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Friday, May 28, 2010

How Lost Should Have Ended

Failed animated GIF load - so here's the link to the Daily What ... via @kiyote23.

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.

Movie Watch: Exiled

The Girl and I were in a Kung Fu mood last night and ended up with Exiled, a 2006 Hong Kong bullet ballet which just recently arrived on Netflix Instant.

It is surprisingly good. This is clearly the kind of movie which inspired Tarantino's early films (this film being a 2006 I wonder if some of it isn't being paid back now). There's a lot of themes about power, revenge, redemption - but mostly it is a movie about comrades in arms who just end up getting mixed into a heap of trouble.

While some of the cinematography isn't great, it had a few brilliantly directed scenes (there's a gunfight which moves to an outside shot of a stairway which is just awesome) but the writing is really, really tight.

Highly recommend.

Fun Fact: The film was awarded a Category III rating (18+ restriction), particularly for one scene showing Simon Yam's character shaking hands with another gangster with their left hands turned around, making a triads agreement handshake. The scene is present on the Mega-Star uncut Limited Edition DVD. However, only the Category IIB cut version was released in Hong Kong theatrically.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Unanswered Lost Questions

Spoilers, obviously.

This is meant for funny, course - though I had naturally forgotten most of them. I'd find it funnier if it didn't remind me about a lot of the big balls they dropped. That they couldn't even keep their own rules about who or what can appear when or where straight now just feels incredibly sloppy (from the first season on).

Via Kottke.

Monday, May 24, 2010

TV Watch: Lost, The End



WTF was that?

The Lost season finale was a boon to one subset of fans: those really, really curious about whether Kate was in love with Jack. For everyone else, it was at best a nod and wave goodbye from the characters people have watched for six years.

For anyone hoping for a decent conclusion to the storyline, though: you were out of luck.

I'm going to save the LA X stuff until the end - because it really was somewhat meaningless based on Christian's final speech. Emotional? Yes. But meaningless.

Obviously massive spoilers follow. Pretty much a blow by blow.

If you remove the LA X portions, you aren't left with much and most of it doesn't make any real sense. And I don't mean "doesn't make any real sense" as in "they didn't fully explain X was Y" I mean "doesn't make any real sense" like the way old bad television serials are put together.

We start with Sawyer inexplicably, but conveniently, figuring out that SmokeLocke needs Desmond - even though Widmore really described Desmond as a "failsafe". In one of those mystical Lost moments, Sawyer manages to run to point A on the island, have a conversation with someone, and get back to point B while another group was making their way to point C.

Remember back in like Season Two when everyone was trying to figure out how The Others got around the island so fast and easy? Simple: it's called convenient writing. For those scoring at home, convenient writing is not good writing.

Jack, having been at this protector thing for all of about ten minutes, decides the best thing to do is ... whatever SmokeLocke wants to do. So they lower Desmond into the light, where he sees some kind of underground temple with the skeletons of other people who went to the light, but did not become Smoke Monsters but perhaps died in some slave labor effort to build this undergrou...

Wait. What? What the... underground temple? OK, so Desmond has a "immunity to the unique electro..." whatever, we know he won't die. Who the hell is down in the crazy light building temples? Find out next time on Lost? Uh, no. Ignore the fact that Mother Dearest suggested anyone going near the light would suffer a fate worse than death - which would seem to make construction pretty hard, why exactly would "life, death and rebirth" need a sun pool? The entire underground temple was nothing but a place for Desmond and Jack to futz around - making no sense whatever with anything we've shown before.

So after Desmond pulls the plug, the island starts to self-destruct. In frustration with his poor job performance, Jack starts to beat Locke to death. And he can, because SmokeLocke is now corporeal. Why? Don't ask! Seriously! Why are you asking questions? What show do you think this is after all?

SmokeLocke beats Jack unconscious with a rock and runs away to his secret boat. While Jack naps, a tree falls on Ben who then explains his escape plan while he has nothing better to do. Jack wakes back up to nothing but mud and rain ... and still manages to hunt down SmokeLocke before he can get away. How? Don't ask! What the hell is with all these questions? The island did it, ok?

SmokeLocke beats Jack with a knife, but then Kate shoots him! How did she know where they were? Or manage to get there in time while she was helping save Ben? Who knows! Why would you still care? She got a funny line! Go Kate!

As soon as SmokeLocke is fatally wounded by a commercial break, the rain stops (Why? Seriously stop with the questions). Also, Ben is saved. Yay! Jack, Hurley and Ben run off to fix that thing that we don't even know what is while everyone else escapes.

Jack saves Desmond, plugs island, dies. Hurley and Ben don't. Everyone else gets off the island.

Then there was a puppy. Yay! Puppy!

And that was a wrap, people. Did you expect some great reveal when Desmond went to the light? Yeah, sorry. Or some great climatic battle between SmokeLocke and everyone else? Uh, no. Not really. Or maybe some really great ending to this whole candidate thing? Happens off screen between Hurley and Ben. Maybe they would have showed it - but they really, really had a lot of ads to get through.

Look, I had lowered my bar considerably for the finale. I didn't expect any complicated solution which explain everything ... or even most things. I expected one more layer of the onion pulled back which just brought everything together: the rules, the candidates, the island, etc. Leave some of it to faith, fine, but at least put a bow on it. At least try to tie things into a knot. The on-island events of the finale were a complete mess and simply not good writing. As someone who thought that bouncing theories around and paying attention to detail was part of what made this show great - it became quite clear that the producers did not have any great story arc. The island was the distraction, the show was really just playing around with the backstories.

Here is the great failure of the finale: you would enjoy the show more the less attention you paid. The message was: don't ask questions - just watch love conquer all and be happy about it.

So yeah, on LA X: so instead of an alternate reality, LA X was just a waiting room for some of the people on the island after they died. They might not be dead yet during the main story, but that doesn't matter. Which is why the LA X events are completely meaningless - they aren't actually related to the story. LA X was all epilogue, from the very beginning, and very strange structure wise since you haven't actually finished telling the story. At best you could say "Jacob did everything he did so that the gang could go to heaven" - which, fine, whatever. Except that it doesn't fit anything else from the rest of the show.

When I said that I thought LA X would survive so that the writers could have an out for a happy ending - I had no idea how far they would take it. This ending was pure fan service, watching characters fall back in love and leave in a warm white light. It demonstrates none of the aspects that made the first season great - including reasonable character development. Many fans probably enjoyed watching what amounted to a clip show followed by a curtain call ... but that doesn't make it good storytelling. The story deserved more.

OK, this has been too long as it is. Honestly, this episode and the show doesn't get any better if you try to analyze it. It only gets worse.

I still enjoyed the show in general, but I mark this finale my least favorite of any show I've watched.