Monday, May 24, 2010

Goodbye, Farewell, and Amen: The Lost Finale

Yeah, yeah, I'm not the first - or last - person to reference the M*A*S*H finale title with regards to the Lost finale. Funny how much it fits though, now having seen the finale. There are more thoughts than I can adequately express in a single post without rambling on, but first...

Lost, it turns out, was a great television show. It wasn't perfect. Far from it. But it was something magical. And we're not likely to see anything remotely like it, that's allowed to come to completion (if not with full explanation) on its own terms ever, ever again in a visual medium. And, unlike certain other finales for science-fiction character dramas that ended with a rumination on faith... this finale, for all the series' failings, was eminently satisfying and one that, in time, will be more and more cherished, and the flaws that were more inherent to the rest of the series than to the finale itself will matter less. My opinion has already improved drastically overnight.

So, WTF am I talking about re flaws? I still have a lot of issues with the "sideways" universe. I think that we spent too much time there in season six for what it wound up being - a love letter, way to remind us of (many of, not all of) the characters we loved throughout the series, and to give each and every one of them a happy ending in one way or anything. We could have spent time on the Island getting more "satisfying" or detailed answers to things that, it seemed at the time, mattered. Or at the very least dealing with that infuriating Temple plotline in a different way.

Granted, it would've been way too quick/sloppy/convenient for the "sideways" universe to be tied into the Island universe in just the finale, but didn't it seem throughout the season that's what was supposed to happen? Expect the unexpected... as it was the Island lives and memories - and deaths - that tied back into the "sideways" universe. Until the very end with Christian Shephard's explanation, I had thought, maybe, the "sideways" universe was based on Hurley's new "rules" as Island protector, but all the mythology stuff kind of fell by the wayside (something I really don't know if I want to tackle here).

But this was a show, ultimately, about faith. Not about an H-bomb creating a parallel timeline with odd little differences that made all the difference. Funny how the premiere and finale of the season season kind of say it all about Lost, as a whole: "Man of Science, Man of Faith" and "Live Together, Die Alone." The show asked us to believe and, even if the characters did die alone as some/many certainly did, they lived together... and they found a way to continue to exist together.

Yeah, it's a little saccharine/schmaltz, but you'll forget that in a year and you'll just be happy for the characters.

You'll wonder about the lives of Lapidus, Miles, Richard (who was not in the church or any sideways flash, so is he still immortal?), Kate, Sawyer, and Claire off the Island. You'll think about Desmond returning home to Penny. You'll think of all the years Hurley and Ben, a most unwitting duo, will spend as Island protectors. That's plenty to hold onto in the "real" world of the Island universe.

So, more about the finale. I was kind of shocked at how funny it was. Hurley, of course, got some jokes in. The laughability of the name "Christian Shephard" was, at long last, mentioned. Sun and Jin had a great laugh at an unawakened Juliet's... not expense, but at her something. Also Ben getting hit in the face one last time was brilliant (especially after the montage in the recap... ROFLMAO).

And, good lord, but there was emotion, even putting aside the "sideways" universe machinations.

And the final final moments, Jack in the bamboo forest closing his eyes after seeing the plane fly away overhead... poetry. Symmetry. Perhaps on the nose / the obvious choice, but whatever.

Okay. I can't resist. I can't talk about the finale without talking about the failing of the mythology. Which, in ways, wasn't a failing intrinsically, but in how it was built up for our characters and in our minds as viewers. All of which, in a cruel way, is appropriate in a show about the human condition, fate and coincidence, faith and believe and free will and... anyway. Themes. We all know Lost had them.

Jacob was kind of a douche, wasn't he? And, yes, it was Mother's fault. And, no, the discovery of all / any of this doesn't improve "Across the Sea" for me (I have not come around on that episode, don't think I ever will... it introduces the magic glowy cave, which was necessary for The End to happen, but... ugh, bile). The reason no one could leave the Island? Jacob said so, and it's because, though immortal-ish (somehow, even though we didn't really get a full sense of why unless that, too, was one of his "rules") he was human. And he was brought up to hate and fear humanity. He was flawed, while we, for seasons, were led to believe he was something more than human. He wasn't.

So, with Jacob dead, this whole season... his rules were still in place until the next protector was chosen (unless all his candidates died). So Smokey still couldn't leave. Then Jack became the Protector at the end of "What They Died For." But things don't really seem to change. Smokey is still invulnerable to bullets (even if he doesn't become Smokey in this episode) until Desmond turns the light out in the glowy cave / catacomb / drain / whatever (seriously, could've used some more detail / build up on that, since there's clearly much more info to get, what with the construction inside and the skeletons and the... UGH, DAMN YOU LOST). I thought we might get to see Jack's "rules" for the Island and what difference they made, but that doesn't play a part.

I still don't understand why Smokey was "locked" in Locke's body this whole season. We were told that. But there is no explanation. And then, once the light goes out, he doesn't transform into the monster. And he's vulnerable to, y'know, everything. From punches to bullets to cliff-falls. Don't fully understand that. But, like many things in Lost dealing with mythology... that's the way it is. It's confusing. It's not explained. But if we see it... we are asked to believe it. It is always better to show rather than tell. And by showing that Smokey was vulnerable after the lights go out... we understand it. We don't NEED to be told it. Which is what pisses me off about him being trapped in Locke's body. We were TOLD that and it was just confusing.

But it also wasn't part of the finale.

Neither, really, were Lost's most infuriatingly open-ended questions... which in my mind revolve entirely around the Dharma Initiative and the Others. Around season two and season three, before the endgame was really in place, when the writers came up with cool shit without any knowledge of when they'd have to explain themselves. Sure there's mythology stuff from later seasons that went unresolved, too. And that's annoying. But it's not a problem in and of the finale itself. So while I have residual feelings about the series' mysteries... I don't fault the finale for it.

Because y'know what got resolved in the finale?

The character stuff. It did. It really did.

And Lost was a show about people trapped on a really fucking weird island. It was a show about people. And it ended as a show about people.

I went into the finale dreading it. For all those things it didn't answer... I woke today and didn't care as much as I had when I went to sleep. And I'm not saying that's how you have to feel or how you are supposed to feel. But it's how I feel. It was time to let Lost go.

Goodbye, Farewell, and Amen.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

MiB/Locke couldn't leave the island, not because of Jacob's rules, but because of what he would do in order to be able to leave the island.

MiB couldn't leave until he removed the cork, which would make him human. Of course, removing the cork would also destroy the island. But Jacob's/Jack's job is to protect the island, so they couldn't let that happen.

Not allowing MiB/Locke to leave the island had nothing to do with him or even the rest of the world, but everything to do with the island.