Tuned In

Happy Lost Day! One Year After

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A year ago today, Lost came to an end, the Island castaways (or many of them) met in the afterlife, and the Internet exploded. I reviewed the finale the night the show ended; I reconsidered it a few days later; and I returned to rewatch the finale at the end of last summer.

I had planned, at one point, to return not just to the Lost season finale but to all of season 6 a year later, and see how I saw it by now. Ah, plans! What I hadn’t considered is that finales, by nature, fall at the end of the TV season, which is a not-unbusy time for me. So that’s not going to happen right now. But I do have a couple quick thoughts, and then I’d like to know how Lost looks to you, a year later.

I will say that my views of the season and the finale without rewatching it are more positive. I still feel, as I wrote before, that much of the Sideways plot of season 6 feels in retrospect like a red herring / curtain call, which provided a final puzzle for the last season and hit some character notes but didn’t really involve any character development.

On the other hand, freed from the microscopic focus of watching and reviewing individual episodes, I find that the things I didn’t like about the last season I just tend to forget about. Leaving the things that really resonated for me: Jack’s sacrifice in the final episode, Hurley’s taking the mantle of Island protector and the sweet symmetry of Juliet’s “It worked” line.

What I have been thinking about more and more—especially with the debut of shows like Game of Thrones and then the “feud” between the respective shows’ creators—is whether the Lost finale marks some kind of watershed in what fans accept as a satisfying wrap-up. In particular, I still wrestle with the criticism that “they were making it up as they go along,” since, to me, making it up as you go along is the essence of most successful art. If you decide on the plot and the ending of a long narrative at the beginning, inevitably you will have to change character to suit the needs of the plot, instead of the other way around. (One counter argument, of course, is that TV shows aren’t art, they’re entertainments, and so have different aesthetic rules.)

[Update: To be fair, Lost’s makers encouraged this kind of thinking by claiming that they knew the ending from the beginning—though I suspect that that meant something more along the lines of knowing that the show would end with Jack dying and his eye closing. It seems pretty plain to me that they didn’t have a complete roadmap from the beginning—but again, I still can’t fathom why that would be a desirable thing in the first place.]

But that’s just me; I want to hear from you. A few possible discussion points:

* There was a lot of talk about unanswered questions and dangling plot threads after the finale. A year later, which ones do and don’t matter to you?

* How essential was the Sideways to season 6? Could you imagine the season having worked with them entirely gone, and the entire season devoted to events on the Island? (That’s another way of saying, I guess: was the season marred by the need to have a twist for a twist’s sake?)

* In the year since Lost—assuming you were a fan—has anything else had the same kind of effect on you? Do you think anything will?

* And if you hated the finale, and still do: what are some finales that did it better, and what made the difference?

One request please: be decent to each other. The voluminous analysis of Lost’s finale has generated some of the best comment I’ve seen over the past year. But sometimes heated passions have encouraged some of the worst tendencies in online debate.

In particular, please make your arguments without insulting each other or questioning one another’s motives. It is possible that someone could love the finale without being an “apologist” who is only pretending to like it; it is possibly for someone to hate the finale without being a “hater” who forces themselves to pooh-pooh everything. For the purposes of this discussion, please assume that it is possible for an intelligent person to sincerely disagree with you in good faith.

Thanks, Namaste, and have at it!