrogen bomb detonation on top of the magnetism? Did they make changes to their OWN timeline?

  10. Moff says:

    I mean that, in general, it became increasingly and then overwhelmingly obvious throughout the course of this last season that the show wasn’t planning on providing concrete answers to a lot of the questions it raised, and that the creators themselves weren’t particularly concerned about mechanical issues such as how the H-bomb functioned.

    I mean, after “Across the Sea,” it became pretty damn obvious there probably weren’t going to be any answers about the actual, rather than metaphorical, nature of the island. There was nowhere for the answers to come from!

  11. braak says:

    I don’t mind that, actually. I don’t necessarily mind not having answers; the only thing about how the H-Bomb functioned is that, because it isn’t addressed at all, it appears to be evidence that the intention for the ending right after the bomb went off, and the intention for the ending at the very end, were not actually the same. Like, they didn’t know that the parallel world was going to be purgatory until about halfway through. Which is my whole problem with the parallel world thing–the answer that it turned out to be didn’t seem to be concomitant with the whole rest of the season.

    My other problem is that I want to see characters resolve their issues through character stuff–you know, life, living, doing things. Not through the hokum of some heavy-handed spiritism.

  12. Moff says:

    Well, yeah: I should have clarified that I think the reason the creators weren’t interested in providing concrete answers was that they didn’t have a firm enough idea themselves of where they were headed. I’m not trying to defend the lack of focus or sense-making. I’m just saying that when this season started, there were glimmers—and then more and more signs—of the dearth of craft and and surplus of heavy-handed mysticalness.

  13. Jeff Holland says:

    @Moff: The H-bomb on “Lost” works in exactly the same way that sticking nondairy creamer into a microwave works on “Pinky and the Brain.”

  14. ironagetheatre says:

    The promise of the flash sideways was so strong as the characters began to bridge the two worlds and for anyone with even the slightest science first affinity the potential for something wonderful seemed obvious. Braak’s points about the valuelessness of the bomb are significant. The flash sideways and even the series didn’t need to mean anything but the integrity of the universe collapsed in those last moments.
    By the way… the people missing from that last church scene were significant.

  15. dagocutey says:

    @NefariousNewt: Yeah, what you said.

    @Braak: Shhh, Ok, there, there — just let it out, it’s Ok. Even though this isn’t going to make any sense to you right now, you will be OK — it’s going to take some time, but everything’s going to be all right again, I promise.

  16. sebastian says:

    Hilariously awful. The actors deserved so much better.

    I think going into a chasm and taking out and replacing a LITERAL cork might have been an actual plot to an old He-Man cartoon.

  17. braak says:

    I’m also still a little fuzzy on that whole cork thing. Was it keeping The Evil down in that hole? Or was it stopping The Magic from draining out?

  18. sebastian says:

    It seems like the writers ended up mixing their metaphors a bit. The island is a cork that keeps the evil in, but then there is a literal cork in a hole in the middle of the island and if you take the cork out the light goes out, but if you stick the cork in the hole the light goes on. A little counter-intuitive. I don’t really know what the cork was doing.

    I still don’t understand the Jacob flashback where Crazy Fake Mom says that man can’t go into the light or it will go out and if it does it goes out everywhere, and then later in the episode someone is tossed into the light and it appears to go out (but not everywhere) and then in present day it’s back on, goes out again for awhile, and nothing seems to happen except the island shakes a lot.

    Also still pretty foggy on how exactly Smoke Monster leaving the island would end the world. Smoke Monster should have been able to go to heaven too. 😦

  19. braak says:

    I also don’t really get why, back in Crazy Jacob Days, the fake mom just didn’t say to Esau, “Well, if you really want to leave, here’s how to build a boat” and send him off.

  20. sebastian says:

    Yeah that would have worked out a lot better. It seems a lot of problems could have been avoided if the protector of the island would just help people leave the island. You have magic powers after all. And you can make up rules as you go along. Show Esau how to get off the island, help the Romans get off the island. I know Jacob had elaborate motivations later on, but if you’re on a magic island no one can find, stop bringing people to the island and/or help them leave and then there won’t be anyone to fall into the hole and shut off the light.

  21. ironagetheatre says:

    Why too doesn’t Jack or more probably Desmond have some transformation into smoke beings?

  22. Carl says:

    @UPDATE!: Yeah, how do you like that. As my highschool art teacher Denise Milano used to say, “It takes two people to make a masterwork: the artist to create the piece and then someone to kill the artist before they get to the end and ruin it.”

    @Ironagetheatre: Everyone that I watched the finale with also cried foul on this point. Crazy foster-mother goes out of her way to say that if you went down into the cave you wouldn’t die but that something much worse would befall you (and we all took that to mean your involuntary transformation into a smoke being.) We can let Desmond off the hook because, you know, the rules (of physics, of storytelling, of his own narrative) don’t apply to him. But why Jack didn’t emerge from the magic cave as a puff of white smoke is entirely beyond me.

  23. truculentandunreliable says:

    “Jack kills Esau (because fuck you Cuse and Lindelof — if you have two diametrically opposed twins and one is named Jacob, you NEED A REASON why the other is not named Esau), but who cares? ”

    ARRRRRRRRRRG THAT’S WHAT PISSED ME OFF THE MOST. Like, was that supposed to be some sort of great revelation? Were we supposed to say, “OHHHHHHHHHH THAT’S HIS NAME!” Fucking insulting. Time travel and parallel universes deserve better.

    Also, the Crazy Fake Mom storyline was just dumb and pointless in general.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s