Archive for June 4th, 2010

LOST: The Ultimate Cop-Out

For those who’ve read my blog all these years they know what a big supporter and fan of LOST I am. However, the ending was simply a big let down for me. I felt cheated. Scammed. Conned.

The writers chose a “character-based” solution for LOST, rather than a more sci-fi solution that would be full of answers about the island and the surrounding mythos.

Here’s my problem with their route: the people who were watching LOST for the characters (mostly comprised by the “faith” people), left LOST mid-3rd season. The majority of viewers who stayed strong fans — like myself — were the “science” people. We stayed with the show because we were expecting what we were promised, a “science-based solution” — according to the writers. As the show progressed and became full blown sci-fi, we expected answers for these unnatural mysteries, in a way that was compatible with that sci-fi aura.

Instead, we got what we got with BSG’s ending: religious bullshit. And no real answers for any of the major mysteries like time-travel, pregnancies, the “rules”, the cures, agelessness, Walt’s/kids’ specialness, island Egyptian pre-history, what the island was really made of, etc etc etc. I should have known that the 6th season was just a patch-up the writers put together when I saw the Black Rock — a ship made out of wood — destroying the statue — that’s made out of stone. Right at that moment it was obvious that the writers would just quickly patch up as much as they could all the huge mysteries they were opening the previous 5 years without any clear direction. And of course, at the end, they failed to patch-up most of these mysteries anyway.

No, I’m not asking to answer every single mystery. Neither it’s possible to please everyone. But there’s a huge gap between taking a risk, and fucking up everything that was built-up previously.

Back in the 1st season, the most character-based season of all, the No 1 most popular theory was that the island was a purgatory. The writers many times said in the past few years that it’s not a purgatory, and that the ultimate show answer would be science-based. Instead, at the very end we were introduced to the flash-sideways, which actually WAS a purgatory! What a whole lot of hogwash.

The way LOST should have ended was about revealing what the island really was. And the only solution that would made sense for all these open mysteries would be that the island was an alien spaceship. Not a traditional spaceship, but one that uses exotic matter to move through wormholes (in fact, many real scientists theorized that as the ending of LOST, saying that it’s the only theory that makes sense). Millions of years ago it encountered a mechanical problem, and stayed put on Earth. Corals grew around it, and created the actual island (which is how many Pacific islands are formed anyway). But the core of the island, stayed operational. And the “computer” operating at the center, was the one that gave the powers to Jacob, cured Locke etc.

This way, the usage of the Dharma plots would actually be useful to the overall plot: it would show WHY the island needed to be protected from humans. Humans who would want to understand and use the island’s powers for their own selfish needs. Instead, even the Dharma episodes (5th season), were full of character crap (no, really, I don’t care who Kate will choose), instead of actually showing what Dharma was working on, which were their motives and how all that was tying to the overall plot (ultimately, the protection of the island from the different forces).

Instead, the way LOST finished, which was all about character resolution rather than the island, everything that happened on the island makes it feel IRRELEVANT. Dharma is irrelevant in the grand scheme of things, and the island itself is irrelevant too — since there are many other realities in the afterlife — as insinuated by the show. Everything that happened on the island for 6 seasons were just “stuff that happened”. We were fed time and again about how important the island is. In fact, it’s not. As also insinuated in the show, places like the island are to be found at many places on Earth. And put the afterlives on top of that, and there you go: the island is pretty much irrelevant, if only semi-special.

I don’t want to keep this opinion single-sided, so I’m linking to two reviews of the ending. One that seeks for answers and some scientific basis to the show, and one that’s taking the writer’s side (written by one of the ex-writers of LOST, apparently).

Finally, I want to say that having seen what the writers cooked up with LOST at the end, it was obvious that they were going blindly with the plot. They did not have a firm direction. Sure, they were better prepared than in other shows, but still not as good as such a show requires them to be. It’s true that more shows, and even book series, don’t have a known ending from the beginning, and most stuff are made-up as they go. But it is my opinion that shows like LOST do require a very clear vision from the very beginning, even on an episode by episode basis. It’s one of the things I liked with FlashForward, where its writers had pre-drafted all 3 seasons the show was supposed to last — even if FlashForward ended up being implemented in a way that was inferior to LOST.

So that’s the bad news. The good news is that it can be done better. The fact that there was a huge uproar online about the lackster LOST ending, it shows that maybe in 5 or 10 or 15 years from now, a young writer somewhere will pen “a better LOST“. Just like LOST was a better show than Twin Peaks, its grand-daddy, I hope that someone will create a better such show during my lifetime. A show that’s as deep, as exciting, as geeky, as well-shot as LOST, but with a grand plan from the beginning that doesn’t CHEAT on its viewers at the very end.