Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The LOST finale: Where art thou, Yoda?





I'm a LOST fan.  Heck, my whole family loved the show. I still mourn Mr. Ecko and the smack down he got from the Smoke Monster in "Cost of Living." Any episode with Desmond still excites me.  Even as fans, however, we knew there were many weak episodes in the series, even characters (Kate never fails to immensely annoy the wife and me).  

As the final season neared its conclusion, itself uneven at times, we consoled ourselves in the knowledge that they would still have 1 hour and 40 minutes to set it all right, to answer questions that seemed to lie just beyond the bamboo trees.  

No matter what, though, we knew we weren't going to let a few imperfections stop us from celebrating the end of LOST.  We even gathered up the gumption to host a LOST party, a tradition of my little brother in Chicago.  We were all set for a good time: homemade chicken wings, Domino's pizza and two kinds of chocolate cake and ice cream for desert.  Our friends even showed up on time, a few minutes after 7pm (reminding us that our Punjabi time sensibilities are not as sensible as we find them)...

The mood was anticipatory, expectant. With two hours to go, the conversation centered around plot lines and character stories, as we casually watched the ABC pre-show and loaded up on food.  I recall feeling a little queasy upon learning that the show title for the finale was the uninspiring moniker, "The End," and initially attributed it to eating too fast.  Alas, that feeling, I later learned was the initial twinge of disappointment, a feeling that only grew as the show wore on. 

Honestly, it's not that I didn't want everyone to live happily ever after.  I did.  But I wanted it to mean more.  All the important choices and consequences of the island were rushed through, steamrolled, in order to achieve the interfaith nirvana of the sideways purgatory.  

Even the emotional sugar candy didn't taste right. Sayid with Shannon? What about Nadia, Sayid's true love? Where was Richard with his wife?  Jin and Sun's re-reunion? Didn't we already play that? Where is Walt? And would it have been so bad to bring back Mr. Ecko? What about Whidmore and his supposed conversion to Jacob's side? Where was he? Why did he get such a poor exit from the show?

The plot lines, what of those? Wasn't this series at least about good versus evil? Why did Desmond, after so much hype about being a weapon, end up being such a non-factor in the real timeline? How disappointing a misfire was that? Couldn't Desmond have turned into a polar bear? Or Faraday time travel back to the island with an electromagnetic capture device for the Smoke Monster (a la Ghost Busters)?  Seriously, give us something! White Smoke vs. Black Smoke? Anything?

Even Jack's selection as the new Jacob and Island Protector lacked any gravity. He was like the only kid in class to raise his hand.  We know he was always meant to do it, but where was the suspense? And with everything hanging in the balance, Jacob can't give Jack any real advice? Aren't the rules of the island essentially Jacob's? That would have been a good time for a cheat sheet on taking down Smokey.  

That brings us to the cave, but the cave itself was so disappointing. Whidmore's experiment of charging up Desmond earlier this season had better effects and at least gave us some insight into Desmond.  The cave scene didn't give us any insight into anything, but just looked and felt silly, with none of the mystique that had been built up over 6 seasons.   

Speaking of epic deflations, Jack's battle with old Smokey.  Shouldn't it have happened in the cave? Did Kate really have to be the one to deliver the fatal blow? Kate? Seriously? Didn't she have to go check and make sure they didn't leave any iguanas behind on the island? She's always scampering off somewhere like a squirrel, but now all of a sudden she's the big heroine? 

The one pleasant surprise was Jack's passing on of the island to Hurley.  While Jacob was worse than Yoda, Hurley can at least quote the little green aphorism of pop-culture wisdom and make everyone feel good in the process.      

After watching the finale and letting myself process the show, I still can't shake the feeling of disappointment at the way they ended it all.  You get the sense that the writers knew how they wanted to feel at the end of it all but no longer knew how to get there.  They hurried through the plot in order to get to the slow montages, all the flashbacks they knew would resonate with fans.  Fine, but don't cheapen it by getting lazy on us now! Ah well, it ends, and I have already written more on this than I should, without 10 minute interruptions for $900,000 commercial breaks... 

Many interesting articles have been written about the LOST finale, some worth reading:
  • Roeper's glowing review of the finale in the Sun Times, which reminded me of the good times but also makes me wonder whether Roeper was really watching the show called, "The End."   
  • Mike Hale's take, from the NY Times, was closer to how I felt at the end of the show.

1 comment:

shakdude said...

I did not watch the last show as yet. I will comment more once I watched it.