Eight More Thoughts On the ‘Lost’ Finale

Posted: May 25, 2010 in Threat Quality
Tags: , ,

The mood in the office, the day after the Lost finale: grim, mixed with betrayal and hints of befuddlement.

On the up side: other peoples’ misery makes me reassess what I really think of things. I now have a slightly better feeling about the finale. Some thoughts, in no order of importance:

That was a long way to go for a “They were all dead” joke
Now, I can’t say this with any certainty until I see a DVD feature, but I’ll bet you $20 that the resolution to the flash-sideways universe started when someone in the writer’s room joked, “And then it turns out they were dead the whole time!” and someone else said, “Man, we should just DO that, just to mess with people,” and then somehow the idea snowballed from there until it was too late.

I would not mind an Island sitcom starring Rose and Bernard, and their annoying next-door neighbors, Hurley and Ben. I do not believe I am alone in this. 

This is not the LOST Season 6 I was led to believe I would get…
But that is just because I was using a more traditional storytelling sensibility going in. At the outset of the season, I went down my checklist of big stuff that used to be important to the story – the Dharma Initiative’s origins (remember the name “Alvar Hanso”?), the infertility on the island, and for the hell of it, let’s throw that ‘infection’ idea back in there – and figured, LIKE A KOOK, well, this must be what the final season would cover, through the filter of the Jacob/MiB conflict.

This was a mistake on my part, apparently. Because Lost has a habit of making nontraditional choices, it stared at those lingering questions that they could have built a sound season/concluding story-arc around, and went, “NO, FUCK IT, H-BOMB SOLVED ALL THAT. Now let’s talk about magical lighthouses and glowing caves and immortals.”

So yes, that was a valid source of escalating frustration, watching week after week and slowly realizing that was NOT the season that was going to be happening. And now that the season is over, I can release that frustration. And that is the last I will speak of the mythical perfect season that exists only in my head.

CORRECTION: H-Bomb and Electromagnetism
On the other hand, it’s kind of nice to see Lost accept its limitations – mostly, that when it answers long-running questions, it tends to do it expositorily and with a minimum of style (see: “What are the whispers?” “It’s ghosts.” “Oh.”). So rather than whiff a couple of the big questions, it lets the audience concoct their own explanations with the story-tools the writers left lying out. It’s like telling the audience, “We’re sure your fan-fic is just as good as anything we would have tried.”

It has also given me a good reason to swap out my Simpsons-derived “A wizard did it” catch-all explanation with “H-Bomb did it.”

So here is a list of the things the H-Bomb caused either directly or indirectly:
1) Unregulated electromagnetic energy, requiring the creation of the hatch
2) Desmond’s resistance to electromagnetic energy from his time in the hatch
3) Time-travel that shunted remaining cast-members (and apparently Rose and Bernard’s house) back to present day
4) On-island radiation that caused infertility (which the castaways, not having lived on the island long, had not absorbed – but what about Carl? NO SHUT UP ABOUT CARL!)
5) Creation of pre-afterlife waystation group consciousness (or not)
6) Another good reason for Sawyer to punch Jack.

For every other answer, we can simply take things at face value (such as: What was the deal with Walt? He was psychic. The end.).

When Will You People Learn?!
On TV, if there is no body, you cannot officially say someone is dead. (Actually that may be a real-life rule, too.)

So next time you see Frank Lapidus get whacked in the head with a door, your first thought should never be, “I guess that killed him.” Your first thought should always be, “I’ll bet he deflected that door with his sideburns.”

JACOB is teh suck.
In the Lost pre-game special, Lindelof and Cuse giggle about how the audience was developing theories about how Jacob and MiB were Angel-Demon/Order-Chaos reps, when in fact, they were just a couple of guys with a long-ass grudge against each other.

Which is fine – the point of “Beyond the Sea,” is that people are more interesting than magical archetypes – but that makes Jacob even more obtuse. Apparently, as Protector of the Island, you are allowed to make up a bunch of arbitrary rules about who you can and can’t kill, what makes someone “good” and who can leave the island when.

And I could see him sticking with these rules if they somehow helped him achieve a positive result, but…jeez, guy. Can you not change the rules once you’ve set them? Is that one of the rules? Because clearly you left the island plenty of times. So you’re exempt from the rules, right?

Jacob’s style of island-protection is less like a self-sacrificing jailer and more in the style of “And you can’t step on the carpet because the carpet is lava.”

Considering the fate/free will motif of this show, I think it’s interesting that Jacob as god/father-figure implies that if there is a God, there’s no way to know for sure if he was equipped for the job when he got it. (And on a less cosmic scale: cut your dad some slack, he did the best he could.)

So when Jacob said “cork”…
That was not a metaphor.


Maybe whoever built the Most Important Light Ever Cave should’ve spent a little more time at the design stage, hmm?

So…What’s It All For, Alfie?
In the end, what was Lost about? After all the fate vs. free will, or faith versus reason, and other pet themes trotted out, the one that does hold up and rings true as an over-arching theme is the one that finally shook out at the end:  Living together versus dying alone.

Simple enough concept – maybe too simple, hence all the philosophical and symbolic paint splashed all over the series and one that wasn’t always eloquently explained – but one I can get behind, more so than “letting go” or “Giving in to destiny” any other quasi-spiritual pap, and one that can be sold narratively without any hard-to-swallow mysticism.

Each character just does better when they don’t try to go it alone (except, well, Jack, who only figures that out once he’s dead – and he’s the last one to the party there, too), and the two-man brain-trust that is Hurley and Ben points to a new, better island-protector paradigm.

Despite the hokum of the church setting, the scene reinforced Lost’s centralized idea as one of my favorite Vonnegut lines: “Goddamn it, you’ve got to be kind.”

And if that’s the note Lost wants to leave on, I’m cool with that.

Well, cooler with that than pre-heaven waystation or a goodness-keeping-in bottle-stopper, anyway.

  1. Robert says:

    Remember the name Alvar Hanso, huh? To know where the name comes from, you’d have to understand “Lost”‘s derivation from the detective serial “Department S”. The “Department S” episode “One of Our Aircraft Is Empty” concerns the mysterious arrival of a trans-oceanic airliner as a way to hide the death of business magnate Ralph A. Voss. Another “Dept. S” episode, “The Duplicated Man” concerns someone living a double life as Anthony Harvey and Andrew Heywood, who kills off one of his personas by blowing up an airplane in mid-air, but not being on it when it blew up.

    The plot of “Lost” is largely a combination of those episodes, and the name Alvar Hanso derives from rearranging the name of Ralph A. Voss to resemble that of Anthony Harvey/Andrew Heywood. But you need to do a lot of research, and preferably to have known Damon Lindelof beforehand, to understand all this.

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