Monday, May 24, 2010

The LOST finale from a novelist's perspective: glass half-empty or half-full?

As you know, I've dedicated this blog to nothing but the fine art of writing, and have been determined not to get off topic too much with pop culture stuff...

...yeah, like that was going to last.

With all kinds of stuff in the blogosphere about the ending and did it deliver, etc. I couldn't resist weighing in on this...esp since I was, and have been a proud card-carrying LOST geek for quite sometime now. So I've really been interested in how these writer dudes were going to paint themselves out of this corner.

For the record, while this will be one more blog entry on the LOST -issue, notice that I'm trying to take it from a writer's perspective. I have my master's in English, so I'm not just some random dude munching on Cheetos like the Comic Book Guy in the Simpsons [Worst. Episode. Ever.]

And in the interest of full disclosure, I must say I'm in the Sawyer camp--though Desmond is my all time favorite, brotha.

So SPOILER ALERT ALL OVER THE PLACE...[but unless you've really been on an island in the middle of nowhere, you should know how it ends by now.]

Overall, the ending wasn't what I expected, but when was LOST ever?

At first, I was not so convinced they were in purgatory, mainly because according to multiple fan sites, the LOST gurus had denied that theory. So unless it's just a sucker-punch... let's just assume that they were in purgatory since that seems to be the general consensus, at least until the LOST gurus break their silence. If that were the case, I'd like to have known they were in purgatory in about season three---I think that would have made it interesting to frame the characters' motivation in terms of eternal consequences, though it would have moved the needle from sci-fi/mystery to religion.

Randomly, for the record, I think we try to take too much of the mystery out of religion. We try to explain everything away. Everything has to have an explanation.

Well, it doesn't.

As a writer, the whole "they were dead all along" kind of reeks of the easy way out, just a few steps away from the "it was only a dream" scenario...but for some reason, I didn't find it as irksome with LOST. I credit this in part to good acting, characterization, and the fact that, let's face it, the island has had themes of love/hate, heaven/hell, death/life, salvation/damnation for the whole six years, so it's not like we can't say it never occurred to us. It did. In season one [but was denied by the LOST powers that be]

I can NOT say --despite my earlier comment--that I felt cheated. [I could watch Desmond take out the garbage for an hour and not feel like I had wasted time. ] The reason was because this was essentially a character study. It wasn't so much what the island was, but who the people were and how they were all searching for some type of redemption or second chance. When Jack's eyes closed in the last scene, that was the perfect bookend. The first scene in season one was an opposite mirrored reflection of season six. That was cool. Why was it cool? Because I think it communicated to the viewer what the writers have been trying to say: we've been here before. We'll go there again. The cycle of life and death and forgiveness and grace.

I found myself getting a bit choked up [which was strange for me, as I was somewhat disappointed in the purgatory situation]. But I think it was because this was so character-driven [and great acting, too, btw] that I didn't mind.

It's like a magic show. We all know he doesn't REALLY saw the lady in half. But we liked to believe it. That's why we go along with it.

The flash sideways was great --esp. with the reunion scenes, which the actors managed to do without becoming cheesy [a hard thing to do].

Of course it left some unanswered questions, but I have to agree with Newsweek in the "Some Questions I Hope Lost Doesn't Answer" story [see] in that, this show was trying to essentially cover everything: the secret of existence, why are we here, what is my purpose in life...
...and they can't give us answers to that because, outside the realm of faith, that doesn't exist.

So WHY do I think-- as a writer-- the LOST glass is half-full?

When was the last time a network TV show made you think? I mean REALLY think.

And a flash forward? Bleepin' brilliant.

These challenged the viewers to actually do a bit of detective work on their own. [like one of my other favorites, "Boomtown," that was cancelled, in my opinion for trying to make viewers think].

Let's face it, for many networks, they want to go the easy way, the safe way, the canned laughs, the "plot-out-of-a-box" dramas---and while I am a Law and Order addict, do we really need another cop/ lawyer/ medical drama?

It was something different that actually made allusions to literature, philosophy, the Bible, science and of course, Star Wars.

When was the last time a network TV show mixed such genres - successfully-- combining both philosophy and religion, science vs. [and including] faith, paying for past sins. It made folks think that even if you aren't in purgatory [which, for the record, being Protestant I do not believe in so I am not the best to ask about it] you have to deal with your past. You cannot run from who you are. Responsibility always finds us, no matter how far we run...
...and self-sacrifice is the ultimate act of love.

Now, compare that to some other final episodes when we wanted to know if Ross would end up with Rachel or if the show really was about nothing.

Simply put, the glass is half full because we drank half of it already.

See you in another life, brotha!

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