Some vague thoughts on Lost on the day its two-part series finale aired and I got up early to watch it, along with America, Canada, Spain, Turkey and the Republic of Ireland. (Incidentally, did you all feel the same pain in your guts when the TRANMISSION ERROR screen came up after “Previously on …”?)
+++++++++++++There Will Be SPOILERS+++++++++++++++++
Come on! There will have to be spoilers. If you haven’t seen the final episodes yet, please read no further. Like even the most devoted devotee of Lost, I fell out of love with along the way – not least when they were all locked up at the beginning of Season Three and it didn’t seem to be going anywhere – but it really picked up again after Charlie’s dramatic death (“NOT PENNY’S BOAT”) and the flashforwards were a neat new device. That said, if anyone told me they bailed out during Season Four or Five, I wouldn’t have blamed them. All that time travel was difficult to take, and to follow. I was fortunate enough to spend the day with Damon Lindelof, Carlton Cuse and Jack Bender, the three guiding execs and showrunners (and in Lindelof’s case, co-creator) last year, when ABC flew them in to do a series of Bafta events and start to drum up interest in the final season, which they were literally just about to fly off to Hawaii to start shooting. Indeed, the 15-minute film we made on that day is yours to watch:
Although plenty of fans turned out to the special Bafta event that evening at the Curzon Mayfair, and were given the opportunity to quiz Lindelof, Cuse and Bender (whom they treated as if they were the stars of the show, which in a sense they were), the three execs were careful not to give anything away. What they did promise was that Season Six would be back-to-basics: no more flashforwards or time-jumps, and plenty of answers.
So, did they deliver? Yes. They did this by way of a new trope: the “flashsideways,” by which two parallel stories could be told, one in 2007 on the island, and one in 2004 which seemed to be an alternate version of events if the plane crash hadn’t happened. It didn’t quite turn out that way, of course.
They also took us further back in time, centuries in fact, to show us the birth of Jacob and Naughty Jacob, in Episode 15, and the arrival of Richard on a crashed slave ship in 1867, in Episode 9. These were bold episodes, especially 15, as it featured none of the regular cast except for one clip from Season One that brought it back up to date. I’ll be honest, although the island timeline had to be seen through to its apocalyptic-or-not conclusion, I was much happier and more engaged with the 2004 one, in which the passengers of Oceanic 815 land at LAX, pick up their bags and go about their lives, each of which crosses with the other, until the climax, in this morning’s finale, in which they are literally all gathered here today. Or yesterday. Or tomorrow.
The final episode skilfully ran the two together, using quick-cut flashbacks to settle things across the temporal divide for all the main characters, brought about when they “met” in the 2004 timeline and “remembered” events that seemed not to have actually happened eg. Sawyer and Juliet at the vending machine in the hospital, Charlie and Claire over a hot newborn baby backstage at the least rock’n’roll “concert” ever staged, Jack over an empty coffin etc.
As observed elsewhere, The End did not answer every cosmic question previously raised, such as how the Egyptian statue got there, or why the island made some women infertile, or what happened to Walt (I read that the actor who played Walt had aged too much to return, and it seems the producers never did solve that one), or how the Smoke Monster was created, or how come Sawyer and Kate escaped with Frank, Richard and Miles, and yet both were among the “dead” congregation … and it didn’t actually explicitly state that we’d been watching them all in heaven, or at least a “heaven” of their own making. Theories already abound that Hurley was the architect of this heavenly “future” – he was, after all, handed the plastic mineral water bottle of power by Jack, and told he was good at looking after people.
It’s interesting to me that Locke was sat in the Jesus position on the promotional Last Supper photo. He didn’t feel Christ-like at all, especially when it all came together at the church: surely he was the healed, not the healer. And Jack, a healer by trade, and also the Shepherd ie. a humble man cast as the reluctant Messiah, came across very credibly as the son of God, when his father, Christian (geddit?), stood before that polytheistic stained-glass window and told him they were both dead. On reflection, I was satisfied with the religious guff direction. After all, so much of the island’s fate seemed to be tied in with “the light”, it made perfect sense for the survivors ultimately to be led, by Christian, into a blinding incandescence via a church door. Not quite the Bobby Ewing dream, you must admit, even if you didn’t like it.
It worked for me. And it worked on me. I don’t mind admitting, after all those hours I have devoted to Lost since 2004 (I’ve moved house twice since it started), I felt a certain relief – and release – when it ended before breakfast. I rate Season Six highly; it had an impossible job to do, but put explanation before sleight of hand, and balanced jungle thrills with mundane off-island life in great and confident style, allowing juicy glimpses of characters we thought we’d seen the last of, and just going for it at the end and showing us a plane taking off and leaving the island, while Jack closed the eye he had first opened seven years ago.
When Christian made his big speech to Jack, I admit found something in my eye. I don’t think I was crying because a television programme was ending (I’ve got enough bloody television programmes to get through), but because it was a very emotional episode. Too soppy for some sci-fi fans, I guess, but that’s their loss. Tears didn’t actually hit my cheeks until Vincent appeared from the bamboo and laid down next to Jack to protect and comfort him while he died – or “let go” and went to another place.
Those bastards, Lindelof, Cuse and Bender! They ended Lost by playing the cute dog card! After all that! And they got me!