by C Michael PattonMay 24th, 2010 77 Comments
I am not sure who to blame. Is it the writers or ABC? I am sure that I carry some of the blame as well since I was a participant. Either way, that was six years of my life that is gone into the abyss of purgatory. I am trying to keep an open mind here, but I have to say that I feel not unlike I did at the end of the Matrix.
I was duped. If you are honest with yourself, you will admit that you were too. Duped in what way? Duped into believing that the writers knew what they were doing. Duped into thinking that they were less confused than we were. I said at one time to my sister, “This is either going to be the greatest series ever created, or the absolute worst.”
No, its not about whether or not LOST had anti-Christian themes. Don’t go there with your conspiracy theories. I don’t care if it had symbols of New Age, Universalism, Hinduism, Catholicism, or even Evangelical Christianity. To be truthful, I don’t really any longer think that the writers were that smart. No, the truth is far more sinister.
You see, lost was built upon an arc. An arc is a thematic venture which leads to a certain conclusion and climax. It’s an “arc” that ties everything together. Some TV shows play it safe and have arcs built into each episode and conclude the episode with a resolution. That way the episode stands alone and you can judge the success of the show on a one by one basis. Others take risks and have the entire season as the arc. This is more risky since viewers cannot pick up in the middle of the show and know what is going on. The entire season is dependent on the individual episodes. The success of this type of show hinges on how the arc resolves itself in the season finale. Could be good. Could be bad. The series 24 is a good example here. LOST however was different. They attempted to do what very few shows have ever done. They made the arc run the entire six seasons. Not only would you be lost if you watched only one episode, you would be lost if you watched only one season out of order!
This is what made LOST special. Not only did it have some of the greatest character development of all-time, but it was built on one of the most intriguing arcs ever conceived. Creative, out-of-the-box, imaginative, addictive, and out of this world captivation are all good ways to describe my thoughts about the show until last night’s series finale. Although every viewer was completely confused for six years, this did not matter. The confusion only added to the intrigue. We all trusted that the series finale would give us all the answers. We trusted that they knew what they were doing.
I was not sure what to expect, but the last few episodes made everything look promising. Good, evil. Light, darkness. Heaven, hell. Theism, pantheism. Love, hate, relationships. Present, past, future. Time warps. Dimensional breaches. Fall, redemption. Up to this point, LOST had it all.
Escalation after escalation only handed us more hope. Confusion became our friend as we would discuss so many questions: why does Hurley see dead people? Why did Locke feel connected to the island? What was the Dharma Initiative? Why did Juliet say “It worked”? Who were the “others” and how did they get there? Why couldn’t they have babies on the Island? Why did the “wheel” send the people back in time and change the location of the island? Why was ”Eyeliner” given eternal life? How did Whitmore always find the Island? Why was Michael’s spirit stuck on the Island? How was Christian Shepherd back alive? Why was the smoke monster a smoke monster? And a thousand other questions. But most importantly, what was the island? We were all lost and we loved it.
We worked under the valid assumption that all of these questions had answers. Of course, this does not mean that we will like the answers, but it was the risk we were willing to take. Whether it be aliens, God, the lost city of Atlantis, heaven, purgatory, hell, or even all a dream, we did not care. We just wanted answers. That is why we watched the show. And we were trusting enough to wait six years to be satisfied.
But such was not the case. At the conclusion of last night’s episode the horrible reality surfaced. That which we all fear in places we don’t like to go became a reality: The writers did not know the answers either.
Oh, and don’t you try to spin this. Don’t you dare. I have already heard it from dozens of well-meaning naive people. I have already seen people try to redeem the finale and make it out to be some sort of martyr. I know your time is precious to you and I know your hopes for something better will drive your conclusion. But I will not allow you to go there. For your own sake, don’t go there. Don’t say that it was a brilliant “open ended” finale. Don’t say, “Well, they are just allowing us to fill in the blanks” as if that is something that satisfies. My questions are not quenched with my own imagination. If they were, I would have stopped watching in season 1 and filled in the blanks. Oh no. We are not letting ABC and the writers of LOST off the hook for the greatest entertainment swindle since The Matrix. The “brilliant-fill-in-the-blank card” is a terrible way to cope. The first step to recovery is to admit the problem. The second step is to file a class action law suit against the writers (for incompetence), then ABC (for not properly interrogating the writers end game).
The arc we thought was there was an illusion. This series took a risk. It was only as good as the resolution and there was none. The writers did not know what they were doing. Hence concluded the greatest hoax in American television history. Hence the realization that the writers of LOST were just as lost as all of us.
I don’t think that there is any better conclusion than that of the person who played Charles Whitmore on Jimmy Kimmel last night when asked about the disposition of his character. Kimmel asked, “Were you good or evil.” Whitmore responded, “I don’t know. I never figured that out myself.” We are with you Whitmore. But at least you got paid.
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