A bit of a rant about the Lost finale. This would be a good one to avoid if you’re not up on the show or haven’t seen the finale yet.
Because here there be spoilers. And elephants. Lots and lots of elephants.
After hemming and hawing over it a bit – and rewatching it with the benefit of not also being responsible for running commercials in it – I’ve come to the conclusion that Lost’s series finale was at least as satisfying as Battlestar Galactica’s, which was actually very satisfying, thank you. It was a good farewell to the characters, and thankfully, wasn’t a 150-minute info-dump about every mystery the show had ever thrown at us. A lot of the first and second string mysteries had gotten their exposure anyway, in episodes such as the one a few weeks back focusing on the origin story of Jacob and his brother – a fine episode which, coincidentally, tons of fans bitched and moaned about because it didn’t focus on the main characters. That situation reminded me of a similar one, years back, when complaining Babylon 5 fans aroused the internet ire of series creator J. Michael Straczynski by missing vital points of the story arc because they were too impatient about the fact that spaceships didn’t explode spectacularly in every episode.
So perhaps it’s not too surprising that some Lost fans missed the point of the finale and, indeed, the entire series too. But ABC played a part in muddying the waters by pulling a real bonehead maneuver.
Over the end credits, they showed a shot of the plane wreckage on the beach, as seen in the pilot episode.
Never in the history of moaning and complaining have you heard so much moaning and complaining. I’ve been observing the discussions on quite a few internet forums, in which many viewers complained bitterly that they’d just invested 6 years of their lives on a complex story that “never happened.”
Now, let’s step aside real quick for a definition here. It’s a given that nothing in Lost ever happened, because it’s fiction. But no, what I’m talking about here is the widespread misconception that the entire series, within its own fictional confines, “never happened.”
Never mind that, in the last ten or fifteen minutes of the final episode, the writers got as close as they dared to an info-dump by having Jack’s father explain that everything really happened for the story’s purposes. The crash, the Others, escaping the island then returning, time travel, the Dharma Initiative: all “really” happened. Jack’s father also makes it just as clear that the sixth season’s “WTF?” “alternate universe” was a holding tank for the souls of the Oceanic survivors before passing into the afterlife; hence the alternate universe didn’t really happen, except on the astral plane if you want to read it that way. I mean, this wasn’t the open-to-interpretation ending of The Prisoner or the completely-bereft-of-making-any-narrative-sense blackout of The Sopranos. Lost’s finale nailed down more stuff than Galactica’s finale did – to the point that it was all spelled out very neatly. Even on first viewing, I was surprised that so little was being left to the imagination.
But then someone at the network level decided that there weren’t nearly enough unanswered questions about Lost, and inserted the shot of the plane wreckage over the end credits – without the participation of the show’s creators and producers, according to the L.A. times – leading some to interpret the show as having been a six-season-long dream sequence. Because, you know, there weren’t enough stray elephants still roaming around the room by the end of the series.
It wasn’t The Prisoner, sure, but for cryin’ out loud, it also wasn’t Dallas or St. Elsewhere or the cringe-inducing last episode of Roseanne, either.
From the L.A. times article linked above:
ABC wants to clear the air: Those photographs were not part of the “Lost” story at all. The network added them to soften the transition from the moving ending of the series to the 11 p.m. news and never considered that it would confuse viewers about the actual ending of the show.
“The images shown during the end credits of the ‘Lost’ finale, which included shots of Oceanic 815 on a deserted beach, were not part of the final story but were a visual aid to allow the viewer to decompress before heading into the news,” an ABC spokesperson wrote in an e-mail Tuesday.
While there still may be unanswered questions related to that religious and spiritual conclusion to the “Lost” story, the photographs were really just a nostalgic, transitional touch added by ABC executives — and not executive producers Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse.
The finale had a nice, uplifting conclusion… one which someone at ABC thought it’d be a great idea to completely obfuscate. Way to go, guys. If there was ever a time and a place to let the credits roll full-screen, either with music or without, this was it.
I’ll betcha the DVD doesn’t have the wreckage footage on it – and I bet Cuse and Lindelof will be dropping by some ABC wag’s office with a pet smoke monster. As well they should.
On a completely unrelated side note: in rewatching the episode, I somehow managed to get choked up by only two things:
- Aaron being born in the alternate timeline: possibly indicating that he didn’t live very long in the “real” timeline (even though in season 4 we saw that he certainly lived to be older than a newborn). This is open to interpretation, but I found that implication upsetting.
- Vincent: I got a chuckle at Vincent bounding out of the underbrush, just as he did in the pilot episode, but when he laid down next to Jack just before Jack died, I got a big lump in my throat. The only possible interpretation here is that Vincent’s a good dog. When I realized that I hadn’t seen Vincent in the “church”, I felt like that was a greater omission than Michael or Walt.
Anyway, those are my thoughts on the finale: the show’s makers didn’t screw it up after all (per my earlier post). The network, on the other hand, did. Spectacularly.