May 24, 2010
Lost finale: over-promise, under-deliver
Something I've learned from years of bar trivia is that when trying to answer a tricky question, you should follow your first instinct. After crossing out the first answer that came to mind and writing in some last-minute reconsideration, only to find out that you were right the first time, you eventually figure out that you should always go with your first answer.
So during Season 1 when the whole world theorized that the characters on "Lost" were all dead, only to come up with many wilder ideas later on, well, I guess we all should have just stuck with our first guess.
OK, I know, "they're all dead" isn't really what was happening for the narrative arc of the show. The producers decided to go with an emotional resolution to the series, pretty much abandoning the mythology of the island in favor of a mystical sci-fi soap opera where everybody hugs in slow-motion. I think the whole reason they created this season's flash-sideways storyline, which turned out to be an extended vision of the afterlife, was to distract viewers who might otherwise have been dissatisfied by the narrative ending of the show, which left a ton of plot points unresolved and all the characters scattered all over the place. They're all together and happy when they're dead, so quit complaining, you ingrate fans!
The series finale wasn't terrible, but the show's producers and cast spent the last six months wildly overselling it. They claimed the ending would be satisfying and bring real resolution and closure for the fans. Not like "The Sopranos"! They over-promised. All that did was set them up for failure if fans were less than totally satisfied, which any fan that thought the show was more than just a character study probably is.
I can think of lots of important things that weren't resolved. Like, can anyone tell me why there was time travel on this show? I really liked last season when some of the cast skipped through time like a needle on a scratched record, but now it just seems like a contrived plot device that had nothing to do with the idea that the island is some kind of energy source for life in the universe.
On "Jimmy Kimmel Live" after the show was over, Jimmy chatted with the cast members on what it was like to be part of the show and what they thought of the ending. When he got to Alan Dale, who played Charles Widmore, and asked him what it was like to play such a scary character, there was this awkward pause, and Alan Dale admitted that he actually never figured out if his character was supposed to be a good guy or a bad guy. Yeah, you and me both, Alan Dale. I don't think Widmore was anything like a good guy, but his motivations in the last season were a total mystery, and his death felt more like a box getting checked than part of a good/evil showdown. Very unsatisfying.
Still, I liked how the island narrative of the show ended without full resolution. It was just like how a lot of seasons ended: some characters get off the island, some are still stuck there, some are dead. I didn't really need the afterlife storyline to make me feel like it all comes out OK in the end. Those flash-sideways love reunions got a little tedious after the fourth or fifth identical sequence, but at least we got to see the show's hottest couple, Sayid and Shannon (above), start making out 4 seconds after finding each other again.
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