Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Lost: The End

The ending was very emotional, very sentimental. I enjoyed it on that sentimental level, but now that I think more and more about the events that occurred throughout the season compared to how they came together in the finale, not a whole lot of it makes sense.

As I've only seen each episode of this final season once, I really am hard pressed to say I caught everything that appeared on screen. I still catch new stuff each time I've watched the show and I've seen season one probably at least 5 times at this point.

Problems With the Season

The two biggest problems with the season right off the bat:

  • Widmore's involvement this season with Desmond makes even less sense now than it did before the finale. Where does Desmond go when he's experimented on?
  • So after all of that, if the "flash-sideways" is a place they all went to they could meet up when they died, why the heck did they:
    • Have to forget who they were?
    • Not just create entirely new "lives" so when they all were there they'd be set?
    • Make it so difficult to remember their past lives?
  • Fill the entire season with SO MUCH FILLER?

Why was it necessary to bring Desmond? Why was that experiment run on him? Why would Widmore be doing this experiment? Was it really just so he could remove the stone? That's it? They couldn't just write that some other way to have, say, Richard do it? Why even bother with this other than to "trick the audience?" While Desmond is experimented on, he "jumps" to a point where apparently they're all dead, and in limbo (mislabeled by most people I've talked to or read as "purgatory"). Why would he appear there? And why the heck would he appear to be self-aware in both realities? Did Desmond "realize" that they were all dead and together in the afterlife? How would he know this? Is what we got really the answer they believed we were going to buy?

Season 2 castThis appears to be the case of what I like to dub, "Tim Kring" writing. For those unfamiliar, Tim Kring was the producer of the fast-tanking fantasy show, Heroes, where he would proudly mention that the writing staff often did not know what the heck they were going to be doing more than 4 episodes from the point they were currently in production. They claimed to have mapped out the remainder of the series sometime in season 3, but I sincerely believe that the limbo-world was an afterthought, a last minute "twist" to throw a wrench into the mix – and that there are plenty of pieces of evidence that not only contradict the ending they showed, but go against the logic they were developing during this final season.

Everything they did with this "sideways" world was just to tease and trick the audience - not for a clever ending, but to string us along. Precious time they could have spent developing the on-island actions and motivations far better than they did. The most the characters did when they returned to the island was move around - a lot. No honest interaction, no real character growth, no character movement at all.

I believe their intentions from the start of the season were that they were actually in an alternate world, that they "succeeded" in somehow creating an alternate universe in which the island "ceased to have any influence" over the people (though this is partially ruined when they showed the island underwater, it should just not exist). Without the island and its influence, it could not affect the people connected with it. I'll get to the avenue they should have taken a bit later in my post.

What the heck did I just watch?

Season 2 castSince they're in limbo, who is real and who is "fictional" and who was "real"? Obviously some are real people, most of the survivors that appear are real, while others aren't such as was implied with Jack and Juliet's son. My problem here is, who's real? Everyone connected to the island? Are Danielle and Alex real? Artz? Ana Lucia? Where's Michael and Walt? Mr. Eko? What about Ethan Goodspeed? Are those people who appeared but did not "pass" at the end just fictional constructs invented in this "meeting place" that Hurley talked about? Where were the other people? We got an indication that Ben was not ready, but why? What issues did he really still need to work out if he is dead? Was he going to make Danielle and Alex aware? Would Danielle be better off the way she is now, even if it's not "real"? How the heck does Eloise know about this stuff if they're all dead? Does she have "special powers" in limbo too?

With so many other things changed, why not just do away with the island and it's influence altogether? Have Ben grow up on the West Coast with his father and mother (who ended up not dying). Show that his (apparently fictional) life was completely different with two living parents. Assuming Alex was "real" and not some fabricated prop like Jack's son, she'd have lived her entire life off the island, never being born there.

Reason: Because the writers were stringing us along.

Had the "sideways" flashes taken only a small fraction of the screen time throughout the season, instead of taking up a huge chunk of the story from the on-island scenes it may not have been all that of a shock when the ultimate nature of the "sideways" reality was revealed. But no, we became invested in "fabricated" lives. Lives that all but ceased to exist when their eyes were opened to who they really were. Looking back, I would have been a lot happier had they just cut the serious fat from the "limbo world" scenes - instead we got Keamy talking about how good his eggs are, John having a good old time with his fictional wife, Jack hanging out with his fake kid in a few episodes. In the end it was like caring about what happens to completely fictional world and completely fictional characters on the the holodeck in Star Trek.

My Humble Solution

Season 5 castMy solution is not too drastically different from what we saw, but certainly keeps (in my opinion) sync with what we saw happen in the "sideways" reality. With everything they built up earlier in the season, they would have been much better off killing off EVERY character one by one throughout the season, have them "remember" their lives in the flash-sideways reality, and have them live their lives out in peace in the flash-sideways reality. We'd already spent the entire season believing it was an alternate reality (akin to "Back to the Future II") so it wouldn't have been that much of a shock to accept it as an actual alternate time line.

I'm not saying that this would solve everyone's problems with the show. The ending I think would have worked better would have most definitely not satisfied everyone. However, I think a lot of people are mad not necessarily the direction they went, but because they introduced the "sideways universe" and at the 11th hour, with moments before the clock struck one, revealed that the entire thing was LIMBO.

With all that said, had the "sideways universe" been *real* the backup plan Widmore talked about would have been Desmond "awakening" all the people in the other universe to what happened to them on the island. This is what they were doing for the last half of the season anyway. My first noticeable realization that the writers were pulling a fast one was when Eloise talked about if Desmond would take her son away from her. That was it - I knew they dropped the ball and that they were all dead. Stick to the original plan (or what appeared to be the original plan).

The Incident splits reality into two universes.

1) One reality where the island is "destroyed" and has no influence over the people, save the events that occurred before the island sunk.
2) One reality where the island is unaffected and "the incident" forces DHARMA to modify the Swan Station so they can push a button every 108 minutes to keep the electromagnetism under control. Okay. So there's two realities.

Now follow me:

1) Jacob dies.
2) Desmond "awakens" in the other reality and begins to do the same for the rest of the characters.
3) Have EVERY character die off one by one throughout the last season and finale. By the last hour of the finale, have some variation of Jack/Hurley/FakeLocke and maybe Ben/Richard be the only surviving people on the entire island.
4) Jack becomes the new protector of the island.
5) Jack secretly gets (Hurley?) to promise to take over as protector if Jack dies "he becomes like him"
6) Jack and FakeLocke must descend down to the Source together. Jack removes the stone, appears to be dying. Jack recovers long enough to fight with FakeLocke and push him into the center pit of the source.
7) Jack gathers just enough strength to put the stone back, saving the island.
8) Jack dies at the beach, where he first woke up after the crash. Would Hurley be the best choice to take over, would Richard? Going down the route I'm suggesting would mean that everyone closely associated with the island would be alive and "aware" of their old lives in the "sideways" universe once they've been made aware of it's existence. Could Richard take care of the island all alone, with everyone in the other reality? Could the island be moved to this 'sideways' universe entirely? The ultimate "fail safe?" I don't know - I personally think just about any explanation rather than "oh you're all dead and in limbo" would have been a better way to end the show.

But then again I'm not some small bald guy with glasses who decided not to answer jack about the show when they finally got around to penning the finale. Take the following from former producer, David Fury, a guy who left the show a few years back:
"What we are trying to do is make sure everything has a very Scully explanation, this is not a show about the supernatural, despite the fact that we have a very huge creature that likes to eat people. Despite the surreal, bizarre aspects of the island, there will be an explanation for it. It may not come for a very long time, but certain information about the island will explain how things are possible. We'll try to root it in real science or real pseudo-science. There will be no mystical reason or an island of monsters."


The End

The Substitute - Lost
I was satisfied emotionally, and it was a fine send off in that regard, but mentally? No freaking way.

If this world is somehow limbo, are the other people real? Is everyone there real? Why would they be forced to live out their lives again, especially since it was inferred that they "created" (assuming Hurley as the new Jacob) this place to "meet" - why is "Eloise Widmore" concerned about her son, "Daniel Widmore," unless they're both real? Which returns me to my previous question about why these other people would be forced to live in this "created" place? Why wouldn't they all go at once if they're supposed to all be dead?

I'm not even asking for answers about "what the island is" who built the statues, what happened to the original inhabitants, who did the DHARMA airdrops, and who was in the other outrigger during the ocean gunfight during one of season 5's time-flashes. I just wanted better closure for the brand new plot threads that were introduced during season 6 and ended up being pushed aside to tell a story about all the characters being in "limbo" after all of them were long dead.

I have a feeling that upon re-watching it that I won't buy it, that I will simply be unable to accept that this was the end result of everything that occurred *this* season. Forget about previous seasons, this one introduced a whole lot of new stuff to the mix, and a lot of it might not jive well once I get around to viewing it again, especially since we now know the end result.

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