Monday, May 24, 2010

Lost finale (Spoilers included)

I've thought about the episode tons since watching it last night, pretty much non stop this morning. I really liked it and the more and more that I think about it the more I like it. The best thing about the ending to me was that they ultimately answered most everything and did it in a way that is wide open to interpretations. I read it as "people and redemption are more important than anything and that the redemptive process can take lifetimes and that's OK." The meta view I interpreted is that the story we've been telling about deeply flawed people who are trying to redeem themselves and each other is more important than anything else we've been doing, just as we've said explicitly in interviews (in case some of you fans hadn't believed us).

Now granted, it wasn't perfect and they left one lingering question that I did want answered. Where were Michael/Walt in the Sideways purgatory? Also, loved the purgatory (maybe not intended as a wink but still for me functioned a bit as one, to season 1 purgatory theorists). It tracks with what we'd seen in Sideways, too, at least as best as I could remember. Using purgatory as they did allowed the accepting the entirety of their Island experiences to determine their redemption. Oddly, I didn't care about Walt's supernaturalness anymore, though.

Other great moments: Locke/Ben conversation outside the church. Jin/Sun ultrasound. Hurley telling Jack "I believe in you" and then Jack later reciprocating. Juliet/Sawyer waking up in the Sideways world. Ben being good. Hurley's knowing looks while on his mission to wake up Sayid and Shannon.

One seemingly big question that they never "answered" and that I didn't even think about until literally 20 seconds ago, what would have happened had MIB gotten off the Island and corollary to that why would that have happened? But I don't care now. The show was never about him and his mystery. Had it been, he would have been introduced long before the end of season 5 (which I know many, including me questioned why his intro was so late in the show's timeline). So as important as his character was, he was never one of THE characters.

When Lost started, as an action/adventure movie fan, I loved the story; it was filled with twisty mysteries and action. As a nerdy sci-fan fan, I loved the ideas and philosophical thought experiments. But what pushed this show (along with BSG) to the numbers 1 and 2 positions respectively on my list of favorite TV shows, were the characters. These were complicated, evolving, as-real-as-could-feel characters thrust into the most extraordinary of circumstances (which is truly what makes Sci-Fi such an intriguing genre). Here was a show on primetime network TV that openly introduced religion, science vs. faith, relativistic ethics, destiny vs. free will into its premise and conflicts. fuck yeah!

And as mind-bending as dealing with those concepts has been, of all the questions/ideas the show brought up, I think one of the least-discussed and perhaps even overlooked, is something that was emphasized in season 1: "How well do we know each other?" or re-framed "What do we not notice in our lives, particularly what don't we notice about the people in our lives?" Remember the fun in finding the hidden connections, like a lottery-winning Hurley on the Kwon's TV in Korea? In the final season with Sidways purgatory the show revived that, but this time we had a very different perspective from which to spot those connections, it wasn't simply a "fun mystery/game" anymore and we knew it was no longer mere coincidence. It was the last new puzzle to anticipate, wondering whether their seemingly idealized lives were real or how they connected to the trials each character had been through in the previous five seasons.

By forcing these characters into the most trying circumstances imaginable, we got to know them and they go to know each other with an intimacy far beyond what most people do.

As the final season started as as fans discussed what do I HAVE to know the answer to in the end, I started having my own conflict. Jeff Jensen and Dan Snierson at EW talked about this in their episode of Totally Lost previewing the final season. They mentioned how though they had checklists with unanswered questions, watching the final season with a checklist by their sides and literally marking things off every episode (something they had envisioned doing at one point and kinda been doing along the way even), would subsume the more important stuff and could ultimately be disappointing. I hadn't articulated it as such, but was feeling largely the same way. It would be like having a student ace a multiple choice test but not really learn the concepts you were trying to teach. I know that metaphor doesn't hold exactly, but I hope it's clear enough.

So as this season went along and we had BIG ANSWER episodes like, "Ab Aeterno" and "Across The Sea" (each of which I found ultimately unsatisfying for myriad reasons) I had an epiphany and realized, similarly to Jensen that finding meaning in what happened to the characters outweighed learning about The Island. "Happily Ever After" (the return of Desmond episode) was far more enjoyable to me, because it was about what happened to our favorite characters. Once I had that epiphany, I was able to let go of most my angst about whether the show would "end right" and put more faith in the writers' ability to craft a satisfying ending. One can tell how much these guys love their show. How much it means to them and how much the actors and characters they've helped give life to matter to them. And I just knew, I guess, that they would honor that.

I am not surprised that my friend, Scott, had more confusion processing the Jack-Christian scene. It reminds me of when we watched The Prestige. His instinctive science mind refracts everything through the prism of looking for explanations and logical answers.

Star Trek: The Next Generation, one of my favorite shows particularly growing up and the show that managed to have its series finale be its best episode, had it so much easier than Lost or Battlestar Galactica. TNG was a show driven by story, not characters or even acting and ironically enough for a sci-fi show not its special effects. Years later, I don't feel like I ever learned anything about a character not named Data, Picard or Worf? And apart from Patrick Stewart or Brent Spiner or John DeLancie and sometimes Jonathan Frakes, who ever could really bring it as an actor? The biggest challenge they had was to incorporate everyone else enough in a story that would really give Picard, Q and Data the most screen time. Throw in a time-travel story (ultimately Trek's biggest crutch) and voila ... best episode ever. But there wasn't a single thread they NEEDED to resolve with the show's continuity or mythology.

One big question that I think was ultimately meant to be unanswered ... what did Juilet mean when she told Miles from the dead "It worked"? I still don't know about this one. OK, other less big question, what Island did we see underwater in the Season 6 premiere? I think it was just a chunk that had fallen off. It was an independent (not character-pov-specific) glimpse into the future. And, I think the only time we've ever gotten one of those. I don't think this holds anymore now that I think about it more, but rather it's more metaphorical, though still unknown to me.

Last thought, I welled up several times, though never went first season when they launched the raft or Desmond-calling-Penny-during-TheConstant.


In celebration of the final episode I went a little crazy buying Lost-related merchandise, but mainly because the merch has been sooooo good. In honor of the final season, 16 artists were commissioned to create posters related to the series. I sadly didn't find out about this until after the posters were shown at a gallery (of course near my office, dammit!). So I missed out on buying any of them at retail price and the silkscreen of the one I love most has been going for $500 on eBay. YIKES! that's before the price of custom-framing. Fortunately, this poster was also reproduced as a lithograph, which was given out at the poster show. So I purchased one of those on eBay for the bargain price of $217.50.

From the amazing Tyler Stout is the poster to the right ...

Then I bought another poster (this one a silk screen from series 2 and a t-shirt). But though I've told myself I need to rein in my spending, I can't feel bad at all about getting these posters and the shirt. I love this show. It's my favorite show of all time. I want to celebrate my love of the show as publicly as I can within the confines of my bedroom.

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