Lost in Thought: The End


I was right... and I was wrong.

The series finale of
Lost, a more than two-hour final chapter long known to have been titled...



... revealed that the so-called
flashsideways scenes threaded throughout this season took place not in an alternate timeline, a theory that I espoused in my first 'Lost' in Thought post in January, nor in an altered version of the original timeline, as I theorized earlier this month, but in the afterlife. What we expected to have been the result in some way of the EM/Jughead Incident turned out to be utterly, well, incidental to the narrative of the series, including its conclusion, except insofar as it reaffirmed how bound together these characters were and granted them something of a happy ending.

I don't mind in the least having been wrong about what we were flashing to. And I'm not surprised to have been right about the finale neglecting to address pretty much any of the outstanding plot points itemized in my pre-finale post, much as I wish I hadn't been; the series is truly diminished for the lack of follow-through in those areas.

Yet the finale itself was a tremendous success as gripping, epic, emotional drama. It was as widescreen and intimate as the pilot. It brought more closure than I expected to the characters, both focusing on Jack and spotlighting the rest of the cast in a very satisfying way, and choked me up more than once. It was in and of itself Great Television, although of course it wouldn't mean much to anyone who hadn't followed the series to date.

When I say "in and of itself" I mean that "The End" did practically nothing wrong — there were certainly very few missteps or head-scratchers that occurred to me as it played — and had Season 6 been indicative of the rest of the series it would have been the perfect capper. The failure is really in the season that led up to this, not so much for what we got (even if some of it was rendered oddly superfluous) but for what we didn't get, or with previous seasons for introducing things that would never pay off. The previous 120 episodes, and particularly Seasons 1-5, wrote checks that "The End" couldn't cash, and it shouldn't have had to; Damon Lindelof, Carlton Cuse, and their staff had perhaps more time than any creative crew in the history of network television to craft not just a worthy series finale but a worthy finale season and they dropped the ball.

The climax and conclusion were pretty good, depending on how you split the hairs to segment the story. The season-long denouement that preceded them — per my laptop's New Oxford American Dictionary, "the final part of a play, movie, or narrative in which the strands of the plot are drawn together and matters are explained or resolved" — left something to be desired, or, less charitably, didn't really exist; everything after the "in which" isn't really applicable to the series as whole.

I was so enamored of "The End" on Sunday night while so aghast at the creators' refusal to fulfill the quite literal promise of Lost's many outstanding individual episodes and its daring series arc that I could practically feel the synapses in my brain giving up. And my disposition towards the whole megillah has actually worsened since then. Initially the white stone tipped the scale, as my very itemization of the burning questions left unanswered before the finale helped me flush out some frustration and accept whatever happened on its own merits; I also knew that if I ever did rewatch the series, unlikely as that would be outside of a paying project, I'd have the commentary of Finding 'Lost' author Nikki Stafford's bloggerati and Totally 'Lost' guru Doc Jeff Jensen's hilariously, brilliantly pan-cultural theorizing to keep me company as we did the storytellers' job for them. Over the past day, however, deficiencies in the finale have become magnified to me, ones that might well have been acceptable for only becoming uncomfortably apparent in retrospect were they not piggybacking upon Lost's cumulative letdown.

There's much more to come after I organize my thoughts further and write more when rewatching the episode. Not a single note nor line of dialogue was scribbled so that I could take in the show as purely as my stuffy head would allow, and while I haven't been able to view it again yet I plan to do so shortly. You're more than welcome to respond to the above; just keep in mind that I haven't begun to dissect things yet and probably won't reply to specific points on the comments page until I cover them here. [Update: I've rewatched but also been dealing with a cold that has kept me far too fuzzy-headed to flesh out my notes and opinions.]

9 comments:

El Qué said...

I just left a comment on the last post referencing the finale (and you know what I think anyway) so I might as well wait for you to finish this before saying more. Except: So far so frickin' articulate!

VW: disesses — To make negative remarks about one of our most popular consonants.

JW said...

I agree with this post. The finale was good, but the season overall was not the greatest. But it is what it is, and now Lost is part of history; you either enjoy it or you don't. I certainly enjoy it.

Teebore said...

Ah, once again, you've managed to say what I've been trying to say, but better.

I mean that "The End" did practically nothing wrong...The failure is really in the season that led up to this, not so much for what we got (even if some of it was rendered oddly superfluous) but for what we didn't get, or with previous seasons for introducing things that would never pay off. The previous 120 episodes, and particularly Seasons 1-5, wrote checks that "The End" couldn't cash, and it shouldn't have had to

You know, I'm kinda surprised at how many people didn't like the finale because it didn't tie up EVERYTHING that was left dangling.

I'm thinking "did you really believe they could somehow wrap all that up in one episode?" It seemed clear LONG before the final episode that most plotlines would be left dnagling.

I mean, all that stuff SHOULD have been wrapped up before the finale even started. It's not the last episode's job to cram the entire show's denouement into its running time; that should have been handled long before the finale.

As it was, I thought "The End" was everything it needed to be: a wrapup to the season's plot (defeating FLocke) and one last reveal (the truth about the Sideways world). Everything else it didn't do, it didn't need to do; the preceding 16 episodes should have done all that.

Damon Lindelof, Carlton Cuse, and their staff had perhaps more time than any creative crew in the history of network television to craft not just a worthy series finale but a worthy finale season and they dropped the ball.

Exactamundo. The dropped plots and lack of resolution I'd expect from a show that was canceled suddenly, without warning, or even at the start of a season when wheels were already in motion. But for a show with unprecedented knowledge of exactly when it would end, Darlton's failure to properly wrap the show is mystifying.

I was so enamored of "The End" on Sunday night while so aghast at the creators' refusal to fulfill the quite literal promise of Lost's many outstanding individual episodes and its daring series arc that I could practically feel the synapses in my brain giving up.

Ditto. My own Lost post took me longer than usual to write simply because I just didn't feel like talking about Lost. Between the emotional impact of the finale and the ongoing head shaking at the lack of plot resolution, my head's kinda intellectually fuzzy.

nyrdyv said...

I still think we needed a guest appearance by Jimmy Buffett in the final episode of Lost.

Cheers!

Steven G. Willis
XOWComics.com

Troy McGuire said...

Blam -
In addition to the litany of unanswered big items you listed in your last post, I'm going to be driven insane over the failure to elucidate these:

What was up with the DS ring?
Why was there a poster of Richard Burton in Locke's locker?
Who was driving the car that hit Emily?
How did Horace know where and when to drive his Karmann Ghia to pick up premie Ben?
What was the original plan for 2 Emilys and the never-spoken-on-screen prophecy?
Hunter/Farmer: Ishmael, Epic, or deadhead/SciFi (Robert Hunter/PJ Farmer) reference?
Really, what was the deal with Libby?
How did Eloise decline from omniscient "Time Police" to clingy rich mum?
Which were the Egyptian birds Walt thought he should be studying?
Why did they take Walt and Michael's blood?
Did Amy kill Paul on their picnic or did the hostiles?
If nothing stays buried on the island, why is it so important to bury the dead?
Is Mikhail Odinesque, Cyclopic, or To Your Scattered Bodies Go in inception?
Where was the Benjamin Disraeli reference intended to direct our efforts: Lost Tribes of Israel, Stanhope and Burton, Jewish identity, Evils of Colonialism, something else?

These were all either benevolent, intelligent clues for a larger tapestry of understanding the writers' intent, which the constraints of production scheduling did not permit sharpening, or they were malicious red herrings and baubles thrown down rabbit holes. In the first case, they are forgiven (as is Ben: sorta); in the second case, Radzinski and Pickett stand guard while Zoe pays frequent conjugal visits. For eternity.

I watched the finale outdoors on a 120in projected screen with a party of about 12 and a fair amount of DHARMA beer, McCutcheon whisky, Apollo bars, murmured comments between couples, occasional outbursts and expletives--not my usual viewing experience. I initially attributed my post-credits befuddlement to the off kilter viewing. I'm coming begrudgingly to the awareness that the schism between ONE, my gratitude to the writers for taking this out on an emotional high note, and TWO, my anger at them not having earned that simple denouement, is to blame.

So, because this is still the pinnacle of television storytelling, I'm repackaging this into my own memorialized version wherein some of my wilder theories, if not disproved, are factoids, and I am moving on. My guilt at admitting to myself that I will not be viewing the series again anytime soon in order to see how the prospectively unruly pieces all fall into alignment so neatly in retrospect is assuaged by hearing you state, more or less, the same. Moreover, I am finding that the entire narrative arc starts unraveling as I pull the Season 6 LA X thread and cognitively feel the Oceanic 6 experience and all that investment in Island survivors survival in the face of mechanical smoke monsters, ectopic ursus marinus, baby-stealing Others, and Black Freighters begin to fall apart in my hands. I must choose to let the loose yarn hang, but by God, it's hard to ignore them. On the other hand, the sweater JJ, Darlton, Bender, J Wood, Marc Oromaner, Nikki, HumaneBean, a cast of others, you and I knitted together is so pretty, I think I'll just put it away and wear it only for special occasions among close friends and family who are indulgent of the loose threads and threadbare holes.

And with that, a sincere gratitude for your part in the fellowship. A man can be pretty hard to find in the mountains. You are welcome at my campfire any time. Nikki has a marauder's map to find me amidst the mischief.

TM Lawrence

Teebore said...

@TM: These were all either benevolent, intelligent clues for a larger tapestry of understanding the writers' intent, which the constraints of production scheduling did not permit sharpening, or they were malicious red herrings and baubles thrown down rabbit holes.

Well said! The fact that Lost had its end date, and the constant trumpeting by its creators of how they "have a plan" led me to believe we'd suffer little of the former (at least, less than the average show, as TV production is, no matter how well planned, a fickle beast).

That leaves the later as the more likely option, which is sad.

Joan Crawford said...

It's 1:04 am, do you know where your Blam is?

What's up, pussycat?

JW said...

I second the question: where is Blam? But without the pussycat part.

Blam said...


I've been under the weather and working on other projects. Stepping back from this blog for a bit was planned, although not this severely — which is something I'd have addressed in a post if I had a stable Internet connection (as is publishing the rest of this damned "The End" piece). I just haven't had enough time and energy to juggle everything.