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Thursday, May 27, 2010

Lost: A Few Points Of Clarification

Spoilers, obviously.

I promise, only a couple more posts on Lost and then I'll never speak of the show again. This one, one more - then I'm done.

However, in the muddled writing which was the finale there has been a whole new brand of confusion. Since I've been faithfully tracking the show since the first episode (and blogging about since around the third season) - let's nail down some of the few things the writers/producers actually did tell us.

First, and very important:

No, they were not all dead from the beginning
Two things are causing this confusion: the first is the timing of Christian's speech to Jack within the last ten minutes of the entire series (hence giving the audience not a lot of time to process) and the images ABC added (apparently not the producers) to the end credits of the plane wreckage.

Proof: Christian actually says so during his speech and even indicates that what happened on the island was "the most important thing" in their lives. The producers have confirmed this (and that the end images weren't their idea).

But yes, the "flash sideways" wasn't "real"...
A lot of people simply call it "purgatory" but, that doesn't seem accurate to me. There's some Buddhist notions here about transcending but not having reach full enlightment which is closer, I think. I don't see these sould being tested or cleansed ... LA X wasn't about being tried or anything - just making your connecting flight to "heaven" once you find your soulmate (groan).

What I find really odd about this one is that some people seemed to enjoy the finale because they thought this was true. Which I can get - there would be a certain comfort in thinking that all six seasons were just, say, the imagination of a dying man in a bamboo forest ... because it would allow for essentially any contradiction on the planet thanks to dream / death logic. But no, that's not what happened here.

Ajira Did Not Crash After Frank's Takeoff
This is just more confusion over ABC's end credit scenes. Those images were just filler, not part of the real narrative. Frank, Sawyer, Kate and Miles get to do non island things for a while.

The Smoke Monster Can Become More Than Dead People
I don't know why this has kept coming up recently - I think because the whole Church/Purgatory thing and when I post my final complaint about the show I'll bring this up more - but the writers and producers have used Old Smokey to make all kinds of appearances. I guess "Kate's Horse" was technically dead at the time she met it - and I'm 99% sure the horse was Smokey. Smokey certainly took the form of the spiders that (thankfully) bit Nikki. So what form Smokey can and can't take is really, really not well defined. But don't assume because, say, Walt showed up as an apparition somewhere that it wasn't Smokey (course, I wouldn't assume it was either).

Another likely candidate (sorry) is Dave, Hurley's imaginary friend. Interestingly, if Dave is Smokey then it is also a really early example of Smokey trying to off a candidate while still obeying the rules (something Smokey proved really bad at - but more on that later). Course, Dave is also confusing once we learn Hurley can see dead people - so maybe Dave was dead all along (sigh).

Short version: the only consistent "rule" is that the Smoke Monster can take the form of things it reads from other people minds (and/or dead people). Or short, short version - it can become things integral to The Island, but apparently not the living.

Walt, Michael, Eko, etc., aren't in the church because...
Because they're not dead? Except that Christian states there is no "now". Hurley and Ben are at LA X at the same time as the Kwans, despite apparently having gone off and had merry offscreen adventures together (groan).

Look, I have a lot of problems with the church and I did actually think the lack of black people seemed like pretty stupid oversight ... but Ben and Ana Lucia do give the writers a decent out here. Just because people have arrived at LA X, having died whenever, doesn't mean they're ready to "let go" and move on.

Actually, I think Ben, Eko, Michael and Walt were left out also in part because they didn't fit well into the "find love" mechanic they had set up to be "awakened" (groan). The producers say the actor who played Walt has grown so much that he woudn't have been recognized, which I don't entirely buy into. However, getting actors on contract for a highly touted finale might be a different story in general.

Regardless, we can probably assume that these characters are bouncing around LA X somewhere offscreen though. Don't get me wrong - I think the fact that Walt dropped so completely off the narrative radar is bullhockey. But that's for another post.

Lost has always been mostly about the characters
So prior to the finale, Damon and Carlton said that they were going to be answering the questions "important to the characters" - and that is when we should have known we were in trouble. These characters have been almost pathological in their inability to communicate reasonably. Let's not forget that Juliet was one of The Others and we still have little idea why The Others actually did anything. Sawyer at one point had Karl, also an Other, at gunpoint ... and simply let him go.

It's true - the characters were always an important aspect of the show. The flashbacks, their lives before the island, their interactions on the island - all very, very important.

Lost, however, did not get a third season because of character development. Lost got past two seasons because thousands of rabid fans were recording the show, going over every detail and then swarming forums en masse to detail how it proved or disproved theories about the show. When people like Javi did live chats with fans, they rarely discussed if Kate liked Sawyer more than Jack - they wanted to know about the mechanics at work when came to the mysteries of The Island.

Or maybe more to the point, if Lost has always been about the characters - we can't forget that The Island was one of the more important characters of the show. It's the character everyone fell for and wanted to know more about. Jack was, quite honestly, a pretty lousy lead in a lot of different ways - but The Island was always a star.

OK, so like I said ... one more to go. I'm just so annoyed with people asking inane questions like "what was inconsistent" or "what kind of answers did you really want" ... I mean, really - I'm beginning to think that the majority of the people left for the finale were people who stopped really tracking the show years ago.

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