Monday, May 24, 2010

Talk to the Flocke: Reactions to The End of "Lost"

To every dear friend, family member, or kind stranger who truly didn't like the final journey of "Lost": I feel so bad for you.

I really do. Not in that way where I am looking down on someone like they're some kind of idiot for not thinking that something I love is cool. I get it. There are 100% perfectly acceptable reasons to dismiss it or not like it. You could hate that Dharma did, in fact, end up being just a plot device that wasn't all that meaningful. You could hate that they left a big ole boatload of questions unanswered (the most recent one: what exactly did setting off the bomb do then?). You could hate that there was some angle, some aspect of purgatory that made it's way into the final resolution of the show despite what you felt was an iron-clad promise made by the creators that such a thing would never happen. Those are completely justifiable, completely warranted gripes and complaints that you could levy after having spent 6 years trying to wrap this all up in your mind. I totally get it, it's fair. I don't think it's "wrong" that you feel that way. I just feel sorry for you.

Why? Well because last night I felt moved emotionally and spiritually in a way that I literally have never felt moved by any piece of popular culture. Because I felt closer to my wife and friends and closer to my religious beliefs. Because to me, in terms of the show's finale, what mattered in the end was really what I said mattered: they completed these characters. Even the little notes (the joke about Christian Shepherd's name, the fact that Hurley did become the island protector, the reunification of all couples) were so spot on. To me, this final episode was never about what absolutely had to be in there or not in there. It was about how I had to feel. And I felt that way...oh boy did I ever.

If the producers and creators of this masterpiece of a series failed in any regard, I believe firmly it was not a failure to commit to film the exact story they wanted to tell. Their failure was, at times, to be too ambitious and all-encompassing in their storytelling method. Their willingness to follow Dharma as long as they did to more-or-less pad the series accidentally led to something crazy: it was so beloved, so popular, that somehow a plot device took on a life of its own. The writers failed to firmly reign in little loose ends that they knew wouldn't matter in the end. That was a little mistake, as some people couldn't "move on" from them, if you will. I am willing to allow a few missteps to be made in crafting a piece of art 120 hours long. What I'm saying is this: there are going to be two kinds of people who watched all of "Lost." There's the "yeah, but what about Walt" group. And there's the group who will consider this the best, most moving, most thoughtful television show in history. If you're in the former group...hey, it's been a hell of a ride, right? Like Ben, you're going to be sitting outside the church, still working things out. I love you all the same. If you're in the latter group, come on inside. We've been waiting for you.

I'm going to break down this finale just like I do all the other episodes, then I'm going to allow a few days to pass before really tackling things again. Feel free to share thoughts and concerns, we don't have to stop that just because the show is over.

What I liked

I could really do this in an infinite number of parts, but let's do this a little different. The show had two parts, really. Let's look at them.

The Island

I loved how there was a literal cork keeping hell out. I just loved it. It was Eden or the point of creation or something of that nature. Removing the cork let the light escape and let the darkness in. If there's no light, neither of the island's protected protectors had any power. They were just human for a moment. Thus, the epic fight began...and ooooh did I love that epic fight. Maybe my favorite action sequence in "Lost" ever: Jack jump punching as they cut to commercial. I squealed on that one. That brutal battle. That look of confusion on the Man in Black's face as he couldn't figure out what had happened. Priceless. Then you get to the ultra-classic sequence that will resonate for years and years in my mind. Jack surrendering the island to Hurley, Hurley taking Ben as his number 2. Let's face facts, that was a love letter to the fans and nothing more. Two beloved characters: One finally getting the only thing he's ever wanted (Ben, who just wanted to matter) and the other finally realizing that his special ability to love others and spread kindness wasn't just a small trait, it was a huge. The island mattered. If you care about the mythology of the show, the actual events that transpired, they were brought to a conclusion. The threat to the island was extinguished when Jack killed the Man in Black. Widmore is dead, the island was purged of people who were trying to do it harm...heck, it was purged of its people period. It had a chance to start over. So Eden or "the source" or whatever you want to call it went through its greatest period of challenge to the "light" that it puts out into the universe, and Jack and his friends overcame it. Oh, bonus points for Kate putting the bullet into Flocke. She did matter, huh.

The Sideways

This is where it gets tricky. Mind you, I am still not wild about the sloppy storytelling (the whole Kate and Claire episode), but I will say this: I get why they did what they did with it. Yeah, it was purgatory. It was a holding area for people who loved each other to gather, waiting for each other to finally be able to move on from the shackles of a human existence to something bigger, something better. Just like The Matrix, even though these people tried to create for themselves a world where they had everything they wanted (Kate wasn't guilty of that crime, Sawyer never killed the wrong man and was on the right side of the law, Jack had a son who loved him, Desmond had the respect of Widmore, Charlie was a rock star, Claire still had her baby, Sayid saw that Nadia was still alive, Sun and Jin had each other, Hurley was lucky, Locke had his girl and so on for others I've forgotten), they couldn't make it feel "right." It's like Agent Smith said to Morpheus in The Matrix, when the robots tried to create a utopia for the humans, their minds couldn't process it. The sideways was flawed to them. It was a mutually created way to find each other, which is why they kept bumping into each other so much. Remembering that time is totally flexible there, meaning we could have had 5000 years of Hurley and Ben running the island (which I would watch, by the way), they had to wait until the last of them was ready to move on. Jack was the last of them. Of course he was. Even with his journey on the island, he was still a stubborn SOB. Of course he couldn't let go for the longest time. Oh, but when he did...when he reunited with his father (his REAL father) and walked out into that group of people who he loved and who loved him...I hope that's what it's like folks. I hope that when we move on from this mortal world that we're able to find one another. It was pure poetry for me. I cried then when I watched it, and I'm kind of crying now writing this.

Things I didn't like

  • Chest hair sandwich - Seriously? Why even knock Lapidus on the head on the submarine if he's just going to show up looking ridiculous in time to fix the plane with the weirdest collection of survivors ever? Leave him in the background and for God's sake don't "kill him" only to bring him back.
  • Ben's under a tree, no wait... - OH NOES?!?!?! BEN IS UNDER THE TREE!?!?!?! Oh, no wait, he seems to be better now. Oopsie daisy in the editing room boys.
  • Claire lived - How did I never get a Claire death scene? How did I watch this show for 6 years and nobody dropped a tree on her? Seriously?
  • Man in Black - I will never stop thinking that not knowing the Man in Black's name is the best metaphor for the few major mistakes on the show. Why create a mystery, INTENTIONALLY CREATE A MYSTERY, with (A) no intention of solving it or (B) no idea how to solve it? They should have just given him a name. That they didn't was lame.
  • Sayid and Shannon - Look, Shannon is a cutie, right? But they spent 6 seasons telling us that all Sayid wanted was Nadia. Then he sees Shannon and his brain gets all borked. He's with SHANNON for all eternity? Eh. I would have had Nadia show up in the church still. I would have had Sayid's "wake-up moment" be seeing the people he saved on the sub, reminding him he died in a noble way. I would have had Boone and Shannon in the church together (not all creepy together, but because they did love each other) and that would have been that. Then again, as mean as they treated Sayid during this last season, maybe they just wanted to reward him by letting him make out with Maggie Grace again.
  • The flash sideways is purgatory, but the island was real.
  • The Man in Black is dead.
  • What was in the cave was the absolute source, a literal cork.
  • Desmond's plan was to awaken everybody and move on.


  • Mysteries abound - Look, as much as I'm defending this finale (and the show itself), I'm not saying I won't rush to the season 6 DVD and look at those 20 minutes of additional answers. I want to know things like what was the plan for Walt? What did the bomb do, really? I could go on, but I don't want to linger on that for now. I'm happy now.
  • Battle lines - So far this morning I have received angry texts, drunken facebook posts, scores of upset tweets, and heard from others who were displeased. I also sat there with my wife saying "God, it was so great," got an incredibly moving email from my cousin, and talked to several friends who thought it was perfect. Welcome to your next few months (maybe years) of talking to people who watched this show. Unlike "Battlestar Galactica," which I briefly thought I liked until my friend Andrew pointed out how bad it was, I know that I will staunchly defend this finale and this show forever. I adored it. I felt so good about the ending that I couldn't imagine anything in its place. So, I welcome the challenge. Let's talk it up. If you are on the other side of the line, that's fine. We'll chat about it. It's the gift that keeps giving. Remember this: No truly great work of art is universally embraced. That's just now how it works. Great works of art are divisive.

I would say that I'm sad right now that this is my last official "Lost" post. I'm not. I feel good, whole somehow. This episode was my favorite in the show's history. How did they get that so right? They really did nail the landing. I give it an A+. For real. I mean it, I want this to continue. I want to keep talking about this whenever you want. I'll look for comments here today and I'll post something soon about deeper thoughts upon reflection. For now, just know that I still feel how I did when I started writing this. I feel sorry for people who didn't love it. I wish you felt like I do right now.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with you 100%! I, too, TOTALLY loved the way it ended and am feeling much less depressed than I thought I would today. I bawled my eyes out 4-5 times, but came away fulfilled and happy with how the greatest show ever left its legacy.
One quick question: if Ben is staying outside of the church, does that mean he's not "moving on"? Going to hell?? Moving on separately from the castaways? I don't think if he'd gone into the church he would have been warmly received by anyone other than Hurley, but either way, his "ending" seemed perfect to me.
And ditto on Sayid and Shannon! WTF? Nadia was meant to be with his brother? And what about Miles? Was he in the church? Oy, I need to watch it again...I couldn't see clearly through my tears!
Awesome awesome awesome finale. I am glad to be with you in the latter group who loved it!

May 24, 2010  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

is there a group for those who are kind of in limbo? A "Lost" finale purgatory? :-)

May 24, 2010  
Blogger Ryan said...

Yes, yes there is a place for those in between. Give yourself a few days and maybe watch it again. I think I will.

As far as the question above about Ben, I took it to mean that he's just not ready yet. Like Farraday or some others, he's too hung up on his life and what he did wrong right now.

A quick word on the people "not there." The way I read it was that this is the place for the people for whom the island time was most important. I'm guessing for Walt, who was only there briefly, and Miles, Lapidus, and other minor characters, the island WASN'T their most important thing. They had other times with other people that were either more meaningful or important and that, when they're ready, they'll leave with those people. That's just how I read it anyway.

May 24, 2010  
Blogger Becky Boyer said...

Yeah the finale was indeed awesome, I was crying more then I care to admit.

So in the end you do have the Oceanic 6 that escape once again just a different 6.

You have any thoughts on what they showed during the credits, an empty beach, just the usual this is how the set looks kind of finale or showing that the island is still there?

May 24, 2010  

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