After six mind bending seasons, Lost is finally over. I’m sure I’m about the slackest viewer there is when it comes to watching this show, but if you haven’t seen the finale yet and are still trying to keep any surprises fresh, then don’t read on – there will be spoilers in this post.
So was it worth it? Lost was a show that had all the best and the worst of big budget serial television. I don’t care what the writers try to tell us, they didn’t have a clue what they were doing when they started out. I’m quite prepared to believe that they had a basic story in mind, with a basic resolution, but then they got all crazy and kept sprinting off in random directions with no end point in sight. When people started wandering away from the show in droves because it was disappearing up its own arsehole, the writers suddenly had a panic and said, “No, wait! There’s a real end! A definite, no questions finish and it’ll be in… err… 2010. Yeah, 2010, at the end of season 6. Bear with us, it’ll be worth it!”
Following that annoucement they must have sat down around a table and said, “Fuck! How the hell are we going to tidy up this mess in two more seasons?”
Pretty much everyone was guessing around the middle of season 2 that the island was actually some kind of purgatory. All the key characters had something in their background that led them to a place where they needed some kind of redemption before “moving on”. The ridiculous “multi-denominational church” at the end was so lame. I’m using quote marks because it was clearly a Christian church and one tiny stained-glass window in a back office somewhere with symbols of Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism and Taoism along with a Christian Cross does not a multi-faith temple make. Especially with Christian Shepherd in the house. At least Kate was decent enough to point out how dumb a name that was.
The truth is, this story could have been really good if they had written it specifically for a two or three season run. They could have really developed the redemption required of the characters, the story of Jacob and the man in black (why doesn’t he have a fucking name!?) and the nature of the island without all the crazy Dharma Initiative stuff and random polar bears. Or they could have gone with the mad Dharma stuff and not had the purgatory island story at all (or post-island real world purgatory). Or the whole Charles Widmore situation that never really resolved into anything and supplied no answers whatsoever. But they had massive viewing figures and a massive budget and they went a little mad.
If Lost was a novel, the editor would be pulling their hair out. They’d need an entire box of red pens, desperately striking out filler, searching for a solid story. Of course, we want subplots and intrigue, threaded cleverly through the main narrative. But with Lost it’s like the writers regularly sneezed new stories into the pages of the script and just sat back to see what would happen.
The end result is a generally unsatisfying finale that took an easy route for all the characters but left numerous questions unanswered. I’ve been having a little look around the interwebz and there are a lot of Lost apologists desperately trying to shoehorn some kind of explanation into the story, but even they have to regularly say things like, “The writers clearly decided to let this story thread slide.” Which is a real shame. That’s why I say that Lost shows us the best and worst of big budget serial television. They had a potentially great idea, but no clue how long they’d have to run. So they just ran and ran until they had to suddenly tidy everything up. I would much rather have seen the show run for half as many seasons and tell a decent, coherent story that was pretty much planned and written from start to finish before production even started. Sadly, that’s not how serial TV seems to work these days.
Of course, many series have no end point and you have a set of characters and a situation and you tell many short stories with a handful of over-riding story arcs that occasionally get resolved. Things like Star Trek work that way and you keep making stories with the charaters and settings until viewing figures drop so much that you get canned. But Lost wasn’t like that. Lost was clearly one over-riding story that needed to be told, but never really was.
A few of the things left unanswered really stick out. Were the characters all killed right away and everything on the island was purgatory? If so, that’s one twisted deity playing crazy games with people. Or was the secondary timeline, with all the characters back in the real world in season 6, the actual purgatory (as seems to be the generally accepted case)? What about the time travelling? What did that actually have to do with anything? If nothing on the island really happened, why were they all in the church at the end as the most important people in each other’s lives? If the island stuff did happen, then that clearly wasn’t purgatory and all that crazy stuff with the light and the island’s powers has gone completely unexplained. What about Desmond? Seriously, what the hell was he supposed to be? Some kind of “failsafe” apparently, a fixed, unchanging point… in what? And so on and so on. That’s barely scratching the surface of the unanswered questions.
The “real world” stuff in season six was referred to as a “flash sideways”. Producer Damon Lindelof said that term was used to imply “that one of them isn’t real, or one of them is real and the other is the alternate to being real.” What? You mean you don’t have any more of a clue than the rest of us about what’s going on. Apparently the producers have said since the finale that everything on the island was real and the people that got away (Sawyer, Kate, etc. on the plane and others before them) lived out their lives while others died on the island, but they all met up in the lamechurch at the end because “there is no now here”. Ooh, way to get all metaphysical. But it doesn’t really add up.
The most likely explanation is the one given by Jack’s dad in the alternate timeline – that is, the whole alternate timeline thing was a reality created by all the characters, with the exception of a whole bunch of characters for reasons unexplained, as a place to meet up after they all died, whenever that happened to be. So presumably Kate never loved anyone again until she died at some indeterminate point when she met up with Jack in the afterlife waiting room of the lamechurch. Same for Claire, who met up with Charlie again. These are just two examples – you have to feel sorry for anyone they might have fallen in love with since the old exciting island days that never got a look-in after the final curtain sometime in the future. So you see, it is the most likely explanation, but it’s actually bloody awful as explanations go.
On the whole Lost was a clever and interesting series while it played out. I watched regularly and I enjoyed it. I’m glad it’s over, because it was getting to the point where plots were running into each other like blind people at an amateur barn dance and it was just getting plain silly. It was clearly going nowhere. I do feel a bit cheated that the whole thing was wrapped up as it was, with no real explanation except vague hints that don’t make sense.
Then again, that’s pretty much in keeping with the whole premise of the show since day one.
If you want to read a highly entertaining wrap of the final episode, I suggest this by Ree Hines. There’s also the Lostpedia, for all the answers you’ll ever need. (No, of course that’s not true, but the Lostpedia really does exist).
Regardless, there’s one thing we can all agree on and all be thankful for. Lost is finally over.
Lost – it’s not a Christian allegory. No, really, it’s multi-faith. Honest.