Monday, May 24, 2010

Lost Finale: My Spoiler-Filled Thoughts.

Okay, you’ve hurdled the Spoiler Warning Barrier. We don’t post guards at TIAH Blog, (standard “Comment Moderation” is sufficient for now), so I’ll assume you’re here of your own volition. If you don’t want LOST Spoilers, turn back now. There are other good Blogs out there. Tell ‘em I sent you!

Just to make sure you’re serious, I’ll throw out a few “Test Spoliers”.

Dr. Arzt blows up from some ancient dynamite!

Nikki and Paolo are buried alive with the diamonds.

Neil “Frogurt” is killed by a flaming arrow.

Allll righty then… You’ve gone past the older, secondary character, “Test Spoliers” I laid out, so you’re serious. Let’s go!

There are just MY thoughts. They are nothing more. They mean nothing except to me. Expect a rambling narrative (not unlike LOST itself) that offers little background for those not in the know. After all, I don’t have SIX YEARS to formulate this post.

In the beginning, there was a show about castaways – but no Gilligan or Doctor Smith. Six Seasons of the most compelling and suspenseful television drama ensue.

It started out as crash victims struggling for survival, led by the noble Dr. Jack Shephard, and, in the best tradition of Irwin Allen’s sixties television, became something bigger, wilder, more fantastic and bombastic than one could imagine. Warring civilizations. Parallel lives. Time travel. Heaven and Hell. And one of TV’s greatest villains in Michael Emerson as the wonderfully understated Ben Linus.

If you ever have the opportunity to see the first three or four seasons in succession on DVD (for the FIRST TIME, as I did)… just TRY to turn the damned thing off! You can’t do it. You must DRAG yourself away.

At the end of Season Five, in the superb episode “The Incident”, Jack (in 1977 – don’t ask!) proposes to detonate a hydrogen bomb, thereby destroying/neutralizing the pocket of energy that caused their plane (2004 – don’t ask again!) to crash on the island. If this works, the flight will land as it “should have”, and all of life will resume its course.

The bomb does not detonate. The energy is released, magnetizing everything in sight, and causing a chain to drag Juliet into the pit with the bomb. Before dying, Juliet repeatedly strikes the bomb with a handy rock… until it DOES detonate, and everything fades to white. We end Season Five.

We open Season Six with the flight taking place (and landing) as scheduled – and the Island destroyed, sunken underwater. But, we also find our survivors still on the Island (presumably) in 1977.

I can only figure that “The Incident” divided time into two parallels. The Island Timeline and the Normal Timeline.

So, Jack was right – but only half right.

Two timelines apparently co-exist. (A) The cosmic struggle between good and evil in the persons of Jacob and The Man in Black continues on the Island. (B) Everyone’s lives ultimately turn out for the best in the “Normal World”.

In “Normal Time”, Desmond and Hugo (who would seem to have some special ability to see beyond dimensions) assist everyone in repairing their lives.

In “Island Time” The Man in Black assuming the form of John Locke is defeated by Jack (…and killed by a shotgun blast from Kate?! Why didn’t he just turn into the Black Smoke Monster and doom them all?). Jack, who assumed the position as “Protector of the Island” from dead Jacob, plugs up the “Portal to Hell” with a rock and gets the “Water of Light” flowing again (Baptism metaphor?). Then, he dies of his wounds. By this time, he has named Hugo his successor as “Protector of the Island”.

At the end, we see what Desmond and Hugo have been up to in “Normal Time”. Everyone is gathered at a church for what Jack thinks is to be his father’s funeral, which was his original purpose for being on the flight. But, inside the church, he meets his father, finds an empty casket, and the two have a heart to heart.

At this point, I shouted out to Esther: “Jack’s DEAD! They’re ALL dead! It’s JACK’S casket!”

And, I was right. Much of our cast is gathered “here”. Those who died both before and after Jack! As Jack’s father, Christian Shephard (Something to that name, perhaps?), puts it: “There is no ‘NOW’ here! [This is] the place that you all made together – that you could find one another!”

And, so we are left to believe that this is Jack’s version of Heaven. A place he shares with Christian, Kate, Hugo, Sawyer, Locke, Sun and Jin, Sayid, Juliet, Desmond and Penny, Rose and Bernard, Boone and Shannon, Charlie, Claire, and Aaron. Yes, even Aaron – who seems to have died as a BABY and not the little boy raised by Kate! Oddly, Vincent (the “Dog of Death” – seen in a “final rest” with Jack on the Island) is not with the group. Maybe all dogs DO NOT go to heaven!

Ben, curiously, waits outside. I can only imagine it’s because he’s going to Hell – where I expect he’ll find his longtime rival Charles Widmore, as well as Martin Keamey, Mr. Paik, Ethan Rom., Mr. Friendly, One-Eyed Mikhail, Anthony Cooper, Nikki and Paolo, and others. Eloise Hawking is probably “on the bubble”.

I guess Sawyer somehow slipped into Heaven, despite his life as a grifter and murdering an innocent man in a case of mistaken identity. Or did Jack and Juliet’s blast wipe all that out, and result in his becoming a LAPD detective. Kate was on the run as a killer in BOTH timelines, and SHE was there too! Oddly, Michael did not join the group in Heaven. Was it for his killings, or maybe for selling his friends out to Ben? I’m confused about the entrance criteria – unless said criteria is born of Jack’s subjective view, and Jack is still pissed at Michael. Mr. Eko may have failed to make the cut for killing – AND for impersonating a priest.

Finding their “Own Heavens”, we’ll assume, are the more neutral characters of Frank, Daniel, Miles, Charlotte, Naomi, Walt, the DHARMA Folks like Dr. Chaing, Horace Goodspeed, and Roger Linus, Hugo’s family, Dr. Arzt, Neil “Frogurt”, Ben’s adopted daughter Alex, Danielle Rousseau, Goodwin and the members of “The Others Book Club”, Helen, Mrs. Littleton (Claire’s mother), Mrs. Shephard (Jack’s mother – Why didn’t SHE go to “Jack’s Heaven”?), Nadia, David Sheppard (if he even exists) and many more. Are little Ji-Yeon and Charlie Hume still among the living… if there ARE any living left?

Perhaps, Richard Alpert ended in a “Special Place” with his long-dead wife!

How ‘bout the PILOT of Oceanic 8:15 (played by Greg Grunberg)? Did he go to a Heaven reserved for the cast of HEROES?

We are also left to wonder WHEN did our principals die? When the plane crashed? When the bomb detonated? Each at his or her ordained time? Is Hell still “corked-up” by the Island, or did it release an army of Smoke Monsters to destroy our world, resulting in all these deaths? We NEVER DID see much of “our world”, other than the mysterious and “out-of-time-and-space church”, after the moment of Jack’s death scene. Maybe it’s ALL GONE! (Bummer, dude!)

While awaiting his fate, Ben did say that Hugo was a great Protector of the Island so, for all we know, things flourished after Jack’s sacrifice and one of Hugo’s successors fell asleep at the switch! (Double bummer, dude!)

And what did Charles Widmore want to accomplish in his war with Ben? SO MUCH was made of that for three or four seasons – and, even in the space of a two-and-a-half-hour series finale, it was never once addressed. Of everything, this irks me most!

Enough rambling, or I’ll become like LOST itself – posing too many questions without answers.

I can’t say the Series Finale of LOST was entirely pleasing – but, given the six-season buildup, I don't see how it could possibly please everyone. Let's just say it was better than that of THE SOPRANOS – and by more than merely a bit.

In a way, I think today’s TV sets itself up for failure by making everything so "Big and Important" that the endings couldn't possibly live up to our expectation.

Still, there remains no better ride one can take with contemporary television than a ride with LOST!


joecab said...

I absolutely loved it. What an emotional trip that was. The fact that I no longer cared about my questions when we got to that ending was proof enough of that for me. A friend of mine said the people most disappointed would be those thinking Lost was about the island rather than the people's lives. Hurley becoming the new guardian was almost as emotional as Juliet and Sawyer finally finding each other again.

Everyone was able to move one once they were able to resolve their lives, accept the reality, and find each other. Maybe the others get to go to the same "heaven" once they reach that point. (Desmond said Ana Lucia wasn't ready yet, remember. It could be he meant her life rather than her memories returning.) I think Ben, being the most deprived of a normal and fulfilling life, wanted to stay to enjoy it more and would move on once he felt it was time.

Wasn't the ending a palindrome of the pilot episode's start? A pan over wreckage; closeup of Jack's eye opening as he wakes up and gets off the ground; Vincent nearby.

I assume Fake Locke didn't change into Smokey and kill everyone because he lost that ability once the "cork" was pulled and he could be killed.

And I'm not convinced they had everything figured out from the beginning. They already have admitted having to change things on the fly, like having jack survice the pilot episode, and using Ben for more than 3 episodes. But that's okay: the tradition of writing as you go along goes back to at least Charles Dickens printing regular chapters in the paper of his most famous stories.

Joe Torcivia said...


Great points, all!

Yes, perhaps “pulling the cork” DID neutralize (or at least diminish Man in Black-Smokey-Locke’s powers), allowing him to be defeated.

AND, maybe that’s what Charles Widmore was trying to accomplish with Desmond all along. BUT, nowhere was it ever stated. I’m really fine with not having every little question answered… like why Dr. Pierre Chaing was also known as Dr. Marvin Candle, and Dr. Edgar Halliwax (Were they clones?) – and why Ben’s “Frozen-Donkey-Wheel-Turning-Parka” had the name “Halliwax” on it. (That’s a pet one of mine!) Never mind the time traveling rabbit experiment and lots of other stuff fallen by the wayside.

But, something as big as “Widmore vs. Ben” should have been more explicitly addressed.

And, speaking of Ben… As you point out, nothing better illustrates out the “fluid nature” of the LOST narrative than the unexpected (even to actor Michael Emerson) transformation of Henry Gale into Ben Linus – and his becoming one of TV’s greatest villains! Sure, as Matthew Fox said on “Jimmy Kimmel”, he knew what the final scene was going to be – Jack’s eye closing with Vincent nearby – but no way they had ALL OF THIS precisely planned out.

Another unrelated point. I just watched the DVR-ed “Jimmy Kimmel Postgame Show” (as I call it) and Jimmy did the same “Not all dogs go to Heaven” joke that I made about Vincent in my post. Just want ya all to know, I didn’t rip it off from him!


Ryan Wynns said...

Joe (and the other Joe, too! And whoever else, of course!),

"Absolutely loved it" here, too. Still haunted by it three days later. Probably will be for some time.

I may sound like I'm apologizing for the writers, but they're kind of right about the whole "it was always about the characters" thing. Sure, I could say all the sudden "memory flashes" and subsequent effusing expressions of (instantaneously rediscovered) love, and everyone being together in the church at the end, were hokey ... but then I would have to say that the show was hokey at Day One. For instance, the everyone-enjoying-a-few-moments-of-peace-together-on-the-beach-at-the-end-of-the-day montages that capped many an early episode. Or the way the first season ended by reflectively, "sensitively" showing us the "main cast", one or two at a time, on Flight 815 just before/as it took off, about to begin their journey together. The editing and music cues presented this moment as practically sacred! So, while I do feel the show went off-track some in the past couple seasons, the finale pretty much brang things full circle. In fact, I think someone who has never seen a single episode could watch the pilot and then skip right to the finale, and kind of get it!

In another respect, those grand set pieces - the heart of the island! Jack and the Man In Black-Locke's final duel on the cliffs! - were epic on the very level that the finale begged for. I was enthralled. I don't really know what more I could have asked for.

(It being a Sunday night, this event evoked "Treasure of the Golden Suns"...a "high" I've been chasing my whole life!)

I've realized that Aaron didn't die as a baby, in spite of appearances. Regardless of when they died in "the island timeline", everyone appeared in the flash-sideways in the form/condition (in theory - the sixth season was shot six years later than that the first, of course!) that they would've been in 2004 (which is when they believed themselves to be, until their memories were jogged), as if Oceanic 815 had only recently landed in LA. And, even after having their memories jogged, they remained in their 2004 "form". So, in the church, Aaron appeared (only appeared - that's the key) to be the age that he would've been in 2004. Same goes for everyone else that was there. We know that in "the island timeline", he actually lived to be at least three, when the Ocean Six returned to the island on the Ajira flight.

Both Jack and the Man In Black-Locke appeared surprised when the latter first bled shortly after they emerged from the light cave once Desmond had pulled the plug, foreshadowing Kate being able to shoot him. It seemed unexpected. "Locke" suddenly appeared vulnerable, and Jack seemed to relish the discovery. Previously, "Locke" was unphased by bullets passing through him. Now, he actually may not have even been able to turn back into the Smoke Monster even if he'd wanted to.


Joe Torcivia said...


Such great comments, it took me almost a full day to formulate a response!

To a few of your points:

The “everyone-enjoying-a-few-moments-of-peace-together-on-the-beach-at-the-end-of-the-day”, to me at least, makes up for the idea that – though the hour is over – the episode never actually ends! The story continues on… for WEEKS, or even SEASONS! There’s no such thing anymore as an “ending fade-out where the cast members smile and/or laugh at having come through their experiences victorious or at least unscathed” (As might have been done on “Original Star Trek, Lost in Space, The Wild Wild West, etc.)… So, this is about as close as modern TV can come to that sort of an episode closing.

Every series should get “off track” in the wonderful ways that LOST did. I liken it to the way some older TV shows like Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea and The Man from U.N.C.L.E. did. They became wilder and more outrageous each week – season after season! As did LOST. Yes, the early “core principles” might be compromised, but what a ride!

Hmmm…I suppose you actually COULD watch the pilot and final episode back-to-back, and simply assume everyone died in the crash… and all the rest was hallucinatory. In fact, I still wonder just how much of it WAS hallucinatory.

“Treasure of the Golden Suns” (The pilot for DuckTales, for those who might not know what we’re referring to.) was an unexpected high BECAUSE most TV (and ESPECIALLY animation) of the ‘70s and ‘80s was so uninteresting and unsatisfying. We’ve had a (too) brief resurgence of the “Wonders of Old” of late. But, with the retirement of LOST, and the cancellation of HEROES and FLASH FORWARD, it has taken a severe blow. At least FRINGE is left to carry on. Walter Bishop, alone, could carry SEVERAL sci-fi fantasy series on his back!

The matter of Aaron could REALLY open up some discussions! Since the moment I saw it, I’ve been of the mind that Aaron actually died when the helicopter crashed into the water – and the survivors hung-on until they were rescued by Penny’s Boat, and concocted the story that made them the celebrated Oceanic Survivors. A BABY could not have had the mind, reactions, and flat-out physical ability to survive that, as depicted. And no one could have managed to carry him through it – and get themselves through it as well.

Further, how DOES one look in the Afterlife? As when they died? As you subjectively remember them? Do some people see Elvis as “young” and others see him as “fat”? If you and I never meet again, will we look to each other exactly as we both did at my 50th birthday party? And, to Esther, I’ll (hopefully) be a very old man? If the Losties all appeared as they did when they died – and Aaron died when I believe he did – then it makes sense. Except why Jack’s mother isn’t there…

As for “Man-in-Black/Smoke Monster/ Locke’s” sudden ability to be killed by a shotgun, I guess you and Joecab have probably figured it out. Consider my horizons suitably broadened by this Blog and its great group of followers.


Ryan Wynns said...


I'm very glad that you liked my comments! I've known you , pretty much exclusively in written form (besides your 50th birthday party), for about half of my life, and I wouldn't want to not be here!

Re: your observation on the "phasing out" of certain TV norms ... I appreciate both episodic and serialized formats, but I have to say that I am partial to the latter, in that on the viewer's (my) end, engagement never lets up (it can seem perpetual, in fact!), so it's nice to be able to have more opportunities these days to avail myself of that kind of thing. But, I like series made up of self-contained "installments", too. Off the top of my head, The Twilight Zone and Alfred Hitchcock Presents (though neither are shows with a regular cast...) are masterful examples of non-serialized shows.

Oh, don't get me wrong ... I thought it was fitting that the finale emphasized the character relationships, but I always love "the crazy stuff"! Great stuff was introduced in the later seasons: time dislocation to the Dharma operations in the '70's, Charles Widmore, Eloise Hawking, Daniel Faraday's experiments, all of it.(Still not sure about the "fairy tale" elements that entered into play in Season 6, but I'm still digesting the whole enterprise.)

I was very, very young when "Treasure of the Golden Suns" first aired, so I wasn't aware of how good or bad the TV animation that came before it was (and also, had never even read an Uncle Scrooge comic ...YET!) It just made a big impression on me, that lasts to this day. Do you think that "Treasure of the Golden Suns" still holds up?

Interesting Aaron theory! Do you think other things "happened" differently than the way that we saw them transpire during the course of the series? I've assumed that everyone died ("some before, some later") when we saw them (hence, Shannon when she was shot, Boone when he tried to help Locke get the plane disentangled, Charlie when he drowned, Sayid with the bomb, Jack after reemerging from the heart of the island, (presumably) Hurley and Ben at the end of their reign, etc.), all leaving the "real" world at separate times, but, in their deaths, having the simultaneous shared experience of the flash-sideways, "a place that [they] all made together", a place where "there is no time, here." However, it's definitely left up to interpretation!

(Oh, did you hear that the plane wreckage footage used in the end credits was something the network was behind? That was not there of the creators' intent.)


Joe Torcivia said...


If ever I was “on the fence” between the episodic and serialized formats for TV series, 2010 would clearly place me on the episodic side!

People will debate the merits (and lack of same) of the finale of LOST for some time to come. And, it will be little more than just “people’s varying opinions”. One thing you CAN say for LOST, is that, regardless of your view of it, it HAD an ending after taking us on a six-year ride.

But, where I’ve recently determined that the serialized format does NOT work, is for series that do not have the luxury of choosing their own “end time”.

Just before NBC dropped everything for the Olympics, HEROES had just set up the storyline for its fifth season. Now, it’s not coming back! Perhaps, if one chooses to purge one’s memory of the final act of the final episode, one could say HEROES had an ending. But, the bad taste of being unsatisfied after following it for four seasons remains.

ABC was once pushing FLASH FORWARD as the successor-in-interest to LOST. They aired half a season, took a break, released a DVD of that half season to hook people for the return… and wrapped up a great ongoing, weekly mystery series in a way that resolved nothing and made little or no sense – other than to arbitrarily fulfill the plot’s earlier prophesies. There is NO DOUBT that the producers of FLASH FORWARD intended to go into another season – and were forced to cut it off now.

On the other hand, when episodic TV ends with a poor, or at least “less worthy”, final episode, you don’t feel nearly as shortchanged for your investment. Of my pronounced favorites from “days of old”, I’d say STAR TREK TOS, LOST IN SPACE, THE WILD WILD WEST, TIME TUNNEL, and THE INVADERS all had “average to poor” final episodes – compared to what each series did at its best. But, on the whole, I don’t much care because the “ride as a whole” was great and (very important point) was NOT dependent on the quality of the final episode!

VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA had (what was for its time) a great final episode. I’d say that might have been because they knew the show was going to be “retired” at the end of the 1967-1968 season.

The final two episodes LAND OF THE GIANTS were actually two of the best of the series, but that was probably more a case of “luck of the draw” than design.

Perhaps the best compromise would be a series like STAR TREK THE NEXT GENERATION, which walked a fine line between “episodic and serialized”, knew when it was going to end – and had a superb final episode ready for the occasion!

To your other question: I’d say “Treasure of the Golden Suns” still holds up today IN SPOTS, and does not in other spots. To that point in time, it was one of the greatest things I’d seen in TV animation, and brought characters from comic books to the screen – something I’d never imagined could happen. AND, because animation was SO DREADFUL in the ‘70s and ‘80s, it could not help but be a winner. Since then, it has been surpassed and some of its faults (changes to the Carl Barks canon, excessive cuteness, etc) have been exposed – but DAMN, that ending still works!