So... I am actually a huge Lost fan, but I haven't gotten around to talking about it here yet. I would love to have a discussion if anyone has any responses to what follows...
I started watching Lost in January, got rather obsessed, and finished five months later in June. Here are some reactions I posted at another forum:
Just got to the finale tonight. I absolutely loved it. Perfect in every possible way.
I would like all the people who are complaining about continuity errors and unanswered questions to take a step back and think about what this show actually is. The puzzle is certainly important, but it's really about the characters.
And that's why I loved the finale so much. I felt the characters ended up exactly where they belonged. Especially Jack, Hurley, and Ben... their developments were all enormously satisfying. I think it was clear from the lighthouse episode that Jack and Hurley would be key in saving the island, but I'm just really happy with how it played out. It all seems so right for the story and true to the characters. That's the best thing about it.
It seemed that Jack was doing exactly what he wasn't supposed to do (bringing the Man In Black to The Light instead of protecting it) but of course that's exactly what he had to do, because that led to a number of crucial developments: the otherwise impossible defeat of the Man In Black, finding Frank (the pilot) and having an urgent reason to get off the island, Ben getting all humbled and awe-inspired (and redeemed) by the whole affair, and Hurley becoming the protector.
I thought it was especially interesting and poignant that Ben decided to stay in purgatory because he still had "a few things to work out." And to extrapolate, the whole existence of the purgatory makes complete sense. If you look at what happened in that world, it was all a series of corrections (do-overs, as Jack said a number of times), from Jack reversing the cycle of "daddy issues" with his son (I remember an episode called "All the Best Cowboys Have Daddy Issues"), to Locke fixing things with his girlfriend, to Ben making things right with Alex and Danielle (even abandoning his power play for principal). Everyone was "working things out." In fact, I should re-watch season 6 sometime to pick up on this. Since none of us knew it was a purgatory, I'm sure there's plenty we didn't see.
I started watching Lost about 5 months ago. I was actually drawn to it because people were complaining about how confusing it was. The series never really delivered on that promise. I was honestly waiting to be confused, and I'm still not sure what people were talking about. Does confusing mean "not yet explained?" Are television audiences really that uncomfortable with this concept? Anyway, the show did deliver some things I wasn't expecting, which turned out to be even more rewarding. I'm just now realizing that I mostly liked The X-Files for its mythology episodes. With Lost, the whole thing is a mythology. An epic, slow build that can be excruciating and endlessly rewarding. In retrospect, it's exactly what I wanted in a TV show. Would it be too grandiose to say that Lost has accomplished the potential of the medium?6/10/10
I want to be clear. When I say "characters," I'm talking about the whole package. Since every character has a relationship with the island (and the island is, as they say, a character itself), the island, and how the characters develop with the island, because
of the island, is the point of the whole thing.
Do I have a few remaining questions? Sure. Do I want these questions explicitly answered? Not at all. The finale resolved the story without explaining away the mystery that made the show great.
Furthermore, the extent to which people in general are complaining about unanswered questions is an insult to everyone's intelligence. Seriously, watch Inland Empire, then
tell me Lost has unanswered questions. I feel like the writers walked right up to the line. They explained almost everything, including what the island is (remember the bottle?), even what The Light / The Source is ("life, death, and rebirth," its importance to the world, maintaining the balance between good and evil, etc). Would you really want them to get more explicit than that?
It's simply a balance between keeping the sense of mystery and getting enough answers. I think it was balanced quite well.
Answering all our questions is so far from being the purpose of the show. I feel like some people were misled (perhaps by the show itself, in a way) into thinking that the show would finally answer the big questions (which it did, let's not forget), and that that would be enough... that those answers would be profound enough to conclude the show all by themselves. Obviously, the revelations are not enough. If you spent the show waiting for answers and forgot to watch the characters develop with the island, you basically missed the whole show. This is precisely why the end of Jack's story was so satisfying. It was the perfect way to consummate his relationship with the island. And seriously, his character arc alone constitutes its own epic story. He went from the short-tempered man of science to the brooding/tortured introvert to the man of faith who believes in destiny and saves the island. Was that good or what? Did we need any more information for that to be meaningful and satisfying? Absolutely not. Same for Hurley, Ben, and all the rest. The extent to which these characters were completed
, and the elegant way in which it was done, is absolutely breathtaking to me.6/11/10
A few other random thoughts, while I remember them...
I think the nuclear device was "the incident" after all. Since the purgatory revelation, there's no better explanation. The device certainly didn't create purgatory (Christian says the purgatory is a place the Oceanic survivors collectively created to reunite), and obviously there's no longer any evidence that it changed the course of events. I don't think it sunk the island, either. We do see the island sunk at the beginning of season 6, but I think that just goes with everything else. The island, as one of the characters, is also appearing in purgatory in its dead form. Since Christian tells us "there is no when
here," the island appearing sunk in purgatory doesn't tell us when it died/sank. (It could have been far in the future.) Or, this being a fake created world, it could have been a simply frivolity of their creation.
There was some question about how Christian could appear off the island, if Christian is the smoke monster. I think the answer is that an appearance of Christian is not always the smoke monster. MiB can take the forms of people who have died on the island (or whose dead bodies have ended up there, in Christian's and Locke's cases), but that doesn't mean dead people are always him. Images of people and things dead, alive, and otherwise have always been appearing on the island. Not only Christian, but Kate's horse, Hurley's imaginary friend who appeared to become real on the island, Walt (alive elsewhere, but still appearing), etc. There are no strict rules for these appearances.7/17/10
Some more random thoughts about Lost...
I watched the finale again last night (second time), and I was surprised by the power it still had. In fact, I think I cried like a baby even more on this second viewing. It was crazy. Keep in mind, I only spent about 5 months with the show from start to finish. I can just imagine how powerful it might have been for people who had spent 6 years with these characters.
In fact, I keep wondering what the differences are between the 5 month and 6 year experiences. My big disadvantage was that I didn't have much time to get attached to the show, to keep each episode in the back of my mind for a week, and to let it sink in gradually, and to get attached to all the characters. I don't think that was a significant disadvantage, though, because I still got attached to the characters, and everything seemed to sink in just fine. I think I agree that Lost is well-suited for compression.
I'm guessing about some of this, but I think these were my advantages:
- Didn't get overly annoyed by the cliffhangers, because the next episode was always within reach. Had I been faced with huge mandatory gaps of time, I can see myself caring less and less, sort of as a defense mechanism.
- Could remember what happened 4 episodes or 2 seasons ago and easily make connections. There was never a point during the series when I was really confused.
- Never had commercial breaks.
- Didn't have time to develop or attach to complex crackpot theories that would probably end up being false.
I'm also thinking about favorite characters. Around Season 2, it was Locke, no question. Obviously, things changed, so here's my current list:
. The obvious choice, as MiB might say, but he holds up. I described before how perfectly planned and executed his whole character arc is. Phase 1
: Reluctant leader and chronic skeptic ("man of science") with a short temper, hero complex, and daddy issues manifested as intense episodes of self-doubt. This character is so good to begin with that he doesn't even need an arc. Phase 2
: Complete wreck off-island, full of regret, tortured about how wrong he was, guilty about Locke's death, realizes his gung-ho rescue antics had not saved his friends, that in fact he had violated and reversed destiny. Phase 3
: Wanting to turn things around, but not sure how (he knows he can't simply "fix" things), Jack lies low with some seriously extensive brooding and introspection in Dharmaville. Phase 4
: After five seasons of psychological torment, he has worked out his issues and believes in destiny. Guided by Jacob's gentle prodding and Locke's ideals, Jack realizes his entire metaphysical potential, saving the island in a pure act of self-sacrifice and faith. His story then concludes with the happiest, most fulfilling death one could possibly imagine.
. I can't gush about Ben's character as much as Jack's, except to say that his transformation was just as dramatic and just as carefully considered. The best stretches for Ben's character, I think, were the times when we didn't know whether he was good or evil, whether he was lying or telling the truth, whether to root for him or Widmore, whether he was helping our Lost friends or was about to stab them in the back. The mystery and tension of his character pretty much extended to the end of the series, with a surprisingly plausible redemption. Strong candidate for best character IMO.
. Truly a great character, and as I said, my early favorite. Reasons are obvious. The whole handicap bit ("Don't tell me what I can't do!") was always interesting, but the tension between his knowledge and his ignorance about the island (and how that affected his sense of self-worth) was probably the best part. As a Lost viewer, I think it was easiest to identify with Locke (not Hurley, as many suggest) because of that dynamic, and because of his unstoppable curiosity. The only problem with Locke is that he peaked early, and obviously his character was significantly blemished and obfuscated with MiB taking over his body.
By the way, I think Matthew Fox's acting is under-appreciated and probably had something to do with the success of his character. I also think it got much better toward the end of the series. Seriously, some of his moments in the finale in particular are so supernaturally perfect that I think my jaw dropped when I saw them. Thinking especially of the whole sequence after he brings back the light. Also the scene where he confronts MiB in the field (the "I'm going to kill you"/"It's a surprise" moment). Truly stunning stuff there.