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Previously on Lost
May 23, 2010 12:36 PM   Subscribe

On the cusp of the long-awaited series finale of Lost, people are understandably confused. Fortunately there are plenty of ways to catch up, from the fan compendium Lostpedia to the 2-hour ABC recap tonight at 7:00 EST to YouTube summaries of Seasons 1-5 from ABC (in 8:15) and from costumed fans (in five minutes). As for longtime fans, why not reminisce by revisiting the show's infamous bookends -- the artfully inscrutable scenes which introduce or conclude each season? Look inside for these and more, along with a cavalcade of interesting fan videos and other fun stuff. [Warning: Spoilers (for everything but the series finale) inside]

Season 1:
Pilot (opening scene), Parting Words (finale part one), Exodus (finale part two)

Season 2:
Make Your Own Kind of Music (opening scene), The Button (finale part one), On the Dock (finale part two)

Season 3:
Downtown (opening scene), Charlie (finale part one), We Have to Go Back (finale part two)

Season 4:
Oceanic Six (opening scene), The Constant, Alex, The Coffin (season finale)

Season 5:
Mineshaft (opening scene), Jacob and the Man in Black (finale part one), What About Me? (finale part two)

Season 6:
Sideways (opening scene part one), Underwater (opening scene part two), The Submarine, Across the Sea (mythology episode recap)

Bonus videos:
The crash of Flight 815 in real-time, 24-style
Differences between the original Flight 815 and the "alternative" version from Season 6
Synchronicities between Exodus (Season 1 finale) and LA X (Season 6 premiere)

Medley of Lost music from Michael Giacchino

Previously on Lost: "What?" - "What did you do?!" - "WALT!" - "Brotha"

The Lost Break-Beat Remix

Convergence (winner of ABC's fan promo contest)
Obsession (a sublimely funny runner-up)

Miscellaneous treats:

A.V. Club reviews/recaps for recent episodes

"Deleted scenes" comics - more
Comics from Nedroid and Kate Beaton - more (scroll down) - even more - last one
Lost "Showdowns" art
16 hidden Lost references in video games
Lost auction props (the good and the bad)
posted by Rhaomi (1195 comments total) 119 users marked this as a favorite

 
Mods: Can we please have this post stay? Thanks.
posted by empath at 12:47 PM on May 23, 2010 [6 favorites]


I'm not a Lost fan, but I can certainly respect a post of this caliber. Good job.
posted by painquale at 12:51 PM on May 23, 2010


My only prediction for tonight: Mr. Eko has a cameo.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:55 PM on May 23, 2010


Thanks for doing this properly.
posted by desjardins at 1:00 PM on May 23, 2010


it's all in vincent's head. i think i got that idea from a previous comment.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 1:02 PM on May 23, 2010


Nah, it will end with Jack and Lock sitting on log looking at a beach in 2210 watching a crashed space ship crew clamor onshore. Locke will turn to Jack and say "do you know how much I want to kill you right now?", and that will be the close.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:06 PM on May 23, 2010 [29 favorites]


Locke
posted by Burhanistan at 1:06 PM on May 23, 2010


WAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLTTTTTT!
posted by nonreflectiveobject at 1:07 PM on May 23, 2010 [3 favorites]


nice job with all the stuff that will keep me distracted from work all day! i didn't get into 'lost' until just recently; i watched all five prior seasons in the weeks before this season started--cool in some ways, but i missed out on much of the longer-term dwelling and theorizing.
posted by fallacy of the beard at 1:08 PM on May 23, 2010


I made my prediction 2 years ago and nailed it.
posted by empath at 1:10 PM on May 23, 2010 [7 favorites]


If you're hosting a party tonight, here's an Oceanic Airlines ticket in pdf form (the name on the ticket is an editable field).

Via maxpictures.com via Superpunch. (Maxpixtures is not linked as it kicked up a Google safe browsing warning so I put the pdf in a drop.io link to be safe.)
posted by sharkfu at 1:13 PM on May 23, 2010 [5 favorites]


> I made my prediction 2 years ago and nailed it.

I'd rate that a 50%. John Locke died and a copy of his body was inhabited by the smoke monster who can take on many forms. Not quite the same as the ego of Locke merging with the smoke monster.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:13 PM on May 23, 2010


Dude.
posted by Doktor Zed at 1:24 PM on May 23, 2010 [7 favorites]


Cool. I just finished re-watching The Constant after the earlier post - the ending was still good.
posted by Pronoiac at 1:30 PM on May 23, 2010


I have only been "into" a couple other TV shows like I have with LOST (The West Wing, Six Feet Under) but I honestly love this show. I know a lot of people complain about all the discussion surrounding the series, but I think that says something about the value of the show, too. I like it for a bunch of reasons (not the least of which is the excellent casting, which can make or break a show).

It's layered: it appeals to the low- and highbrow alike; it's "human," dealing with basic human experiences, and it's "literary," with tons of intertextual references--it's "self-aware" or "metatextual," or "metafilmic," or whatever you want to call it. My point is that it repays deeper reading/viewing, but one can watch it casually, and still "get" a lot out of the show.

It's also got tons of weird props, which, while cool and interesting, are simply mechanisms to steer the characters. Ultimately, it is about the characters--the people in the show (Cuse and Lindelof have said something along these lines). It's about falling, and redemption, and . . . wait for it . . . "the old verities and truths of the heart, the old universal truths lacking which any story is ephemeral and doomed - love and honor and pity and pride and compassion and sacrifice." Yes, I just quoted Faulkner. I admit to crying over certain characters' choices and sacrifices (Puneyvr, Fnllvq, Wva naq Fha). (ROT 13 for spoilers).

I admit I have allowed myself to be invested in the show-- despite what I perceive (and others, too) to be some missteps in Season 3/4/5, I think they really did have a good sense of where they were going with the story arc. Just watch the pilot again, and you'll see that there really is a clear overall design, but they just had to try to figure out how to "get there" (that it, to the point we are now) and when one has a story that has such underlying complexity, I can see how it might be a little tough to do it smoothly.

Okay, none of this is interesting to anyone who hasn't watched the show, and it's probably old hat to those of us who have, but I'm pretty excited about tonight.

Also

LOCKE.

(and Ben Linus)
posted by exlotuseater at 1:38 PM on May 23, 2010 [6 favorites]


We have to go back! Thanks for the post. I never watched the show until this past winter, but as it turns out Lost is pretty much the best friend you could ask for when you find yourself suddenly dumped, unemployed, and broke all at once.

If there's any way to pre-empt the Lost haters who inevitably colonize these threads, perhaps it's by assessing what the show has done really well over the years.

Especially in its early years, Lost had a very diverse cast, and one of the things that sold me on it when I started watching was its subtle and complex treatment of characters like Eko, Michael, and Sun and Jin. This strength has dwindled somewhat in the last few seasons as the writers have shorted the character development in favor of all the destiny/Jacob/good/evil etc. baloney—and Michael's narrative from Season 2 on is pretty awful, I admit—but it still deserves comment. I think Eko is still my favorite character; it's interesting to imagine where Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje might have led the narrative if he had stayed on.

Lost is also a pretty amazing exploration of the serial format. Obviously it doesn't always work—I'm really sick of the rote Season 6 episode cliffhanger (Locke makes an ominous remark, strings shriek, cut to black)—but think back to all the show's greatest successes. The flash-forward in "Through the Looking Glass" is probably the best example, but there are many others—the Locke reveal in "Walkabout," the light from the hatch in "Deus Ex Machina," pretty much every Desmond episode. The show used the flashback device as a way to deepen its characters, then started exploiting our investment in that device as a way of surprising and tricking us. The returns have diminished a bit since Season 4, but the classics still hold up well—better, in my opinion, than even a lot of cinematic tricksters like "The Usual Suspects." Most of the opening/closing sequences linked in Rhaomi's post, for example, are among the show's finer moments.

And even though the writing doesn't always live up to it anymore, the show's basic conceit is still a pretty good one. The people who are lost on the island are lost in their lives, stuck in patterns they can't seem to escape from. If the writers know what they're doing at this point (which is up in the air—I think Seasons 5 and 6 have been the worst by far), this is the angle that seems to offer the greatest narrative potency for the finale. We'll see.
posted by cirripede at 1:42 PM on May 23, 2010 [4 favorites]


I love this show so much, and Rhaomi, you are my new personal hero.

I know it's not perfect, but damn if I wouldn't rather watch a show that is insanely ambitious and misses more than it hits than one that aims for and usually hits mediocre.

I've been really surprised over the last few weeks how genuinely sad I am to see it go.
posted by lunasol at 1:46 PM on May 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


You know a show has got you when the theme music or variations of thematic compositions (even divorced from visuals) from the show put a lump in your throat . . .
posted by exlotuseater at 1:49 PM on May 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


i'm hoping they'll jump back a bit further in time to the beginnings of the island, maybe dip into the egyptian connection...would be cool to see that statue again.

from the interviews it sounds like they always had a general idea of where it is going but still kept things loose enough to follow directions or characters that more captured the viewer imagination. i don't get the criticisms and questions over whether they made it up as they went along, since making it up as they go along is pretty much what storytellers do. i don't think the story is any less authentic because it did not spring whole from the creators' heads before they filmed the first scene; given its complexities and how successfully it has engaged viewers, it seems more impressive, not less.
posted by fallacy of the beard at 1:58 PM on May 23, 2010


I'm sure that during the finale, Russell will again be voted fan favorite, but he won't actually win the grand prize.
posted by hippybear at 1:58 PM on May 23, 2010 [6 favorites]


I watched the first season and a half, got distracted by various real life events, and never picked it back up. I (mostly) enjoyed what I saw, so I don't really qualify as a hater.

That said, I know so many people emotionally involved in Lost I kind of hope they go the Newhart or St. Elsewhere route. Or, as a friend of mine suggested, have Jack kill Locke in the first fifteen minutes and devote the rest of the running time to footage of Abrams and Lindelof sitting on a beach and lighting cigars with $100 bills.
posted by total warfare frown at 1:59 PM on May 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Guess it's unlikely to happen now, but I wish it would end with Rose and Bernard the only people who got it right. Thanks for the post!
posted by catchingsignals at 2:00 PM on May 23, 2010 [5 favorites]


Michael's narrative from Season 2 on is pretty awful...

I'm really sick of the rote Season 6 episode cliffhanger...

The returns have diminished a bit since Season 4...

And even though the writing doesn't always live up to it anymore...

cirripede you have, inadvertently I suspect, summed up exactly why I won't be sorry to see Lost go.

What was once a superb arc-based drama has turned into little more than a joke. Everything I once loved about Lost (compelling character-based stories, gigantic WTF moments, superb cliff-hangers, jaw-droping reveals) has become.......well, I don't know what it's become. But it sure ain't that anymore.

I'm hanging on to the bitter end clinging to the hope that the Cuselof have one final Ace up their sleeve. That the last 10 minutes of Sunday night will blow my mind the way Lost has done in the past.

But given the trainwreck that has been this season, that hope is pretty fucking thin.
posted by FfejL at 2:00 PM on May 23, 2010 [6 favorites]


FfejL, I don't exactly disagree with you, but I've been wondering: could this sense of diminishing returns be because it's always more fun to wonder about mysteries than to get answers to them?
posted by Bromius at 2:03 PM on May 23, 2010 [3 favorites]


Guess it's unlikely to happen now, but I wish it would end with Rose and Bernard the only people who got it right.

I will be so sad/pissed if we don't get any good Rose/Bernard on-island resolution. The dropping of their storylines is the biggest beef I have with the last two seasons.
posted by lunasol at 2:03 PM on May 23, 2010 [5 favorites]


As an experiment recently, I wrote a horror story in parts and sent it to my friends as I was writing it. Even though it was only 10 short sections that I wrote over the course of a week, and I knew what the ending would be before I started writing it, I was surprised at how often I wrote myself into a corner and had to come up with handwavy explanations for previous events and came up with better ideas as I went that I had to somehow make work with what I had already written. A minor, purely functional character (a librarian) became almost a love interest by the end of a story, which I hadn't intended to have in the story at all.

What I'm saying is that for everyone who is bitching about how the writers of Lost were winging it and making shit up as they went along, try writing some serial fiction and see how long you can stick to your original plan and how many compromises you make.
posted by empath at 2:10 PM on May 23, 2010 [8 favorites]


I will be so sad/pissed if we don't get any good Rose/Bernard on-island resolution.

mouse over for spoiler.
posted by empath at 2:12 PM on May 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's pretty clear to anyone who has watched it attentively that the writers have had some general idea of how things were going to unfold from the start. They got sidetracked a few places, dropped some other storylines, and winged/futzed their way around some others. But, the overall arc of the story seems intact, and there are so many nuances to enjoy that make it just fun TV. It's not something that you can take seriously like The Wire, nor should you. It's just fun serial drama that is difficult to predict and that rewards careful viewing. Your loss if you don't like it.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:15 PM on May 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


I wish it was legal to take all the episodes of lost and recut them into a coherent narrative without so many dull and insultingly vague stretches. The first season was initially exciting but lost it's bloom prett quickly and the second season was just not good enough to keep watching. I've heard that it's picked back up but I bet that a lot of that is just selection bias on the part of the audience. Lost seems sort of cool but also annoying and I can't see spending eighty or more ours on sort of cool but deeply flawed. I hope the ending is something that can't be spoiled in case I get to eighty and have spent my whole life consuming every better tv show and movie.
posted by I Foody at 2:18 PM on May 23, 2010


FfejL: cirripede you have, inadvertently I suspect, summed up exactly why I won't be sorry to see Lost go.

Unfortunately, the truth is I agree with you completely. I am not insensible of the show's flaws, and if it were up to me I would have ended it at season 3. The drop-off from "Through the Looking Glass" to where we are now has been precipitous, to say the least, with a few notable exceptions ("The Constant" chief among them).

With that said, I think it would be nice for Metafilter users who enjoy Lost (even those, like me, who think the show has done a nosedive in recent seasons) to have a thread that isn't dominated by carping about how awful the show is or has always been. A few people seem to show up in every one of these threads to remind us what a stupid show this is and how they'd never watch it. It being the eve of the finale and all, might be nice to lay off the slagging for once.
posted by cirripede at 2:19 PM on May 23, 2010 [9 favorites]


> I wish it was legal to take all the episodes of lost and recut them into a coherent narrative without so many dull and insultingly vague stretches.

In a better world, LOST would've been an HBO series with no more than 10 episodes per season. Network TV tried to milk the show as a kind of endless serial drama than a story with a definite beginning, middle, and end. Plus, HBO would have random sex scenes.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:21 PM on May 23, 2010 [3 favorites]


...could this sense of diminishing returns be because it's always more fun to wonder about mysteries than to get answers to them?

i think it is something that happens to most quality shows. people like the sense of mystery and novelty of getting into a new tv universe, but then they become impatient when the show doesn't successfully reinvent itself time and again to recapture that first-love feeling; so a show that maintains fairly consistent quality is perceived as a creative failure. but also: the same viewers who demand this are often merciless when it comes to character or story directions that take risks they don't happen to like.

personally, i think tv has had some good creative phases in the past few years; but i think audiences are generally in a pissy mood, ready to jump on the first 'misstep' as if it were a crime, and prepared to hate next week what they loved last week.

it's kinda similar to something lady gaga said a while back (i think referring to magazine coverage), that people love you when you show them something fun and different, and they tell you to just keep being yourself, but what they really want is for you to fall in line with their preconceived notions of what you should be, and then resent you for fucking it all up.
posted by fallacy of the beard at 2:22 PM on May 23, 2010 [4 favorites]


Rose and Bernard and Vincent. They're the only ones I still care about.


could this sense of diminishing returns be because it's always more fun to wonder about mysteries than to get answers to them?

No, it's just that the answers are so lame. A magical fairy light in a cave? Really? That's what all the no-baby-having, Walt-kidnapping, 16-years-of-French-SOSing, ghost-whispering, dead-reviving, paraplegic-curing, random-mass-murdering, Constant-time-traveling has all led up to?
Faugh, I say. Faugh.

And the epic battle set up for seasons between Ben and Widmore, that's pffft? Random characters introduced at the last minute, then killed off for no reason?

They just better have a happy ending for Rose, Bernard and Vincent, is all.
posted by CunningLinguist at 2:23 PM on May 23, 2010 [8 favorites]


I'm surprised that there has been such season to season writer churn on this show. I would have thought that they'd have held on to certain writers, like Drew Goddard, with clenched fists. Much of the writing of season 6 hasn't seemed up to it (although the worst episode of the entire run (IMHO), this season's "Across the Sea", was actually written by Carlton Cuse & Damon Lindelof), and I'm not sure why. I'm still a big fan, but truthfully I was far more excited about this season's premiere than I am for the series finale. [...but I"m still waiting for it to air tonight with great anticipation]
posted by Auden at 2:27 PM on May 23, 2010


Random characters introduced at the last minute, then killed off for no reason

I've heard this complaint a lot, and frankly I'm a little puzzled by it. I'll admit that Dogen and Lennon appear like a weird digression in hindsight, but Zoe served an important narrative purpose, in that Widmore needed someone to talk to to give us some idea of his plan (whatever it might be). There's a lot to complain about, surely, but that?
posted by Bromius at 2:32 PM on May 23, 2010


Reading too much about Lost has prompted my frazzled brain to devise an alternate ending that I realize could not possibly have been filmed without totally getting leaked out because it would've involved reassembling the original cast (including a 6-years-younger-Walt) and reconstructing the original crashed plane on the beach (how much CGI could the production afford?). Because events occurring in the "Sideways World" are only a few days after the 'crash that didn't happen'. So if all the 'magic' of The Island was extinguished and the timelines merged, what's the chance of ending up on the island shortly after the crash - maybe about the time the totally-normal rescue crews arrive?

But with Jack volunteering to be 'the new Jacob' and Man in Black in Locke's body, I'd say Burhanistan's prediction is 25-50% likely of being absolutely right.

Yes, it's all about the characters, and the writers/producers have thrown a lot of shit at them just to see how they react, which is not unlike how the God a lot of folks believe in treated people in the Bible. But Lost's writers have a couple thousand more years of storytelling than the Bible's authors to learn from. And Lost is not trying to build a religion around its mythology, like Star Wars accidentally did (which George Lucas tried to fix with the midichoridian explanation of Jediism in the prequels), and that's one big reason why many like FfejL and CunningLinguist are already disappointed and many more will be by the end of the finale.

As for going for a St. Elsewhere-esque ending, I must note that Lost is already linked into the Tommy Westphall Multiverse (pdf: page 5) and Chad Allen (who played Tommy) is 35 and still acting (and almost could have played Sawyer or Charlie, but that would've been TOO obvious).

And a 10-episode series on HBO? No, but about 24-30 hours might have been just right.
posted by oneswellfoop at 2:35 PM on May 23, 2010


lunasol: "I love this show so much, and Rhaomi, you are my new personal hero.

I know it's not perfect, but damn if I wouldn't rather watch a show that is insanely ambitious and misses more than it hits than one that aims for and usually hits mediocre.

I've been really surprised over the last few weeks how genuinely sad I am to see it go.
"

Thanks, lunasol. And for the record, this post was meant as a reaction to yours -- I'd actually started collecting the premiere/finale links last week, and would have posted it earlier today had my browser not lost the post halfway through when I navigated from the preview page by accident.

And speaking of which, here are some videos I forgot to include when I rewrote it:

Season 1: Two Players, Two Sides and Locked Out Again

Additionally, in light of the conversation between Jacob and the Man in Black from the end of Season 5, this Season 1 conversation between Jack and Locke is incredibly striking, and strong evidence for the "they had this planned from the start" argument. It's interesting they went out of their way to show viewers the MIB-Mother/Adam & Eve connection in "Across the Sea", but leave much stronger parallels like this unremarked on, and only noticeable to the most attentive fans.

exlotuseater: "You know a show has got you when the theme music or variations of thematic compositions (even divorced from visuals) from the show put a lump in your throat . . ."

Oh, Giacchino's a genius, alright. He's also responsible for the brilliant score from Up.

"I will be so sad/pissed if we don't get any good Rose/Bernard on-island resolution. The dropping of their storylines is the biggest beef I have with the last two seasons."

Wasn't their resolution that they "quit the game," so to speak? I remember the core Losties stumbling upon them living happily alone in the jungle, not wanting any part of their adventures. It seemed nicely fitting.

"No, it's just that the answers are so lame. A magical fairy light in a cave? Really?"

I admit to being disappointed by that, too. "Across the Sea" was one of the weakest episodes of the series, IMHO. I've heard defenders of Glowy Cave make the point that it's similar to the Force from Star Wars: a mystical, unexplainable in-universe phenomenon that simply advances the plot and the show's philosophy, a plot device that would be ruined if it were actually explained (see: midichlorians).

I don't mind handwaving when it advances the story. But the way they presented the genesis of Jacob and MIB felt very lame, and it gave no grounding to the Island or its Rules. I don't care how the Island moves, or how women can't get pregnant, or how MIB is prevented from killing the Candidates. I just want to know why. But that episode not only failed to answer those questions, but robbed Jacob and his brother of their wise, godlike properties. Now they're just as clueless and winging it as the rest of the cast. It felt subpar overall, like something better left to a tie-in graphic novel or an inter-season ARG.

Anyway, I hope these last two and a half hours can bring some resolution to that.
posted by Rhaomi at 2:39 PM on May 23, 2010 [4 favorites]


Rhaomi: "And for the record, this post was meant as a reaction to yours"

Crap -- this post was not meant as a reaction to yours, etc.
posted by Rhaomi at 2:40 PM on May 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


I, for one, would like to see the Dharma van driven straight into the EM pocket and come out the other side in Tunisia. "The stainless steel construction made flux dispersal..."etc. etc.

io9 has a great roundup of "the best LOST memes, videos, t-shirts, fan art and more". My favorite from their selections, far and away, is artist Michael Blaine "Drawsgood" Myers Jr.'s LOST: The Animated Series. I'm also especially fond of Lost Verticals Daily on Tumblr (1, 2, 3, 4, 5.)

Mostly, though, I love what the show has done by fully embracing non-linear storytelling. Bold move for a serialized TV show, even in the age of Netflix/DVR.
posted by unregistered_animagus at 2:40 PM on May 23, 2010


Season 1:
Pilot (opening scene)


7 minutes of television that kept me watching a show for 6 years.
posted by thanotopsis at 2:47 PM on May 23, 2010 [8 favorites]


I've been thinking about it, and yes, the pilot was tremendous, but what really hooked me for six years was the reveal at the end of that first Locke episode, the fourth I think. Man, I was a goner when I saw that wheelchair. Now *that* was storytelling.
posted by CunningLinguist at 2:49 PM on May 23, 2010 [4 favorites]


Ira Glass on storytelling

I think this applies to Lost and explains the appeal well.
The other thing that that little anecdote has is that it's raising a question from the beginning. And that's the other thing you want. You want bait. You want to constantly be raising questions. So in that little story the bait is that the house is very quiet and so the question hanging in the air is why? It's implied that any question you raise you're going to answer.

And so again that's another thing you want to manipulate. You want to be constantly raising questions and answering them from the beginning of the story and that the whole shape of a story is that you're throwing out questions to keep people watching or listening and then answering them along the way.

OK. So you have the building block which is the actual sequence of actions, the anecdote part of it. This thing happened and then this thing and then this thing. That's one building block. And the other big building block, your other tool, is that you have a moment of reflection. And by that I mean at some point somebody's got to say here's why the hell you're listening to this story. Like here's the point of this story. Here's the bigger something that we're driving at. Here's why I'm wasting your time with all this.
Lost is like the Shepard tone of story telling. A Shepard/Risset tone is a series of overlapping rising tones, that give the impression of constantly rising. Lost was kind of written the same way. In any given episode, there were at least 3-4 stories working in parallel in various levels of resolution. Every episode had new questions being asked and old questions answered, giving the impression of constantly being on the cusp of something important -- almost like a movie with a 120 hour long 3rd act.
posted by empath at 2:50 PM on May 23, 2010 [15 favorites]


I can't wait for someone to do a 10 min summary of the whole show like they did for BSG.
posted by special-k at 2:58 PM on May 23, 2010


I've heard defenders of Glowy Cave make the point that it's similar to the Force from Star Wars: a mystical, unexplainable in-universe phenomenon that simply advances the plot and the show's philosophy, a plot device that would be ruined if it were actually explained (see: midichlorians).

Richard Feynman on 'why?'.

"Why?" is a question which ultimately has no answer. The cave is just an arbitrary 'first cause'. It's a metaphor, it's the meaning of life. Ultimately every question has a cave somewhere as an answer. It's the point where you're satisfied that you understand enough that you don't need to ask 'why?' any more.
posted by empath at 3:01 PM on May 23, 2010 [3 favorites]


If I do not find out what happened to Vincent I shall go on a tristate killing spree. FYI.
posted by elizardbits at 3:07 PM on May 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


If I do not find out what happened to Vincent I shall go on a tristate killing spree. FYI.

He's with Rose and Bernard.
posted by empath at 3:11 PM on May 23, 2010


empath: "The cave is just an arbitrary 'first cause'. It's a metaphor, it's the meaning of life. Ultimately every question has a cave somewhere as an answer."

This is what I mean by handwaving, and I really don't mind it. The Island being a locus of Power that must be Protected is fine by me.

It's all the arcane, seemingly arbitrary "rules" that don't make any sense. Why, for example, is the Monster repelled by lines of ash? Why can't Jacob kill his brother? Why do women inevitably miscarry? If there was some basis for these rules, even something handwavy like "the ash is sacred" or "Jacob and his twin are the same spirit" or "the death of Mother cursed motherhood," it would be fine. But they're left totally hanging, so many specific laws and prohibitions known by so many people, but with no source. It's obnoxious, especially when lesser mysteries have been tied into the big picture so well.
posted by Rhaomi at 3:15 PM on May 23, 2010 [7 favorites]


I don't think they're finished the explanations of the source, tbh
posted by empath at 3:23 PM on May 23, 2010


A propos of nothing, my friend who doesn't watch Lost knows Michael Emerson vaguely and was marveling to me last night that just a few years ago he was hanging out in her kitchen, just some guy at brunch, and now he's this internationally known villain/megastar.
I, of course, pictured the breakfast scene when Ben gave captured Kate a dress.
posted by CunningLinguist at 3:27 PM on May 23, 2010 [4 favorites]


i don't get the criticisms and questions over whether they made it up as they went along, since making it up as they go along is pretty much what storytellers do.

Very few professional storytellers do this (outside the weird world of TV). The may initially make it up as they go along, but they don't feed it to the audience as they are making it up. They (perhaps) make it up as they go along; then, BEFORE showing it to an audience, they revise and redraft it many times. Part of that process is to weed out the inevitable bugs that get inserted when you make something up as you go along. "Oh, I never wound up returning to that character I introduced in Chapter One. I'd better insert her into a later chapter or cut her out of the earlier one."

I don't intend the above to be a criticism of the LOST writers. I'm just responding to the "that's what storytellers do" comment. I've lived most of my life around storytellers (and I am one), and almost none of them -- the professional ones, anyway -- do that. For good reason.

There have been a few master storytellers who have been able to tell well-crafted stories that were made up in real time, in front of an audience, but they are great and rare talents. If most of us try to do that, we'll fail.

We won't fail everyone. Some audience members live very much in-the-moment. In Chapter Nine, they're don't think much about (or care much about -- or even remember much about) what happened in Chapter Five. They will be happy as-long-as Chapter Nine is an awesome event in and of itself.

Other audience members (who get accused of being anal nit-pickers by the in-the-moment crowd), tend to naturally hold the big-story-picture in their heads. For them, a main part of the thrill is seeing all the little strands come together. And if they don't, it's a major let down.

I don't think either type of viewer is "wrong" or inferior to the other. It's just two very different personality types. They tend to have a hand time understanding each other.

Another interesting schism: some people, when discussing a story, think of it as a piece of communication sent from the "mouths" of the storytellers to the "ears" of the listeners. They carry on a relationship with those storytellers while they are listening to the story. That relationship may be imaginary, but it feels real and it's part of the fun for them.

For another type of viewer, it's mostly about the story. A bunch of things happen. They are either exciting or they're not. The end. I'm in that latter camp. Due to that, it took me years to understand the point of comments like this: "try writing some serial fiction and see how long you can stick to your original plan and how many compromises you make." (I'm not saying it's a pointless comment. I'm saying it's not the sort of thing I'd say or think to say, and it's not a natural way for me to think.)

Sometimes I get in discussion in which I claim some aspect of a story is poorly crafted. I expect the person I'm talking to to either agree or disagree. What floors me -- because it's outside my mental box -- is when he says, "Well, you can't blame the storyteller for that because..." and then he tells me that "he only had three weeks to write the story" or "his budget was really tiny" or whatever.

I'm floored because, to me, that has nothing to do with what I'm talking about. I'm talking about the story, which is either good or bad (or some mixture). It doesn't matter -- to me -- WHY it's good or bad. That's a totally different topic.

But to my companion, things aren't that clear cut. He has a relationship with the storyteller and that relationship is in his mind WHILE he's listening to the story. In a sense, for him, the storyteller is part of the story.

This is an easier mindset to fall into than ever, because we live in a world of DVD commentary and producer/writer podcasts and blogs. But I'm still floored when, say, I remark that it's a big problem that Mr. Eko died and the person I'm talking to says, "That's because the actor wanted to leave the series." I'm talking Dorothy; he's talking Judy Garland.
posted by grumblebee at 3:28 PM on May 23, 2010 [17 favorites]


empath: "I don't think they're finished the explanations of the source, tbh"

Indeed, that's part of what I'm hoping for from tonight. And if worse comes to worst, I've heard Darlton may tie up some big loose ends outside of the finale, perhaps in the bonus material for the final DVD set. But that strikes me as a bit of a cop-out, honestly.
posted by Rhaomi at 3:36 PM on May 23, 2010


Looks like NYT has a few recent interviews with Cuse and Lindeloff, answering reader questions. I guess C & L do this kind of thing a lot, but I thought an interesting array of info was covered in these interviews. And they're text not video, which I like.

5/17 5/18 5/19

(All linked from this NYT blog entry about the series wrapping up).
posted by sentient at 3:37 PM on May 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Team Ben, checking in.

I didn't watch LOST until the beginning of S5 (have since seen the entire series at least twice, save tonight's finale). The caliber of storytelling isn't always superb, but it's always captivating.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 3:42 PM on May 23, 2010


Very few professional storytellers do this (outside the weird world of TV). The may initially make it up as they go along, but they don't feed it to the audience as they are making it up. They (perhaps) make it up as they go along; then, BEFORE showing it to an audience, they revise and redraft it many times.

Good luck writing, filming and editing 120 hours of television before airing an episode.
posted by empath at 3:42 PM on May 23, 2010


I can't lie to you about your chances. But you have my sympathies.
posted by Joe Beese at 3:49 PM on May 23, 2010


I wrote a blog entry a few weeks ago after "Across the Sea" about how a deep and resounding disappointment has been settling in over the past few weeks, after watching the series since Season One. Last week's episode did nothing to dissuade me from this sentiment--it was filled with cheap shots (Richard) and unbearable James-Bond-villainesque explanations of motivations. In short, I think that LOST has the opposite problem that The X-files had: though the producers had it all planned in advance enough to have the pieces cohere into something cool, all the answers they've given us have been facile, obvious, and trite--poorly written, emotionally obvious.

Sorry to sound so bitter, a few hours before the finale. I don't mean to harsh on anyone's mellow. Really, at this point, the most I feel I can do is to lower my expectations to the bottom basement. That way, I might still come out feeling . . . well, I can't hope for pleasantly surprised. Not-overhwelmingly-enraged, is what I'm hoping for.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 3:52 PM on May 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


posted by Rhaomi (55 comments total) [add to favorites] 23 users marked this as a favorite [!]

unnnghghgh
posted by trunk muffins at 3:52 PM on May 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


people like the sense of mystery and novelty of getting into a new tv universe, but then they become impatient when the show doesn't successfully reinvent itself time and again to recapture that first-love feeling;

Not for me in terms of Lost. It became clear that the characters were subordinate to the plot, which they kept stretching out and out to the point of being unbelievable. I left somewhere around the 2nd season, still checked out occasionally, just to see what type of shit they writers were pulling.

There's no way this series can end satisfactorily, they've bullshitted themselves for too long.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:52 PM on May 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


He's with Rose and Bernard.

YES BUT IS HE A CRUEL AND CAPRICIOUS GOD OR NOT, DAMMIT?
posted by elizardbits at 3:57 PM on May 23, 2010 [6 favorites]


empath: "Good luck writing, filming and editing 120 hours of television before airing an episode."

I don't have much of an opinion on Lost, having only seen a few episodes and then not bothering to watch more, but I have to say, there are a bunch of TV series and other long-form serialized fiction that has things at least roughly planned out from the beginning.

This doesn't mean filming and editing, or even writing finished scripts, but it's not uncommon to have a general arc, who lives and who dies, the answers to the big questions, etc., all plotted out, to a reasonable level of detail.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 3:58 PM on May 23, 2010


It's all the arcane, seemingly arbitrary "rules" that don't make any sense. Why, for example, is the Monster repelled by lines of ash? Why can't Jacob kill his brother? Why do women inevitably miscarry? If there was some basis for these rules, even something handwavy like "the ash is sacred" or "Jacob and his twin are the same spirit" or "the death of Mother cursed motherhood," it would be fine. But they're left totally hanging, so many specific laws and prohibitions known by so many people, but with no source. It's obnoxious, especially when lesser mysteries have been tied into the big picture so well.

Yes. Exactly. Except we know why Jacob can't kill his brother. His m0mz made it that way. If that seems too simplistic for you, you probably haven't been watching closely, because everything tends to be exactly this simplistic in the LOST universe.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 3:59 PM on May 23, 2010


Pretty soon I'm going to have to log off the series of tubes to prevent west coast spoilerage. I have a mental list of unanswered questions, but I'm not expecting all of them to be answered.

I am also very much looking forward to making Greg Nog's popcorn recipe in anticipation of tonight's finale.
posted by ambrosia at 4:01 PM on May 23, 2010


Whatever happens, Terry O'Quinn and Michael Emerson have made it worth it.
posted by catchingsignals at 4:02 PM on May 23, 2010 [14 favorites]


Good luck writing, filming and editing 120 hours of television before airing an episode.

That's a valid point, empath. But I think there are two reasons we get so many plot holes on TV. One is what you just brought up. The realities of making a long-running, on-going story on television are going to throw all sorts of circumstances at you beyond your control.

Reason Two, though, is that MANY writers and producers just don't care about "the small stuff." If you really want to preserve the integrity of the plot, you have have a monk-like devotion to doing so. I know this, because I do (and even I fail), and I am continually at war with collaborators who think I'm anal (which I am). And I don't even work in TV. I work in the theatre.

I'll mention that we must do X in Act Five, because we imply we are going to do X back in Act One, but many of my collaborators will say things like, "Oh, no one will remember that" or "It's all about the characters." They are not wrong. But neither am I. It's not about right or wrong. It's about personal aesthetics and priorities. For me, it's all about the characters -- AND the tiny details.

If I was working on a show like LOST, I'd keep a big list of all the unanswered questions, and I'd hold a staff meeting in which we'd talk about how we were going to answer ALL of them. And I'm sure (if we had inserted as many questions as the LOST writers have), we'd fail. But we'd try very, very, very hard not to. And when we'd fail, we'd be honest about it. We'd say we were sorry, but we'd never say, "If you care about that stuff, you don't get it. It's all about the characters."

I won't go into it, here, because this will turn into a book if I do, but I also think there are some very specific ways you construct a story like LOST -- a big mystery/fantasy/conspiracy story -- for a medium like TV that will give you a good change of being about to tell it without running into so many problems. You need to be honest with yourself, in advance, that actors will probably leave and so on. You need to plan for that from the beginning. It CAN be done -- even without knowing the specifics of what sort of emergencies will happen.
posted by grumblebee at 4:02 PM on May 23, 2010 [5 favorites]


Except we know why Jacob can't kill his brother. His m0mz made it that way. If that seems too simplistic for you, you probably haven't been watching closely, because everything tends to be exactly this simplistic in the LOST universe.

Maybe I've read too much mythology and fantasy, but I had no problem with that.
posted by empath at 4:03 PM on May 23, 2010


This is an easier mindset to fall into than ever, because we live in a world of DVD commentary and producer/writer podcasts and blogs. But I'm still floored when, say, I remark that it's a big problem that Mr. Eko died and the person I'm talking to says, "That's because the actor wanted to leave the series." I'm talking Dorothy; he's talking Judy Garland.

The thing is, though, if you know an actor is leaving the show (and whether you're the kind of person who goes looking for info like that or otherwise, it may be thrust upon you anymore), it becomes hard to blame the storyteller. You may say, "Wow, I wish they had come up with a better way to take that character off the show, something that felt less forced," and you may even say, "Wow, I wish that actor hadn't left the show," but -- knowing what you know -- it's hard to say and mean, "Wow, those assholes killed off my favorite character!"

I don't think any other storytelling medium faces comparable challenges. If an actor drops out of your movie (or dies, or is arrested, or sues the production company or whatever), you just reshoot his scenes. That could be difficult or require extensive rethinking, but it can be done. A character can't drop out of a novel. But on TV, if you've spent three years building a character into an integral part of your story, losing the actor can mean trouble. Occasionally an elegant solution may be devised, and there's always the old soap opera trick of just having a voiceover guy boom out "the role of X is now played by X" the first time the new actor shows up onscreen (which I think most non-soap viewers would regard as downright Lynchian), but mostly, you're behind the 8-ball and can only do what you can do.

Similarly, I think it would be hard to begin a TV series with a concrete outline of what your show would look like by the end. There are just too many variables -- not least of which is not knowing how long your show will be in production. I think the best you can do is plan each season (or half-season, or however many episodes you have a guarantee for) as satisfying enough that it could be the end. Some premises make this harder than others, of course.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 4:04 PM on May 23, 2010


Where can I find a quick summary of how it ends in less than a thousand words for someone who has not really watched more than 2 episodes and has no real interest in Lost?

Is that even possible?
posted by freud at 4:04 PM on May 23, 2010


Crap -- this post was not meant as a reaction to yours, etc.

I figured as much. Once again, seriously great post. Lots of great stuff to dig through.

posted by lunasol at 4:05 PM on May 23, 2010


made it up as they go along

Isn't the problem not that they made it up as they went along, but that (according to some) they didn't do a great job of it? I think that making up as you go along is something that happens often in storytelling, sometimes with revision, sometimes without. I think the issue is more that it seems (to some) like they pulled stuff out of a hat, or introduced new ideas just to play around, as they went along. And that (as a result?) the series arc ended up being a little screwy, what with the last season's rapid-fire, matter-of-fact, answering of ongoing complex questions, etc. But none of these problems is a necessary consequence of making it up as you go along.

Relatedly, I wonder if there was a Lost 'Bible' for the writers, like there was a Battlestar Galactica bible.
posted by sentient at 4:05 PM on May 23, 2010


Maybe I've read too much mythology and fantasy, but I had no problem with that.

I'm totally down with mythology and fantasy. Like, books with talking psychic horses, FTW! What gets to me is when something is inconsistent in its own logic or mythology, or when it shoots for, say, hard SF explanations with handwavey references to quantum mechanics sometimes and magic golden caves others.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 4:06 PM on May 23, 2010


Nedroid's twitpic account has a bunch of Lost comics I approve of.
posted by jabberjaw at 4:07 PM on May 23, 2010 [3 favorites]


Rhaomi - I've heard that there will be 20 minutes of additional footage on the DVD. If tonight's finale leaves viewers hanging enough that the DVD is necessary to make sense of it, there are going to be a lot of truly enraged fans. Especially since it won't be released until August.
posted by desjardins at 4:08 PM on May 23, 2010


Very few professional storytellers do this...

not that i'm so familiar, but was oral storytelling tradition entirely composed beforehand? my impression was that, while the story might have a loose structure, the telling of it was spontaneous, partially in response to the immediate audience reaction; and from telling to telling, a story was revised with the same considerations.

but also i think to dickens, who did a lot of serial writing (as opposed to writing it all at once and then publishing), and my understanding is that his writing was affected by audience reaction, or when readers were unexpectedly drawn to a particular character.

but as you referred to, tv has other logistical issues to factor in. those constraints are real, and the story has to be flexible enough to accommodate them.

i tend to be forgiving with the ebb and flow of a story, and maybe that means i'm not the most tasteful critic; but i very much enjoy the process. i don't expect to engage with every element or relate to every character, because that's not the case in real life. i think it is an extra treat when there is a tight long-arc of the story, but i often find that gaps in my attention or interest can be more than redeemed by a particularly affecting scene or character process, or cycle of tension and resolution, or use of music. i don't like everything, so i'm not necessarily easy; but in my own mind i reward something that might not necessarily work overall, because i appreciate the effort, but also it's hard for me not to find something to like where some aspect of talent is involved. and in tv, i think there are many creative lulls where networks and producers are afraid to take chances; there's not a high tolerance for risk, but risk is where the shit goes down, and so i applaud it even when it doesn't quite work.

a good thing, it seems to me, is that with lost there seem to be more complaints about the story direction and loose ends, but i don't hear complaints (unless i'm misreading) about something i like in the show, which is that it is not afraid of long, meditative. quiet scenes. (i remember how in twin peaks david lynch used to push those to a hilarious extreme, and the frustration some people had with it). with lost i would have expected that to be more a complaint. but then again, when they showed the summary update show before season six, i was surprised at how much story there was to be explained, so it could be that they've got the pace mixed just right for most people.
posted by fallacy of the beard at 4:09 PM on May 23, 2010


Where can I find a quick summary of how it ends in less than a thousand words for someone who has not really watched more than 2 episodes and has no real interest in Lost?

It hasn't ended yet, but I'd look at the season summaries on Wikipedia.

Or you could just watch Hurley's awesome rundown from last season.
posted by lunasol at 4:10 PM on May 23, 2010


Is that even possible?

No. We don't know how it ends. The finale hasn't aired yet.
posted by desjardins at 4:11 PM on May 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Huh, it looks like the "2 hour ABC recap" I mentioned in the post is more of a retrospective/production diary/interview-fest. Weird they'd air that instead of giving people a final opportunity to catch up.

Also, hearing the actor who plays Jin speak in his true accent is weird.
posted by Rhaomi at 4:14 PM on May 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


The thing is, though, if you know an actor is leaving the show (and whether you're the kind of person who goes looking for info like that or otherwise, it may be thrust upon you anymore), it becomes hard to blame the storyteller. You may say, "Wow, I wish they had come up with a better way to take that character off the show, something that felt less forced," and you may even say, "Wow, I wish that actor hadn't left the show," but -- knowing what you know -- it's hard to say and mean, "Wow, those assholes killed off my favorite character!"

This makes me laugh, because you're so entrenched in the mindset I wrote about. That's not a dig at you. I'm pretty entrenched in mine.

I don't blame the storytellers. If there's a problem in a show, I don't CARE if it's because the storytellers were fuckups or if it happened for reasons beyond their controls. I don't think "those assholes killed off my favorite character," because I don't think about "those assholes." I think, "Damn. My favorite character died."

I'm not 100% like this. But that's basically my mindset. The fact that I'm so much the way I am and you're so much actively thinking about the storytellers (patting them on the back for doing a good job, blaming the for screwing up, not blaming them when it's not their fault...) -- and they fact that we're both in the same discussion -- makes conversations like this really complicated.
posted by grumblebee at 4:17 PM on May 23, 2010


Watching the actor who plays Sayid smile and be himself is surreal. Dude aren't you supposed to be killing someone?!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:20 PM on May 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Whatever happens, Terry O'Quinn and Michael Emerson have made it worth it.

This. I've liked Terry O'Quinn since his days with Millennium. I was glad to see Locke become central to the story, and I've been following it (via DVR; even Lost can't make me sit through commercials) ever since the beginning of season 2.
posted by Mooski at 4:26 PM on May 23, 2010


I'm not 100% like this. But that's basically my mindset. The fact that I'm so much the way I am and you're so much actively thinking about the storytellers (patting them on the back for doing a good job, blaming the for screwing up, not blaming them when it's not their fault...) -- and they fact that we're both in the same discussion -- makes conversations like this really complicated.

I'm really not like this with some shows -- but those are generally shows that are constructed around a much more creator-friendly model than network television. Like, if the ball is dropped on Dexter or Breaking Bad or Mad Men or something like that, it's different -- because I know those shows are constructed very much on a season-to-season basis, so there's really no great reason for the story to get sloppy. Generally, those are better shows, too, and I think that may be the biggest reason why that is.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 4:27 PM on May 23, 2010


knowing what you know -- it's hard to say and mean, "Wow, those assholes killed off my favorite character!"

This is why I'm glad I've managed to block almost all "entertainment" reporting. I love that while watching that I feel that all the characters are vulnerable. When Jin and Sun saw each other again a few weeks ago, I was literally SCREAMING at the screen, "DON'T SHOOT HER!" I was worried those assholes would kill Sun right before they had their reunion. Although Lost is not perfect, I am impressed at how much I care about some of the characters.
posted by soupy at 4:27 PM on May 23, 2010


Rose and Bernard and Vincent. They're the only ones I still care about.

You mention Vincent and not Waaaaalt? To me, Walt being left unexplained is perhaps my biggest gripe. In the first two seasons there's a lot of back story on Walt the Creepy Kid with Magical Powers. And yeah, they kinda sorta dealt with his character, with Locke briefly talking to (a very big and grown-up) Walt, but that just ends with Locke saying "He's not ready to go back to the island" or some such thing. What about the Creepy Kid stuff? How is Walt connected to the island?

Actually, the finale is on pretty soon, maybe I'll get my wish.

Here's my overall take on LOST. I really like the show, and love how they mix in just about every genre of storytelling you can imagine: drama, melodrama, action, suspense, horror, science fiction, romance, etc. It's all in there.

Lost ran for six seasons, and by my flyby math about 90 or so episodes? Let's call it 100 even. I can't recall exact episode numbers or even which seasons were good and bad, but there was a lot of treading water on the writers' part. To be fair, Cruse and Lindelof have said it took a long time to convince ABC execs to agree to a finite number of seasons and episodes, so as a result they wasted half a season following the tail section people in season 2 (3?) when that could've been wrapped up in a single episode or so.

In short there is a lot of extraneous material in the show, even in the good episodes when something interesting or significant happens. The melodramatic scenes are so drawn out I think I'm watching a soap opera. Jack has a flashback taking up half an episode explaining how he got his tattoos, in Thailand from Bai Ling who's some kind of psychic and with whom Jack has a sexy affair only after getting into a fight with the locals...it's an absurd episode, probably the worst of the series and completely unrelated to the main story (whatever that is). There's also Nikki and Paolo, completely unnecessary characters.

In a perfect world, LOST runs three seasons and is about 50 episodes long. All the mystery and weirdness and major plot lines are there, but the chaff is gone. And I have 50 more hours of my life back.
posted by zardoz at 4:46 PM on May 23, 2010 [5 favorites]


There's also Nikki and Paolo, completely unnecessary characters.

They were intended to be proxies for the audience and ask questions like: "Wait, what's this about a hatch?"

It just annoyed all the viewers, though, so they killed them off.
posted by empath at 4:59 PM on May 23, 2010


I liked Nikki and Paolo. I also liked the episode where they got killed off. At the time it had been a while since a cool twilight zone style ending.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 5:02 PM on May 23, 2010


There's also Nikki and Paolo, completely unnecessary characters.

i thought it was a fun sidetrack, in a rosencrantz and guildenstern are dead kinda way.
posted by fallacy of the beard at 5:03 PM on May 23, 2010 [7 favorites]


But, Billy Dee Williams!
posted by Burhanistan at 5:04 PM on May 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'd love to see the final episode as an homage to the finale of Six feet Under, killing off Locke, Ben, Jack and everyone else.

Repeatedly. In all sorts of different timelines. For two hours.

Seriously, I used to love this show. Now i'm just hoping I don't want to throw the TV out the window tonight.
posted by Mcable at 5:18 PM on May 23, 2010


ESPN columnist/pop culture guru Bill Simmons interviewed Carlton Cuse in this podcast episode (he was brought in after the pilot to help run the show with Damon Lindelhof).
Cuse said in season 2 they were basically stalling (story-wise) because they didn't know how many seasons they would have to work with.
The show creators are masters at build-up, mystery and creating interesting characters. They aren't so good at thinking ahead and building up an epic mythology. They basically create a pretty interesting framework and then have to go back and try to fit the cookie into the cookie-cutter after the fact.
And it's so open-ended that us fans spend hours speculating on the meaning of everything when there usually isn't any (Hurley bird!). But that's the fun part.
posted by starman at 5:32 PM on May 23, 2010


Okay, I was just thinking about this. I think part of the reason that people are so interested in answers on this show is because the questions the show asks are big questions.

Let's look at the arc about pushing the buttons in the hatch. It was basically a conflict between Jack and Locke on whether pushing the button was important, but it was ultimately a conflict between Faith and Science. People thought that the wanted to know what the button did and why, but what they REALLY wanted to know is whether Faith or Science is right.

It's the same with the numbers-- it's about coincidence, synchronicity and meaning. What the numbers mean isn't as important as that the numbers mean something

Maybe the show is at fault for promising answers to questions that don't have an answer.
posted by empath at 5:32 PM on May 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


I stopped watching Lost very early into Season 4 -- but I am not going to talk about why or its problems. Any random minutes of it that I happened to encounter since still have huge emotional resonance -- and yeah, the music has a fair amount to do with that -- but a lot of it is the performances and the fundamental humanness of the enterprise. So I'll be watching with interest tonight. I still feel attached to the characters.

In other news, the Grand Rapids ABC affiliate was having digital transmission problems from 7:00-8:00ish tonight; the signal kept cutting out for a second or two several times per minute. Think they got a few phone calls about it?
posted by FelliniBlank at 5:35 PM on May 23, 2010


Attention, Mefi Twitterers: I just read on Metachat that some jackass with an automated script is auto-responding to people who use the #lost hashtag with leaked finale spoilers.

I don't use Twitter and don't want to check if this is true or how bad the spoilers are, but be careful out there in any case.

PS: I take back whatever laughs I might have had at the expense of the victims of "Snape kills Dumbledore"
posted by Rhaomi at 5:38 PM on May 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Huh, it looks like the "2 hour ABC recap" I mentioned in the post is more of a retrospective/production diary/interview-fest. Weird they'd air that instead of giving people a final opportunity to catch up.

1 hour 45 minutes into the pre-show, it has turned into a full synopsis of the series that seems to omit the things you don't REALLY need to know... so if you remember something from the series that's not covered in this, IT WAS A RED HERRING, fugettaboutit...
posted by oneswellfoop at 5:48 PM on May 23, 2010


Also, hearing the actor who plays Jin speak in his true accent is weird.

Have you ever heard Sayid / Naveen Andrews' real British accent? It's alternate universe type of shit.
posted by blazingunicorn at 5:48 PM on May 23, 2010 [10 favorites]



Have you ever heard Sayid / Naveen Andrews' real British accent ? It's alternate universe type of shit.


I did a serious double take when I heard him earlier. Lasted the entire series and never saw an interview with him before tonight.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 5:50 PM on May 23, 2010


Lost ran for six seasons, and by my flyby math about 90 or so episodes? Let's call it 100 even.

Ironically, ~*mysteriously*~, Lost's 100th episode exactly coincided with Obama's 100th day in office.
posted by elizardbits at 5:54 PM on May 23, 2010


There's no way this series can end satisfactorily, they've bullshitted themselves for too long.

Please don't state your opinion like it's objective fact. Something can satisfy one person without satisfying another person. Honestly, I'm happy with the show. I don't care about these last two hours. It's done some good.

Watching this recap has made me realize something. You know what? I don't care if LOST has done some remarkably arbitrary things. I don't care about the unanswered questions. For all the frustrations it's given me, I've been left with some extraordinary moments and exciting happenings that, with the exception of the third season, they've given me with an astonishing consistency.

I'm going to be curious how LOST looks when it's watched on DVD and not weekly. Perhaps Nikki and Paolo aren't irritating when their episode means a week without the story progressing. Perhaps all these unanswered questions come across as more a mass of questions than as a series of irritating mishaps on the part of the writers.

By the way: Is anybody else watching this last season reminded of the final book of A Series of Unfortunate Events? (Spoilers ahead; if you haven't read the series do so, because it's a masterpiece of children's lit.) The series built a mystery into the story, and then rather than answering them slowly became about the fact that there are always questions. There are always stories we don't know. And if we devote ourselves to the mysteries rather than to the people we care about, then we're always going to end up wanting.

(Daniel Handler did this by inserting onto a mysterious island a series of side characters from other famous literary works; if you're well-read the book is a series of clever puns and allusions to storylines that never were answered satisfactorily by the author.)

In fact, the last book was called The End, same as this last episode is called The End. And I wouldn't be surprised if the title was picked ironically for the series same as it was for the book, if the moral is that stories don't end until everybody's dead, and everybody's never dead, so things go on.

Alright. Two hours from now we'll know. Bon appetit, fellow Losties.
posted by Rory Marinich at 6:00 PM on May 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Two hours and 20 minutes from now, actually.

And going into the first commercial break they just did something that made my jaw drop, especially after my previous comment comparing it to Star Wars (if only for the avoiding accidentally starting a religion part).
posted by oneswellfoop at 6:11 PM on May 23, 2010


In fact, the last book was called The End, same as this last episode is called The End. And I wouldn't be surprised if the title was picked ironically for the series same as it was for the book, if the moral is that stories don't end until everybody's dead, and everybody's never dead, so things go on.

Well, there's always...

(I'm actually surprised more hasn't been made of this -- King would certainly be in a position to know, after all.)
posted by kittens for breakfast at 6:18 PM on May 23, 2010


Oh come on, Vincent is a talking dog in seeking revenge over Boon, WTF!?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:20 PM on May 23, 2010


Hahaha, Stephen King, you jackass. I love you.

I like that 20 minutes in all the leaked pages were used. Evidence that it was a controlled leak meant more for a promo than for a real important reveal.
posted by Rory Marinich at 6:21 PM on May 23, 2010


Whoa, what are Stormtroopers doing on the island?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:26 PM on May 23, 2010


"Dude, I just got done reading the leaked Lost finale script!"

"Shut the hole in your face. I will skullfuck you if you say anything."

"Okay, I mean, can I at least tell you the Island's dark secret?"

"No! In fact, that is precisely what you may not say!"

"I get it, I get it. No spoilers."

...

"The Island is made out of chocolate. I know! It's totally weird."

"I've got a spoiler for you. I'm about to kick your fucking ass."
posted by Rhaomi at 6:36 PM on May 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


going on news blackout so as not to catch any spills...but looking forward to words after. ease back and enjoy it, people! it's entertainment!
posted by fallacy of the beard at 6:53 PM on May 23, 2010


Clever. Jack and Locke looking down a hole again and Desmond's below. Nice callback.
posted by Rory Marinich at 6:56 PM on May 23, 2010


Nikki? Pablo?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:02 PM on May 23, 2010


TOO MANY BLEEDIN' COMMERCIALS I HATE YOU STOP IT
posted by Burhanistan at 7:09 PM on May 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


That was an extraordinarily gratuitous cut.
posted by Rory Marinich at 7:18 PM on May 23, 2010


No fighting on a cliff edge as an eartquake occurs, it's dangerous.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:24 PM on May 23, 2010


Is it me or are there are commercials every 10 freaking minutes?
posted by UseyurBrain at 7:30 PM on May 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


And they're all iPad commercials.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:32 PM on May 23, 2010


i am kind of intrigued by the ipad, though i live a life not well served by such a thing.

the commercials are what kept me away from the entire last season and i am willfully waiting it out until i can buy the dvds on amazon.
posted by lakersfan1222 at 7:36 PM on May 23, 2010


At least Target has some funny ones.
posted by UseyurBrain at 7:39 PM on May 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


iPad and Droid.
posted by Rory Marinich at 7:40 PM on May 23, 2010


So much of this episode is referring earlier stuff. For example, Jack and Kate making out still makes me want to pull my eyes of out my face with my own hands.
posted by oinopaponton at 7:42 PM on May 23, 2010


*referencing/referring to/maybe I had one too many Dharma beers
posted by oinopaponton at 7:42 PM on May 23, 2010


This a very touching episode.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:46 PM on May 23, 2010


That's going to be awkward.
posted by empath at 7:47 PM on May 23, 2010


I myself am drinking Dharma Southern Comfort...
posted by UseyurBrain at 7:48 PM on May 23, 2010


Jack and Kate made me tear up a little bit. But these flashback-makeouts have just hit the limit where I'm no longer touched. If there's a second Jack-Kate kiss then I'll be officially bored.

These commercials are KILLING me. That was like five minutes, ABC, you fucks.
posted by Rory Marinich at 7:48 PM on May 23, 2010


Divorce lawyer: You see, my client was married to Mr Ford in a parallel timeline and so the marriage to mr shephard is null and void.
posted by empath at 7:48 PM on May 23, 2010 [4 favorites]


Soon Jack will remember and his son will have noone that loves him anymore!
posted by Phantomx at 7:48 PM on May 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


I think the memory makeout scenes would have been done better with a Magnolia-style montage/sing-along.
posted by empath at 7:51 PM on May 23, 2010


Yeah, I'm wondering what happens to the personalities of the people from the sideways world when they "merge." I mean, yeah, they're the same person deep down, but in most cases they've had radically different lives and relationships.
posted by Rhaomi at 7:51 PM on May 23, 2010


Target wins for best usage of insano ad buy dollars.
posted by strange chain at 7:52 PM on May 23, 2010 [9 favorites]


Ok, Hugo is da man. Or island.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:55 PM on May 23, 2010


Soooo, Jack's gonna turn into the new smoke monster down there in the light, right?
posted by oinopaponton at 8:07 PM on May 23, 2010


Well now I hope it ends with Hugo and Linus sitting on a beach.
posted by Phantomx at 8:09 PM on May 23, 2010


So all this time, Jacob has been protecting a fairy fountain from Zelda?
posted by drezdn at 8:12 PM on May 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


what
posted by oinopaponton at 8:22 PM on May 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


The place you made together to find one another? It's a D&D game?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:24 PM on May 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


oh man, there went the waterworks...
posted by empath at 8:30 PM on May 23, 2010


well, that last shot makes perfect sense.
posted by FelliniBlank at 8:31 PM on May 23, 2010


Well done. Night, folks.
posted by Mooski at 8:31 PM on May 23, 2010


Soooo, Jack's gonna turn into the new smoke monster down there in the light, right?

Oh, that's so much what I was hoping!!!
posted by rottytooth at 8:31 PM on May 23, 2010


may I be one of the first to say... NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO...
posted by oneswellfoop at 8:31 PM on May 23, 2010


They even managed to work in the dog.
posted by UseyurBrain at 8:31 PM on May 23, 2010


That was about as much as I could have asked for. Some things were arbitrary and cheesy, some things were beautiful, there was one end twist — and then closure.

We all knew it would be a closing eye.
posted by Rory Marinich at 8:32 PM on May 23, 2010


I just watched the 2hour recap and the finale, and I'm still at a loss as to why the island was special / worth saving. Can anyone explain that to me. All I've got is "it keeps bad stuff away."
posted by reverend cuttle at 8:33 PM on May 23, 2010


This place they all made with each other had relationships different than their "true" ones? I certainly am not enraged or anything just a continued feeling from this whole season. Kind of ... well... its over. Thanks for the story Lindeloff and Cruse!
posted by Phantomx at 8:33 PM on May 23, 2010


Vincent is indeed a good boy.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:34 PM on May 23, 2010 [23 favorites]


Well, that was unsatisfying, though well done direction and acting wise.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:35 PM on May 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


SPOILER ALERT: Susan doesn't get to go to Narnia.
posted by gerryblog at 8:35 PM on May 23, 2010 [7 favorites]


Who cares about the dog -- where's Walt?
posted by rottytooth at 8:36 PM on May 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Not nearly enough Sawyer, Miles, and Lapidus.
posted by oinopaponton at 8:36 PM on May 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Vincent is indeed a good boy.

"If fortune drives the master forth an outcast in the world, friendless and homeless, the faithful dog asks no higher privilege than that of accompanying him to guard against danger, to fight against his enemies. And when the last scene of all comes, and death takes the master in its embrace, and his body is laid away in the cold ground, no matter if all other friends pursue their way, there by his graveside will the noble dog be found, his head between his paws, his eyes sad but open in alert watchfulness, faithful and true even to death."
posted by empath at 8:36 PM on May 23, 2010 [21 favorites]


I'm so confused.
posted by raztaj at 8:36 PM on May 23, 2010


Season six was worthless. Compare where we are now to the conclusion of season five, when we didn't know what the bomb had done.


The Temple, the sideways flashes, smokey/locke & whidmore all turned into nothing. Oh well.

I liked that Jack got to see the plane far above him. That was a nice moment.
posted by milestogo at 8:37 PM on May 23, 2010


So it turns out Lost was a meet-up.
posted by heyho at 8:37 PM on May 23, 2010 [16 favorites]


My favourite part was where I skipped 45 minutes of commercials by letting it buffer on my DVR.
posted by Stove at 8:38 PM on May 23, 2010 [3 favorites]


I'm satisfied by the ending, but am I the only one wondering what Richard Alpert is going to do in civilization without a proper identity?
posted by Servo5678 at 8:39 PM on May 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Richard got pulled over in Arizona. No one has heard from him since.
posted by UseyurBrain at 8:40 PM on May 23, 2010 [38 favorites]


An hispanic illegal immigrant in california?
posted by empath at 8:40 PM on May 23, 2010


Unless I misunderstood the ending, Bruce Willis was a ghost all along.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:40 PM on May 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


> but am I the only one wondering what Richard Alpert is going to do in civilization without a proper identity?

Heh. I also was wondering how he was going to prove his citizenship anywhere.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:41 PM on May 23, 2010


Waiting for the download to show up in the usual places... no commercial interruptions.

If it was all some autistic kid's dream I'm going to be peeved.
posted by Poet_Lariat at 8:41 PM on May 23, 2010


I've avoided reading spoilers here. I just want to say that I finally graduated with my J.D. today, came home, and waited for my TiVo to finish recording the Lost finale before starting it up. It's been a very long and stressful weekend.

Comcast can kiss my ass. The recording is entirely unwatchable.

I should care more about my life's recent milestone, but right now I'm just pissed that I can't see what everyone's talking about.
posted by Navelgazer at 8:41 PM on May 23, 2010


Did they just seriously end the series in front a stained glass window representing all the religions in the world?
posted by geoff. at 8:42 PM on May 23, 2010 [8 favorites]


Stop reading the damn thread if you plan on watching the show.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:42 PM on May 23, 2010


I think it was a lot like the BSG finale, where the years of plot elements were mostly ignored in favor of closure for the characters. Lost did it better than BSG, so YAY, but BOO on that approach.

Question: where the tail section mostly retconned out of existence, cept for Lilly.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:43 PM on May 23, 2010


But if he was a ghost all along, he wouldn't have seen the plane flying away.

If I'm not mistaken Jack sees Lapidus's plane in the end there, not some phantom metaphor plane.
posted by Rory Marinich at 8:44 PM on May 23, 2010


So, are we talking spoilers in this thread, or what? Because I just watched the ending and I'm not sure if I'm just stupid or if it's murdering time. I think I need somebody from MetaFilter to tell me that I didn't see what I thought I just saw.
posted by DiscourseMarker at 8:45 PM on May 23, 2010


Those credit shots seemed almost like they were saying everyone died in the crash. Unless it was just showing everything at peace compared to the last time we saw Jack waking up in the bamboo field where the beach is nothing but chaos.
posted by Phantomx at 8:45 PM on May 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


I used to say Lost was Gilligan's Island meets X-files, but aftertonight, and in conclusion, it was Gilligan's Island meets Jacob's Ladder. And I approve.
posted by dirtdirt at 8:46 PM on May 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


oh fuck yeah we're talking spoilers !
posted by Phantomx at 8:46 PM on May 23, 2010


All right, since Burhanistan already warned people, here goes:

So the island is never explained, and the climax takes place in some future time, which isn't really the future at all, or existing in any real time at all, when all these characters are dead but have been going through some facsimile of being alive, until they recognize each other and remember the island, and then all of them, except the doctor, spontaneously realize they are now dead, and have to go to a church and wait for some light to take them away?

Did I get that right? Because it feels like it must somehow be wrong.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:47 PM on May 23, 2010 [11 favorites]


Those credit shots seemed almost like they were saying everyone died in the crash.

That was my thought when I saw them, which basically means they Tommy Westphal'ed use, in which case, I am going to be seriously pissed. Please somebody tell me they did not just fucking Tommy Westphal us.
posted by DiscourseMarker at 8:47 PM on May 23, 2010


Jack's dad specifically said that some had died 'long after you did'
posted by UseyurBrain at 8:47 PM on May 23, 2010 [5 favorites]


Astro Zombie: More like the flash-sideways is a purgatory designed specifically so that all these people, after death, are able to find each other once again and move on to the next place together.

Bruce Willis wasn't dead all along but Haley Joel Osmont was a ghost.
posted by Rory Marinich at 8:48 PM on May 23, 2010 [3 favorites]


I'm sure I'll have way more WTF epiphanies over the next few days, but:

WHY did Jack and Juliet have a kid together in their What Dreams May Come-style purgatories?
WHAT happened to Desmond to make him so special, and how did he get off the island (or did he just die on it)?
HURLEY AND BEN running the island would have been way more fun to watch than most of the stuff that happened in this episode.
DOES THIS MEAN that when Aaron died, he became a newborn in purgatory?
posted by oinopaponton at 8:49 PM on May 23, 2010 [3 favorites]


I didn't take that to mean some from the plane had died long after Jack did. I think the point was that people die. That's what happens.
posted by emelenjr at 8:49 PM on May 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


If I'm not mistaken Jack sees Lapidus's plane in the end there, not some phantom metaphor plane.

It's Kate's toy plane, and ghost young Jacob was playing with it.
posted by drezdn at 8:50 PM on May 23, 2010


no no they didn't die in the crash
posted by empath at 8:50 PM on May 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Vincent is indeed a good boy.

Not as good as Seymour.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:50 PM on May 23, 2010 [6 favorites]


I took it as the sideways timeline being one where everyone had actually died, and the "normal" timeline being...normal, the way the series actually progressed.

Also, can I buy an iPad at Target? For some reason I'm really eager to do this.
posted by padraigin at 8:51 PM on May 23, 2010 [3 favorites]


Theme wise, it's cool, ie in the end it's the relationships we make the matter and what we remember and cherish most, not the various details.

That's very sweet.

That is not a compliment.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:51 PM on May 23, 2010 [5 favorites]


Yeah, presumably that was the Ajira flight flying over Jack as he died and those people went on to do whatever they did before they died later on. There's a pretty hole there around why the flash sideways that supposedly resulted after the bomb in season 5 was....wait...I just got kind of caught in a loop trying to make sense of that and...got caught in a loop. Anyway.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:51 PM on May 23, 2010


Yes UseyurBrain, that's why I don't feel everyone actually died on the crash. That's kind of why I feel it's just showing everything is over and at peace. I did love how the last shot was Jack's eye closing since the very first shot was Jack's eye opening.
posted by Phantomx at 8:51 PM on May 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Jack's dad specifically said that some had died 'long after you did'

Er, so then everything that happened up until Jack's eye closing, minus all the flash-sideways stuff, did happen. If the flash-sideways is just some sort of limbo or purgatory, I will feel less murderous.
posted by DiscourseMarker at 8:51 PM on May 23, 2010


I think that the bomb didn't create the flash sideways for anyone but Juliet-- which is why she said "it worked" while she died. She was dying and transitioning into the purgatory and it basically looked like her old life again.
posted by oinopaponton at 8:53 PM on May 23, 2010


> If the flash-sideways is just some sort of limbo or purgatory, I will feel less murderous.

It would seem to be, but then why is it made out to be a result of the bomb going off in 1977?
posted by Burhanistan at 8:53 PM on May 23, 2010


Discourse, I think you nailed it. The flash sideways is limbo, not the island and all that happened
posted by UseyurBrain at 8:54 PM on May 23, 2010 [3 favorites]


And I wouldn't be surprised if the title was picked ironically for the series same as it was for the book, if the moral is that stories don't end until everybody's dead, and everybody's never dead, so things go on.

Good call, Rory.
posted by empath at 8:54 PM on May 23, 2010


I loved it, the finale cemented this as my favorite televisoon show of all time. The feedback I am hearing from my friends and the internet is...bad...but fuck you guys. I loved this show from the first episode to the last.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 8:55 PM on May 23, 2010 [18 favorites]


But why are they all hanging out in limbo until everyone arrives?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:55 PM on May 23, 2010


That's also why when Ben and Hurley talk they're talking about things that happened on the island after everybody else left.

I don't know why people think they all died in the crash. The sideways world makes no sense without all of LOST's actually having happened. Because they clearly know each other and they're at peace.

Brandon Blatcher, give it a rest. For a show whose primary theme was people who didn't know each other/couldn't relate to one another/kept secrets from one another, an ending where they finally achieve that closure and that closeness is perfectly in keeping with everything we ever saw dating back to when a man ran around helping people in a crash without at first telling anybody his name.
posted by Rory Marinich at 8:55 PM on May 23, 2010 [11 favorites]


The purgatory thing annoys me that so much time was spent on it and the weird parts like Jack-Juliette - their son thing. Or as someone pointed out Aaron all of a sudden is back in his mom's womb. I guess I don't have a problem with the whole point of it, just how much was devoted to it and how it felt like it was going to matter with the island, but it meant nothing for the island and was merely an epilogue to make people feel good.
posted by Phantomx at 8:56 PM on May 23, 2010


Okay, after thinking about it for a couple of minutes, I think I would have been happy with the finale if they'd done some sort of Six Feet Under fast-forward and explained what happened to all of the surviving characters who were not Jack before they eventually died.
posted by oinopaponton at 8:58 PM on May 23, 2010


Because, screw you, Jack.
posted by oinopaponton at 8:58 PM on May 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


(Whoops, that sounds kind of confrontational. Not "give it a rest" like "I don't like what you're saying". More like "I think that in this case what they did made sense with the rest of the show". Sorry if I sounded grouchy, Brandon!)
posted by Rory Marinich at 8:58 PM on May 23, 2010


Well, stick around for the "alternate endings" later after your local death and human interest stories.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:59 PM on May 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Burhanistan: It would seem to be, but then why is it made out to be a result of the bomb going off in 1977?

It wasn't. That was the psyche-out. All the bomb did was move the relevant Castaways to the future -- it didn't create any sort of alternate timeline.

The alternate timeline was a mental construct formed by the souls of the Castaways so that they could find each other after death. And since after death, there's no time, it didn't matter that they died asychronously, with Jack dying shortly after saving the island, Hurley dying at some point who knows when (God, if he's immortal like Mother Earth was ... ), etc., etc.
posted by WCityMike at 8:59 PM on May 23, 2010 [16 favorites]


YouTube summaries of Seasons 1-5 from ABC (in 8:15)

Oh my sweet Jesus, that alone has convinced me I was right to give up on "Lost" after the first 4 episodes. Jesus.
posted by nola at 9:00 PM on May 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ah, now I believe and remember.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:00 PM on May 23, 2010


If the Purgatory world is outside of time, and Jack and his dad are both appear the age they were when they died, why is everyone else the same age they were on the island, if they died at other time?
posted by rottytooth at 9:02 PM on May 23, 2010


So, these people never attained enlightenment during their own lifetimes because they were lost in the Bardo at death. Only the drug addict remembered early on who he really was. I think the message is pretty clear here, kids.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:02 PM on May 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


> If the Purgatory world is outside of time, and Jack and his dad are both appear the age they were when they died, why is everyone else the same age they were on the island, if they died at other time?

This is so they could recognize each other and move on to the next level. This is crowd sourced enlightenment here.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:03 PM on May 23, 2010 [8 favorites]


Because they appear as they did when they all knew each other in life?
posted by FelliniBlank at 9:04 PM on May 23, 2010


Oh my sweet Jesus, that alone has convinced me I was right to give up on "Lost" after the first 4 episodes. Jesus.

Yes you were. We are all so proud of you. There is a door here for you to collect your prize.
posted by Rory Marinich at 9:04 PM on May 23, 2010 [18 favorites]


But why are they all hanging out in limbo until everyone arrives?

Ok, so given what Rory Marinich pointed out about Hurley & Ben's convo, I'm going to treat the flash-sideways limbo like the wormhole in DS9 where the Prophets/aliens live--basically a "space" existing outside of time. Didn't Christian Shepard say something to Jack like "there is no now here?" In which case, it's not quite like they're all hanging out in a linear time sense. Or something.

Anyway, if that's what the flash-sideways was, it does seem kind of a time waster. The white light at the church thing really bugged me too. Is that really the only way we can symbolize death? Really?
posted by DiscourseMarker at 9:04 PM on May 23, 2010


Congratulations ABC, you have convinced me to watch Jimmy Kimmel Live for the first and only time.
posted by oinopaponton at 9:06 PM on May 23, 2010 [3 favorites]




If the Purgatory world is outside of time, and Jack and his dad are both appear the age they were when they died, why is everyone else the same age they were on the island, if they died at other time?


Someone better be fired for this.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 9:06 PM on May 23, 2010


The flash sideways took up an awful lot of plot for something that didn't actually happen. And yes, I wanted Jack to die, but not in a heroic self-sacrifice with a 20 minute death scene.

Also, did I miss the part where sideways Ben remembered his life?
posted by jeather at 9:07 PM on May 23, 2010


So, I've wanted to say forever..

They've NEVER fixed the damn rendering glitches in the title graphic. It's still pissing me off six years later.
posted by hanoixan at 9:07 PM on May 23, 2010 [20 favorites]


(only when you walk through that door nola guess what BAM you're in Tunisia)
posted by Rory Marinich at 9:07 PM on May 23, 2010 [4 favorites]


Stay tuned in 2013 for "That Darn Linus," in which Hurley and Ben have slapstick misadventures involving Dharma food drops, shifting loyalties, and Vincent.
posted by waraw at 9:07 PM on May 23, 2010 [14 favorites]


Well, stick around for the "alternate endings" later after your local death and human interest stories.

Gah--seriously! The Boston station was promo-ing some "hookworms can cure food allergies" story all. night. long.

posted by DiscourseMarker at 9:07 PM on May 23, 2010


As for Hurley being the new Mother Earth of the Island, all I can say is:

                                              D  U  D  E
posted by WCityMike at 9:08 PM on May 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


Well, that was terrible.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:09 PM on May 23, 2010 [8 favorites]


Also, did I miss the part where sideways Ben remembered his life?

He remembered his side-life when Desmond was punching him in the school parking lot, the episode before the finale, if I recall correctly.
posted by alligatorman at 9:10 PM on May 23, 2010


I liked it, but I've only watched a handful of episodes.

I wondered if all series have to have a clear and unambiguous ending to be liked, and then I remembered how BSG ended.
posted by ZeusHumms at 9:10 PM on May 23, 2010


The flash sideways took up an awful lot of plot for something that didn't actually happen.

It happened.
posted by empath at 9:10 PM on May 23, 2010 [3 favorites]


I know why Ben didn't go into the church! He had to go to Target ... to get some socks.
posted by WCityMike at 9:11 PM on May 23, 2010 [4 favorites]


The white light at the church thing really bugged me too. Is that really the only way we can symbolize death?

It's not death. It's the beginning. The beginning of Lost, The Next Generation: Even More Lost. Coming this fall.
posted by Combustible Edison Lighthouse at 9:11 PM on May 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Stay tuned in 2013 for "That Darn Linus," in which Hurley and Ben have slapstick misadventures involving Dharma food drops, shifting loyalties, and Vincent.

And later, stay parked on your couch for "Gun of a bitch!": Sawyer and Miles track down murderers, con artists, and illegal immigrants with an explosive mix of clairvoyance and down-home name-calling.
posted by oinopaponton at 9:11 PM on May 23, 2010 [15 favorites]


Can I add?

Ben's sticking around in "purgatory" to be with his dead daughter is kind of really touching. I approve of that completely. He's been an Other since the first time we saw him; he's had no ties to anybody and the ones he had were to people he put in fucked-up situations. Now he's left us all behind to spend time with them and that is cornball in JUST the right way.
posted by Rory Marinich at 9:12 PM on May 23, 2010 [25 favorites]


Well said, Phobewankenobi, well said.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:12 PM on May 23, 2010


HA Jimmy Kimmel is playing "You All Everybody" between segments.. Go Driveshaft!
posted by hanoixan at 9:13 PM on May 23, 2010


Rory Marinich: Ben's sticking around in "purgatory" to be with his dead daughter is kind of really touching.

O_O – I completely didn't make that connection until just now.
posted by WCityMike at 9:15 PM on May 23, 2010


Same here WCityMike thanks Rory for pointing that out so I can be the smart one to some of my friends =)
posted by Phantomx at 9:16 PM on May 23, 2010


He remembered his side-life when Desmond was punching him in the school parking lot, the episode before the finale, if I recall correctly.
Oh, yes, I had forgotten, thank you.

It happened.
Well, I'd argue about that. I mean, they were all dead and redoing their lives as they (I assume) might have been had Jacob not done whatever he did -- but those lives were just them waiting to remember their actual lives.

I also don't understand Desmond's role in all of this, as usual.
posted by jeather at 9:16 PM on May 23, 2010


They've NEVER fixed the damn rendering glitches in the title graphic. It's still pissing me off six years later.

I actually think that the title graphic is supposed to be a visual metaphor for the show: initially, it's out of focus and hard to comprehend, it comes at you quickly and violently, and for one instant is sharp and perfectly in focus--but by that time, you only see one letter, and can't get a grasp on the entire picture--and then it loses focus again.

At least I think we are talking about the same thing.
posted by milestogo at 9:17 PM on May 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Milestogo, there is a point when it hits in focus and you can see a gap between the edges in one of the letters. That's what I think he's talking about.
posted by Phantomx at 9:19 PM on May 23, 2010


If it IS heaven, maybe Ben declined because he's a little worried that he won't get in.
posted by kerning at 9:20 PM on May 23, 2010


The thing that pissed me off about the ending was finding Hawkeye and Col Blake at the center of the island handing out martinis. I also thought that having the future Enterprise appeared through a wormhole and beaming everyone off the island was pretty much a cop-out. The only saving grace I could see was at he end when it just all faded to black.
posted by Poet_Lariat at 9:21 PM on May 23, 2010


Phantomx, you are correct. There are cracks in the polygons. Milestogo, that may be a metaphor for the plot holes? :)
posted by hanoixan at 9:21 PM on May 23, 2010


Milestogo, that may be a metaphor for the plot holes? :)

Haha, yes. They planned them from day one!!
posted by milestogo at 9:23 PM on May 23, 2010


I'm sure I'll have way more WTF epiphanies over the next few days, but:

WHY did Jack and Juliet have a kid together in their What Dreams May Come-style purgatories?
WHAT happened to Desmond to make him so special, and how did he get off the island (or did he just die on it)?
HURLEY AND BEN running the island would have been way more fun to watch than most of the stuff that happened in this episode.
DOES THIS MEAN that when Aaron died, he became a newborn in purgatory?


Here's another one:

WHY IS THE ISLAND UNDERWATER in purgatory?

(But seriously, so terrible. My soul hurts.)
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:25 PM on May 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


So having seen the pilot long ago, a couple of episodes in the middle (but not by choice), and the finale special and finale itself, is the rest of it worth watching as a long story?
posted by ZeusHumms at 9:25 PM on May 23, 2010


Wait, wait... I thought the plane remnants in the ending credits were those of the Ajira plane. As in, it crashed on the beach after Jack saw it, before he peacefully dies not alone.

Am I totally off?

I thought this seemed appropriate because in the regular timeline (the one where Aaron is a toddler staying with Claire's mom, and Jin and Sun are dead and their kid is off the island, and Hurley and Ben rule the island, etc), none of the characters other than Miles, Kate, Claire, Lupidis, Sawyer, Miles, and Richard made it off the island. So it would make sense that the above group of folks doesn't make it off either so that they (or their consciousnesses) can be with the rest of the folks in the multifaith church in the other timeline....
posted by sentient at 9:26 PM on May 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Also, "there is no now here." Ugh.
posted by sentient at 9:27 PM on May 23, 2010


PhoBWanKenobi: But seriously, so terrible. My soul hurts.

Perhaps you could repeat, in ten to fifteen more comments, the same sentiment, just to pad things out?
posted by WCityMike at 9:28 PM on May 23, 2010 [5 favorites]


Nedroid's last LOST comic

To be honest, I stopped caring about whether things were well-done or not the moment Kate kissed Jack. Which surprised me, because I hated Matthew Fox and Evangeline Lily so so so much. But something struck me as poignant in that scene.

I mean, Jack's become this new God. And he's gone chasing after the Monster turned human again. Wrestles with him. Loses. And Kate the murderer is the one who gets him from behind. The shoreline is collapsing, and we see the final teams chosen. Hurley and Ben are the last two people to side with Jack; Ben because he's always needed to be special, Hurley because he's just always been the passive sidekick. Everybody else wants to get the hell away.

Sawyer's wanted to leave since the start. So that leaves Kate. And Kate wants Jack.

The moment when he told her to go and she turned back to him, I forget the dialogue, but that was terrific. It was sappy, it was schlocky, but it was the kind of schlock I love. Remember when Jack and Kate first met? And neither of them knew each other but there was still that little tension? That scene was sort of the culmination of that, and it granted an emotional closure that all those flashback makeouts didn't.

Which is why I ALSO loved that Kate didn't kiss Jack in purgatory. There was such a feeling of satisfaction in that scene! A satisfaction you could never get out of a show like The Wire, which isn't allowed to be corny. The only thing I can compare it to is in The Office where Tim and Dawn are holding hands in the group photo. But where Kate doesn't have to do more than smile at Jack and hold his hand, because — for the first time in years — they have all the time in the world to be together.

Which serious cinema can't convey well. I mean, we've all had those moments. Those feelings where we know what's going to happen next, and we can just feel our feet in the grass, as Smokey said. But those moments always end. So serious cinema usually has to give us that, give us that realization that things won't last forever. LOST didn't have to do that because it wasn't that kind of serious. And that made me really happy.

I think that's all I can beanplate on this show. When all was said and done there weren't that many layers to make it through. Lots of really fun twists, lots of excellent acting mixed in with bad ones, and Kate got to kiss Jack. Thumbs up.
posted by Rory Marinich at 9:29 PM on May 23, 2010 [8 favorites]


Hey, we are grieving here. Cut some slack.
posted by milestogo at 9:29 PM on May 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Sawyer and the dudes from Breakin'?
posted by Burhanistan at 9:31 PM on May 23, 2010


The moment when he told her to go and she turned back to him

I hear you on this one, but seriously, that happens every damn episode.
posted by milestogo at 9:31 PM on May 23, 2010 [3 favorites]


But what about Michael and Walt?
posted by wondermouse at 9:31 PM on May 23, 2010


Ben's sticking around in "purgatory" to be with his dead daughter is kind of really touching.

I'm with kerning on this one -- I think Ben wasn't invited into the church to move forward, and his "declining" to join the rest of them was just him being diplomatic.
posted by Rock Steady at 9:33 PM on May 23, 2010


If you REALLY hated the finale SO MUCH that you have to keep going on about it:

Imagine that in the flash-sideways Jacob turned into the dopey thug the same guy played in The Big Lebowski, and that The Big Lebowski is just a huge flash-sideways explaining how dopey Jacob is.
posted by Rory Marinich at 9:33 PM on May 23, 2010 [3 favorites]


Wondermouse, I was just going to ask the same thing. I don't remember seeing them in the church. Were they there?
posted by DiscourseMarker at 9:33 PM on May 23, 2010


Wondermouse, I was just going to ask the same thing. I don't remember seeing them in the church. Were they there?

No.
posted by alligatorman at 9:35 PM on May 23, 2010


wondermouse: But what about Michael and Walt?

Just like Hurley couldn't force Ben inside, I don't think he could force Michael to forgive himself and move onward.

As for Walt, well, that was presumably a sop to storytelling. Walt hopefully died as an adult, and I doubt his ideal post-death scenario would be being a kid again amongst all these castaways. So to have him as an adult amongst the rest would involve a breakup in the storytelling during a moment that's supposed to be mostly speechless with lots of swelling violins.
posted by WCityMike at 9:35 PM on May 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


> WHY IS THE ISLAND UNDERWATER in purgatory?

(But seriously, so terrible. My soul hurts.)


Being underwater represented it being buried and forgotten in the Jack's subconscious.

Your soul hurts? Come on. You just don't grok it so you're lashing out childishly. There are many other threads here to poop in.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:36 PM on May 23, 2010 [9 favorites]


Yeah: the rendering thing has been in my mind since season one (I say "crackle!" each time and my wife chucks a shoe at me each time). I've had long internal debates about it as a microcosm of the show as a whole - is it a calculated thematic choice, or is it an intersting accident?

With the crackle, at least, I think I'm going with interesting accident. But I'm not 100%.
posted by dirtdirt at 9:36 PM on May 23, 2010


Michael's spirit is still trapped on the island, right? And Walt was never really lost. He was just part of his father's baggage.
posted by Rory Marinich at 9:37 PM on May 23, 2010


Man, that blew. I can't believe they went with the bright light behind the door ending.

Seriously, if the show would have been cancelled after season 5 it would have been a much better ending.
posted by dobbs at 9:37 PM on May 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


The more I think about the finale, the more pissed I get. I missed the footage of the plane wreckage over the credits, but the way I see it there are two options:

1) We take Christian at face value, and everyone died at different times only to arrive in the alternate timeline. Then, at some unspecified point in the future, they all decide it's time to remember their past selves, and then to celebrate they go sit in a church and have a high school reunion party. Many, many questions arise, and many more questions previously thought to be fundamental remain unanswered.

2) Christian is a liar when he says everyone died at different times; instead, everyone died when 815 hit the beach back in 2004. In which case, nothing you have watched for the past six years meant a lick of shit at all because it was all fake.
posted by chrominance at 9:37 PM on May 23, 2010 [3 favorites]


My LOST theory about the Sideways World: the Producers got sick and tired of so many people saying "The Island is Purgatory" and they kept saying "No it's not" after 5 seasons, so for the last season, they decided "You want a Purgatory? Here's one!"
posted by oneswellfoop at 9:39 PM on May 23, 2010 [15 favorites]


nothing you have watched for the past six years meant a lick of shit at all because it was all fake.

Well, yeah...
posted by Cyrano at 9:39 PM on May 23, 2010 [5 favorites]


I think Ben wasn't invited into the church to move forward, and his "declining" to join the rest of them was just him being diplomatic.

Oh NO how could you think that?!?!? Remember Hurley saying (in what I hope wasn't a scatological double entendre) that he was a great #2? Their story continued after what we saw in the episode and so Ben's been good for a long time in "reality" and then, in purgatory, he was good for who knows how long after that. His choosing to stay back, to need more time to work on things, is in keeping with the (nicest versions of) teachings about purgatory (and if you didn't know Carlton was Catholic before this episode, you certainly know it now).
posted by moxiedoll at 9:39 PM on May 23, 2010 [6 favorites]


nothing you have watched for the past six years meant a lick of shit at all because it was all fake.

Well, yeah...


I was REALLY hoping that once they got in the church they'd just stop being characters and all pose for a photo shoot with Annie Leibovitz. And then they have a dance party. Imagine the last 20 minutes as just a nonstop rave. The final twist!
posted by Rory Marinich at 9:42 PM on May 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


This is the most I've ever seen of Jimmy Kimmel and I wish everyone would jump him and beat him down like they were beating down Ben Linus.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:42 PM on May 23, 2010 [3 favorites]


i don't feel so bad, everyone on jimmy kimmel was crying, too.
posted by empath at 9:42 PM on May 23, 2010


And then they have a dance party. Imagine the last 20 minutes as just a nonstop rave. The final twist!

I feel like that's what happened in the finale for Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.
posted by chrominance at 9:43 PM on May 23, 2010


People watching Jimmy Kimmel: What were the alternate endings? Have they shown them yet?
posted by Rory Marinich at 9:43 PM on May 23, 2010


I'll be thinking about this episode for awhile, and all I really wanted from tonight was for our friends to meet fitting ends, because I care far more for the characters than the mythology. That said, the only thing that rankles is Sayid and Shannon. Really? Shannon always struck me as more of a "love the one you're with" situation, given that, you know, every Sayid episode has been about how Nadia's his true love. That's a small quibble though, really - I guess Shannon's got to get to heaven, too.
posted by moxiedoll at 9:44 PM on May 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


chrominance: We take Christian at face value, and everyone died at different times only to arrive in the alternate timeline. Then, at some unspecified point in the future, they all decide it's time to remember their past selves, and then to celebrate they go sit in a church and have a high school reunion party. Many, many questions arise, and many more questions previously thought to be fundamental remain unanswered.

There's no alternate timeline. (At least the way I'm reading this.) The idea of the bomb creating an "alternate timeline" was a big, fat red herring – all the bomb did was move the relevant castaways into the future.

The flash-sideways scenes were a mental construct formed by the castaways' souls after they died, so that they could meet up before moving onward to heaven. And there's no "time" after death, so it's not a point in the future where they had to work things out.

In fact, a lot of the alternate characters might not even be those characters in reality. As someone pointed out in another forum, AltKeamy died. Does that mean that one can die after death? I tend to think that all AltKeamy was was a mutual mental construct of Keamy. The same could explain why Aaron was an infant.
posted by WCityMike at 9:44 PM on May 23, 2010 [5 favorites]


1) We take Christian at face value, and everyone died at different times only to arrive in the alternate timeline. Then, at some unspecified point in the future, they all decide it's time to remember their past selves, and then to celebrate they go sit in a church and have a high school reunion party. Many, many questions arise, and many more questions previously thought to be fundamental remain unanswered.

It's not an alternate timeline, its outside of time.
posted by empath at 9:44 PM on May 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


Rory Marinich: People watching Jimmy Kimmel: What were the alternate endings? Have they shown them yet?

No, they've not.
posted by WCityMike at 9:44 PM on May 23, 2010


> 1) We take Christian at face value, and everyone died at different times only to arrive in the alternate timeline. Then, at some unspecified point in the future, they all decide it's time to remember their past selves, and then to celebrate they go sit in a church and have a high school reunion party. Many, many questions arise, and many more questions previously thought to be fundamental remain unanswered.


They all died and were in some kind of Bardo waiting for each other to move on together. It's really not that complicated.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:45 PM on May 23, 2010 [3 favorites]


Anyone else see the young Jacob staring out at the camera in the bamboo behind the Dharma Lasagna?
posted by Burhanistan at 9:46 PM on May 23, 2010


By the way, a neat little thing: there was a movie in the 1990s involving someone living a life and realizing at its conclusion that the world he had been living in was a limbo prior to his death. That movie? It was ... (don't read if you don't want the movie to be spoiled) ... Jacob's Ladder.
posted by WCityMike at 9:46 PM on May 23, 2010


In fact, a lot of the alternate characters might not even be those characters in reality.

This.

Aaron in heaven wasn't aaron. Aaron probably had his own story with his own friends.
posted by empath at 9:47 PM on May 23, 2010 [4 favorites]


I think of the LOST sideways world like the fantasy in Mulholland Drive. Everybody goes where they want to go, and it fits rationally with the "real world", and Keamy is only there so he can die a horrific death.
posted by Rory Marinich at 9:47 PM on May 23, 2010


all the discussion i've seen (well, here and io9) seem to agree on the purgatory angle. but what about the meaning of the hole/plug/light deal and the "rules" about jacob and mib not being able to harm each other? any ideas?
posted by andywolf at 9:48 PM on May 23, 2010


ALTERNATE ENDINGS ARE A SCAM
posted by Burhanistan at 9:48 PM on May 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Nah, it will end with Jack and Lock sitting on log looking at a beach in 2210 watching a crashed space ship crew clamor onshore. Locke will turn to Jack and say "do you know how much I want to kill you right now?", and that will be the close.

Oh how I wish that had been it.
posted by stargell at 9:49 PM on May 23, 2010 [5 favorites]


People watching Jimmy Kimmel: What were the alternate endings? Have they shown them yet?They're skits, not actual alternate endings.
posted by ZeusHumms at 9:49 PM on May 23, 2010


chrominance: "1) We take Christian at face value, and everyone died at different times only to arrive in the alternate timeline. Then, at some unspecified point in the future, they all decide it's time to remember their past selves, and then to celebrate they go sit in a church and have a high school reunion party. Many, many questions arise, and many more questions previously thought to be fundamental remain unanswered."

Why do you think time acts the same for a dead consciousness as a living one?

They did not all die in the plane crash.

All things considered, it was probably about the best ending they could have given us. I'm wasn't at all happy with the bullshit they were pulling with the flash-sideways, but this wrapped it up in a way that at least made me think it wasn't entirely wasting my time. And, every character got a happy ending, of some sort.

Except poor Nikki and Paolo. :(
posted by graventy at 9:49 PM on May 23, 2010


WHY IS THE ISLAND UNDERWATER in purgatory?

...

Being underwater represented it being buried and forgotten in the Jack's subconscious.

That, and also because the nuke sent it to the bottom of the ocean back in the 70s. (That's what happens when you bomb a magic island, right?)
posted by sentient at 9:50 PM on May 23, 2010


The flash-sideways scenes were a mental construct formed by the castaways' souls after they died, so that they could meet up before moving onward to heaven. And there's no "time" after death, so it's not a point in the future where they had to work things out.

Ok, so given this, why was Eloise Hawking so pissy to Desmond in the flash-sideways? She seemed to know what was going on, so why did she try to stop him?
posted by DiscourseMarker at 9:50 PM on May 23, 2010


I heard tonight's Simpsons opening featured Bart writing on the blackboard "Lost was just a dog's dream, watch us"
posted by oneswellfoop at 9:52 PM on May 23, 2010


why was Eloise Hawking so pissy to Desmond in the flash-sideways?

She was (explicitly) pissy that he'd take her son away, right? And Des said he wouldn't.... presumably Farraday (and maybe Charlotte?) weren't ready yet.
posted by moxiedoll at 9:52 PM on May 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


Because Eloise Hawking is a bitch.
posted by graventy at 9:52 PM on May 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


Sopranos reference was well-played.
posted by Rory Marinich at 9:52 PM on May 23, 2010


Alternate Ending #1: Jeff Probst Survivor joke. Alternate Ending #2: Sopranos finale joke. Alternate Ending #3: Newhart finale joke (starring Newhart).
posted by WCityMike at 9:53 PM on May 23, 2010


She was (explicitly) pissy that he'd take her son away, right? And Des said he wouldn't.... presumably Farraday (and maybe Charlotte?) weren't ready yet.

So were they (Faraday & Charlotte) not in the church? I can't remember.

Aaron in heaven wasn't aaron. Aaron probably had his own story with his own friends.

Ooh, also, I did notice that although Desmond was with Penny in the church, their son Charlie wasn't there, presumably b/c he wasn't someone Jack had formed a relationship with on the island.
posted by DiscourseMarker at 9:54 PM on May 23, 2010


> That, and also because the nuke sent it to the bottom of the ocean back in the 70s. (That's what happens when you bomb a magic island, right?)

Nah, as WCityMike said, the "flash sideways" being linked to the bomb was a bit of a fake out all season and was the purgatory-bardo thing all along.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:55 PM on May 23, 2010


Perhaps you could repeat, in ten to fifteen more comments, the same sentiment, just to pad things out?

Sorry, but I had no idea there was only one acceptable reaction or type of discourse to have about the show here?

Anyway, twist endings: one twist ending I liked recently was to the US Life on Mars series. It was slap-dash, in a way, because the producers/writers only found out the series was ending a few weeks before, IIRC. But the ending they chose, while completely twisty, was also fairly well-established within the show's own internal mythology. You could go back and watch the second episode and see the eventual ending implied.

LOST's ending only made sense within the internal logic of the finale itself. It wasn't clearly foreshadowed within even this season--in fact, there are enough plot inconsistencies and questions opened up by it to feel really niggling. oinopaponton's really raised most of them already, though I have a feeling they'll be piling up in the days that follow. There were a lot of ways they could have taken this that could have been more concretely foreshadowed and frankly logical. For example, they'd already told us that Desmond was a "failsafe device" who would somehow save the island if everyone was killed. Juliet had already told us that the bomb had worked. It would have made sense, if the bomb had created an alternate timeline, for Desmond to go running around, reuniting everyone, and somehow restoring the island to its previous state. But instead, the producers went with this purgatory thing, which honestly felt like they did it just so they could say: "SEE, WE TOLD YOU THE ISLAND WASN'T PURGATORY!!" or something.

It was also weirdly Mormon. Everyone reunited, in family units or romantic pairings. Never mind that some of these pairings weren't true to the character relationships that we actually saw on the show. Claire and Charlie had what was an often-strained friendship; his romantic overtures weren't always welcome. And now they're this happy family? Shannon and Sayid were really romantically linked for, what, an episode? And he's with her, and not Nadia? I mean, even if we look at the character motivations stated within the episode, some of the gestures here made no sense: Rose and Bernard just want to stay the hell away from the main LOST crew, and yet they end up departing to heaven with them?

The one thing I liked was the symmetry between Jack in the first episode and this one. But it wasn't worth anything. In the end, we find out that Ben and Hurley go on to protect the island--hey! I would have loved to watch that show! I bet they even find out the island's secrets! Lord knows we didn't.

(And yet, I somehow managed to hold out some expectations of a satisfying resolution until the last fifteen minutes, when it all fell apart into wishywashy newageyness in a . . . Unitarian church?)

I feel like the finale violated a lot of the trust inherent in a writer/audience relationship. You need to clearly foreshadow what will subsequently happen. You need to deliver some answers to the questions you raise. You need to be true to your characters and the relationships as you've previously written them. This ending did none of these things. There were a lot of ways they could have gone with this, and they picked saccharine reunions, oversimplifications of the relationships between the characters so they could project it back to us through a Kodachrome-tinted lens and make us feel all nostalgic. But nostalgic for what? What was all that sentiment even for? Guys, where are we?
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:56 PM on May 23, 2010 [37 favorites]


I'm glad they didn't have any "real" alternate endings, though. Nice and clean break. Eye closed. TV off. Life moving on.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:56 PM on May 23, 2010


Presumably the island wasn't Penny's most important life experience? So she gets a different purgatory?

Fuck it I give up.

Even with all the handwaving it was a MUCH better finale than BSG.
posted by graventy at 9:56 PM on May 23, 2010


A friend pointed out that what Ben said to Hurley suggests that the reason the island was so obscure/hard to find wasn't the electromagnetic field; apparently Jacob intentionally set the island up that way, perhaps to control the environment and protect himself from his brother. So that's another mystery solved.

To be replaced with: How is Jacob able to send people through time when they approach the island?
posted by Rory Marinich at 9:57 PM on May 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


> Presumably the island wasn't Penny's most important life experience? So she gets a different purgatory?

She was there in the church.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:58 PM on May 23, 2010


DiscourseMarker: Ok, so given this, why was Eloise Hawking so pissy to Desmond in the flash-sideways? She seemed to know what was going on, so why did she try to stop him?

My guess is that Eloise was "awakened" – i.e., she knew this wasn't real – but she couldn't move on because of the guilt involved in being the one who killed her son. And that's why Daniel wasn't awakened (could be that Daniel was just a construct of Eloise's – which is why meeting Redhead-Whose-Name-I-Can't-Remember didn't bring about an awakening sequence), and why she asked Desmond if he was going to take Daniel – she liked this "perfect life" she had with Daniel.
posted by WCityMike at 9:58 PM on May 23, 2010 [17 favorites]


I feel like this ending was no better than having all the characters wake up simultaneously to realize that it was all just a crazy dream.

They all died in the plane crash, and the whole series has been quite literally about a group of "lost souls" trying to find peace with themselves so they can move on to a happy afterlife.
posted by wondermouse at 9:59 PM on May 23, 2010


WCityMike you are a genius.
posted by DiscourseMarker at 10:01 PM on May 23, 2010


they didn't die in the plane crash, people.
posted by empath at 10:02 PM on May 23, 2010 [3 favorites]


Your soul hurts? Come on. You just don't grok it so you're lashing out childishly. There are many other threads here to poop in.

I thought this was where the discussion of the LOST finale was happening?
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:03 PM on May 23, 2010 [3 favorites]



They all died in the plane crash, and the whole series has been quite literally about a group of "lost souls" trying to find peace with themselves so they can move on to a happy afterlife.


They did not die in the plane crash.
posted by alligatorman at 10:03 PM on May 23, 2010 [6 favorites]


Sopranos reference? You mean Tony/Kevin Finnerty and Steve Buscemi outside the party as a parallel to Jack and Kate outside the church?
posted by emelenjr at 10:04 PM on May 23, 2010


Sorry, replace "alternate timeline" with "fantasy reality made up by the survivors somehow to act as a beacon for everyone when they die." This doesn't change my point: all this does is raise more questions while leaving the others unanswered.
posted by chrominance at 10:05 PM on May 23, 2010


emelenjr: Sopranos reference? You mean Tony/Kevin Finnerty and Steve Buscemi outside the party as a parallel to Jack and Kate outside the church?

The Jimmy Kimmel aftershow did three "alternate endings" starring the Lost case.
posted by WCityMike at 10:05 PM on May 23, 2010


So, what was Lost about? Taken as a whole.
posted by empath at 10:05 PM on May 23, 2010


Also, I'm wondering if the split in reaction to the finale lines up neatly with whether you liked the concept of the flash sideways or not. I actually liked the flash sideways, with the caveat that the two universes somehow met, and that what everyone thought was the "alternate" didn't turn out to be, say, Jack's dreams of how they would all turn out if the crash never happened. Which is almost precisely what happened.
posted by chrominance at 10:08 PM on May 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


DiscourseMarker: WCityMike you are a genius.

That's kind. It would fit in with what we saw with Ben, too. Ben was offered the chance by Hurley to come into the church; he chose to turn it down. It was his own hangups based on what he had done in his life – it wasn't accidental that the scene just prior involved Ben talking with John about killing him, and John forgiving him. Similarly, Eloise will need to forgive herself before she can "enter the church."
posted by WCityMike at 10:09 PM on May 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


(er, that the "alternate" turned out to be a dream scenario)
posted by chrominance at 10:09 PM on May 23, 2010


I feel like the finale violated a lot of the trust inherent in a writer/audience relationship

Okay, see, NOW I'm finally starting to get why I feel that people are looking at LOST the wrong way.

LOST has never had any trust with me. If you go back and watch the first season, I think you'll find that you lose your trust in it also. I mean, the writing from the start was just AWFUL. I loved it, but I loved it because it so perfectly fused a soap opera with a thriller with geekdom.

There was a smoke monster going around killing people, remember? And a polar bear? And a mad French woman? And the first season ended with a gratuitous shot going down a hatch, revealing nothing? And time travel? And a nuclear bomb?

This was not a serious drama. I know it had those themes going on, but bully the themes. This was a junky show right from the start, written by guys who write fuck-words into the scripts to motivate their actors. It just happens to be the most epic junky show ever.

It's like Twin Peaks if Twin Peaks had been done by Quentin Tarantino. The ending is the same as when Cooper goes to the Black Lodge and all continuity falls apart. The show was about people and how they related. It was about Sawyer and Juliet getting married when they had three years to themselves. Or about Ben and his adoptive daughter.

All those mysteries? I mean, they were fun, but did you really think that the LOST team could answer them? We had an INTERNET FULL OF DORKS trying to solve those numbers, or trying to figure out Walt, and combined they couldn't even make a basic explanation that worked. Those were all mysteries with a sense of fun involved to them. They existed simply to be unexpected and then forgotten. Except for the mysteries that were character-related. Like Locke in the coffin.

This was a junk food show. People kissing. People shooting each other. People snapping off catch phrases. People talking about dorky science. Unexpected plot twists at the end of EVERY EPISODE.

It did a damn good job of it all.

I'm sorry if any of you were watching expecting, like, a serious drama, but come on. It's not like the show didn't warn you from the start. It's been melodramatic from literally scene one, where Jack stumbles out of the woods and into a burning airplane wreckage. It's great! But it's not exactly deep.

I mean, the finale recited catch phrases, had a lot of people make out, repeated key shots from earlier episodes, quoted Star Wars. Honestly, any of you who were looking for anything more were apparently watching a show wherein anything else ever happened.
posted by Rory Marinich at 10:10 PM on May 23, 2010 [77 favorites]


What makes anyone believe they didn't die in the plane crash? How else was anything explained? How come certain characters' suicide attempts always failed - keeping in mind that there are religions that say if you commit suicide, you are sent to purgatory? Their being dead the entire time is the only thing that makes this series make sense. What was that island, if not purgatory?
posted by wondermouse at 10:11 PM on May 23, 2010


In the end, we find out that Ben and Hurley go on to protect the island--hey! I would have loved to watch that show! I bet they even find out the island's secrets! Lord knows we didn't.

Yes, but it probably would have turned out like "After M*A*S*H" (which serves as a perpetual warning to anyone ever attempting a 'sequel spin-off', along with "Rich Man Poor Man Book 2").

Besides, Terry O'Quinn is still pitching a show with him and Michael Emerson playing "suburban hit-men" which might work if they find some show runners who can whip the concept into functionality.
posted by oneswellfoop at 10:12 PM on May 23, 2010


I thought it was really great until the last 20 minutes. I can't help but feel like "we're all dead" is just a tarted-up version of "it was all a dream."
And so if the whole summing-up message is that the journey was about the people and not the island, that it was about them meeting eachother...then what was the point of the whole island? Of Jacob and Man in Black and Richard and the hundreds and hundreds of years of various people and their stories? Just for that small group of people to be smiley in heaven with each other? LAME.
It reminds me of this book I read a year ago, about following Neil Young's journey from various Canadian towns to California and eventual superstardom. The dude who wrote it was going to follow his tracks and interview people connected to Neil Young's journey along the way. I'm a huge Neil Young fan and I fell for it. But of course he couldn't get anywhere near the real story of things and started writing more and more about his stoner college buddies that were travelling with him and I remember saying to myself about halfway throught the book, oh no. This is going to be all "I thought I was writing about Neil Young but really I was learning about myself."
Except you put a big fucking picture of Neil Young on the cover instead of a nerdy picture of you saying 'this is my first book about my friends and I on a trip in our car.'
So I kind of feel like that about this show; I want to know more about this fucking island. I don't care about 'they're all happy together, dead.'
Give me Hurley ruling the island with Ben.
posted by chococat at 10:14 PM on May 23, 2010 [7 favorites]


So, what was Lost about? Taken as a whole.

My 1 AM hazard-a-guess:

It's about how people deliberately alienate themselves from those around them, largely because they've been alienated in turn. Like how Jacob takes his mother's secrets as an excuse to keep secrets of his own, and those secrets lead to other people being secretive.

It's about how there are no RIGHT answers to our problems, and how our perspective on right and wrong is as mutable as anybody else's. It's about how no one choice in life will make you happier or better off, and how you'll end up back with everybody else again.

It's about how stories are largely mundane unless one of two things happen. They're valuable and exciting if we know the people in them, and they're valuable and exciting if other people are keeping them hidden from us.

It's about how people function in the face of obliterating tragedy, and how sometimes those tragedies bring us closer together. In big ways, like the plane crash, and in little ways, like basically every coincidence on the show ever.

It's about how people are largely trying to be the "good guys", as Ben said, and how in their own minds they're always right.

It's about how it feels good to be in love, and how easy it is for love to fall apart.

It's about nobody's dead till you see the corpse, and seeing the coffin doesn't count.
posted by Rory Marinich at 10:15 PM on May 23, 2010 [26 favorites]


the "flash sideways" being linked to the bomb was a bit of a fake out

The bomb -> journey to purgatory idea is really compact. But I think parellel timeline idea can be consistent too, albeit more literal. So "it [nuking the island] works" and they don't land on the island in the flash sideways since it's on the bottom of the ocean. But what happened to the characters until the bomb went off still happened, so (handwave) it's still mentally accessible in the sideways, once the right emotions are triggered.

I figured that "this place" (that they created) meant the church at that date/time, not the entire sideways timeline.

I still want to know if I'm the only one who thinks that it's Lupidus' Ajira plane on the beach in the ending credits. Also, it looked like there were footprints around the wreckage...

And is Ana Lucia in the church?
posted by sentient at 10:16 PM on May 23, 2010


(WHO just got the 300th comment it was me)
posted by Rory Marinich at 10:16 PM on May 23, 2010


Rory Marinich,

I don't know, man. I completely see your point and agree that Lost was schlock, but what I think was meant by this: "I feel like the finale violated a lot of the trust inherent in a writer/audience relationship" is that the show was not intentionally schlocky. It was not intentionally a "junk food show", as you put it. It's very clear that the writers and producers and cast took it very seriously.

So no, they didn't do a damn good job of it, and they didn't warn us from the start. From the start it was clearly an attempt at a serious, dramatic show, and that's where the trust was broken. They presented a dramatic show to be taken seriously, and produced the drek you enjoyed.

This doesn't mean the drek wasn't enjoyable in some ways, but it's still drek because the show tried and failed deeply to be a serious, involved drama. It wasn't tongue-in-cheek, which is the way you seem to be taking it, and I think that's what's frustrating many people. The show said, "Here is a serious show, with many developments and mysteries that have great meaning" and then proceeded to drop the ball over and over.
posted by Sangermaine at 10:18 PM on May 23, 2010 [6 favorites]


So did it X-Files or not? That has always been the measure...
posted by bonefish at 10:21 PM on May 23, 2010


Okay, see, NOW I'm finally starting to get why I feel that people are looking at LOST the wrong way.

I admit that my expectations may have been too high. but you can see upthread that I went into this episode with significantly lowered expectations, and it still felt like a violation.

It's like . . . by the end, the twist was that we were supposed to feel all warm and cuddly over the experience of watching LOST. Like, here's some characters reuniting! You remember these guys! Look, they're kissing! Aw, we liked them kissing before, right? Now we'll make some references to stuff that happened in the first season! Heh, we stood over Desmond in a hatch before! The good old days!

The problem with that is that even people who were watching LOST because it was a character drama weren't necessarily doing it because of some fondness for the characters as institutions--not in the least because they weren't institutions at first. We watched because we thought they were interesting, and wanted to see what became of them. We watched to watch them grow and change and see their stories reach satisfying conclusions. Most didn't, here; and for those that did, it didn't matter, because at the last minute we were given hackneyed character reinterpretations for the sake of rosy sentiment.

And I'm not someone who despises media junkfood. I'm a big fan of ninja turtle movies, YA novels about vampires, and almost any TV show with a sympathetic alien. But I do think that writers need to respect their audience's intelligence, in the very least by at least fulfilling the premises that they create. This finale didn't successfully do that.

Also, for those saying that this was just Jack's dreamworld (and therefore, for example, purgAaron isn't realAaron): that doesn't work logically. How would Jack have known that Ben and Hurley had island boss adventures? How did all of those scenes happen outside his awareness over the past season?
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:23 PM on May 23, 2010 [9 favorites]


So, what was Lost about? Taken as a whole.

About 80 hours of prime time television (plus 40 hours of commercials they wanted you to watch to pay for the show).

If you were a fan of Jack or Hurley or Ben or Desmond or the Real Locke, it was a good show.

If the mystery numbers or polar bears or the Hanso Corporation or Mr. Cluck's or Kate's criminal past mattered to you, not so much.
posted by oneswellfoop at 10:23 PM on May 23, 2010 [4 favorites]


PhoBWanKenobi: Sorry, but I had no idea there was only one acceptable reaction or type of discourse to have about the show here?

Yeah, but until this particular comment, you were pretty much just riffing the same comment: "No, man, it sucks." "Yeah, but this, this, this and this!" "Yeah, but man, it really just sucked!" It's fine if something other people are enjoying isn't your thing, but if all you're contributing to the discussion is just "it sucked so badly that my heart bled into my chest cavity", that's a pretty clear example of threadshitting.

It wasn't clearly foreshadowed within even this season

So you say. There are plenty of foreshadowings in this season. Rose telling Jack "you can let go now" in his first moments in the shared-heaven "timeline" is right there in the sixth season premiere. Subtle, but appropriate. Desmond being incredibly chipper and at peace throughout the whole series finally has an explanation, as it's the peace and happiness one would presumably have upon realizing you've moved upward to heaven, the next incarnation, or what have you. I could go on at length.

oinopaponton's really raised most of them already

Scanning his comments, he appears to have made three, none of which were too challenging. Why did Jack and Juliet have a kid? Well, their "universe"'s rules predisposed them towards contact with fellow castaways, so as doctors they ended up working at the same hospital together. There was romantic chemistry between the two for a period of time in the series that carried over after their deaths, and as they were unwitting "gods" of their own universe, they formed a perfect son as a result.

Why was Desmond special? Dunno. Not knowing doesn't ruin it for me. How did he get off the island? On the Ajira flight, if memory serves, with the rest of them. Whenever he died, he moved onward. The shared-heaven "timeline" is where the castaways went after their deaths, whenever they died. (With Hurley, he was immortal, so hell, he could have died at the Big Crunch at the end of the universe, for all we know.) So Desmond went there after he died -- there's no question as to how he got off the island. As for Aaron, I tend to think he was just a mental construction of Claire's or Kate's ... probably because, just like Walt, explaining that an adult actor is really just "Walt" or "Aaron" grown-up would've been an interruption.

though I have a feeling they'll be piling up in the days that follow.

Yes, yes, we get it. You didn't like it.

For example, they'd already told us that Desmond was a "failsafe device" who would somehow save the island if everyone was killed.

Stumped me on this one.

Juliet had already told us that the bomb had worked.

If you remember the scene, she came back from a brief period of "death" to say this ... which makes sense. She briefly found herself in the shared-heaven "timeline" and mistook it for the "alternate universe" timeline they had been talking about.

Claire and Charlie had what was an often-strained friendship; his romantic overtures weren't always welcome.

Mostly when he resumed his crack habit, which wasn't a factor after death.

I bet they even find out the island's secrets! Lord knows we didn't.

We actually did, for the most part ...

Guys, where are we?

On Metafilter. Hi!
posted by WCityMike at 10:24 PM on May 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


So did it X-Files or not? That has always been the measure...

It Saint Elsewhered.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:24 PM on May 23, 2010


Yeah, but until this particular comment, you were pretty much just riffing the same comment: "No, man, it sucks." "Yeah, but this, this, this and this!" "Yeah, but man, it really just sucked!" It's fine if something other people are enjoying isn't your thing, but if all you're contributing to the discussion is just "it sucked so badly that my heart bled into my chest cavity", that's a pretty clear example of threadshitting.

I was exclaiming loudly because I was having a strong emotional response. Apologies if that seemed like threadshitting; I'm really pretty earnest about this.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:26 PM on May 23, 2010


No, not, not jack's dreamworld. It's a shared reality, but I'm not sure everyone there was 'real', but the rules in heaven aren't exactly well known, so who knows.
posted by empath at 10:26 PM on May 23, 2010


wondermouse: How come certain characters' suicide attempts always failed

Jacob had a pretty wide control as to how things went on the island. Remember what Ben said to Hurley about how Jacob ran the island along certain lines ...
posted by WCityMike at 10:26 PM on May 23, 2010


Great ending. I thought it was lovely and really enjoyed it.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 10:26 PM on May 23, 2010


> So, what was Lost about? Taken as a whole.

That life is something we can only uncover bits and pieces of but never have the whole story of why we are here, but what matters is the relationships we have with people?
posted by Burhanistan at 10:26 PM on May 23, 2010 [9 favorites]


So, what was Lost about? Taken as a whole.

Now that it's over, in terms of character, I think it was primarily about Jack, and about him losing and finding (and re-losing and re-finding . . .) his place. His experience and perspective bookend the whole series -- and the "We Have to Go Back" flash-forward ending Season 3 -- right smack in the middle -- is the other really key episode.

In the finale, Jack was not the last one to die, but his "remembering" and "letting go" were the last of the group, not time-wise since there's no time in the post-death place, but more in a limited third-person omniscient way. He was the focal point.

So Kimmel had that bit right at least.
posted by FelliniBlank at 10:27 PM on May 23, 2010 [4 favorites]


Everyone always thinks I'm a dude.
posted by oinopaponton at 10:28 PM on May 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


The show said, "Here is a serious show, with many developments and mysteries that have great meaning" and then proceeded to drop the ball over and over.

I don't know. I mean, I get where you're coming from. I went into this episode feeling the same way. But the shot of Jack and Locke looking down the "hatch" clued me off, and the shot of Jack literally leaping through the air at Locke did it for me.

In some ways you could argue that this whole episode was poking a lot of fun at itself. All the comments about "we're near the end" are kind of chortle-worthy. Definitely a lot of the shots. Almost all of the dialogue. It was serious in that it paced itself and delivered answers at a terrific rate, but I think that it's the kind of answer-telling that doesn't matter what the specific answers are.

Now that it's been two hours, I kind of really like the fact that the ending was purgatory. Because that's the twist everybody was expecting for five years. And it wasn't JUST purgatory, it was purgatory where LITERALLY every character had a happy ending. Nobody had a tragedy. Everybody got exactly what they wanted. The one uncertainty, Hurley, got a "we did good" moment with Ben to show that yes, Hurley was happy with things in the end also.

Which is why I LOVED Widmore's scene last episode. I gave up caring about the Widmore-Ben drama a while ago. It was pretty obvious that Widmore's reasons for coming back were flimsy. The show didn't pretend otherwise. "Jacob told me I was wrong" and so Desmond is back for no reason other than to be a plot twist involving Desmond being back. And then Locke putting Desmond in a well. And then him doing some cool sci-fi stuff.

Desmond didn't have to be alive at the end. He doesn't fly back home, right? He doesn't even wake up by the time Hurley and Ben decide things. He's only there so that Desmond is there. And so when Widmore whispers to Locke, he's not saying anything. He doesn't have a plan. He's just whispering to keep secrets.

And then Ben shoots him, not for any kind of plot reason — Locke's gonna kill Widmore anyway — but because he can't give up the thought of his dead daughter. It doesn't affect Locke in any way. All it does is give Ben a chance to shoot Widmore when the audience wasn't expecting.

Richard getting hit by the smoke monster and surviving. Then him getting a gray hair. Richard provided nothing useful to this episode. But I love Richard and so I love when things happen to him.

Conversely, the worse parts weren't the wall-breaking, but the character-dropping. Claire on the island was pretty mediocre, because she's not the Claire I love. Claire in purgatory is awesome. Lapidus saying "In case you hadn't noticed I'M A PILOT" is the best thing ever because it manages both to be corny and an important plot point. (Again, not that it matters, because once Smokey dies anybody can leave the island and so the plane was never a contentious issue. It's only there to drive up drama.)

There's a lot of craft behind all that. But it's craft that doesn't care about necessarily delivering something serious. It's all about being fun and needlessly dramatic.
posted by Rory Marinich at 10:28 PM on May 23, 2010 [3 favorites]


Jack died in the original script for the pilot episode, btw.
posted by empath at 10:28 PM on May 23, 2010


So, what was Lost about? Taken as a whole.

I think it's about redemption, choice, and how "good" and "evil" are not useful constructs.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 10:29 PM on May 23, 2010


Hey, a friend just pointed this out to me: Ben might not be dead.

Jack's dad said that "everyone in the church" was dead, and Ben wasn't there. Neither were Walt or Michael. Not sure what to make of that.
posted by Sangermaine at 10:29 PM on May 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


What makes anyone believe they didn't die in the plane crash? How else was anything explained?

It doesn't seem to me like they died in the plane crash. Sure, there are things about the time they spend on the island that have qualities of a purgatory situation, but is there evidence that they did die in the plane crash (in the pilot episode)? We see a lot of them die in other ways -- Juliet with the Nuke, Jack from Smokey's stab wound, Shannon getting shot, Jin and Sun in the sub, etc.

suicide attempts always failed

Hurley points out that Jack is essentially committing suicide, and Jack does "succeed" in dying. Not sure if that counts as a counterexample.
posted by sentient at 10:32 PM on May 23, 2010


oinopaponton: Everyone always thinks I'm a dude.

D   U   D   E
posted by WCityMike at 10:33 PM on May 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


I started chanting the Mystery Science Theater 3000 mantra "It's just a show, I should really just relax" when Hurley made two Star Wars references in the first few minutes. And I realized that the Lost finale was paralleling every Survivor finale, bringing back everyone who had previously been 'voted off the island' (in this case, killed off) for the ceremony picking the winner. (Which seemed to be Jack, having opened and closed the show, but may have been Hurley as the New Island Protector, with Ben picking up an immunity idol, and Desmond in the Jeff Probst role)
posted by oneswellfoop at 10:34 PM on May 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


We watched to watch them grow and change and see their stories reach satisfying conclusions.

It's even BETTER! We got BOTH! We got Jack sacrificing himself and dying a man of faith. We got Kate and Jack's last kiss. We got Sawyer devastated by tragedy. The Kwons dying together. Hurley protecting the island. Ben being special. Lapidus flying a plane. Claire leaving to finally see her child.

But we ALSO got: Ben as a history teacher. Locke as a substitute. Desmond hitting Locke with a car. Danielle Rousseau. Sawyer and Miles the buddy-buddies. Leslie Arzt.

They gave us both! We got a mature resolution AND a fanboy resolution.

It's no surprise that no characters made out before this episode in purgatory. Then this episode every couple starts snogging like mad. It's pure fanservice. I love it! And one last empty coffin.

Eliminate the sideways flashes and you have a terrific thriller. Add the sideways flashes and you have a thriller that acts as its own fanfiction. Ben apologizes to Locke! Charlie dressed like a punk!

Notice that the show ends not on characters walking into the light, but on Jack dying on the island. The real story was the island. The rest was just a mound of icing.
posted by Rory Marinich at 10:34 PM on May 23, 2010 [13 favorites]


I actually found the episode spiritual in a small way – just because of the sheer happiness that each actor showed after they were "awakened."

Once I began to grok towards the beginning-to-middle of the episode that this was probably some variant of the afterlife, I started realizing that each of their moments of wisdom-acquiring revelatory happiness that we were witnessing the actors portray ...

Well, these moments were supposed to be The Big Moment of Happiness that many religions promise awaits us after our death. That's not a scene you see in much television or film nowadays ... and despite me being, well, maybe an agnostic, I was raised Christian and there's still a small part of me that hopes such happiness awaits people after their death.

Seeing that happen to characters I've grown to like over the run of this show ... well, it was moving.
posted by WCityMike at 10:38 PM on May 23, 2010 [3 favorites]


Yeah, no, sorry, Rory, but I really just can't shake the feeling that these moments weren't completely earned. I sort of felt the same way at the end of Russel T Davis' Doctor Who run, when longtime companion Rose got her own version of the Doctor, with whom she could make out with forever. But that made more sense for the show, because it was silly and often like that and didn't take itself seriously. LOST told us that it did, over and over again, repeatedly, through tone and content. And so it's really difficult for me to swallow that kind of fan service, especially when it's the only resolution to the story we're going to get.

But I was never a big fan of Jack or Kate at all. Maybe that's why it fell flat with me. Their storyline, particularly, felt repetitive and lacking in growth and I just really didn't like them. Maybe if I did, I'd'd feel warm and fuzzy inside, too.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:39 PM on May 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


(One criticism: I wish we'd gotten to see Ben and Juliet interact in purgatory. That was a weird stalker relationship I'd have loved to get more of.)
posted by Rory Marinich at 10:39 PM on May 23, 2010


oneswellfoop: Desmond in the Jeff Probst role

No, Jeff Probst was in the Jeff Probst role! (Oh, no, that was just on Jimmy Kimmel. Sorry. :))
posted by WCityMike at 10:39 PM on May 23, 2010


From one of the early reviews:

In the end, Lost will be remembered - if it's remembered at all - as a story about its characters first and foremost, and only nominally about a mystery island and its supernatural powers. The big-picture questions were not the arcane details of a sci-fi otherworld in which polar bears menace plane-crash survivors on a tropical island, but rather: Would Jack find a deeper meaning to his life? Yes, by sacrificing himself for others.

Would Kate find inner peace, after a life on the run? Yes, by becoming the protector of a vulnerable, newborn child.

Could Sawyer ever feel comfortable in his own skin? Yes, by learning to love another, and by defending the weak and powerless.

Would Sun and Jin rekindle the flame of their youthful passion and love? Would Claire ever find a safe haven for her newborn child? Would Sayid be able to forgive himself for his sins? Would Hurley learn to accept the love and affection of his friends?

Yes, to all of the above.

posted by catchingsignals at 10:42 PM on May 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


Hey, someone in another thread I'm reading just pointed out something rather useful in terms of the whole "long lifes" bit:
Also, Kate told Jack "I've missed you for a very long time". That was in reference to him dying as they flew off the island and her living for a very long time after.
posted by WCityMike at 10:44 PM on May 23, 2010 [14 favorites]


I'm trying to think of good ways to articulate this, but for the sake of writing it down somewhere, here's why I think all the mythology stuff should've mattered, no matter what the showrunners say about it being a character-driven drama.

Characters don't just exist in a vacuum. They need to do things, and those things need to be important in some sort of context. Even if the actions don't end up being all that important to advancing the plot, there still need to be actions—otherwise all you've got is a bundle of personalities bouncing off each other in an empty room, and you can't sustain an entire television show on that premise.

With Lost, the context is that we have the survivors of a plane crash living on an island. We've seen that before—Cast Away managed an entire feature-length film about one man, stranded alone on an island. (Whether it was any good or not I'll leave to the reader, because I never saw it.) There's plenty to motivate the action in a show about a group of survivors—you have the immediate issues of survival and rescue, and over the long term you've got the construction of a makeshift society along with all that entails—interpersonal conflicts, schisms, bad decisions, and ultimately the long-term viability of a society made up of modern people forced back to the stone age.

But Lost's hook has always been that it's not JUST a bunch of people stranded on an island, with all the survival and interpersonal conflicts that could arise as a result. No, it's got polar bears and smoke monsters and Others and a deep, dark, mysterious secret about the island itself. The mysterious aspects of the island motivate a great deal of the action—hey, what's this hatch doing here? hey, why are these other people on the island trying to kill us? what's up with the smoke monster? why can't anyone have babies on this island? And that's without broaching the subject of the Dharma initiative, or Benjamin Linus v. Charles Widmore, or even Jacob v. Man In Black.

You could say that all of this was just window dressing, stuff to keep the characters occupied while they got down to the real work of forming and breaking relationships with one another. But even that starts to fall apart as soon as the Oceanic Six leave the island. Suddenly, they're all candidates for something, and need to be coerced back to the island for reasons not yet explained—but whatever it is, it's pretty serious, and even though some people seem perfectly happy to stay behind, they've all got to go back and finish up some business. From that point on, it's pretty clear that the fates of the characters we've come to know are tied to the fate of the island—after all, they wouldn't have come back if there wasn't something about that island that compelled them to.

Arguably the Oceanic Six largely had other reasons to return as well—Jack needed a reason to live, Kate needed to bring Claire back for Aaron, Sun needed to find Jin or make sure he was dead, and Locke was dead anyways so who cared what he "needed" to do. I don't really remember why Hurley was on that flight, though, and Sayid seemed to be there for no real reason besides "well, my wife is dead, and I tried hunting down the people who killed her but that didn't really work out, so here I am." And besides all of that, Jack's the only one actively searching for a way back to the island; everyone else is okay with staying back in the real world, except that Jack's yelling that they "need to go back" because they had to be on the island. So what's so goddamned important about the island? Clearly the characters think it's important to be there, so I should probably think it's important too.

Except it turns out that the island may have been one giant red herring. We're told repeatedly that the island holds back some sort of evil, and that if that evil were released, it would kill everyone and everything. But because the show never demonstrates the veracity of these claims, aside from making the island shake a bunch, it's hard to take this threat seriously. HOW will this evil kill everyone and everything? WHY does the island protect against this evil? And most importantly, why is it important that these characters interact with the island in ways besides getting the fuck off it as fast as possible?

tl;dr: The characters grapple with the reality of being on the island. The island fucks with them, the island kills the people they love, the island tortures them and splits them into opposing forces and confuses them and baffles them with bizarre phenomena. The island is so important that external forces occasionally come to the island to claim whatever is the key to the island's power, which further fucks with the survivors in the process. Whatever the island's story is, it's IMPORTANT TO THE CHARACTERS. So why shouldn't it also be important to the audience? Don't we deserve a better answer than "well, it's not important what the island is, or why people have been protecting it, or why other people have been trying to unlock its secrets throughout the ages—what's important is the CHARACTERS." The characters are nothing without the island—their relationships, their arguments, their actions are all meaningless.

I don't even know if that made sense. If not, I apologize.
posted by chrominance at 10:46 PM on May 23, 2010 [25 favorites]


Pho: Watching the recap helped me come to peace with LOST overall. Because it reminded me that for all I've been grouchy all season, I've had some incredible LOST-related euphoria, and maybe I should be caring more about that than about the serious things.

I don't know if the show WAS trying to be serious. I mean, it was serious like a thriller. And it was mostly sincerely show. But it's always had a LITTLE fun at the expense of its own plot. And thrillers are serious differently than dramas are serious. The one has a certain responsibility to act mature. The other one has almost the exact opposite responsibility.

Heck, you even hear it in Giacchino's soundtrack, which is perfect thriller music. Elegant, evocative, and completely repetitive. The same dramatic sting at every plot point. The same melody for death. Compare that with Giacchino's work with Pixar, which is colorful and very non-repetitive. What works for LOST is music that tells you exactly how to feel. Kind of like how all the shots tell you exactly what to think, the dialogue tells you exactly what to think, etc. LOST is very unsubtle.

And the mysteries work the same way. They're mature only in how they let characters relate with one another. But their actual content is RIDICULOUS. A second island? Or a whole housing complex complete with book club? An enormous temple? A lighthouse with a magic mirror? LOST literally came up with plots more absurd than the ones I wrote in high school about Jazur Skylock the flying pirate.

So they were serious in that they provoked emotions. And they were SINCERE in those provocations. LOST wasn't tongue-in-cheek during its most serious moments. But I think you can be serious emotionally and not serious with your mysteries. LOST was an island of MacGuffins.

(Almost EXACTLY like the ending of A Series of Unfortunate Events, actually, in which characters discover a tree underneath which lies a kitchen, a library, a laboratory, and a book called A Series of Unfortunate Events written by their deceased parents. LOST even had the same moral ambiguities in its characters.)
posted by Rory Marinich at 10:48 PM on May 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


Once I began to grok towards the beginning-to-middle of the episode that this was probably some variant of the afterlife, I started realizing that each of their moments of wisdom-acquiring revelatory happiness that we were witnessing the actors portray ...

I didn't figure it out until Christian showed up and then started crying immediately. I am such a sap.

Well, these moments were supposed to be The Big Moment of Happiness that many religions promise awaits us after our death. That's not a scene you see in much television or film nowadays ... and despite me being, well, maybe an agnostic, I was raised Christian and there's still a small part of me that hopes such happiness awaits people after their death.

Yeah, it was a direct hit on my Catholic school upbringing. Which is why I always tell people I'm a Catholic atheist. It never really goes away.
posted by empath at 10:51 PM on May 23, 2010 [5 favorites]


(I propose that we split up into two separate factions based on whether we liked or disliked this finale, and move to two separate parts of MetaFilter. We'll take MetaTalk; you get AskMe. When new members ask who the other side is we answer cryptically and kidnap their children. Occasionally we move MetaFilter to another URL or hide it in the Wayback Machine.)
posted by Rory Marinich at 10:53 PM on May 23, 2010 [42 favorites]


empath: So, what was Lost about? Taken as a whole.

Life's a beach and then you die?
posted by WCityMike at 10:54 PM on May 23, 2010 [16 favorites]


sorry, couldn't resist
posted by WCityMike at 10:54 PM on May 23, 2010


LOST literally came up with plots more absurd than the ones I wrote in high school about Jazur Skylock the flying pirate. - Rory Marinich

Tell me about this Jazur Skylock..
posted by hanoixan at 10:58 PM on May 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


hanoixan: Tell me about this Jazur Skylock.

Hell, no, don't tell us here, sell the idea to ABC.

J   A   Z  U  R
posted by WCityMike at 10:59 PM on May 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


See, but this is what I meant that the finale was more about the experience of watching LOST itself than resolving the story. And even though I've watched this show for six years, I'm just not that easily won over by that sort of sentiment. I didn't want to watch to its ending so I could feel good about having watched it. I wanted to watch it to its ending so that I could see how the story ends. In a lot of ways, we still don't know the answer. We don't know what happened after Jack died. We don't know the whole truth to the island (chrominance explained it above better than I could, given the late hour) or the answers to many of its mysteries. We don't even know what sort of leader Hurley made. Boo, to that. Give me that over all the lip locking, any day.

And the mysteries work the same way. They're mature only in how they let characters relate with one another. But their actual content is RIDICULOUS. A second island? Or a whole housing complex complete with book club? An enormous temple? A lighthouse with a magic mirror? LOST literally came up with plots more absurd than the ones I wrote in high school about Jazur Skylock the flying pirate.

As a big flipping SF/F nerd, none of those things seemed ridiculous to me at all. I accepted those as readily as I do kids traveling tesseracts to save the world from the Nothing or people traveling through time in a phone booth to grab historical figures to help them nail their history report or organic spaceships shaped like penises dragonflies. I'll accept any of those things, readily, as long as they're not just thrown in there for window dressing or empty symbolism (come to think of it, that's probably why I'm not so into most magical reaslism). I don't think that LOST's SF conceits were inherently ridiculous. No more than in any other fantasy-based series. But, heck, the original Land of the Lost series clearly regarded its mysteries with more gravity. That gets to me. It just does.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:59 PM on May 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


B O O M

(a spinoff starring Michael Giacchino, a trombone, and their crazy cello roommate)
posted by hanoixan at 11:01 PM on May 23, 2010


I will say that Lost can redeem itself if it makes good on all the buddy-cop show ideas it's spawned. And by that I basically mean Law & Order: Sawyer and Miles and Fantasy Island: Hurley and Ben.
posted by chrominance at 11:02 PM on May 23, 2010 [7 favorites]


i am guessing that hurley/ben slash fic is being written as we speak.
posted by empath at 11:05 PM on May 23, 2010


I've got to say: I don't want there to be an afterlife. It would cheapen the whole philosophy that, you know, life is limited, we are all dead in the future, it behooves us to appreciate life's beauties while we've got them. But LOST was not a show about appreciating subtleties, so I found it entirely appropriate that there was an afterlife full of people making out. Hell, that's the kind of afterlife I would love.

And all y'all Jazur fanboys are in luck because just yesterday I launched my new web site (check it out, I am so proud of it) and so I can link you to this, written by fourteen-year-old Rory, about a boy who finds himself in the middle of a battle between pirates and ninjas. Sample:

"As the midmorning sun broke out over the Heartlands, enveloping the horizon once again in a golden glow, Jazur Skylock grinned, and tossed his golden ponytail back over his forehead, letting out a cry of glory for all the land to hear."

I hadn't started LOST when I wrote that. If I had, I think the skyships would have crashed and there'd have been more making out. Curiously I remember Boone and Shannon's first kiss better than I remember Jack's and Kate's. So it would have been disturbing make-outs too.
posted by Rory Marinich at 11:07 PM on May 23, 2010


chrominance: Fantasy Island: Hurley and Ben.

"Dude, Ben, I've decided that in order to work on this repentance thing? I'm going to shrink you, make you talk in a higher voice, and make you pronounce 'the' as 'de'."

"De source, boss, de source!"
posted by WCityMike at 11:07 PM on May 23, 2010


I used to say Lost was Gilligan's Island meets X-files, but aftertonight, and in conclusion, it was Gilligan's Island meets Jacob's Ladder.

+ Riverworld
posted by SmileyChewtrain at 11:15 PM on May 23, 2010


i am guessing that hurley/ben slash fic is being written as we speak.

Frankly, I'd be surprised if it didn't exist already.
posted by ZeusHumms at 11:16 PM on May 23, 2010


+ Riverworld

Heh, I have to say that the end of the Riverworld series made me even angrier than LOST did. Because you think it's all been answered in the second-to-last book, but then you start the next one and the rug is pulled out from under you again.

I guess if there's ever a LOST spinoff, they can do that.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:17 PM on May 23, 2010


Heh, I have to say that the end of the Riverworld series made me even angrier than LOST did. Because you think it's all been answered in the second-to-last book, but then you start the next one and the rug is pulled out from under you again.

I think that's partially because Farmer 'finished' the series and kept away from it for a while, then decided he wanted to write another. But, yeah.
posted by SmileyChewtrain at 11:21 PM on May 23, 2010


So, what was Lost about? Taken as a whole.

One man's journey from spiritually Lost to ... not?
posted by dobbs at 11:44 PM on May 23, 2010


After seeing the finale, I stand behind my original comment. I see people in other fora whinging about the numbers, or the donkey wheel, or a host of other unanswered questions, and they are missing the forest for the trees. As Empath said before, "So, what was Lost about? Taken as a whole." It's about all those things, about lived experience as a human, and making meaning.

And the finale was superb.
posted by exlotuseater at 11:46 PM on May 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


I think the proposed Miles/Sawyer cop show should be titled Lost Angeles PD.
posted by grubi at 11:48 PM on May 23, 2010 [4 favorites]


I agree with pretty much everything PhoBWanKenobi has said, and if I were evaluating it against an episode of seasons 1-3, I'd consider this finale mostly a failure. It definitely doesn't stack up with an episode like "Through the Looking Glass" or "Walkabout." Still, at some point watching this finale tonight, I was able to suspend my gripes about late-era Lost and just enjoy the things that the finale did well:

For one, in going the purgatory route it made a bold choice and stuck to it. A clichéd choice, and corny for sure, and not really consistent with any of the previous seasons,—and, as PhoBWanKenobi remarks, probably not altogether earned—but still, a bold choice that I was kind of moved by.

The other parts I liked were the nice little acting moments sprinkled throughout, like Eloise's reaction to the idea of Desmond taking her son. The show's writing has gotten substantially weaker over the years, but I'm hard-pressed not to enjoy any moment between the Kwons, or Desmond and Penny, or Ben and anybody, because they're so fun to watch. I guess I'm kind of stupid that way. The ending was pure sentimentality, unearned, certainly nowhere near my highest hopes for the series—but Christian Shephard was there, and Claire resting her head on Charlie's shoulder, and Vincent lying down to accompany Jack as he finally let go. Readers, what was I to do?
posted by cirripede at 11:49 PM on May 23, 2010 [3 favorites]


So Desmond can travel back and forth between life and the afterlife? Neat trick.
posted by speicus at 11:52 PM on May 23, 2010


Also, the concert with Daniel and Driveshaft was hilariously awful, how it kept alternating between generic altrock and Fauxzartian piano. I guess that should have been my first clue we were dealing with a purgatory situation, because they would have been laughed off the stage in real life.
posted by speicus at 11:57 PM on May 23, 2010 [3 favorites]


I say this as someone who actually enjoyed the finale: if the writers really knew where they eventually wanted to go, they wouldn't have aired 2/3s of the episodes in this series.

All the island events, Dharma, Others, temple, leaving, going back, protecting it, working out your issues - at what point does the subset of the stuff that happens to any one particular character - at what point does that become so important that it becomes THE event of your life. And at what point and how much time do you need to share with the other people in the church to decide that's the club you want to spend the rest of eternity (or whatever it is) with? For example, why aren't Hurley and Linus hanging out with the people they encountered during their turn at the helm?

I hate to say it, but the overall feeling I get is that the people who made Lost had a whole bunch of interesting ideas that they managed to air, and they really didn't care if it all worked out in the end. In the end, Lost made me feel jerked around in the same way that Heroes did, only with less suck. I mean, overall, it makes freaking X-FILES look well put together - and that's really saying something.

tl;dr - I think the finale trades actual storytelling for happy little character development endings, and while that's emotionally satisfying, I think the series premise and initial promise deserved better.
posted by NoRelationToLea at 12:03 AM on May 24, 2010 [3 favorites]


i really liked it. it wasn't overly technical or literal. it capped it off emotionally pretty well and kept it vague enough to still think about the possibilities (including some consideration that the alternate timeline was a kinda metafictional afterlife or alternate life for the characters as fictional beings, but then i was predisposed to it in thinking about rosencrantz and guildenstern are dead).

really neat show. i'm glad i watched it.
posted by fallacy of the beard at 12:03 AM on May 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Speaking as someone who hasn't actually seen any of L O S T whatsoever, it does sound a bit like the ending of MOTHER 3 inasmuch as it seems like once the island's gone, the story's over and people who aren't into analysis of what just happened, as well as people who are more plot- than character-oriented, are angry about it.

A N G R Y
posted by DoctorFedora at 12:11 AM on May 24, 2010


A coherent explanation of the numbers would have made me happy.
posted by stargell at 12:13 AM on May 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


I was pretty gutted by the ending, but at the same time, it just seems like such a fitting end. Just like the rest of the show, the finale raises more questions than it answers. This means that, even though the show is over, we don't have to stop debating What It All Means.
posted by lunasol at 12:27 AM on May 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


Btw, I want to quote the same passage from Nietzche I quoted in the Lost thread a few weeks ago:
"What, if some day or night a demon were to steal after you into your loneliest loneliness and say to you: "This life as you now live it and have lived it, you will have to live once more and innumerable times more; and there will be nothing new in it, but every pain and every joy and every thought and sigh and everything unutterably small or great in your life will have to return to you, all in the same succession and sequence - even this spider and this moonlight between the trees, and even this moment and I myself. The eternal hourglass of existence is turned upside down again and again, and you with it, speck of dust!"
Would you not throw yourself down and gnash your teeth and curse the demon who spoke thus?... Or how well disposed would you have to become to yourself and to life to crave nothing more fervently than this ultimate eternal confirmation and seal?"
Really, IMO, that's what the show is about. People focusing on small stuff like where the food drops came from are missing the point. The show is about Faith, Purpose and Meaning. And I don't mean 'faith' in the kind of trite sense of believing in god, but in the sense of trusting that things are under control -- the idea from the Disiderata that 'things are unfolding as they should'.

The numbers, for example, were all about purpose vs synchronicity, and so on.

Ultimately Jacob give everyone a choice to determine the meaning of their own lives. Jack chose to sacrifice himself, he CHOSE to believe that it was his purpose. He could have walked away, but he CHOSE.

And in the afterlife, they were all tempted-- do you want to live your life differently? Did you make the wrong choices? And all of them realized that it was worth it, all the pain, and loss and suffering was worth it -- for love, for some of them, but not for all of them. They chose the Eternal Return, not escape.
posted by empath at 12:44 AM on May 24, 2010 [7 favorites]


I literally just remembered that I used work for a talent management agency that represented Walt. Well, not Walt, but Malcolm David Kelley. He was literally their only "known" client and then after the first season it turned out he was growing way to fast too stay on the show. And, one time I got to talk on the phone with Harold Perrineau, who I loved on Oz.

Anyway, they way all these seemingly important characters got discarded, for whatever reason, shows that Lindelof and Cuse and the writers were just making it up as they went along and never really planned on giving us answers to any of the central mysteries of the show. First and foremost: What is the island? No one even throws out any clues, hints or guesses (well, except for Richard Alpert). Really LOST? Six years and you're not going to throw anyone a bone? I mean, that sure was one shiny light down there, but how did it get there? What kind of carvings-in-phallic-rock-technology is keeping it going?

I'm just going to pretend that it was called the "Hurley and Ben Fun Island Adventure Times" and forget the rest of it.
posted by runcibleshaw at 12:45 AM on May 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


"What's the island?"

"The location of the source."

"Where did the source come from"

"God put it there."

"Where did God come from?"

"Uhm, how long do we have to keep going with this?"
posted by empath at 12:50 AM on May 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Phantomx: "Those credit shots seemed almost like they were saying everyone died in the crash."

except for the footprints in the foreground of one of 'em. Long-life arguers carry the day for me in here, despite my belief that 'sideways-was-purgatory' is lame.
posted by mwhybark at 12:52 AM on May 24, 2010


I agree that people didn't die in the crash, but that sure jumped out at me and it wasn't until those shots were almost over that I made the connection of Jack in the bamboo grove then showing the beach.

Besides everyone dying in the crash would've been so much incredible weak sauce it wouldn't make sense.
posted by Phantomx at 12:59 AM on May 24, 2010


Jack: Dad! I thought you were dead.
Christian Shepherd: We all die sometime, Son.
J: Okay, okay. I mean I thought you were in this box and it got lost and... Oh, never mind. What happens now?
CS: There is no Now.
J: What?
CS: There is only Nows.
J: What? Look, I... Wait, where's Mom?
CS: Your mother?
J: Yeah. I mean here you are and...
CS: Ask me another Now.
J: So we're all together... Hey! How about Claire's mother?
CS: Not Now, Son.
J: And, and Sayid? What about Sayid?
CS: He has Shannon.
J: But Nadia, what happens to her? Will they both be here...there...wherever?
CS: He's a Muslim. He understands polygamy.
J: But Shannon isn't...
CS: Son, here's the deal: you can walk into the light and end this series or we can try to answer questions and stretch it out for another four or five years.
J: I suppose you'd lose some viewers that way.
CS: Now you understand.
J: Okay. One thing I don't get: am I Jesus' son or am I Jesus? I mean, I sacrificed myself...
CS: Don't get uppity, kid! You just remember who's the senior surgeon around here.
J: Yes, Dad.
(They walk toward the light.)
posted by CCBC at 1:17 AM on May 24, 2010 [7 favorites]


One thing that bugged me about the show was that all the characters that grew and found redemption seemed to die. Charlie died just as he was controlling himself and working things out with Claire. The Kwons grew so much, but died shortly after reuniting.

I recognize the "flash sideways" bit as pure handwavey fan service, but I loved it. Sun and Jin's story was so tragic... I just like to think that they're happy together someplace now.
posted by heathkit at 1:42 AM on May 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


I don't know much about purgatory beyond the very basic concept of "where you go before you go wherever you're going." I was raised LDS (no purgatory) and left the church early in my adolescence. I realize most of us feel very strongly that the island is not purgatory.

However, the island as purgatory makes perfect sense to me -- the button wasn't pushed and the world ended. The plane was drawn by the anomaly to crash on the island, bringing its passengers to purgatory. The cheesy schlockhole that everyone thinks as bardo-purgatory is more like an LDS lower kingdom (tier) of heaven. Everyone-that-mattered's life works out perfectly, everything is great, and oh have a PG kiss with this hot person.

The series is about these people LOST in the transition to the afterlife in which they find their way to the afterlife they deserve. Michael went to the outer darkness (mormon hell). No one can leave until they let go (Jack didn't die until he did). And so on.

I thought the finale felt like a copout to vague religious archetypes. I would rather the scifi elements of the show had been fleshed out.
posted by polyhedron at 2:37 AM on May 24, 2010 [4 favorites]


That was the weakest ending since my 5th grade history of the Mayan Indians.

It was a fucking clip show. Emotionally manipulative, but in the end so many empty calories and no story. None. About 3/4's of the way through my wife asked if I thought so-and-so was going to whats-it-called, and I just shrugged. "Sure! No, never! Why not? Why, never!" It doesn't fucking matter. They could pull out anything at this point and, "Oh that makes complete sense!" Sad.

A long-winded way of saying we've got no ending. Sorry. We're just going to borrow a little from Jacob's Ladder and mix in some heart-stringy-montages and you won't care that we have nothing to say! You'll feel all emotional-y and won't understand why. OOOH WHITE LIGHT!

The entire ending felt like one big fucking C− paper.

And what in the hell was that two-hour self-administered blow-job prior to the final episode?
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 3:27 AM on May 24, 2010 [8 favorites]


There's no alternate timeline. (At least the way I'm reading this.) The idea of the bomb creating an "alternate timeline" was a big, fat red herring

Ah, so they were screwing with the audience. How nice.

And is there some sort of spiritual belief where souls make a place to meet, so they can all go off to heaven together? 'cause that seemed really made up, without a lick of sense.

What happened to those nice souls from the tail section? No Michael, Walt or Ecko or any black males in heaven? Sweet! oh wait.

It's like the finale turned into a Myer Briggs test, and went all feeling on me, while throwing out the thinking part. Boo!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:34 AM on May 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Also, do the writer's seriously expect us to be believe Jack didn't follow Kate when she was wearing that outfit? Please, totally unrealistic! Hell, the deja vu told him it was ok!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:16 AM on May 24, 2010


Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse agreed to answer some questions sent in by Lostpedia users
posted by ShawnStruck at 4:27 AM on May 24, 2010


I am truly sorry for your lost.
posted by fleetmouse at 5:14 AM on May 24, 2010 [16 favorites]


The Boston station was promo-ing some "hookworms can cure food allergies" story all. night. long.

Twin Cities TV had severe weather crawls all night about storms up north, with piercing alert beeps.
posted by gimonca at 5:38 AM on May 24, 2010


If you traveled back in time to the end of Season 1 and told all the fans, "The show ends after season 6 with many mysteries left unanswered. But everyone goes to heaven with a boyfriend/girlfriend", I don't think you'd get many appreciative responses along the lines of "That makes sense, it's a character drama, I'm looking forward to that." In fact, I doubt many of them would watch to the end of Season 2.

Or, in Johnny Rotten's immortal words: Ever had the feeling you've been cheated?
posted by Joe Beese at 5:46 AM on May 24, 2010 [12 favorites]


No Michael, Walt or Ecko or any black males in heaven?

No members of the gay community either.
posted by stargell at 5:56 AM on May 24, 2010 [4 favorites]


No Vincent in heaven either, WTF?!

If you traveled back in time to the end of Season 1 and told all the fans, "The show ends after season 6 with many mysteries left unanswered. But everyone goes to heaven with a boyfriend/girlfriend", I don't think you'd get many appreciative responses along the lines of "That makes sense, it's a character drama, I'm looking forward to that."

Even though I'm not happy with the finale, I very much was a fan of the show because of the characters in the beginning. In fact, my biggest beef was that the plot and mysteries were overshadowing the interesting characters too much.

Make no mistake, LOST was absolutely gripping character drama that was heads and shoulders above many tv shows. It makes sense that it ended by servicing the characters, I just disagree with how it was done.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:08 AM on May 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Here's my take on it, if anybody's still reading:

Where the finale fails was the Limbo; the idea that "everyone dies eventually, and meets up, then goes to heaven" was new magic -- it's not something that's talked about anywhere else in the series.

However, you've got an Island, which attracts spirits, allows spirits to manifest themselves, takes living humans and uses them until its done with them then kills them and uses their ghosts. Spirits of dead people from all throughout history are a tool of the Island, whether they died on the island or not (Richard's wife), and it's one thing the island does all by itself without human intervention. That the Island isn't involved in a season-wide arc involving the ghosts of the entire cast seems lazy.

What Limbo should have been was the Island's -reward- for those who have done service to it. As the island used people and killed them, in the end the island would give back the people's souls another life to live and then the opportunity to spend eternity together. All their lost -- LOST! -- loves, lost family, lost friends, lost dreams would be given as repayment. If the writers tied together the Flash-Sideways as an eternal reward created by the Island for the people who helped it survive, it would have made more sense than Christian explaining, "hey, it's time to go to heaven, head for the door".
posted by AzraelBrown at 6:14 AM on May 24, 2010 [16 favorites]


What I've been really surprised about in the aftermath of the finale is the sheer number of people in my facebook feed who both not only loved it but also pretty transparently didn't understand it at all--like the girl who was gushing about how brilliant it was that they were all killed by the bomb.

Never overestimate the American viewing public, I guess.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 6:26 AM on May 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


Claire and Charlie had what was an often-strained friendship; his romantic overtures weren't always welcome.

Mostly when he resumed his crack habit, which wasn't a factor after death.


Well, there was that whole "I'm stealing your baby" incident, which is never a good way to bring a couple closer.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:26 AM on May 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Spontaneous bleeding, stabbed in the side, sacrifices himself for the island, meets up with his super-surgeon God-like father while all his old followers hang out in a church.

It felt like they collapsed this gigantic mishmash of crazy spirituality down into Christianity in the last half hour.

And seriously, WHERE'D THE STATUE COME FROM?
posted by pjaust at 6:26 AM on May 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


stargell: "No members of the gay community either."

For all of LOST's crowing about how diverse a cast it has, they sure were awfully hetero.
posted by graventy at 6:31 AM on May 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


So ...who won?
posted by The Whelk at 6:31 AM on May 24, 2010


Never overestimate the American viewing public, I guess.

Well, what do you expect with "Dancing with the Stars" as a lead-in show (most of the time, except the times when it was the previous week's "Lost" served up a la "Pop Up Video")?
posted by emelenjr at 6:32 AM on May 24, 2010


For all of LOST's crowing about how diverse a cast it has, they sure were awfully hetero.

It was a very diverse cast, no question. Heaven was just segregated I guess.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:35 AM on May 24, 2010


I'm truly tempted to write up a proper explanation for all the really good mysteries the show failed to explain. Things like "Why were the Others doing there (Widmore, Hawking, etc)?" and "WHat the hell is the DHARMA Initiative really about?" could be wrapped up without all this nonsense. (I think that two factions of people drawn tot he island are constantly locked in a war with each other due to the influence of Jacob and the Man Annoyingly Without A Name Of His Own MAKES THE MOST SENSE in general.)

About 2/3 of the way into the episode last night, I ventured a guess for the resolution, one that my wife and our friend who was watching the show with us both found satisfying. Not only that, all of us felt my guess was TEN TIMES BETTER than the Jack's Limbo bit. Here's my idea: The parallel universe was created when they blew up the Island in 1977 -- thereby killing the Smoke Monster and Jacob since the Island sunk to the bottom of the ocean). The whole parallel universe made sense if you realize it's NOT JUST that the crash never happened, but that Jacob's personal influence on the main characters never happened (which is why Hurley would mention that he's super-lucky, rather than being super-unlucky as we came to know him, or why Sawyer would go into law enforcement rather than following the scam artist into a life of crime).

SO the Parallel Universe folks, tanks to Desmond, are beginning to "remember" the life they had in the Real Universe, which I saw as the personalities and memories of our beloved characters making their way to a reality that was better than being on an island of torture and pain -- and a reality that allowed Hurley to be with Libby, Charlie to live, Sun and Jin could raise their daughter, etc -- and the big event Des was leading them to was the final flip of the switch. Which, in the Real Universe, he was setting right by releasing the light on the Island.

No bullshit purgatory, no "It's all in Jack's head", no "was it all a dream" crap. Just resolution and a happy ending for those folks we've grown attached to for several years. Convergence of a safer reality and the affection the characters had for each other... all neatly wrapped up. SUre, a lot of mysteries would still be unanswered, but HEY at least the ending would not have sucked.
posted by grubi at 6:36 AM on May 24, 2010 [3 favorites]


Yeah, I might just need to give up hope for SF/F on American network TV. It's happened to me over and over again--I go in with my expectations high for something intelligent or cool or unified, on the basis of a nifty or compelling premise, and then end up feeling like my brain is squeezed through some sort of evil contraption. First Heroes, now LOST. V's been another one lately. The shows that seem capable of fulfilling their promise--Life of Mars, Firefly--don't last long. And why not? Most of the audience just doesn't get it, I'm sure. I'm probably the minority; the writers aren't writing for me.

It makes me sad, more than anything, because I think it weakens the ability of the viewing public to swallow something more complex. In the case of misunderstanding the LOST finale, it's not even a matter of subtext or nuance but basic viewing comprehension. They told us precisely what was going on, and people still don't understand. That makes me sad in a way that goes far deeper than just being bummed about how the story ended.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 6:40 AM on May 24, 2010 [3 favorites]


"What's the island?"

"The location of the source."

"And what is the source?"

"A pool of light."

"And what is the light?"

"The location of the source."

"How long are we going to keep going like this?"
posted by FfejL at 6:40 AM on May 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


(That was in response to emelenjr, FWIW.)
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 6:42 AM on May 24, 2010


grubi, my husband theorized something similar a few months ago. I would have liked that ending, too.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 6:44 AM on May 24, 2010


Yeah, grubi, I thought that's where the final was going, a merging of the two universes, with the memories of both still with the characters. It feels like it would have been more satisfying, but I really hate the time travel/parallel universe crap and wish they hadn't gone there.

The best ending would have acknowledged that the island was basically a hellmouth and Spike would have show up to fight with Angel over who gets to save the world. Spike and Sawyer would go well together.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:47 AM on May 24, 2010 [4 favorites]


"Lost" gives new meaning to the term "boob tube."
posted by caddis at 6:51 AM on May 24, 2010


I would have liked that ending, too.

The opnly part I had worked out a few weeks ago was the divergence and the lack of Jacob's influence. The recent convergence stuff fed my other part of the theory and didn't really coalesce in my mind until last night.

But, damn, your husband's describing it perfectly. It makes a lot of sense that way and the narrative pieces are already there... so why NOT do it the way we're describing?

Yeah, grubi, I thought that's where the final was going,

Whew. I'm not alone in this frustration. It's such a fun show with great promise and a knack for bringing up tasty morsels of conspiracy and speculation, and then...

PLOOF

nuttin'.
posted by grubi at 6:55 AM on May 24, 2010


Great interactive cartoon showing how the cast has grown over the years.
posted by waraw at 6:56 AM on May 24, 2010 [3 favorites]


"Lost" gives new meaning to the term "boob tube."

That's almost certainly a line from a review of "Charlie's Angels" back in the day.
posted by grubi at 6:58 AM on May 24, 2010


two factions of people drawn to the island are constantly locked in a war with each other

That would be the fan base, no?

I actually hung around in fan forums earlier on in the series. It seemed like there was tension between the "shippers" (who were following romantic relationships and tension between Kate/Jack/Sawyer, among others) and alternate world fans. The finale offered a lot to "shippers", not much at all to the kind of people who would memorize the names of all the Dharma stations. And to be fair to the second group, there's a lot of loose ends floating around out there.

Being neutral between those positions, I left feeling moderately satisfied, but I can well understand why other people might not.

With hindsight, I'm struck by a lot of the time and effort that went into backstory promotion earlier on--remember the Hanso Foundation website? Lots of things like that have been left crumpled on the floor and forgotten. The directors might say "Well, it was always supposed to be a developing character study"--maybe so, but then: why so many maps?
posted by gimonca at 7:00 AM on May 24, 2010 [3 favorites]


With hindsight, I'm struck by a lot of the time and effort that went into backstory promotion earlier on--remember the Hanso Foundation website? Lots of things like that have been left crumpled on the floor and forgotten. The directors might say "Well, it was always supposed to be a developing character study"--maybe so, but then: why so many maps?

Exactly! I love a good, intricate backstory, and I eagerly, as a fan, await a decent narrative to explain it... but to drop it altogether? Why was Walt a psychic kid (or whatever)? Who built the statue? Why did it have four toes? GODDAMMIT WHY
posted by grubi at 7:04 AM on May 24, 2010


Last night after the finale, I was contemplating my biggest lingering mystery: What made Eloise special? How could she see all timelines and know the truth before anyone else in sidewaysville. She was omniscient, without any real power. Then thinking about "What makes Eloise so special?" made me realize that we have the same questions about Walt in Season One. Maybe Walt has whatever Eloise has - omniscience of all timelines. They share that specialness. We don't see Walt anymore because he wont be using his powers in relation to the continuing saga of Ben and Hurley (and Hume). To me, that would satisfactorily explain why the Others were so damn interested in Walt.
posted by yeti at 7:08 AM on May 24, 2010


yeti

eloise was omniscient in the "real world" because she had her son's book which told her everything that was going to happen. Thus she was directing it to happen once again.

in purgatory she was simply awakened
posted by slapshot57 at 7:18 AM on May 24, 2010


Afaik Eloise wasn't special, she just had dans journal.
posted by empath at 7:18 AM on May 24, 2010


I don't see a lot of unanswered questions here.

Walt was special because he was special, just as Hurley and Miles were. The Islanders could see he was special because they were looking for it. They wanted a kid, because then they'd be able to "adopt" him into the tribe (since no island residents could have children without dying in pregnancy).
The Others (the Richard Alpert ones) were there because they had shipwrecked there at some point. The Hanso foundation people (in the suburbs, before the island others took them over) were there to study all of the weird elecromagnetic phenomenon and do lots of crazy experiments far from prying eyes.
The numbers were just numbers. Life is random, and full of coincidences.

Those things were explained perfectly well, to me. Maybe I'm a more passive TV watcher, I dunno, but for a show like this, I just let myself enjoy the ride (as long as it's a good one; crap like Heroes, I get off the ride after the first season).

And: The statue was built a very very long time ago, possibly by shipwrecked Egyptians. (Ok, that's weak sauce, I know.)
posted by chowflap at 7:28 AM on May 24, 2010 [3 favorites]


> So ...who won?

Target
posted by Burhanistan at 7:29 AM on May 24, 2010 [6 favorites]


Just because I got some favorites, I believe the finale would have been totally fixed if you dropped out the Christian Shepard In Heaven scene, and replaced it with this:

(Scene: Sacristy at Unitarian church. JACK stares at coffin. Walks over, places hands on it, gets visions. Opens coffin, finds nothing there. A woman, dressed in priestly vestments, JACOB'S ADOPTIVE MOTHER, appears behind JACK).

MOTHER: He's already out there (gestures to door).

(JACK is silent for a moment)

JACK: So, this is it then.

MOTHER: This is what the Whispers come to the Island hoping to find. No, you're special, Jack, you and all those people out there.

JACK: They, all dead, too. Kate, Sawyer...

MOTHER: In their own time, Jack, in their own time. The Island is...sorry...for what it expected from you. What the Island can do, however, is give you something. Even those you saved, those who lived another entire lifetime away from the Island, get this reward, too. You are given back everything you lost, Jack.

JACK: The island can give life?

MOTHER: It's the chance to lead a life as the man you became, Jack. All of your friends, your dreams, your loves -- you were given the opportunity to experience them through the eyes of the man who had the strength to save the Island. I think we can agree that you died a better man than when you first woke up in the bamboo fields.

(JACK is silent for a moment)

JACK: This can't last forever; nothing the Island gives is forever.

MOTHER: The Island is eternal, and it can also grant eternity. An eternity of happiness with those who care about you, in return for protecting the Island. Those people waiting out there for you -- but you must all go together. They are waiting for you, Jack, and you should go to them.

(Cut back to original script)
posted by AzraelBrown at 7:30 AM on May 24, 2010 [11 favorites]


On the post-game show on Jimmy Kimmel Live, it was hinted that some of the "island mysteries" would be cleared up on special features of the Blu-Ray set coming out in August. Some of the actors seemed a bit tight lipped about that, so maybe they're still under a non-disclosure contract. I will....wait for someone to upload those special features.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:31 AM on May 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


> MOTHER: In their own time, Jack, in their own time. The Island is...sorry...

No way, dude. Expecting the Island to be sorry for playing with people's fate is like asking electricity to apologize for shocking.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:33 AM on May 24, 2010 [4 favorites]


Brandon Blatcher, I find it unspeakably funny that you find LOST disappointing but are willing to stomach a Joss Whedon show.
posted by Rory Marinich at 7:35 AM on May 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


I believe the finale would have been totally fixed if you dropped out the Christian Shepard In Heaven scene, and replaced it with this:

Reading that made me a bit goose-bumpy. I think some parts of the premise would have still bugged me, and the unanswered and newly raised questions would have bugged me, too, but that would have been a much more satisfying conclusion.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:36 AM on May 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Walt was special because he was special

Bleah. No offense, but that's such a non-answer.
posted by grubi at 7:40 AM on May 24, 2010


I loved the finale, up until the final scene, when I felt like I had just been punked by C.S. Lewis. AGAIN! Damn you, Aslan!
posted by ericbop at 7:40 AM on May 24, 2010 [9 favorites]


The numbers were just numbers. Life is random, and full of coincidences.

Yeah, no thanks.
posted by stargell at 7:40 AM on May 24, 2010


Brandon Blatcher, I find it unspeakably funny that you find LOST disappointing but are willing to stomach a Joss Whedon show.

Whedon's stuff was more cohesive (though far from flawless), which matters a lot, IMO.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:43 AM on May 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


I guess I don't know what kind of answers you're looking for. What would the numbers possibly mean? (They correspond to the numbers on the dial in the lighthouse, the number which are assigned to the "candidates" -- or are you looking for some external meaning, like latitude/longitude?) And, what do you mean, WHY was Walt special? Why could Miles and Hurley hear dead people? It just IS, in the world of the show. I don't need some fakey-science reason for these things. For example, it's good enough for me to know that the Hanso people were experimenting with polar bears, and that's why there was one in the jungle -- I don't need to know exactly what experiments they were running on the bears.
posted by chowflap at 7:48 AM on May 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


See, but the Island can't be a conscious entity. What we thought was the Island's whims were really just the work of Jacob and his brother. (No Man In Black crap. He is "Jacob's brother" and that is a way cooler title than anything arbitrary.) So once they die, a lot of the island's quirks die with it.

Without Jacob the Island isn't a mysterious moving entity unfixed in time. Without his brother there's no monster lurking around, waiting to strike.

Without the Others there's no polar bear. Without the Dharma initiative there's no button. Without the military force there's no atomic bomb. Without Rousseau there's no radio message. Once all those entities leave, the Island is simply an island. An electromagnetic entity. If the plane had crashed there after Jacob's death (not that it would have), Locke would have walked, Rose/Bernard would have healed, and they would have been rescued in a week's time.

Another thought about the ending now that I'm awake: LOST had a choice. Either they could have ended on a cyclical note, like I was expecting ("There is always another mystery, another betrayal, another splitting-into-factions") or they could end the cycle ("Now you can be at peace and never wonder what comes next"). They could have ended by logically fitting pieces into place ("You have seen these things in motion and they continue onward") or they could have provided one last arbitrary twist to get us jumpin'. I think that the pseudoreligious element fit nicely with the pseudoscience and the pseudomystery. One last "Here's something we'll never fully explain."

PhoB: A Wrinkle In Time had tesseracts, but it never explained tesseracts. It used them to explore personalities and religions. In fact, it specifically ends with one character remembering something she has to say but vanishing before she says it. It's not sci-fi/fantasy, it's speculative fiction. There's a difference. The one owes us working mechanics of the world. The other doesn't.
posted by Rory Marinich at 7:48 AM on May 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


Something I haven't seen really talked about yet is how the finale, and the last season generally, kind of meandered (and I think this is reflective of the series overall, and why people pretty understandably forget details like Daniel's journal).

Once the temple was destroyed, members of the warring factions switched teams repeatedly, making it difficult for me (in a very concrete way) to locate myself in the story. For example, first we journey to the sub, then the plane, then the sub, then the sub is blown up, then we're getting Desmond, then we aren't. Character growth, similarly, ebbed and flowed in a way that was sort-of maddeningly difficult to follow. Ben is redeemed. Then he shoots Widmore and is helping the Smoke monster. Then he isn't. By the time we reached the point where Smokey, Jack, and Desmond were going to the source, I just really didn't understand why they were doing it. Why did Desmond lower himself down there? It seemed to contradict what we'd been told before. It seemed really illogical, even though they hand-waved something later about his trying to get back to his wife (what was Jack's motivation, then?). Several of the people I was watching with said, "WAIT! What's he doing that for?!" and so on.

This happened at the very end, too. We're told that Desmond is getting everyone together for the concert, but that turns out to be a MacGuffin, too, because that wasn't important at all. It doesn't matter, for example, that Jack misses David's concert, even though I'd started to become pretty invested in their relationship, because that wasn't real. Suddenly, he's off to someplace else.

I'm not sure what was going on there, or why it was paced and plotted like this. Sometimes a lot happened without the plot moving forward in a linear way. Sometimes nothing happened but there was the illusion of movement. Did this frustrate anyone else?
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:51 AM on May 24, 2010 [8 favorites]


Whedon's stuff was more cohesive (though far from flawless), which matters a lot, IMO.

Maybe I missed the boat for him, but I can't watch 20 minutes of his stuff without turning it off. I tried Firefly and Dr. Horrible and couldn't stand them. Especially not Firefly, with its awful awful opening scene that looked like every bad science fiction story ever.

I'll take awesome individual moments over a mediocre cohesive whole. LOST's opening scene justified my watching enough episodes to get to Locke's wheelchair, which propelled me forward even more. Every time I lost faith they gave me another moment that justified my watching.
posted by Rory Marinich at 7:51 AM on May 24, 2010


(Oh. Anybody willing to sell me on Firefly, PLEASE feel free to evangelize. So many people think it's terrific that I'd love to become a part of the fans, but so far nothing's managed to make me think it's worth slogging past that killer of a pilot.)
posted by Rory Marinich at 7:53 AM on May 24, 2010


PhoB: A Wrinkle In Time had tesseracts, but it never explained tesseracts. It used them to explore personalities and religions. In fact, it specifically ends with one character remembering something she has to say but vanishing before she says it. It's not sci-fi/fantasy, it's speculative fiction. There's a difference. The one owes us working mechanics of the world. The other doesn't.

Er, dude, thanks for the definition of speculative fiction. Really, I'm good on that one. Though I'd argue that it explains tesseracts pretty perfectly. There's even a diagram, with a little drawing of an ant!

I brought that up because I accepted the SF/F as not being silly because it made sense according to the book's own internal logic and mythology, and it treated the trope seriously. Originally, incidentally, I was going to drop a reference to the sequel, A Swiftly Tilting Planet, which was about a time traveling unicorn, and L'Engle treated that topic similarly gravely and respectfully. However, if you want to see a kid's book series implode itself on its own Christian symbolism in a way not dissimilar to LOST, read An Acceptable Time, which is all about whether or not you can pray to Jesus when you've been sent back in time to before he exists. LOST isn't the first series to drop the ball in this way, certainly.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:55 AM on May 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Especially not Firefly, with its awful awful opening scene that looked like every bad science fiction story ever.

It developed nicely into a character driven drama.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:58 AM on May 24, 2010


I seriously didn't get the "sideways world is purgatory" thing until reading this thread. I thought it was like Schrödinger's TV show where both realities simultaneously happened (fitting with Juliet's "It worked" from Season 5) and they came together in the end... but then Jack's conversation with his dad makes no sense and the whole church thing - also, again, no sense.

But then, they didn't solve the pregnancy mystery either, which is the one thing that really GNAWED at me. (Even more than WAAAAAAAAAAAAAALT. WAAAAAAAAAAALT kind of makes sense if you think that Jacob was grooming him as a Candidate and then it didn't work out kinda in the way that Mother initially thought that it would be Smokey to guard the island.)

But yeah, the purgatory angle makes way more sense and is kind of both satisfying and cheesy. Cheesifying? Satisty?
posted by grapefruitmoon at 8:01 AM on May 24, 2010


A Swiftly Tilting Planet is INCREDIBLE. One of the books that defined middle school for me and pushed me towards "harder" literature. But, see, that's another instance of a work that never attempts to explain its mysteries. You're told "this is how it is", and "how it is" is different from how it was in Wrinkle or in Wrinkle's sequel. Then it runs with it.

I think if I rewatched LOST without trying to explain things, I'd enjoy it much more than if I went in looking for meaning. The numbers are still awesome if you don't know what they are. And again, I challenge you to come up with any kind of rational explanation for them that wouldn't have been balls-awful.

Some shows have to adhere to their own rules. Science fiction has to or else it fails. Anything that could be defined as "realist" has to. But LOST was not SF/F. It was a thriller with SF/F elements. It's the difference between Dune and Ender's Game. The latter is allowed to be completely arbitrary and random if it amuses me. The former is not, because the former is trying to do more than just entertain me.
posted by Rory Marinich at 8:02 AM on May 24, 2010


I liked it last night and I like it more the farther away I get from it. Reading other suggestions as to a better ending make me feel even better about the one we got (no offense, AzraelBrown, and yours isn't the only one I have felt that way about).

The expectations of Lost, for me, where not that there were going to tie EVERYTHING up in a neat package or track down every loose end, and indeed they did not even try to.

There were two sets of mysteries - 1) the flash-sideways and 2) everything else. The finale explained pretty much everything you need to know about #1, and #2 was pretty much as oblique and red-herringed, and nonsensical as it has been since the very beginning. The Lost way of explaining is to throw a new mystery at you so you lose focus on the old one. I can understand not buying that particular trip, but how could you then be watching up until this point, when nothing has been explained completely, ever?

I don't think the show was trash or schlock,exactly, but I agree with Rory in the sense that: if you were expecting concrete answers you were asking for something that the show itself never promised at all.

Lost had a Dem Bones quality from the very first.
posted by dirtdirt at 8:08 AM on May 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


No way, dude. Expecting the Island to be sorry for playing with people's fate is like asking electricity to apologize for shocking.

I was trying to think of how the Mother would be interpreting things. Characters anthropomorphized the Island throughout the series: The Island called Jack back; the Island has a heart; the Island "wants". After all the Mother went through, and now greeting previous Guardians and Candidates and their companions, this is the most coherent way she would explain the situation to newcomers. It doesn't go into explaining why the Island did it, but how the Island's actions appear to those who've jumped through all the hoops and then get assigned to a Heaven based on their interaction with the Island.
posted by AzraelBrown at 8:12 AM on May 24, 2010


I don't know what kind of answers you're looking for.

Answers that would make for a deeper and richer experience, I guess. I'm OK with the polar bear hand-wave because it wasn't a seemingly integral part of the show. But the numbers were so deeply ingrained for the first three or four seasons, not just in big ways—Hurley's lottery win—but tucked into the background of shots on license plates, shirts, billboards and whatever. Like the writers are saying, "Did you notice that? Pay attention, this is important!" And then—what? They are randomly associated with various characters? It just did add up, so to speak, to a fulfilling experience.

Sometimes "just because" makes sense. Why did Meursault kill the Arab? But Lost was delivered as a mystery—with the cliffhangers and the reveals and the dramatic swooping music. I would have liked some payoff for a few of the very large mysteries. Otherwise, shaggy dog.
posted by stargell at 8:13 AM on May 24, 2010


It was OK. I wish that we'd gotten a little bit more about the history of the island - even a hint, really. I've been of the mind that you have to appreciate Lost within the context of its limits as a network show. You get rule by the mob, to a certain extent, but Lost was able to say "well, maybe the mob is slightly smarter than most people think". Still, there has to be a happy ending, which explains the purgatory bit. I was expecting something a little less literal than actual purgatory, but I can still accept it. I think the inclusion of religion, as opposed to science, to explain the sort of lynch-pin existence of the island is what lets me down the most. But, then again, the stereotypical mob probably likes mysticism a lot more than pseudoscience.

So I'm slightly disapointed, but well aware that it could be worse. I'm good with the journey that they took me on to get me to that point, and how enjoyable that was, so I can forgive some missed details.
posted by codacorolla at 8:15 AM on May 24, 2010


Some shows have to adhere to their own rules. Science fiction has to or else it fails. Anything that could be defined as "realist" has to. But LOST was not SF/F. It was a thriller with SF/F elements. It's the difference between Dune and Ender's Game. The latter is allowed to be completely arbitrary and random if it amuses me. The former is not, because the former is trying to do more than just entertain me.

I think your definition of spec fic is a little off, honestly. It's usually just used as an umbrella term for all sorts of fantasy and science fiction (and sometimes horror, and sometimes slipstream or magical realism), especially within the SF writing community. You seem to be using it in place of "magical realism."

The difference between Dune and Ender's Game is that Dune is closer to hard SF (where the scientific underpinnings are clear and the characters often exist as a means to explore the science--though I don't think Dune is really a great example of this, either) and Ender's Game, soft SF, where the SF explanations are there, and largely internally consistent but are at the service of plot and character. There's not much in Ender's Game that's arbitrary at all--and I'd say the same for A Swiftly Tilting Planet. We're told the rules of the universe: in ASTP, that's the mechanics of jumping from body to body, the way the rune works, and the dangers that Charles Wallace will face if he fails. The science might not be explained explicitly, but there aren't many cracks in the seams here. It's tight, even if it's really meant largely as a character piece and a way to explore the battle between good and evil. It follows the rules it's given us.

In slipstream or magical realism, which is what I'd call LOST, after viewing the finale, it's ok to just include elements that are completely unexplained within the context of the universe. Often, they're meant to be symbolic, or surreal. Like soft SF, these elements might exist for the service of the characters or plot--but they don't necessarily need to obey any rules.

I'm not a fan of this kind of writing, generally, though I really enjoy both fantasy and soft SF (and hard SF, too, sometimes, though it's not my particular thing). I'd be hard pressed to tell you why, other than that it frustrates me, and I often think that the symbolic elements would often still retain their symbolism if explained in a sensible way in-universe--it adds a layer of meaning, rather than eliminating one. I've read enough good stuff, even with cheesy SF/F tropes, to know it's possible. It takes a little thought and foresight on the part of the writers, but it usually increases my enjoyment exponentially. I love when elements fall into place seamlessly and logically. It makes me happy.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:15 AM on May 24, 2010


But the numbers were so deeply ingrained for the first three or four seasons, not just in big ways—Hurley's lottery win—but tucked into the background of shots on license plates, shirts, billboards and whatever. Like the writers are saying, "Did you notice that? Pay attention, this is important!" And then—what? They are randomly associated with various characters?

First I was like OH MAN THESE NUMBERS ARE GOING TO MEAN SOMETHING. Then they started using the numbers in arbitrary ways that could in no way mean anything, like the number of people on a dock when it broke. Then I was like OKAY LOST I THINK YOU'RE BEING KIND OF ARBITRARY AND NONSENSICAL. Then after a while I was like OH MAYBE YOU'RE JUST HAVING SOME FUN WITH ME AND NOT TRYING TO CONVINCE ME OF SOME EXTRAORDINARY CONSPIRACY.

I'm glad they didn't explain the numbers because then all of the ridiculous things they did WITH the numbers would have made even less sense.
posted by Rory Marinich at 8:17 AM on May 24, 2010


Swiftly Tilting Planet is INCREDIBLE. One of the books that defined middle school for me and pushed me towards "harder" literature. But, see, that's another instance of a work that never attempts to explain its mysteries. You're told "this is how it is", and "how it is" is different from how it was in Wrinkle or in Wrinkle's sequel. Then it runs with it.

I think if I rewatched LOST without trying to explain things, I'd enjoy it much more than if I went in looking for meaning.


I'd be with you if the creators of the show didn't explicitly say they'd have a proper explanation for everything.
posted by grubi at 8:19 AM on May 24, 2010


Although, on the topic of religion, I think that they managed to incorporate the principles of the major world religions fairly well. You have the karma and samsara of Hinduism, the ying and yang of taoism, the rebirth-towards-perfection of buddhism, the sacrifice and father-god ideas of abrahamic religions, in addition to the timeless and mythical properties of the dead and marginal beliefs.

This all works side-by-side with Lost's particular brand of pseudoscience, which can be seen as standing in for an atheist belief that science and nature are enough wonder without introducing the miraculous into it.

Lost: one big commercial for Unitarian Universalism.
posted by codacorolla at 8:22 AM on May 24, 2010 [6 favorites]


There's not much in Ender's Game that's arbitrary at all

Okay, whoa whoa whoa, you apparently read a series that didn't end with a computer taking people to a place where they could manufacture things using their mind. Because I did. And then there was a dance ritual on an island with a bunch of people who wanted a computer to possess their bodies.

The science might not be explained explicitly, but there aren't many cracks in the seams here. It's tight, even if it's really meant largely as a character piece and a way to explore the battle between good and evil. It follows the rules it's given us.

Well, LOST does this too. You have the electromagnetism. You have people who are affected by the island in certain ways. You have rules which cannot be broken. Jacob cannot kill his brother and vice-versa. Like Swiftly Tilting, LOST never explains why the rules are there, but they are there. The numbers cause bad luck. Push the button or else bad things happen. LOST's physics all obey themselves tightly, even if the cause of those physics are never explained.

Even purgatory follows its own rules. People live their lives until something happens to bring back their memories, then they make out like crazy.

I often think that the symbolic elements would often still retain their symbolism if explained in a sensible way in-universe--it adds a layer of meaning, rather than eliminating one.

Sometimes yes. Sometimes no. It depends why those elements were there to begin with. Dune works tightly with its symbols, because those symbols are meant to depict something in our own world.* Ender's Game introduces things more-or-less arbitrarily, which I'm fine with, because it's just trying to entertain me. Card's short stories frequently use sci-fi to explore themes, and when they do he clarifies the rules more.

* I categorize art by whether it's trying to entertain me or whether it's trying to make me think. That's the only distinction I make. I don't categorize science fiction or fantasy, which is why I'm sure the definition I use here is wonkly-donkly. I avoid "hard" science fiction because very rarely is it any more than masturbation. I care about rules if those rules are meant to apply to my own world; if it's entertainment then I don't care whether they're there or not.
posted by Rory Marinich at 8:26 AM on May 24, 2010


I've heard defenders of Glowy Cave make the point that it's similar to the Force from Star Wars: a mystical, unexplainable in-universe phenomenon that simply advances the plot and the show's philosophy, a plot device that would be ruined if it were actually explained (see: midichlorians).

I think the difference is, The Force was there from pretty much the beginning of Star Wars, as was accepted for what it was. If they'd shoehorned it into the last 30 minutes of Return of the Jedi, it would probably raise a few eyebrows.
posted by notmydesk at 8:30 AM on May 24, 2010


You have rules which cannot be broken. Jacob cannot kill his brother and vice-versa.

It doesn't count if the rules are stupid.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:30 AM on May 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Also: and I think this might have been to appease the fans a little, I am SO GLAD that it was Hurley who was the real "New Jacob" at the end of the finale. I was so pissed at the penultimate episode that it was Jack - which was the obvious choice and I hate thinking about Lost as all about Jack - that I was really relieved that the show was ending so I didn't have to stop watching it out of spite.

As a friend pointed out - Hurley can talk to dead people and make golf courses. Those are USEFUL SKILLS. What can Jack do? Surgery and tantrum throwing. That's about it.

(Also: did Jack's tattoos disappear or did I stop noticing them?)
posted by grapefruitmoon at 8:30 AM on May 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


It doesn't count if the rules are stupid.

I want to say this to certain fundamentalist religious types ALL. THE. TIME.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 8:32 AM on May 24, 2010


It doesn't count if the rules are stupid.

I didn't think it was a stupid rule. It's the Rules of Engagement. You have an enemy but you can't murder his face. Kind of like wartime, or business, or anything else where people aren't always shooting each other.
posted by Rory Marinich at 8:33 AM on May 24, 2010


I'm going to miss not not-watching Lost.
posted by mazola at 8:35 AM on May 24, 2010


Okay, whoa whoa whoa, you apparently read a series that didn't end with a computer taking people to a place where they could manufacture things using their mind. Because I did. And then there was a dance ritual on an island with a bunch of people who wanted a computer to possess their bodies.

Silly and arbitrary are not the same thing. There can be plenty of downright silly stuff in speculative fiction works that obey the rules the writers themselves present. Mercedes Lackey has a universe populated with magical horses who are reincarnated people. Sure, that's silly. But it's not arbitrary and makes perfect sense within the internal logic of her universe.

Well, LOST does this too. You have the electromagnetism. You have people who are affected by the island in certain ways. You have rules which cannot be broken. Jacob cannot kill his brother and vice-versa. Like Swiftly Tilting, LOST never explains why the rules are there, but they are there. The numbers cause bad luck. Push the button or else bad things happen. LOST's physics all obey themselves tightly, even if the cause of those physics are never explained.

Except it wasn't consistent within its own rules. For example, we're told that the source can't be disturbed or else bad things will happen to the world and we'll all go to hell. It's disturbed, there are some earthquakey tremors, and then it's fixed. This wasn't what the writers had set us up for. We're told that Aaron can't be raised by another, but then he is. And he's fine. And I'm not even talking here about the questions that are raised before we're given answers to that are disappointing (Jacob's list, for example, and the crossing out of names; the numbers). The seams weren't tight here. There were cracks all over the place.

I don't categorize science fiction or fantasy, which is why I'm sure the definition I use here is wonkly-donkly. I avoid "hard" science fiction because very rarely is it any more than masturbation. I care about rules if those rules are meant to apply to my own world; if it's entertainment then I don't care whether they're there or not.

I'd just offer that, if you're going to start entering into discussions about where in the spectrum of speculative fiction a particular work lies, and what it therefore owes its audience, it might be more useful and convenient to use terms that other people who also like these things readily understand. If it doesn't matter to you, and it's all good fun, just say that from the outset, rather than "this is speculative fiction, and therefore it doesn't owe us anything."
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:36 AM on May 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


When I go to church services I adhere to the rules the religions hand down to me. When I go to church it's for my own selfish reasons, and I see no problem with, while I'm there, following the rules they give me rather than breaking away from them and being a sour grape.

I don't think there's a logic to rules like "don't cuss or drink", or I think that there's a logic that supersedes that simpler logic, but I adhere to the church logic unless I feel I'm not getting as much out of the deal as I thought I would.

I watched LOST to be entertained and so its rules are valid until they no longer entertain me.
posted by Rory Marinich at 8:36 AM on May 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'd just offer that, if you're going to start entering into discussions about where in the spectrum of speculative fiction a particular work lies, and what it therefore owes its audience, it might be more useful and convenient to use terms that other people who also like these things readily understand. If it doesn't matter to you, and it's all good fun, just say that from the outset, rather than "this is speculative fiction, and therefore it doesn't owe us anything."

It's funny how that's the exact opposite of how we treat, say, atheist arguments in the face of religion. I think it's rational to say that if you don't believe in God you don't have to respect the traditions of the other side when continuing that nonbelief.

I'm arguing that LOST is not a sci-fi/fantasy show. It's a thriller. As such it doesn't have to regard sci-fi/fantasy traditions. I'm sorry if I used the wrong terminology, but I really don't think there's much to be gained from talking about the mechanics of the LOST universe and so arguing like it's a show other than what it is doesn't really appeal to me.
posted by Rory Marinich at 8:39 AM on May 24, 2010


I say this as someone who actually enjoyed the finale: if the writers really knew where they eventually wanted to go, they wouldn't have aired 2/3s of the episodes in this series.

My take on things is that the only reason they did write all that crazy stuff is precisely because they knew they would never really have to explain it. When you have a show, and you know it's going to be on for a certain number of years, and you already know from the very beginning that the characters are all secretly dead and at the end they've all made peace with themselves and go to Heaven, you can fill everything in the middle with whatever you want. However these characters make peace with themselves, that's all that matters - not how unrealistic or incredible any of it may be. That is exactly why this show was as bonkers as it was; the writers could take any kind of creative liberties they could think of and just write it all off at the end.

The disappointment comes to those who wanted to think of it as more of a science-fiction show as opposed to a show about characters finding their faith and making peace with their sinful existences so they can move on to the afterlife. There was enough of a back-and-forth tease between science and faith that, even with the strong religious overtones of the show, it still could've gone the other way. Or at least left it ambiguous. The sci-fi crowd actually wanted all that island and time travel garbage to be explained in pretty much any way that wasn't "They were all dead the whole time and now they are going to Heaven."
posted by wondermouse at 8:43 AM on May 24, 2010 [8 favorites]


I just got done watching it and used up half a box of Kleenex. I think Jin and Sun made me cry the most. I loved it and I don't care about any unanswered questions. It's not important to me whether it was purgatory or if the sideways really happened or if they all died in the initial crash or whatever. They could have spent another 2 hours tying up all the loose ends and it would have made no difference. It deeply affected me and I want to go hug someone right now.
posted by desjardins at 8:43 AM on May 24, 2010 [6 favorites]


Heads up: I don't know from Lost, but in re Unitarian Universalism: there is a difference between the core beliefs of the church (one of which is indeed the examination of beliefs within different religious traditions as a way toward an individualized search for ethical living) and the "Nah, it's all, like, equally valid, maaannn" free-floating noncommittal "spirituality" that sometimes charcterizes individual members of the church but is more often an integral component of lowest-common-denominator shitty memoirs found in airport bookshops (and, in this case, found in a facile stained-glass window).
posted by Greg Nog at 8:44 AM on May 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


Brandon Blatcher, I find it unspeakably funny that you find LOST disappointing but are willing to stomach a Joss Whedon show.

I also found this funny. Several times over the course of this season and twice last night I turned to people and said, "Jesus this suck. It seems like they all gave up and let Whedon write instead."

I believe the finale would have been totally fixed if you dropped out the Christian Shepard In Heaven scene, and replaced it with this:

Have Jack plugging the hole 'cause a similar blast to Desmond missing the numbers, which also kills Jack. Have that blast blow the Ajira flight out of the air, killing everyone on board. Have people continue their lives in the flash sideways as reality implying the nuke 'caused the Oceanic not to crash.

One thing that bugs the fuck outta me is that the implication is that the nuke killed everyone on the island and the flash-sideways is their "afterlife/purgatory". If that's the case, how did the nuke effect the timeline off the island, which was the whole reason the nuke was set off in the first place. And, if the nuke did kill everyone on the island... why isn't everyone dead? What was all the island-activity in season 6?
posted by dobbs at 8:45 AM on May 24, 2010


I didn't think it was a stupid rule. It's the Rules of Engagement.

To be more clear, I call it a stupid rule because if they can kill each other, then there's no story, so naturally the creators say "they can't kill each other".

And what exactly does "can't kill each other" mean? Are they physically unable? If one gives the other a mortal blow, does the other come back to life? It's those sort of details and the lack of any coherent explanation that drive me up the wall.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:45 AM on May 24, 2010


> So, I've wanted to say forever..

They've NEVER fixed the damn rendering glitches in the title graphic. It's still pissing me off six years later.


I just briefly looked for an outside reference, but couldn't find one. I recall someone in a previous LOST thread here saying that Cuse or Abrams had actually whipped up the original opening title sequence himself, and that no one bothered to fix the pixellation.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:46 AM on May 24, 2010


To be more clear, I call it a stupid rule because if they can kill each other, then there's no story, so naturally the creators say "they can't kill each other".

Well, yeah! And because they set up that rule, there was a story! Kind of like how Star Wars wouldn't have worked if there wasn't a mysterious goddam Force that let Darth Vader choke people. You think a real empire with real PR would call a huge cannon the "Death Star"? But I don't care! "Death Star" is an awesome name! It's entertainment!

And what exactly does "can't kill each other" mean? Are they physically unable? If one gives the other a mortal blow, does the other come back to life? It's those sort of details and the lack of any coherent explanation that drive me up the wall.

It has to do with midichlorians. I'd explain it to you but it would inevitably disappoint if I tried.
posted by Rory Marinich at 8:51 AM on May 24, 2010


> One thing that bugs the fuck outta me is that the implication is that the nuke killed everyone on the island and the flash-sideways is their "afterlife/purgatory". If that's the case, how did the nuke effect the timeline off the island, which was the whole reason the nuke was set off in the first place. And, if the nuke did kill everyone on the island... why isn't everyone dead? What was all the island-activity in season 6?

Nah, the purgatory/flash-sideways was something outside of any time line (it being something occurring in eternity). The nuke didn't kill anyone, it caused the electromagnetic anomaly to straighten out the time lines so the time trippin' characters would get sifted back into their own time line.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:51 AM on May 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm still not convinced the nuke ever went off. Sayid didn't set it up correctly and the incident itself is what sent them back to their own time line.
posted by crashlanding at 8:54 AM on May 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm sorry if I used the wrong terminology, but I really don't think there's much to be gained from talking about the mechanics of the LOST universe

Really, I don't think it was clear that this was summer action thriller stuff from the beginning; you can have cheekiness and still have stuff that's definitely SF (see: LEXX; for all of its exploding butt carrots) and you can have big network drama that resolves itself in a satisfying science fictional way (see: the US Life on Mars). For those of us who didn't watch for the same reason you did, there were warnings that things might have ended poorly for us, but that producers managed to sustain the illusion that its nature could have actually been very different right up near to the very end. They probably did this deliberately, for the ratings. But, man, does that sting. Six years, dude. Ouch.

But as illustrated by the finale, you're probably right; this isn't worth analyzing. Still speaking as a big SF nerd, pretty much what wondermouse said: The sci-fi crowd actually wanted all that island and time travel garbage to be explained in pretty much any way that wasn't "They were all dead the whole time and now they are going to Heaven."

Yes. Exactly.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:54 AM on May 24, 2010


I believe the finale would have been totally fixed if you dropped out the Christian Shepard In Heaven scene, and replaced it with this:

I thought, up until the end, that they whole point of the ALT timeline was that the characters, in that world, HAD to get together and remember the island in order to DO something -- something more concrete than have a spiritual awakening.

When "Locke" said he was going to destroy the Island, I thought, "Okay, cool. He's going to win. Which means that everyone on the Island timeline will die and he'll escape." And then, somehow, it will be left to the Alt characters to save the world from him. And in order to do that, they'd (a) have to work together and (b) have to remember who the smoke monster was and all about the island.

(One of the MANY things I'm disappointed about is that the smoke monster never got off the island. I feel a little bit like I watched an alien invasion movie, and that the movie implies that if the aliens get to Earth, they will obliterate everything, and though I want the heroes to win in the end, I AM looking forward to watching the Statue of Liberty exploding or whatever. But then the heroes kill the aliens while they're still outside of the solar system. The end.)

Either that, or I thought that the island characters would live but be unable to contain the smoke monster by themselves. And so they've have to somehow team up with the Alt characters to thwart him -- maybe using Desmond as a way to communicate between the two timelines. I was looking forward to scenes in which, say, both Jack and Alt Jack had to turn some key in a lock at exactly the same time.

I get that the major theme of the series is that these people were deeply, deeply connected -- almost to the point of being one organism -- and that the arc of the series is that they have to quit denying this and come together. Fine. But I wish they had come together in a more dramatically active way. Instead, they just "learned a lesson" and that lesson even had to be explained via exposition.
posted by grumblebee at 8:56 AM on May 24, 2010 [7 favorites]


The sci-fi crowd actually wanted all that island and time travel garbage to be explained in pretty much any way that wasn't "They were all dead the whole time and now they are going to Heaven."

Well then you should be happy because none of the island and time travel stuff was explained that way. Only in the sideways was everyone dead the whole time.
posted by crashlanding at 8:57 AM on May 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


At any rate, after reading through some of the write ups of last night's finale on various news sites, it seems that many so-called media reporters got a whole lot wrong and missed a lot of nuance. This thread is currently in my top ranking for insightful analysis of what happened in the end.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:59 AM on May 24, 2010


To wit: these two nitwits on WaPo get it all pretty sideways.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:00 AM on May 24, 2010


The church and Christian Shepard where a set-up by Hurley, Ben and Eloise. The door leads to Paradise, which is really the Island under Hurley and Ben's leadership.

Please :(
posted by Harry at 9:04 AM on May 24, 2010


> I thought, up until the end, that they whole point of the ALT timeline was that the characters, in that world, HAD to get together and remember the island in order to DO something -- something more concrete than have a spiritual awakening.

I also thought that, and that thought was only reinforced by the fact that everyone seemed to be coalescing around Eloise's party. Eloise was the one who had the island location predicting pendulum after all, so it's not a jump to think that she would have been instrumental in some means of merging the time lines. Instead, the purgatory thing was kind of a last psyche-out. I rather enjoy that in TV. LOST has been the only show I can recall that I couldn't see plot developments coming from 100 miles away. Granted, that kind of unpredictability goes hand in hand with capricious and handwavey explanations, but, I enjoy the unknown more than the known when it comes to this kind of thing.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:05 AM on May 24, 2010


Charlie was a heroin addict. Not a crack addict. That is all.
posted by Babblesort at 9:06 AM on May 24, 2010


Well then you should be happy because none of the island and time travel stuff was explained that way. Only in the sideways was everyone dead the whole time.

That really only squeaks by on a technicality. I think all of us nerds just didn't want to be told that they were dead (where and when ever--that it was only this season doesn't really help much) and we just really need faith, man. Or maybe it was just me.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:09 AM on May 24, 2010


Also: Giacchino in the New Yorker from May 17th. Subscription required to view full text, but there are two articles on the blog as well.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 9:12 AM on May 24, 2010


Juliet had already told us that the bomb had worked.

If you remember the scene, she came back from a brief period of "death" to say this ... which makes sense. She briefly found herself in the shared-heaven "timeline" and mistook it for the "alternate universe" timeline they had been talking about.


Actually she was talking about a candy bar. Everything she said to Sawyer in the s06 premiere as she was dying on the island was from the conversation she had with him in the Sideways of the finale. Sawyer (and the audience) assumed she was talking about the bomb having worked, but she was talking about unplugging a vending machine to get candy out. (She also told him they should get coffee sometime, which, c'mon, didn't make any sense if she's dying in his arms on an island.)
posted by shakespeherian at 9:12 AM on May 24, 2010 [32 favorites]


AUUUGGGH. I hadn't thought of that, shakespeherian, but you're totally right about "It worked" not being about the bomb.

Season 6 both makes so much more sense along the "purgatory" plotline and is so much more disappointing now that my Schrödinger's TV show theory is totally and completely debunked. Juliet replaying her purgatory scene in her death throes totally "proves" the flash-sideways as afterlife deal.

(Also: Just sayin' that the only time I teared up was during the Sawyer/Juliet reunion. Also also: Did we need to see her fall into the pit a FOURTH time?!)
posted by grapefruitmoon at 9:15 AM on May 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


(She also told him they should get coffee sometime, which, c'mon, didn't make any sense if she's dying in his arms on an island.)

Oh man, i so missed that. Thanks!
posted by empath at 9:18 AM on May 24, 2010


Only in the sideways was everyone dead the whole time.

Sideways bothers me. Christian described it as place they all made to remember and meet after their death. So why do none of them remember anything? Shouldn't they be hanging out, playing golf or something, waiting for Jack to get it through it thick skull?

Hurely: "Is Jack ready yet?"

Kate: "Nope."

Hurely: "Jesus Christ, what an idiot. Do you touch him?"

Kate: "Yes I touched him, what you don't think I know how things work around here?!"

Hurely: "Well, you touched Sawyer too, things happened pretty fast there."

Kate: "It doesn't matter, Juilet wasn't awake yet!"

Hurely: "What about Jin?"

Kate: "What about Desomond?"

Hurely: "I...was bored."
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:19 AM on May 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


My main frustration with the ending (other than a boilerplate "aw man, not fluffy afterlife spiritualism again") is that it was, frankly, cruel to so many of the characters I'd come to care about. Clearly the alt-timeline is some sort of purgatory reality where each character was living a better version of themselves until they "woke up" and found each other. And them being able to find each other in the afterlife was wonderful, and I'm glad they all go into eternity happy.

But for a rationalist like me, consider the quality of actual, real-life for most of the character's we've been following: Sun & Jin, after learning to love each other deeply, endure a horrible series of separations, thinking the other dead etc., and are reunited gloriously for like five minutes before drowning together; Sayid endures all of his past, suffers on the island, gets and loses Nadia back in the world, comes back to the island and dies twice; Jack suffers and suffers and dies (and I don't think he and Kate ever got to do it, so there's that too--completely unconsummated love affair); etc. Even Kate probably had a lifetime of suffering because she left the love of her life to die on that island and then apparently lived a long life afterward. Without him. Because she couldn't tell him she loved him all those years they were together on the island because of pride (? I thought it was because either she didn't love him or didn't know, but apparently she did and just wouldn't act on it?)

I suppose I feel gratified that Jack found his purpose or meaning or whatever by sacrificing himself so his friends can survive, but his actual life was that he crashed on that island, had a shitty, suffering time; made it back to the world, had a shitty, suffering time; went back to the island, had a shitty, suffering, time-traveling time; and then realized what was important and died. Pretty terrible quality of life during the run of the show, and then he's dead. So for Jack's corporeal existence, he never escaped the island, or the suffering it brought him, etc.

And no after-lifey, pseudo-heaven reunion changes that, and I find myself mostly feeling bad now that it's clear so many of the main characters' actual life experience once crashing was suffering and eventual death there.
posted by LooseFilter at 9:20 AM on May 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


(She also told him they should get coffee sometime, which, c'mon, didn't make any sense if she's dying in his arms on an island.)

That actually made "sense" to me at the time about it being her saying it in a parallel universe where the bomb "worked." Why THAT made sense, I have no idea, but it was an excellent set-up for the flash-sideways of Season 6. And DUH, we all assumed that "it" was the bomb.

Nice job making suckers out of us. Almost makes up for the writers treating us like semi-literate baboons in the last three episodes.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 9:20 AM on May 24, 2010


and I don't think he and Kate ever got to do it, so there's that too--completely unconsummated love affair

In the Oceanic Six/off-island timeline, he and Kate TOTALLY did it ALL THE TIME. So yeah, they got it on.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 9:22 AM on May 24, 2010


Jack suffers and suffers and dies (and I don't think he and Kate ever got to do it, so there's that too--completely unconsummated love affair)

They were engaged for awhile, so they probably did it.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:22 AM on May 24, 2010


Here's a question- was there ever a plan that the survivors tried during the show that ever worked? They fought all the time, they could never beat The Others, and they could never stop people from being killed. Hell, they even failed at escaping at the end of Season 4. Even at the end of the story, you've got Desmond, the show's Crown Prince of Failure, giving MIB the ending he wants.

Also, who gets the leave the island? Lapidus and Miles (two background characters), Kate (the murderer), Sawyer (the amoral con artist), Claire (the crazy one, completely unfit to be anyone's mother), and Richard (lapdog to a benevolent tyrant who wound up doing pretty much nothing).
posted by mkultra at 9:23 AM on May 24, 2010 [3 favorites]


JINX.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 9:23 AM on May 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


I loved it, the finale cemented this as my favorite televisoon show of all time. The feedback I am hearing from my friends and the internet is...bad...but fuck you guys.

Stay Classy, Philly fan.
posted by cjets at 9:23 AM on May 24, 2010


That really only squeaks by on a technicality. I think all of us nerds just didn't want to be told that they were dead (where and when ever--that it was only this season doesn't really help much) and we just really need faith, man. Or maybe it was just me.

I thought it was pretty appropriate for the way Lost has been written most of the way through. Pretty much everyone I talked to figured that the bomb worked and split the timelines, they were going to converge at some point and heal itself (the original still existed as to quiet everyone screaming "Paradox!") but it was all a red herring. It reminded me of the end of season 3 where you figure it's just another Jack flashback the whole way through and at the last moment you realize it was a flashforward. A well executed twist that caught everyone off guard. The sideways didn't cheapen any of the sacrifices the characters made in the real world. It didn't hit a reset button. Everyone's gotta die sometime and it was nice to see these very damaged, flawed characters from the pilot all reach some level of peace.

On preview: I thought the awakenings in the sideways was set up by The Constant where you had a character "wake up" with no memories of the Island or anything who only regained them when he made contact with the person/thing that meant the most to them in both worlds.
posted by crashlanding at 9:24 AM on May 24, 2010 [3 favorites]


and I so wanted to see the awkward moments after they were all awake, especially with Jack, Kate, Sawyer and Juliet.

Jack: "So, we married, had a kid?"

Juliet: "Sorry, can't talk, gotta a date with Sawyer, wish me luck!"
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:25 AM on May 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Believe me, PhoBWanKenobi, it was not just you.

Also, if it were a UU church, there'd be at least _one_ non-straight person. I found it a little depressing that the key to heaven, apparently, is to find your hetro soulmate.
posted by bitterpants at 9:26 AM on May 24, 2010 [3 favorites]


Ok, that's cool, shakespeherian. I didn't get that at all. I didn't like the finale much, but 1) I'm not confident that there isn't a lot more wrapped in there like that I'm not getting yet and 2) I haven't liked the show terribly well for years now so it's not like I was expecting a miracle. I'd love it if people linked to good commentaries and explanations as they pop up.
posted by Kwine at 9:27 AM on May 24, 2010


a few thoughts as my head pieces it together:

in the main timeiine, we are given character background and motivation, but the characters are always bound by the plot. they were on the plane because they were intended to be; they were chosen for it.

in the alternate timeline, the characters shook off the plot enforced upon them; that they were not chosen changes what their lives had been even before the plane trip; their choices are exercised within a less constrained framework. which is why, from one angle, i saw it as the fictional characters themselves struggling to break free from the plot--no less, by blowing themselves up.

but in another way, it seems to me that the alternate timeline is something given to them by jacob--whatever jacob and his brother and all the rules amount to be, which is still fine as a mystery. because he essentially forces them down a certain path, he gives them an opportunity to live another life absent that influence; that experience, with its struggles and connections, is no less real to them. but then, in the end, they get to see and feel their lives along both paths simultaneously and to see their lives played out in the parallel universes of determinism versus free will--which though again takes me all meta and makes me see it as a struggle between the authors and the characters (and, i suppose, between perspectives of viewers who are more plot-focused versus character-focused).
posted by fallacy of the beard at 9:27 AM on May 24, 2010


Even at the end of the story, you've got Desmond, the show's Crown Prince of Failure, giving MIB the ending he wants.

He didn't, though. Uncapping the source made both he and Jack mortal.
posted by empath at 9:32 AM on May 24, 2010


but in the end, though i didn't take it from a religious angle, it seemed less jacob's ladder than last temptation of christ.
posted by fallacy of the beard at 9:32 AM on May 24, 2010


What I've been really surprised about in the aftermath of the finale is the sheer number of people in my facebook feed who both not only loved it but also pretty transparently didn't understand it at all--like the girl who was gushing about how brilliant it was that they were all killed by the bomb.

I am not sure why this surprises you. The producers of LOST opted for an emotional resolution, and that's what these folks (perhaps even a majority of all regular LOST viewers) were responding to - and for a lot of people, the only resolution that really mattered because they were watching for the character drama *in spite of*, not because of, the sci-fi / fantasy elements.
posted by aught at 9:36 AM on May 24, 2010


empath: He didn't, though. Uncapping the source made both he and Jack mortal.

My assumption is that this is what MIB wanted- to be free of his Smoke Monster form, which is bound to the Island. Remember, he couldn't cross the water that way. As a mortal again, he could.
posted by mkultra at 9:37 AM on May 24, 2010


Yeah, but it also meant Jack could kill him.
posted by empath at 9:39 AM on May 24, 2010


I liked how the Lost finale explained what was in Marsellus Wallace's briefcase.
posted by drezdn at 9:39 AM on May 24, 2010 [7 favorites]


And DUH, we all assumed that "it" was the bomb.

The fact that I was able to figure out this one thing makes me pretty hopeful and excited about rewatching the whole show in August when it's on DVD, because while, yes, the writers obviously didn't have everything specifically figured out the whole time, they have always been several steps ahead of us, and there are some larger things that they've had in mind the entire time (rewatch the backgammon scene in the pilot, just for e.g.), so I'm fairly confident that a rewatch will make several things 'pop' where they previously seemed non-sequiturs or discontinuities.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:40 AM on May 24, 2010


Also, who gets the leave the island? Lapidus and Miles (two background characters), Kate (the murderer), Sawyer (the amoral con artist), Claire (the crazy one, completely unfit to be anyone's mother), and Richard (lapdog to a benevolent tyrant who wound up doing pretty much nothing).

Yes, that's what I was after--most of the characters I cared about, or thought were the decent people in the group, all died on the island. They survived the horrific crash, struggled, fought, died. The end. No more life for them. (Oh, except here's a vague, after-life band-aid where they all meet up and are showered and happy.) This is where the finale left me emotionally, not where I think the writers hoped I'd end up.

it seemed less jacob's ladder than last temptation of christ.

Ha, yes, would have been perfect if, as Jack saw the plane flying overhead, and Kate escaping, he said "it is accomplished."
posted by LooseFilter at 9:41 AM on May 24, 2010


I think the difference is, The Force was there from pretty much the beginning of Star Wars, as was accepted for what it was.

To be fair, the island's power was there from pretty early on too, though the survivors obviously had no idea what was going on when they interacted with aspects of it such as the smoke monster and its apparitions, or pushed the button in the Swan Station to partially contain its destructiveness.
posted by aught at 9:41 AM on May 24, 2010


empath: Yeah, but it also meant Jack could kill him.


Jack didn't kill him. Kate did, in a fairly random (though thematically-correct, I suppose) moment.
posted by mkultra at 9:42 AM on May 24, 2010


God, my inner nerd is working over time on this.

"So wait, they created a separate place to hang out until they were all dead, then they could go off to heaven together? All those other people, Jack and Juilet's son, weren't real, even though they looked and seemed real? They just created all those people to keep busy while they waited for things to shape up for them, then killed them all off and wandered in to the sunset? Or do they leave that world as it is and just disappear from it? "

"They couldn't have just made nice limbo for themselves, they have to drag others into their drama? What a bunch of self absorbed assholes. "
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:42 AM on May 24, 2010 [5 favorites]


> They just created all those people to keep busy while they waited for things to shape up for them, then killed them all off and wandered in to the sunset? Or do they leave that world as it is and just disappear from it? "

Those people were stuck in the Matrix anyway and would have been fed to machines in short order.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:44 AM on May 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


But I wish they had come together in a more dramatically active way.

That might have been a cooler end result, but would also have required a season or two more episodes to set up, which the show didn't have the luxury of.
posted by aught at 9:44 AM on May 24, 2010


To be fair, the island's power was there from pretty early on too, though the survivors obviously had no idea what was going on when they interacted with aspects of it such as the smoke monster and its apparitions, or pushed the button in the Swan Station to partially contain its destructiveness.

See also: John Locke used to be in a wheelchair, and Rose used to have cancer.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:45 AM on May 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


they imagined those people, i think.
posted by empath at 9:45 AM on May 24, 2010


So while I'm still feeling a but ambivalent overall about the finale, especially the whole spiritual-afterlife angle of the purgatory-flash-sideways, media scholar Jason Mittell's final blog entry (he's been blogging all of season 6) is an interesting perspective that echoes some of the things people have been saying here, and attempts to shed light on why some of the answers we wanted may not have been necesary. I do think it's worth reading, at any rate.
posted by DiscourseMarker at 9:45 AM on May 24, 2010 [4 favorites]


With respect to the numbers: if it weren't for them, Hurley wouldn't be on the island at all, and he turns out to be pretty important to it in the end. That explains their existence enough for me.
posted by desjardins at 9:46 AM on May 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


(Quick question: were the numbers all connected to their names as candidates, written in that cave? Like, each of the six remaining candidates was one of the numbers?)
posted by LooseFilter at 9:48 AM on May 24, 2010


So wait, they created a separate place to hang out until they were all dead, then they could go off to heaven together?

It's better than that. They created a place with an underwater island that they couldn't see!
posted by grumblebee at 9:50 AM on May 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


> (Quick question: were the numbers all connected to their names as candidates, written in that cave? Like, each of the six remaining candidates was one of the numbers?)

At least some of them. I can't vouch for them all.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:51 AM on May 24, 2010


For people who argue, "it's about the characters, not about how the statue got there," I say: the cast and crew repeatedly said that the Island became a character on the show. The Island was my favorite character and I never saw any sort of resolution for it and that's why I'm dissatisfied with the finale.
posted by giraffe at 9:53 AM on May 24, 2010 [6 favorites]


> "So wait, they created a separate place to hang out until they were all dead, then they could go off to heaven together?

They probably didn't "create" it of their own volition in the manner that a committee designs a shopping mall or something, but it was a projection of their shared subconscious yearnings/needs. It...doesn't stand up to rigor.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:53 AM on May 24, 2010


Brandon, I was working this through earlier about how the sideways really was some twisted wish fulfillment place where everyone got what they desired most pre-island. A short list:

Jack: Meaningful father/son relationship
Sawyer: Worked towards catching conmen like Sawyer
Locke: Helen
Desmond: Widmore's respect
Kate: She said she was innocent, I guess I believe her
Hurley: Luckiest guy in the world
Sayid: This one was sticky because Nadia was in his life but they had to keep him unattached to allow for the Shannon reunion
Jin and Sun: They had each other and were madly in love
Charlie: Drive Shaft was still together

But there was still something wrong that each of them kind of knew in the back of their minds. Most, when they died/by the end of the series in the real world, had worked through their issues and were at peace with themselves. The sideways brought them all back to a similar state that they were in in the pilot and they were pretty much forced to go through six seasons worth of development in the finale in one big flash.
posted by crashlanding at 9:53 AM on May 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's hard out there for an island.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:54 AM on May 24, 2010


I DIED TO SAVE YOU ALL AND I GOT WAS THIS DOG.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:59 AM on May 24, 2010 [3 favorites]


I was pretty thoroughly grossed out by the dad stuff at the very end. Like, Christian didn't do anything that would have given Jack a reason to forgive him; but now that Jack has dreamed himself up a son, he understands how tough it is to be a dad, and also understands that sons need to forgive their fathers no matter what? And so everyone should just hug it out and it is all fine?

Basically I thought that the entire finale was a long wet fart, but that finished it off for me. And the more I think about it, even the suggestion that a big part of the series was supposed to be about Jack learning how to forgive his father—that's just so totally alienating for me that I don't know if I can even rewatch the parts of the show that I liked. And fuck them for airing it in the middle of a long weekend, I am definitely going to waste my entire Victoria day sitting around in my pyjamas fuming about it.

I also feel like a total idiot dickbag for having thought that the s6 episode with Jack and his kid was sweet. It wasn't sweet, it was manipulative.
posted by bewilderbeast at 9:59 AM on May 24, 2010


Interesting idea in DiscourseMaker's link that hadn't occurred to me: the church is a very meta reference to the relationship the audience has with the show itself:

As Christian says to Jack in backroom of the church, ”This is a place that you all made together so that you could find one another. The most important part of your life was the time that you spent with these people. That’s why all of you are here.” On one level, the “you” is Jack and his friends, but it is also us – we are here because we care about these people. And in the sideways realm, “there is no now,” just as we’ll have the show to rewatch in an eternal present tense.
posted by jbickers at 10:00 AM on May 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


Eh, the island got Hurley as a protector and, as Ben suggested, he's going to run things a little differently than Jacob. The island was shown to help people (Locke/Rose) and that's just what Hurley is probably going to focus on. Jacob was always more focused on just observing people from a distance while Hurley isn't afraid to walk up and ask "Dude, what's wrong?"

I'm definitely one of the people that always loved the mysteries and crazy theories associated with Lost but ask yourself if any of the resolutions over the years was all that satisfying. Filling in the blanks with your own overarching theory was always the fun part and I'm sure if we go back and rewatch it there are enough small details that our imaginations can run wild with.
posted by crashlanding at 10:02 AM on May 24, 2010 [3 favorites]


I find it unspeakably funny that you find LOST disappointing but are willing to stomach a Joss Whedon show.

Again the key difference here is the sci-fi perspective. In Whedon's shows, the world of the characters is never revealed to be a fantasy, or purgatory, a dream, or anything like that. Aside from one episode of Buffy where we see her in a mental institution, which kind of scared people into thinking maybe the entire show was a figment of Buffy's imagination, all the silly demons and spaceships and dollhouses are real. While I wasn't a huge Lost fan, I like a good science-fiction program, and Lost was interesting in that regard. My not being a big fan was because a lot of the characters annoyed me both through their dialogue and their actions, but I watched it because some of my friends were trying very hard to get me into it, so it was an opportunity to be able to share the experience with them. They were a lot more disappointed with the ending than I was.

Lost drew in a lot of sci-fi nerds because it had a lot of goofy-ass sci-fi content. We are pretty good at suspending our disbelief as long as you promise not to tell us at the end that none of that stuff actually happened in some mysterious region of the earth or in an alternate universe or something. I mean, we know it didn't, but still. It is a bone I like to be thrown.
posted by wondermouse at 10:02 AM on May 24, 2010


From DiscourseMarker's link:

“The End” serves as an argument for what Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse have been saying all along: we ultimately care about the characters and their fates way more than the island’s mysteries. Ultimately, I think whether you like the finale (and thus the entire sixth season) or not will come down to how convincing you found that argument – personally, I was sold.

Except that by the end of the finale, it seems like the real-life fates of the characters are almost a moot point. There's no sense of anxiety or urgency about who lives, who dies and who escapes; there isn't much of a question that Sawyer and Kate will show up on the pseudo-runway seconds before Lapidus takes off, nor much of a question that once Kate decides she's leaving the island, that she won't find a way to take Claire with her. In fact, that Kate/Claire conversation is so perfunctory as to be mostly unnecessary. "Hey Claire, you coming?" "No, I'm a horrible mother and I'm crazy!" "What if I help you with both those things?" "Yeah, sure. Will there be a movie on the flight home?"

And forgive me, but I don't remember any scene after the plane takes off showing the escapees reacting to their successful departure: no scenes of Lapidus and Miles high-fiving or staring mournfully at the island, no scenes of Sawyer and Kate looking at each other thoughtfully about what they left behind, no scenes of Claire elated to see her baby again or sad to think of all the humanity she's lost. I'm not saying the show needed to show these things to us; I'm saying the show needed to show these things to us if it wanted us to care about the character's fates in real life. Which, between this and the whole "people die at various times and it's not important how or why" thing Christian says at the end, is pretty obviously not the case.

If the fate we're supposed to care about is their SPIRITUAL fate, well, pretty obviously that was never even in question; there's no suspense there. So why bother?
posted by chrominance at 10:03 AM on May 24, 2010 [10 favorites]


Crashlanding, I totally agree with you- I think they were working on the things they never felt like they'd been able to resolve, but weren't able to fully experience happiness- there was always something missing whether it was love or peace or a break from their cycle of anger/crime/etc.

As for the Nadia/Sayid thing, I feel like it's okay that he ends up with Shannon even though that wasn't fully developed (much like the Hurley/Libby relationship) namely because there's no way for Sayid to be with Nadia without it always being a constant reminder of his past. Shannon's a future love, a chance at love without the baggage and guilt as a cost.

Kate in the sideways life also gets to help Claire without having the guilt of having to take the baby- she is able to redeem herself without it being someone else's loss.
posted by questionsandanchors at 10:05 AM on May 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


The fact that I was able to figure out this one thing makes me pretty hopeful and excited about rewatching the whole show in August when it's on DVD,

Yeah, the more I think about the finale, the more I think I'm going to do a whole run-through of the show once Season 6 is out on DVD. It'll be interesting to see what comes together (and what is obviously total filler) when there are no viewing gaps.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 10:09 AM on May 24, 2010


(Quick question: were the numbers all connected to their names as candidates, written in that cave? Like, each of the six remaining candidates was one of the numbers?)

There seemed to be two interlocking / conflicting (depending on how charitable you're feeling to the LOST writers) explanations / aspects to the numbers - one is that they were part of the "Valenzetti Equation," which through handwavy sci-fi was connected, presumably as a set of seemingly pre-determined constants -- similar to Planck's constant or the speed of light -- that predicted or governed the ultimate fate of humanity.

The other was the implication that each of the numbers connected to the behavior or fate of one of the candidate Oceanic 815 survivors. Obviously the surfacing of the numbers in incidental details throughout the show was more of a magical realism motif than anything resembling a hard sci-fi manifestation of a set of (unknown to science) fundamental constants.
posted by aught at 10:10 AM on May 24, 2010


I keep getting the impression, both from people who loved it and hated it, that the ending means NOTHING was real, it was all just a snowglobe. I feel silly when I start saying, "MOST of it was absolutely real! Just the flash-sideways stuff was a snowglobe!!"

But, again, it worked well for me. I am satisfied, and growing smugly so.
posted by dirtdirt at 10:11 AM on May 24, 2010


Basically I thought that the entire finale was a long wet fart,

Please. I have issues with the LOST finale too, but if you start off with asshattery like this you'll be dismissed as trolling the thread -- so don't be surprised when those who are trying to have an adult conversation don't take you seriously.
posted by aught at 10:16 AM on May 24, 2010


So if it's all about redeeming oneself, why does Ben get a shot at heaven (he's just "not ready yet") while Michael has to stay on the island?

Is there a god running all this, and he just hates Michael? Did the other characters unconsciously get together and agree that Ben is okay but Michael isn't? Or is there no god in the LOST universe. Is it all just luck and Michael drew the short straw?
posted by grumblebee at 10:17 AM on May 24, 2010


I think there's a difference, dirtdirt, between everything not being real and everything not being meaningful. What happened here was really the latter--it's not that the plot of the series was snowglobed, it's that probably 3/4 of the plot's meaning was.

I honestly didn't catch the Juliet coffee bit on first watch. It's interesting, but doesn't totally reconcile the ending for me. Were there any other nods like this, or was this the only one we got?
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:17 AM on May 24, 2010


> So if it's all about redeeming oneself, why does Ben get a shot at heaven (he's just "not ready yet") while Michael has to stay on the island?

Was it explicitly shown that Michael never left the island? I know that earlier in the season he said he was "stuck", but omitting him at the end doesn't necessarily mean that he never moved on--he just wasn't part of the crew in the church. He had betrayed them when trying to save his son, so perhaps he and WALLLLT had their own church together. Hurley helped him when he was the next Jack/Jacob.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:25 AM on May 24, 2010


I keep getting the impression, both from people who loved it and hated it, that the ending means NOTHING was real, it was all just a snowglobe.

Only viewers who were not paying close attention (like the women on the Washington Post tv column, who embarrassed themselves with their blog about the finale), or misrepresenting the show out of anger and disappointment (I've seen plenty of examples of both now) would think this. Though it's possible some people were simply disoriented or distracted from the details of the finale's plot by the interminable commercial interruptions.

But the evidence in the final episode itself makes it pretty clear what was going on: everything that happened on the Island was real (though caused by imperfectly understood magic or super-advanced science indistinguishable from magic; the alternative timeline in Season 6 was an afterlife dream (akin to the Buddhist "bardo") shared among select Oceanic 815 survivors whose fates were most intertwined; and that they reach nirvana / find peace and/or heaven (become not "lost") once Jack catches on to the nature of reality as well.
posted by aught at 10:27 AM on May 24, 2010 [18 favorites]


Basically I thought that the entire finale was a long wet fart,

Please. I have issues with the LOST finale too, but if you start off with asshattery like this you'll be dismissed as trolling the thread


That comment you quoted was just part of the OP's comment so it's not like that's all that was said about the finale, nor that specific criticisms weren't brought up.

So lay off the "you're just thread shitting", because it ain't true.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:27 AM on May 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


>If the fate we're supposed to care about is their SPIRITUAL fate, well, pretty obviously that was never even in question; there's no suspense there. So why bother?

This is what I'm on about--here I spent six seasons thinking that the characters' actual, corporeal lives mattered, and it really was all about spiritual awakening? WTF?


>So if it's all about redeeming oneself, why does Ben get a shot at heaven (he's just "not ready yet") while Michael has to stay on the island?

I don't think it's heaven (so, no opposite like hell), just some sort of vague "moving on."
posted by LooseFilter at 10:30 AM on May 24, 2010


aught: I wish I could favorite you even harder; that's the most succinct explanation I've heard.
posted by AzraelBrown at 10:32 AM on May 24, 2010


I think that the non-sideways lives viewed without the sideways resolution are very fitting and very rational. They came, they fought, they died. Most of the characters didn't get happy endings in the 'real' world, but few people do. Sad, troubled characters who did their best and came up short is pretty 'realistic.'
posted by theclaw at 10:32 AM on May 24, 2010


This is what I'm on about--here I spent six seasons thinking that the characters' actual, corporeal lives mattered, and it really was all about spiritual awakening? WTF?

"Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter."
- Yoda
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:33 AM on May 24, 2010 [3 favorites]


Is it all just luck and Michael drew the short straw?

i have to go back and watch it all again, but my vague sense is that it is because michael was willing to sacrifice everyone else for his own freedom, and the candidates, despite their struggles and differences, did not sell each other out. even his backstory seemed to be about his inability to look beyond himself.
posted by fallacy of the beard at 10:35 AM on May 24, 2010


Had Michael been in the church at the end, you know he'd have been all "THEY TOOK MY SON!" and "I WANT MY SON!", and who needs that drama when eternity is waiting?
posted by Servo5678 at 10:36 AM on May 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


I actually liked the series finale and somewhat enjoyed the choice of the alternate world being actually some sort of Purgatory....with that being said, I also feel it was lazy, could have been much better and not consistent. First of all:

1) What was the outcome of the bomb since it didnt create the alternate world? Did it just create a big Hole in the island? Did it kill the Dharma initiative? Did anything come out of that? Oh producers apparently forgot about that and didnt tell us....

2) If in purgatory world some things are imagined (lets say Jack's son?) which things are real: "fake ana lucia?" fake "Desmond", I find it highly unlikely this was all some sort of "imagination world" couldnt they tell us that it was indeed an alternate story and now they were all getting together with all the experiences from the other world?

3) Desmond is able to travel between this life and the next life? Apparently Desmond did not know this...he said it himself I thought that by going into this life I was going to travel somewhere else....i.e this other timelife........however the Desmond in purgatory seems quite aware that he needs to leave.....so really what did Desmond "knew", when he woke up?

It seems that this ending went above and beyond what we needed...there was an easy resolution (i.e the bomb did work, lets kill everyone here and upload our memories to our other selves) and they chose not to take it.....hell they could have given me purgatory but as somebody mentioned here it could have been a reward for the work done on the island.....

Finally it was nice to see that these guys stole the light that was in that briefcase on pulp fiction....
posted by The1andonly at 10:43 AM on May 24, 2010


Here's a (negative) review that sums up my feelings.

Was it explicitly shown that Michael never left the island?

No. It also wasn't explicitly shown Ben could actually have "moved on" with the rest of the characters if he was ready to. You could invent your own scene in which, after the show cut away from him for the last time, he changed his mind and tried to walk into the church, but then Christian appeared to him and said, "Uh uh. Not you!" And that wouldn't violate anything in the story.

My point was that they writers wrapped up Micheal's story with him trapped as a ghost on the island. And yet the other characters -- even ones like Ben -- who had done terrible things, got a chance to leave.

But, if you want, you can decided that Micheal later got off the island and joined the others. Or that he stayed on the island and learned to love it.

i have to go back and watch it all again, but my vague sense is that it is because Michael was willing to sacrifice everyone else for his own freedom

I would kind of buy the idea that sinners don't get to go to [wherever] if it wasn't for Ben. The writers very specifically had both Ben and Michael redeem themselves. Ben had a final "I'm sorry" scene with Lock; Michael had a similar scene, earlier on, with Hurley.

I suspect the real truth is that the "earlier on" part is important. The writers were just done with Michael. Maybe the actor wasn't available for the final episode. Whatever. They were done with him or they were forced to be done with him, and they assume -- or hoped -- that viewers would be so wrapped up in what was going on with the other characters, they wouldn't be bothered by questions about Michael -- which weren't even presented as questions. And my guess is that they were right about some viewers and wrong about others.
posted by grumblebee at 10:45 AM on May 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm not convinced at all that the best part of Michael's life was spent on the island- or that seeing these people again was what he really wanted. Ditto for Walt. Additionally, even if Michael did want to see everyone again, it doesn't seem like he was close to being able to "let go" of his failures and move on, so it makes sense that he's not there.
posted by questionsandanchors at 10:47 AM on May 24, 2010


why does Ben get a shot at heaven (he's just "not ready yet") while Michael has to stay on the island?

My impression is that everybody gets "their own church" and it's filled with the people closest to them. So somewhere out in the ether, Michael is in another church (or whatever building would have some sort of significance to him) with Walt and his ex-wife and all of the people that made the biggest impression in his life. The people in "Jack's church" are the people closest to his orbit, most meaningful to him.

Or something.
posted by jbickers at 10:51 AM on May 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


What you have to believe, then, is that Michael was NEVER able to let go -- for all of eternity -- because Christian explained that it didn't matter when people died. So if, after a thousand years of wandering as a lost soul on the island, Michael finally made peace with himself, shouldn't he have been at the church in the end?


I'm not convinced at all that the best part of Michael's life was spent on the island


Maybe not. On the other hand, it was the only time in his life he got to spend quality time with his son. And, in the first season, the writers gave the impression that this was a pivotal thing for Michael.
posted by grumblebee at 10:52 AM on May 24, 2010


Well, Michael turned out to be one of the whispers on the island. So maybe his spirit or whatever just can't leave.
posted by giraffe at 10:58 AM on May 24, 2010


I've read or skimmed every comment here, plus read some other recaps. I do believe that everything really happened (i.e. they didn't all die on the island in the Oceanic 815 crash), but does anyone have a satisfying explanation for the post-title scene of what appears to be the 815 crash footage?
posted by peep at 10:59 AM on May 24, 2010


I liked the sounds. I liked:

* The smoke monster noises
* The Sour Trombone Scene Closers
* The electronic noise clip that accompanies the spiraling LOST opening title
* Crazy cellos of Srs Island Problems

So, thanks, gifted Foley folks and engineers.
posted by everichon at 10:59 AM on May 24, 2010 [11 favorites]


Everyone discussing Michael's ultimate selfishness and inability to move on to things larger than himself etc. would do well to remember that he stayed with the bomb on the freighter, emptying a fire extinguisher on it, so that everyone else could have a few more seconds to escape.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:00 AM on May 24, 2010


I've read or skimmed every comment here, plus read some other recaps. I do believe that everything really happened (i.e. they didn't all die on the island in the Oceanic 815 crash), but does anyone have a satisfying explanation for the post-title scene of what appears to be the 815 crash footage?

It's their initial wreckage, still there on the beach, except now it is quiet (in contrast to the pilot episode), because everyone is gone.
posted by crawl at 11:04 AM on May 24, 2010 [3 favorites]


but does anyone have a satisfying explanation for the post-title scene of what appears to be the 815 crash footage?

Sure, visual symmetry with the beginning of the series, of a piece with closing in on Jack's eye. Except this time, of course, there are no explosions and screams and etc. because the plane crash is in the past, and all the people who were in it have moved on.
posted by LooseFilter at 11:05 AM on May 24, 2010


(jinx)
posted by LooseFilter at 11:06 AM on May 24, 2010


shakespeherian:Everything she said to Sawyer in the s06 premiere as she was dying on the island was from the conversation she had with him in the Sideways of the finale.

What else besides "it worked" did Juliet say to Sawyer that was in both the finale and the s06 premier? I'm trying to remember, and "it worked" appears to be the only thing, and I agree that it was in reference to the vending machine and not the bomb. But how does this disprove that the two timelines were parallel?
posted by alligatorman at 11:07 AM on May 24, 2010


What else besides "it worked" did Juliet say to Sawyer that was in both the finale and the s06 premier?

She asked Sawyer to meet her for coffee, and suggested they go dutch.
posted by cirripede at 11:08 AM on May 24, 2010


It's their initial wreckage, still there on the beach, except now it is quiet (in contrast to the pilot episode), because everyone is gone.

Hm, OK. I'll have to go back and watch it. It just looked kind of fresh and untouched, whereas they had salvaged a lot of it for shelter, etc. during the years on the island.
posted by peep at 11:11 AM on May 24, 2010


I am really curious about a phenomenon that seems to only plague TV but hasn't always plagued it. It started in the late 20th Century and is still going strong. My use of "plague" tells you what I think of it, but you could use more neutral (or even positive) language and still agree that it's a trend.

The trend is telling character stories through exposition.

What I'm talking about is when characters overtly explain their psychologies (or other characters' psychologies), usually in self-help-book-like dialogue. When someone calls a show on this sort of thing, the response is usually, "Well, it's a character show."

But that's not enough to explain it. We've had character drama for centuries -- drama that seems more concerned with people and their motivations than with plotting. But, in the past, most writers seemed to believe that you should explore character through action, not by having people just bluntly explain what's going on in their heads or what lessons they've learned. There are exceptions, of course, but, in general, even writers like Chekhov and Jane Austen exposed character through action.

And, even today, I don't see much psychobabble in movies or books -- at least not when I compare them to TV shows. TV is rife with it. Why?

I guess some people like it. To me, it just seems like sloppy, lazy writing* -- and I say that as someone whose FAVORITE form of fiction is the Character Story.

I didn't like the ending of LOST, but even if I'd liked the general idea of the church thing, I wouldn't have wanted Christian to explain it. Specifically, I wish he hadn't said, "The time on the island is the most important time of your life and these are the most important people in your life, and you needed to come together." (<-- paraphrase.) It was unnecessary. The whole series SCREAMED those things.

Why? Why? Why? Why now? Why TV?

Why cultural force led to a shrink being put on the new Starship Enterprise whereas the old one just had a G.P.?

*Also, in the past, when writers wrote character stories, they didn't insert as many exciting plot elements as possible, and then, when they failed to tie up loose ends, they didn't say to fans, "You don't get the point. It's a CHARACTER story!" If they intended to tell a character story, they kept the plot fairly simple.
posted by grumblebee at 11:11 AM on May 24, 2010 [7 favorites]


She asked Sawyer to meet her for coffee, and suggested they go dutch.

Ah, thanks. I missed that on the Lostpedia recap. I still don't understand how this suggests that the two timelines are not a parallel. If anything, it makes me believe more strongly that the sideways-time is a parallel purgatory timeline, if that makes any sense.
posted by alligatorman at 11:12 AM on May 24, 2010


I don't think only the people in the church are the only characters who can move on, ever. They're just the ones who needed one another to do so.

I thought Ben stayed behind to wait for Alex and Rousseau to be ready. It's a shame we didn't see Walt, but that's pretty much the reality of casting a kid who grows up for a show where that aging doesn't make sense.

So it wouldn't have made sense to have Michael there but no Walt - it works better to think of them together, moving on elsewhere. I also like to think that the island wasn't the defining moment of Walt's life like it was for the adult characters.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 11:12 AM on May 24, 2010


Hm, OK. I'll have to go back and watch it. It just looked kind of fresh and untouched, whereas they had salvaged a lot of it for shelter, etc. during the years on the island.

Well, it also all washed away when the beach rose. I don't think the creators forgot this. I think it was symbolic, showing that the survivors were in a place of peace.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 11:14 AM on May 24, 2010


I've seen this before. Jack's fine. Realizing that sometimes the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the one (or live together, die alone, if you prefer), he mind melded with Hurley right before going down the well. ("now you're like me") And then he went into a glowing place, and fixed a vast source of energy in the middle of a cyclindrical enclosure that allowed his friends to escape. Now his body is lying in an Edenic paradise with special life-giving properties.

He'll be rescuing whales in no time.
posted by condour75 at 11:16 AM on May 24, 2010 [11 favorites]


i don't think the alternate timeline was parallel, considering the alternate timeline seems to have existed apart from the flow of time (from christian's description of it)--not unlike, for instance, how the entire timeline of the lost narrative exists for us all at once at this moment. also, the wound jack had at the beginning of the alternate timeline, on the plane, is not a wound that bled through the timelines from when the plane crashed, but a wound that occurred at the very end of the island timeline. the parallelism served the method of the narrative, but i don't think the timelines were simultaneous.
posted by fallacy of the beard at 11:24 AM on May 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


I thought Ben stayed behind to wait for Alex and Rousseau to be ready.

Arg.

According to Christian, time in the real world doesn't matter. Jack died, on the island, in 2007 (or so). Presumably, Ben and Hurley lived much longer -- long enough for Hurley to say what I sometimes say right before I flush the toilet.

Presumably, what happens is this. The first character dies. "god" puts him in hibernation. Then the next character dies. Same thing: into deep freeze. Finally, when every single one of the connected characters is dead, "god" wakes them all up at once so that they can go through the alt-purgatory charade where they start apart and have to find each other.

The mechanism may be totally different. Maybe there's no "god" and no "deep freeze." But the point is that the "church reality" will wait for all characters to have died and then collect them all there. So it doesn't make sense that Ben has to wait for Alex and Rousseu to die. In the "church reality" they should already be dead, even if they died 20 years after Ben in the real world.

I'm sure there's some complex way to think oneself around this problem, but the writers said that "there's no now" and that some of the people in the room died way later (or earlier) than others. So, without coming up with one's own complex additions to the story, it seems logical that no one should have to wait for anyone else to die.

If Ben "isn't ready," presumably it means he's not emotionally at peace yet. Although my brain hurts even trying to tie that in with "there's no now here."
posted by grumblebee at 11:25 AM on May 24, 2010


More like "there's no why, how or what here" AMIRITE?!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:28 AM on May 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


it seems logical that no one should have to wait for anyone else to die.

Except Kate's all "You can get in through the back, Jack. I'll be waiting for you inside, just come in when you're ready." There is no now, and yet somehow there is a now where Kate is ready and Jack isn't. Or where Hurley is ready but Ana Lucia isn't, and Kate and Sayid are but they don't quite realize it yet. Time has no meaning and yet everything still follows temporal logic. HANDWAVING.
posted by chrominance at 11:30 AM on May 24, 2010


If Ben "isn't ready," presumably it means he's not emotionally at peace yet. Although my brain hurts even trying to tie that in with "there's no now here."

Chrominance already gave an excellent answer to your query but the short answer is he is not waiting for them to "die" but more he is waiting for the other people to wake up in the sense that he has woken up....now that he is enlightened he is more likely to give those feelings to both Rousseau and Alex....but not before he hooks up Rousseau first of course.
posted by The1andonly at 11:34 AM on May 24, 2010


Ah, thanks. I missed that on the Lostpedia recap. I still don't understand how this suggests that the two timelines are not a parallel. If anything, it makes me believe more strongly that the sideways-time is a parallel purgatory timeline, if that makes any sense.

I wasn't using it as an argument that the sideways wasn't a parallel purgatory timeline, I was refuting the statements to the effect that Juliet had said that the bomb worked. For the entirety of season 6, the audience had been taking Juliet's words as gospel and assuming that the sideways story was a parallel universe created by the Incident at the end of season 5, which makes the purgatory/whatever reveal in the finale feel like a cop-out. But by explicitly showing, in the finale, that Juliet had never said that the bomb worked, and that we were actually just making big dumb assumptions about what we were watching, I think the show manages to massage its way out of feeling cop-out-ish w/r/t the sideways story.

This is only assuming you noticed that Juliet was saying line-for-line the same dialogue, though. Which, I believe, was: It worked. [...] We should grab some coffee sometime. We could go Dutch. [...] Kiss me, James.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:34 AM on May 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


well, if ben was with hurley (as a richard), and hurley ostensibly lived how many ever millennia until he was replaced by some other candidate in some other choice-versus-free-will candidate scenario, then perhaps ben's rightful place of resolution is amongst some other round of islanders with whom he formed a particularly synergistic bond.
posted by fallacy of the beard at 11:35 AM on May 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Time has no meaning and yet everything still follows temporal logic. HANDWAVING

I don't think that's all that hard to solve, and I think the story basically solved it -- except when they had lapses like with Ben "not being ready."

I don't want to repeat my hibernation idea (above), especially since I don't literally mean that's the mechanism that had to have been used. But some how or other, everyone -- even people who died at wildly different times -- was brought together in a new place. Despite what Christian said, that new place DID have temporality. It had to, or even holding a conversation would have been impossible (he says something AND THEN she relies). But I don't think that invalidates what Christian said, unless you insist on taking him hyper-literally.

If Jack had said, "Aha! Caught you using bad logic! If there's no NOW here, how come we aren't all talking at once?" Christian could have said, "Okay, Mr. Smartypants. What I meant is that the time we're in now is not connected to any other time in human history. People from all different human-history times can meet up here."

But if that's true, then Ben COULD have been brought there -- along with Alex and Rousseau -- no matter when they all died. And Ben COULD have been brought there at some time in his life when he was ready to move on.

So I have to conclude that Ben's fate was really sad. There was NO time in his life when he was EVER ready to move on, so he couldn't possibly be brought there at any good time for him. And yet the writers seemed to want to leave me feeling at least somewhat hopeful about him.

I think that the only way to not wrap yourself up in those sort of knots is to not think about certain things. Alas, I can't do that. I'm not trying to poke holes. I so wanted to NOT feel the way I feel. But I'm just responding to the thoughts that come into my head without me doing anything.
posted by grumblebee at 11:40 AM on May 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Well, Michael turned out to be one of the whispers on the island. So maybe his spirit or whatever just can't leave.

Did any of the other flash-sideways characters appear as whispers? I know that we see Libby off island as a ghost. Is it implied that Ana Lucia is one?

Someone asked upthread what the bomb accomplished. I'd like to think it made the lights go out in the hospital break room.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:41 AM on May 24, 2010


Hurley sees Ana Lucia's ghost during the Oceanic 6 phase.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:42 AM on May 24, 2010


Here is, I think, the deal with the over-credits shots of the wreckage:

They are not part of the story; they are the bow after the curtain has dropped. They do not mean anything except, well, we're done, and wow, remember this set? Here's where it all started, and, phew, it was quite a ride.
posted by crickets at 11:43 AM on May 24, 2010 [4 favorites]


It does make sense that Ben would awake before Alex or Rousseau if you think about how the latter two died. Suddenly and before they resolved their issues in the real world. Same could be said for why Desmond said Anna Lucia wasn't ready yet.

I missed when or how Boone woke up. It wasn't on the plane when he was talking to Locke was it? I guess they could have just not shown it but whatever, can't win 'em all.
posted by crashlanding at 11:44 AM on May 24, 2010


LOST Untangled - The End - Lost

"Even guyliner!"
posted by Burhanistan at 11:44 AM on May 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


If Ben "isn't ready," presumably it means he's not emotionally at peace yet. Although my brain hurts even trying to tie that in with "there's no now here."

I choose to understand this as: If Ben isn't ready, then he's never going to be ready.

Which totally sits fine with me, given that I want to like him, but he did some pretty atrocious things.
posted by crickets at 11:46 AM on May 24, 2010


Also I am curious about exploring the idea that the LA X purgatory-thing may not be suggested by LOST as the actual afterlife but rather as an afterlife that is facilitated by the island's magic-- perhaps even facilitated by the island's magic with the Incident as stimulus. I'm not married to this idea, but anyone want to chew it?
posted by shakespeherian at 11:46 AM on May 24, 2010


Can someone who knows more about gk Chesterton than me make some kind of connection to lost for me? Since last night, I've been reading lost as being in the same tradition as him and cs Lewis in the sense of being a modern spiritual allegory, rather than a straightforward piece of sci fi.

Here's a question for the peanut gallery, because I have a feeling there is going to be a strong correlation here:

rate the following:

lost season 1
lost season 6

the matrix
matrix revolutions
posted by empath at 11:49 AM on May 24, 2010


So I have to conclude that Ben's fate was really sad. There was NO time in his life when he was EVER ready to move on, so he couldn't possibly be brought there at any good time for him.

I'm fine with this particular point, because that's what I figured when I saw the scene (only I don't think Christian had explained the whole thing yet so I just thought, whatever reward or adventure everyone's going on, Ben doesn't want to or get to go).

The problem, of course, is it's not just Ben; it's the entire alternate timeline that simultaneously plays by temporal rules and yet purports not to adhere to them at all, thus making the entire timeline a pointless journey just to get to the punchline. But I'm guessing we already agree on that point as well.
posted by chrominance at 11:49 AM on May 24, 2010


And yet the writers seemed to want to leave me feeling at least somewhat hopeful about him

Ben was invited in with the others, said he wasn't ready, which implies that he'll be ready at some point. There's hope for him, just not now.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:52 AM on May 24, 2010


Also I am curious about exploring the idea that the LA X purgatory-thing may not be suggested by LOST as the actual afterlife but rather as an afterlife that is facilitated by the island's magic-- perhaps even facilitated by the island's magic with the Incident as stimulus.

some of the reviews online seem to indicate that the afterlife element made the stuff on the island irrelevant, but yeah, i think that alternate world (and the alternate lives they led) were possible because jack/desmond/hurley succeeded--if not part of jacob's plan when he kidnapped everybody to play out the candidate thing (rewarding them by allowing them to live more than one life and to be aware of both), then maybe set up by hurley in all his years of reflection on the cool stuff he could do with his magical powers.
posted by fallacy of the beard at 11:52 AM on May 24, 2010


Ooohhh, I like this - from today's Kotaku article on the finale:

It's not clear who constructed the flash-sideways plane of existence. My current theory is that it was the construct of Hurley, a final Jacob-powered gesture designed after the main events of season six to allow his friends to find each other one last time.
posted by jbickers at 11:53 AM on May 24, 2010 [6 favorites]


Also I am curious about exploring the idea that the LA X purgatory-thing may not be suggested by LOST as the actual afterlife but rather as an afterlife that is facilitated by the island's magic-- perhaps even facilitated by the island's magic with the Incident as stimulus. I'm not married to this idea, but anyone want to chew it?

For some reason, something about the dialog at the end suggested to me that this was something that Hurley and Ben did, in being better "leaders" of the island--they made it so that everyone could leave the island, including those who died.

But who knows.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:54 AM on May 24, 2010


he is not waiting for them to "die" but more he is waiting for...

Why does he have to wait for anything? Why weren't Alex and Rousseau brought to purgatory when they were ready -- just like the other characters were?

It seems like all the characters -- except (mysteriously) some -- were brought to purgatory at about the same level of not-being-ready and they all became ready at about the same time, more or less a day or two.

I think the real reason why "Ben wasn't ready" is that they writers wanted to leave us feeling about Ben the way we'd felt about him through much of the series. They wanted us to unambiguously like all the other characters. But they wanted to leave us feeling like, "Is Ben a good guy? Is be a bad guy?"

And I think that's really neat. And I think Michael Emerson did a great job making his character complex and morally ambiguous.

But the writing was sloppy. I guess some people don't care, but to me, you don't get to pull off "character" moments at the expense of logic. And this isn't even logic that you have to go back three seasons and be really anal to care about. It's stuff that was said in this episode in about fifteen minutes of show time. "There is no now here" and "Ben is not ready to move on." Sloppy.

Also, if this is a "character show," how can the writers live with themselves after having non-Alt Claire say, "I can't go back. I'm crazy," and then having Kate say, "No you're not," and then having Claire say, "I'm not? Oh. Okay. No problem, then."

Why not just have Claire stay on the island (as Desmond, Rose, Bernard, Hurley and Ben did), have Kate cry about it as she leaves in the plane, and then have Alt Kate meet up with Alt Claire and have their be relationship resolved the way it was resolved anyway?
posted by grumblebee at 11:54 AM on May 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Jinx. Owe me a DHARMA beer.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:54 AM on May 24, 2010


Someone asked upthread what the bomb accomplished. I'd like to think it made the lights go out in the hospital break room.

One interesting thought I've come across is that the bomb going off was the Incident itself. We know now that the whole bomb-creates-a-parallel-timeline idea was a red herring, and in the episode "The Incident" Miles explicitly suggests this possibility:
MILES: Has it occurred to any of you that your buddy's actually gonna cause the thing he says he's trying to prevent? Perhaps that little nuke is the incident? So maybe the best thing to do... is nothing?
Which would confirm Faraday's earlier theory that "what happened, happened," and nothing you do can change the past.

Actually, I like this theory a lot, and it seems to fall in line not only with Faraday's own death but with the finale as well. You can never change or recreate what happened; you can only move on.
posted by cirripede at 11:55 AM on May 24, 2010 [4 favorites]


Again, if Jack is the main focal point, then to some extent, this was his purgatory -- just as Juliet, in the first episode, in the few moments before her death, experienced her own sideways timeline and was murmuring about it as she died. We just didn't get to see the ending of her version of it until the finale.

The sideways happens outside of time, so it's always happening and always yet to happen and always happened in the past. So each character, at her/his moment of death, experiences the forgetting and remembering and letting go.

That's how it's Last Temptation of Christ-like -- in the blink of an eye, during his last breaths, the whole sideways "timeline" could be occurring in Jack's head. As he dies in 2007, he's brought together with the people he loves who have already died and the ones don't even die until 2050 or 2290 or whenever. They're always in the church, they've always not gotten to the church yet, and they've always already moved on from the church.

Or something.
posted by FelliniBlank at 12:01 PM on May 24, 2010 [6 favorites]


"There is no now here" and "Ben is not ready to move on." Sloppy.

I could be wrong, but I thought Christian's saying 'There is no now here' (or whatever) was in reply to the question of how everyone arrived at the same time despite dying days or months or decades apart. I.e. there's no real correlation to actual real time here, but that doesn't mean that linear cause-and-effect progressions don't exist in a way that can be described as the passage of time.
posted by shakespeherian at 12:01 PM on May 24, 2010


But I'm guessing we already agree on that point as well.

Yes. That's the think that bothers me the most about this season.

What bothers me most about this episode is the yellow-light-cork thing. I'm not going to get into the mythology and whether or not they should have explained it. That's not even what I'm talking about. I'm talking about something much simpler -- something that is totally self-contained to this one episode:

A HUGE dramatic moment was Desmond pulling a "cork" out of the island. That lead to all sorts of catastrophes happening. The resolution of that was ... er ... Jack putting the cork back into the island.

And it was as if the writers were playing a joke or something. As if they were saying, "We know the fucking rules of dramatic writing, and -- you know what? -- we scoff at them!"

Because neither Desmond nor Jack even faced any obstacles. The writers, for some reason, decided that Jack and his enemy, the smoke monster, would work together to lower Desmond to the cork. And when Desmond reached it, there were no defenses or anything. It was a bit heavy, but all he had to do was pull it out. Done.

And then, the writers killed off the smoke monster so that Jack would have no obstacles putting the cork back in.

I felt like I was watching some odd version of "The Titanic" where a crew-member said, "Hey, guys. What if we just plugged up the hole that the ice-berg made?" And then they did that and it worked.

What's weird to me is that this problem could have been fixed really, really easily. And they wouldn't have had to go back in time and rework earlier episodes or anything, because all of the cork info was contained in this one episode.

"Let's get our hero in trouble by giving him an unloaded guy. And then let's get him out of it by having him load his gun."

Did no one in the writer's room say, "Lame"?
posted by grumblebee at 12:05 PM on May 24, 2010 [7 favorites]


So the moment in the finale when each character experiences the awakening and remembering might represent the moment of that person's death in real time.
posted by FelliniBlank at 12:06 PM on May 24, 2010


grumblebee

the cork had to be removed so FLocke would be mortal, could be killed, and then the cork replaced to save the island
posted by slapshot57 at 12:09 PM on May 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


And then, the writers killed off the smoke monster so that Jack would have no obstacles putting the cork back in.

Well, other than the fact that he knew it would kill him. Although I suppose we're to think the knife wound accomplished that already.
posted by papercake at 12:09 PM on May 24, 2010


I could be wrong, but I thought Christian's saying 'There is no now here' (or whatever) was in reply to the question of how everyone arrived at the same time despite dying days or months or decades apart. I.e. there's no real correlation to actual real time here, but that doesn't mean that linear cause-and-effect progressions don't exist in a way that can be described as the passage of time.

Yes. In addition it was just wordplay. Christian took Jack's question and reversed the wording to toss the question back at him:

Why are you here now?
There's no now here.

Christian was just saying that worrying about linear time with no gaps or leaps isn't necessary in this place. Not that there is cause/effect or sequential action possible.
posted by Babblesort at 12:16 PM on May 24, 2010


Another thing that totally confused me while I was watching was, what was the point of Desmond re the cork thing? Why did Jack and "Locke" need him?

Both Jack and Locke wanted him to pull the cork. Why didn't they just do it themselves? At the time, I thought, "Okay, this makes sense (sort of), because Desmond is immune to the electromagnetic whatever on the island. If Jack tries to do it, something terrible will happen to him (as Jacob's mother warned). And who knows what would have happened if Locke had tried to do it? But Desmond can go down there, because he's immune."

But then, in the end, Jack goes down there and fixes everything himself, and from what we can tell, he dies via his wound -- not because he was exposed to electromagnetism.

When the original MIB went down there, he got turned into the smoke monster, even though he didn't pull the cork out (he was unconscious). So just BEING down there caused it to happen.

I actually expected that to happen again for a minute, when Jack when back down. I thought maybe Jack would become Smoke Monster 2.0. But no. It was safe for him all the time. (Just think: if Locke had still been alive, we could have watched a battle between two smoke monsters!)

I guess I could INVENT some idea that it wouldn't have been safe for Jack to pull the cork out, but once Desmond had turned the island off, it was safe for Jack to turn it back on again, even though that means that he'd be down there with the light, the way the MIB was. But maybe the island can only make one smoke monster at a time. Or maybe it can't make a smoke monster out of someone who is dying. But, boy, to come to those conclusions, I have to do a lot of the "writing" myself.
posted by grumblebee at 12:17 PM on May 24, 2010


Dammit. Not that there is NOT cause/effect...
posted by Babblesort at 12:18 PM on May 24, 2010


When the cork was out, the island's magic didn't work. There's no way to turn into a smoke monster without magic.
posted by shakespeherian at 12:19 PM on May 24, 2010


grumblebee

the cork had to be removed so FLocke would be mortal, could be killed, and then the cork replaced to save the island


I understand WHY the cork had to be removed.

King Kong has to be brought to America BECAUSE there can't be a climbing-the-empire-state-building scene unless he is. That doesn't mean it makes good dramatic sense for the sailors to walk up to him and say, "Hey, mate. You wanna visit New York?" and for him to say, "I thought you'd never ask."

And it doesn't mean that, just because they wanted the movie to end without Kong being a threat any more, it would have been good dramatic writing to just have someone ask him to leave and for him to say, "Oh. Okay. No problem."
posted by grumblebee at 12:21 PM on May 24, 2010


When the cork was out, the island's magic didn't work. There's no way to turn into a smoke monster without magic.

But Jack put the cork back in.

I guess that in order to turn into a smoke monster, the cork has to be in when you first come into the cave. It it's out when you come in, you're safe, even if you put the cork back in while you're there.

Or

People who drink the Jacob drink become immune to turning into smoke monsters. (Though why did Jacob's mother warn him against entering the cave?)

If I want to work at it, I can come up with half-baked explanations. Or the writers could have worked a little harder.
posted by grumblebee at 12:23 PM on May 24, 2010


Both Jack and Locke wanted him to pull the cork. Why didn't they just do it themselves?

Because the source was steeped in electromagnetic energy, and, at the time, they weren't planning on all up and dying.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 12:26 PM on May 24, 2010


(But, of course, I agree with you that the conceit was silly. It's just that, here, at least, it was internally consistent.)
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 12:26 PM on May 24, 2010


One thing that struck me as typical Jack poor planning and classic LOST avoidance of the simple solution is why Jack had to put the cork back in in the first place. The way I understood it, he knew it was a suicide mission, and he knew that Desmond wouldn't be killed doing it, but Desmond had "done enough already." umm...ok.

I guess Jack just had to die in the finale. Couldn't they have had a better reason for Jack to sacrifice himself than he didn't want to bother Des again?
posted by milestogo at 12:30 PM on May 24, 2010


One thing I haven't seen mentioned (I'm from the Jack Shafer camp) are the Egyptian things and hieroglyphs everywhere. Not just everywhere but in Important Places, like the glowing cave. He didn't just pull a rock out of the ground, he pulled an Egyptian Plug. This happened throughout the entire series. Why is this important? It lets us, the audience, know that these things Are Important and they were made (or at least decorated by) humans or logical creatures. That these things behaved in a logical manner and that someone using their logic managed to control or otherwise figure them out.

I didn't need all things answered obviously, but there was a definite sense that there was a coherent logic to the Island's mysteries. The writers lead us down that path, it was a trust issue. Hey people get cured on this island ... and women can't get pregnant ... there's strange electrical phenomena. I don't need an engineering diagram to solve it, just the idea that there was some mechanism at play and this was all foreshadowing an explanation.

It became painfully obvious that this wasn't the case, and it was all a big ruse. For example, Pulp Fiction uses a glowing case and never explains it. That's okay, that works. Why? Because the characters don't get cured when they touch the case, people don't sacrifice their life for the case, people don't say, "If we lose that case, we're all dead." By the end of Pulp Fiction I'd be pretty pissed if they didn't tell us what the fuck is up with the damn case. No the case was Something Important but it was just a prop to tell a series of stories which would have worked whether it was a case or just a bag full of money.

What Lost did was emotionally manipulative, it was cheap. ABC promoted the show (with their extended Lost I Love the 80s pop ups) as being a mystery with answers. Writers said it was a mystery with answers. Everyone on the Internet guessed pretty much everything you could have guessed and came up with nothing. The show responded with a coy denial of pretty much everything.

The X-Files fell down a similar (but not quite the same) path. It is easy to tie a bunch of mysterious things together that seem to have no logical coherence and say, "These have logical coherence, guess what it is!" It is much harder to actually tie them together.

Oh I see they're promoting the DVD set as having "more answers" that didn't make the cut. I'm sure we'll find out where Walt was and a couple of other stupid shit things no one cares about. Oh well, these are the guys that did give us Nash Bridges.
posted by geoff. at 12:37 PM on May 24, 2010 [9 favorites]


All these comments and not a single mention of the fact that Jack putting the cork back in and dying was an homage to Spock putting the cork back in and dying at the end of Wrath of Khan?

Not to mention the Dukes of Hazzard reference that inexplicably crossed over to both the sideways world and the Island.

And anyone who previously said that the Island is a MacGuffin was right - confirmed by the use of the same bright light that Tarantino used as an homage to the MacGuffin in Kiss Me Deadly.

I thought the finale was well-done but disappointing, in that it didn't actually explain or answer anything meaningful. But "I have a bad feeling about this" totally redeemed it.

And I was mad that Arvin Sloane wasn't trapped in the cave at the center of the Island.
posted by The World Famous at 12:38 PM on May 24, 2010


Desmond is special, so he can go into the light. He turns it off. Now (mortally wounded) Jack is able to go down there. Until he turns it back on and the light does its thing.

The next time we see Jack, he's lying in the same place and manner as Jacob's brother was after he went into the light. Maybe the light made Jack all smoky, but it doesn't matter because he's already about to die anyway? Maybe the light doesn't turn people smoky if they're dying? Maybe the light has different effects on island protectors/people that have drunk the water?

Any way that it works, it made perfect sense to me. I don't think they had to work any harder to explain it than they did, given they were trying to end the show.
posted by crawl at 12:42 PM on May 24, 2010


In a better world, LOST would've been an HBO series with no more than 10 episodes per season

I think it was called John From Cincinnati and died after season 1.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:43 PM on May 24, 2010


All these comments and not a single mention of the fact that Jack putting the cork back in and dying was an homage to Spock putting the cork back in and dying at the end of Wrath of Khan?

Man, I don't know. Sometimes I feel like homages like this exist to no end in shows like LOST. The gesture had meaning and resonance in Star Trek. In that moment in LOST, at least, it just didn't manage to dredge up the same emotions at all, which, you'd think, would be the real purpose of the allusion.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 12:43 PM on May 24, 2010


But, boy, to come to those conclusions, I have to do a lot of the "writing" myself.

the exploration of different possibilities is a feature, not a bug.

it's not like jack or locke or desmond (though he seemed more confident perhaps because his own communication with the alternate existence portended success, so he just went with the flow) knew exactly what they were doing anyway. we don't know that jacob's stepmom knew, just that she was able to build some workable mumbo-jumbo around the island's properties, just as the dharma initiative built a scientific metaphor for them. we have an imperfect insight into what is going on because pretty much everyone else has. in that sense, the church at the end is like the island; in both people are trying to approximate understanding of their own purpose within the phenomena surrounding them.

wrt ben, perhaps his holding back had something to do with the fact that in the alternate timeline he was an entirely different person. the other characters were, in the alternate timeline, more idealized versions of themselves, but even in the real timeline they were essentially good, if maybe conflicted and with shady histories; the alternate timeline was them being more themselves absent the influence of jacob and the island. but in the alternate timeline, ben was selfless in a way he could not be in real life. maybe that was because, for him, his turn toward evil shit was a conscious choice and not forced by circumstances. so maybe he wasn't in a hurry to cut out; maybe the alternate timeline was what he wanted to be the reality and so he was sticking with it.
posted by fallacy of the beard at 12:46 PM on May 24, 2010


Another interesting take from a critic who liked the ending.

As a creature who lives in linear time, it's hard to imagine a place where "there's no now here," but I think this:

The sideways happens outside of time, so it's always happening and always yet to happen and always happened in the past. So each character, at her/his moment of death, experiences the forgetting and remembering and letting go.

is as good a way of describing the purgatory/sideways world as I've seen, and also work's well with shakespeherian's observation above.
posted by DiscourseMarker at 12:46 PM on May 24, 2010


Writers said it was a mystery with answers.

it was a mystery with answers, but as with like every aspect of real life, we don't always know the answers, and the answers we do know are only limited approximations.
posted by fallacy of the beard at 12:48 PM on May 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think the real reason why "Ben wasn't ready" is that they writers wanted to leave us feeling about Ben the way we'd felt about him through much of the series. They wanted us to unambiguously like all the other characters. But they wanted to leave us feeling like, "Is Ben a good guy? Is be a bad guy?"

I don't think that works very well as sideways-Linus is pretty unambiguously a good guy. He's presented with one "temptation" for power similar to what he wanted on the island and he promptly rejects it when he learns that taking that power would hurt Alex.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:50 PM on May 24, 2010


oh my god I can't believe I put an apostrophe in "works". I am on pain meds, please forgive me!
posted by DiscourseMarker at 12:50 PM on May 24, 2010



The sideways happens outside of time, so it's always happening and always yet to happen and always happened in the past. So each character, at her/his moment of death, experiences the forgetting and remembering and letting go.


Yes, I agree. However, there's no way to tell a story to an audience living in linear time without being beholden to the conceits of linear time. So, they picked Jack and told the purgatory story around his own reveal even though it was happening all the time simultaneously to each character. WE have to see it unfold over time, but that doesn't mean that it's "actually" happening in that "time frame." Man.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 12:50 PM on May 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


Maybe it's more satisfying if I think of Purgatory as something that happened in Jack's head as he stumbled towards the bamboo grove. But I can't do that because Desmond retains knowledge between the two timelines, and therefore makes purgatory 'real'.

Sigh.
posted by codacorolla at 12:57 PM on May 24, 2010


I think what really upsets me about the series finale is that it doesn't let the spiritual stay metaphorical--the way I read the episode, the writers were making it clear that the island is real, and that everything that happened on it--though magical--actually happened; everybody who died there, really died there. It even seems like the bardo sideways-timeline was created to emphasize this. That timeline, the bardo state, was clearly post-corporeal, not the island.

So this means that to believe that the characters had any of the emotional resolutions that felt so good to watch, I now have to believe in a literal afterlife. For any emotional payoff, no metaphorical reading of that will do--this is some sort of representation of a literal after-life communion. The magical island actually exists, and everybody got to be happy in the afterlife--literally. That's silly.
posted by LooseFilter at 12:59 PM on May 24, 2010


All these comments and not a single mention of the fact that Jack putting the cork back in and dying was an homage to Spock putting the cork back in and dying at the end of Wrath of Khan?

Ahem.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 12:59 PM on May 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Here's my writer-room pitch to make the cork thing more dramatic. It has tons of problems, but it's just off the top of my head. It's the first draft. I still think its better drama than what happened in the series:

Locke forces Desmond towards the cave. Jack tries to stop them, but Locke knocks Jack unconscious.

Locke and Desmond arrive at the cave entrance. Desmond refuses to go into the cave. Locke says, "I'm sorry, Desmond. You have no choice." He then calls to Ben, who walks out of the woods pointing a gun at Rose and Bernard. Locke says, "You're going to do what I ask, because if you don't, I'm going to kill your friends -- and I'm going to make it hurt." [Basically, move the earlier Rose/Bernard/Locke/Desmond scene here.]

Desmond resigns himself and climbs into the cave while Locke holds the rope. Down in the cave, Desmond encounters Eloise, who tries to stop him from pulling the cork out of the island. [Not sure about this: let's have a writer's pow-wow about it. We've implied Eloise is a magical being. Should we run with that here, in this way? Or is it too much to propose that she can get to the island? What if she doesn't get to the island, but the electromagnetism cases Desmond's mind to flip between the two realities, and while he's in the Alt, Eloise tries to stop him from pulling the cork?]

Desmond overcomes all obstacles and pulls the cork out of the island. He yells to Locke to haul him up. Locke starts to pull Desmond back up out of the cave. [Alternately, Locke says, "Thank you, Desmond, but I'm afraid I won't be needing you any more." Maybe he then throws Rose and Bernard into the cave, too. What do you think, writers? Since we're going to imply that none of this really matters, why not have some fun killing off the islanders? They'll be back in the Alt timeline. He could also just shoot Rose and Bernard.]

(Note: this is also a good place to have Locke explain to Ben that, although he earlier told promised Ben could inherit the island, the island is not going to be destroyed. Maybe Ben prompts the discussion by asking Locke why everything is collapsing. "Sorry, Ben, but your kingdom is falling down." Read on to see why this is a good place for that discussion.)

As Locke is pulling Desmond up (Or, if he isn't pulling Desmond up, as Locke is trying to leave the cave area), Jack leaps out of the woods and flings himself at Locke. As they do battle, they both realize that they now can hurt each other. Desmond has stopped the power of the island!

Locke and Jack fight as the island begins to collapse around them.

Meanwhile, Kate and Sawyer reach the cave. They yell down. Desmond (who, perhaps, fell many feet when Locke let go of the rope), yells back weakly.

Kate and Sawyer climb down and start to rescue Desmond. But he stops them. "No, we have to give the island back its power!" Together, they work to move the cork back into its hole.

Meanwhile, Jack and Locke are still fighting. They are both just mortals now, and they are doing great hurt to each other. Lock fatally wounds Jack, but Jack manages to get Locke's knife and it looks like Jack will be able to kill Locke before dying himself. Their fight brings them close to The Temple, where there are circles of ash left behind by Others who were trying to protect themselves against the smoke monster.

Cut to Kate and Sawyer, who manage to plug the cork back into the hole.

With the island back on, a light glows in Locke's eyes. He is the smoke monster again. And now he'll have no problem killing Jack. Or so he thinks. He plunges a knife into Jack's guts, but it has no effect. Jack says, "Something has happened. The island is alive again. We can't kill each other."

Just then, Ben runs out from nowhere and hurls himself at Locke, pushing Locke inside the circle of ash. Locke screams, writing in pain. His body dissolves. He becomes the smoke monster [we finally get to see the transformation!]. The smoke frantically swirls around inside the circle. Then it turns to a pillar of flame and goes out. Ben has killed Locke, just has he once killed Jacob.

Cut back to the cave. Now that the island is back on, the electromagnetism is frying Kate and Saywer, who can do nothing but cling to each other as they die -- but, as they die, their minds (affected by the island and the electromagnetism) flash to the Alt world. In the Alt world, wherever they are, you their Alt characters also stop in their tracks. For a moment, the two realities are touching. [Explore the idea of the wounded Desmond being about to touch Kate and Sawyer and drain some of the energy into himself.]
posted by grumblebee at 12:59 PM on May 24, 2010 [11 favorites]


And let me be the first to say that my version is crappy as hell. But if I was on that writing team, they would have to gag me before I'd shut up about the lameness of the way we were planning to handle the cork thing. I'd insist they look into dozens of other scenarios before resorting to "pull it out, fight, and then stick it back in." (Which sounds like many marriages I know.)
posted by grumblebee at 1:04 PM on May 24, 2010


All these comments and not a single mention of the fact that Jack putting the cork back in and dying was an homage to Spock putting the cork back in and dying at the end of Wrath of Khan?

I think you probably need to read more if that's the first allusion you reach for.

It was the savior being transfixed at the axis mundi.

He was Jesus on the cross, odin on the world tree, Buddha at the boddhi tree, it's man becoming enlightened at the point of ultimate suffering and death.
posted by empath at 1:05 PM on May 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


He was Jesus on the cross, odin on the world tree, Buddha at the boddhi tree, it's man becoming enlightened at the point of ultimate suffering and death.

I can go with Jack = Jesus (especially with his father, Christian Shepard), but DESMOND is the Buddha.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 1:10 PM on May 24, 2010


Why were they allowed to just sail to the island to get Kong? Shouldn't they have to brave some storm first? The cork is just a device, you don't have to make someone tying their shoes dramatic. All of the tension was already in "what's going to happen when it's pulled" not in the pulling itself. Maybe if the finale was 5 hours long they could have done it your way.

All of the emotion behind replacing it was in Jack's sacrifice where he knows he's going to die, the transfer of power to Hurley, and the fulfillment of Ben's true desire to serve the island. The action occured when they were trying to stop Locke from escaping. Why does everything have to be amped up to 11 all the time? There doesn't have to be some Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade-ish series of trials to the pulling of the cork.
posted by crashlanding at 1:11 PM on May 24, 2010


grumblebee if they had incorporated the Temple whatsoever it would add so much more meaning to the first quarter of the season. Great idea.
posted by milestogo at 1:12 PM on May 24, 2010


The cork is just a device, you don't have to make someone tying their shoes dramatic.

My point isn't that every moment should be a dramatic fire-cracker. It was that it's dramatically weak to pose two problems, and have the solutions to both be really easy and unhindered by obstacles -- and to have the solution to the second one be simply undoing the first one.

Yes, it's true that on many "Star Trek" episodes, the "solution" to the "problem" of how to get to the planet is to beam down (and there are no obstacles to doing so) and the solution to the "problem" of getting back to the ship is just beaming back up, but that's different because there's no lead up.

We don't have a bunch of scenes in which people are saying, "Whatever you do, don't go into the transporter room!!!"

I agree that what happens after the cork is in/out is more important than the event itself, but, in my view, this is how you deal with story events: if something is not important, skip past it. If you're going to show it at all, it had better be important and you'd better treat it like it's important.

I don't know how they could have just skipped past the cork. So, if it has to be there, it needs to be a story element -- like ALL included story elements, hopefully -- that are told with great love, expertise, and care.
posted by grumblebee at 1:25 PM on May 24, 2010


Zooming out from the cork a bit, the writers have spent a great amount of the series setting us up for an epic battle between Jack and Locke (or "Locke"), and when we finally get it, it starts with them COLLABORATING! I get that they thought different outcomes out happen, but we've been down that road a million times before (the two guys interpret the same thing differently).

Then, when they FINALLY fight, Kate kills "Locke."

Huh?

Yeah, I get "the point." They all need each other. Jack needs Kate, etc. But they got their point across at the expense of what was more dramatically interesting: the battle they'd been setting up for the whole series. It was between Jack and Locke. (I failed that too, in my version, above, by ending their battle by having Ben kill Locke. Hmm. Time to rethink.)
posted by grumblebee at 1:30 PM on May 24, 2010


I wish I had the time to do this: it would be really cool to host a contest for people to rewrite the final season (in story, script or outline) form. The rule would be that you could not change anything in prior seasons, you could not contradict anything in prior seasons, and you could not ignore anything in prior seasons (no dangling plots). But you could do anything you wanted in your version of the final season.

I bet it can be done.
posted by grumblebee at 1:34 PM on May 24, 2010 [5 favorites]


> I guess Jack just had to die in the finale. Couldn't they have had a better reason for Jack to sacrifice himself than he didn't want to bother Des again?

I think it was pretty clear that Jack died from Locke's stab wound.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:34 PM on May 24, 2010


The cork itself is a mystery though. Nobody has been down there. All that's known is it has something to do with electromagnetism and Desmond is the only one that can deal with whatever that light is down there. Jack has no idea what's going to happen, he just knows that Jacob (essentially the writers, heh) wouldn't bring Desmond back if he wasn't supposed to do his thing. So it was a total 'wait and see' approach. The mystery of what's going to happen caught both Jack and Locke off guard as they were both equally surprised when Jack was able to draw blood.

Again, nobody knew what was down there and they knew there was nothing they could do to stop Locke. Desmond really was their only hope. Had they been able to keep Locke at bay even for a little while without the cork pulled, it would have been inconsistent with how the smoke monster had been portrayed for 6 years. And really, it was just sticking a cork in a hole, how difficult could it have been?
posted by crashlanding at 1:36 PM on May 24, 2010


I think you probably need to read more if that's the first allusion you reach for.

Yeah, the Christ allusion is just so 7th Grade English Class that I didn't think I needed to mention it after several hundred comments by others.
posted by The World Famous at 1:39 PM on May 24, 2010


This has been a pretty good thread, so let's not be antagonistic to each other about a silly TV show, dudes.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:42 PM on May 24, 2010


My alternate ending:

Church. All of the Losties walk into the blinding golden light. We hear a rumbling sound, it gets louder. The church begins to shake. Close-up shot of CHRISTIAN SHEPHARD, the only one who didn't walk toward the light. He looks directly into the camera and gives a knowing, sinister smile. There's a red gleam in his eye.

We cut to a shot outside of the church. The whole place collapses in on itself. Two dozen smoke monsters emerge from the ruins, descending upon Los Angeles. That's right - everyone who walked into the golden light became smoke monsters.

The screen pans out exponentially for the next 5 minutes as we watch the smoke monsters destroy everything in the city, the country, the world. "Yakety Sax" plays in the background. The words L O S T appear on a black screen. The end.
posted by naju at 1:45 PM on May 24, 2010 [15 favorites]


Jack has no idea what's going to happen, he just knows that Jacob (essentially the writers, heh) wouldn't bring Desmond back if he wasn't supposed to do his thing. So it was a total 'wait and see' approach.

Jack was forced to become a man of faith - to adopt the central attribute of Locke - in order to defeat Jacob's brother. Jack's statement that Jacob's brother was insulting the memory of Lock (or words to that effect) were an acknowledgement of that, in a way.
posted by The World Famous at 1:46 PM on May 24, 2010


The screen pans out exponentially for the next 5 minutes as we watch the smoke monsters destroy everything in the city

Or this.
posted by grumblebee at 1:52 PM on May 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Church. All of the Losties walk into the blinding golden light. We hear a rumbling sound, it gets louder. The church begins to shake. Close-up shot of CHRISTIAN SHEPHARD, the only one who didn't walk toward the light. He looks directly into the camera and gives a knowing, sinister smile. There's a red gleam in his eye.

CHRISTIAN SHEPHERD walks into the bathroom, bangs his forehead against the mirror. As blood trickles down his forehead, we see reflected in the shattered mirror the visage of THE MAN IN BLACK.

CHRISTIAN SHEPHERD: How's Annie? How's Annie? How's Annie? How's Annie?

L O S T
posted by shakespeherian at 1:54 PM on May 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


And when Desmond reached it, there were no defenses or anything. It was a bit heavy, but all he had to do was pull it out. Done.

you fool! There was electro-water! That's why Widmore tested Desmond's ability to withstand electro-stuff!

Fool!
posted by grubi at 1:55 PM on May 24, 2010


When you have a show, and you know it's going to be on for a certain number of years, and you already know from the very beginning that the characters are all secretly dead and at the end they've all made peace with themselves and go to Heaven, you can fill everything in the middle with whatever you want.
Except that the writers specifically denied that this was the case sometime around the end of Season Two1. I can handle them lying about having a plan -- it would have taken a lot of jam to say, "Oh, we just pull it out of our ass." But to tell people, "No, that's not it." and then go back and make that the ending -- that's crass.

1 Yeah, I'll try to find the citation. It was in the big Lost forum that preceded the Wiki and Pedia.
posted by CCBC at 1:56 PM on May 24, 2010


on rewatching the ending, i'm leaning toward hurley being the one to create the alternate timeline. when he asks ben what he is supposed to do as the chosen one, ben tells him, "do what you do best--take care of people," and then they contemplate getting desmond back home. that desmond is the one that pulls everything together in the alternate timeline might be part of whatever mechanism hurley devises to give their lives back to them.
posted by fallacy of the beard at 1:58 PM on May 24, 2010 [3 favorites]


Controversies aside, I feel the need to go back and visit the last episodes with Mr Eko -- I was hoping he would be written in somehow for the end and his story already has a lot of these complexities related to religion, death, redemption, and acceptance.
posted by cgk at 2:00 PM on May 24, 2010


But to tell people, "No, that's not it." and then go back and make that the ending -- that's crass.

They're not all dead on the island. The events on the island actually occurred in 2003-2007 within the reality of the show.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:00 PM on May 24, 2010 [3 favorites]


But to tell people, "No, that's not it." and then go back and make that the ending -- that's crass.

but the characters on the island were not secretly dead; everything that happens to them is real and is toward a purpose; the alternate timeline did not hit until season six, and i don't see it as much that they are dead as that they are given an alternate universe to live out their lives, as if the island and jacob had never called them.
posted by fallacy of the beard at 2:02 PM on May 24, 2010


CHRISTIAN SHEPHERD explains to the others that they are ready and that they should follow him. He approaches a door at the back of the church. He tries to fling it open, but it's locked.

CHRISTIAN SHEPHERD: Oh, how silly of me.

He reaches into his pocket for the key. It's not there. He tries his other pocket. Then his back packet. Then his shirt pocket. A look of panic crosses his face.

L O S T
posted by grumblebee at 2:03 PM on May 24, 2010 [17 favorites]


I still like my idea best.
posted by grubi at 2:03 PM on May 24, 2010


He reaches into his pocket for the key. It's not there. He tries his other pocket. Then his back packet. Then his shirt pocket. A look of panic crosses his face.

If this in all seriousness had been the actual ending of the show I think I would have loved it.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:06 PM on May 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Locke's fall; everyone dies.
posted by tzikeh at 2:12 PM on May 24, 2010


> Controversies aside, I feel the need to go back and visit the last episodes with Mr Eko -- I was hoping he would be written in somehow for the end

I read in another forum that Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje wanted more money to come back for the end than the producers were willing to give him so he wasn't included, but that's just hearsay.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:14 PM on May 24, 2010


The problem with Hurley creating the alternative timeline would be that Hurley himself isn't aware that he is in an alternate timeline until he has his own awakening.

Meanwhile, I am still waiting for my royalty check for coming up with the idea for the flash forward four years ago.
posted by flarbuse at 2:20 PM on May 24, 2010


With all the scenes of people touching and remembering the beautiful things they shared and then hugging in newfound recognition, I wanted to see the scene where Danielle and Alex remember, and kick Ben to death.
posted by George_Spiggott at 2:21 PM on May 24, 2010 [8 favorites]


Controversies aside, I feel the need to go back and visit the last episodes with Mr Eko -- I was hoping he would be written in somehow for the end and his story already has a lot of these complexities related to religion, death, redemption, and acceptance.

Definitely. "The Other 48 Days" and "The 23rd Psalm" were some of my favorite episodes mostly thanks to Eko. As I understand it, before Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje asked to leave the show, the writers intended for the character to take on a much greater arc over the course of the show, rivaling Locke for the role of spiritual leader to the Island. On the one hand, I'd hate to have seen Eko's story founder the way some of the others did in seasons 4-6, but on the other, he might have allowed the writers a way to embody these themes a little more naturally.

And even if they couldn't bring Eko back for the finale, there is one thing they could have done. The quiet 815 shots over the closing credits made me think the show really missed an opportunity in not giving us similar footage of some abandoned Island haunts: the beach graveyard; Sun's garden; the Swan; Room 23; the Looking Glass—but most of all, I would have loved to see Eko's Christian church, still standing there in the grass unfinished. I don't know why, but I find that image terribly moving.
posted by cirripede at 2:24 PM on May 24, 2010 [3 favorites]


I would like to see LOST: The Next Generation in which Hurley is the new Jacob, Ben is the new Richard, Jack is the new Smokey ('RUN! RUN! IT WANTS TO FIX US!') and grown-up Aaron, Ji Yeon, Charlie Hume, Walt, and a motley crew of others are brought to the island and try to piece together clues from all the crazy shit their parents did there ('This doesn't make sense! My dad would have had to be here in 1977! That's impossible!')
posted by shakespeherian at 2:37 PM on May 24, 2010 [9 favorites]


I kept saying "Jack is the White Smoke Monster."
posted by grubi at 2:42 PM on May 24, 2010


Yeah, I was a bit disappointed that Jack never uses any Jacob powers. Also, him giving Hurley puddle-water without an incantation and with the island-power withdrawn from him as it was from Locke, I was left wondering if it was even going to work.

"Now you're like me."

"You mean like powerless and bleeding from a rock blow to the head? That's awesome, dude."
posted by George_Spiggott at 2:48 PM on May 24, 2010 [3 favorites]


A few things:

*The stills during the ending credits do appear to be 815 wreckage, not Ajira wreckage, based on the markings on the plane. The wreckage looks kind of dilapidated. The footprints that appear in front of the wreckage in one of the shots could easily be dogprints, fwiw. When the Jimmy Kimmel show began and we see them playing the last seconds of the episode for the studio audience, the screen fades to black and we don't see the wreckage stills at all. I think that we can't take them to be part of the episode, like others have said.

I'd have liked it if it had been the Ajira plane; Jack still felt peace and comfort at the site of the seemingly successful Ajira flight, but then it crashes on the beach. I feel like there's more closure, and in that case we know everyone's fate, even generally, until they get to purgatory. Kate could have "missed Jack for so long" (or whatever it was) because she lived the entire sideways without regaining memory of him until tonight, and upon gaining the memory, the amount of time that's passed seems great. Or maybe it was figurative, and she's missed the Jack the used to know and love for a long time -- the one that she lost when their engagement fell apart.

Imagine that seeing the Ajira plane gives Jack comfort and peace before death, even though it goes on to crash. In this case, there are also parallels to be made with religious ideas (if one is an atheist). Namely, the theme of bringing comfort before death, despite the fact that what brings peace and comfort is a fallacy, whether it's heaven or a successful takeoff.

*Can't there pleaassse be 'no now here' in the Church, as opposed to in the entire sideways? I'd prefer this, and I think that maybe there's enough there to support it. I still think that the, "this is a place that you all made together so that you could find one another" can be merely the church (perhaps in combination with the evening that we see in the finale.)

In either case, there's still the atheist/religion parallel: heaven, religion, afterlife -- all constructs created out of our desires to reconnect with our loved ones after death. They (the losties, and humanity as a whole, if you're an atheist) created The Church or the Afterlife as a place where they could attempt to find one another.

I wonder if I'm totally stretching to justify the Church/evening being the place they created, rather than the whole timeline.

One related thing that I find troublesome is that it's tough to distinguish between aspects of the show that are supposed to be open to interpretation, and issues that might be confusing or ambiguous, but that really have a definitive truth to them. Like 'why Ben is outside' (former, I think) vs 'why Michael isn't there' (latter, I think). [The guy who plays Michael said, on Jimmy Kimmel, that Michael is stuck on the island whispering, thus he's not in the church.]

*Why do some characters have their lives through their deaths flash before they're eyes in the sideways, and others just have significant parts of their lives flash by?

Juliet - through her death
Sawyer -- through Juliet's death
Clare/Kate -- through baby delivery
Charlie -- through his death? (I don't remember)
Jack -- through his death
Locke -- don't remember
Jin & Sun -- through their deaths
Hurley -- don't remember
Ben -- don't remember

It would make more sense if everyone's memories flooded back through their deaths, whether "long before or long after" Jack's. More consistent with the purgatory thing, I think. But you could also say that if the island time was the most important, then the memories that rush back will be the significant ones from the island, whether they died there or not. Interestingly, it seems like Juliet was conscious of both places (island and sideways) at once, and Jack was as well. But it seems like Jin and Sun weren't conscious of the sideways as they were dying.
posted by sentient at 3:02 PM on May 24, 2010


The screen pans out exponentially for the next 5 minutes as we watch the smoke monsters destroy everything in the city, the country, the world. "Yakety Sax" plays in the background. The words L O S T appear on a black screen. The end.

Apart from the Yakety Sax, this was pretty much the ending of Supernatural's season two.

It was awesome.
posted by elizardbits at 3:14 PM on May 24, 2010


Interestingly, it seems like Juliet was conscious of both places (island and sideways) at once, and Jack was as well. But it seems like Jin and Sun weren't conscious of the sideways as they were dying.

I think it's a "near death experience" kind of thing. Juliet seemed to be killed when the bomb went off, so had her sideways experience, then turned out to be "only mostly dead" in the main timeline so could relate a bit of her sideways life before she died. Likewise, Jack seemed to die when he re-corked the pool and turned the light back on, but then he floated out, only mostly dead, and could remember his sideways experience. Most of the characters who die in the final season go directly from "living" to "all dead" and don't remember any of the sideways timeline in the main timeline (or if they do, it's too brief for them to express). I think Desmond is the only other person in the main timeline who was aware of the sideways timeline, and Desmond's just special.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 3:14 PM on May 24, 2010 [3 favorites]


Other chink in the "Hurley Creates Timeline" scenario: Eloise. Eloise knows what's up and couldn't possibly object to Desmond "taking" Daniel if, in fact, this had been something cooked up by Hurley.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 3:35 PM on May 24, 2010


from ew:

1. In the Lost world, people are an inextricable blend of matter and spirit.
2. Fake Locke was all spirit — an unnatural state of being. But it made him invulnerable, because spirit is indestructible.
3. To kill Fake Locke, you had to either restore him to his natural state of matter and spirit... or convert him from all spirit to all matter, which is to say, a completely mechanical animal, and thus killable.
4. The rub is that to the procedure renders everyone into mechanical animals, which is to say, devoid of a soul.
5.Without the soul, we cannot pass into the next life or into the afterlife without our community of redemption partners — the people we love.
6. Fake Locke wanted to leave The Island.
7. Fake Locke was bonded to The Island by Island magic.
8. The same procedure required to break that spell (i.e., destroying The Island) is the same procedure that would convert Fake Locke and everyone into soulless zombies incapable of having a happily ever after with our loved ones (i.e., your community of redemption partners) because we need our souls to move into the afterlife.
9. Hence: Fake Locke leaving The Island = Annihilation (when you die) for you and everyone you love.
-----
I am 100% going with this interpretation..
posted by empath at 3:37 PM on May 24, 2010 [6 favorites]


So, what was Lost about? Taken as a whole.

My take? It was about people failing to trust one another and work together. People meet, and may even like each other, but they are all out for themselves in one way or another. Nobody can give anyone else a straight answer, because they're too protective of their secrets. Everyone is paranoid about how much baggage they have themselves and they can't see that everyone around them has it as well. When they work together, they can succeed. WHen they don't, they fail.

The mythology was the hook for a lot of people, obviously, but in reality it has to be as impenetrable as something like The Force or whatever was behind everything in His Dark Materials or whatever. The only difference here is that it was all as new to the people on the Island as it was to us, so it was a mystery to which we wanted some answers. In the end, those answers won't really going to change anything; the mysticism was just a crucible for the actions between the characters.

I was initially all "oh shit no" about the twist to the Sideways Universe, but looking back over Season Six I think it was just about perfect. The characters are just as confused and "Lost" about everything, but this time instead they work together.

There are two song lyrics which have kept coming up in my mind throughout the later seasons especially. The first is "Truth is just like time/ it catches up and it just keeps going." from Dar Williams' "As Cool as I Am." Present in every character's story, it is most prominent in the Sun/Jin arc, where on the Island they have all the time in the world and no more pressures driving them apart, but the things they can't tell each other from their past life keep them apart until they learn to deal with them.

The second is from a cheesy religious children's song I heard twenty-something years ago. It describes Hell as a banquet of all the things you could ever want, but the forks are six feet long and unfit for using to feed oneself, so people just battle one another with them to keep anyone else from getting at the food. The story/song ends with Heaven being the same set-up, except that the people feed each other.

That's basically how I see the Sideways-verse. These people have been battling for so long, but now they've learned to help each other. Their characters remain largely the same, but without the mysteries of The Island pulling them apart and setting them against one another. That's why it was so fitting that after Jack acted as the sacrificial martyr-protector, the duties would go to Hurley, always the peacemaker, who never wanted the Islanders to have to fight. Jacob started all this by killing his brother, remember, meanwhile Hurley carried with him the guilt of accidental deaths he probably wasn't to blame for anyway.

It also made it sweet that Hurley then finally entrusted to Ben the one duty Ben had wanted all of this time, and in doing so made Ben understand that Hurley's philosophy was the right one. So Jack got to be the Christ figure in sacrifice while Hurley was redeeming forgiveness personified.

The Sideways-verse also served, obviously, to give the characters fittingly happy endings to what would otherwise be an almost cruelly nihilistic plot. Sayid and Shannon hit me harder than I expected it to - and was well-served by having it happen as a sudden (and yet still gradually revealed) surprise. It makes sense that it would be Shannon instead of Nadia, in a way, in that Nadia, as much as he loved her, was too much a part of the life Sayid hated, and even in the Sideways-verse was not with him, but with his brother, and pulled him into being a killer instead of towards something better, as Sayid and Shannon did for one another in their brief time together.

The best of all for me, however, was Sun and Jin. They've been two of my favorites throughout the show, and perhaps the greatest anchor into the "it's all about the characters" concept. When they flashed, and then started speaking English, I was tearing up, and then their amused and gleeful reactions towards Sawyer and Juliet, who had not yet gotten their own beautiful moment (which was tainted a bit for me because I was sure that Jack was going to walk in on them and start a fight) just floored me.

And since, in a way, the episode hinged on Jack's sacrifice, the fact that the Sideways-verse story was about moving onto the afterlife worked for me as well. It was a great way to turn the "closing eye" book-end into something beautiful and hopeful, instead of just sad.

All in all, I adored this. I get that some people won't. I'm just happy that Cuse and Lindeloff were writing the show around the elements that spoke to my heart, and not just to my curiosity.
posted by Navelgazer at 3:38 PM on May 24, 2010 [20 favorites]


But it seems like Jin and Sun weren't conscious of the sideways as they were dying.

We didn't see them die.
posted by empath at 3:43 PM on May 24, 2010


I'm just happy that Cuse and Lindeloff were writing the show around the elements that spoke to my heart, and not just to my curiosity.

Yes, 1000 times, this.

I seriously had tears pouring down my face and sniffles and everything. A bunch of diagrams and explanations of hatches and food drops and walt's psychic powers would have been in no way an improvement.
posted by empath at 3:46 PM on May 24, 2010 [4 favorites]


That's basically how I see the Sideways-verse.

The sideways verse was about the regrets that all of us die with. If only I had done this, if only I hadn't been born unlucky and so on.

They all got what they thought the wanted, then had the chance to choose the life they had actually lived. You can't go to heaven worrying about what might have been. They saw what might have been and chose their real lives.
posted by empath at 3:50 PM on May 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


flarbuse: "The problem with Hurley creating the alternative timeline would be that Hurley himself isn't aware that he is in an alternate timeline until he has his own awakening.

Meanwhile, I am still waiting for my royalty check for coming up with the idea for the flash forward four years ago.
"

I guess they should also be paying some royalties to Artw based on the comment a couple down from yours.
posted by mindless progress at 4:05 PM on May 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


> Juliet seemed to be killed when the bomb went off, so had her sideways experience, then turned out to be "only mostly dead" in the main timeline so could relate a bit of her sideways life before she died.

Juliette died in the first episode of season 6 after the bomb had gone off. They dug her out of the wreckage. The fall killed her.
posted by Burhanistan at 4:21 PM on May 24, 2010


do we even know that the bomb went off at all?
posted by empath at 4:24 PM on May 24, 2010


My take? It was about people failing to trust one another and work together. People meet, and may even like each other, but they are all out for themselves in one way or another.

Except the ending didn't fit this. I mean, we were told, in exposition, that it fit ("you needed each other"), but it really didn't. The group didn't collaborate on much at the end -- unless their collaboration was the undramatic, behind-the-scenes creation of the shared environment, in which case I call lame writing.

This is why I WISH they'd had to work together to stop the smoke monster or something. As it happens, there was MUCH more collaboration ON the island (e.g. building the raft) than in the end.

For instance, Sayid never learned to trust in others. He was totally skeptical of Hurley until he produced Shannon out of a hat. My take is that Hurley agreed to go to heaven because that meant eternity with Shannon (which would be my hell, but whatever). I see no evidence that he reached a turning point in which he trusted the group.

What did Sayer and Juliet learn? That they loved each other? They already knew that. We have no DRAMATIC reason to believe that Sayer learned to trust Jack and Charlie and so on, other than the fact that he was smiling and shaking hands with them. Other than the fact that we were told, in exposition, that he -- like the others -- was "ready." And you know the Writing 101 rule: show, don't tell.

I seriously had tears pouring down my face and sniffles and everything. A bunch of diagrams and explanations of hatches and food drops and walt's psychic powers would have been in no way an improvement.

It needn't be either/or. And those of us who are upset we didn't get more plot resolution and answers are not soul-less robots who long for Powerpoint charts.

I'm totally uninterested in learning answers later, from DVD commentary or whatever. What I demand from stories is both well-made plots AND well-made characters. And PLENTY of storytellers deliver on that. The writers of LOST are fans of Dickens. Well, he's exhibit A. (He had his plot lapses, but he clearly CARED about tying up lose ends and providing answers. AND he cared about his characters.)

Bottom line, in ALL stories, for me, I agree that it's "about the characters." The problem is that there are some readers who are going to be fine with...

When she inferred to him that she loved him, his heart leapt with joy.

...because they just wanted the characters to find love and they did. Whereas there are others who EQUALLY wanted the characters to find love, but who are so distracted by the author's incorrect use of the the word "inferred" that the character resolution is ruined for them.

I can't just be happy for Sun and Jin. I mean I AM happy for them, but it's muted. I don't want it to be muted, but it is, because I can't stop thinking about what the fucking numbers mean, where the Dharma food came from, etc. That's just how my mind works. And I'm not alone. Not everyone is like me, but there are many many viewers who are. And since there is a way to please both us AND the people who can "let go of the small stuff," why NOT please us both?

In any case, NEITHER type of viewer is going to be pleased with charts.
posted by grumblebee at 4:25 PM on May 24, 2010 [3 favorites]


I'm seriously wondering if I'm a sociopath because hearing of Vincent's death (haven't watched the finale) affected me more strongly than any of the other characters dying. /shrug. They just felt like cardboard to me. But a good dog is a good dog, end of story.
posted by angrycat at 4:26 PM on May 24, 2010


> I'm seriously wondering if I'm a sociopath because hearing of Vincent's death (haven't watched the finale)

WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU READING THIS FOR?

Vincent didn't die in the main storyline anyway.
posted by Burhanistan at 4:28 PM on May 24, 2010


WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU READING THIS FOR?

Bored beyond all comprehension at work.
posted by angrycat at 4:30 PM on May 24, 2010


Don't worry about Vincent. Rose and Bernard hired these folks to take care of him.
posted by grumblebee at 4:42 PM on May 24, 2010


Going waaaaay back upthread to Burhanistan's great (but wrong) prediction of the ending:

...it will end with JackHurley and LockeBen sitting on log looking at a beach in 2210 watching a crashed space ship crew clamor onshore...

Ah, what could've been...
posted by oneswellfoop at 4:43 PM on May 24, 2010 [4 favorites]


But a good dog is a good dog, end of story.

I have cats who would disagree.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:55 PM on May 24, 2010


And when the producers said they had the ending all planned out, it meant they had decided: First scene: Jack's eye opens. Last scene: Jack's eye closes.

No wonder Cuse and Lindelof said they'd be unreachable after the one Kimmel post-show appearance. So many questions unanswered, too many unanswerable, and it seems clear they chose the emotional crowd-pleaser over the technically correct every time. And the Flash Sideways was 100% Fan Service, and everybody either swallowed it whole, swallowed it then threw it up, or took a big bite and are still trying to chew it.

Great thread, and the perfect topic for MeFi's tendency to overthink...
posted by oneswellfoop at 4:56 PM on May 24, 2010


For instance, Sayid never learned to trust in others. He was totally skeptical of Hurley until he produced Shannon out of a hat.

I think you're fundamentally misunderstanding the limbo angle. Until each character has their "remembering/letting go" experience in Limbo, the're living that life as if it's real. Once they remember their real lives, the limbo life is inconsequential. So Sayid not trusting Hurley is "limbo sayid" still battling internal struggles about himself that he needs to let go of. Once he comes to, so to speak, he becomes the Sayid of the Island timeline who died, came back, and sacrificed himself so the others can live, in the process finally resolving his internal battle between good and evil.

As to the answers of things like the numbers, or the statue, or whatever, I don't feel like literal explanations were necessary. I think the show did a good job of at least inferring that some of the "mysteries" were just realities of the universe they created. In a world where an island can move through time, it makes sense that there are magic numbers, and people who can hear the last thoughts of the dead, and so on.

Maybe, I'm just more prone to liking open-ended stories, but I feel like i have pretty good answers to most of the questions people seem to be complaining about not having answers to.

Also, as I figured out early on, the way the story worked mostly followed the rules of backgammon. So much so that I knew all season that the end would be all of the "pieces" off the board while the final piece worked it's way around.
posted by billyfleetwood at 5:08 PM on May 24, 2010 [3 favorites]


do we even know that the bomb went off at all?

Something caused the islanders to shift from 1970 back to 2007, but I'm not sure what. A bomb would have surely blown them to bits, so I doubt it went off.
posted by alligatorman at 5:12 PM on May 24, 2010


So much so that I knew all season that the end would be all of the "pieces" off the board while the final piece worked it's way around.

Can you elaborate on this?
posted by milestogo at 5:12 PM on May 24, 2010


but I feel like i have pretty good answers to most of the questions people seem to be complaining about not having answers to.

As I have been saying here and elsewhere for a long, long time, most of the pieces fall into place once you accept that the Island is a Rambaldi device. I saw nothing in the final episode that would convince me that this is not the case.
posted by The World Famous at 5:14 PM on May 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


Other chink in the "Hurley Creates Timeline" scenario: Eloise. Eloise knows what's up and couldn't possibly object to Desmond "taking" Daniel if, in fact, this had been something cooked up by Hurley.

i think eliose is in on it all--i actually read her earlier discouragement of desmond as kind of reverse psychology--but i can see that if she's simultaneously aware of both timelines, she's in no hurry to see daniel jump out of the alternate one with his moving-on buddies.

and i don't think it's inconsistent that hurley would place himself and ben within this alternate reality and not being all-knowing within it (particularly if the alternate reality is something more of a flash than a timeline); in fact, i could imagine hurley intentionally reversing his luck there, considering those around him who were lost to his bad luck in the real timeline. maybe he had the bright idea to make sawyer a cop!

i'm liking the hurley angle more, though, because it's what hurley is like, and what his function has been within the group over the course of the show, and if he has all this jacobish power over time and space, why wouldn't he?
posted by fallacy of the beard at 5:22 PM on May 24, 2010


mkultra: "Even at the end of the story, you've got Desmond, the show's Crown Prince of Failure, giving MIB the ending he wants."

Yo Desmond, I'm really happy for you and Imma let you finish, but Locke was one of the biggest failures of all time. ALL TIME.
posted by graventy at 5:23 PM on May 24, 2010 [3 favorites]


I don't think any one character created the purgatory realm any more than a single leaf in a cluster floating on the surface of a pond created the boat pier at the edge.
posted by Burhanistan at 5:32 PM on May 24, 2010


Can you elaborate on this?

I'd have to go back and re-watch a bunch of episodes to find specific points where the show followed backgammon logic, but on a pig picture level, there were some major themes that supported the idea.

Light vs dark, obviously. But as opposed to Chess, which is all strategy, Backgammon is a combination of luck and strategy. Players can only leave the board under very specific circumstances. When bumped off the board by an opposing piece and placed on the bar (we have to go back to the Island!) where they remain until the correct roll of the die, meanwhile the other pieces are stuck in place until they return.

The other circumstance is when all pieces are on the home board, and bearing off can begin, where each piece has a specific roll of the die that will remove them from the board.

Considering there was a scene in Season one where Locke Teaches Walt to play backgammon, i don't think that's too much of a stretch.
posted by billyfleetwood at 5:37 PM on May 24, 2010 [5 favorites]


milestogo, I think it's a reference to backgammon. You can't start taking your pieces off the board until ALL your pieces have made it around the board and are in your corner.
posted by emelenjr at 5:40 PM on May 24, 2010


The recap at Jezebel offers some interesting excuses for some of the things I've been wondering about.
posted by padraigin at 5:47 PM on May 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think you probably need to read more if that's the first allusion you reach for.

Yeah, I don't think anyone missed the Jesus references. They were pounded home like a Roman nail.

But when it's a J.J. Abrams joint, and the final MacGuffin is a glowing, deadly cylindrical thingy that has to be restored at the cost of a protagonist's life to facilitate escape? It's a Christ allegory via the Gospel of Gene.

And while we're at it, think for a minute about Locke / Smokey. You've got a guy who was once thought to become a great leader, but was cast out and marooned by his nemesis. Who then manipulates the lieutenants of said nemesis into becoming followers. Who then gains control of a life-force, which can also be used to destroy life (there's two sides to every schwartz).
posted by condour75 at 6:00 PM on May 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


I think you're fundamentally misunderstanding the limbo angle. Until each character has their "remembering/letting go" experience in Limbo, the're living that life as if it's real. Once they remember their real lives, the limbo life is inconsequential. So Sayid not trusting Hurley is "limbo sayid" still battling internal struggles about himself that he needs to let go of. Once he comes to, so to speak, he becomes the Sayid of the Island timeline who died, came back, and sacrificed himself so the others can live, in the process finally resolving his internal battle between good and evil.

We're talking apples and oranges. You're talking about getting the point of something. I get the point. But the point wasn't delivered to me in a dramatic way. Instead, it was told to me.

Here's an extreme example (I'm not saying LOST was like this): Someone makes a romantic comedy about a couple that is split apart and desperately trying to get back together. At what seems like the halfway mark, a narrator comes onscreen and says, "We don't have the money to finish this movie, but the point is that the girl's uncle gives her a bus ticket, she takes the bus to Chicago, and she meets her true love there."

I say, "The movie never had a resolution."

Someone else says, "Yes, it did. The narrator TOLD you what happens!"

Okay, LOST didn't do anything close to that. But it did give me the impression -- both via thematic stuff and via actual dialogue -- that I was going to see a story about a group of individuals who came together to form a group.

Okay, I get that idea INTELLECTUALLY, but I didn't feel it. I didn't feel it, because the story gave me no SENSUAL experience of it. The story told me it instead of showing it to me.

Which is to not say that it was dry and unemotional. The story was very emotional. Here are some things that emotionally got to me. Claire and Charlie finding each other again; Sawyer and Juliette kissing, etc. In fact, this is the stuff that most people in this thread -- and elsewhere -- talk about finding emotionally satisfying.

But the story claimed to be about more than lovers coming together. It claimed to be about a whole group of people realizing they needed each other. THAT was what was TOLD to me rather than shown to me -- rather than fed to me as a sensual experience. I felt the aftermath of it (hugging, shaking hands), but I didn't feel IT.

And I COULD have felt it. It IS dramatizable. I felt it in the first season when they built the raft together. I should have felt it MORE in the end than in the first season, though.
posted by grumblebee at 6:07 PM on May 24, 2010 [4 favorites]


So it was all The Dark Carnival. Awesome.
posted by neuromodulator at 6:16 PM on May 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


I agree, grumblebee. I think that feeling could have been achieved much better if the flashback visions in limbo had been longer, illustrative visions. As it was, they wasted way too much screen time on long wistful glances and slow moments, where they should have been devoting more time to meaningful realizations of the true significance of the interpersonal connections made on the Island. That could have been done in a way that even incorporated relizations of the significance of the various mysteries of the Island, as well. Things like the numbers, the statue, etc. could have had symbolic meaning related to the relatioships that redeemed each of the characters.

Alas.
posted by The World Famous at 6:23 PM on May 24, 2010


The screen pans out exponentially for the next 5 minutes as we watch the smoke monsters destroy everything in the city, the country, the world.

OK, I wouldn't have given two craps about the numbers if that had been the ending. AWESOME. Except for the yakety sax.
posted by stargell at 6:24 PM on May 24, 2010


Okay, I get that idea INTELLECTUALLY, but I didn't feel it. I didn't feel it, because the story gave me no SENSUAL experience of it.

what is missing, exactly? the alternate reality was a glimpse at how they lived their lives without the influence of the island, and then coming together--some ways naturally, some ways facilitated--and having the instant realization of the first reality. their story of coming together has been what has played out over six seasons; the alternate reality is more a reunion.
posted by fallacy of the beard at 6:28 PM on May 24, 2010


It claimed to be about a whole group of people realizing they needed each other.

Well, that kinda went out the window when Jack said he'd go back and only some of the others offered to go with him.

It would have been satisfying to hear Jack ask for help, saying "I can't do this alone, I need help" and having them ALL return to help, even at the risk of their own lives, because they all realized that taking care of the island was there reason to being drawn together.

Kate supposedly loves Jack, but she's willing to leave him to die alone while she jets off with Sawyer?! Yet she's talks of how long she's been waiting for him in the afterlife? Hello, you could have been by his side and been together much sooner, you can see he's weak and not long for this world, there's no other place for her to be, than by his side.

Don't get me started on Jack going for Locke without a gun. That's just incredibly stupid.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:30 PM on May 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


As I have been saying here and elsewhere for a long, long time, most of the pieces fall into place once you accept that the Island is a Rambaldi device.

Actually I think it's more of a Finkbeiner's Paradigm.
posted by stargell at 6:41 PM on May 24, 2010


Them coming together is not missing. But we've seen them come together before. If the whole story, at the end, is just about them to be in the same room at the same time, so what?

But I don't think that's what he writers want it to be about. I think they want to say "It's not just about them being in the same place -- it's about them BUILDING something together, DOING something together, HELPING each other, COMPLETING each other."

But I didn't have a chance to live that along with the characters. I don't want to be TOLD that. I need to experience it -- just as I experienced the kiss between Sawyer and Juliette.

(If a young writer showed me a script about two lovers completing each other, and they way he told that story was to have them say, "You complete me," I would tell him to do a rewrite. He needs to make me FEEL it -- not have characters explain it to me so that I get the point in an intellectual way.)

I saw Sayid help people ON THE ISLAND. But in the limbo section, I saw him suspicious, then happy that he found (and remembered) Shannon, then smiling and hugging his friends. I didn't see him DOING something in that room, along with the rest of the characters, that was greater than the sum of the parts.

I get your point that he'd done it already on the island, and that, in limbo, he had to learn that his island experience was the real important thing in his life. But, again, getting the point is not enough (for me).

Where was the moment when he learned this lesson? It wasn't the flashes. Maybe you can make an intellectual argument that it was, but I -- and my guess most people -- felt those flashes more as "Oh! Shannon! Yes!" than as something that involved Jack and Kate and Hurley and company all being something together.

Sun and Jin seemed to learn that they had once been in love and had had a child together, and I totally bought and FELT that they now felt all that again. But I didn't FEEL that they also felt deeply connected to the other islanders. I understand it intellectually. I don't feel it.

I didn't even get to experience it with Jack. I got to hear Christian explaining something to him, and I got to see him "get it," but I didn't see him BUILD SOMETHING (I don't necessarily mean "build" in a literal way, as in build a raft) with the other characters. I did seem him help Locke by operating on him, but I didn't see him do anything for Rose or Penny or Boone...

Of course, I HAD seen him help all those people in the past. Maybe you disagree with this, but, to me (and to most dramatic-writing teachers and theorists), coming-to-a-conclusion about something in the past is not dramatically compelling. It has to happen NOW.
posted by grumblebee at 6:43 PM on May 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


Well, they didn't all have the same ultimate goals at the end, but they were all working together by the end, and that's really been the thematic arc of the sixth season. I understand where PhoBWanKenobi's frustration with the constantly switching alliances and double-crosses comes from - it's nigh impossible to tell where anyone stands in most of the final season, but personally think that's the point. Not-Locke is the only one of them with a clear objective, while the rest are running around willy-nilly for self-preservation, until they slowly start to cohere. Sawyer and Jack start to work together with mutual respect, finally. Jack begins to understand and trust what Locke had been telling him all that time ago. Desmond and Widmore work together. Ben gums up the works but even he comes around eventually.

If Kate, Sawyer and Claire want to leave the Island, and Jack, Hurley and Ben choose to stay, they're still working together, just towards different personal goals, whereas in the past those different goals would have been opposing. In reality, aside from the fight with Not-Locke, this was an astoundingly peaceful resolution to everything.

(My personal take on why Michael and Walt weren't at the church is that - IIRC - they had a connecting flight to New York from 815. That's where Michael lived, and where he was taking Walt. Thus he wouldn't have been in Los Angeles with the rest of them. There are spiritual reasons, and production reasons, to keep them away as well, but in reality Ben has done far far worse than Michael ever did, more premeditatedly, and under much less sympathetic circumstances. No real reason to not have Mr. Eko there, though, except that he may have run into the light immediately upon learning of it.)
posted by Navelgazer at 6:56 PM on May 24, 2010


Or rather, Eko didn't show up because Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje demanded five times the salary he was offered to be in the finale.
posted by Navelgazer at 7:11 PM on May 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


But when it's a J.J. Abrams joint,

JJ Abrams didn't write or direct the finale and hasn't been involved with the show since season 1.
posted by empath at 7:11 PM on May 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm not going to argue this as strenuously as I've argued some other stuff, but did anyone besides me have trouble buying the redeemed Ben? The kinder, gentler Ben?

I think Emerson is a GREAT actor, and I think he did the best he could, but I also think the writers gave him an impossible task.

What I saw up until the last season was a brilliant portrait of a sociopath. And sociopaths CAN'T redeem themselves the way he did.

You can counter me by saying "No, he wasn't a sociopath," and, of course, I can't prove that he was. But I got that impression so strongly that I just assumed it to be true. So I was befuddled when he started being kind to people -- even given what he went through towards the end.

When he came face-to-face with Widmore, I thought, "Ah ha! I was right. It was all an act!" But then, after a few moments of reverting to the old Ben, he became Mr. Sensitive again.

Or you could say, "Maybe he IS a sociopath and I'm being taken in by his 'fake' kindness," but I didn't get that impression, either. The impression I got is that he was a sociopath for most of the show but then he stopped being one. Which is unplayable.

Of course, in general, even though neuroscience has moved on, TV (and movie) drama is stuck back in the Freudian era. No one has an actual brain disorder. Everyone acts the way they do because of some fear or whatever, and if they just work through it, they come out okay. And I usually buy that, but Emerson went SO far with his sociopath-like performance, I really though he WAS a sociopath in the real-life sense.
posted by grumblebee at 7:16 PM on May 24, 2010 [3 favorites]


There's an episode in an earlier season that I used to use as an example of the show's valuing of emotional manipulation over internally consistent storytelling. I used to use it as an example of what should bother me about the show, but that somehow the characters were so well developed and cast and acted, and the show was so pretty, and it manipulated me so effortlessly, that it was all kind of okay.

This was the episode where Daniel and Charlotte run off from the camp to in the middle of the night to hightail it across the island and render the poison in the poison gas station inert. What bugged me, from a logical standpoint, was that they did this is a let's-run-off way, a let's-do-this-in-secret way, a oh-there's-kate,-let's-knock-her-out-so-she-doesn't-interfere way. Why did they do it that way? If they had said, "Hey, you know, there's a poison gas depot and we can go neutralize it. I think maybe we should do that," I don't think many people would have objected to that. The reason they didn't do that is because it would have undone the episode. There would have been no dramatic chase, no tension. Sure you can invent an explanation, but you shouldn't have to do so. The reason for them doing it the way they did was to create good drama. That's a good reason from a storytelling standpoint, but it's not at all a reason from an internal logical consistency standpoint.

Like I said, that was an example of "things that should bother me about the show but somehow don't." I feel, right now, having just finished the finale, that the scales have been tipped in the other direction.

I don't see any reason why the purgatory state had any of the characteristics it did, any of them at all, except that it was good storytelling. I cared about the sideways stories. They were good. But now I see there was no reason for them being the way they were except to present it as believable that the atomic bomb idea had created a parallel timeline. If that hadn't been a requirement, I can't see why all their parallel lives would have had the characteristics they had. So the characteristics were chosen for emotional value, and as a red herring. Well, when the red herring is one scene or one episode, okay. Faraday knocked Kate out because it was exciting for things to unfold that way. But when you're saying, okay, well, the alternate timeline was kind of a red herring, or it had a bunch of red herring characteristics. And the magic numbers: sort of meaningless. Baby kidnapping: not really relevant. Time travel: nothing to do with anything. Polar bears: why not?

Then it becomes, well, too much. I can't swallow these things, anymore, just because the characters are well-developed. Especially when a) you have them all end up IN HEAVEN, which makes everything they've been through totally irrelevant and b) aren't even all that true to them, but were chosen for the sake of having a tidy ending, like I really feel them putting Sayid with Shannon instead of Nadia, plainly, horribly was.

I'm glad some of you enjoyed this, and I know people coming into threads to say they don't care for something you like is frustrating. But you have to understand my point of view, and I'm not just showing up here to say that your band sucks, but that I really cared about this show a lot too, and feel like the end not only kind of sucked, but sort of retroactively destroyed what I liked, too. Because it's all a con, and it's a cheap one, to my eyes.

If your scale is calibrated differently, and you value the characters more, or are content with being left to come up with your own explanations, or feel like YAY HEAVEN is totally warm and satisfying, I'm sincerely happy for you, and jealous, because I really liked this show and wish I still did. And I think those alternate calibrations are totally valid, but it's not the way I'm wired.
posted by neuromodulator at 7:16 PM on May 24, 2010 [11 favorites]


OK, I wouldn't have given two craps about the numbers if that had been the ending. AWESOME. Except for the yakety sax.

Truly it is as the wise ones have written. Some want to see the world eaten by smoke monsters to the tune of "Yakety Sax," others want to see it eaten to the tune of "Yub Nub" from Jedi.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:45 PM on May 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


Myself I think it is a crying shame that way earlier in the show, they hadn't taken the mysteries into a more Lovecraftian direction. It would be have been awesome if at the center of the island at the bottom of that pit was Cthulhu, just sitting there fhtagn-ing.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:48 PM on May 24, 2010 [5 favorites]


Also: Driveshaft is really terrible.
posted by neuromodulator at 8:22 PM on May 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Some want to see the world eaten by smoke monsters to the tune of "Yakety Sax," others want to see it eaten to the tune of "Yub Nub" from Jedi.

Might I suggest "Don't Stop Believin'"?
posted by stargell at 8:33 PM on May 24, 2010


Make it "More than a Feeling" and you got your alternate ending.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:39 PM on May 24, 2010


Perhaps the caretaker of the island has a lot more power over it than we think. The finale pretty much points out that Jacob brought people to the island, and also made it so hard to get to and get off of. Maybe Jacob kept babies from being born on the island, to prevent his own fate. (Except for candidates, I guess.) Maybe Jacob manipulated events into baby kidnapping, because of his own origin story.
posted by graventy at 8:40 PM on May 24, 2010


All right folks, if anybody out there's still keeping tabs on the thread, here's my two cents on why we don't have to feel bad about Jack abandoning his kid David at the sideways concert. It's really just a fleshed-out justification of "kid ain't real, don't worry about it, ssshh, what kid?" but it works for me.

[Let's suppose that] The Sideways U was a pocket universe created by the detonation of the Jughead @ the Swan: just as planned, this created a world where the plane never crashed. But this world was a separate, incomplete, conditional "pocket" universe, perhaps one that couldn't sustain actual physical life but instead only (un)consciousness and psyche; even the act of "remembering" was sufficient to see the limits of this reality. Still, it existed. Like Juliet said, "it worked".

This pocket universe was created (most directly) by the actions of two people in particular: Jack, who dropped the bomb, and Juliet, who detonated it. Neither one fully understood the pocket universe or its purpose, but together, they created it.

David in the Sideways U is a representation of the Sideways U itself. Created by Jack and Juliet together, (at first) understood by neither, a not-fully-grown "island" of Being in its adolescence, unsure of its place and purpose but subject to strong emotion. (A passable metaphor for adolescence in general, yes?) Under this interpretation, I'd argue that as the collective understanding cascaded among the LOSTies and they moved inexorably towards their ultimate ascension, "David" the kid couldn't be found anywhere because the kid was no longer a relevant representation; the universe had outgrown its need for this avatar.

As others have noted, the presence of the kid also gave Jack opportunity to work out his father issues...just as the spacetime provided by the pocket universe gave Jack opportunity to work out his father issues. I'd also add that under the pocket-universe-as-child lens, Juliet becomes the first chronological Mom-Who-Dies-Giving-Birth. Yes, that's right, the bomb was in fact filled with irony.

OH, and: while Jack & Juliet were the direct actors in bringing the pocket universe to life, let's recall that the whole thing had its origins in Faraday's idea. Perhaps this explains why David's hidden talent turned out to be playing the piano (Chopin's Fantasie-Impromptu in particular) like only Faraday could.

......these Dharma beans are delicious, if a bit overthought.
posted by unregistered_animagus at 9:03 PM on May 24, 2010 [3 favorites]


I have had Modest Mouse's Ocean Breathes Salty playing in my head over and over again since I watched the final episode last night. After listening to it a few times and reading over the lyrics, I now believe that this song works for me as the best explanation for my entire Lost experience (but especially for last night's show).

You wasted life, why wouldn't you waste the afterlife?
posted by theotheramy at 9:08 PM on May 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


B E A N S
posted by unregistered_animagus at 9:14 PM on May 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


But, see, Graventy, that's sort of the laziest plot device of all lazy plot devices. We've got a magically powered character with vaguely defined abilities and mysterious motivations! You can do anything with that. That's terrible.

It didn't need to be that vague. I think if they had started bringing in references to the magical golden glow just at the beginning of this season, and given us some explanations, like who built the temples, some more about their adoptive mother, some more about what the glow is and their responsibilities, then I don't think I'd be sitting here going, "This was a rip-off." A bit of mystery in fairy tales is good. A bit of explanation makes the mystery seem believable, intriguing. I'd look for clues to the answers I'm missing. I'd want to watch the series again to see if there are hints as to what was left unsaid. Foreshadowing that I missed, that sort of thing.

Instead, I think there's nothing. There's a glowing cave with...something? in it. Lifeforce? Good? Evil? I don't know. And there's some guardians for the glow...somehow. I don't know, we know it's passed on from guardian to guardian, but we don't really know how that started even one generation back, or, really, since the guardian seems to be immortal, why it needs to be passed on. Sure, it made since once there was a good guardian and an evil one...if you ignore that they can't hurt each other anyway. Don't worry about that. Anyway, the guardians can't leave the island. Well, the good one can. But the evil one can't. Maybe because he's dead? Or something? I don't even know if that's him. Don't worry about that. So, anyway, the guardian has a magic lighthouse to choose a successor, even though you just really need to drink some water. When you drink the water, you get special knowledge. Sort of. Jacob seemed to, anyway, though Jack and Hurley both didn't really seem to know what was going on after they drank it. Anyhoo. Time travel. I guess because of the field the glow emits? Maybe? Even though it doesn't seem to be locationally constrained, because Desmond timetravels between the island and England, which gives you nosebleeds. Which could be fatal. Unless, uh, you ... talk to someone you know? what. Anyway, some of them, when they time travel, stay put. And if you detonate an atomic bomb on the field, nothing will happen. The right thing to do is run over Locke with your car, because that will bring people together. Remember that, if you get to heaven yourself: it's important to run over lots of people in wheelchairs. And then Walt is like psychic. Because of the glow I guess. And the Others collect psychic kids...maybe? No, forget about that. So, Desmond has to punch these numbers into a computer, even though, you know, it's a computer, so it should be able to automate the process. And these numbers are magic. If you play them a certain lottery draw you'll win the lotto. I can talk to dead people, but not like the other guy can. His power is different. Cause of the glow, I guess?

Anyway: the peak of the show for me was Desmond and Penny getting reunited. I loved that one. And when she did answer the phone on Christmas, after he had been missing for all those years, that was really beautiful, even if it was sort of silly. And Benjamin Linus being a badass all over the place was great (when he dropped those guys after using the wheel, in the desert).

(I just felt like I should say something nice about the show again. I really, really did like it.)
posted by neuromodulator at 9:27 PM on May 24, 2010 [13 favorites]


And Miles' line, "I'll be in the food court," wins best line of dialogue from the past few years of television award.
posted by neuromodulator at 9:57 PM on May 24, 2010


I'm glad some of you enjoyed this, and I know people coming into threads to say they don't care for something you like is frustrating. But you have to understand my point of view, and I'm not just showing up here to say that your band sucks, but that I really cared about this show a lot too . . .

neuromodulator, you're making very perceptive points and I don't think anyone here would disagree, even those who enjoyed the finale. My earlier comment about steering this thread away from mindless slagging of the show has more to do with threadshitting zingers (along these lines) that derail every Lost post out of the gate. As it turns out, I think this discussion has developed into an interesting exploration of serial storytelling.

If the finale worked for me at all (and it did, here and there), it was because the writers developed great characters and wrote some terrific episodes in the early seasons of the show. Think of the images we saw in each character's moment of "awakening," and how many of them go back to the early days at the beach camp. I don't think the finale was anywhere near elegant, but it did a good job of tapping my feelings about the characters from seasons past. The absurd cork-in-a-cave scene was just about redeemed for me by Jack repeating Desmond's line, "I'll see you in another life, brother."

So, I guess, while I agree completely with neuromodulator and grumblebee and others about the ways Lost has cheated its characters and its audience over the years, and how much better a show it might have been, I also admire its successes, and I would call them genuine. The early Jin and Sun episodes, Locke's backstory, even obscurities like Charlie's "Greatest Hits" and the Tail Section story. The writers' Dickensian flair for exploiting the serial format made for some very entertaining television over the years, although I suspect this is also what ultimately sucked the creative discipline out of the show.
posted by cirripede at 10:07 PM on May 24, 2010


CHRISTIAN SHEPHERD explains to the others that they are ready and that they should follow him. He approaches a door at the back of the church. He tries to fling it open, but it's locked.

Or: LOCKEd.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:21 PM on May 24, 2010


Y'know - Richard E. Kelly is actually a pretty shitty storyteller in a lot of ways. Rather, that's not right. He's a fantastic storyteller - he just tells horrible stories. Southland Tales? The Box? He's obsessed with intricate mythologies within his own worlds and going into them in depth despite the fact that they are without exception both uninteresting and convoluted as fuck.

But we have Donnie Darko, which was great. And if you've watched the director's cut or read what he has to say about the project, you learn that his vision for it sucks. It's just simply awful. But in that movie he had to be vague and ambiguous, and people filled in the blanks with their own logic.

Be happy for small favors, is I guess what I'm saying.
posted by Navelgazer at 11:37 PM on May 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


As someone who followed the show primarily because it looked so fucking good in HD — and someone who will forgive a lot of plot holes if you can give me an engaging adventure story with a thrilling dénouement — I just have to say that when you have built up an evil villain with cool godlike powers for six seasons, and built up a flawed but decent hero for six seasons, and then the villain's even more godlike brother anoints the hero as the inheritor of his powers and charges him with defeating the villain…

if you then take their powers away in the last 30 minutes of the series so they can have a fistfight, I'm going to assume you just ran out of money for special effects.
posted by nicwolff at 11:49 PM on May 24, 2010 [8 favorites]


you would think we're exposed to such a rich array of creative work that we can afford to casually deride something done this well. at least we have a lot of great stuff to look forward to, though. with all this untapped blogger talent casually pointing out the flaws that should have been so painfully obvious to the show's writers and producers, we no doubt have some groundbreaking shit on the horizon.
posted by fallacy of the beard at 12:26 AM on May 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


Just a comment I wanted to make since I haven't seen anyone else mention this, unless I missed it.

When Sun and Jin "remember," and start speaking English again, it sounds to me as if they have completely lost their Korean accents (particularly Jin, who seems to be speaking in the actor's native American accent). This was a clue, I guess. In the afterlife, it wouldn't matter what language anyone was speaking anymore. So once they've remembered and they are ready to move on, they understand everyone and everyone can understand them.

Either that or it was just an accent slip, but I think it was intentional.
posted by litlnemo at 12:31 AM on May 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


I finally made it through this massive tome. I never really considered myself a LOST fan (I almost was until the axed Eko) but my wife watched it. I watched it on and off after Eko's death, and I read the season synopses because the story when taken in without breaks between episodes and seasons was quite entertaining. So I joined a large group last night in watching the finale.

I have both reactions to the finale. Yes I wanted some answers damn you, but the pure joy of watching the characters 'remember' was worth it. Years ago I was really hoping that the whole plot would boil down to the resolution of A Maze of Death by P.K. Dick (spoilers in the wiki link). Instead we got a sufi mystic poem. I appreciate both.

Love Dogs by Rumi
One night a man was crying,
Allah! Allah!
His lips grew sweet with the praising,
until a cynic said,
"So! I have heard you
calling out, but have you ever
gotten any response?"

The man had no answer to that.
He quit praying and fell into a confused sleep.

He dreamed he saw Khidr, the guide of souls,
in a thick, green foliage.
"Why did you stop praising?"
"Because I've never heard anything back."
"This longing
you express is the return message."

The grief you cry out from
draws you toward union.

Your pure sadness
that wants help
is the secret cup.

Listen to the moan of a dog for its master.
That whining is the connection.

There are love dogs
no one knows the names of.

Give your life
to be one of them.
posted by doctoryes at 12:48 AM on May 25, 2010 [9 favorites]


I think regardless of people's opinions of the finale, everyone should give the show credit for bringing a literate, complex, mysterious show to prime time and getting people to engage not just with Lost but with all the influences and references the show spun out. I'd think the show would have been a gold mine for the intellectually adventurous teen watching the show, just following up on all the book references alone.

It's not often that we have a National Conversation about Big Questions like everyone seems to have had today online.
posted by empath at 12:51 AM on May 25, 2010 [3 favorites]


Abre los ojos!
posted by iamck at 1:43 AM on May 25, 2010


Ok, so I think either the internet spoiled me, or the finale writing for Lost was subpar. I mean, I've read lots of theories early on in the series, written by internet folks, about what the island was really about, and the fact of the matter is, A LOT OF THE THEORIES OUT THERE ARE MORE INTERESTING, FASCINATING, and ENGAGING than how the series really ended. Even in this thread alone, people are saying how THEY would have ended it, and I keep thinking, gosh, this would have been a much better ending than what I actually saw last night.

In short, I've only seen Season 1, Season 5, and a few episodes here and there of the other seasons (maybe 3 or 4 more total?) I REALLY, REALLY wish the rest of Lost had been like Season 5 (or whatever season had those time travel experiments with the mouse and the nerdy scientist guy), where there were actual answers to burning questions, and had you thinking "damn, that's pretty neat". You get that buzz, that wonderful feeling of a mystery unfolding and being solved.

I was thinking, wow, if the finale explains the rest of these questions, I really must go back and watch every single episode.

Well, the finale didn't.

I don't feel the need to back and watch Lost beginning to end after all.

So, I'm kind of relieved about saving myself about a zillion hours of DVD watching.
posted by The ____ of Justice at 2:37 AM on May 25, 2010


And Miles' line, "I'll be in the food court," wins best line of dialogue from the past few years of television award.

Right character. Wrong line. The BEST line was "I don't believe in much, but I do believe in duct tape."
posted by grapefruitmoon at 4:02 AM on May 25, 2010 [3 favorites]


Boy do I feel dumb for participating in this thread.
posted by shakespeherian at 5:08 AM on May 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Even in this thread alone, people are saying how THEY would have ended it, and I keep thinking, gosh, this would have been a much better ending than what I actually saw last night

As I said before, I had some problems with the finale and the way they wrapped things up (or didn't), but I find it hugely disingenuous or naive to think that a bucketful of half-thought-out ideas posted to web bulletin boards the day after the finale, no matter how great they sound at the moment, can be meaningfully compared to script ideas which have been hashed out in meetings, scripted and revised, acted, filmed, and edited -- it's not an ideal or transparent process, but necessarily compromises and changes the original thoughts.
posted by aught at 5:23 AM on May 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


As others have noted, the presence of the kid also gave Jack opportunity to work out his father issues...just as the spacetime provided by the pocket universe gave Jack opportunity to work out his father issues.

This isn't satisfying to me.

I wasn't a big Jack fan. I wasn't a big Jack fan from the very beginning. I found him bossy and unbearable, even when we were supposed to like him (this is why I pretty much loved Rose, who was always cutting Jack, and the other LOSTies, down to size). His worst trait was his self-absorption, his unflagging belief that he was right. And so I lightly appreciated his growth on the island, his letting go.

But far more satisfying to me was his plotline with David. I thought the young actor was great, for one thing, and had great chemistry with Matthew Fox. But I also thought that it was great to see Jack learning to finally put someone else's needs above his own. This works better and more deeply emotionally for me if David is an actual person. If David is a device to work out Jack's daddy issues? It's all just about Jack again. Yuck.

It's not often that we have a National Conversation about Big Questions like everyone seems to have had today online.

Sentiments like this always ring a little false to me. No offense, empath, but we on metafilter have discussions about faith and logic and storytelling every day. It doesn't take much to get people to talk, especially when you give us six years of convoluted mythology with no resolution. What's more, most people who I've talked to about the finale, who enjoyed it, really just want to talk about how they cried when Shannon and Sayid were reunited*, not by what seems to me to have been the overarching theme of the series--in short, have faith, don't look for answers.

As a pretty scientifically minded agnostic, who is all about the people and the experiences in her life but genuinely feels that the search for answers can only increase the amount of wonder and beauty in the world, I don't really agree with that sentiment.

*So that I don't seem totally heartless: the scene between Juliet and James, which they teased out all season, was emotionally resonant to me. But most of the other reunions/realizations didn't work, because either they seemed uncharacteristic (Sayid and Shannon, Claire and Charlie) or because I'd been unhappy with where they took the characters otherwise (Jin and Sun; I was really unhappy with their decision to have Jin choose to die with Sun rather than be a father) or because it was just a bit silly (Kate's soulmate seemed to be Aaron's head crowning out of Claire's body!). But Juliet and Sawyer got to me, even with my cold, cold heart.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 5:42 AM on May 25, 2010 [3 favorites]


Didn't anyone else think, when Boon and Shannon appeared, "My God, can't they just stay dead?!"
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:55 AM on May 25, 2010 [3 favorites]


I'm pretty sure that whether or not you liked the finale hinged on whether or not you like Jack. IDNLJ (I Do Not Like Jack).
posted by oinopaponton at 6:14 AM on May 25, 2010


I was very excited towards the end of the finale when Jack reappeared by the creek bed and staggered away, because I was sure they were foreshadowing that Jack's consciousness had been absorbed into the "heart", that he would be a new Smoke Monster, and that a Jack-like shapeshifter would now battle a terrified Hurley for thousands of years. It made sense: like Jacob's brother, he drank the water, went into the cave, and was exposed to the light and killed. Oh well.
posted by stammer at 6:34 AM on May 25, 2010


I'm pretty sure that whether or not you liked the finale hinged on whether or not you like Jack. IDNLJ (I Do Not Like Jack).

Nope. Not for everyone. As I'm sure is abundantly clear, I didn't like the finale. And I do like Jack.
posted by grumblebee at 6:55 AM on May 25, 2010


Was the candidate thing a scam?

The mother character didn't just make Jacob drink the water, she also said an incantation over it. Jacob did the same when he gave the water to Jack. So I assumed that the incantation was necessary for the water to do its magic and make a candidate the new overseer. When Jack asked Hurley to drink, I thought, "How is Jack going to say the incantation? Does he magically know it?" But he just skipped it.

When Sawyer said to Jack, "So you're the new Jacob ... do you feel any different?" Jack said, "Not really." And he didn't really seem different. There was no sign that he had any special powers or anything. Jacob obviously did. So did the mother. But did Jack? Did Hurley?

I don't think the writers want me to think it might be a scam. I'm probably not supposed to focus on little details like the incantation. And, of course, you could come up with all kinds of explanations like, "It's just drinking the water that is necessary. The incantation was a meaningful ritual to Jacob and his step-mom, but it's not actually part of the magic."

With LOST, you don't get much satisfaction if you dwell on the small stuff. But it's weird because I'm never seen another show that works so hard to INVITE you to dwell on the small stuff. It's like the writers are saying, "Have a really good time looking for tiny Easter eggs and connecting something from season one, episode two to something in season six, episode ten ... but then let it go."
posted by grumblebee at 7:04 AM on May 25, 2010 [3 favorites]


I'm pretty sure that whether or not you liked the finale hinged on whether or not you like Jack. IDNLJ (I Do Not Like Jack).

Nope. Not for everyone. As I'm sure is abundantly clear, I didn't like the finale. And I do like Jack.


Yep. Same here.

The problem I have with the finale is right at the moment Jack's dad drops the "Why are YOU here?" and we realize jack's dead. THAT is the moment that ruins the entire episode for me. You stop right there, and I'm fine. You reveal (as I theorized) that this was the convergence of personalities in the parallel world, FINE. But they didn't. An entire universe that Jack lives in raising his son, learning to take care of him, loving him... and then it turns out it was imaginary. But as long as he gets to hang throughout eternity with Boone and Shannon, hey, it's kosher!

This official ending was a cheat. An awful, lazy cheat.
posted by grubi at 7:05 AM on May 25, 2010


It made sense: like Jacob's brother, he drank the water, went into the cave, and was exposed to the light and killed. Oh well.

Did the 'boy in black' drink the water, or just get a general protection-blessing from Mother? (I only remembered Jacob getting to drink the transforming water.)
posted by aught at 7:05 AM on May 25, 2010


Did the 'boy in black' drink the water, or just get a general protection-blessing from Mother? (I only remembered Jacob getting to drink the transforming water.)

I guess you're right, although Jacob's brother did float around, face-down and alive, in the magic stream. And my solution is better.
posted by stammer at 7:13 AM on May 25, 2010


When Sawyer said to Jack, "So you're the new Jacob ... do you feel any different?" Jack said, "Not really." And he didn't really seem different. There was no sign that he had any special powers or anything. Jacob obviously did. So did the mother.

Well, Jacob did eventually, at some point between drinking the water and when the Black Rock showed up at least a thousand years later. And we don't know how long "Mother" had been the island's protector before Claudia showed up. I've kind of been going with "they get powers, but don't necessarily know what they are or how to use them immediately and have to figure them out over time" theory, but YMMV. Also Hurley seemed unaware that he could make different "rules" than Jacob had until Ben suggested that possibility to him.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 7:21 AM on May 25, 2010


BiB didn't drink the water.
posted by grumblebee at 7:22 AM on May 25, 2010


I never liked Jack, and was really glad that Hurley was the 'real' replacement for Jacob.

I haven't decided what I think of the finale yet...I think I might watch it again and read some synopses.
posted by schyler523 at 7:41 AM on May 25, 2010


But... hang on. The terms were that Jacob (the water-drinker) could never go down into the cave while the light was active, because if he did, he would experience something worse than death. So knowing this, he made it happen to his brother. Why didn't it happen to Jack? We know why it didn't happen to Desmond: he could withstand electromagnetism, har har. But Jack went down there and turned it on. That's what Mother suggested would cause ensmokification. Was there any indication given of why both Jacob (potentially, according to the warning) and Jacob's brother (definitely) could be made into smoke by being in the active cave, but not Jack?
posted by stammer at 7:43 AM on May 25, 2010


Well, you said it, stammer: ensmokification would occur if the light was active. The light was not active when Jack re-lit it. Apparently, re-lighting just didn't have the same effect as un-lighting - which makes total sense seeing as how the "magic" of the island was undone while the light was out.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 7:53 AM on May 25, 2010


But then he turned it back on! Damn it, this magical cave doesn't make any sense!
posted by stammer at 7:55 AM on May 25, 2010


IT WAS A LOVE STORY ALL ALONG
A HEAVILY CHRISTIAN-INFLUENCED LOVE STORY... wait wait no no let's include everybody, this is America... ok, whew, stained glass window, check

wait, it was a Christian love story?

I suppose Sayid's eternal punishment should be Shannon, then.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 7:58 AM on May 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


By the way, according to Hulu, the finale was not padded with commercials. It was 105 minutes long, or 42 minutes per hour times 2.5 hours, and 42 minutes is the normal amount of show in an hour-long episode. But... if you go to the Hulu version and look at the dots at the bottom of the viewing screen that show where the commercial breaks are, you can see that there was only one commercial break during the final 34 minutes. So there were more ads than average during the first two hours, but it was balanced out at the end.
posted by Tin Man at 7:58 AM on May 25, 2010


So there were more ads than average during the first two hours, but it was balanced out at the end.

Which is pretty much how I wrote it up.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:02 AM on May 25, 2010


Well yeah, he turned it back on, but the point is that the ensmokification can only occur (by the rules that the cave just made up) if the light is on at the point of entry. Which, for Jack, it wasn't.

He was still spat out in the same place, and who knows, maybe if he hadn't died of his previous stab wound he would have becoming Smokey 2.0. I guess the one thing the cave DOESN'T do is heal you.

(Also: I like the stab wound being the "appendix" scar in Sidewayslandia, but I had previously just thought it was the scar from when Jack took out his own appendix on the island - that somehow it had transferred over into non-bomb life. Also, I totally agree that the bomb WAS the Incident and much like Sawyer tried to "difuse" the bomb on the submarine, they fucked themselves by setting up exactly what they were trying to prevent.)
posted by grapefruitmoon at 8:09 AM on May 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


I was relegated to watching Lost in 4:3, stretched to 16:9, while my dad fumbled with two remotes, recording his recording onto DVD. Oh, and subtitles. Every time a flash sideways occurred with an ultra vividly colored memory the bottom of my screen would say:

[magnetic zap.]

It's my new favorite saying now, even if nobody else understands. Or remembers.
posted by iamkimiam at 8:11 AM on May 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


[magnetic zap.]

I remember now!

(Did you see that?!)
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:19 AM on May 25, 2010


[magnetic zap.]

That should be the MeFi way of signifying that "I get it now".
posted by grubi at 8:24 AM on May 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


> So there were more ads than average during the first two hours, but it was balanced out at the end.

I can't recall where I read it, but the reason for that was that Lindelhof and Cuse lobbied ABC to allow the finale to run long so they could show the climax uninterrupted by commercials. But, for as maddening as the commercial breaks were during the first two hours, I would've settled for a scene of the smoke monster using an iPad if it meant they wouldn't cut away every damn 7 minutes.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:26 AM on May 25, 2010


I like the stab wound being the "appendix" scar in Sidewayslandia

oh damn I just got this

I think reading the reactions and discussions are almost as much fun as watching it. Others pick up on a lot of details that I missed or forgot.
posted by desjardins at 8:49 AM on May 25, 2010


Lost could not have been Lost without the rise of social media.

These comments are from someone who claims to work for Bad Robot.
posted by mecran01 at 9:03 AM on May 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


...the reason for that was that Lindelhof and Cuse lobbied ABC to allow the finale to run long so they could show the climax uninterrupted by commercials.

Considering that, killing off Arzt and convincing ABC to end the series, these guys are alright.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:04 AM on May 25, 2010


>we no doubt have some groundbreaking shit on the horizon.

>everyone should give the show credit for bringing a literate, complex, mysterious show to prime time and getting people to engage not just with Lost but with all the influences and references the show spun out.

For all my complaints about the finale and the series in general,* I wanted to second this. I think that LOST has opened up some important cultural space--to young creatives, who see that something of this ambition and complexity can work, and can find a large audience; and to audiences, who have learned not only how to keep up with something this sprawling, but who have enthusiastically embraced, in large numbers, participatory practices like co-authoring (e.g., Lostpedia).

I think that what is most fascinating about LOST may be the shows that come after it.


*- (and, two days on, my main complaint remains that to believe that the characters found any kind of happiness or emotional resolution, I MUST believe in a literal afterlife. No happiness in this life for nearly all of the characters we cared so much about. Even Kate probably spent whatever decades she got after the island regretting that she left Jack there to die alone.)
posted by LooseFilter at 9:06 AM on May 25, 2010


Kate's soulmate seemed to be Aaron's head crowning out of Claire's body

When this happened and Kate had the look of realization, someone at our party ad libbed "I recognize this vagina!"
posted by naju at 9:08 AM on May 25, 2010 [6 favorites]


Lost could not have been Lost without the rise of social media.

Yes, that's what I was saying, too. I second this wholeheartedly, it was perfect timing. (I just wrote a major paper on, among other things, participatory culture, and it really is exciting to see the cultural practices of the audience that developed on a huge scale around this show.)
posted by LooseFilter at 9:08 AM on May 25, 2010


A great quote from mecran01's link (QED LOST's influence, maybe):

For me the ending of this show means a lot. Not only because I worked on it, but because as a writer it inspired me in a way the medium had never done before. I've been inspired to write by great films. Maybe too many to count. And there have been amazing TV shows that I've loved (X-Files, 24, Sopranos, countless 1/2 hour shows). But none did what LOST did for me. None showed me that you could take huge risks (writing a show about faith for network TV) and stick to your creative guns and STILL please the audience. I learned a lot from the show as a writer. I learned even more from being around the incredible writers, producers, PAs, interns and everyone else who slaved on the show for 6 years.
posted by LooseFilter at 9:19 AM on May 25, 2010


From mecran1's link: "The show was always about science vs faith -- and it ultimately came down on the side of faith. It answered THE core question of the series. The one question that has been at the root of every island mystery, every character backstory, every plot twist. That, by itself, is quite an accomplishment."

Man, I nailed it this morning.

I think it's really lame to make a show's biggest answer FAITH RULES, SCIENCE DROOLS, though.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:24 AM on May 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


Yeah, but you're a godless heathen, so it doesn't count.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:29 AM on May 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm skeptical that Bad Robot writer thing is legit. There's a lot of mistakes for a professional writer and it has the sweet smell of fanboyism underneath.

From his or her post:

"In essence, this is the show's concept of the afterlife. According to the show, everyone creates their own "Sideways" purgatory with their "soulmates" throughout their lives and exist there until they all move on together. That's a beautiful notion. Even if you aren't religious or even spirtual, the idea that we live AND die together is deeply profound and moving.

It's a really cool and spirtual concept that fits the whole tone and subtext the show has had from the beginning. "

This person has a different idea of "deeply profound" than I do. And I think "really cool and spirtual" is pretty funny, too.
posted by neuromodulator at 9:35 AM on May 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think it's really lame to make a show's biggest answer FAITH RULES, SCIENCE DROOLS, though.

Not really, considering that Locke's faith in the island only came about because science of the island gave him something (the ability to walk again). To me it reads like a subtle dig at the selfishness o faith and its blinding dismissal of science.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:36 AM on May 25, 2010


My grand sweeping theory:

They died in the plane crash. We see its wreckage on the beach during the finale's closing credites. What we saw in the first five seasons was the flash-sideways universe of the previous one. The characters weren't done with their spiritual growth, so they were reborn into the world in which they ended up on the Island, just like they still weren't done after they died on that world, so they were reborn into the flash-sideways universe.

The metaphysics of Lost end up being close to Theravadan Buddhism, but you reincarnate into an alternate universe. And after your enlightenment (in Lost, letting go and being able to love yourself and others passes for this) you see that all the world is maya and you can finally get off the wheel. It doesn't follow linear causality -- just like one can reincarnate before you die or long after or in multiple lifetimes simultaneously. That's why the leakage among the universes doesn't make much chronological sense.

No use asking where it started -- that's one of the paradoxes of existence.

That's why nothing made any friggin' sense. Because none of it was real. But it's okay, you see, 'cause it's a metaphor for how none of it is real, not our world either! So it's not just a cheap excuse!

Oh, and Sawyer was Kate's dad. Ew. Just like the A-Bomb explosion and being at the Swan caused Juliet to have leakage from the next universe (the Island's energetic hotspots promote leakage), Wayne, Kate's bio-dad, getting killed by explosion, and Swayer being at the Swan caused Sawyer to be briefly siezed by himself from the previous universe. Hey, no one said you had to look the same between reincarnations.
posted by Zed at 9:41 AM on May 25, 2010 [3 favorites]


Lost could not have been Lost without the rise of social media.

Yes, definitely. I certainly couldn't have kept up as well when a character or plot element casually popped up after an absence of 20 or so episodes without Lostpedia to remind me what they had done before.

One nitpick from mecran01's link:

But, from a more "behind the scenes" note: the reason Ben's not in the church, and the reason no one is in the church but for Season 1 people is because they wrote the ending to the show after writing the pilot. And never changed it.... [T]he original ending started the moment Jack walked into the church and touches the casket to Jack closing his eyes as the other plane flies away. That was always JJ's ending. And they kept it.

Weren't Desmond and Penny also in the church, or am I misremembering that? Neither was introduced until season 2 (Desmond in the first episode of the season, Penny in the two-part season finale.) Not saying that's hard evidence against the author of the piece being involved in Lost's production, but if so the ending's not nearly so purely "known from the start" as he claims. (Also, Bernard and Rose were in the church, although Bernard was not seen on screen until season 2, but he was mentioned in the pilot, so I'm not as bothered by the claim that he was known to end up in the church from the start as I am about Desmond and Penny.)
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 9:58 AM on May 25, 2010


Desmond and Penny are both in the church. You are correct. Which is the one snippet of that supposed "Bad Robot" employee's revelations that struck me as WRONG-O.
posted by grubi at 10:09 AM on May 25, 2010


The alleged Bad Robot writer has a profile page on a screenplay site.

I think we'll discover that their link to the show was very tenuous.
posted by mecran01 at 10:10 AM on May 25, 2010


I still don't know, with all the technology available in the 1970s, 80s, 90s, and 2000s, WHY DID THERE HAVE TO BE A HUMAN PUNCHING IN A CODE TO PERIODICALLY PROVIDE A RELEASE OF COSMIC ENERGY? This couldn't have been automated?

grr
posted by grubi at 10:18 AM on May 25, 2010


It seems to me fishy as well that they have a Masters in Screenwriting, but don't know the words "spiritual" (it's repeatedly misspelled "spirtual", so not a typo), or "blatant" ("blantent"?), etc. I mean, I know there are a couple of mistakes in my posts above, but I'm an idiot. I'm assuming this person should be less of an idiot than me.
posted by neuromodulator at 10:19 AM on May 25, 2010


> I still don't know, with all the technology available in the 1970s, 80s, 90s, and 2000s, WHY DID THERE HAVE TO BE A HUMAN PUNCHING IN A CODE TO PERIODICALLY PROVIDE A RELEASE OF COSMIC ENERGY? This couldn't have been automated?


There was another Dharma station on the island that was dedicated to watching the workers press the button and recording their behavioral patterns (and then sending their notes via pneumatic tube). It was another weird research project like the polar bears. The Dharma people were assholes and had that mass murder coming.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:21 AM on May 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


Thanks, mecran01. That's a neat link. To me, it explains a lot. Not about the story, because I don't consider stuff the writers (or people who know the writers) say about the story to be part of the story. To me, the story is what I saw, and that's that. But every viewer gets to decide for himself what he considers considers canonical and what he doesn't.

Rather, that post helps me understand why the show turned out the way it did -- why it succeeded when it succeeded and failed when it failed. By sticking to their plan, the writers created a certain amount of (a) unity and (b) a feeling of confidence -- a feeling that you were watching a ship that had a pilot who knew where he was going.

The negative is that I think it blinded them to problems.

I've seen this happen over and over, on various productions. I'm sure I've done it myself. What's always fascinating to me is being semi-involved with a production. This allows me to notice the problem more easily than the people who are deeply involved.

When I started out working in the theatre, I did a lot of assistant directing. Sometimes, depending on how the director wanted to use me, that meant I was VERY involved. At other times, it meant I basically got the director coffee. At such times, I often noticed how commitment to a PLAN would become almost religious. People would get to a point where they would never question the plan. This lead to both good and bad things.

Example: a director might decide that his production of "Richard III" is set in a 20th Century fascist state, with Richard as a sort of Hitler character. This really seems to fit the play, and it deeply inspires the cast and crew. They go for it gung ho. The make the costumes look like 1940s Nazi costumes. The palace guards carry guns, etc.

There are some problems. For instance, Richard says, "A horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse!" One of the junior staff members points out that it's a little weird, because there are no horses in this production. Richard rides around in cars and tanks.

The producer says, "Hmm... Well, in our production, I think he means 'horse' metaphorically."

The actor playing Richard says, "When I say it, I am so desperate, that I mean it as, 'I don't even expect a car or a motorcycle, but I'd be happy with just a horse.'"

The director says, "If the audience is worried about that, we've got bigger problems than just that line. It means we're boring them. I think the line will just whoosh by them and they'll accept it -- as long as the actor says it with conviction."

What they've done is to justify things to themselves so that they can move on. And that may be for the best, because (a) they are not going to change Shakespeare's line; (b) it's WAY too late to even think about changing their concept; (c) they are right that many audience members won't notice it, and they have a built-in mechanism for dealing with those who don't (as I'll explain).

People watch the play, many like it, but there are certain things that they don't have in their brains. For instance, when they watch Richard, they don't know he's using horse as a metaphor (or that he's so desperate, he's willing to accept a non-existent horse). And they don't know that "horse" is an unimportant detail that they shouldn't focus on.

Many people in the audience don't even think about the horse line. But some do. Some of the ones that do are bothered by it, but they get distracted by stuff that comes after it, so they forget about it. Some of the ones who remember it think of it as an error (or an oddness), but they are emotionally so involved with other stuff, that it doesn't bother them much.

These people praise the production. The director, curious, asks them, "Did the horse thing bother you?" They say, "What horse thing?" or "Nah. I noticed it, but it wasn't a big deal." So the director feels vindicated.

But some audience members complain that the horse thing DID bother them. The director overhears and discusses it with his collaborators. They think back to the concept. They think about how much the concept meant to them. How much it lead to all sorts of creative ideas. And they conclude, "Well, those people just didn't get it."
posted by grumblebee at 10:21 AM on May 25, 2010 [6 favorites]


Of course, I realize they didn't claim to be a writer for Lost, but merely an aspiring writer who worked on Lost and was present in writer meetings. Exaggerating your role in things and associations with well-known productions (including being vague when it benefits) is probably a necessary skill in TV-land.
posted by neuromodulator at 10:23 AM on May 25, 2010


It's a long thread, so I apologize if it's been mentioned before, but I was talking about it with my brother last night and he brought this up:

Ok, so the H-bomb doesn't create an alternate timeline, and really DOES blow the Swan to smitherines... So, without the Swan, how does Desmond ever come to the island, and how does he ever not push the button, and how do the survivors get there? Are we just to assume that somewhere off camera, DHARMA rebuilt the Swan? Why is there no indication of a fucking H-bomb having been detonated?
posted by codacorolla at 10:27 AM on May 25, 2010


Because of FAITH, codacorolla. Because it's more profound if things don't make sense.
posted by neuromodulator at 10:31 AM on May 25, 2010


> Ok, so the H-bomb doesn't create an alternate timeline, and really DOES blow the Swan to smitherines

Maybe the h-bomb detonation was somehow magiscientically subsumed by the electromagnetic anomaly?
posted by Burhanistan at 10:35 AM on May 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


One thing I wondered about... Was there a point where the Others were actually taking orders from the Smoke Monster rather than Jacob. Ben had a line about realizing the smoke monster was summoning him, but other than that, I'm not sure they explored this possibility.
posted by drezdn at 10:41 AM on May 25, 2010


Also, I think Christian showing up and everything being warm and fuzzy really undermined the history between Jack and his father, too. Things were hardly so good between them that I think we can just swallow the arrival of the alcoholic, emotionally abusive father without, at least, a conversation about, like, "Hey, sorry I was dick when we were alive."

Again, for something that claimed to be "all about the characters" it really failed, from my perspective, to be true to what had been established for those characters. It sacrificed that to make us cry and every opportunity, and for the neat and tidy reunion of everyone. And it worked, in the sense that I did tear up, several times. But I can't help but feel like they said, "Hey, the hows and whys aren't so important to us as the characters." But Sayid should have been with Nadia. And Jack and Christian at least needed an acknowledgment of their past difficulties. "Well, the characters aren't so important, either. Wasn't the ending to Titanic, when Jack and Rose get together before the assembled passengers as guests of honor really sweet? We should do that."
posted by neuromodulator at 10:42 AM on May 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


On further reflection, I'm just going to pretend that the flash sideways/purgatory was entirely Jack's own hallucination in the final seconds of his life as he lay in the bamboo grove watching the Ajira flight pass over.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:47 AM on May 25, 2010 [3 favorites]


Commenters in mecran01's link also point out that Libby and Juliet are other non-S1 characters who show up in the church. So that's a good chunk of the people in the church who were not in S1.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 10:47 AM on May 25, 2010


I still don't know, with all the technology available in the 1970s, 80s, 90s, and 2000s, WHY DID THERE HAVE TO BE A HUMAN PUNCHING IN A CODE TO PERIODICALLY PROVIDE A RELEASE OF COSMIC ENERGY? This couldn't have been automated?

Because it was purgatory.
posted by mrgrimm at 10:53 AM on May 25, 2010


One thing I wondered about... Was there a point where the Others were actually taking orders from the Smoke Monster rather than Jacob. Ben had a line about realizing the smoke monster was summoning him, but other than that, I'm not sure they explored this possibility.

Oh, I think so, definitely. Jacob's cabin winds up being the haunt of Christian Shepherd, who we now know was Smokey-- it was also at some point surrounded by a ring of ash that had been broken (as Ilyana discovered at the end of s05) which implies, I think, that at one point Smokey had been imprisoned there and then escaped. So I think it's quite possible that an awful lot of who Ben and the Others assumed was Jacob was actually Smokey, jerking them around, causing them to lose trust in Jacob, and precipitating Ben's willingness to kill Jacob.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:53 AM on May 25, 2010


Because it was purgatory.

You shoosh.
posted by grubi at 10:55 AM on May 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


On further reflection, I'm just going to pretend that the flash sideways/purgatory was entirely Jack's own hallucination in the final seconds of his life as he lay in the bamboo grove watching the Ajira flight pass over.

I think that's one of two satisfying ways of looking at it. The other is there was a divergence and that was a parallel universe, but the last ten minutes of the show never occurred. No Christian, no "you're really dead!", no metaphor or purgatory, or any of that nonsense.

Either way.
posted by grubi at 10:58 AM on May 25, 2010



As I said before, I had some problems with the finale and the way they wrapped things up (or didn't), but I find it hugely disingenuous or naive to think that a bucketful of half-thought-out ideas posted to web bulletin boards the day after the finale, no matter how great they sound at the moment, can be meaningfully compared to script ideas which have been hashed out in meetings, scripted and revised, acted, filmed, and edited -- it's not an ideal or transparent process, but necessarily compromises and changes the original thoughts.


These aren't necessarily the ideas posted the day after the finale--these are theories people were harboring earlier in the life of the tv show.

Say what you will about the process, but several of these theories (google the "Time Loop Theory") attempted to take the many different threads of the show and form one consistent understanding of what was happening.

It shows an underlying respect for the idea that a fantasy/sci fi world should have a consistent set of laws.

I'm personally a fan of the idea that a work of fiction should not ask you to suspend your disbelief more than ONCE. Meaning, if there is a fantasy world with one set of laws, you can't be asked to accept that there is suddenly a different kind of law (so-and-so can't be killed...why?...nobody knows) later on.

This is why I found several of theories more compelling than how the show actually resolved itself.

Maybe that's just a pet peeve of mine, but I don't think I'm the only one who feels this way.
posted by The ____ of Justice at 11:21 AM on May 25, 2010 [3 favorites]


I was under the impression that the ash around the cabin wasn't to keep Smokey in as a prisoner, but rather bar him from entering. That way if someone went into the cabin, it was certain that s/he was definitely talking to Jacob (and not an impostor).

But that's kind of splitting hairs.

Anyway, I was kinda happy they made fun of the name Christian Shepherd. I mean, come on.
posted by giraffe at 11:23 AM on May 25, 2010


and, two days on, my main complaint remains that to believe that the characters found any kind of happiness or emotional resolution, I MUST believe in a literal afterlife.

Maybe not out of character for a show that (admittedly loosely) threw Buddhist ideas around (the "scientific" folks on the island being called "The Dharma Initiative," after all) - and Buddhism's starting premise is that suffering is the basic state of existence, and you can only escape it by reaching enlightenment / nirvana.
posted by aught at 11:32 AM on May 25, 2010


Oh my god, I've had the greatest idea of my life. Lost doesn't draw heavily on Hindu and Christian mythology: it draws heavily on the Mighty Boosh. I'm going to spend the next five years editing them together to show you.

Jacob, or the MiB, will be replaced by "Some call me Photoshop" Rudi.
The glow in the cave will become "Cheese is a kind of meat" Tommy. Think how awesome that reveal would have been. (I actually would have preferred this ending. That would have been the funniest twist ever.)
The flute summons Desmond, not the locksmith, a la time traveling thing.
Howard and Vince are stranded on the island as well, from "The Nightmare of Milky Joe" episode. All the coconuts also join the cast. Sawyer becomes romantically involved with one of the girl coconuts.
Dixton Bainbridge III joins Ben in leading the Others.
The future and sideways timelines are taken from season 2 and 3 of Boosh, where the ABSENCE OF THE ZOO IS NEVER EXPLAINED. Dun dun duhhhhhhhhh (music cue).
Baloo is imprisoned by the others. Or the Dharma Initiative. Whatever.

But, seriously, this does point out for me the essence of the problem: the story is exactly as well explained, and "profound", from my point of view, as the "Jungle" episode of season 1 of the Boosh.

I have gained so much satisfaction from this idea that I'm going to go sip a cognac in front of the fireplace, and retire from the internet forever. Farewell.
posted by neuromodulator at 11:34 AM on May 25, 2010


a work of fiction should not ask you to suspend your disbelief more than ONCE

That's actually an excellent way of expressing it, thanks.
posted by aught at 11:35 AM on May 25, 2010


Speaking of Buddhism, something in the back of my mind is telling me that Jack dying in a bamboo grove has some Buddhist significance. Does that ring any bells for anyone?
posted by naju at 11:38 AM on May 25, 2010


This is why I found several of theories more compelling than how the show actually resolved itself.

I'm not sure I expressed myself very well earlier. My point was more that the coolest ideas, once brainstormed, revised by committee, edited, second-guessed by highers-up, rewritten, scripted, filmed, and edited, might end up being something other than the super-cool ideas they seem as we happily type them out on our various discussion boards at 1 in the morning. If that makes any sense. I mean, I've come up with at least a half-dozen notions myself for how the finale could have been a whole lot better than it was, but I am under no illusion that my ideas would necessarily withstand the network tv production process to my satisfaction either.
posted by aught at 11:42 AM on May 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


bamboo grove has some Buddhist significance

A king gave the Buddha a bamboo grove where he built his first monastery. (But the Buddha was born and died under sala trees.)
posted by Zed at 11:47 AM on May 25, 2010


From 2005:

It's been thrilling, watching TV's next great cult-pop sensation bloom. Thrilling — and nervous-making. Because we all know how this can end, don't we? Marooned on a spit of frustration. Like Twin Peaks. Like X-Files. Shows that come dressed in alluring mystery, but eventually reveal themselves to be sporting emperor's clothes.

Lost's brain trust is keenly aware of this anxiety. ''What we found was that people have this cynical attitude because they felt they've been betrayed,'' says executive producer Damon Lindelof. ''But I identify with that, because I was a fan of those shows too.''

posted by grumblebee at 11:50 AM on May 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


Salsa trees? How messy was THAT harvest?
posted by grubi at 11:52 AM on May 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


''The model is Twin Peaks,'' says Cuse. ''It has become a strong lesson for us in not postulating new mysteries without answering old ones.'' Which means, according to producers, that most of their Big Questions — What's in the hatch? What is the monster? What do Hurley's lotto numbers mean? — have solutions.

What happened?
posted by grumblebee at 11:53 AM on May 25, 2010 [5 favorites]


I'm personally a fan of the idea that a work of fiction should not ask you to suspend your disbelief more than ONCE.

Eh, I think that might work for some genres such as science fiction, but I'm not sure it applies across the board. I read an essay long ago suggesting that realism vs. speculative fiction should be thought of as a continuum rather than a dichotomy. At one end you have works that are not only realistic but also very plausible; moving up from there you have things like a lot of Dickens' work (excluding A Christmas Carol) which, while overtly realistic, does involve some darn unlikely coincidences; then to traditional science fiction or Tolkien-style fantasy which, as you say, asks you to suspend your disbelief once, but then everything else follows from that; and beyond that, things more like Alice in Wonderland ("a bunch of really weird stuff happens"), and magic realism, and on to outright surrealism, which challenges you to even form a coherent narrative out of it. That's not to say that multiple suspensions of disbelief are always fine and dandy; and yes, they can ruin works if used badly; but I think they're not always wrong either.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 12:01 PM on May 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


I like to think that they didn't show the whole story. In my vision, the smoke monster took over Jack's form when the power restarted while he was in the cave. Jack's body died, just like the MiB's body died, although he survived just long enough to see his friends (and, uh, soul mate?) fly away. The "fate worse than death" that Jack experienced because he went into the cave was having to live in an eternal mirage world divorced from reality with a bunch of random people he met on a plane. Smoke Monster 2.0 is back on the island, psychologically torturing Hurley with Jack's face for a couple of millennia.
posted by hilaritas at 12:11 PM on May 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


and you can only escape it by reaching enlightenment / nirvana.

I like that reading a lot, but then the afterlife part still irks me, because there is no ego persistence with enlightenment. If the show's spirituality is primarily a Buddhist metaphor, throwing a Western afterlife idea in there at the end was sloppy (though super neat in terms of character resolution). But that's why I haven't read the whole spiritual aspect of the show as any coherent metaphor because it's been such a sloppy mish-mash. Which is why I'm so disappointed that apparently that was the whole deal, that Jack's spiritual journey was primary.

On further reflection, I'm just going to pretend that the flash sideways/purgatory was entirely Jack's own hallucination in the final seconds of his life as he lay in the bamboo grove watching the Ajira flight pass over.

I think I'm going to choose this also. Now that I think about it, perhaps the whole issue through the show was Jack's fear of his own mortality--always trying to save people, can't handle his father's death, etc. His own awakening in the bardo state only comes when he touches what we've assumed was his father's coffin, which was empty. Perhaps that was Jack's own coffin, and seeing it empty was the moment of confrontation with his own mortality, which triggered his awakening, which brought him and the whole group the peace they needed to move on together to whatever was next. This fits well with the idea that the whole bardo state/sideways reality was Jack's hallucination in the final seconds of his life.
posted by LooseFilter at 12:12 PM on May 25, 2010


I still don't know, with all the technology available in the 1970s, 80s, 90s, and 2000s, WHY DID THERE HAVE TO BE A HUMAN PUNCHING IN A CODE TO PERIODICALLY PROVIDE A RELEASE OF COSMIC ENERGY? This couldn't have been automated?

Because physically pressing the button isn't what actually did it. It was the decision by a conscious entity to press it that was important.

Okay, I just made that shit up.
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:23 PM on May 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


''The model is Twin Peaks,'' says Cuse. ''It has become a strong lesson for us in not postulating new mysteries without answering old ones.'' Which means, according to producers, that most of their Big Questions — What's in the hatch? What is the monster? What do Hurley's lotto numbers mean? — have solutions.

What happened?


Two out of three is technically "most," isn't it?
posted by The World Famous at 12:26 PM on May 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


What happened

My guess: ABC noticed Lost was losing women viewers and told Cuse and Lindelof to ratchet up the soap-opera angle and dial back on the sci-fi.
posted by emelenjr at 12:32 PM on May 25, 2010


Which of those two out of three are you counting as answered? I'm assuming the first two, but to me, they are not really answered at all.

What's in the hatch? A station that contains a disruptive magnetic field. How? By typing in some magic numbers. What's the magnetic field? I don't know, it's tied to the glow somehow. What's the glow? I don't know, life force? Contained by a plug built by God, I guess? That doesn't really constitute an answer, in my book.

What was the smoke monster? Well, it was the Man in Black...maybe. I'm not clear on whether it WAS him or if it was just something that thought it was him or if it was just something that took his form like it took Locke's form. And I'm not clear why the life force/glow fountain can make evil smoke monsters. Oh, sure, we were warned that it could do terrible things, but why it can do terrible things isn't really clear to me. Why did it sound mechanical? Just to be cool. What would have happened had he left? Bad Things. What sort of bad things? Just BAD. Again, doesn't really "answer" anything.

I mean, I feel like you're saying, "What's in the hatch? A glowing thing. What is the monster? It's a monster!" are answers. Or am I misunderstanding something?

(I know I'm characterizing the "answers" uncharitably. If you'd like to counter-spin them the way you see them, I'd be curious to read that, but I would like, if possible, for you to do it without inventing a bunch of stuff the show never offered. I mean, I know that it's possible to invent explanations. I can do that. Do you feel like there are answers the show presented that I'm missing?)
posted by neuromodulator at 12:51 PM on May 25, 2010


If the show's spirituality is primarily a Buddhist metaphor, throwing a Western afterlife idea in there at the end was sloppy (though super neat in terms of character resolution).

I have come to believe this is exactly what is going on -- the "donkey wheel" being identical to the Buddhist Eightfold Path wheel symbol, the numbers adding up to 108, "Dharma Initiative," all those icons in the stained glass window, etc. etc. -- and I agree that it has a messy "western-new-age-appropriating-convenient-eastern-ideas" dissatisfyingness about it.

I was cringing so hard every time the camera angle had the Christ statue looming large in the scenes outside the supposedly universal church. Honestly, those shots of Christ, and the angels flanking the door to the eternal light, in and of themselves ruined the finale for me, even without the disappointment of the alternate time-line ending up being the afterlife (since I don't actually believe in that).
posted by aught at 1:00 PM on May 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


even without the disappointment of the alternate time-line ending up being the afterlife (since I don't actually believe in that).

Wait. You were disappointed that a show about a bunch of people who miraculously surivive a plane crash on a magical time-traveling and invisible island inhabited by immortal guardians and a smoke monster and controlled by a donkey wheel in an underground electromagnetic cave ended with an alternate time line that was revealed to be the afterlife because you don't believe in an afterlife?
posted by The World Famous at 1:05 PM on May 25, 2010 [16 favorites]


I didn't think the finale required you to believe in an afterlife, but rather in a specific afterlife that existed only for these particular characters, which was facilitated by the magic of the island.
posted by shakespeherian at 1:09 PM on May 25, 2010


My 'theory' about the ending, sideways timeline and religious themes of Lost is that the it's all about being able to let go and move on.

For us, the audience that is.
As viewers we are attached to the plight of these characters. The alternate timeline is on big reunion of all the characters we've followed. And they're happy, all the tensions have been resolved, there's no more narrative potential left. We can let them go. They're happy and together.
And then they dissolve in the light. It's the death for us of the characters. There's no epilogue.
Done.


But looking at this thread we are still attached.
posted by joost de vries at 1:10 PM on May 25, 2010 [3 favorites]


There is no spoon.
posted by Omon Ra at 1:20 PM on May 25, 2010


Wait. You were disappointed that a show about a bunch of people who miraculously surivive a plane crash on a magical time-traveling and invisible island inhabited by immortal guardians and a smoke monster and controlled by a donkey wheel in an underground electromagnetic cave ended with an alternate time line that was revealed to be the afterlife because you don't believe in an afterlife?

Pretty much. See, it's all sci-fi of various degrees of squishy-ness right up till that last part, which is pure religious fantasy. For what it's worth, I like one and not the other.
posted by aught at 1:21 PM on May 25, 2010 [6 favorites]


To be clear, I really don't mean to be antagonistic, though I feel maybe I'm coming across that way. I do feel let down and frustrated with the show, and debating things here helps me feel out my own response to what I'm perceiving as flaws, and I'm also trying to suss out whether or not there are angles to look at it that will leave me less frustrated. So far, though, I feel like I'm digging a trench on the "I feel this was pretty stupid" side.
posted by neuromodulator at 1:27 PM on May 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


I didn't think the finale required you to believe in an afterlife, but rather in a specific afterlife that existed only for these particular characters, which was facilitated by the magic of the island.

I actually spent a bit of mental effort trying to see it that way yesterday, but after rewatching the finale last night I could find no hint that the Island has anything to do with the alt-afterlife. The characters created their shared afterlife themselves because of their caring for and bonding with each other - no Island mentioned or required in Christian's exposition.

All they would have had to do is have Hugo do some of the exposition in the last half-hour, since he was the next Island protector ("So, Jack, thing is, I thought it might be kind of nice, you know, if everyone could be together again somehow, and I realized, whoa, I could do that, so I thought, okay cool, and I did it; do you like it?"), and it would have established a link with Island mojo, but that wasn't the case.
posted by aught at 1:33 PM on May 25, 2010


The mythology was the hook for a lot of people, obviously, but in reality it has to be as impenetrable as something like The Force

@Navelgazer: Exactly. This is something that I think is a fundamental (false) paradox of storytelling. People are enchanted, frightened and excited by the mysterious and seemingly inexplicable. This is human. And what is inexplicable tends to accrued mythology around it as a way of venerating the awe we feel when confronted with the Mysterious as much as a way of actually explaining it (which mythology really doesn't in any useful sense).
I would posit that one of the reasons we find Mysteries so alluring is that our mind races to fill them the answers of Mythic proportions. There is a sense of untamed possibility we feel when confronted with a Mystery. As soon as the curtain is pulled back and the Mystery is explained, it loses its power. Certainly there is a momentary gratification in having "solved" it, but this is transient and usually leaves us craving some new Mystery.

I don't have the link, but I read somewhere that there is some neurological evidence to show that we derive more pleasure/excitement from the anticipation of something we want and we do from actually getting it. I think this applies to treasures of the mind (explanations, eg.)) as much as it does to physical things.

All that to say that leaving some things unexplained is often a good thing for a story (especially one steeped in mythology) to do. I think that had we been given more technical answers to more of the Island's questions, we would have been initially thrilled but later would have felt cheated, as much of what made the Island alluring would seem mundane in retrospect.

But enough about the lack of answers. I also agree with Navelgazer that the focus of the finale was appropriately on the characters. I believe strongly that any good fiction (in any format) is about characters. It is how we access whatever other messages might be in a story, it is why we care what happens. "[T]he mysticism was just a crucible for the actions between the characters." Again, Navelgazer is spot on. As a big nerd who loves to debate the minutia of sci-fi technology with his friends, I certainly know the allure of all the magic/technological/mythical trappings that a story can come wrapped in. But they are never really the point.

And as an episode about the characters, I felt that the finale was a success. I did not feel cheated by the sideways/afterlife/waiting room/purgatory universe, because to be honest, once it was explained it made sense. Not the technical kind of sense that I feel a lot of people wanted (but as I said above, probably would not have been happy with even if they'd gotten it), but emotional sense. Is that too fluffy? I don't think so. Consider that what most people want at the end of a story is to look back on the characters they have loved and to see them get some measure of closure. Many stories do this either by having the surviving characters "remember" their fallen companions, or by twisting the plot such that everyone has some sort of unified "win" at the same time so that they can all stand around together and say "gee whiz, we did it!". To be honest, I find that sort of conclusion to be more of a cop-out than what we got here.

Why did I like the afterlife explanation? Well, first off, as many people have pointed out, it gave us a way to see most (actor contract issues notwithstanding) of our favorite characters, alive and dead, one last time, and in an ultimately positive ending. I found the quick technical explanation of "there's no 'when' here" to be more than sufficient to give me a handle on what I'd been seeing. For a show that has had a theme of working together (or more often - what results when people DON'T work together/trust each other), I thought that the idea that all the characters subconsciously wanted to "find" each other after each of their respective deaths to be fitting. A lot of people seem to have read much, much more into attendance list in the church, or the significance of moving on than I did. I just took the scene to mean that many of the people who had touched each other's lives found peace and acceptance in each others' company and were ready to move on to whatever it is you want to believe is after death. Some of them weren't ready, that's fine. Perhaps some of them needed to resolve their struggles alone and so they didn't figure in (Mr. Ecko), which is also fine. In fact it might have felt forced if everyone from the show ever was in there, simply by virtue of having been somehow connected with the main characters and the Island.

Finally, the sideways-verse being a sort of spiritual waiting room makes a rough sort of sense with what the Island seems to be about. We weren't given technical answers, but we were led to believe that it is somehow connected with people's "souls" and that the light at the heart of the island is connected to all of humanity. To me, that's enough to make the ending feel right, and not out of left field.

All said, I think it was a tasteful way to end things and I think that the initial blue balls effect of not getting a bunch of technical questions answered will fade, but the emotional closure we got for the characters we loved will endure. Well done, I say.
posted by syntaxbad at 1:37 PM on May 25, 2010 [6 favorites]


I mean, I feel like you're saying, "What's in the hatch? A glowing thing. What is the monster? It's a monster!" are answers. Or am I misunderstanding something?

I feel like those are, as you say, uncharitable versions of the actual answers. What's the monster? It's one-half, probably the evil half, of a hugely powerful matched set of God-like beings that sometimes manifests itself as killer black smoke and kills people, complete with mechanical clinking sounds, and sometimes manifest itself as your dead friends and family. That's not enough of answer? What other sort of answer are you looking for?

There are a few big leads that they dropped pretty completely, sure, but I think the way things worked within the setting they provided for us was enough. No, they didn't nail down precisely how the Dharma initiative worked, or exactly what was up with the numbers, or what was up with Kate's little plane, or what was with the day-glo graffiti inside the hatch, but why bother? They threw some hints at it and moved on to something else. That was the way the show worked form the very beginning. I can understand not liking it, but I can't understand feeling betrayed by the ending of the show being consistent with the run of the show.

For me, I feel like the nailing down of specifics is the least interesting part. I don't care how the stuff works, I care THAT it works. And surely it didn't always work over the course of the show but for me the last episode WORKED. I bought it. It was internally consistent with my understanding of that world, even if they never said exactly, precisely what (fantastical, fictional and beside-the-point) thing was going on underneath the plug.
posted by dirtdirt at 1:39 PM on May 25, 2010


See, it's all sci-fi of various degrees of squishy-ness right up till that last part, which is pure religious fantasy.

Well, think of it as a sci-fi "minds uploaded into a computer" type of afterlife it it makes you feel better.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 1:40 PM on May 25, 2010


What's the monster? It's one-half, probably the evil half, of a hugely powerful matched set of God-like beings that sometimes manifests itself as killer black smoke and kills people, complete with mechanical clinking sounds, and sometimes manifest itself as your dead friends and family. That's not enough of answer? What other sort of answer are you looking for?

My husband keeps insisting that the monster is, and will always be, a cloud of nanomachines.

Anyway, some people do care just as much how things work as whether or not things worked in an internally consistent way. And some people disagree with the central theme as teased out in the finale, even if that theme was developed in a way that was internally consistent (I don't feel it always was; honestly, I think one of the big problems in the last season was that they were spending entirely too much time trying to make other theoretical endings look plausible as a means to misdirection). That LOST was about these themes fundamentally wasn't explicit until the very end of a very long run--a frustrating experience for those of us who were, apparently, watching it for very wrong reasons--so I think maybe some patience with our frustration might be necessary. Sorry.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 1:46 PM on May 25, 2010 [3 favorites]


But for me, syntaxbad, there was no mythology, and that's the problem. I would have preferred a good sci-fi ending, that would have been great, but I was prepared to accept a lesser mythological ending. But there was no mythology. A mythology would have been something like: the glow is this, the temples were built by these people, the guardianship was started by so-and-so, and the smoke monster is this and it wants to do that.

If those explanations had been present, I wouldn't be mad because there wasn't another layer of turtles underneath that I wanted explained. I routinely accept and enjoy mythologies of that sort. The problem is there was no turtle whatsoever, and in grumblebee's 2005 quotes, we were sort of promised that wouldn't happen.
posted by neuromodulator at 1:49 PM on May 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


Well, think of it as a sci-fi "minds uploaded into a computer" type of afterlife it it makes you feel better.

Heh. I have tried that, but the giant freakin' Christ standing just outside their chapel of transcendence (singularity?) keeps getting in the way.

I mean, I'll have to rationalize it some way like this, or maybe like BSG pretend la-la-la the final episode doesn't exist la-la-la, because I have these LOST dvd sets on the shelf I am going to have to watch in a couple-few years.
posted by aught at 1:52 PM on May 25, 2010


The MIB was the man in the cabin (incorrectly referred to by Ben and his Others as "Jacob's Cabin"), saying "HELP ME." Mainly because the cabin was surrounded by the Magical Ash. Which was keeping him in the cabin. And he's the Smoke Monster.

WHO HAD BEEN WANDERING AROUND OUTSIDE THIS CABIN SINCE EPISODE 1. How is he wandering and killing if he's trapped?

grr
posted by grubi at 1:55 PM on May 25, 2010 [4 favorites]


On the bright side, at least the Oceanic Howevermany didn't end up leaping around hell and gone forever (there is no forever here) like that poor slob Sam Beckett.
posted by FelliniBlank at 2:00 PM on May 25, 2010


wish it was legal to take all the episodes of lost and recut them into a coherent narrative without so many dull and insultingly vague stretches.

What if VLC could take a playlist to take any walk through frames of .vods of all the DVDs? Then the playlists could be distributed freely even though technically they might be derivative works. I've been thinking about doing this since the Phantom Edit came out.
posted by morganw at 2:01 PM on May 25, 2010


I'm personally a fan of the idea that a work of fiction should not ask you to suspend your disbelief more than ONCE.

I never understand what it means to "ask" people to suspend their disbelief, but I love the gentlemanly way it's phrased.

"Old bean, I must ask you to accept flying carpets for the duration of my tale."

"Very good, old chum. I'll give it my all."

Maybe some viewers have incredible control over what they believe or what they don't. Me? I watch stuff, the writers posit certain things, I am able to buy some of them and not others. And I don't really have any control over whether I wind up believing or not. Sometimes I believe. Other times, no matter how hard I try, this happens:

la-la-la the final episode doesn't exist la-la-la

Or "la-la-la I'm trying to believe in flying carpets but I don't. I'm really trying. I'm still trying. I still don't. What's wrong with me? I'm trying. I'm TRYING."

I haven't noticed a correlation about my propensity to believe and how many unreal things the author posits. Sometimes I believe everything in the most outlandish fantasy. Sometimes I can't swallow just a single surreal idea. It really depends on the execution.

To me, asking someone to suspend his disbelief is like asking him to fall in love. You can't ASK for that. Asking won't make any difference.

Sometimes, when I've said this, the person I'm talking to says, "Well, maybe you can't force yourself to believe in something, but you don't have to purposefully find fault with a story. All that nit-picking will just ensure you don't believe."

The thing is, I don't "purposefully find fault." I really just react. If I notice a fault, I can't unnotice it. But, again, maybe other people can. Maybe they have some kind of brain module that acts like the memory eraser in "Men in Black." Or maybe they drink more than I do.
posted by grumblebee at 2:06 PM on May 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


What's the monster? It's one-half, probably the evil half, of a hugely powerful matched set of God-like beings that sometimes manifests itself as killer black smoke and kills people, complete with mechanical clinking sounds, and sometimes manifest itself as your dead friends and family. That's not enough of answer?

No, it's really not. That's not...I mean, I want to parody this but I cannot make it any weirder. I mean, re-read what you wrote. Are you joking with me? Sometimes this, sometimes that, set of god-like beings (for no reason: only Jacob drank the Jamba Juice), complete with random features?

What would have satisfied? Something like, "The hole in the ground is the DesCartean pineal gland of reality, where nirvana meets our world. It is needed because it's through this opening that lifeforces emerge and inhabit physical bodies. When Jacob put his brother in there, his brother was granted access to a power that no mortal is supposed to have, because you're only supposed to return to the source once you're ready, i.e. once you've learned everything you're supposed to learn in life, or from repeated lives. His anger and resentment corrupted the light, and that's why he manifests as smokey, opaque darkness: he's the essence of non-light."

But there are problems with that.

1) None of this relation to nirvana and lifeforce is really presented in the show. I can say, "Yeah, maybe none of that was contradicted, so, sure, why not?" but I really would like the show to do better than "none of that was contradicted."

2) The show had 121 episodes. I think the framework should have been laid out before episode 119. Yeah, the smoke monster and Jacob existed before that. But I think we needed some references to the glowing cave, etc, to create the structure to support this story.

3) None of that explanation explains why it would be really bad if he got off the island, or why he's like, super-mega-evil. So he's immortal. So big deal. We've got an immortal, angry Locke who succeeded in escaping the island. I need a reason to fear that. Instead I'm just told that I should fear it. That's like the number one no-no in storytelling.

4) I'd also have really liked an explanation as to why everything looks man-made. Meaning the glowing spring, hole and plug. It could be that it just looks man-made, and isn't, but that's sort of sloppy. If it is man-made, then it's kind of inconsistent with what I'm proposing it being.

But, there, that's my honest attempt to answer "what kind of answer would satisfy." I mean, I don't think that's very good, there are a bunch of holes, but that should give you an idea what I'm looking for. A reason for things being the way they are, a reason for us fearing what we're told to fear, and a narrative that set up these elements in a way that made them seem like they did not come out of nowhere.
posted by neuromodulator at 2:10 PM on May 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


Here's a College Humor video featuring unanswered LOST questions. [via]
posted by shannonm at 2:12 PM on May 25, 2010 [7 favorites]


@neuromodulator: A couple of thoughts occur to me. First, I actually do empathize with your frustration. I do not want to imply that I simply feel no desire to have things answered. Quite the contrary, I love seeing backstory and explanation as much as the next guy. What I did though, was to ask myself what level explanation would have been "enough"? Because I think that with what we got, most of your immediate questions are answered, and more detailed answers really would just lead to another set of turtles (sex unknown) or maybe elephants :)

Short of literally SHOWING us an alternate world where the light goes out, so that we know specifically what happens, the best that can really be done is to assure us that its Very Bad for it to go out. Who built the temples? Does it really matter? Someone ancient who revered the light. Probably older guardians. It doesn't change that the light must be protected. What is the smoke monster, what does he want? He's the remains of an angry man who killed his mother. He wants to leave. He also can turn into smoke and is bound by certain rules with respect to his brother. All of this we were told. I'm not sure that knowing he was a giant cloud of nanites, or possessed by the devil, or the actual embodiment of man's capacity for evil would have told me anything I really needed to know. We saw who he was, and we saw what he wanted.

Anyway, that's not to casually dismiss your questions, and I certainly don't mean to be insulting. What I'm trying to get across is that what seem like questions we need to know the answers to are either A) not really that important to the events and the characters (even if they would be fun and cool to learn about) or B) already answered as best they can be.
posted by syntaxbad at 2:26 PM on May 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


All of this we were told. I'm not sure that knowing he was a giant cloud of nanites, or possessed by the devil, or the actual embodiment of man's capacity for evil would have told me anything I really needed to know.

It sure wouldn't have hurt anything, though. The whole "this will just lead to more questions" sure seems like a cop-out when they could have just been like, oh, this stuff, some ancient Egyptians built it around an alien aircraft. And most of us would have just gone, oh, cool, that LOST sure is a wacky show.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 2:33 PM on May 25, 2010


@neuromodulator

Sorry, posted my last bit before I saw your comment. Its funny, I was going to put a hypothetical "explanation" answer for each of your questions in my previous post but then decided against it. But it was actually pretty similar to what you just wrote. I have to run and won't be back on til later tonight, but I think I agree with you that the show could have done a better job giving us SOME of those answers at some point in the lead up. However, I stand by my position that by the time the finale rolled around, it was too late to shoehorn in any of these explanations, and given that, I think they chose an elegant and touching way to end things, focusing appropriately on the most important thing: the characters.
posted by syntaxbad at 2:39 PM on May 25, 2010


grumblebee: "''The model is Twin Peaks,'' says Cuse. ''It has become a strong lesson for us in not postulating new mysteries without answering old ones.'' Which means, according to producers, that most of their Big Questions — What's in the hatch? What is the monster? What do Hurley's lotto numbers mean? — have solutions.

What happened?
"

You've seen Twin Peaks, right? Twin Peaks has one fucking answer. One. And a whole lot of unanswered mysterious stuff going down.
posted by graventy at 2:45 PM on May 25, 2010


Graventy, that's their point. That Twin Peak was a lesson in how not to do things. Or am I reading it wrong?
posted by neuromodulator at 2:48 PM on May 25, 2010


One thing I don't understand: a lot of you seemed to like the flash sideways. Why? It was entirely alternate storylines with basically clones of the characters we'd watched for 5 seasons. The entire season, it felt like half an episode was devoted to wacky fanfiction where Sawyer's a cop! or Hurley's lucky! with crazy coincidental meetings and lots of deja vu-ish experiences.

Now, with the finale, I have the feeling that they hid a lot of nuance into those scenes that I didn't pick up on the first time. Rose on the plane telling Jack "You can let go now. Everything's ok." Juliet's repeated scene with Sawyer. Desmond just being content and happy as fuck in purgatory. Rose's scene with Locke.

There's very little chance that a "combine the timelines somehow" finale would have satisfied me, because that largely would have meant that the 10 or so hours of alterna-verse we got was just a huge "What If?" story with no real importance. To me, the purgatory ending gives that a depth it didn't have before.
posted by graventy at 2:57 PM on May 25, 2010


The Desmond/hatch/Swan thing works if you remember that they were time traveling: when they went "back to 1977, it was their present and thus, everything had already happened. Desmond had already pushed the button. The Swan had already been built. I believe it's one of the consistent rules of time travel: you can't change the past. So, whatever "diverged" from that point is irrelevant as the plane crash had already occured to the Losties and couldn't un-occur.

I imagine that this point of view would also be clearer if you were on a lot of drugs. I've just got massive sleep deprivation, but that's working for me pretty well in groking this line of "reasoning."

Also: the ash can't be imprisoning El Smokerino as he was all troubling the Losties from Season 1. The Cabin seems to fall into the "WTF?!" category of shit that the writers just did to mess with us. I mean, Ben never saw Jacob, but Richard (obviously) did and Richard didn't require secret Cabin meetings. I'm definitely down with Smokey using the cabin to manipulate Ben, for sure, and especially manipulating Locke (who "sees" Jacob when Ben clearly never has), but the whole pretense of the cabin is pretty much dropped once Jacob is killed. The writers go back and explain that his twin brother is a smoke monster who got dropped in a pit of light, and they introduce some nutso lighthouse that corresponds to the numbers, but they don't bother mention why Jacob - who had pretty reasonable face to face conversations with Richard and (post-mortem) Hurley - bothered communicate with Ben through a cabin. Or if he communicated with Ben at all. Ever.

More disappointing dropped plot line than WAAAAALLLLLLLLLLLT or a polar bear if you ask me.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 2:57 PM on May 25, 2010


neuromodulator: "Graventy, that's their point. That Twin Peak was a lesson in how not to do things. Or am I reading it wrong?"

Ah, crap. I read that wrong. :)

To be fair, though, mysteries abounding or not, Twin Peaks was still a great show and I foist it on everyone I can. I'll say the same for LOST.

No. It's not entirely satisfying. Can you name a series finale that was? Part of the problem in trying to make comparisons is that there aren't very many serialized mystery shows like LOST.
posted by graventy at 3:01 PM on May 25, 2010


There's very little chance that a "combine the timelines somehow" finale would have satisfied me, because that largely would have meant that the 10 or so hours of alterna-verse we got was just a huge "What If?" story with no real importance. To me, the purgatory ending gives that a depth it didn't have before.

What I had been fantasizing about was that the bomb had worked, the sideways universe was real, Charlie had successfully restored Desmond's memories of the main timeline, and Desmond then successfully convinced all the sideways cast that they had to go back to help Jack. And that somehow, this was how they defeated Smokey. That is, it looked all grim, Jack and the survivors had been whittled down, and had no hope, and then PRESTO Desmond and everyone who died in the island/main timeline comes back because Desmond and Faraday figured out how to return to the main timeline and the cavalry arrives and they beat back Smokey together. That would have made the alt timeline have some relevance to the main timeline, and really driven home the "things work best when we cooperate" thing. Plus they could have kept (and even amped up) the killing of everyone in the main timeline (which allowed plenty of emotional moments), because it was the very arrival of all the people they had, ahem, LOST that would have saved the day.

Plus then the crystal skull was like an alien artifact and the whole city was an alien base and oh no hold on a sec.
posted by neuromodulator at 3:07 PM on May 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


I thought the end of The Wire was done right.
posted by neuromodulator at 3:08 PM on May 25, 2010


Oooh oooh! I have an answer to one of the 100 questions!

"Why did Mr. Eko say 'you're next' to Locke when killed by the smoke monster?"

He's saying "you're next" as in YOU'RE the NEXT smoke monster! I am so smart! S-m-r-t!

The pregnancy thing is the one that REALLY bugs me that they didn't answer. They were at least consistent with it - any baby born on the island (including Jacob and MiB) were conceived off the island. I think that perhaps the electromagnetism fucks with fetuses - but why they don't fuck with pre-existing fetuses? I dunno. Maybe it was one of Mother's rules that Candidates had to come from "Across the Sea" to prevent passing down guardianship - even though she kidnapped kids to pass down? Maybe the pre-Mother guardian made that up and that's why Mother had to go and steal babies?

It seems fairly obvious to me that the Others wanted Walt because he was the strongest Candidate, until they realized that there would be no way to make an 8 year old kid a consistent figure in a show that lasts six seasons but only elapses three consecutive years.

(And yeah, seriously Sun & Jin - joint death is awesome, but your kid is an orphan. MAKES NO SENSE. Go, Jin! Live! And meet your child that you never actually meet - not even in purgatory because you become awakened before her pseudo birth! IDIOT!)
posted by grapefruitmoon at 3:09 PM on May 25, 2010


Also: the ash can't be imprisoning El Smokerino as he was all troubling the Losties from Season 1. The Cabin seems to fall into the "WTF?!" category of shit that the writers just did to mess with us.

Note to self: Go back and watch whichever episode that was where whomever it was (Locke?) has a dream where a guy (Roger Workman?) is building the cabin over and over.
posted by shakespeherian at 3:11 PM on May 25, 2010


Spoiler: you're going to die without having solved all of life's mysteries.
posted by desjardins at 3:16 PM on May 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


No. It's not entirely satisfying. Can you name a series finale that was?

If you count the 8th season finale for "Scrubs" (and the creator does) as the proper series finale, then... "Scrubs."
posted by grubi at 3:17 PM on May 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


No. It's not entirely satisfying. Can you name a series finale that was?

Six Feet Under. In every possible way.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 3:18 PM on May 25, 2010 [7 favorites]


And yeah, seriously Sun & Jin - joint death is awesome, but your kid is an orphan. MAKES NO SENSE. Go, Jin! Live!

Yeah, that bugged me as well. I'm not a mom, so I may be talking out of my ass here, but if I knew I was going to die (well, I'd be screaming hysterically so in the alta-universe where I'd be rational) I'd say, go take of our kid, you can even date again after a proper interval because it would be good if our kid had a mom.

Not, oh, you're going to die with me. I love you!
posted by angrycat at 3:19 PM on May 25, 2010


She did tell him to go, multiple times, and he refused. (see Act 5)
posted by desjardins at 3:24 PM on May 25, 2010


Also, Sun & Jin's joint death reminded me so much of Jack&Rose in Titanic that instead of weeping, I kinda threw up in my mouth a little.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 3:24 PM on May 25, 2010


No. It's not entirely satisfying. Can you name a series finale that was?

Nowhere Man had a bunch of loose threads and wrapped them up in a (mostly) satisfying package in one season.

Along with The Wire, other HBO Shows have ended well: Six Feet Under, Oz, and Rome spring to mind. For sitcoms, Cheers, M*A*S*H*, Happy Days, and Seinfeld were all great. And Twin Peaks. A lot of people didn't like the 2nd season of Twin Peaks, but I enjoyed the end immensely.

Also, meta Moonlighting was pretty cool for its time.
posted by mrgrimm at 3:28 PM on May 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


also: There are a couple of really good books that are about fucking with the readers (Infinite Jeste and Tristram Shandy) but you get the joke (and w/r/t IJ I'm using 'joke' loosely) at the end. So even if it makes you mad the work is still cohesive.

With Lost, after season whatever (when it went into its period of sucktitude) I had a real strong feeling of a lack of cohesion to the work. My hopes rose with the introduction of Faraday and all the time travel stuff, because as a non-scientist whatever was completely non-plausible about it went completely over my head.

But to fill what -- one or two seasons with all this time-traveling stuff and then make it seem like the last season, the last chapter of the book, if you will, is about how time travel can change history, and then its nothing but a bunch of afterlife hokum, well, blech to that.
posted by angrycat at 3:28 PM on May 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


She did tell him to go, multiple times, and he refused.

Right, I guess what I would be looking for would be "Go! Raise our daughter!" And she didn't say that line, because if Jin then stayed, it wouldn't look like the swoonworthy tragic romantic moment that they were going for, because the audience would be saying, "Yeah -- what about the daughter?"
posted by angrycat at 3:34 PM on May 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


also: There are a couple of really good books that are about fucking with the readers (Infinite Jeste and Tristram Shandy) but you get the joke (and w/r/t IJ I'm using 'joke' loosely) at the end.

The joke of IJ isn't at the end.
posted by mrgrimm at 3:37 PM on May 25, 2010


Angrycat, that last bit is precisely how I feel. The afterlife thing can be done okay, but setting up a framework such that:

a) time travel happens in this world!
b) "we're going to create an alternate timeline in which the plane crash never happens!"
c) having one of the characters say, "it worked!" right after said attempt
d) and immediately jumping to the plane trip, in which there's no crash, just like b and c set us up for

And then in the very final ten minutes of the entire series being, like, "Ha! No, point "d" above was a magical dreamland! We fooled you!" is just about the biggest load of shit ever. You didn't "trick" me, you lied to me. You're fired.
posted by neuromodulator at 3:40 PM on May 25, 2010 [3 favorites]


Wow, I've never heard of Nowhere Man. That show sounds great.
posted by graventy at 3:42 PM on May 25, 2010


neuromodulator: "And then in the very final ten minutes of the entire series being, like, "Ha! No, point "d" above was a magical dreamland! We fooled you!" is just about the biggest load of shit ever. You didn't "trick" me, you lied to me. You're fired."

That's the same path most of the episodes of LOST took.
posted by graventy at 3:45 PM on May 25, 2010


"The images shown during the end credits of the 'Lost' finale, which included shots of Oceanic 815 on a deserted beach, were not part of the final story but were a visual aid to allow the viewer to decompress before heading into the news," an ABC spokesperson wrote in an e-mail Tuesday.
posted by DiscourseMarker at 3:55 PM on May 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


No. It's not entirely satisfying. Can you name a series finale that was?

Babylon 5
M*A*S*H
Futurama (counting the "original" finale, "The Devil's Hands are Idle Playthings.")

mrgrimm: a lot of Seinfeld fans were dissatisfied with its ending. (I liked the ending, but I wasn't a fan of the show in general.)
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 4:00 PM on May 25, 2010


No. It's not entirely satisfying. Can you name a series finale that was?

Life

In the top 5 best series finales ever, easily. It resolved every nagging question of the series, solved the mysteries in interesting and surprising ways, and was just awesome.
posted by The World Famous at 4:03 PM on May 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


My hopes rose with the introduction of Faraday and all the time travel stuff, because as a non-scientist whatever was completely non-plausible about it went completely over my head.

As someone who has studied a bit of science, here's a guide (not just applicable to Lost, but in general):

What's implausible about time travel as depicted in fiction, from a scientific viewpoint:
1. Time travel.

1a. blah blah debate about whether relativistic time dilation counts as time travel blah blah
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 4:06 PM on May 25, 2010 [9 favorites]


Spoiler: you're going to die without having solved all of life's mysteries.

Right, but if the whole point is to have faith and quit looking for answers, then they probably shouldn't have, like, "solved" the mystery of what happens after death for us.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 4:13 PM on May 25, 2010


(I know you're going to say that this was only pre-death and that they move on to some mysterious place after, but that sure as heck looked and sounded like an "after" life to me.)
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 4:14 PM on May 25, 2010


No. It's not entirely satisfying. Can you name a series finale that was?

The last episode of Deep Space 9 was pretty satisfying.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 4:17 PM on May 25, 2010


People here are debating whether, in a fantasy, authors have a responsibility to explain causation. And, if so, how far down the causal chain they need to go.

Before anyone says "Responsibly? Need? A Writer has no responsibility to anyone! It's HIS story. He doesn't NEED to do anything," let me be clear that I mean "his responsibility -- or what he needs to do -- IF he cares about pleasing viewers who care about causation." If he doesn't, then so be it: he should do whatever he wants.

When a disgruntled viewer point out that a writer never explained event X, fans usually point out that answers just beget more questions, so there's no possibly way of creating satisfaction through answers. This is as true in real life as it is in stories: why did Fred eat the apple? Because he wanted to. WHY did he want to? Because he likes apples and he was hungry. WHY was he hungry? Because he hadn't eaten since breakfast. WHY hadn't he eaten since breakfast ... (hours later) WHY did the Big Bang occur? ...

It's impossible to answer all questions in a causal chain. So what's the alternative? One alternative is to answer no questions. But no story does that. We may not know why Winston has the power of invisibility, but at least know why he's using it: to steal the Countess's diamonds.

The only reasonable alternative is to answer some questions but not others. But how do we know which we need (see my definition of "need," above) to answer? If we just choose randomly (or choose "the ones we feel like answering"), we're going to infuriate a lot of readers. They will just randomly happen to care about different answers than we do.

One type of questions we don't have to answer are questions that generally go unanswered in reality. Where did Qu'eep come from? Another planet. Where was that other planet? In another galaxy. Where was that galaxy? In the universe. WHERE was the universe?

Stop.

We don't have to answer that last question. Viewers are used to not knowing where the universe "is," so they won't be frustrated when we don't tell them.

We also don't need to answer questions that we blatantly say we're not going to answer. We do this by stubbornly insisting that there's a first cause: "The wizard gave Laura a magic ring that made her twice as strong as she normally was..." Few viewers are going to say, "Yes, but how does the magic ring actually work in terms of physics?" It's magic. We played fair with viewers by explaining that. (Sometimes, we can also get away with "No one knows!" How can the green cat fly? "Ah, my son. Excellent question! I only wish I knew the answer. Scholars have been searching for that very answer for three-thousand years. They all fail. The reason the green cat can fly is a great mystery!")

You can also stop questions by making answer-getting impossible. "The monster came from the land beyond the sea" (a land never visited in our story) or "the mysterious castle was built by the elder gods -- those who ruled the Earth long ago and have since fled to the stars" These sorts of explanations signal to the viewer that an answer exists, but it's inaccessible. His mind can rest, in the same way that it rests when it realizes that there's simply no way to buy a pair of jeans if he only have ten cents. Too bad, but he can give up and move on.

A neat trick is to stop the questions without leading the viewer 100% of the way to the end-point. "The answer lay behind the golden door, he knew, but he also knew he would never know the answer, because the key had been lost so long ago, when the silver men came to our world and took away all the means for men to know their origins." We have to be careful about this sort of thing, because it's very delicate. Even my example might frustrate some viewers, but, hopefully, they will have a magical feeling that there's something just beyond the door -- but that it will always be out of reach. They will wonder what's beyond the door, but they won't think it's a cop-out that we don't tell them, because, after all, the silver men took the key far, far away.

There are two things we should NEVER do. (Again, we should never do them IF we care about pleasing a certain kind of viewer.) One is to promise -- or hint -- that a cause will be explained and then never explain it. Obviously, we don't say, "The answer will be in next week's episode" and then fail to give the answer next week. That's duh territory. But it's important to understand that just by posing a question -- by having a character ask, "Where did the wizard get his powers?" we hint that we're going to answer it. We hint, because the default assumption many viewers make is that if we bring up a question, we're GOING to answer it.

(That's not a dumb assumption. They know, on some level, that the story is just made up. In real life, if there's a question, it may be unanswerable. But if an author -- the god of his made-up world -- suggests a looming question, the viewer knows full well that he, the author, can answer it if he chooses to.)

The second no-no is to never try to pass off a non-answer as an answer. "It's magic" isn't a non-answer. "It's magic" is the same as saying "it's unknowable," and we're used to unknowable things from real life (of course, you can't hint that there's a more complete answer and THEN say "it's magic," because that violates the first no-no rule.) A non-answer is "Oh, so you want to know how Mordred gets all his powers? Well, I promised to tell you, and I WILL tell you. He gets them from pressing THAT button."

That's a problem because curious viewers will instantly wonder, "But how does the button give him magic powers?" And you're back to the causal-chain nightmare again. You need to make sure that you either never promise to answer the question (or hint that you will) or you need to lead the reader to one of the cut-off causes, outlined above.
posted by grumblebee at 4:17 PM on May 25, 2010 [9 favorites]


"The images shown during the end credits of the 'Lost' finale, which included shots of Oceanic 815 on a deserted beach, were not part of the final story but were a visual aid to allow the viewer to decompress before heading into the news," an ABC spokesperson wrote in an e-mail Tuesday.

Nice to know HIS interpretation.
posted by grumblebee at 4:23 PM on May 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


I wish my nickname for the Fake Locke had caught on: the Likeness Monster.
posted by grubi at 4:28 PM on May 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Some observations.

1. Jacob's mom killed Jacob's real mom. She later killed a small settlement of people. She was a complete bitch to Jacob's twin brother (who has to be named "Esau"). She passed her title onto Jacob, who in turn did something to his own twin brother that was worse than death. He later seems to have been fine with the mass murder of the Dharma people. After all, Richard and Ben put that together themselves. My point? Jacob is not a good guy. At all. He is protecting the island or something, but he is doing so with no regard for human life.

Jacob's brother seems like a decent guy. He thinks for himself. He gets mad at his mother for murdering all of his friends and he kills her -- partly as payback for killing his friends and partly to stop the insanity of protecting the island which he does not quite get. After getting royally fucked over by his brother, he becomes the Smoke Monster. He just wants to get the fuck off the island. That was what he wanted before becoming the Smoke Monster, and that is what he wanted after. He wants to get off the island and has no regard for human life. He is not Evil, anymore than Jacob is good.

Jacob wants to protect the island. His mom told him to. She said the two sons couldn't leave. So Jacob is not going to let his brother leave. "Protect the island and don't let your brother leave." That seems to be his mission (though why Jacob gets to leave the island is beyond me).

I think Jacob's brother maybe could leave the island and the world wouldn't end. Perhaps Jacob just said that so that everyone would work to keep him on the island.

2. My biggest problem with the show actually had to do with the pushing of the button. Ben and Richard had been around since the Dharma days. They knew about the giant electromagnetic risk. They knew about the crazy button-pushing. So why in the world were they not monitoring it at all? Why would they completely ignore it? I was certain that season that not pushing the button would have no negative effect. If it were to have such an effect, then surely Ben would have made sure it kept getting pushed? But no, there he was out on the dock when the button failed to get pushed. Ridiculous. That never made any sense.

3. I think it is important to note that it was midway through Season Three that there was a hiatus for the show. I think it was a writer's strike or something. The show was quickly falling apart at that point. I was a big X-Files fan, and Lost was doing the same thing. It kept telling us all of these really cool things that made us more interesting, but it didn't really know where they were going. During that hiatus, the power players working on Lost got together to discuss the problems. Ratings were down, and people online were bitching about the show. It was at that point that they came up with a plan, and announced that they were going six seasons to finish telling the story.

I think there can be little doubt that they came up with everything at that time. The rest of Season 3 was essentially written already, and they tweaked it a bit to fit their plan. Over the course of the next three seasons, they made an effort to explain away everything they could that had already happened. The stuff they couldn't explain they just generally ignored. When you re-watch the series, you will note that stuff that happens in the final three seasons is probably rather internally consistent. Most of the issues that people have with the plot inconsistencies have to do with things that happened on the show (first two and a half seasons) before they came up with their plan.

4. The giant statue was of one of the aliens who initially landed on the planet years ago and put the light, etc. on the island. It is likely that the Egyptians were the ones who built the statue. It is also why there is a runway on Hydra Island. It was for the original aliens.
posted by flarbuse at 4:34 PM on May 25, 2010 [9 favorites]


Best scenes from LOST.
posted by grumblebee at 4:37 PM on May 25, 2010


Arrested Development had a near perfect finale (with the previous episode, "Exit Strategy," basically answering all questions.) Jin refusing to go to be with Ji-Yeon bugged me too. Anyway...

You basically had not just a finale but an entire final season where the message was, "the characters are more important than the unknowable island mysteries." If you believed that going in, it was immensely satisfying. If you didn't, I can imagine that it would have pissed you off.
posted by Navelgazer at 4:39 PM on May 25, 2010


There are two things we should NEVER do. (Again, we should never do them IF we care about pleasing a certain kind of viewer.) One is to promise -- or hint -- that a cause will be explained and then never explain it.

Serious question:

Have you read any of the following books, and if so, what did you think of them?

Phillip K Dick - Valis
Samuel Delaney - Dhalgren
Mark Danielewski - House of Leaves
Flan O'Brien - The Third Policeman
Paul Auster - The New York Trilogy
posted by empath at 4:50 PM on May 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


My biggest problem with the show actually had to do with the pushing of the button.

The whole point of the Swan station was to force a single person to be subjected to so much long-term electromagnetism that they would be able to pull the cork and kill the Smoke. Indeed, killing the Smoke was the entire mission of the Dharma Initiative. Everything else the Dharma Initiative did was a front designed to completely immerse that one person in the experience so that they would stay in the Swan station and become the Smoke killer.
posted by The World Famous at 4:50 PM on May 25, 2010 [11 favorites]


Or for that matter: The Illuminatus! Trilogy and Eco's Foucault's Pendulum.

Degenerate mysteries are a pretty well-established literary genre.
posted by empath at 4:53 PM on May 25, 2010


Alright, I've had a coupla days to cogitate. I'm seriously not crazy about "this is a place we made where we can meet," but that probably reflect my deep-seated antipathy toward the idea of an afterlife.

Beyond that, and accepting the purgatory thing, here are the things that bug the shit outta me regarding the last season plotlines.

1. Widmore's people apparently carried out a wholesale mass slaughter on Hydra Island, unless I misunderstood what I was seeing. No character in the series seemed to care AT ALL about this, not even Hugo.

2. Hugo was the totally obvious choice; he was the ONLY unambiguously good character in the whole show, a "verray parfit gentil knight."

3. Jacob and Smokey's "Mom" committed a truly unforgivable crime in killing their birth mother. Jacob, and Hurley's, mission to protect the Golden Drain is not a mission of good, but one of power, and therefore to be at least mistrusted and at best resisted. Jacob was a tool in every sense of the word.

4. Given the relatively high casualty rate in the island's history, what the fuck is up with only the cool kids getting together in the Unitarian Church at the End of Time? Where's Rob McElhenney, for example, let alone Walt and Michael? Is there a Discordian Church where the fuckheads get together for a brawl?

5. Ben stays on in LAverse so he can eat coq and raise his daughter, but BOTH Jack and Juliette COMPLETELY ABANDON their only-in-purgatory teenage son. This directly reflects the moral choices made by the "mother" of Jacob and Smokey. It's no wonder children can't be conceived on the island: THESE PEOPLE ARE NOT FIT PARENTS.

I probably have more complaints but those are the ones on my fingertips tonight. That said, as shameful as it is, Unitarian Church at the End of the Universe beats Starbuck-into-pigeon any day.
posted by mwhybark at 4:53 PM on May 25, 2010 [8 favorites]


You basically had not just a finale but an entire final season where the message was, "the characters are more important than the unknowable island mysteries."

Well, first of all, my family is more important to me than my job, but my job is still important to me. If I lost it, no one would say, "Jesus Christ! Why are you upset? Your family is fine, and you care more about them than your job, right?"

Second, what do you mean by "an entire final season where the message was, 'the characters are more important than the unknowable island mysteries'"?

1. More important to whom?

2. What were the hints that this was the case?

The final season finally revealed how Jacob came to the island. It didn't explain what the smoke monster was, but it explained where it came from. It explained the point of the candidates. It explained why Richard didn't age. It explained where the donkey wheel came from. It explained what happened to Rose and Bernard (what happened to them was more of a plot question than a character question).

I saw questions being answered. So I assumed -- or hoped -- that many more would be answered. It's a little silly to do calculus about what was more important, answers or characters. The show was dealing with both.
posted by grumblebee at 4:56 PM on May 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


COMPLETELY ABANDON their only-in-purgatory teenage son.

The son was a fantasy.
posted by empath at 4:57 PM on May 25, 2010 [3 favorites]


Ben stays on in LAverse so he can eat coq and raise his daughter, but BOTH Jack and Juliette COMPLETELY ABANDON their only-in-purgatory teenage son.

What empath said: David is a construct of the shared purgatory/bardo/waiting room. (Remember, Locke tells Jack "You don't have a son" in the sideways timeline after Locke comes out of surgery and has been "awakened.") Alex is real.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 5:01 PM on May 25, 2010


1. Widmore's people apparently carried out a wholesale mass slaughter on Hydra Island, unless I misunderstood what I was seeing. No character in the series seemed to care AT ALL about this, not even Hugo.

This makes me laugh, because it's LOST up to it's usual tricks. In the world of LOST, background characters simply don't matter.

There were -- what? -- 40 people in the original plane crash. Jack vowed to get them ALL off the island, and we saw how upset he got if even one of them (e.g. Boone) died. In (I think) Season Five, almost ALL of them got killed off. The only ones left were the main characters. Where was the scene in which Jack cried, "Oh my God! I failed! I let almost everyone die! Poor George! Poor Laura! Poor Franklin! Poor Cecil! Now they will NEVER get off the island."

No one mentioned them or cared about them. Damn! Even Captain Kirk used to get upset when one of his red shirts died.
posted by grumblebee at 5:02 PM on May 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


Even Captain Kirk used to get upset when one of his red shirts died.

Jack was McCoy, not Kirk.
posted by The World Famous at 5:06 PM on May 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Have you read any of the following books, and if so, what did you think of them?

Sorry, I haven't read any of the books you listed. Of the 50 or so books I read ever year, I'd say 15% is sci-fi or fantasy.
posted by grumblebee at 5:10 PM on May 25, 2010


hey, you know, I did say "only-in-purgatory." If the kid's a 'fantasy' then purgatory is too, even for the participants, which means, hey guess what? So is the Unitarian Church at the End of the Universe. Which, uh, it's a TV show, so I suppose that's a true statement.
posted by mwhybark at 5:12 PM on May 25, 2010


grumblebee, I have read several, and of that list, two are sf/fantasy, and I suspect you would like both (Dhalgren and Valis). Dunno if you like Auster, but I bet you do know who he is. The thread that ties these together is the unreliable narrator, and I know for sure that's a trope you can work with.
posted by mwhybark at 5:15 PM on May 25, 2010


I think the problem with the purgatory-kid is that he wasn't even mentioned. Some people will be able to construct (and believe) a mental plugin along the lines of "When Jack realized he was in purgatory, all memories of his fake kid vanished from his mind." But there's no evidence of that in the series.

There's also no evidence that he's a bad father who doesn't care about his kid. So my brain doesn't really know what to do.
posted by grumblebee at 5:15 PM on May 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


grumblebee: "No one mentioned them or cared about them. Damn! Even Captain Kirk used to get upset when one of his red shirts died."

Exactly! Kirk/McCoy witticisms aside.
posted by mwhybark at 5:17 PM on May 25, 2010


"When Jack realized he was in purgatory, all memories of his fake kid vanished from his mind." But there's no evidence of that in the series.

Well, Jack doesn't realize he's in purgatory until the last five minutes of the show and his kid isn't mentioned from that point.

It is interesting (to me, anyway) that when Locke tells him "You don't have a son," Jack doesn't ARGUE. He looks all confused and excuses himself from the conversation, but the rational response is "Dude, you're on some crazy painkillers because I've got this kid named David." But he DOESN'T say that. He doesn't say anything. It's like he knows it, but hasn't realized it.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 5:19 PM on May 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


When you wake up from a dream and realize it's time to get dressed and go to work, you don't spend any time talking about the great things you'll miss about the dream once you get to the office. And not going back to sleep to dream some more doesn't make you a bad dream father.
posted by The World Famous at 5:23 PM on May 25, 2010 [3 favorites]


grumblebee: ""When Jack realized he was in purgatory, all memories of his fake kid vanished from his mind.""

I'd say the onscreen evidence is that when the U.C.a.t.E.o.t.U. Losties realize they are in purgatory (or a 'place they made') the implication is that in that universe they achieve Dharma (tm) consciousness, the awareness that the reality they are in does not matter, so they are suddenly deeply detatched from the purgatory existence. There's no particular onscreen evidence supporting the view that the purgatory supporting players are homonculi, although the script does appear to assume that the audience will accept the supporting players and set dressing as illusion. Which, well, they are. So.

I am more with you now than before on the problematic attitude toward the audience, Mr, G. Bee.
posted by mwhybark at 5:25 PM on May 25, 2010


Still, it's bullshit. He raises the kid, loves him, wants to be a good dad, agonizes about his choices as a father, BUT SUPER CHURCH HAS BOONE.

What kind of eternity would Jack (as we would come to know him) prefer Boone to his son?

BULLSHIT.
posted by grubi at 5:26 PM on May 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


grumblebee, you really fucking hated LOST, didn't you.
posted by shakespeherian at 5:28 PM on May 25, 2010


Thank you, grubi. I AM NOT A MADMAN!
posted by mwhybark at 5:28 PM on May 25, 2010


shakespeherian: "grumblebee, you really fucking hated LOST, didn't you."

HEY! I rather doubt that he did! He's quite engaged in this discussion, he's VERY engaged in issues that relate to critiques of this (and other shows), he's speaking from a knowledgeable place. Critique, even bitter critique, is NOT hatred.

So, like, channel Hugo already. HUGS!
posted by mwhybark at 5:31 PM on May 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


No, I loved it and high hopes for it. It let me down, and I'm angry about it.
posted by grumblebee at 5:33 PM on May 25, 2010 [3 favorites]


I AM NOT A MADMAN!

Not for this, no. ;-)
posted by grubi at 5:36 PM on May 25, 2010


What kind of eternity would Jack (as we would come to know him) prefer Boone to his son?

The one where Boone is a real person that he connected with in his actual waking life and his "son" is something he dreamed up to work through his regrets and daddy issues? He's remembering his real life as it actually happened and in that life, he knew Boone, and did not have a son.

You guys really are bent about Jack's feelings towards a totally imaginary character. Do YOU have daddy issues?
posted by grapefruitmoon at 5:37 PM on May 25, 2010 [3 favorites]


So is Picard also a bad father for abandoning his fake kids in Star Trek: Generations?
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 5:39 PM on May 25, 2010


Not really, no. Why?
posted by grubi at 5:40 PM on May 25, 2010


Not really, no. Why?

Is that in response to me or to grapefruitmoon?
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 5:48 PM on May 25, 2010


The problem isn't that they left a large number of things unexplained. The problem is that they threw in such a huge number of things that are mutually inexplicable (which can be fine in surrealism, but that wasn't Lost's tone.)

Jacob engineered the arrival of candidates. At least Dogen, Ilana, and Bram know something about what candidacy mean, so he seems to have communicated something about it in the past. He could have told Richard to tell Ben to tell the Others that a bunch of these people are candidates, and should be protected. Instead, we have the Others and the castaways killing each other for a few seasons.

Imagine Ben without Michael Emerson's incredible performance. Does he still seem remotely like a ruthless genius schemer, or like a capricious idiot? Stalks Juliet, impervious to her disinterest. Blunders into one of Rousseau's traps. Could have sent Sayid into a trap, but instead sent him to the balloon with a story that doesn't hold up unless Sayid's not imaginative enough to dig up the grave (and he has Sayid's dossier and knows his intelligence background.) He baits John into not pressing the button (despite pressing it himself when there was no one else) and we never have any idea what he thought would happen if no one pressed it (but he presumably has access to all of the Dharma Initative's documentation and should have expected the worst -- he didn't know Desmond had access to the failsafe key or that he'd be there to use it.) Needed spinal surgery and With the extensive dossier he had on Jack, he should have known that even if the Hippocratic Oath alone didn't cut it, Jack's compulsion to fix things would have worked if he just asked. Instead, he oversees hostility with the castaways and a ludicrously complicated plot to manipulate Jack into operating.

He so consistently talks about his dedication to Jacob that it's one of the few things we might be tempted to believe about him. But we don't know why he's so dedicated, and Richard has little enough faith in his dedication that he backs Locke in a coup. Knows well the Island's healing properties, but doesn't bother following up with a head shot when he attempts to assassinate Locke.

That's why "but it's about the characters" doesn't cut it. We know characters through the choices they make, but we need some sort of context to make anything of the choices. In Lost, we never get a coherent context.

I'm willing to take all sorts of crazy things as given. But if the work is inviting me to take those things seriously, if then the author(s) should, too. If the mysteries are good enough to use to lure me back for the next episode, they're good enough to ultimately provide a payoff for.
posted by Zed at 5:53 PM on May 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


No. It's not entirely satisfying. Can you name a series finale that was?

Silly, shallow example, perhaps, but Monk.
posted by FelliniBlank at 5:57 PM on May 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Honestly, if you accept the whole purgatory sort of thing AND accept that there's a whole bunch of stuff in the show that I have to invent explanations for...I would say something like this:

David is Jack. As a kid. And Jack is trying to be the loving, caring father to himself that his father was never able to be, and thereby heal the wounds he received as a child. I know "being a father to yourself" is sort of nonsensical, but I would accept that in terms of "when you die, you go to a waystation where you need to make peace with things that happened in your life." So it's not that there's a homunculus named David, but that there's no David at all. And that's what Locke is trying to tell him. Wounded-child Jack is Jack's wheelchair that he needs to get out of.
posted by neuromodulator at 6:00 PM on May 25, 2010 [4 favorites]


Actually, the College Humour video sums it up more effectively than my 1400 comments on the matter, really. You can't have that many things be meaningless.
posted by neuromodulator at 6:13 PM on May 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


Is that in response to me or to grapefruitmoon?

Either, actually.
posted by grubi at 6:14 PM on May 25, 2010


The thread that ties these together is the unreliable narrator, and I know for sure that's a trope you can work with.

I was thinking more that they are books that set up a lot of mysteries and never explain them in any coherent way.
posted by empath at 6:18 PM on May 25, 2010


"When you wake up from a dream and realize it's time to get dressed and go to work, you don't spend any time talking about the great things you'll miss about the dream once you get to the office. And not going back to sleep to dream some more doesn't make you a bad dream father."

"The term is over: the holidays have begun. The dream has ended; this is morning." -- Aslan in The Last Battle, one of the more obvious influences on the Lost finale. (Note also that the church where they met was also the location of the Lamp Post station -- hmmmm.)
posted by litlnemo at 6:20 PM on May 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


Is that in response to me or to grapefruitmoon?

Either, actually.


Well, as far as my question goes, I wasn't sure if you were being serious or tongue-in-cheek when you said:

Still, it's bullshit. He raises the kid, loves him, wants to be a good dad, agonizes about his choices as a father, BUT SUPER CHURCH HAS BOONE.

What kind of eternity would Jack (as we would come to know him) prefer Boone to his son?


If you were being serious, then in what kind of eternity would Picard prefer Counselor Troi to his beloved (and wholly imaginary) children when he leaves them in the Nexus in Star Trek: Generations? Is Picard any less to blame than Jack on that point? If so, how?

If you were being tongue-in-cheek, carry on.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 6:32 PM on May 25, 2010


He could have told Richard to tell Ben to tell the Others that a bunch of these people are candidates, and should be protected.

But didn't Smoke Monster keep interfering, manipulating and turning people against each other?

Imagine Ben without Michael Emerson's incredible performance. Does he still seem remotely like a ruthless genius schemer, or like a capricious idiot?

Ben has always been a problematic character, I agree, and Emerson's performance did a lot to obscure that. I've always sort of thought Ben is a sociopath, so he changed his mind/loyalties/promises depending upon what was best for him. All the "loyalty to Jacob" stuff was a diversion so people would support him until he took power from Jacob, maybe? His real desire was to run the island, his real loyalty was to himself.


Wounded-child Jack is Jack's wheelchair that he needs to get out of.

This makes a lot of sense, actually. Another connection between the opposing poles of Shepherd and Locke.
posted by LooseFilter at 6:39 PM on May 25, 2010


My Favorite TV Series Finales:

"The Fugitive" (disclaimer: not old enough to watch the show at 10PM when it came on, only saw bits and pieces, including PART of the Finale) Straightforward, obvious, satisfying, but it was never all that complicated.

"The (Original) Prisoner" I was still a kid; I lost my 'mindfuck' virginity to it, but after a balls-out crazy hour, the simple presence of an automatic door OUTSIDE of the Village said all that needed to be said (and led me to realize it DID tell Number 6 he WAS Number 1).

"Nowhere Man" On the New UPN network after the New Star Trek? I had to watch; remembered Bruce Greenwood on St. Elsewhere as a "good guy" who turned out to be a "bad guy", which prepared me for the twist at the end. The exposition at the end didn't go on too long, because it wasn't all that complicated, adding up to a great big WOW.

"Life on Mars (US)" (disclaimer: didn't see UK version before this, which probably helped; also, got pissed that they replaced Colm Meany with Harvey Keitel between pilot and premiere, so didn't watch much at the start, more when I knew it was going to end, which may have also helped) Got a giggle out of the twist having literal connection to show's title while the rest of the series didn't; I usually HATE 'it was all a dream' variations (St. Elsewhere scarred me), but because it wasn't that LONG a series (and I hadn't seen all of it), and it was an ingenious twist on "virtual reality glitch", I bought it.

Among comedies, "Cheers" was almost too long a finale, sending some characters on to other things, but not everyone (which worked for me), letting Diane back in and back out again (that was a relief) and Sam ended the show behind the bar (bookending just as well as "Lost" did). I also liked "Frasier's" finale, which I got paid to write about BEFORE I knew if I'd like it or not. "Mary Tyler Moore" had the exquisite irony of Ted Baxter being the only one in the newsroom NOT fired and the sentimental 'group hug' buffered by the "Long Way to Tipperary" absurdity.

That said, remember "Babylon 5" had TWO Series Finales, one produced when they thought the show would end after 4 seasons (and they had really rushed the end of the Shadow War before that) but was put on hold when they got picked up by TNT, and J.M.S. wrote an episode to be the Finale for anybody who didn't have cable. That one was all about the fate of the Babylon 5 Space Station (from the point of view of far future historians) and was much better, to me, than the one about the final fate of John Sheridan (Sorry, Bruce).

And there was also a second Series Finale for "St. Elsewhere". Believing the show was about to be canceled, they had the old hospital condemned and everybody moved out; but old Dr. Auschlander, struck ill, fell through the administrative cracks and was accidentally left behind when the last patients were removed. Regaining consciousness, he wandered the empty hospital and approached the front door the same time a wrecking crane did. If not for the last-minute renewal, he would've gone down with his hospital, a tragic but poignant end. Instead, we got stuck a year later with the Tommy Westphall phenomenon. AAARRRGGGHHH.

Other famous Finales: No Star Trek series made my A-list, but "Deep Space Nine" was solidly B-list; it was trying so hard to get beyond the woo-woo spiritualism of the Wormhole Gods but ultimately fell into the same religion trap as BSG and Lost; but it had other things going on (ending another galactic war in a hurry) that cushioned the effect. "M*A*S*H" both ran too long (a 2-and-a-half-hour finale for a half-hour show?) and put the Hawkeye character through too much in a short time, but the final half-hour mixed the sentimental and the satisfying the way "Lost" failed at.

"Lost" will not be on my list of all-time favorites, but I knew it couldn't be. Too complex, too much left for the Finale (although all the deaths near the end did a good job of narrowing down the characters to follow). The Sideways World always seemed very Fan Service-y and no matter how it resolved itself, it was inevitably more sentimental than satisfying. If you strip the half-season of Sideways out, the 6th season was not quite as good as the 1st, but to me, better than most of what was inbetween. Of all the unanswered questions at the end, I still want to know about The Numbers (and knowing that the producers included 42 as a Douglas Adams tribute is not what I mean).

It has been suggested "Lost" would have been better limited to 10 episodes rather than 121; I think they could've done better at about 40, two full American seasons, and somebody should get to work editing it down to that (and probably already has).
posted by oneswellfoop at 6:48 PM on May 25, 2010 [3 favorites]


"The Shield" had the absolute best finale of the most recent run of TV dramas. Beats the hell out of a lot of fancier-pedigree shows, like The Wire.

A weird coincidence, or a structural issue? Lost, Battlestar Galactica, and The Wire all peaked at the very end of their next-to-last seasons. The end of Season 4 of the Wire, the end of Season 5 of Lost, and the mini-finale of Battlestar Galactica when they thought it might be cancelled, all occured at the absolute peak of story momentum, character development, and tone. But the Shield accelerated to its terminal velocity around Season 5, and maintained that speed until its final impact.
posted by stammer at 7:32 PM on May 25, 2010


He raises the kid, loves him, wants to be a good dad, agonizes about his choices as a father, BUT SUPER CHURCH HAS BOONE.

Ok, I've been catching up on the thread and I keep copying comments to argue with and then copying another and YOU WIN the chance to be argued with! I don't believe that Jack raised David at all. I believe that this purgatory / bardo / whatever came into being for people at the point they were at when they died. Remember the bit where Jack chats with Juliet and he mentions Claire and she says (something like) Ah yes! The half-sister you never mentioned the entire time we were married! Ok, that's a weird thing to say, right? Real or "fake" world, Jack didn't know about Claire until, roughly, now. And presumably when Juliet learned of Claire, whether from Jack or David, the lede would have been ooh that dog Christian! I don't think Juliet and Jack were EVER married - they were always not-quite and ex-es. Because that's what they were.
posted by moxiedoll at 7:45 PM on May 25, 2010 [3 favorites]


grapefruitmoon: "Do YOU have daddy issues?"

Why, yes, in fact, I do. I am adopted.
posted by mwhybark at 8:01 PM on May 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


DevilsAdvocate: "So is Picard also a bad father for abandoning his fake kids in Star Trek: Generations?
"

LOL. He didn't! Magic Flute Picard (oh man don't lets) lived his whole life in that reality and it was transmogrificated into Make it So Picard. So Make it So Picard didn't actually have a choice in his interactions with Magic Flute Picard's family; it was a recording.

I LOVE YOU NERDS.
posted by mwhybark at 8:04 PM on May 25, 2010 [4 favorites]


The college humour video reminded me of all the little mysteries that turned out to be nothing. At the moment I'm fixated on the fact that the Swan station clock rolled over to hieroglyphs if the numbers weren't typed in. That's the exact, exact kind of bullshit that makes me intrigued, makes me want to learn more, and (it turns out) was utterly, completely meaningless. Yes, I loved the characters and their stories, and some parts of the show were amazing, and the show had more great characters than almost anything. But jesus did they ever let me down on the other front, and I feel that it didn't need to be that way. It didn't need to be one or the other, and if this stuff had been resolved, the show would have been the greatest. And now, instead, I never want to watch it again because it's a bigger lie than the cake.
posted by neuromodulator at 8:06 PM on May 25, 2010 [4 favorites]


neuromodulator: "Wounded-child Jack is Jack's wheelchair that he needs to get out of."

That's a stretch, but a deeply charitable one. Hugo approves. I can get behind it. It also explicates non-bit-player purgatory extras in a way that can be integrated. Somewhere, if there is a Lost scriptwriter who cares, that person is thanking you, retcon or no.
posted by mwhybark at 8:09 PM on May 25, 2010


Also, please forgive my off-topic comment, but I was lurking at the time and nerd love has reminded me that this is the greatest comment of all time. I favourited it so hard.
posted by neuromodulator at 8:15 PM on May 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


mwhybark: "LOL. He didn't! Magic Flute Picard"

WHOOP, totally misread the thought there.

Um. OK, first point: movie Trek is suspect as is any movie-from-series thing. Plot points are introduced in order to be discarded (new ship every film, for example).

That to the side, the Nexus reality is like or unlike Lost purgatory, I can dig it.

Personally, I accept that the Nexus is solipsistic within the terms of the Trek story, partly because we are told this by external characters within the Trek story. In Lost, we are told that the purgatory's characters are illusory but not that the purgatory itself is. So, being that I resist religious allegory, I am not pleased.
posted by mwhybark at 8:24 PM on May 25, 2010


neuromodulator: "Also, please forgive my off-topic comment, but I was lurking at the time and nerd love has reminded me that this is the greatest comment of all time. I favourited it so hard."

lol I'd spouse Greg Nog but, like, banjoes and broken limbs and shit. So I won't.
posted by mwhybark at 8:27 PM on May 25, 2010


I still want to know why the I Ching hexagrams in Dharma Initiative's logo were displayed in the non-standard arrangement.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:59 PM on May 25, 2010


The son was a fantasy.

Jack and Juliet are all "oh, son's not real, who cares then, let's get the fuck OUTTA here!" But wait, Ben stays behind, and we don't really know why at all, but a lot of people have fanwanked that it's because he wants to do right by Alex.

Unless you want to tell me that of the three characters, BEN is the most sympathetic and thus it makes sense that he wants to spend more time with his daughter, I don't think you get to have it both ways. Even if I were to accept that Jack fully understands his whole alt life is a finely crafted illusion, you'd think that under normal circumstances, he'd be just a little angry and confused that one of the people he cared about the most, the person he wanted to make sure never suffered like he did, doesn't even exist.

grumblebee, you really fucking hated LOST, didn't you.

And here we get to one of the really annoying straw men that's risen in the wake of the finale: if you didn't like it, you must not like Lost. This is closely related to "if you didn't like it, you must not like character growth," and less directly related to "if you didn't like it, you missed the point." Not really related but equally annoying is "if you didn't like it, it's because you thought they all died in Season 1, and are thus an idiot."

Do you really think someone who has clearly watched all six seasons of the show, absorbed a whole lot of the mythology, and grown to understand the characters and their motivations "hated Lost"? Unless you're a professional troll, no one puts THAT much effort into hating a television show.

On a completely different note: having watched the TNG and DS9 finales, I'm solidly in the TNG camp. Sure, I was a lot younger at the time, but I can't think of a better way to wrap up a Star Trek series than All Good Things.
posted by chrominance at 9:17 PM on May 25, 2010 [5 favorites]


'Jack and Juliet are all "oh, son's not real, who cares then, let's get the fuck OUTTA here!" But wait, Ben stays behind, and we don't really know why at all, but a lot of people have fanwanked that it's because he wants to do right by Alex.

'Unless you want to tell me that of the three characters, BEN is the most sympathetic and thus it makes sense that he wants to spend more time with his daughter, I don't think you get to have it both ways.'


I don't see this as a problem. Jack needed to work out his dad/son issues. He did that -- by the end of the sideways world he had a good relationship with David and seemed to be a good dad. Ben, on the other hand, still felt he had stuff to work out. He wasn't done yet. (And perhaps wanted to help Alex get through her Purgatory too.) I don't see this as a contradiction. (Also, Alex had been a real person in his real life. David had never been a real person, just part of the imaginary sideways world. Staying to help a real loved one through Purgatory or whatever it is would be a very different act from staying in Purgatory because one wanted to spend more time with a fictional creation.)

I would say that staying there to either properly work through one's issues or help another one through is more mature than staying because you want to keep living a fake life -- which would seem to me to be a pretty good indication that you aren't ready to move on yet at all. Either way, Ben isn't ready -- he has a solid reason to stay. He's "awoken" but still isn't yet ready to let go. Neither is Eloise Hawking. Ana Lucia isn't ready yet but hasn't "awoken." She's got further to go.
posted by litlnemo at 11:10 PM on May 25, 2010


Nowhere else to turn...even my most geekiest friends stopped watching LOST long ago. I have no one to discuss this with, so I have to post here, deep in the thread that I am glad is still open...

When The Numbers started appearing all over the place and then Desmond was shown meeting Jack prior to Flight 815, I knew the plot was going off the rails, creating mysteries that could never be solved. It was amazing to watch more and more get piled on season after season...

The basic conflicts remain unclear to me. Were The Others a pool of natives and immigrants who Jacob sought to control via his lieutenant Richard serving Ben and then original Locke? What exactly did Widmore want? Why did The Others pretend to be primitives at first? The Losties entire experience was contrived by Jacob as some kind of trial for candidates from whom he would select his successor as protector of the island? This protection meant keeping the Smoke Monster in and Widmore out? And the candidates had been chosen by Jacob very early in their lives? The characters in all these conflicts seemed to know all kinds of things we do not know, and I guess we never will.

You put characters in intense situations where they can express emotions and virtues and flash to all kinds of poignant backstory, yes you are going to get compelling characters. It is very easy to contrive intense baffling situations, harder to create and resolve mystery. The LOST characters were shallow but the mysteries were deep with implications. Too deep.

Anyway, I will try to get over the niggling geek things bugging the hell out of me...like we know how The Others got off and on the island (via sub), but how did Jacob? Was he so powerful and omniscient he could just teleport through time and space? Also: what interest did Eloise represent? A former ally of Widmore yet an eventual ally of Dharma, an Other, a free agent, what?

The biggest thing bugging me and I feel stupid for wondering about is the atomic bomb. Did the US government actually send a small team with a nuke to the island and it was hijacked by The Others, or had The Others infiltrated the military and somehow smuggled a nuke to the island? I suspect the latter, otherwise wouldn't the US military know about the island then, and maybe come looking for their bomb?

Realizing that by leaving such things (many such things!) unanswered, the finale was a perfect coda for a series that always left you guessing.
posted by bonefish at 11:41 PM on May 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm surprised no one has mentioned anything about 'Creepy Claire'.
posted by bwg at 1:57 AM on May 26, 2010


shannonm: "Here's a College Humor video featuring unanswered LOST questions. [via]"

Movieline supplies answers for (most of) these questions.

tl;dr: Some answers we can infer from what we've seen, some are explained by real-world production issues, and some are genuinely unresolved. Most are unimportant to the over-arching story of the show.
posted by Rhaomi at 2:15 AM on May 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


In case you're wondering how many other people cared about the end of "Lost", "Lost Finale Ratings Season High, But Not Epic, Celebrity Apprentice Finale Up". Basically, Donald Trump and Friends got about 2/3 as much audience as the Losties. Meanwhile on cable, the Lakers & Suns got more than half as many viewers as Lost while Breaking Bad got about 1/10. The next night, Dancing with the Stars got more viewers than Lost had (but most of them were older than the 'prime demographic', over 49, so they don't count... waitminute, I'M OVER 49...)

I do geek out over TV ratings sometimes, but this kinda puts things in perspective. 13 share? 87% of people watching TV were watching something else. MetaFilter's an elitist minority again...
posted by oneswellfoop at 2:15 AM on May 26, 2010


Best answer from the Movieline Answers College Humor's Questions article:

"And if they explained it anymore, you’d have a Liam Neeson speech about midichlorians, and no one wants that, do they?"

posted by oneswellfoop at 2:27 AM on May 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


OK, so here's my biggest Lost gripe:

In my very favorite scene of the entire series - the opener of season two - Desmond puts a record on the turntable and "Make Your Own Kind of Music" starts playing. Great song! But the shot clearly shows that the song playing is track one on the album.

That song appeared on two records, "Bubblegum, Lemonade, and... Something for Mama," where it was the last song on side two, and "Mama's Big Ones," on which it was track three. There is no record on which that song is track one.
posted by jbickers at 4:01 AM on May 26, 2010 [8 favorites]


Unless you want to tell me that of the three characters, BEN is the most sympathetic and thus it makes sense that he wants to spend more time with his daughter, I don't think you get to have it both ways. Even if I were to accept that Jack fully understands his whole alt life is a finely crafted illusion, you'd think that under normal circumstances, he'd be just a little angry and confused that one of the people he cared about the most, the person he wanted to make sure never suffered like he did, doesn't even exist.

Exactly! I don't care if it was some manifestation of psychological daddy issues... I have a hard time believing that he'd act like it was no big deal. Even if he safely understands "David was a mental construct" there's bound to be part of him that feels heartbroken that his son isn't real.

I thought of that when I saw Picard go through with it, too. And I thougt to myself "what if that were me? I'd feel a sense of loss." Real or not, it felt real long enough that the loss would hurt horribly. And I have a hard time believing Jack would oh so easily just be cool with it just because HEY SUPER CHURCH HAS BOONE.

That's my point.
posted by grubi at 4:54 AM on May 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Man, that movieline post is hella glib. Basically, it all boils down to "Oh, that answer doesn't matter--I don't care about that," and then you get to: "All right, we finally have our first really legitimate unanswered question. I wouldn’t mind knowing the answer, either." Eugh.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 4:59 AM on May 26, 2010


Hear, hear.. It was 95 non-answers, and five "Damned if I know"s.
posted by grubi at 5:09 AM on May 26, 2010


And here we get to one of the really annoying straw men that's risen in the wake of the finale: if you didn't like it, you must not like Lost.

What? In what sense is this a straw man? I'm not making any kind of argument. I was just a little tired of the fact that I was having some fun in this thread, and now I'm not, because it's turned into 'Let's list everything we can about why we didn't like the show,' which is perfectly allowed, if that's what people want to talk about, but it isn't what I wanted to talk about. grumblebee has 43 comments in this thread, and each one is a different complaint. This has also happened in every LOST thread on the site, so I guess people generally think it's dumb. That's cool. I don't really think asking someone if he hated something makes me a troll, though.
posted by shakespeherian at 5:22 AM on May 26, 2010


Unless you want to tell me that of the three characters, BEN is the most sympathetic and thus it makes sense that he wants to spend more time with his daughter, I don't think you get to have it both ways.

As mentioned, Alex was a real person in Ben's life and not a purgatory illusion. Also, I don't think that it's implicit that Ben sticks around because of Alex. I think that Ben is just "not ready." He has his own issues to work through and I think it has more to do with his real-life self and his journey to be Hurley's #2 than it does with Alex. He never says "I'm staying to be with Alex" and Alex is going off to college ANYWAY. This is just an assumption that the audience has been making and is just as tied up in their own parental issues as the revulsion that Jack is "abandoning" David.

So, no. You're not getting it both ways. Jack and Ben are making their choices based on the paths of their lives and the place where their "souls" are at in terms of being ready to move on. Jack is ready. Ben isn't. Their parenthood is not the sole arbiter of their decision making and obviously, no one in this series makes terribly good or rational decisions w/r/t parenthood and the show is pretty consistent about the characters either caring too much ("WAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLT") or not enough (Ji Yeon) about their children with very little sane and rational decision making being made. The show really does a lot with parent/daddy issues and none of it is ever "Oh yeah, my parents were pretty ok." Sawyer's parents killed themselves in front of him. Mother was a total asshole. Jack's father was a drunk and also Claire's father, which she didn't even KNOW until he was dead. Locke's father threw him out a window. Sun's father was hardly a paragon of virtue.

It's entirely consistent within this construct that Jack would "abandon" his imaginary son to be with Kate for eternity. Also consistent that Jin would rather die with Sun than go back and be a father. Also also consistent that Ben would feel such remorse about killing Alex in real life that he couldn't "move on."

It takes most people's "normal" daddy issues (and mommy issues, in the case of Mother) and just pushes them to the extreme. Of course this creates a reaction in the audience, but the show is being totally consistent with the characters making shitty decision making w/r/t their own children. (See also: Sawyer and Clementine.)
posted by grapefruitmoon at 5:38 AM on May 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


It's a straw man in the sense that there might be reasons people didn't like the finale besides just having a hate-on for Lost in general, and that in fact a lot of people who didn't like the finale are diehard fans who felt like they deserved a better end to a show they loved.

I mean, in the end, we don't deserve anything, I guess. But do you get that our complaints aren't just "GOD THIS SHOW IS SO DUMB I'D RATHER WATCH DANCING WITH THE STARS"?
posted by chrominance at 5:43 AM on May 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


Alex was a real person in Ben's life and not a purgatory illusion.

But that's the problem: for an entire season we're led to believe that the alternate reality is just as real as the one on the island. Then, in the final episode, all the characters have a sudden epiphany: no, it's not real. That's fine, but the writers and producers failed to bring me along on that same journey. I don't buy that Jack can just be okay with knowing his son never existed because I'm not okay with knowing his son never existed. (I'm also not really sold on Jack doing it just to be with Kate for eternity, but I'm going to chalk that up to the wishy-washy nature of that entire relationship. And there never seemed to be that much chemistry between the two leads anyways.)

Also, I don't think that it's implicit that Ben sticks around because of Alex. I think that Ben is just "not ready."

I think I'm willing to accept this explanation for why Ben doesn't go in, though I still like the idea that he stays with Alex. Though I do have a nitpick: he's already been Hurley's #2 (since the church exists outside of time), so I don't know what kind of issues he'd have to work out there.

I'm also pretty happy with Jin's decision, actually: after all, he doesn't even know his daughter, and though it's not the right decision, it's completely understandable.

I just feel like many of Jack's issues had to do with how his father raised him and how he might raise a son, and for him to achieve a certain measure of success, only to be told that it wasn't real but you passed the test, might be a little infuriating. Like, even though it's not real, you still feel a bit like you're abandoning your son—which is a lot like what Christian did to Jack, and what Jack doesn't want to repeat with his now-imaginary son.
posted by chrominance at 5:54 AM on May 26, 2010


Like, even though it's not real, you still feel a bit like you're abandoning your son—which is a lot like what Christian did to Jack, and what Jack doesn't want to repeat with his now-imaginary son.

Well, I totally disagree. I feel like if you're shown that your "life" has all been an illusion preparing you to "move on" and you're actually able (which Ben *wasn't*) to accept that, you've dropped your attachment to that particular illusion. You can't hold on to what was important to you during that period of illusion AND move on. Buddhism is all about dropping your attachments in order to achieve "enlightenment" and so if we're going with the bardo metaphor, then duh, to "move on" Jack drops his attachments to his illusion-life including the attachment to his son because none of it is real or even matters. He's ready to move on to the next plane of existence (or perhaps non-existence) and do so, he's let go of the illusions that he'd created for himself.

You're not abandoning your "son" because there's nothing to abandon. It's not real.

Also: We have no idea what Ben did as Hurley's #2, but whatever it was, it wasn't enough to get him over the guilt of the things that he did in his life before that. So it goes. Ben's a pretty damn flawed character and I don't have a problem with accepting that he might not be "ready" in whatever sense he needed to be in order to enter the church. (Nor would I have any problem accepting this for any other character, really. I feel like this might just be a case where the writers wanted to have one "outsider" and Ben was a pretty solid choice.)
posted by grapefruitmoon at 6:10 AM on May 26, 2010


It's a straw man in the sense that there might be reasons people didn't like the finale besides just having a hate-on for Lost in general, and that in fact a lot of people who didn't like the finale are diehard fans who felt like they deserved a better end to a show they loved.

I mean, in the end, we don't deserve anything, I guess. But do you get that our complaints aren't just "GOD THIS SHOW IS SO DUMB I'D RATHER WATCH DANCING WITH THE STARS"?


What the fuck are you talking about?
posted by shakespeherian at 6:28 AM on May 26, 2010


grumblebee, you really fucking hated LOST, didn't you.

You and I have something in common. We both care. It's funny, isn't it, how we can care so deeply about something that is "just made up"? Most of the people in this thread have been thinking about this fictional world for six years.

Let me suggest that to some of those here who liked it, it feels like the show is a friend, and it feels as if people like me are bad-mouthing that friend. What do you do when someone bad-mouths a friend? You stick by your friend, loyally.

I am angry about LOST, but as someone who cares deeply about stories (as a viewer and as a storyteller), I can't be upset that people feel that loyal to them. It's a testament to how powerful stories can be.

By the way, I hope the above armchair psychoanalysis (which I admit is just a guess) doesn't sound condescending. I don't mean "You folks are too weak to face up to your friend's flaws." One feels loyalty to a friend, whether that friend has flaws or not. If people didn't feel strongly about the show -- as a friend -- why would the bother defending it? They might waste a few words, arguing with a "hater" like me, but, in the end, they'd say, "Screw it. It's just a TV show. If you don't like it, no biggie."

Me? I take it just as personally. I feel like a friend betrayed me.

But doesn't my anger and other-people's need to defend come from the same well? The well of love.
posted by grumblebee at 6:40 AM on May 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


You're not abandoning your "son" because there's nothing to abandon. It's not real.

So what? If you're convinced it's real, then it feels real enough to you. And if it felt real enough to jack, then losing his pretend son would hurt -- maybe not as much as losing a real son, but it would still hurt.
posted by grubi at 6:42 AM on May 26, 2010


You can't hold on to what was important to you during that period of illusion AND move on. Buddhism is all about dropping your attachments in order to achieve "enlightenment" and so if we're going with the bardo metaphor, then duh, to "move on" Jack drops his attachments to his illusion-life including the attachment to his son because none of it is real or even matters. He's ready to move on to the next plane of existence (or perhaps non-existence) and do so, he's let go of the illusions that he'd created for himself.

Maybe that's why it's not convincing for me, and very convincing for others—I don't know what enlightenment is supposed to be, so I don't buy it. But I'm also not very religious and have no solid conception of the afterlife, and I'm okay with both those things. So maybe the schism is largely a matter of a) how much you buy into religion and/or spirituality, or b) how well read you are on those subjects, thus allowing you to play with the afterlife concepts intellectually. Because the one argument I see on the negative side time and time again is it felt so meaningless for the characters, and the argument on the pro side is that it was such a meaningful sendoff for the characters.

So, uh, I guess I'll just take my seat beside Ben, then.
posted by chrominance at 6:45 AM on May 26, 2010


The well of love.

The golden vagina-stream of love!

Re: the David issue. Like I said upthread, it's not the logic of his being a bardo illusion for me, but really that he was a compelling character who made Jack more human. If he's just a way for Jack to work out his dad issues, it's less meaningful (because it's more self-centered, even if it has the illusion of being not-self-centered), and, because I liked him as a character, I can't help but mourn his non-existence, even if Jack doesn't.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 6:49 AM on May 26, 2010


But doesn't my anger and other-people's need to defend come from the same well? The well of love.

Sure. For what it's worth I was actually asking, because in the only other LOST thread I've seen you participate in, which was before the finale, you were doing the same thing: lots of complaints about how you felt that the show & its creators were failing in their obligation to your sense of storytelling, or whatever (insert your own summary of your feelings about the show here). I hadn't seen anywhere that you said you like LOST, and many, many places where you described it as a clusterfuck, so I made an assumption.

As well, I personally don't feel that the show was a clusterfuck, and the finale worked for me. I don't see as flaws the things that you describe as flaws, and I disagree with your contention that the show has failed in its responsibilities to storytelling.

Also, you are made out of straw and I live under a bridge.
posted by shakespeherian at 6:54 AM on May 26, 2010


it's a bigger lie than the cake

Oh fer cryin' out loud, there is cake at the end of Portal. You just don't get to have any.

</derail>
posted by Servo5678 at 7:01 AM on May 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


I liked the finale fine, and was entertained by it, but the show lost me in the last two seasons. I would have loved to have gotten more concrete answers to the nature of the island, etc, but in the end I would have loved more to have gotten a little bit more consistency in the characters personalities. Seriously, everybody seemed to do a 180 on every show. They would go from good to bad to insane to good again, jerked around by decisions made seemingly by the flip of a coin (or faith). By the end it was so confusing, I stopped caring who did what or why.

I find it telling that the moments I enjoyed the most in the end involved Desmond and Sawyer (and to a lesser extent the Kwons), the most clearly drawn characters of the series (imho). I find it telling that I was not moved at all by the death of the MiB.
posted by Omon Ra at 7:14 AM on May 26, 2010


I feel like a friend betrayed me.

I think this is the problem - many of us didn't feel betrayed. But here we are at, essentially, the wake for this show, and most of the crowd, certainly the vocal part of the crowd, is dismissive and venomous. It's not possible to make a pro thread and a con thread, and certainly many people's opinions exist somewhere on the grey smear between those two pole, so what do we do? Because you feel like a friend betrayed you, and I feel like you are going out of your way, repeatedly, to talk shit about MY friend.

"so I think maybe some patience with our frustration might be necessary. Sorry." PhoB. said that upstream, and I think it needs to go both ways.
posted by dirtdirt at 7:25 AM on May 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Well, I skipped all the comments that were "here's how I would have done it" because I'm very late to this thread and I think there's more interesting stuff to talk about.

What occurred to me after seeing Across the Sea was this: when the show began, it looked like Locke had some kind of connection to the Island, and maybe he'd tell us what was going on. But then it looked like he was stuck banging on the hatch, not knowing more than we did.

Each season introduces new characters who might explain to our Losties what's going on: Dharma, the Others, the freighties, Jacob's team led by Illana, Richard in Ab Aeterno. But they don't, and we dig back deeper into the history of the Island through a chain of people looking and deciding based on hearsay or electromagnetic readings on a dial. All the way back to Jacob and the Man In Black.

And it turns out that they don't know any more than what the person who came before told them. They're just trying to figure it out, like us, muddling through. And making some colossal mistakes along the way. I wonder who told the Woman what she believed, or maybe she made her best guess alone, based on what she could piece together out of mysterious events.

I think this is the point of the show:

There are no answers to be found in religion (Locke/the Others/Jacob/MiB/the Woman), and the insistence on tradition and rules can fuck up your life. There are answers to be found in science (Jack/Dharma/the group who dug wells with the MiB), but they don't make you happy, and an obsessive search for the truth can fuck up your life too (Radzinsky, for example).

Answers are great, but there aren't ever enough to satisfy us. But relationships with people, real sharing of your sorrow and joy - that can make the search for answers more bearable, and without them your life is kinda bleak. I think Darlton was telling us this all along "we can't give you all the answers - and anyway, it's about the relationships."
posted by harriet vane at 7:32 AM on May 26, 2010 [13 favorites]


In the only other LOST thread I've seen you participate in, which was before the finale, you were doing the same thing: lots of complaints about how you felt that the show & its creators were failing in their obligation to your sense of storytelling, or whatever...

You're right. I think that thread took place during the final season.

I went into LOST thinking, "Finally, the show I've been WAITING for!" I was attracted to it before I even knew about the supernatural/sci-fi elements. I love stories about self-contained societies ("Lord of the Flies," etc.), so I thought, "This is for me."

Then, when it became clear that it was a fantasy or sci-fi show, I got a little nervous. Not because I hate those genres. I LOVE them, but actual examples so often disappoint me. They disappoint me for reasons that I've expanded on here: because the writers don't often attend to details to the point I want them to.

But then I read interviews with the writers in which they said, "We GET what happened on the X-files and we're committed to that not happening on our show!" At which point my love grew tenfold, and I settled in, expecting to enjoy myself as I never had before, with any other show.

LOST had it all! It had character that I like, it was fantasy created by people who really cared about the tiniest details of the fantasy world they created, and it had a huge, sprawling story. I LOVE huge sprawling stories. I love Dickens. The more complex the plot is, the better.

I am very good at keeping complex plots in my head. So I enjoy watching all the little strands tease out and come back together and play off each other. (The downside of being good at this is that you can't forget stuff. You WILL remember that unfinished plot from season two, and if season six is the last season, you will expect that plot to be wrapped up.)

I forget when I first started feeling nervous again. Maybe in season three or four. It just seemed like there were SO many open threads, there was no way they could tie them all up. But it WAS still possible, and since the writers claimed they got how important it was, I trusted them. In their shoes, I don't know how I would have wrapped up that many issues, but they were -- hopefully -- smarter than me, and they were committed to doing it.

When we got to the start of the final season, I started reading the press again. (I avoided reading stuff about the series while most of it was running. I just watched the show and got all my information about it from the show itself.) Almost everyone was saying, "Well, there's no way they're going to answer all the questions now." And reports surfaced that the WRITERS were now saying that! So I felt personally betrayed by them, because these were the same people who, at the beginning, had lured me in with their "X-files" comment.

And they weren't saying, "Sorry, we know we said that, but we changed our minds" or "Sorry, the story just got our of our control." No, they were saying, "It's a character story, and if care about the other stuff, you don't get the point."

So now I was an idiot for caring about what they said they cared about when the series started?

And the funny thing is that I LOVE character stories. My favorite writer is Chekhov. What Chekhov cares about is ALWAYS making characters psychologically plausible. THAT'S what I expect from character stories. But SO much of what these characters did, in episode after episode, was NOT psychologically plausible. Others have given examples, above, so I won't bother giving other examples here.

I guess what the writers meant by "it's a character story" is that they are concerned with the Big Picture of the characters' lives. What they care about is "whether or not so-and-so dies an honorable death" or whatever -- not whether it's believable that Sun wouldn't say to Jin, "Don't stay with me! Leave and take care of our baby!" To them, I guess, that's a minor detail.

If the show had, in general, been a show in which minor details weren't important, I might have been able to cope better. But I felt that the show was telling us, for several years, THE DETAILS ARE IMPORTANT. It felt like the show was SCREAMING that at me by BEING so detailed.

What I've learned from this is to NEVER watch a show like this as it unfolds. I need to wait until it's finished, hear the general buzz about it (while trying to avoid spoilers) and then, if it sounds like the writers are simpatico with my tastes, watch it on DVD.
posted by grumblebee at 7:39 AM on May 26, 2010 [8 favorites]


Where has it not gone both ways?
posted by neuromodulator at 7:39 AM on May 26, 2010


Oh, and I don't like the idea of purgatory for this ending, so I'm calling it a shared near-death experience. The near-death experience part comes from several of the books empath mentioned a while back, which were shown in earlier seasons: Valis, The Third Policeman, Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge, etc. People have experiences that seem real but only take place in an instant of real time (NB: going only by Wikipedia summaries here). The sharing part is caused by their lengthy exposure to electromagnetism. It's like a reunion for old war veterans, one last time, before 'letting go' of consciousness.
posted by harriet vane at 7:43 AM on May 26, 2010


So now I was an idiot for caring about what they said they cared about when the series started?

Did you see the bottom of the EW story you linked to and are referring to when they said they were aware of the X-Files? 'The bigger lessons to be learned from X-Files and Twin Peaks is not to make a show about questions, but people,' says Lindelof. April 11, 2005.

I'm tremendously sorry that you were so disappointed by a show that you had high hopes for. Myself, I wasn't disappointed by it. I was very satisfied. Am I an idiot now, or is it possible that you're expressing an opinion, repeatedly, loudly, and drowning out anyone else's attempts to have a conversation that runs counter to yours?
posted by shakespeherian at 7:48 AM on May 26, 2010


shakespeherian: "drowning out anyone else's attempts to have a conversation that runs counter to yours?"

Dude, obviously, he's totally not drowning out anybody. Channel Hugo.
posted by mwhybark at 7:58 AM on May 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Did you see the bottom of the EW story you linked to and are referring to when they said they were aware of the X-Files? 'The bigger lessons to be learned from X-Files and Twin Peaks is not to make a show about questions, but people,' says Lindelof. April 11, 2005.

Yes, I liked it. To me, ALL stories -- if I am going to care about them at all -- are chiefly about the characters. That's the main reason I read and watch. For the characters.

Is it possible that you're expressing an opinion, repeatedly, loudly, and drowning out anyone else's attempts to have a conversation that runs counter to yours?


Possibly you're right. I've basically said what I had to say, so no worries. I doubt I'll say much more.

But I do have a question. This is going to sound like I'm trying to catch people out in a logic error or something, but I'm honestly not. I'm trying to understand a mindset that is very different from mine.

When one of the big mysteries happened on the series, like "Why can't women on the island give birth?" or "Why do the numbers keep appearing?" and those questions kept popping up, episode after episode (as opposed to just being in, say, a single scene), how did that affect you? ("You" being one of the people who aren't bothered by the lack of answers.)

At the time when the questions were in the air (while you were watching the episodes that actively dealt with those questions), did you not care about them? Did you think, "Whatever. Women can't give birth. I don't care why. Just get on with the story about the characters"?

Or did you care at the time but then stop caring?

If you stopped caring, did you stop because you just forgot about it? Or was the question still in your mind, but it didn't feel like an itch than needed to be scratched?

Or what?

If people are kind enough to answer this -- a question that's really bothering me -- I will NOT say, "Okay, but you see how you're wrong, because..." I don't think there can possibly be a wrong. We're talking about individual brains, how the work, and how they feel.
posted by grumblebee at 8:01 AM on May 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


shakespeherian, I really don't think grumblebee is implying that you're an idiot. As someone who has, likewise, been vocal about the things she didn't like about the finale, I can say that my own distaste in many places stemmed from completely subjective points. For example, as an agnostic who doesn't derive spirituality from a sense of the afterlife, but from exploration and a sense of wonder about the universe, I had trouble with the notion that I should discard my questions because the characters were reunited with those they loved after death; I understand this central theme, but disagree with it deeply on a philosophical level.

I really think that grumblebee has tried to take the conversation further than just questions about the finale, alone, but instead into broader questions about how mysteries and storytelling and science fiction should be approached on long-form television. Even I don't agree with everything he's said here, but I appreciate that he's asking these questions.

Then again, I always seek out negative reviews, even about things that I love. I think it can help us think critically about our own tastes and, sometimes, help to illustrate just how subjective those tastes are.

One of the things I'm frustrated about with the way the last season was approached is that I suspect part of the motivations of the writers was silencing unhappy fans--it seems that we're supposed to apply the "questions lead to more questions" philosophy not just to our lives, but to the show itself, and it opens up detractors (or even critics who just want to analyze the show's themes further) to accusations that we don't understand this premise. Again, I understand the premise, but I don't agree with it. I think that a show should be able to withstand analysis and dissection, and that these discussions about what was done well and what wasn't, what was answered and what wasn't, should be welcomed because it gives the original media a much longer life and likely a greater depth than it would without it.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:03 AM on May 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


shakespeherian, I really don't think grumblebee is implying that you're an idiot

Absolutely, unequivocally not! If ANYONE got the impression that I was calling them an idiot, I'm horrified and deeply sorry.

Not everyone agrees with this, of course, but I STRONGLY believe that there's no such thing as objective aesthetics. So, to me, it's not possible for someone to be stupid because their reaction to a show was different from mine.
posted by grumblebee at 8:07 AM on May 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


I like to think about the shape of things. A perfect TV series is shaped like a hard candy...neatly sealed off at each end, full of sweet, sweet content in the center, and with fun, shiny wrapper bursts at the sealed parts. Most the fun is untwisting it to get to the center.

Lost had the perfectly twisted, shiny wrapper burst at the one end, but then you realize that the other end was wide open and the candy broke off and fell out halfway through.
posted by iamkimiam at 8:11 AM on May 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


And if it felt real enough to jack, then losing his pretend son would hurt -- maybe not as much as losing a real son, but it would still hurt.

But that's the thing - it's not a loss. It's an illusion. And he's experiencing his detachment from that illusion, which isn't the same a losing his son as much as realizing that none of this, his son included, was real. In that scenario - it wouldn't hurt because what you're doing is moving beyond the suffering in your life caused by the attachments you'd made to your illusions.

Or maybe it's just my Buddhist leanings showing through.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 8:13 AM on May 26, 2010


When one of the big mysteries happened on the series, like "Why can't women on the island give birth?" or "Why do the numbers keep appearing?" and those questions kept popping up, episode after episode (as opposed to just being in, say, a single scene), how did that affect you? ("You" being one of the people who aren't bothered by the lack of answers.)

Here's how the show worked for me: I became very interested in the questions, in the mythology of the island, teasing out answers, piecing together clues, and I probably jumped up and down when we first saw that day-glo map in the Swan station, because getting questions answered made me very excited, and I really enjoyed that.

However, sometime in the middle of season five, I noticed that I'd stopped caring so much about getting the questions answered. Part of it, I think, was that the mythology had become so expanded through e.g. showing us what day-to-day life looked like with DHARMA, and part of it was that, as exemplified through the switch from flashbacks to flash-forwards, the show began focusing less on its characters' (and by extension mythology's) past and more on their future. And, as harriet vane said so well above, the deepening of the mythology and universe really proved that it was bottomless, and that the epistemology of the island was pretty much turtles all the way down: DHARMA didn't know anything more than we did, really, and neither did Richard, as was suggested and later shown explicitly, and eventually we learned that even Jacob and Smokey didn't really know anything more about the island than they'd been able to piece together themselves.

In other words, as much as I enjoyed getting straight answers to things (What is the hatch? What does the monster look like?), it became more and more apparent that some of the bigger & more abstract questions didn't have answers-- or, more precisely, that we'd get one of two answers: (1) Because someone decided to do a thing, or (2) Here's some information that someone told me that is really unverifiable.

And all this was while the show itself, like I said, along with its characters, was focusing less on the past and more on the future. At the end, now, having watched the whole thing, I'm eager to watch it again and see what things I've missed-- it's possible there are a lot of answers in the text of the show that I'm unaware of. But I'm also really fine with not knowing why, for example, women were dying in childbirth. There are any number of possible explanations, either Jacob's capriciousness, electromagnetism, radiation, or whatever, and whatever explanation was given wouldn't really impact anything other than checking a box off on a list titled 'Unanswered Questions.' Why was Walt special? I find that unanswered question interesting rather than frustrating, because the show succeeded, for me, in creating a universe in which there are several possible explanations, none of which were given, sure, but which are fun to speculate about.

And, ultimately, for me, that's what LOST is about: fun speculation. That's the reason I watched it for six years and read blog posts and argued with friends. It was a lot of fun to speculate, and toss theories around, and to make predictions and be wrong or right or thrilled by a cliffhanger. If all of my checklist boxes had been ticked off by the finale, I would fold up my LOST box in my mind and store it away and forget about it. Instead, I want to watch it again, because I still have questions, and they're still fun. But I don't care about getting them answered.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:25 AM on May 26, 2010 [7 favorites]


shakespeherian, I really don't think grumblebee is implying that you're an idiot

I didn't think so either. I was rhetorically echoing his defensiveness over his perception that the creators of the show were implying that he was an idiot.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:26 AM on May 26, 2010


From "Choose Your Own Lost," this is pretty much perfect:
How did the Black Rock come to be located so far inland?

THE BLACK ROCK, A 19th CENTURY TRADING SHIP, WAS SOMEHOW MAROONED RATHER FAR INTO THE INTERIOR OF THE ISLAND, RATHER THAN NEAR THE SHORE AS YOU MIGHT EXPECT A SHIP TO BE.


This was supposedly explained in “Ab Aeterno” when a large storm at sea swept the vessel inland, but I find that explanation unsatisfactory. Furthermore:

although I watched the entire season for free on the internet from a WiFi signal that I steal from my neighbor’s apartment, I still feel a tremendous amount of indignation and believe that I am owed more than the dozens and dozens of hours of extremely high production value entertainment that I have been provided.

All I’m asking for is that Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse reshoot the entire series with me as one of the head writers as well as acting in the role of one of the principal characters. I’d even settle for being one of the secondary characters. Thank you.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 8:43 AM on May 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


AUGH FORGOT THE LINK. Choose Your Own Lost.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 8:43 AM on May 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


[Ben] [b]lunders into one of Rousseau's traps.

There's some pretty good evidence that Ben got himself caught deliberately to find out what the Oceanic 815 gang were doing in the Swan Station. It's clear throughout the series that Ben is not averse to enduring a beating (or two) (though he probably didn't count on there being a professional torturer in the mix) if it means advancing his own interests.

There is no record on which ["Make Your Own Kind of Music"] is track one.

"Dharma Records Presents: Smash Hits of the 60s!"
posted by aught at 8:54 AM on May 26, 2010


I have this show to thank for introducing me to MetaFilter. In 2004, I launched a LOST-related website and in 2005, it was linked in the comments of an AskMe, which created a bit of a spike in traffic. I found my way here to see where all those hits were coming from. I spent a few years lurking without an account, then a couple more after signing up just quietly reading along.

Even though I stopped updating that LOST-ish site in 2007, and my involvement in the show has waned from superfan to simply 'fan', I still felt invested and wondered how it would end. I agree with harriet vane's comment, especially this bit: But relationships with people, real sharing of your sorrow and joy - that can make the search for answers more bearable, and without them your life is kinda bleak.

So thank you LOST, for bringing me to MeFi, and thank you MeFi, for being so much more than just a website.
posted by shannonm at 9:07 AM on May 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


When one of the big mysteries happened on the series, like "Why can't women on the island give birth?" or "Why do the numbers keep appearing?" and those questions kept popping up, episode after episode (as opposed to just being in, say, a single scene), how did that affect you? ("You" being one of the people who aren't bothered by the lack of answers.)

For me this is a "have you stopped eating your boogers?" question. By answering either way I would accept the premise that these things were not answered, and I don't accept that. By the third (fourth? - I can't remember or be arsed to go look it up) episode it was extremely clear that this wasn't 'our' world - there were monsters, and miraculous healings, and ghosts (sort of). For me, I was readily accepting of those things and over time they had the aggregate effect of saying "there is crazy shit afoot - deal with it. You'll get some specifics, and you'll have to fill in the blanks sometimes."

Allow me to fumble around with a terrible analogy: Lost is like Thunderdome - the actual dome where Max and Master duke it out. I didn't find myself asking who exactly had put the chainsaw through the bars, or how the rubber harnesses worked, or what have you. I just found myself excited by the chainsaw. And, yeah, you know, if I think about it I can make up some plausible sketches of reasoning. The reason Master didn't go for the chainsaw is that he has seen this all before and knows that the chainsaw never has much gas in it. Maybe there's, like, a parks and recreation department in Bartertown that maintains Thunderdome, and it is some guy's job to find exciting weapons and hang them up waiting for a legal dispute, and to make sure the chainsaw has just enough gas in it to start but only for ten seconds. But I don't really care who that guy is - not because there isn't a plausible answer, or answers, but because the business end of whatever is happening is the chainsaw itself, and that it makes Max run around and is all very exciting.

There are good enough explanations for the babies question and the numbers question. Trying to whittle a finer point on them seems like a sort of mundane bookkeeping that my brain is not concerned with, so long as what happens is consistent with the rules that are already set up. I would not have found Lost more enjoyable if someone had exposed precisely why babies were impossible on the island, because, again, the business end of that being a given, it makes the characters run around and is very exciting.

I'm not saying that a loudspeaker simply announcing to the characters, "YOU ARE NOW TO RUN AROUND AND BE EXCITED" from time to time would be a good show - I think there is a balance of plausibility, and it is a delicate one. For me it worked. The edges of plot and motivation where things were blurred or unclear? My mind either sketched it in, or ignored it, or got distracted by the next chainsaw.

This all wouldn't have worked without a full on love of a lot of the characters, and for conflicted allegiances, and for some specific concrete answers. But, again, for me, it worked like a charm. There were a handful of episodes that I didn't like, sure, and there were certainly some things that I would prefer happened differently or, that I would like a clearer explanation of, but in total I got everything I could have hoped for out of the show.

I feel sorry for those of you who didn't. Because it was awesome.
posted by dirtdirt at 9:08 AM on May 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


When one of the big mysteries happened on the series, like "Why can't women on the island give birth?" or "Why do the numbers keep appearing?" and those questions kept popping up, episode after episode (as opposed to just being in, say, a single scene), how did that affect you? ("You" being one of the people who aren't bothered by the lack of answers.)

My question is why do you think that both of those questions weren't answered?
posted by empath at 9:09 AM on May 26, 2010


My question is why do you think that both of those questions weren't answered?

Because either they weren't answered or because they were, and I was too dense to understand the answers.

I can come up with some answers for the "why can't women give birth?" question, but the fact that I can come up with them doesn't mean that the questions were answered (by the series). It's a different question as to whether or not it's a good thing for me to answer those questions myself, and we've seen a range of opinions about that in this thread.

The numbers? You really thought that was answered? If so, explain.

Here's what I remember about the numbers. They appeared all over the place -- way too often for it to be coincidence. We pretty much learned that the numbers were planted everywhere by Jacob. Believe it or not, I am satisfied with that. I get that Jacob is magic, and I don't need to know more about how his magic works.

But Jacob was presented as a human-like character with human psychology, so my question about the numbers is WHY? Why did Jacob put them everywhere? All we know is what we learned from the Smoke Monster, which is "Jacob likes numbers."

And he actually didn't put them everywhere. Why did he specifically make them the numbers Desmond had to type? Why did he make them the numbers on Hurley's speedometer? Etc.

The writers did seem to want to explain Jacob's psychology. In other words, they didn't present him as a mysterious being whose ways we can never understand. We know that he feared that his brother would get off the island and that he searched for candidates to replace him as overseer. We know that he had some jealousy issues. We know why he "hired" Richard and why he made Richard immortal. Jacob, unlike God, didn't have "Mysterious Ways."

I guess if you think "he likes numbers" is an answer then we just have to disagree on what an answer is.
posted by grumblebee at 9:26 AM on May 26, 2010


Allow me to fumble around with a terrible analogy: Lost is like Thunderdome - the actual dome where Max and Master duke it out.

It's actually a great analogy. Because LOST is like Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome if it had been the only film in the series, had begun with Max waking up, inexplicably inside Thunderdome, never showed or mentioned Bartertown, Tina Turner, or any explanation of where he was or what he was supposed to be doing (no mention of "two men enter, one man leaves" allowed) and if it ended with an hour-long scene of his pre-apocalypse life, followed by Max being told that everything but Thunderdome was actually a dream. And, of course, it would have to end with the laughing freeze frame shot from "ChiPS" but with Max hugging the helicopter guy.
posted by The World Famous at 9:40 AM on May 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


My impression of the numbers is that they were a side effect of Jacob's expansion of the islands powers to the outside world. More than coincidence, but less than intentional.

Women not being able to conceive on the islands struck me as a curse.

Did you want someone to come right out and explain it? They explained a few mysteries like that in the last few episodes and it was lame and clunky. (The whispers, for example).
posted by empath at 9:44 AM on May 26, 2010


But Jacob was presented as a human-like character with human psychology, so my question about the numbers is WHY? Why did Jacob put them everywhere? All we know is what we learned from the Smoke Monster, which is "Jacob likes numbers."

He is a magical, capricious, more-or-less immortal being who 'likes numbers' and spends his time manipulating people from birth towards a magical island, and you find it an unreasonable stretch to assume he might set up some coincidences and patterns along the way? I guess we do have to disagree on what an answer is.
posted by dirtdirt at 9:44 AM on May 26, 2010


When one of the big mysteries happened on the series, like "Why can't women on the island give birth?" or "Why do the numbers keep appearing?" and those questions kept popping up, episode after episode (as opposed to just being in, say, a single scene), how did that affect you?

Here's the thing: I have loved this show from the beginning, but I have been burned by mystery serials in the past. "The X-Files" ended disappointingly, and "Alias" (a J.J. Abrams show!) left me wanting. Since then, I have tried to temper my expectations about Big Mysteries being resolved on TV serials.

And in fact: if I remember correctly, "The X-Files" did try to answer everything in the finale, in a big courtroom mythology-dump, and afterwards, I was like, well, okay, that's been resolved, and I wiped my hands of it and haven't really thought about it since. In the finale of "Alias," I think they explained Rambaldi mystery, but four years later I can't really remember what it was. What I do remember are the final fates of Jack Bristow and Arvin Sloane. I remember what happened to the characters. When mysteries get explained on TV, they often lose their punch. Why the same is not true for movies, I don't know.

When I look back on these types of shows, I ask: what kept me watching every week? A good mystery isn't enough. You also need people to root for and actors you enjoy watching. And you need action and suspense and adventure, and you need well-constructed individual episodes, and wonderful Michael Giacchino music certainly helps. Were the mysteries intriguing? Totally. But somewhere along the way I got a sense that not everything would be answered, and I didn't care. Watching "Lost" gave me a visceral thrill every week and I wouldn't trade it for anything. Over the last few months, while watching season 6, I also re-watched seasons 1 through 5, and I enjoyed the episodes just as much the second time around, or maybe even moreso.

Alan Sepinwall wrote the other day:

Ultimately, “Lost” didn’t succeed because of the mythology. We’ve seen too many examples of mythology-heavy, character-light series fail over the last six years to think that. “Lost” succeeded on emotion…. When “Lost” was really and truly great, it locked you so deep into the emotions of the moment that the larger questions didn’t really matter.

Was it out of laziness that Cuse and Lindelof didn't answer all the questions? Or was it an artistic choice? I don't know. For instance, they have said they know who shot at the time-jumping Losties when they were in the canoe in season 5, but they wound up not being able to work the answer into the final season:

[I]t would have been great if we had had the opportunity to close the time loop. But you can't get everything done and keeping the narrative going in a straight line. This is one of those things where we made a very conscious choice to ask, "What are the big questions? And most importantly, what are the paths of these characters? Where do they lead?" And we followed those paths and tried not to trip ourselves up getting too diverted from that. We felt that that's the thing that's ultimately going to make the finale work or not work....

When we wrote that scene and somebody started shooting at them, we knew exactly who was shooting at them. That is not a dangling thread that we don't know the answer to. That being said, as we started talking about paying that off this season, it felt like the episode was at the service of closing the time loop, as opposed to what the characters might actually be doing in that scenario. It never felt organic. We decided we would rather take our lumps from the people who couldn't scratch that itch than to produce an episode that was in service of putting people in an outrigger and getting shot at.


So, you can call it poor planning on their part. I think you have said somewhere on this site that you are very interested in the mechanics of storytelling, so perhaps this bothers you more.

I didn't think the finale was perfect. I was disappointed, to be honest, that I got cheated out of the parallel universe storyline I wanted to see, where the alt-Losties teamed up with the real Losties to save the world. Or I thought we would find out that the two universes had somehow created each other. I thought the season-long deception was annoying and gratuitous and unnecessary. But I accept it because the way it did turn out packed an emotional wallop for me. I watched the last 20 minutes of the episode again yesterday and it made me weepy all over again.

I guess my expectations were just different than yours. I enjoyed the journey so much that the ultimate destination didn't bother me.
posted by Tin Man at 9:48 AM on May 26, 2010


He is a magical, capricious, more-or-less immortal being who 'likes numbers' and spends his time manipulating people from birth towards a magical island, and you find it an unreasonable stretch to assume he might set up some coincidences and patterns along the way? I guess we do have to disagree on what an answer is.

You're explanation is conjecture. Conjecture is not an answer.

The answer is that the writers gave complex, repeating clues througout a lengthy TV series and told people that the clues had significance, but that the writers got in over their heads and never got around to writing what the significance was. The questions have no answers, not because "Jacob" did or did not do something or because of some mystery attribute of Jacob or anyone else, but because the questions were made up by writers who never bothered to answer them.
posted by The World Famous at 9:48 AM on May 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


Your. Not you're. Sheesh.
posted by The World Famous at 9:50 AM on May 26, 2010


Wait, empath, I'm totally confused. I don't get how these statements...

My impression of the numbers is that...

Women not being able to conceive on the islands struck me as a curse.

... gel with this:

My question is why do you think that both of those questions weren't answered?

No, I don't want lame and clunky answers. What I want, as I explained above, is either good answers to posed questions, questions not posed at all if they can't have good answers, or mysteries that are integral to the story and earned (no arbitrary unanswered questions that could been left out of the story in the first place). I tried to outline my aesthetics for mysteries earlier in this thread. I won't tire people further by repeating them.

I guess I can totally see how both sorts of reactions make sense:

1) Yeah, there were unanswered questions, but there was so much else going on, I was able to quit worrying about them and focus on the other stuff.

2) The series put questions in my mind, acted like it was going to answer them, and then never did. Arg!
posted by grumblebee at 9:52 AM on May 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


3) there was no need to elucidate the precise answer to some questions, because the implied answers were good enough in the spirit of moving forward.
posted by dirtdirt at 9:55 AM on May 26, 2010


3) there was no need to elucidate the precise answer to some questions, because the implied answers were good enough (for some people) in the spirit of moving forward.
posted by grumblebee at 9:57 AM on May 26, 2010


Yes, 3.

Stories that explain every little thing are tedious. They explained it well enough for me.

"The island is magic" explains a lot of stuff pretty easily. If the writers wanted you to buy that the island was the home of a magical source of energy, one way to do that is to have a bunch of unexplained and unexplainable shit happen.
posted by empath at 10:00 AM on May 26, 2010


(for some people)

Exactly. You feel the need to have (for some people) in there, I feel like it is implied, and why clutter things up? That's why they make chocolate AND vanilla ice cream. Different people like different things.
posted by dirtdirt at 10:02 AM on May 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


That's why they make chocolate AND vanilla ice cream. Different people like different things.

And some people, upon opening a box of vanilla ice cream and finding, instead, an Oreo cookie, can't figure out why everyone else is annoyed that the box said "vanilla ice cream" but contained no ice cream, because hey, free cookie.
posted by The World Famous at 10:07 AM on May 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


Exactly. You feel the need to have (for some people) in there, I feel like it is implied

And you're right. Sorry.
posted by grumblebee at 10:10 AM on May 26, 2010


And some people, upon opening a box of vanilla ice cream and finding, instead, an Oreo cookie, can't figure out why everyone else is annoyed that the box said "vanilla ice cream" but contained no ice cream, because hey, free cookie.

Except the box didn't actually say "vanilla ice cream." It just had a picture of vanilla ice cream on it. Cuse and Lindelof will say it was your mistake to assume there'd actually be vanilla ice cream inside. ;-)
posted by Tin Man at 10:12 AM on May 26, 2010 [4 favorites]


4) The show is better for not answering every question, because the fun of the show is thinking about mysteries, not having answers.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:13 AM on May 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


It just had a picture of vanilla ice cream on it. Cuse and Lindelof will say it was your mistake to assume there'd actually be vanilla ice cream inside.

And Cuse and Lindelof said "oh, there's definitely ice cream inside." But now we know that Cuse and Lindelof cannot be trusted.
posted by The World Famous at 10:16 AM on May 26, 2010


Women *were* able to conceive and give birth... prior to the Incident. (For example, Miles, Charlotte, Daniel were all born on the island *prior* to the Incident.)
posted by grubi at 10:18 AM on May 26, 2010


Yes. They specifically said they would answer every question. And when they left hundreds unanswered, they failed to make good on that promise. That's why we're upset:

1. Create a mystery, raise loads of questions.
2. When the audience repeatedly asks "Are *all* of these questions going to be answered?", you answer "Yes. All will be taken care of and in a satisfactory manner."
3. Wrap up the mystery while failing to find/reveal answers for many things, including major things, and proclaim "That's it. All done."

Whether a majority of the audience buys your explanations or not, THIS MAKES YOU A LYING DICK.
posted by grubi at 10:23 AM on May 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yes. They specifically said they would answer every question.

I don't believe that's true.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:24 AM on May 26, 2010


Some thoughts:

I think the sentiment that is being expressed that because we accept fantastic premise A it's absurd to question fantastic thing B is really, really weird. I don't mean that to be insulting, I mean, "Wow, it's really interesting that we think that differently." Like, in dirtdirt's Thunderdome post, I almost caught a glimpse of it, obliquely. "Yeah, I'm along for the ride! They're in a fantastic world!"

But good science fiction doesn't usually work that way. Good science fiction asks us to accept one fantastic premise, and then let's examine together what the logical consequences of that premise being true might be.

I really like the recent version of Solaris, and I think there's some really interesting comparative work to be done between it and Lost. There are all sorts of superficial similarities, like the afterlife-like resolution, which is worth examining, because I like that of Solaris, but there are more interesting points as well, in that I feel both things have really strong characters. I like the plot of Solaris, but I also feel that what makes the film really compelling to me is that all the characters feel like real people. They seem like intelligent people thrown into a fantastic, difficult situation and asked to deal with it.

And so but then Solaris: premise: there's a planet that has a weird ability to interact with human intelligence by reading our minds and constructing simulacra out of our memories. What would that mean for us? Well, at some point we would discover it, and probably be pretty frightened by it, initially. The implications of its existence are troubling: do we accept the simulacra of our loved ones? Is that living in a falsehood that's worth preventing others from having to face? Is a loved one constructed from our memories of a person a reasonable substitute for the real thing? Does this have theological implications? Does the simulacrum have rights? These are questions the movie seems to me to explore that come out of the premise.

Because it does that, because I accept that deal with the movie, I don't get all caught up in "deeper turtles". I don't go, "Yeah, well, that's fine, but what was the deal with the planetary intelligence? I need to know what it is, otherwise this is just voodoo." That's not how I feel about it.

But Lost? I can't really come up with a premise that makes sense of the various things that are going on. I have to suppose a whole bunch. And they don't really seem to be tidily related each other, either. I don't think the numbers really had anything to do with Jacob. And so it sort of fails - for me.

Next point: forgetting all my other issues with the finale, the more I think about the Man in Black and Jacob, the more I feel like that wasn't really fleshed out properly. That is, Jacob actually seems like a bit of a knob, the more I examine him, and I don't actually think he's supposed to be that way. But if he brought them to the island to find a candidate, why didn't he have the Others leave them alone? That they were being mislead by his brother isn't satisfying, to me, because he could have tried to un-mislead them. And I think the MiB was a bit more sympathetic than Jacob (which I don't think he was supposed to be, again). His mother was murdered, then his adoptive mother killed everyone, and he was forbidden from leaving an island for no reason that I could see. That was kind of weird. What I'm saying is that it seemed clear that you were supposed to feel a certain way: Jacob=good, MiB=evil. But that didn't really work for me. Having the supposed apocalypse triggered by his getting off the island being totally undefined, too, only reinforces this feeling.

Penultimate point: The afterlife plot would have worked much better for me if they hadn't presented it under the red herring "let's stop the plane crash from happening" guise. Imagine if season 6 had just started the sideways flashes out of nowhere. It would have been intriguing, I could have supposed that it was a parallel timeline, and then when the reveal happened, I wouldn't have felt ripped off. Still not totally pleased, mind you, but not cheated.

Last point: I do think the fact that the ending came to FAITH RULES REASON DROOLZ is going to predispose me to a certain hostility no matter what. It seems to me that my other criticisms are fairly arrived at, but my reaction could certainly be colored.

I must say, though I'm still upset by the letdown I feel the end of the show to be, I am enjoying debating it here and bouncing thoughts of it back-and-forth with all of you, so I hope those of you who liked the ending can maybe try and enjoy this dialogue as well.
posted by neuromodulator at 10:24 AM on May 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


Cuse and Lindelof will say it was your mistake to assume there'd actually be vanilla ice cream inside.

Because you can never reducto TOO absurdum, Lost was a box with a picture of vanilla ice cream on it - but when you opened it it wasn't vanilla. Sometimes it was almost vanilla, sure, like it was vanilla cake batter. Maybe it was chocolate, or fudge ripple, or maple walnut. Sometimes it was Tabasco or some shit, but it WASN'T vanilla. Then, the last day you had the box, you opened it up and it was a blend of all the flavors that had come before, including Tabasco and anchovy, and it was really pretty good. But it still wasn't vanilla. At the end there, on that last day, were you surprised or disappointed that it wasn't vanilla, saying "but it had vanilla on the box!"? I wasn't.


And you're right. Sorry.
Thanks, but no need! We're good!

posted by dirtdirt at 10:26 AM on May 26, 2010


Women not being able to conceive on the islands struck me as a curse.

But they were able to conceive, weren't they? They just couldn't carry them to term.

My thought on this was, hey, the island heals cancer, it heals a man who can't walk, so the island is in the business of healing sick people. So, to a non-human entity, a pregnancy probably looks like a host/parasite relationship, and it gets rid of what it thinks is the parasite.
posted by jbickers at 10:31 AM on May 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


I just thought it was the magnetic field, to be honest. Strong magnetic field fucked with the fetus, somehow.

(I mean, fucking magnets, how do they work, right?)
posted by neuromodulator at 10:40 AM on May 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


So, to a non-human entity, a pregnancy probably looks like a host/parasite relationship, and it gets rid of what it thinks is the parasite.

Because pregnancy is an exclusively human phenomenon?
posted by The World Famous at 10:41 AM on May 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Let's say they said it was a quantum flux in a local subspace anomoly that caused the pregnancies to fail. Would that have made an iota of difference in your appreciation of the show?
posted by empath at 10:41 AM on May 26, 2010


It could also have been The Incident. Women could conceive and give birth before the Jughead detonation, but not after.
posted by Tin Man at 10:43 AM on May 26, 2010 [1 favorite]



I loved the finale. Love love loved it. But one thing has been cracking me up to think about:

What the hell are the people on the Ajira plane going to do when they get back to civilization???

Think about it: a 747 goes missing over the South Pacific, similar to another plane going missing over the South Pacific 3 years earlier. Even weirder, the 6 survivors of that earlier flight were on this plane that went down. At this point, there would have been an insane media circus around this.

And then, two weeks later, the plane shows up again in civilization, beat to hell, and carrying one of the Oceanic 6, as well as two of the other survivors of that earlier plane, who everyone in the world thought were dead, plus the pilot of the plane, a psychic, and some random guy with absolutely no identity! And all the other passengers are missing.


Many apologies if someone else has already brought this up and I missed it.
posted by lunasol at 10:43 AM on May 26, 2010 [6 favorites]


Yes, empath, explanations to the mysteries would have made a huge difference to some of us. I think we've been pretty clear on that, so I'm not sure what you're getting at.
posted by neuromodulator at 10:46 AM on May 26, 2010


4) The show is better for not answering every question, because the fun of the show is thinking about mysteries, not having answers.

UGH. I'm so tired of this argument as well. There might be a few people who want every last thing answered, yes. There are also a lot of people who are willing to let go of a lot of details, but still want fundamental issues resolved. I don't particularly care about why Walt doesn't play a larger rold, for example; I'm willing to accept that it just didn't matter in the end. In fact, I'm even okay with the island being a bowl full of magic sugar, and that's why all the weird stuff on the island and off happened. I might be happier if they had a full scientific explanation, or maybe it'd just be midichlorians and I'd be pissed. Magic island black box, fine. That's cool.

To me, the question of what the island is made of is different than the question of what happens if the power of the island fails, because one is sort of window dressing and one drives the motivations of the characters. You don't really see Jack or Hurley asking why the island is the way it is (though you DO see people like Faraday posing these questions, and it is annoying that he seems to have theories about it but we never know what they are). But you do see them care a great deal about preventing the smoke monster from subverting the island's power. What I want to know is WHY they care, when I don't. Again, they may have faith that the island is a sort of cerberus protecting against evil, and if it fails, the evil will swoop in and swallow the world whole. But all I've seen is various characters of varying authority on the matter say that it protects against evil.

We have a few instances where characters doubt the conventional wisdom of the show, almost as a wink to the audience—Miles wondering if the nuke is what causes the Incident, Sawyer questioning Jack's theory that the smoke monster can't kill them, only the candidates themselves could—but we never get anything like the Jack and Locke titanic struggle over the button in season 2. I wouldn't want that exactly, because obviously the titanic struggle is supposed to be the Candidate vs. the smoke monster. But if I don't believe that the island's power of containing evil is real, then I'm with Sawyer—let's just get the hell off this rock, and why are we bothering with all of this Jacob stuff. The explanation someone posted from EW explaining that the island powered souls works for me because it provides a concrete answer for what happens if the island fails—and it even ties in somewhat neatly with why Jack and the smoke monster become mortal. But it's just someone's fanwanking after the fact, unfortunately, so we can't just assume that's the reason for everything.

Whatever the reason for Walt's powers, I don't think it would change at all what any of the characters did in the end. But the nature of the island's powers, and what the consequences for not protecting the island are? I'd definitely want to know if I was on that island, and it always bothered me that everyone took Jacob at his word. That's one of the reasons why I actually liked "Beyond the Sea"—because it revealed that maybe a lot of the mythology was just a sham perpetuated by guardians and villains that didn't really know any better, and that maybe we SHOULDN'T take them at their word. But then it turned out that it didn't matter anyways, and the explanation we got of the island was about as vague as Mother's hurried explanation to Jacob before she passed on her power.
posted by chrominance at 10:46 AM on May 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


What the hell are the people on the Ajira plane going to do when they get back to civilization???

I wondered about that, too. I guess they could ditch the plane and make a raft, like they did originally, and then separate once they reach the nearest populated island. Definitely a big media circus any which way, though.

Also, Richard must have some sort of off-island ID, since he worked for Mittelos Bioscience and also visited young Locke several times.
posted by Tin Man at 10:48 AM on May 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


4) The show is better for not answering every question, because the fun of the show is thinking about mysteries, not having answers.

The problem being for me thinking about mysteries is only fun as long as I believe they have answers. Once I believe they're transparent devices to increase viewer interest, that they have no function with the story-world, but only within the audience-world, they cease to be rewarding.
posted by neuromodulator at 10:50 AM on May 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


4) The show is better for not answering every question, because the fun of the show is thinking about mysteries, not having answers.

This is like saying that The Usual Suspects would have been better if it had ended the moment that Verbal walked out the door of the investigator's office.
posted by The World Famous at 10:51 AM on May 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


UGH. I'm so tired of this argument as well.

Well, fine. I was addressing grumblebee's false binary, though, not your whatever.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:52 AM on May 26, 2010


Let's say they said it was a quantum flux in a local subspace anomoly that caused the pregnancies to fail. Would that have made an iota of difference in your appreciation of the show?

Yes, empath, explanations to the mysteries would have made a huge difference to some of us. I think we've been pretty clear on that, so I'm not sure what you're getting at.


I think he's suggesting that if we got what we wanted, it would be some form of nonsense, like the techno-babble on "Star Trek." (IF he's suggesting that "You were okay with it on "Star Trek," so why aren't you okay with it on LOST?" then all I can do is speak for myself and say that I wasn't okay with it on "Star Trek.")

But that assumes that the only ways to answer the sorts of questions LOST posed is through silly, nonsensical answers. I disagree, and I wrote about some other possibilities upthread. No one has to agree with me, but what's definitely NOT true is that I believe techno-babble is the only option besides not answering.

The other assumption, I think, is that the show HAD to pose these questions. I don't think that's true, either. The writers could have chosen to not insert questions in the show that they had no ability or desire to answer. I've seen tons of exciting adventure stories that didn't do this. There's no reason why a show about spiritual matters has to do it, either. Not post DOZENS of unanswered questions.
posted by grumblebee at 10:54 AM on May 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


I was addressing grumblebee's false binary

Yeah, it makes sense that you think I believed that the two responses I listed are the only two I thought possible. But I don't.

My point was that when a show poses a lot of little questions, doesn't answer them (or when some people feel the show didn't answer them) but DOES answer some really big questions, it totally makes sense to me that some people will be disappointed while others will be pleased.

Does that not makes sense to you?
posted by grumblebee at 10:58 AM on May 26, 2010


The problem being for me thinking about mysteries is only fun as long as I believe they have answers. Once I believe they're transparent devices to increase viewer interest, that they have no function with the story-world, but only within the audience-world, they cease to be rewarding.

This is like saying that The Usual Suspects would have been better if it had ended the moment that Verbal walked out the door of the investigator's office.


Please reread what I said. I wasn't handwaving away any problems that anyone has with anything, or saying 'Let's never learn anything about anything!' I was addressed grumblebee's position that there are only two positions, one of which is bothered by unanswered questions and the other of which forgets about them. I was reiterating my earlier comment.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:59 AM on May 26, 2010


Ah, okay, then, empath, I get your point. I disagree, and I think I have outlined why I disagree already, so I'll let it go rather than blahblahblah make the thread about me.
posted by neuromodulator at 10:59 AM on May 26, 2010


The problem being for me thinking about mysteries is only fun as long as I believe they have answers. Once I believe they're transparent devices to increase viewer interest, that they have no function with the story-world, but only within the audience-world, they cease to be rewarding.

Yes, yes, YES, a thousand times, YES.

By raising these mysteries, you're establishing a certain level of trust with your audience. Raising them, and promising to answer them... there's trust there. But to fail to answer them and tell me it's my fault for getting into the mysteries, well, shit.

If the mysteries never existed, would any of us watched? Of course not. And when the first little bit of mystery got answered (and subsequently raised more), didn't we all become even *more* intrigued?

The mysteries were the reason we started watching in the first place. To abandon them and proclaim they don't matter because "it's a character show" at the end... that's just lazy. Or lying.
posted by grubi at 10:59 AM on May 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Does that not makes sense to you?

No, it totally makes sense to me. There is a large amount of pushback in this thread against the notion that I am allowed to think LOST did a satisfactory job, so I'm sorry if my reaction against various people with whom I disagree gets muddled.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:01 AM on May 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


What if God came to Earth and said, "Ask me any questions you want"?

Bob says, "Is there life after death, and did Shakespeare actually write all those plays?"

Fred has the exact same questions.

God says, "Okay, there IS life after death, and, as for Shakespeare .... sorry, I'm not going to answer that question."

Bob says, "That's totally cool with me. Wow! There IS an afterlife!"

Fred says, "... um... but who wrote the Shakespeare plays."

Bob says, "Dude. Why do you even care? THERE'S A FUCKING AFTERLIFE!"

Fred says, "Yeah. I know. I mean, I am really stoked about that. It's just that I thought God was going to answer my questions, and I'd been wondering about the Shakespeare thing for a long time, and I REALLY got my hopes up, and now He says he's not going to answer..."

Boy says, "You really need to move on!"

Now, I'm not suggesting that the writers of LOST did what my fictional God did. They never said, "Ask us any question." I feel that they implicitly did this, but I can't prove that they did. It doesn't matter.

So if you feel like saying, "No, that's not what the LOST writers did. They didn't act like your God. What they acted like was...." please note that I'm not saying they did this. I'm saying that, to some of us, it felt like they did.

What matters is that I now FEEL like Fred. Some of the rest of you do, too. Others of you feel like Bob.

To me, both of those feelings are reasonable responses. And, whether they are reasonable or not, they ARE actual responses that people here have.
posted by grumblebee at 11:08 AM on May 26, 2010


I agree with that. I am grumbling because 1) It has been suggested a number of times that the only reasonable response is Fred's, and 2) Now people who agree with Fred are telling me that both responses are legitimate, as if it has been suggested a number of times that the only reasonable response is Bob's.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:14 AM on May 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


I would have described the opposite, shakespeherian, so I think it has more to do with our perception of the tone of people who disagree and agree with us than what was actually said. No?
posted by neuromodulator at 11:17 AM on May 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


There is a large amount of pushback in this thread against the notion that I am allowed to think LOST did a satisfactory job

I don't think that's true, but I understand why you feel that way. No one has said, "you are stupid for feeling the way you do." People have made impassioned arguments about why they dislike (and like) the show or parts of it. But even the most impassioned argument doesn't necessarily contain within it, "and if you disagree, you are wrong." This is especially true of aesthetic arguments.

In any case, you are allowed to think LOST did a satisfactory job. If that's what you think, then that's what you think. There is not a way in hell that I -- or anyone else -- can prove you wrong.

"I tried spinach and I didn't like it."

"You're wrong."

WTF? How could you be wrong?

I can, MAYBE, prove that LOST didn't do a satisfying job AT CERTAIN SPECIFIC TASKS, such as pleasing grumblebee. But those tasks are MY agenda, there's no reason why they should be yours.

One of the great things about stories is that we watch them and we HAVE reactions. You had yours; I had mine. (I wish I had yours.) No one can prove us wrong. What would that even mean? They'd have to prove that we didn't have the reactions that we had.

Even if you read all the negative comments here and agreed with them (and I know you don't), you STILL had the reaction that you had.
posted by grumblebee at 11:18 AM on May 26, 2010


It certainly is true for pretty much every real life exchange I've ever had over anything.
posted by neuromodulator at 11:18 AM on May 26, 2010


Personally, I think the answer was more like "As far as Shakespeare, you're really asking the wrong question -- A man wrote the plays, and whoever that man was, was Shakespeare."
posted by empath at 11:22 AM on May 26, 2010


When one of the big mysteries happened on the series, like "Why can't women on the island give birth?" or "Why do the numbers keep appearing?" and those questions kept popping up, episode after episode (as opposed to just being in, say, a single scene), how did that affect you?

This question made me wonder when I went, emotionally, from OMFGLOSTISTHEBESTTHINGEVERINVENTEDONTV to 'I dig this show, and hope it stays reasonably good.' The numbers did it for me, I think, downshifted my enthusiasm and investment in the series a great deal. When the numbers became so important (like every episode) and then were sort of dropped later on and we rolled right into the next bright, shiny distraction, I realized that--though they are tantalizing--I should not invest in the mysteries in the show and just let it all ride because it wasn't going to be logically coherent. Not even made-up-science-fictiony coherent. I enjoyed the last three seasons a great deal more, I think, because of that. The mysteries are clever and fun and mostly nonsensical, and that was OK once I realized it.

For me, I was never hugely emotionally invested in the characters, and I really think Cuse & Lindelof's emphasis on emotional investment in the characters as people handicapped their and other writers' ability to make art in the medium, because it stripped away much of the metaphorical--when characters in a work of fiction are always read as literally real people, that's a limitation. In LOST, metaphor clearly played a huge role, but creatively trying to use these big symbolic ideas while telling a story about real people with mundane struggles is a little bit like wanting to eat your cake and have it too, creatively.

So: the mystery part became for goofs, and I was never hugely invested in the characters as real people because--due to my own nature--I was always trying to watch the show as symbolic rather than narrative (artwork rather than story perhaps?). That kept me somewhat detached and allowed my expectations for the show to remain neutral, so I was never really disappointed or elated when it went one way or another. I loved it when it worked, didn't so much when it was off, but after an initial infatuation didn't remain deeply emotionally invested.
posted by LooseFilter at 11:26 AM on May 26, 2010


Also, regarding the mysteries of the show: when it became clear that the mysteries were neither self-serving (fascinating in themselves, and solved within the story) nor symbolic (narrative devices used metaphorically to highlight an aspect of a character or a theme of the show, etc.), I really mostly started disregarding them. It was clear at least by the end of season 2 that they weren't really consequential.
posted by LooseFilter at 11:28 AM on May 26, 2010


it should have been the parallel universe was real (like I mention upthread), and the last couple of minutes would be the Lost crew realizing they've made it off teh island by never having been on the idsland, but having the relationships, friendships, etc, just the same.

And then credits.

...

And then come the spinoffs:

1. "Lost Angeles PD": Sawyer and Miles tackling tough crime in the City of Angels, one a hard-bitten good ol' boy with dimples and a biting wit, the other a ghost whisperer. Crime doesn't stand a chance!

2. "Dharma High": Professors Linus and Locke try to teach the children of the high school they work for a few lessons about faith, life, and power dynamics.

3. "Life of Hurley": Happy-go-lucky millionaire business owner Hugo Reyes (with his best friend Sayid) goes around bringing laughter and insight through his fortune and his big heart.

4. "The Widmores": Corporate intrigue with Charles Widmore, his daughter penny, her husband Desmond,, and their willingness to get things done in an unorthodox but effective manner. Also starring Sun and Jin as the ultimate power couple.

5. "You All Everybody": The life of a rock star is exciting and unreal, but even more so with a new wife and step-kid. Charlie and his band struggle for fame while Claire struggles to get him to change the diapers once in a while!

One show each weeknight at nine PM. Crossover arcs every once in a while, stretching across the whole week. Get "lost" with the gang's further adventures on ABC!
posted by grubi at 11:29 AM on May 26, 2010 [10 favorites]


What I mean to say is that the show didn't refuse to answer the questions, they just answered the question obliquely and in a way that diminished the importance of the answers in favor of the importance of contemplating the mystery itself. I think this may be, again, a particularly Catholic point of view, I dunno. "How can the trinity be three gods and a unity?" It is a mystery. It'll never be answered. Does that make it not true or unimportant or useless to think about? For a lot of people, probably. For Catholics, no.

One way to look at the question of the authorship of Shakespeare's plays is that the biographical details of the man who wrote them is unimportant, and everything important to know about the man is contained in his body of work. It may be enough to say that a man wrote those plays and that man is Shakespeare, even if was really Francis Bacon or some anonymous person.

It may be that answering the question definitively lessens the value of Shakespeare's plays somehow, by making them about a particular person instead of being universal concerns.
posted by empath at 11:31 AM on May 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Personally, I think the answer was more like "As far as Shakespeare, you're really asking the wrong question -- A man wrote the plays, and whoever that man was, was Shakespeare."

Well, if we're talking about the real debate over authorship, I agree with you. I spend much of my life directing Shakespeare plays, and I don't care who wrote them.

But in my counter-factual, that IS Fred's question. For whatever reason, he cares about it.

I guess it comes down to the fact that I don't believe there are any wrong questions -- ever. If a story contains a question, SOMEONE is going to care about its answer. Whether or not you, the author, have a responsibility to that person is a different matter.

There are Bob's questions and Fred's questions, and I don't see how a question can ever be legitimate or illegitimate, except within individual minds.

What I DO think is that if, say, Mary came into this thread and went on and on about HER question, which happened to be, "Why the fuck were the Dharma houses painted that ugly yellow color?" we might suggest to her, after a while, that while the question is important to her, no one else here cares about it.

But -- and this is interesting, actually -- I see very few eccentrics in this thread. Almost everyone in here seems to fall into one of a small number of camps, in terms of their responses to the show and what questions -- if any -- they are bothered by.
posted by grumblebee at 11:31 AM on May 26, 2010


How can the trinity be three gods and a unity?" It is a mystery. It'll never be answered. Does that make it not true or unimportant or useless to think about? For a lot of people, probably. For Catholics, no.

it just so happens, I *do* care that there is an answer and get pissed when the 'answer" is a non-answer like "It's a mystery."

All real mysteries have answers. As a result, it is implied all fictional mysteries do too. I don't think it's unreasonable to want to know those answers.
posted by grubi at 11:33 AM on May 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


the show didn't refuse to answer the questions

You and I (and several other people, on both sides) simply disagree about that.
posted by grumblebee at 11:34 AM on May 26, 2010


You know, I disagreed with a friend of mine about Jin and Sun's deaths. He felt that it was very powerful, I felt like it was engineered to be manipulative and therefore it rang a bit unearned.

That's a way to characterize all this, I think. Every story is about audience manipulation, but to some extent we want there to be a solid story foundation supporting this manipulation. And we want this to various degrees.

Some of us think the framework matters, some of us don't. Some of us feel the framework was flimsy, some of us think it was solid.

Recognizing that the framework was flimsy but buying the manipulation anyway isn't being wrong. Recognizing that the framework was flimsy and having that deflate the manipulation, that's not wrong, either.

Thinking the framework was solid for this show is clearly nuts, though.

I'm just kidding. I get that all sci-fi premises are, at some point, nonsensical. So I can understand saying, "If they're ultimately nonsensical, does it really matter at which level they hold up to scrutiny?" For me, the answer is clearly "yes". For some of you, no. It's all good.
posted by neuromodulator at 11:35 AM on May 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


What I mean to say is that the show didn't refuse to answer the questions, they just answered the question obliquely and in a way that diminished the importance of the answers in favor of the importance of contemplating the mystery itself.

Which is of course a VERY J.J. Abrams perspective.
posted by LooseFilter at 11:36 AM on May 26, 2010


Like, -- the Numbers. We all have numbers in our lives. We all encounter things that seem incredibly unlikely, whether we interpret them as unlucky or lucky. It's up to us to decide if they are coincidence or a sign of purpose. I'm not sure that any answer the show could possibly have given would have been as interesting as simply posing the question.

I think a lot of my appreciation for this kind of thing is due to having read the shows influences. For me, I always read the numbers as a riff on Robert Anton Wilson's rule of fives. It was never explained in the Illuminatus! Trilogy, either(nor were 90% of the other mysteries in the book).
posted by empath at 11:37 AM on May 26, 2010


How can the trinity be three gods and a unity?" It is a mystery. It'll never be answered. Does that make it not true or unimportant or useless to think about? For a lot of people, probably. For Catholics, no.

The Catholic faith is not a dramatic story. (It uses stories, but it isn't one.)

I am not pissed off that we don't know what, if anything, came before the Big Bang. But I WOULD be pissed off if I read a FICTION book called "What Came Before The Big Bang" and then, in the book, I was told "It's a mystery." (Yes, I know LOST wasn't called "What the Numbers Mean." I think it IMPLIED it would answer that question. Other people disagree.)
posted by grumblebee at 11:37 AM on May 26, 2010


I agree with much of what LooseFilter said here, except for this:

I really think Cuse & Lindelof's emphasis on emotional investment in the characters as people handicapped their and other writers' ability to make art in the medium, because it stripped away much of the metaphorical--when characters in a work of fiction are always read as literally real people, that's a limitation.

I would take the exact opposite point of view. I think characters need to work as real people, or else the fiction is just an allegory. I can't watch if I don't care about who these people are.
posted by Tin Man at 11:39 AM on May 26, 2010


All real mysteries have answers.

I'm really, really not sure that's the case. And if it is the case, I don't believe they are all knowable by us. We will always have things in our lives that we never understand. You will die with questions.

Alaistair Crowley's last words come to mind: "I am perplexed."
posted by empath at 11:39 AM on May 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


empath, I feel really bad that, perhaps, I made some people here feel like their (good) opinions were worthless. I never meant to do that. And I'm sorry.

And now I wish you would stop implying that those of us who wanted answers don't understand the beauty of ambiguity.

Forgive me if that's not what you mean. It sounds like it is, to me.

If it is, you're wrong, at least about one of us, and I suspect I'm not alone.

This is my favorite painting, and it would be worthless to me if you could see the shadowy figure or know what's going to happen when he meets the girl.

I love abstract art. I love surrealism. I love "Blue Velvet." I love the end of "The Sopranos." I love Harold Pinter plays.

I HATE STORIES WITH NO AMBIGUITY. They are worthless to me.
posted by grumblebee at 11:43 AM on May 26, 2010


All real mysteries have answers.

I'm really, really not sure that's the case.

Yeah. Though we're on opposite sides in much of this "debate," I'm with empath on that one.

Here's an example. What did Queen Elizabeth eat for lunch on her thirteenth birthday? Assuming it wasn't recorded, I'd say there's no knowable answer. And depending on your metaphysical view about the past, you might be able to say that there ISN'T an answer. Maybe there once was, but now it's gone.
posted by grumblebee at 11:48 AM on May 26, 2010


I *do* care that there is an answer and get pissed when the 'answer" is a non-answer like "It's a mystery."

However, though we've been saying "it's a mystery," I don't actually remember this being said much in the series. The answer to the numbers MIGHT be "a mystery" or it MIGHT be "something we'd get to in the next episode if there was going to be one."

Some of these on-going questions did get answered; some didn't. It felt, to me, completely arbitrary. It didn't feel, to me, like the unanswered questions were more or less significant that the answered ones. It just felt like the story didn't have time to get to them. So it's hard for me to feel like they are beautiful mysteries. They just feel like accidental mysteries to me.

HOW does the ring make Frodo invisible? (E.g. by what physical process.) I think the only reasonable answer to that is "it's a mystery." What are the last words Sam says before he dies? Yes, that's a mystery, too, because the novel doesn't go into Sam's old age and death, but it's not the same sort of mystery, because it seems like it MIGHT have an answer.

The show never told me or showed me that the answer to the numbers is "it's a mystery." Instead, the question just kept going on and then fell off the end of the story, without every being answered. So, right up until the end, I still had some hope that it MIGHT be answered.
posted by grumblebee at 11:56 AM on May 26, 2010


We're just going in circles at this point. I guess it comes down to whether they accidentally or intentionally subverted the expectations of the viewer.

Watching JJ Abrams talk at TED, i'm pretty convinced that it was largely intentional.
posted by empath at 12:04 PM on May 26, 2010


I think characters need to work as real people, or else the fiction is just an allegory. I can't watch if I don't care about who these people are.

I agree with this, definitely--I meant to say that I think they went too far in emphasizing the characters as real people (and making that the absolute most important part of the show). Sort of painted themselves in a corner, artistically, because any use of allegory was thus limited. It just seems a curious choice, given that so much symbolism etc. appeared to be evident throughout the series. I wonder if, as mentioned upthread, it was a concession to market forces.
posted by LooseFilter at 12:06 PM on May 26, 2010


"Watching JJ Abrams talk at TED, i'm pretty convinced that it was largely intentional."

Just added a link to your comment. It's one of my favorite TED talks!
posted by grumblebee at 12:13 PM on May 26, 2010


HOW does the ring make Frodo invisible?

But that's not a central question of the story, It's not a part of any character's motivation in LOTR. What would happen if the man in black left the island, and how do they know that "something bad" would actually happen, however IS a question of motivation. Characters suffered and died and made choices because of this. And since we don't have any real answers these actions appear to be arbitrary and stupid.
posted by Omon Ra at 12:30 PM on May 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


> What would happen if the man in black left the island, and how do they know that "something bad" would actually happen, however IS a question of motivation.

Well, at the end when the MiB decided he would just rather destroy the island than screw around any more trying to get the candidates to off each other, he seemed willing to escape the island as a puny human.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:33 PM on May 26, 2010


Characters suffered and died and made choices because of this. And since we don't have any real answers these actions appear to be arbitrary and stupid.

Come now. These people have survived a plane crash, traveled through time, been healed, seen ghosts, etc etc etc etc, and you think it's arbitrary and stupid that they take at his word this verifiably supernatural being about how bad his brother (who just so happens to be occupying a body that looks like their dead friend)? I can see YOU not buying it, but I can't see Jack not buying it.
posted by dirtdirt at 12:37 PM on May 26, 2010


Hmmm dirtdirt, I guess you're right, they would accept it, but for me as a viewer it's difficult, especially given how screwed up and manipulative (and evil in his own way) the alternative (Jacob) was.
posted by Omon Ra at 12:44 PM on May 26, 2010


What if God came to Earth and said, "Ask me any questions you want"?

Bob says, "Is there life after death, and did Shakespeare actually write all those plays?"

Fred has the exact same questions.


To stretch the metaphor further, I probably would have just been asking about Shakespeare. And then God gives me this story about the afterlife and I'm like, WTF, God, I didn't ask you that! And then he tells me that his answer is much better anyway, so I don't need to know about the Shakespeare stuff.

I mean, really, I wasn't watching LOST to explore metaphysical ideas about mortality and so on. I've watched other shows for that (Six Feet Under), but not LOST. I don't think the writers are the people I would have asked about this sort of thing, anyway, if I were going to ask.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 1:07 PM on May 26, 2010 [4 favorites]


HOW does the ring make Frodo invisible?

But that's not a central question of the story


According to my aesthetics, there's only one reason to EVER leave a question unanswered: because doing so creates a cool experience for the viewer. To me, the most interesting discussion we've had here -- and I think it's a very valid one -- is whether it's cooler to know what the numbers mean or not know?

But what about an unanswered question that's not particularly interesting to leave unanswered?

To me, there's ZERO excuse for not answering it. That's just bad storytelling.

The case you brought up -- when the question is central to character motivation -- is the worst kind of not-answering. But I think even non-motivational questions must be answered.

My Frodo/ring example was a bad one (in terms of what I'm saying now), because the story never poses a question about how the ring works. But if it did, it would need to answer it, even though that question has no baring on Frodo's choices.

Which is why, since I believe that, I am confused when the writers say things like, "We're not going to answer all the questions, but we feel we owe viewers answers to..." NO! You owe viewers answers to ALL the questions you posed, unless you honestly feel that NOT answering a specific question is better storytelling.

I don't believe the storytellers of LOST felt that way about all the questions they left unanswered. I believe they felt that way about some of them. But not all of them. I think, for some of them (and I think they've admitted this), the reason they didn't answer is stuff like, "because we ran out of time."

Let's say you're making a historical drama set in 1870. You can't afford to put period clothes on everyone, so you just put it on the main characters -- not the background actors. You say to yourself, "The clothes that the palace guard is wearing in no way impacts character motivations. It's an unimportant detail. So I'm not making a mistake." To me, as a viewer, that "not a mistake" is so jarring, I can't focus on the more-important character stuff. That's how things like "the numbers" affected me.
posted by grumblebee at 1:11 PM on May 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


My Frodo/ring example was a bad one (in terms of what I'm saying now), because the story never poses a question about how the ring works. But if it did, it would need to answer it, even though that question has no baring on Frodo's choices.

The better Frodo example would be if LOTR never gave any background about the ring's history or any information about what, if anything, was special about the ring.

Gandalf: You have to take this ring to Mordor and destroy it.
Frodo: Why? What's so special about the ring? Does it have a significant history? Magic powers? What is Mordor?
Gandalf: Those are important questions, and I may or may not answer them sometime before the end of your quest. For now, make sure Sauron doesn't catch you.
Frodo: Who is Sauron?
Gandalf: You'll never actually meet him, so who he is isn't important. What's important is that he wants the ring.
Frodo: Why does Sauron want the ring?
Gandalf: It's a mystery. Now run, you fool.
posted by The World Famous at 1:33 PM on May 26, 2010 [17 favorites]


I think PhoBWan's modification of the "ask god a question" hypothetical and The World Famous' modification of the Frodo comparison sum up my view fairly succinctly.
posted by neuromodulator at 2:01 PM on May 26, 2010


grubi's 'spin offs' represent one good reason for me why the Flash Sideways should NOT be real. NO SPINOFFS, PLEASE.

My problem with that whole part of the show was twofold: (1) the big hints that the Sideways World was created by the Jughead Bomb were too heavy handed - more deception than misdirection, overriding the true hints that it was all not Real that were more subtle - almost too subtle, and (2) so... much... fanservice... both in the lives the characters led and the way they were 'awakened', both of which added up to a very manipulative approach that suggested the writers/producers did not respect their audience.

But the story needs to end, and "The End" didn't quite do it for anyone but Jack and the scores of characters already killed off. The questions about the future of the "Ajira 6" ('one of the Oceanic 6, as well as two of the other survivors of that earlier plane, who everyone in the world thought were dead, plus the pilot of the plane, a psychic, and some random guy with absolutely no identity!') are nagging and 'happily ever after' for them is far from assured. And back on The Island it's almost like they're setting up for "Hurley's Fantasy Island", because that seems obviously what he will do with his new Guardian powers since he'll no longer keep people on or off the Island (and with his fortune back in the 'real world', he can get one helluva resort built there). And unless Ben goes back to his old tricks and is NOT a 'good #2' (and no way he deserves to be the New Herve Villachaize), there's no real drama, just massive amounts of deus ex machinery, just like the original "Fantasy Island" (which ABC does own the rights to!). Please, somebody give Jorge Garcia and Michael Emerson new shows to do before the Disney/ABC suits realize the possibilities! Please!!!
posted by oneswellfoop at 3:00 PM on May 26, 2010


My anger and disappointment are burning away, replaced by a Lost-shaped hole. I had been looking forward to watching the series over again, before the finale, but now I don't think I really want to do so.

I guess it's back to downloading episodes of "Temptation Island" for me. *sigh*
posted by neuromodulator at 3:17 PM on May 26, 2010


I had been looking forward to watching the series over again, before the finale, but now I don't think I really want to do so.

Weirdly, I feel the opposite. I had no desire to re-watch Lost and even sold my Season 1 DVDs. And now, post-finale, I'm totally Netflixing that shit up come August.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 3:23 PM on May 26, 2010


Please, somebody give Jorge Garcia and Michael Emerson new shows to do before the Disney/ABC suits realize the possibilities!

Michael Emerson has been pitching a show with Terry O'Quinn.
posted by desjardins at 3:27 PM on May 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Purgatory on Lost was really just big variation of Opposite Day. Take the simplest, most defining part of a character's off-island life, and then reverse it!

Jack has a father who neglects him. On Opposite Day, Jack is the father neglecting a son!

Sawyer is a criminal who is always running from the law. On Opposite Day, Sawyer is a cop who catches criminals!

Sun and Jin are married but not in love. On Opposite Day, Sun and Jin are not married but are totally in love!

Kate has committed murder. On Opposite Day, Kate is falsely accused of murder!

Hurley has the worst luck ever. On Opposite Day, Hurley has the best luck ever!

Locke was severely injured from an action of his father's, had no relationship with a woman, and was a cripple for life. On Opposite Day, Locke's action severely injures his father, he has a great relationship with a woman, and his paralysis is cured!

Ben is a liar and a manipulator of others. On Opposite Day, Ben tells the truth and is manipulated by his boss!
posted by flarbuse at 4:06 PM on May 26, 2010 [8 favorites]


At the time when the questions were in the air (while you were watching the episodes that actively dealt with those questions), did you not care about them? Did you think, "Whatever. Women can't give birth. I don't care why. Just get on with the story about the characters"?

That's a fantastic question, grumblebee, and I think it sort of gets to why different people have different reactions to the mysteries and characters. I cared very much about why and how women can't give birth on the island while the related story lines were happening, but then stopped caring later on, because it stopped mattering to the story of the characters on the show. That particular island problem drove all of Juliet's early action (her shady behavior, her initial inability to gain the trust of the lostaways, the reason Ben brought her in the first place, etc.) and it mattered very much in terms of Sun and Jin's relationship and Sun's very life if she didn't get off the island in the next couple of months. Once those things were resolved (Sun got off the island, and Juliet joined the gang) I stopped caring why it was the case because I already knew the answer. Women who got pregnant on the island died in the middle of their second trimesters because of magic. This isn't HOUSE or ER - it's a fucked up, magical island that giveth and taketh away, and the specifics of that magic aren't interesting to me so much as what the characters got up to next. For me. Also, Across the Sea (and the ways in which the word "infection" is used on the show) makes me sure that Smoky was responsible and his mommy issues were the cause, but I admit that that's conjecture on my part.
posted by moxiedoll at 4:51 PM on May 26, 2010


Also, Across the Sea (and the ways in which the word "infection" is used on the show) makes me sure that Smoky was responsible and his mommy issues were the cause, but I admit that that's conjecture on my part.

I posit it happened before that, which is why Mother stole babies - because she couldn't have them naturally. (That and honestly, who is going to impregnate her? She's kind of mental. Though I suppose that could be a turn on for *somebody.*) Something intrinsic to the island where women who conceived on the island couldn't carry to term. Electromagnetism. WAAAAALLLLLLT. Something.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 4:55 PM on May 26, 2010


I guess (she continued) that to me, being hung up on the baby thing is like being hung up on how Locke could stand up and jog after being in a wheelchair for years. (Was his spine knit back together? Did electromagnetism de-atrophy his leg muscles?) The answer in both cases is because it's a magical island and the Big Question was - why is this magical island sometimes good and sometimes so bad? Like Locke, we were struggling to understand the island and now we know that it isn't that the island has a weird "personality", it's that there were two actual persons with opposing wills.
posted by moxiedoll at 5:02 PM on May 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Weirdly, I feel the opposite. I had no desire to re-watch Lost and even sold my Season 1 DVDs. And now, post-finale, I'm totally Netflixing that shit up come August.

Netflix has the first five seasons in Watch Instantly mode.
posted by FelliniBlank at 5:18 PM on May 26, 2010


I stopped caring why it was the case because I already knew the answer. Women who got pregnant on the island died in the middle of their second trimesters because of magic. This isn't HOUSE or ER - it's a fucked up, magical island that giveth and taketh away

Yes and no.

When I watch "The Shining," I see a ton of magic that doesn't bother me at all. Why is there "a crazy woman in the bathtub?" Magic. Fine. The thing is, in that movie, there's never even a remote tilt towards explanation. The God of that film moves in a totally mysterious way. About the only thing I can sort of guess is that, for some reason, he wants to keep Jack ("The Shining's" Jack) at the hotel.

(Notice that no character in the movie ever even asks, "Why is this all happening?" The filmmakers are very careful to do what they can to keep you from dwelling on why. No part of the movie is presented as a mystery.)

LOST seems to want it to have some sort of magical cake and eat it, too. SOME of the island stuff is "just magic" and other stuff is, "because Jacob did it, and we know WHY he did it." Once you inject the POSSIBILITY of explanations, my brain starts yearning for them. Why know why Jacob wants Jack to drink the water. Okay. So presumably we're going to learn why a bunch of the other magic stuff happens.

I don't care HOW the magic works. I want to know why it's there. What's the point of it? For instance, you explanation -- which I wish I could accept, but I don't see evidence for it in the show -- would totally satisfy me. Oh, the Smoke Monster is so angry at his mother that he stops other mothers from having kids. That's fine. I don't need to know how he does it. I accept that he has magic powers.

Or it would accept "an effect of the electromagnetism" or "radiation from the bomb."

I like speculating about some things, but I don't find that a particularly interesting thing to ponder. Here's something I DO find interesting to ponder: were the Others ever REALLY led by Jacob -- or was it the smoke monster (or Ben, or some other corrupt human leader the whole time?

I am glad the series doesn't tell me, because that's really fun for me to think about. I can puzzle over motivations and politics and shifting allegiances. But "why can't the women have kids" is a question my mind can't have much fun with. I just want an answer so I can move on. And an answer, as I'm defining it, needs to slot that item into the psychology, "physics" or mythology of the show. It can't just be free-floating "it's magic." (Whose magic? The island's Jacob's? The Smoke Monster's?)

To me, the BEST answer -- because I'm more interested in psychology than mythology or techno-babble -- would be "The women can't have children, because Jacob made it so, and he made it so, because it was part of his plan to...."

When it turned out that Jacob was behind bringing the candidates to the island, I thought, "Oh, cool! We're going to get answers. We're going to learn what the numbers mean!" And I don't mean "how the magic of the numbers operates via some physics-like explanation." I mean how they fit into Jacob's plan. "Oh, he needed to assign a number to each candidate, because..." and "he needed to candidates to keep seeing the numbers over and over, because he wanted them to remember the numbers when..."

In other words, I don't care how the spell works, but I do care WHY the wizard casts the spell. Or, at least, I want to know, "It's all a big mystery," as in "The Shining." What I don't want to know is "parts of it are a mystery," and "parts aren't," especially when there doesn't seem to be any difference between the parts that are and the parts that aren't, except "we (the writers) couldn't come up with an explanation for these but we could for those" or "we had enough time for these but not for those."
posted by grumblebee at 5:21 PM on May 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


Like Locke, we were struggling to understand the island and now we know that it isn't that the island has a weird "personality", it's that there were two actual persons with opposing wills.

One problem I have with this is that the Smoke Monster's magic seems very limited -- much more so that Jacob's. I get the impression that "all" he can do is to take the form of dead people, not be affected by bullets, have super-strength, and fly.

The reason I think that is because, in the end game, that's all he ever did. If he could do stuff, why didn't he do it? Surely there's some other magic that could have helped him.

Jacob, on the other hand, could heal the sick (Locke after he fell out the window), bring people to the island, make people immortal, etc.

So I have a hard time explaining away everything that happened as either Jacob or The Smoke Monster. It seemed to be a lot Jacob, a little The Smoke Monster, and a lot the island hurling out random magic things for no reason other than to create interesting situations for people.

Rose wasn't a candidate. Why did the island (Jacob? The smoke monster?) cure her cancer? Why did it not heal Juliette?
posted by grumblebee at 5:30 PM on May 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


So I linked to one of Jason Mittell's Antenna blog entries waaaay up thread, and he's posted a follow-up on his own blog, specifically talking about the lingering mysteries that fans have been talking about since Sunday, and in many ways, his entry sums up the discussion that's been going on here.

So, for your amusement/frustration/etc., here's his take on the numbers:
What’s the deal with the numbers?

This was answered in large part in The Lost Experience, concerning the DHARMA Initiative and the Valenzetti Equation. The fact that these mythological bits never appeared in the show should have been a clear indication that the producers were serious about what they frequently said: if the characters don’t care about a mystery, it won’t be dealt with on the show.

In short, the numbers are constants in an equation that predicts the end of the world. DHARMA came to the island to do research on various areas (electromagnetism, time travel, polar bears), hoping to change the numbers and delay the apocalypse. How does this fit with Hurley’s luck? Why does this correlate with Jacob’s numbers for the candidates? I don’t know – but I’ll chalk it up to a broadly permeating and inexplicable power tied to the numbers. I do think that any actual answers for this mythology would be disappointing, so I can live with it as simply inexplicable.
Also interesting, and relevant to the discussion we've been having here, is his attempt to address this question: "Why didn’t the finale answer everything?"
posted by DiscourseMarker at 5:41 PM on May 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


There's more than a small disconnect between

if the characters don’t care about a mystery, it won’t be dealt with on the show.

and the fact that Hurley was absolutely obsessed with the numbers.

Not to mention that if this is the case:

DHARMA came to the island to do research on various areas (electromagnetism, time travel, polar bears), hoping to change the numbers

Then the entire Dharma Initiative certainly cared about the numbers, and it should have been dealt with on the show.

Why didn't the finale answer everything? The finale shouldn't be in a position where everything still needs answering.
posted by The World Famous at 5:47 PM on May 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Serious injuries (like Shannon and Boone) caused by massive trauma or blood-loss have never been cured, so I wasn't expecting Juliet to make it. If the injury is killing you quicker than the Island's magic can heal you, I don't think that's an inconsistency.

I had extrapolated that the numbers were the visible edge of the Valenzetti equation - like fractal patterns in clouds or the Golden Mean Spiral in shells, popping up in nature when the conditions are right. If you don't consider the off-screen games canon, I can understand that, but I do so I'm totally uninterested in the numbers now.

I had extrapolated that pregnancies failed because the healing properties of the Island treated the fetus the same as any other foreign body growing inside a person, like cancer. It was a dumb force, not intentionally directred. When we learned that people didn't use to have a problem bringing a pregnancy to term, I had to throw that theory out or modify it, but by that stage I was more interested in how Sawyer, et al were going to make it back to the future.

Would I have swapped a lame Temple episode for something about motherhood and babies, maybe Kate or Claire-centric, explaining the pregnancy thing? Absolutely. But it doesn't bug me that we didn't get to see it, because I found other aspects more important and didn't need that itch scratched anymore.

It's possible that people explaining their theory on every item that bugged you might help you appreciate the finale more, but I doubt it.
posted by harriet vane at 5:57 PM on May 26, 2010


One problem I have with this is that the Smoke Monster's magic seems very limited -- much more so that Jacob's. I get the impression that "all" he can do is to take the form of dead people, not be affected by bullets, have super-strength, and fly.

This is a very D&D/Marvel Comics view of the world.

I've been watching Supernatural off and on, and that aspect of the show has been pretty annoying to me. Everything is categorized and explained and all powers carefully enumerated and limited, and so on. To me, that's the opposite of Supernatural. If everything has rules and is carefully defined and dissectable and explainable, then its natural.

I'll give another example -- Signs. I thought the 'everything had a reason' hackneyed bullshit ending to that movie was so absurd that I had an almost physical reaction to it. It was the Bob McKee's screenwriting rules to some kind of holy scripture.

Sometimes shit happens and you will never know why, that's life. The journey is the point.
posted by empath at 6:02 PM on May 26, 2010


Sometimes shit happens and you will never know why, that's life. The journey is the point.

If you're a storyteller, telling a supernatural story, and you want to please as many people as you can, how do you choose which elements to explain and which ones to not explain?
posted by grumblebee at 6:09 PM on May 26, 2010


You can't please everybody.
posted by empath at 6:12 PM on May 26, 2010


IMO, you explain the ones that have interesting and believable answers. A lot of times the scenario itself is the important part and maybe you don't even know why its happening. You just want to know deal with character's reactions to it.

Just off the top of my head -- Clive Barker's "The Hills, The Cities" is short story about 2 guys on a vacation in eastern europe who happen upon two cities that form up into gigantic people made of people hundreds of feet tall and fight -- massive walking cities made of human bodies. He never explains why or how they do it. The idea itself and seeing the repercussions of it play out was the point.

Another probably more well known example -- Shirley Jackson's The Lottery -- Why are they doing the Lottery? Or how about The Haunting of Hill House, from the same author -- she never explains if the house was actually even haunted. I could go on.

And those are just short stories with one mystery that's never explained. Imagine spinning them out into six seasons of tv show.
posted by empath at 6:19 PM on May 26, 2010


Okay, but remember that I have never said I expect all stories to answer all questions. In fact, I specifically said that I would reject a story if it DID explain everything.

Don't make the mistake of thinking that those of us who are unhappy with LOST's unanswered questions are necessarily fans of stories with no ambiguity.
posted by grumblebee at 6:33 PM on May 26, 2010


Hm, I actually liked Signs. Now I'm confused.
posted by desjardins at 6:40 PM on May 26, 2010



Hm, I actually liked Signs. Now I'm confused.


I disliked it for similar reasons to empath's. In general, that's my problem with M. Night. Actual mystery seems to make him really nervous. He explains EVERYTHING. There's no where for my mind to go when I'm done watching his films. Everything is completely wrapped up.
posted by grumblebee at 6:48 PM on May 26, 2010


Purgatory on Lost was really just big variation of Opposite Day.

But if Purgatory on Lost was Soviet Russia, where were all the commissars, and why wasn't it called ΛOCT ?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:12 PM on May 26, 2010


I saw the Lost finale belatedly, as I was watching someone die in a hospital.

With that as a backdrop, the episode's life-and-death element stood out to me.

On the one hand, there's all the (essentially unresolved) mystery of the island-- seeming chaos and contingency, with good stuff happening, bad stuff happening, stuff that defies easy categorization as good or bad, stuff that changes valence depending on what and how much you know, and the frustration of the thought that there's some Bigger Picture that's always just out of view.

On the other hand, there's the tidy perfection of an idyllic afterlife.

Which is to say, there's life... which we don't understand... and there's our hope that the confusion that is life has meaning.

I guess I sort of enjoyed the episode, but it seemed to me that the writers were throwing up their hands:

We can't answer all the mysteries of the island-- but life's really big mysteries can't be answered anyway. And, uh, the island is one of those. Here, have another Apollo bar.
posted by darth_tedious at 8:14 PM on May 26, 2010


I think the trinity/Catholic analogy was on the right track. The trinity mystery is interesting to Catholics, and not to non-Catholics. That's right, because even if Catholics don't believe there's an answer, they do believe there's truth behind it. Non-catholics don't believe in the truth behind it, so it's not interesting.

The finale made me lose my Catholic faith in Lost, is the problem. It's not that they didn't provide answers for everything. You're right, empath, that's not necessary. But something about the lack of answers and the vagueness of the golden lagoon backstory and the flat-out deception involved in the sideways flashes and the target being set on something that reads very saccharine to my eyes, these suggested to me all at once that there was no truth. I lost my faith in the show. And, (not to exaggerate the importance of the show, or anything, but I think the analogy holds) like losing religious faith, it was pretty disheartening. I want to believe in Lost. I found it very rewarding to be a believer.
posted by neuromodulator at 9:53 PM on May 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


The complete DVD set will contain a 12 to 14 minute scene of the Hurley/Ben years on the island.
posted by Gary at 11:04 PM on May 26, 2010


Hm, grumblebee, regarding the numbers or the no kids rule...

I didn't care much when it became clear that there was not to be an explication of the numbers; they functioned, at that point, as something akin to an incoherent literary reference which combined the idea of inscrutable numeric sequences with RAW's 23 (or as someone upthread noted, the rule of five). I'm perfectly happy with cracked literary references.

the no kids thing. I do wish there was a better in-story take on this, but on the other hand, it doesn't really matter.

In this thread (and I presume others about the series of tubes) we've pretty fairly established that fucked-up parenting is a MAJOR underlying theme in the show's run. Whether or not the writers and show-runners deliberately chose it to be the central idea of the show, it clearly is. This is totally external to story logic but clearly a correct critical insight.

The way I see it, the island prevents childbirth because it, as a personification of the universe of the show, doesn't believe being a parent is a justifiable moral choice. I feel that the question has been answered, not in-show, but here, by our brains. Or maybe just my brain.
posted by mwhybark at 12:05 AM on May 27, 2010


Oh! Look! Ben and Hurley comeex!
posted by mwhybark at 12:08 AM on May 27, 2010 [6 favorites]


RE: birth issues. I figured it was another cyclic storyline. Juliette was brought to the island to fix these mysterious pregnancy problems and spends years doing all she can but fails. She is trapped on the island and desperately wants to escape so she joins up with the losties, gets sent back to the 60's where women can carry pregnancies without issue (evidenced by Amy, Horace and their son Ethan). Jack's plan to correct things using Jughead initially fails nearly killing Juliette, and her decision to detonate Jughead caused the incident which is the significant point in the island timeline where the pregnancy issues appeared.

so yeah, in short the pregnancy problems was the overall tragic arc of Juliette's story. Ignoring the dishy LaFleur.

p.s. Please don't make me question why blowing up electro-magicism causes pregnancy issues, It's magic.
posted by a. at 3:22 AM on May 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


they functioned, at that point, as something akin to an incoherent literary reference

This highlights another difference between different kinds of viewers.

I assume you don't mean that when Hurley was trying to understand the numbers, he thought, "Oh, I get it, they are a literary reference..." You're talking about a level "above" the characters, where we know this is all a story, and we're acknowledging that the authors are sending us various "coded" messages (themes, allusions, etc.) Do I understand you correctly?

That's a very common form of reading/viewing in educated circles. School teaches us to mine works for thematic and sub-textual information. And it's totally cool and honorable if that's what you're into.

But I'm not.

When I say the the numbers were never explained, I don't mean that I don't understand what they're doing in the story on a thematic or story-mechanics level. I totally get that. It just doesn't interest me, because it has nothing to do with the reasons why I watched the show.

It's like if a child said, "Mommy, I don't like these beets," and his mom said, "Oh, but you will when you understand how loaded they are in nutrients!"

What I care about is what Hurley cares about. What do the numbers mean IN HIS UNIVERSE -- not in the "author" universe that rides above it.

I watch for plot and character (and a few other things, like language and imagery). As a viewer, I am chiefly looking to be sensually aroused. I want to feel scared that "my friends" are going to be eaten by the smoke monster and relieved that they get to go to "heaven." I also want to know what-happens-next and why-it-happens. Basically, I want from stories what I want from life. But I want it more concentrated, better orchestrated and more exciting.

I am not an intellectual viewer, although I like sharing thoughts with the characters. If Jack comes to a big intellectual revelation, I want to go on that ride with him. But if the authors have some sort of big idea they want to impart to me, and it bypasses all the characters and is embedded only in thematic data or allusions, it does nothing for me.

I am not saying this to claim my of watching way is better than yours or anyone else's. That would not only be arrogant, it would be absurd. Better by what measure? But it IS the way I watch.

Well-constructed fiction satisfies both "thematic" viewers and more "naive" viewers, like me. It contains thematic data, but all of it is also meaningful on a plot and character level.

You can, for instance, read all sorts of symbolism into the whale in "Moby Dick," but it's also 100% functional on a plot and character level. No one reads the book and goes, "Huh? I don't get it. Why is there a whale in this story" and then has to be told, "Oh, you see, it's a symbol of..." Maybe, if he's into symbolism, his enjoyment will be ENHANCED by understanding the whale on that level, but that understanding isn't necessary for enjoyment.
posted by grumblebee at 6:40 AM on May 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


I have a question for anyone still reading. It may be something no one here can answer, but I'm curious it anyone here has any insight or theories: why is TV sci-fi and fantasy so obsessed with spiritual matters? I don't think this is a good or bad thing. (It's good if it's well done in a particular show; it's bad if it isn't.) But it's striking to me.

I don't read a huge amount of fantastic literature, but I do read some. And I read a lot when I was younger. And it never seemed to me like in nine-out-of-ten books, the heroes wind up meeting God (or going to the afterlife or whatever). But it DOES seem like that on TV. Why?
posted by grumblebee at 6:45 AM on May 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Why was Christian spotted off the isalnd after he died if that was the Smoke Monster but the Smoke Monster isn't allowed off the Island?

WHY?

Either because they forgot to obey their own rules, or because they didn't intend for it to be the Smoke Monster until after those incidents. Which is a violation.
posted by grubi at 6:52 AM on May 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Why was Christian spotted off the island

This bothered me, too. I think the only ways to answer it, within the bounds of the show's logic, are...

1) It was Jacob, and he can also take the forms of dead people. The show gives us no reason to think this is the case, but I guess it doesn't violate anything, either. And, if you can force yourself to believe this, it's kind of interesting, because it then makes dead-people-sightings on the island ambiguous. Was a given apparition Jacob, the Smoke Monster or the actual dead person? (E.g. Richard's dead wife appeared to him. Was that actually her ghost or was that Jacob? Her message was that they had to stop the smoke monster, so it sounds like something Jacob might have said. On the other hand, it might just be wifely concern for Richard's welfare.)

2) It was just Jack's inner demons haunting him. In other words, he wasn't really there at all. He was just a memory in Jack's head. (Which I think would be a bad choice for the writers to make, in a show that has actual dead people being re-animated.)

3) It was "shepherd" Christian from the end of the show. In other words, the ACTUAL Christian died and became something angel-like, and his job is to help the Losties get to "heaven." He appears every now and then to .... whatever ... to help the characters learn something they need to learn on their "journey."
posted by grumblebee at 7:34 AM on May 27, 2010


Bah. Still so unsatisfied.
posted by grubi at 7:49 AM on May 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yeah, me too. The scene is so out-of-place that it really seems like an error. And when I try to reason my way out of it, I hear William of Occam laughing at me from beyond the grave.

But if it is an error, then it points to a really HUGE crisis behind the scenes. It points to writers who, at the time, didn't know where they were going. Or it points to writers who did know, but who did a 180 later and just hoped no one would think about the contradiction.
posted by grumblebee at 8:02 AM on May 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


grumblebee: "Well-constructed fiction satisfies both "thematic" viewers and more "naive" viewers, like me. It contains thematic data, but all of it is also meaningful on a plot and character level."

Well, I'll note that your intent here is to state "Gumblebee's definition of well-constructed fiction ..."

I totally hear you on the perspective that the numbers were never satisfactorily explained in-story. I would say the off-island Christian is a more egregious story problem.

However, in my experience reading beyond SF and fantasy, it's totally normative for authors who don't come from a F&SF background to employ fantastic tropes in just the manner. Within TV writing, the introduction of unexplained and improbable thingys is also a long-used technique - just look at Gilligan's Island. Suddenly, after several seasons, Gilligan has a bamboo bike. There are repeated visitors from off-island who never report the Minnow castaways. Suddenly, everything is in color.

This stuff used to drive me nuts, too, especially in time-and-motion-media fantastic fiction, SF movies that did not come from an SF magazine background. Then I started seeing both approaches as just different techniques, ones which deliberately discard the necessity of in-story justification. There are different reasons, creative or economic, for not holding to that objective, but it just doesn't bug me anymore.

I can still enjoy a hearty nitpick, though. That's entertainment value right there. Why, when Geordi's out of phase, can he walk through inner bulkheads but still stands on the deck? Why doesn't he walk out into space by accident? How on Earth can Don Draper effectively supervise a creative staff while on walkabout in Sacramento? Why did Ridley Scott swipe Don Draper's identity-theft technique for use in this season's Robin Hood movie? Fucking magnets - how do they work?
posted by mwhybark at 8:35 AM on May 27, 2010


Then I started seeing both approaches as just different techniques, ones which deliberately discard the necessity of in-story justification.

What's interesting about this is that it assumes a fiction-viewing framework. It assumes that you're thinking about the writer AS you're watching the show.

Let's say you're not. Let's say that, while you're watching, you think of the show as real. We can argue about whether this ever happens on a really deep level, but my guess is you've experienced what I'm talking about: those moments when you get so wrapped up in a show, you don't think of it as a work of fiction. You BELIEVE.

For some people that rarely happens, and for some people it happens a lot. For those it happens to, some like it and some don't. (I've heard people say, "I don't like it, because it's too intense for me.")

Anyway, let's say you're in that mode. Emotionally, at least -- even if there's some intellectual part of you that knows this isn't true -- the story might was well be real life.

Let's say for a minute it IS real life. It's real life, and you're walking down the street, and something unfathomable happens. Maybe you're looking at a woman with red hair and all of the sudden she has blonde hair. How do you deal with that?

You either go crazy or you jump out of the system.

Go crazy might mean "temporarily crazy," as in, you say to yourself, "logically, a redhead can't instantaneously become a blonde, so I must have had a brain fart or something." Jump out of the system means you think something like, "Hmmm. I'd assumed I was just walking down a normal street and that the woman was a normal pedestrian, but I'm now suspecting I was wrong. Perhaps this is an elaborate practical joke..."

What you can't do, in real life, is say, "OH, I get it, the author made a mistake!" Real life doesn't have an author. I doubt even orthodox religious people think of God as the author in this mundane sense. I doubt a, say, Hasidic Jew would say, "Oh, I get what happened. God, the author, decided to rewrite the Book of Earth to make the formerly red-haired woman a blonde." But I'm not religious so I may be wrong.

But, if you're watching fiction, you CAN jump totally out of the system. Think of a continuity error. In real life, if you're sitting at a bar, you blink, and someone's cigarette goes from being full length to just a butt, what are you going to think? Presumably, you're going to think "brain fart" or you're going to concoct some sort of elaborate conspiracy theory. But if you're watching fiction, you're going to think, "Oh, the filmmakers made a mistake."

So what's the one of the key differences between watching fiction and watching a real-life event? Awareness of an author.

Sometimes.

But, as I said above, sometimes, for some people, when watching fiction, they lose the distinction. They forget that there's an author. So what happens when a cigarette shirks or, say, when the dead Christian shows up in LA? The viewer, if he's in a dream state, wakes up from it, jumps out of the system, and thinks "author!"

Is that good or bad?

It entirely depends on why you watch. For some people, it's an interesting experience. For me, it's terrible. I watch to enter into a dream. Put simply, my goal is to fall in love with Kate (bad example, because I'm not a fan of that character, but I hope you get the point.) If I suspect she's "just made up," I have a hard time doing that. The more I can fall into the dream, the stronger my feelings for her will be. If I really believe the smoke monster is real, even just for a short time, it's going to be much scarier for to me than if I don't. Etc. And my goal is to be as scared as possible.

So I can do this, too...

Then I started seeing both approaches as just different techniques, ones which deliberately discard the necessity of in-story justification.

... but it's not a pleasurable experience for me.
posted by grumblebee at 9:13 AM on May 27, 2010


When did Christian appear off island? On the freighter? Or do you mean in the flash sideways, which has since been revealed to be a gathering of dead people? I really can't remember another time he appeared off-island in 'reality'.
posted by dirtdirt at 9:22 AM on May 27, 2010


I think part of my disappointment is this: Lost seemed like it was going to be a very well done story, in just about every sense, that presented itself as a real-world adventure (plane crash) that slowly revealed itself to also be a kick-ass science fiction story. That's pretty much forbidden in big-budget productions because science fiction tends to be so polarizing as a genre. As a SF fan, that polarization is unfortunate, and not only would Lost have been amazing had it been this, but it also probably would have done great work in undoing that audience aversion to sci-fi.

You just can't present "secret sci-fi" very well, and that sort of sucks because "secret sci-fi" reveals are awesome. There's a certain book that I keep trying to get a friend of mine to read because it's a very good piece of secret sci-fi, and he won't read it because "the beginning didn't grip him", and I refuse to reveal the secret to entice him. It's frustrating. I want to yell at him, "Just read it, you idiot!"
posted by neuromodulator at 9:23 AM on May 27, 2010


When did Christian appear off island? On the freighter? Or do you mean in the flash sideways

No, it was in the flash-forward section -- not the flash-sideways section, and therefor part of the "real" stuff, not part of the "you all created it" stuff.
posted by grumblebee at 9:29 AM on May 27, 2010


dirtdirt's confusion is another interesting piece of the puzzle of why different people reacted so differently.

When he and I both saw Christian in the hospital, neither of us thought it was a problem. (I'm making presumptions about dirtdirt.) I only thought it was a problem when it later became clear that (a) it was the smoke monster who was impersonating Christian and (b) the smoke monster can't get off the island. That's when my contradiction light lit up.

But, if like dirtdirt, I had forgotten Christian had appeared off-island, I wouldn't have been bothered.

dirtdirt isn't dumb for forgetting. LOST has so many things going on, no one can remember all of them. But it just so happens that hospital incident stuck in my mind. So when contradictory info came up, it bothered me.
posted by grumblebee at 9:33 AM on May 27, 2010


why is TV sci-fi and fantasy so obsessed with spiritual matters?

Because it's a mythology that is deeply engrained in the reader/viewer already. It's easy.
posted by The World Famous at 9:35 AM on May 27, 2010


grumblebee, two thoughts for you. Science Fiction has always been an allegorical medium (not exclusively of course), so such aspects are definitely common in the genre.

I found it hugely interesting that you called your own viewing practices "naive." Not to go all literary on you, but Schiller wrote a great essay a couple hundred years ago on exactly the difference in artistic perspective you detailed--though he used "sentimental" to describe meta-readings or artworks. Here is the essay, if you're interested.
posted by LooseFilter at 9:44 AM on May 27, 2010


I think it's more that spiritual matters are proven $$$.

I mean, look at the wrap-up for Lost: it allowed them to create all these fantastic emotional moments: kill Sun and Jin, kill Sayid, kill Jack, etc. which are great dramatic events, and make sense in the narrative, and then you get to show everyone happy and together and not risk an emotionally troubling ending. Which = everyone feeling warm and fuzzy from the ending, slapping labels like "profound" on it, so that they don't just feel good because all the characters are happy but they feel good about feeling good about it to (it meant something, related to my values, etc.). Which increases DVD sales.

Whereas I think if everyone had just died, people would be kind of bummed. Instead they're happy.
posted by neuromodulator at 9:45 AM on May 27, 2010


I'm sure you guys have seen "Unanswered Lost Questions", if it's not yet been posted to the thread. Well, someone actually transcribed it. You say, "Dude, you transcribed this?" I respond, "First, stop channelling Hurley. Second, no. This guy did. I did a little bit of punctuation and capitalization cleanup, that's all."

So, for the hell of it, here are all the guy's unanswered questions.
  1. Why did the Smoke Monster kill the pilot?
  2. What did Locke see when he first saw the smoke?
  3. What's with the polar bear in Walt's comic?
  4. Where is Christian Shephard's body if it's not in the casket?
  5. Why did the psychic say that Claire had to fly on Oceanic Flight 815, and why did he insist that her son had to be raised by Claire?
  6. Why did the Others want Walt so badly?
  7. Who sent Kate the letter telling her about her mother being treated for cancer in the hospital?
  8. How does Walt know about the hatch and why does he warn Locke not to open it?
  9. Why does the Smoke Monster make mechanical sounds?
  10. How was Walt able to apparate before Shannon?
  11. How did Walt communicate with Michael using the Swan's computer?
  12. What is the deal with Kate and that horse?
  13. Why are supplies still being dropped on the Island after the purge, and by who?
  14. What triggered the lockdown, and why on Earth would anyone design it so that during the lockdown black lights go on?
  15. What happened to the original Henry Gale?
  16. What happens to Libby between the mental hospital and getting on the tail section of Oceanic Flight 815?
  17. Who built the four-toed statue?
  18. Why does only one specific bearing get you off the Island?
  19. What are the hieroglyphics on the Swan's countdown timer about?
  20. Why did Tom feel the need to wear a fake beard?
  21. Who was Libby's previous husband who gave her a boat to give to Desmond?
  22. Who were the skeletons in the polar bear cave?
  23. Where did the toy truck come from?
  24. How did Locke and Eko escape the hatch explosion?
  25. Why couldn't Locke talk after the hatch explosion?
  26. Why did the Monster kill Mr. Eko, and why didn't he just do it the first time they met?
  27. What did Mr. Eko mean when he said "you're next" after he died?
  28. How disgusting was it when Hurley was eating from that tub of ranch dressing?
  29. Why did Yemi's body disappear?
  30. Why did Danny say that Jack's name wasnt on Jacob's list, when in fact his name was clearly written in the cave?
  31. Why can't women on the Island have babies and what does this have to do with anything?
  32. What was that Russian letter in Mikhail's typewriter?
  33. Why was the supply drop menu hidden behind a game of computer chess ... I mean, computer chess?!?!
  34. Remember when Ben gave Juliet that weird mark as a punishment? What was that about?
  35. And what's the deal with Jack's tattoos? Actually, you know what? I don't care about that.
  36. Desmond knew a monk? How did that monk know Eloise?
  37. Why did Ben see his dead mother?
  38. Who decided it was time to kill the Others in a purge?
  39. What happened to Ben's childhood friend Annie?
  40. Why did Desmond have a false vision of Claire and Aaron leaving the Island on a helicopter?
  41. How does Mikhail keep coming back to life?
  42. Why does Walt tell Locke he still has work to do?
  43. Whose eye peered in the cabin window? We know it wasn't the Smoke Monster because it was Christian Shepard ... now we know Christian Shepard was the Smoke Monster the whole time.
  44. Where did Miles get that picture of Ben?
  45. Who was the R.G. on Naomi's bracelet?
  46. Why was there a 31:20 difference between the times?
  47. Who was "the economist" and why did Ben want him dead?
  48. Why was Ben so surprised that they could kill Alex? I mean, what are the rules?
  49. If the Smoke Monster can't leave the Island, and was zombie-Jack's dad, how does Jack's dad appear in a hospital in L.A., and on a freighter?
  50. How did the Smoke Monster get into Jacob's cabin? And why did he ask Locke not to tell anyone he saw Claire?
  51. Why did Ghost Horace direct Locke to the cabin and tell him Jacob is waiting there, when it was really the Smoke Monster?
  52. Why do the Oceanic Six name Charlie, Boone, And Libby as the other three survivors -- I mean, what's the logic in that?
  53. Why does Miles decide to stay on the Island?
  54. What is the deal with the frozen wheel? I mean, "it combines light and water" ... that's not really an answer.
  55. Why does Ben insist that the Oceanic Six, as well as Locke, have to return to the Island?
  56. Why don't the rules of time travel apply to Desmond?
  57. Who were the men who tried to capture Sayid and Hurley, but got thrown into a dishwasher full of knives, in one of the sweetest "Lost" fight scenes of all time?
  58. Ben asked his butcher friend who was watching Locke's body if Gabriel and Jeffrey hadn't checked in yet ... who are any of these people?
  59. What was Ben hiding when he took something out of the vent and put it into his bag?
  60. When the gang was, like, unstuck in time, who was that shooting at them from the outrigger?
  61. Who sent Sun a gun, and pictures of Jack and Ben?
  62. Who attacked Sayid at the hospital, and why did he have Kate's address?
  63. Why was the Smoke Monster at the temple?
  64. When did the temple become, like, an anti-Smoke Monster fortress?
  65. How did the producers of the hit television show "Expose" deal with the death of their two lead actors?
  66. How did Eloise come to run The Lamp?
  67. How does the pendulum predict the Island's movements? I mean, who figured that out?
  68. Why do those returning to the Island need to recreate the circumstances of their first arrival?
  69. How did Jack, Hurley, and Kate get from that ajira flight to the 70s, and why didn't Sun?
  70. How did Richard bypass the sonar fence?
  71. How did Ethan go from a member of the DHARMA Initiative to one of the Others?
  72. What's with all the hieroglyphics underneath the temple?
  73. Why did Widmore tell Ben to kill Russo and her baby, and why did he then let Ben keep the baby anyways?
  74. Why did Daniel leave the Island in the seventies, and why did he tell Jack he "didn't belong there"?
  75. Why does Richard think he saw everyone in the 1977 DHARMA picture die?
  76. Who wrote the circle of ash around Jacob's cabin?
  77. Why can Jacob leave the Island, but the Smoke Monster can't?
  78. Jacob used his last breath to say "they're coming", but who are "they"?
  79. What's the deal with the pool that brings people back to life, and why did it bring Sayid back with an English accent?
  80. What is the infection?
  81. How did Claire get infected, how did Sayid get infected, and why did he need to voluntarily take a poison pill, especially when he could become uninfected with a simple argument for love?
  82. Why was the Smoke Monster/Locke/whoever-it-is confused that Sawyer could see young Jacob?
  83. What's the magic lighthouse about?
  84. How is Dogen simply being alive keeping the Smoke Monster out of the lighthouse?
  85. What happened to the flight attendant Cindy, and the kids?
  86. Why didn't Sun tell Jin to go, just so their daughter wouldn't be an orphan?
  87. Where did Jacob and the Smoke Monster's mother come from?
  88. Where did Jacob and the Smoke Monster's other mother come from?
  89. Who finished the magic wheel that "combines light and water", and when did it become frozen?
  90. What is the nature of the light, and magic wine ... seriously, magic wine?
  91. Why does that Tina Fey lady want the electromagnetic map of the Island?
  92. How did Widmore's electromagnetic thing send Desmond to the afterlife and back?
  93. Wasn't Sayid's soulmate Nadia?
  94. Why weren't Michael, Walt, Lapidus, Eko, or any of the other characters at the church?
posted by WCityMike at 9:57 AM on May 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


I found it hugely interesting that you called your own viewing practices "naive."

Not original to me, though I'm not sure who coined it. It got hurled at me a lot in college. I was really good at playing the spot-the-theme game and the figure-out-the-symbolism game, but those activities left me cold. So, in class discussions, I would try to bring up character motivations and plot points, and I was told those were "naive" interests.

My use of "game," above, sounds condescending. But my way of enjoying fiction is just as much a game. It's just a different game. And, of course, there are plenty of people who like both games. They like the thrill of a page-turner and they also like the intellectual stimulation of an in-depth analysis of the work as a work.

There's no problem with liking both, except that if you have one foot outside the dream, it can't possible be an intense an experience as if you're totally inside it. But it may be intense enough for you. And you may enjoy the outside-the-dream-but-about-the-dream stuff so much that you don't care if the sensual experience is a bit less than it could be.

The other problem comes up in discussions of fiction. If the discussion is between a "naive" viewer and a, for lack of a better word, "mechanics/thematic" viewer, and if they don't make their frameworks clear, there will be endless confusions.

We've seen them here when person A says he didn't get what the numbers meant and person B explains that they meant ... and then says something thematic. That's meaningless to person A if his framework is entirely inside the story.
posted by grumblebee at 10:01 AM on May 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


Whereas I think if everyone had just died, people would be kind of bummed. Instead they're happy.

Which is why I prefer to think their Island Reality consciousness is transferred into their Non-Island Reality minds, which allows them to have gotten off the island intact. And the parallel universe is real. They get to live on happily, and we as an audience get to see our longtime faves be happy.

Without it being snatched away from us as "oogy-boogy-afterlife".
posted by grubi at 10:02 AM on May 27, 2010


Yep. Forgot all about that.

I think this is just one of those things. You are seeing it not work, so you see evidence that it doesn't. I see the same evidence, but since the thing is working, the evidence doesn't convince me. I'm not saying you are doing it intentionally, necessarily, but given the choice between "yeah, OK, I'll take it" and "No. That ain't soap" your brain is saying no each time. Mine is saying yes. I am sure there are works that we fall the other way on. All the things you've (all) mentioned, well, some of them seem valid, some don't, and some seem like taste. So, you seem to me be seeking out flaws, but they don't appear important to me, while I (imagine that I) seem to you to be stubbornly ignoring this preponderance of evidence. And never the two shall meet.

This reminds me of the Raymond Chandler thing - when they were writing the screenplay for The Big Sleep, I think, they couldn't find where one of the murders was explained, so they called up Raymond and he said, "The chauffeur? Uh, I guess I forgot about him."
posted by dirtdirt at 10:05 AM on May 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


Also, a few more links:

Lostpedia's interview with Lost's creators (which, I caution you, specifically excludes "mysteries") ...

Lostpedia's "mysteries" portal, which basically points out what was and wasn't solved in a nice, easy-to-read graphical sense ...

And, most of all, a really cool essay called "Hurley Time", for which I will give you a bit of an appetite-whetting quote:
What's Hurley Time? It's drinking The Water from a crappy plastic bottle, not an ornamental chalice, because that kind of pretense is meaningless now. It's seeing the water for what it is: not some sparkley Fern Gully nectar bullshit, but real, grey water scooped from the creek bed. It's not about invoking references to Shiva's blinking eye; it's about quoting Star Wars. It's about asking Ben (help me Obi-Wan!), the character who embodies so many dark sides of human nature, as well as the fallibility that comes with devotion to an uncertain divinity, to work with him, so that Hurley can learn from him and account for these shortcomings. "It would be my honor," says Ben, and Hurley just replies "Cool."

If you thought the story's surface reading was happy, consider the rise of Hurley. He's Damon and Carlton's hope for a new philosophy in a new age. Perhaps more than any other character, Hurley has the unique ability to see his own flaws. The early onset of his ability to talk to the dead allowed him to question his own sanity, and with it he became self-alienated, able to view both his internal and external human psyches as they wreak their own forms of havoc. Consider the show's ensemble cast: by including a blisteringly wide array of philosophies, it invited more tailored opportunities for identification and ultimately self-reflection for more viewers than practically any other show. In short, the cast allowed viewers to examine the externalities of their own philosophies and hopefully even recognize the shortcomings.

Hurley is unabashedly Dude-like. He's practically a modern Buddhist who doesn't get hung up on the edifices.
(Frankly, I think the "Hurley Time" essay is a good enough contemplation to be FPP-worthy, but my guess is that the mods want to keep the Lost stuff consolidated here.)
posted by WCityMike at 10:10 AM on May 27, 2010 [4 favorites]


dirtdirt, I think what you wrote -- about how we seem to each other -- is one of the sanest things I've read in this thread.

No matter what it seems like, I try to take it on good faith that people here are being honest about their reactions, and not trying to find fault in things that didn't actually bother them when they watched the show or trying to whitewash things that did.

When I see that list of unanswered questions, there are some that didn't occur to me. I think, "Yeah, that would have been problematic if I'd thought about it," but I DIDN'T think about it, so it wasn't. It didn't bother me, because I didn't even realize the flaw existed. (It might bother me now that someone brought it to my attention, if I rewatched the show.) So, in that case, it would be dishonest for me to claim it had bothered me while I was watching the show. That WOULD be nit-picking just "to be right."