Thursday, May 27. 2010
Posted by Ancient of Days in TV
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If you're following me on 750words.com, you probably found out that I missed a day. I do have a reason: I was rewriting the following 750words post to make it a full-fledged article for the blog. The original wasn't nearly as coherent as this, hopefully this is the first "pay-off" from my 750words.com experiment. Note that this will "spoil" for anyone who hasn't seen the Lost series finale.
The season finale of Lost was last night - I was a little bit disappointed, but not nearly as much as I had expected to be. Rather than answer any of the outstanding questions I had, they wrote a finale that made it so that the questions never mattered, so answers to the questions were no longer important. This was the world's largest "Bait and Switch", but it wasn't such a bad switch that I got angry.
I still think I would have much preferred if they had written a story about the differences between determinism and free will. They kind of touched on it - Jacob wanted the person who took over for him to have a choice, the kind he never had - but in the end, the former cycle just perpetuated itself as Jack sticks Hugo with the task of being the protector so that he can go die a hero.
On the other hand, the idea of "heaven" as a place we make together so that we can find each other between phases of our lives really appeals to me - I think this might actually be one of my favorite mainstream depictions of "heaven" ever. Almost everyone had a happy ending, and even those who didn't deserve it got a chance at happiness - even though, as Benjamin Linus demonstrated, they might have to stay behind because they're not entirely ready to move on quite yet. I really did love how Jack made his way back to the spot where he first woke up on the Island and laid down to die, and the golden retriever Vincent came over and laid down next to him, as he stared up at the sky and watched the plane escape the Island forever with those people he loved.
Jack fought the realization that he had died all the way to the end - as he faced his father and said "How are you here?" and Christian answered "How are YOU here?" - I felt in myself the same fight Jack was feeling. "Because I died." Very poignant, very moving - and I will always identify with Jack for that. You can't live forever, but you can fight death with every bit of your soul; and, even after he has claimed you, you can still resist his temptation of sweet release. Well done, Jack.
Ultimately, Lost was Jack's story - about the connections he made and the loves of his life. It was so fitting that the first person to greet him in the church was Locke - such a struggle between these two great leaders of men, and in the end, they were both kind of right and they were both kind of wrong. It really does prove that I was right back in season three - one of the points the authors were trying to push was that there WAS NO RIGHT. It was just a bunch of people trying to do what they felt was the best in any given scenario. If Jack and the others had never returned to the Island in their selfishness to find someone - or something - they'd "Lost", then the Smoke Monster would never have gotten the image of John Locke and would never have been able to convince Benjamin Linus to kill Jacob, and so there would have been no need (yet) for a new protector for the Island...making Jack right. But Locke was also right - this was something Jack should not have been in such a hurry to leave. What did he have to go back to? Obviously, nothing. Outside the Island and his chance to lead and really love people with complete abandon, Jack was a mess - he was a broken hero who needed people to follow him in order to prevent him from ruining everything.
All of that said, I'm ultimately glad I watched Lost in the first place. It was a good story, thought-provoking on many levels, and very well written - even if incredibly frustrating. I hope that, as a writer, I never abandon my readers the way the writers of Lost did to us - maybe that's what some people like, but it's an aspect of Lost that I definitely could have lived without.
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I think the biggest flaw with LOST is that they weren't writing a novel, but it felt like they were.
When you write a novel, you can start out with lots of ideas, see how the characters interact with them organically and then go back and trim out the fat so that the story is internally consistent.
In TV, you never get to do that last part. They had a good idea of where they wanted the story to go, they ended up taking some turns they hadn't expected, but they couldn't go back and edit what the viewers had already seen to make the story more consistent.
Well put. This is, in my opinion, part of what makes Babylon 5 so great. All 5 seasons were written - at least, in broad strokes - before a single frame was ever committed to film, and they decided from the start that there would be either 5 seasons, or none. This allowed them to keep a firm eye on the goal at every step in the process, and to gauge where they were and how far they needed to go in how much time.
I agree with your last paragraph wholeheartedly. But I hate that Jack was ultimately the main character. And what the heck was with Ilana? She was supposed to be a main character and got exploded and then didn't even make it to heaven?!
Regarding Ilana's fate, it was a "place they made together" - Ilana obviously wasn't close enough to any of them to belong in that place. She and her entire team were a huge red herring (writer cop-out).
As for your long standing hatred of the ultimately awesome Jack - pfffffbbt.
Some good thoughts, Joey. I'm okay that not everything was answered. It fits in with their themes regarding faith and epistemology, but I do have a problem with some of the answers they did give over the course of the show. I also have some concerns about the ethics of Lost. I'm getting my thoughts together and hope to have my own post on the topic as well.
Philosophically and theologically, I have a LOT of issues with the story. I was more focused here on the writing aspects, and the entertainment value. I look forward to your post!
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