Saturday, September 18, 2010

Fall TV Preview!

Hello again. It’s been too long.

Not sure if anyone is still out there or not. Since I’ve only posted once on the Blog in the past three months, I’m guessing most people have moved on with their post-Lost lives, or are just morbidly waiting for the Blog to die a slow and painful death. That’s my fault. I need to get back on the horse and bring this thing back to life. But it’s been a weird few months. I’m still waiting for that spark, for something to come along and inspire me to start writing again, something that speaks to me enough to be worthy of writing volumes and volumes about – but it just hasn’t happened.

Actually, the closest thing to inspire me was a recent trip to California where I had to go to four liquor stores before I could find a place that sold Miller Lite. Are you kidding me? The second most popular beer in the country and I went to three places who had hundreds of types of alcohol but no Miller Lite? I was furious and ready to tell the world about it… but then we eventually found Miller Lite, I drank it, and forgot about the whole ordeal. Spark ignited… and then extinguished by delicious hoppy goodness.

Which brings us to this Blog post. It’s the fall – and with the fall comes the promise of a new season of TV, a bunch of new chances for something to come along that creates that spark to drive me into an obsessive place where the words fly from my fingers and before you know it I’ve written hundreds of thousands of words about something important like the availability of Miller Lite in California.

This year, I’m grouping the shows into three categories:

  1. Must See TV – if you are only going to watch a few hours of TV each week, these are the shows you should be watching. No excuses.
  2. Promising Newcomer – if you are looking to give a new show a chance to join your uber-valuable DVR space, these are the shows that you should look into. At the very least, these are the shows that I am looking forward to this year.
  3. Fading Veterans – shows that are past their prime, but still worth tuning into because they display occasional flashes of the brilliance that attracted us in the first place – and because they’re familiar old friends who I can’t bear to let go of… yet.

With that, here’s my day-by-day breakdown of how you should be spending your valuable evenings this fall!


8:00 – Amazing Race (CBS) – Fading Veteran

You know, it’s not as though “Amazing Race” has gotten worse over the years, so perhaps the “Fading Veteran” label doesn’t truly apply. It’s more that if NFL games run long and my DVR misses the Amazing Race, no big deal. I don’t actively seek out the episodes I miss. But if I’m at home and the NFL Sunday Night Football game is lame, I’ll absolutely tune in. It’s a great show, showing you the world and proving that reality TV doesn’t have to be trashy. Even though it finally relinquished its death grip of the “Best Reality TV Show” Emmy this year (rightfully being awarded to “Top Chef”), at the very least it’s one of the two best reality shows on television.

Also - Phil Keoghan has the greatest job in the world. Go to exotic places and hang out there all day, then tell people what order they arrive to meet you. What’s not to like?

9:00 – Dexter (Showtime) – Must See TV

At this year’s Emmys, many probably thought I was rooting for “Lost” to win “Best Drama”. I was not. Dexter was head and shoulders above Lost in every conceivable way last year, and just might be the best show on TV. In my head, I always rationalize this claim by thinking about what one show I would watch if that was all I could watch each week. Although I love a lot of other shows, I think Dexter would win out in the end.

This year, the show builds on what was perhaps the second most shocking season finale of all-time (behind Lost’s “Through the Looking Glass”) and I can’t even begin to imagine where the show goes from here. But watching this preview of the season makes me giddy with excitement. It’s without a doubt the most exciting and powerful show on television.


8:00 – How I Met Your Mother (CBS) – Fading Veteran

Oh, “How I Met Your Mother”, the timing for us was never right. I failed to watch the show “live” for its first few seasons, but instead caught up via DVD over the past year or two. The first few seasons of this show were hilarious and heartwarming, like a worthy successor to “Scrubs” – but last year, the first one I watched “live”, was pretty weak. It’s getting the point where the characters are becoming caricatures of themselves rather than seeming like real people – and the situations are going from relatable to absurd (kinda like the late seasons of “Friends”, before it returned to form in its final season).

Here’s hoping that the show can find its way and return to “classic” How I Met Your Mother, but if not, I’m still going to stay tuned, if for no other reason than the fact that I’ve invested over 50 hours of my life in the show and still don’t know who the title character is going to end up being.

Dear writers – stop being afraid of delaying the inevitable. Introduce the mother!

8:00 – 90210 (CW) – Must See TV

“90210” has undergone quite the transformation over the past two seasons. What started out as a pretty tame teenage drama has kicked things up a notch with increasingly intense / outrageous storylines for each character on the show. It’s walking the fine line between being ridiculous and being awesome, and right now I come down on the side of it being awesome. In last season’s finale, serious stuff happened to nearly every major character on the show (rape, divorce, and admission of murder, to name a few). In this season’s premiere, even MORE serious stuff happened to these same characters, setting the stage for what could be a ridiculously awesome season.

Is it going to make you a better, smarter person? No.

Is it going to challenge your way of thinking? No.

Is it going to be trashy entertainment with pretty people? Yes.

It’s important to have a balanced diet of television shows each season. 90210 is the dessert portion of the schedule.

8:00 – Chuck (NBC) – Must See TV

At this point, you see how crazy Monday nights are going to be. This marks the THIRD show in the 8:00 timeslot that is DVR-worthy, meaning that you have two options:

1. DVR two shows on one TV while watching the third on a different TV, live (what Brian will be doing).

2. Watching one of these three shows online after the fact.

If you are a Nielsen household, I’m going to beg you to watch the fan-favorite but ratings-challenged “Chuck”. It needs you more than the other two shows.

After barely surviving the past two rounds of network upfronts thanks to obsessive fans and corporate tie-ins, Chuck put together a pretty nice third season that ended with shades of “Alias” as we discover that Chuck isn’t the first Bartowski to become a secret agent. Here’s hoping the fourth season can do what Alias couldn’t – and strike the balance between drama and mythology and fun.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – Chuck is a happy show. It doesn’t take itself too seriously, but still has some meat to its storylines. The characters are likeable, the writing is solid, and it features the smoldering hot Yvonne Strahovski. What more do you want to start watching this show?


9:00 – The Event (NBC) – Promising Newcomer

I have no idea what this show is about, but I want to like it. The ads tell us “An abduction won’t prevent it”, a prison can’t contain it, the president can’t stop it, and a desperate act will start it” – so what is “The Event”?

The story of the creation of “The Event” gives us a hint: In 2006, a young untested writer decided to write his dream TV show – like the shows he liked, 24, Lost, and Battlestar Galactica – a nonstop action thriller with character development and mythology.

Sounds good to me.

Of all the shows that I screened this summer, this was the one I was never able to find, so I can’t really speak to if the show will be any good or not – but let’s leave it like this: I really hope it is good, and more than any other show this fall, this one has the chance to to Blog-worthy. It’s reason to be excited and give it a chance.

10:00 – Hawaii Five-0 (CBS) – Promising Newcomer

I watched the screener to this show for two simple reasons – Daniel Dae Kim and Hawaii – thinking it would give me a little of the “Lost fix” that I would be missing this fall. Imagine my surprise when this turned out to be the best new show I saw this fall.

There are a thousand reasons why this show shouldn’t work – mostly because it’s a remake of a cheesy 1970’s show - but in the end, it feels like a Hawaiian version of the movie “Bad Boys”. Scott Caan (Tweeter from “Varsity Blues”) and Alex O’Loughlin make for pretty entertaining partners, with lots of back and forth banter interspersed with some decent action scenes set against the beautiful background of Hawaii.

It’s nothing earth-shattering, but I was smiling the whole hour I was watching it and very entertained. Without a doubt, this is going to be the “ratings hit” of the new shows this fall.


9:30 – Running Wilde (Fox) – Promising Newcomer

I’m not going to lie, the original pilot that I saw wasn’t very good. But the re-shoot of the pilot, which I haven’t seen, is allegedly better. The reason why this show makes the list? It features Will Arnett playing a GOB-like character, and it’s created by Arrested Devleopment creator Mitchell Hurwitz. The re-shoot also added David Cross (Tobias!), meaning that it’s about three guest star appearances away from becoming Arrested Development Part 2, right?

I want this show to be good and Arrested Development-y. It’s not there yet, but I’m willing to give it a chance to see if it can get there.



8:00 – The Middle (ABC) – Must See TV

What started out as a show that I would accidentally watch while waiting for “Modern Family” to come on became a show that became Must See TV by the end of the season. In my mind, this is what The Janitor from Scrubs went home to each night when he wrapped up his shift as Sacred Heart - wacky family with three equally entertaining kids and a crazy wife trying to hold it all together.

Much like Modern Family, the reason that this show works is that each character is funny in their own right. I love Brick. I love Axl. I love Sue. I love Dr. Jan E. Tor. In fact, the weakest character on the show is probably the “main character” of Patricia Heaton… but even she is tolerable and has her moments. It’s a blue collar middle class show without being depressing (like Roseanne was), and usually features a few laugh out loud moments and quotable lines each episode – which is exactly what a half hour sitcom should do.

9:00 – Modern Family (ABC) – Must See TV

Never has a more deserving show won an Emmy. “Modern Family” burst onto the scene and was somehow instantly, classically hilarious right from the start. It was a show that literally EVERYONE, but managed to keep up its high level of quality and hilarity all season long. It makes you laugh – a lot. It warms your heart – a lot. It makes you hopeful for the future of American and its non-traditional families.


What more can I say? You all watch this already, and should continue to watch it. It’s the funniest show on TV since Arrested Development.


8:00 – Community (NBC) – Must See TV

If I had to pick the funniest NBC show on Thursday night, it would be “Community”. While “30 Rock” might be slightly past its prime, and “The Office” certainly is, Community feels fresh, is hilarious, and has a great balance of cynicism and sweet to make it all work. There were a number of episodes that were pure genius last season (the paintball and Halloween episodes to name two), that took the show beyond the traditional half hour comedy into something closer to full-on parody of pop-culture while still remaining true to the overall feel of the show.

Top to bottom, the cast is great, and each character servers their own hilarious purpose in different ways. I can’t wait to see what the creators come up with for the second season, but can only assume it will continue to innovate and entertain like nothing else on NBC’s Thursday night lineup.

8:30 – 30 Rock (NBC) – Must See TV

“30 Rock” is probably on the border between Must See TV and Fading Veteran. More often than not last year, I feel like episodes ended with me being pretty “meh” about them. But when it is firing on all cylinders (read: dealing with the main cast of characters and not the guest star of the week), it’s as funny as ever. It’s almost as if 30 Rock is becoming too “cool” for its own good and needs to return to its more simple roots.

Love Tina Fey. Love Alec Baldwin. Love Tracy Morgan. Therefore, I’ll keep watching and hope for a return to greatness.

9:00 – The Office (NBC) – Fading Veteran

It’s the show that people still talk about at work, even though it’s not really funny anymore. It boggles my mind that the Office has such higher ratings than every other show on NBC’s Thursday nights. It’s almost as if America decided it could only handle one “different” comedy (read: not something formulaic on CBS), and latched onto the Office – and is unwilling to let go, even as shows like 30 Rock and Community have matched and surpassed the Office in terms of entertainment value.

Still – this season is worth tuning in for one simple reason. It’s the last one with Michael Scott. The door is wide open for the writers to do some unique storylines that fundamentally change the dynamic of the show (perhaps for the better?) One of the hard truths that no one talks about is how Michael Scott is probably the least funny character on the show, especially in the later seasons where his shtick has lost its luster. Perhaps getting rid of him is just the jolt that this show needs to let some of the minor (but more hilarious) characters – I’m looking at you, Creed – move into the forefront and get this show back to being worthy of the water cooler talk on Friday morning.

10:00 – It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (FX) – Fading Veteran

My friend Blair put it best – Sunny is funniest when it’s just the core group of characters hanging out in Paddy’s Pub, talking about random things and doing stupid stuff. Last year, the show branched out more (in terms of characters and storylines), and had its moments – but the farther they strayed from the core formula, the less successful the show seemed to be.

The first episode of the new season didn’t give me much hope that this season will be much different – and once it ended, I was pretty indifferent to the previous 30 minutes of television I had just watched.

Still, it’s the embodiment of the Fading Veteran. It’s got moments of true hilarity and I love the characters. There’s no way I’ll stop watching it, even if it doesn’t entertain as consistently quite like it used to.

10:30 – The League (FX) – Must See TV

The good news is, the introduction of “The League” seemed to coincide with the fading of Sunny. Having been a part of a pretty serious Fantasy Football league for nearly a decade, I can say with some authority that the show is generally spot-on with its take on Fantasy Football and those who participate in it. Solid characters, good writing, and friends being jerks to each other for the sake of winning an imaginary game - it’s almost like me and my friends looking into the mirror.


So there you have it, ten and a half hours of worthwhile TV for you to watch each week. Like I said, we’ll stay tuned and hope for some breakout show to become Blog-worthy, but if not, hopefully something else in life will inspire me to get writing with more frequency.

Until then, happy TVing!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

If I Wrote Lost...

Here’s how this evening started:

Kate: “What are you going to do tonight?”

Brian: “I think I might finally Blog again.”

Kate: “About what?”

Brian: “Lost.”

Kate: “Isn’t it too late for that? Does anyone even care?”

The answer is probably “no”, and in all honesty, I’ve actually thought very little about Lost since my last post over a month ago… which when you think about it, is absolutely insane. Here’s a show that created thousands of online communities dedicated to discussing and dissecting every minute detail over the past six years – and even though we all hoped that it would eventually end in a way that tied up all the loose ends and prevented the need for us to over-analyze the finale, I don’t think that anyone thought it actually would. Heck, even the actors and writers told us that it would end in a “very Lost way” – which to me, means somewhat ambiguous, open to interpretation, and with a dash of unanswered questions – questions that the fans would debate for the rest of time.

Yet somehow Lost did the impossible – it created an ending that, aside from some initial debate on when characters died, seemed to squash the questioning nature of its rabid fan base. Maybe we realized that once you see the very ending of the story (the death of all the characters), the unanswered questions along the way don’t seem to matter as much. Or maybe we were all so exhausted from six years of heavy thinking that it was a sigh of relief to finally have Lost complete, allowing us to return to mindless television and reality shows.

But I also think part of the reason, one that almost seems like blasphemy, is that Lost actually started to lose itself in the final season. There was something missing for a lot of the last season – like the writers knew where they had to take us, but didn’t enjoy the ride in getting us there… and that they weren’t sure how long it would take to get there. Think about how many episodes from Lost’s final season would make your “Top 10 List of the Best Lost Episodes Ever”.

My answer? Zero.

For those wondering, in no particular order my Top 10 list would include:

  • Pilot
  • Walkabout
  • Man of Science, Man of Faith
  • Orientation
  • Lockdown
  • Live Together, Die Alone
  • Greatest Hits
  • Through the Looking Glass
  • The Constant
  • The Shape of Things to Come

(Note: you’ll also notice that there are no episodes from Season Five in there either. Weird.)

Why do I bring this up? Because for as great as Lost was – and don’t get me wrong, it’s without a doubt one of the greatest television series of all time – I feel like a few minor changes along the way – in particular in its final two seasons – would have taken it to another level, the kind of level that would put Lost head and shoulders above all others… at least for me. And in the end, isn’t that what matters the most?

Disclaimer: it is super easy to criticize someone else’s work, especially in hindsight. It’s even easier to come up with storylines without the limitations of real life actors, budgets, and network brass. I’m just saying – in a perfect world, had Damon and Carlton called me up, here’s what I would have told them.

The Easy Fix.

In my mind, the biggest problem with Lost’s final season was the Flash Sideways – not the concept behind them, but the way in which they were carried out. In the end, all the weird differences between reality and the Flash Sideways were all part of a “long con” of the audience into thinking that things were different because our Survivors had changed the past during the Incident. The writers basically wasted half of Lost’s final season building what amounted to a dream world that didn’t really matter.

What would I have changed? It’s quite simple – I would have had the Flash Sideways actually represent the lives of our Survivors had Oceanic 815 landed in LAX. Jack wouldn’t have a son, Locke wouldn’t be engaged to Helen, Sawyer wouldn’t be a cop. They would be the exact same people they were when they boarded Oceanic 815 in the first episode. It’s still the “after life” – but instead of representing some weird dream sequence where the characters came up with their own back stories, it would truly be a purgatory of sorts, where our characters proved to God if they would have turned their troubled lives around on their own had Oceanic 815 not crashed on the Island.

It’s kinda like “The Bachelor”. How hard is it to fall in love with someone when you’re going on crazy vacations and living a glamorous lifestyle without the day-to-day grind of work, chores, and paying the bills? It’s not. Likewise, how easy is it to turn your life around when a mystical being (Jacob) brings you to an Island that removes you from the majority of negative temptations and influences in your life – putting you on a literal and spiritual Island to “find yourself” and turn your life around. It’s still hard (as there were still temptations), but it was a lot easier than it would have been back in the real world.

The storyline on the Island plays out exactly as we saw. Jack and Desmond save the world, defeat Locke, and some characters fly away to live happy ever after. In reality, we know who found redemption and how – but in the Flash Sideways, we would see who would have found redemption and how… or who wouldn’t – were it not for Jacob. Knowing as much as we do about the characters, wouldn’t it have been fascinating to see Jack struggling with drug addition, Sawyer learning to live an honest life, and Desmond trying to win over Charles Widmore?

I feel like that’s what purgatory would actually be like – proving that you learned lessons in life that you would carry over to the afterlife. Learning how to be good and do good, and passing a final test to show that if you had to do life all over again, you’d do it better.

The ending remains the same – Jack gets over his daddy issues and reconciles with his father in church, where he (and the audience) comes to the realization that they are in the afterlife. Those who “remain behind” like Ben are the characters that didn’t learn their lessons quite yet – and are doomed to stick around, or repeat the process until they get it right.


The Flash Sideways would be much more “real”, build on the characters that we got to know in the past five seasons, and actually mean something in the grand scheme of things – rather than being a waiting room for people to realize that they are dead but once had some crazy times together on an Island.

That’s my easy fix.

Want to get more complicated? That requires going back a bit further and making a few fundamental changes to what ended up being the overall end game of Lost.

The Complicated Fix.

In a nutshell, I would have kept Lost’s focus on a concept that was introduced early on, always lingered in the background, and seemed like the “point” of Lost all along:

Science vs. Faith

It’s a pretty heady concept, one without a clear answer, and something that anyone can relate to – just the kind of thing that you would expect Lost to build its overall foundation upon… and it did, until the end. In my mind, we had two characters to full represent this battle, a “good guy” and a “big bad” – although it’s debatable about which was which (just the way Lost likes it):

Benjamin Linus and Charles Widmore


It’s a storyline that was slowly introduced over the course of the first five seasons, but then relegated to the background and hastily resolved in season six as Jacob and Anti-Jacob took over the roles of “good guy” and “big bad” (again, both ambiguous). But the problem was that the writers basically introduced a new storyline about escaping the Island and ending the world (maybe) which didn’t truly build on the foundation of the first five seasons.

So here’s what you do – keep Jacob the same way he was for the first five seasons of the show – as a mysterious being that may or may not have a physical manifestation that the Others believe in and follow… a “god”. Benjamin Linus represents faith. You can still keep the storylines of Ben faking his relationship with Jacob, as it shows how deep his faith in the Island truly is – he’s believing without ever seeing.

As for Widmore, although the fifth season established the start of the rivalry between him and Ben, you would take it a step further to have the rift start over a fundamental difference of opinion. Widmore wants to research the unique properties of the Island, use them to make the world a better place, and if he makes a few bucks in the process, great. Widmore becomes the one that reached out to Hanso and Dharma to start their research on the Island – which brings me to another point.

The fifth season of Lost basically ruined the Dharma Initiative. They went from what we thought was a group of the best and brightest scientists in the world attempting to save the world from its own destruction to a group of no good hippies who just wanted to party in paradise. While I’m fixing things on Lost, I’d make Dharma full of people like Pierre Chang – believers that the Island had the properties to save the world, as long as they could figure out how to use them.

Widmore bringing Dharma to the Island also would allow Lost to fulfill another of my long-standing theories for the show – the “cowboys and Indians” theory. The Others join Dharma, they move into their fancy Barracks, they enjoy electricity and beer, and they start to lose their faith – lose their connection with the Island. This is the cause of the sudden pregnancy issues on the Island, and one that Ben hopes he can remedy by creating a faction of true believers, who eventually wipe out Dharma on the Island. These are all the storylines that we should have been getting in season five – ones that would prove to be immensely important to understanding the overall story of Lost. Because when you think about it, the net result of season five was basically setting up the audience to trick them into thinking the Flash Sideways of season six might be the result of our Survivors changing the past. But since we changed those Flash Sideways with my first “fix”, this is no longer required. Instead, we can build the relationship between Ben and Widmore, learn more about the unique Island properties we’d been wanting all along, and have our Survivors get a front row seat in this “faith vs. science” debate that was playing out between Ben and Widmore.

Which would nicely setup season six – with our Survivors having to pick a side in the debate. Charles Widmore returns to the Island, and the “battle for the Island” that we talked about for years actually comes to fruition. Who is right and who is wrong? Who do our Survivors side with? Battle lines are drawn, you split up the characters in the love triangle on different sides of the debate, and you have some great tension and storylines that focus 100% on the core characters of the series for the final season of Lost.

Why would our Survivors care about the “battle for the Island” in the first place? Well, tying in with the other major theme of Lost (destiny vs. fate), they are told by Ben that they were all brought to the Island by Jacob for the critical roles that each would play in the battle – but keep in mind that no one knows if Jacob even exists, if Ben is lying, or if any of this is true. But they also find out that in the wrong hands, the Island could be destroyed – and if destroyed, it very well might bring about the end of the world. The Island truly is some type of electromagnetic lynchpin that holds the world together – and there’s the risk that if Widmore wins, and starts digging up the Island (like we saw at the Swan Station Incident) to harness its power, it might bring about the end of the world. Again, at least that’s what the “faith” side believes. Widmore would counter with “that’s ridiculous, and we could save a lot of people by curing cancer, etc.” through his Island experiments.

So there’s your heavy drama. Like we discussed during the middle of the sixth season, with everything that transpired over the first five seasons of Lost, all suffering, all the death, and all the importance of everything – the only possible justification for it all is that it was all required to save the world.

How does it end? The logical answer to the science vs. faith debate is that the truth lies somewhere in the middle – and I think that’s the answer that our Survivors will realize. Ben and Widmore both probably die in the battle, leaving our Survivors as the de facto “leaders” of the suddenly leaderless Others on the Island – and they impart this knowledge to them. Thus, we see that our Survivors truly did grow up, overcome their own issues, and serve a higher purpose thanks to all the time they spent on the Island.

In one of the final scenes that take place on the Island, Jack wonders aloud if they would have all achieved the same sort of enlightenment and personal growth were it not for the plane crash on the Island… cut to the Flash Sideways scene in the church with Jack and Christian Shephard. The audience now understands that the Flash Sideways represented exactly that – a purgatory type place after the death of our Survivors that takes place after they all die, where they prove to themselves that it would have been possible to turn their lives around even if it weren’t for Jacob and the Island – and for those who didn’t, that they can keep working at it in the Flash Sideways until they get it right.

I swear in my head it’s not as cheesy as it probably sounds when I write it out.

Sure, there are some other details that would need to be worked out with this ending – most notably an explanation for what Smokey is and how he was created – but heck, you could even piece together a pretty easy explanation that similar to what happened to Anti-Jacob falling into the “heart of the Island” and becoming Island Protector without much effort and it would still nicely tie into the new storyline I proposed.

So there you have it – was it worth the wait? Absolutely not. Again, I’m sorry for the huge delay on this – but come on, you know the Blog always sucks in the summertime, right? Once summer is over, life should get a little less busy and the posts will once again be more frequent. Now we just have to figure out what those posts will be about.

(Note: this will not be my last post about Lost, obviously. We’ll still have to discuss the additional scenes on the DVD once it is released, at the very least).

But for now, if anyone still cares to think about or discuss Lost, the Comments section is yours!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

"The End" Analysis (That No One Probably Cares About)

I feel like this is a day late and a dollar short, since everyone has had massive discussions about Lost over the past week - but whatever. Here it is, in case anyone cares!

One week ago, I said the following:

“Part of me thinks that we shouldn't jump right into our normal over-analyzing of the episode, nit-picking details and trying to reconcile what we just saw with the previous 119 hours of the show. On a strictly emotional level, the Lost finale was fully satisfying, emotional, epic, sweeping, and felt more important than any television finale I've ever seen. The wife was in tears. I was confused as I tried to work it all out in my mind. In short, it was everything you would want from the final episode of Lost. If you didn't tear up a little when Vincent laid down next to Jack, you do not have a heart. The final ten minutes were about as perfect as anything I could have imagined for the last Lost - and the episode as a whole had everything I wanted - action, closure, callbacks to the major moments from the previous five seasons, and plenty of perfect "character moments" that are really going to make us all miss these characters.”

I still stand by that statement 100%.

However, the time has come to turn our critical eye to “The End” and do a full-blown traditional analysis. Let’s leave our emotions at the door and get down to business. What really happened in “The End”?

The End. One of my biggest complaints about the final season of Lost is the writers’ inability to frame the real “danger” on the Island. We were often told that it was a very bad thing if SmokeLocke left the Island – going so far as telling us that it would mean the end of existence – but never told why. They left it ambiguous, and because of that, the motives and actions of the final two episodes took a dramatic shift from what we were anticipating all season long. Let me explain:

  • Anti-Jacob just wanted to leave the Island. However, as long as Jacob was alive, he could not do so.
  • Even once Anti-Jacob found his loophole and killed Jacob (something that took him thousands of years to accomplish), he still couldn’t leave the Island as long as Jacob’s candidates were alive.
  • One Anti-Jacob found out about Desmond last episode, suddenly he decided that destroying the Island was a crucial part of his plan… or perhaps just an added bonus.
  • However, once Desmond removed the Cork from the Heart of the Island, Anti-Jacob immediately left for his boat to escape before the Island sank, even though a number of Jacob’s candidates were still alive and well.

It seems a little illogical that after spending thousands of years working towards one goal, Anti-Jacob would abandon it and focus on something else… and that magically, the rules surrounding the candidates tying him to the Island would no longer apply.

Yes, it’s possible to come up with some explanations for this – which we’ll touch on in a moment – but the audience shouldn’t have to make these logical stretches to understand the major conflict of the season. In the end, the battle between SmokeLocke and Jack was important to us because SmokeLocke killed Jack’s friends – but it lacked any sort of additional stakes where we cared if SmokeLocke left the Island or not… which, even though the fight was pretty badass, left it pretty hollow. Heck, part of the audience was probably still rooting for SmokeLocke, feeling sorry for him being trapped on the Island all these years. All he wanted was to go home… something he never got to do.

Jack. The best explanation for SmokeLocke’s actions is that once Jacob “knighted” Jack as the new Protector of the Island, he no longer had to kill the remaining candidates. He only had to worry about killing Jack – and when he left Jack knocked out with the Island collapsing around him, SmokeLocke assumed that Jack would eventually die as the Island sunk to the bottom of the ocean. (Again, for a guy that forged the most complex plan in human history to find his loophole, this seems like an outrageously unrealistic action on his part – there were no “rules” forbidding him from killing Jack. Even if this was the case, why not stab him in the heart before running off to the boat? Illogical.)

As for Jack himself, he finally fulfilled the destiny that brought him back to the Island in the first place. In Jack’s eyes, he’s screwed up everything else in his life (failed marriage to Sarah, failed engagement to Kate, failed career, drug addition, horrible beard), the Island is his one chance to right all those wrongs by doing something good, something important, and make his life all worthwhile. What Jack doesn’t realize – or doesn’t utilize – is that from the moment that Jacob makes him the new Protector of the Island, Jacob’s “rules” no longer apply. The new “rules” are Jack’s to make, but he doesn’t realize it (another example of the poor transition on Jacob’s part. He would never make it in upper management).

The only thing that Jack knows is that he’s confident in his plan, even if he doesn’t know exactly what it is. He knows that he is somehow going to use Desmond to stop and kill SmokeLocke, and that he, and John Locke, were right about the Island all along. It turns out that they were right.

Desmond. From Desmond’s perspective, ever since he was blasted by Widmore’s electromagnetic experiment on the Island, he apparently saw his afterlife – and it was a happy one. Widmore loved him, he was just starting a new relationship with Penny (free of all the drama and mistakes he made the first time), and he didn’t have some pesky kid running around forcing him to be responsible. What’s not to like?

That’s exactly why Desmond basically “gave up” on life at this point. He was back on the Island, he wasn’t confident that he would ever get off and be with Penny again in life, so he just wanted to die so that he could be with her in the afterlife.

It brings up an interesting, super deep philosophical question – if you knew that you had a perfect, happy afterlife waiting for you after you died, what’s the point in living through all the crap in life? Would you just look for the quickest and easiest way to kill yourself to get to that “happily ever after”, or would you continue to soldier on through the trials and hardships of life?

For Desmond, he picks the first option. He adopts the opinion that “none of this matters” on the Island, and thinks that he needs to carry out one final mission to “save the world” (again), and once he’s done, he will die and return to his “happily ever after life”.

He was wrong.

As for Widmore and Jacob, Desmond was basically another “failsafe” switch – a last ditch effort. Their original intention was to use Desmond to pull the Cork in case SmokeLocke was successful in killing all the candidates. This would render SmokeLocke mortal – but destroy the Island in the process. As a mortal, I suppose SmokeLocke leaving the Island wouldn’t be such a bad thing (since he couldn’t go all Smokey on the world and rule the human race with an iron-smokey fist)… but this also means that it really wasn’t that important that the Island exist in the first place, right? If the destruction of the Island meant that the light at the heart of it would go out, obviously it wouldn’t bring about the end of the world / hope / existence – otherwise, Jacob wouldn’t have sent Desmond back to the Island as a safety precaution that all the candidates died.


Remember my original complaint about the writers not framing the danger of this season very well? This is exhibit B in support of that argument. The spent a season telling us how important it was to protect the Island, or else “all hell will break loose”, but then we find out that Jacob’s backup plan is to allow the Island to crumble as long as it renders SmokeLocke mortal.

Disappointing. But I digress.

Two weeks ago, I settled on “power” as being the thing at the heart of the Island – the thing that is inside each of us a little, the thing that everyone wants more of, but if someone had total control of, it would be a very bad thing. After watching “The End”, I still think that analysis is spot on.

The existence of the Cork in the Heart of the Island indicates that there was a time on the Island, pre-Cork. Once the Cork was in place, it somehow harnessed the power that was emanating from the Heart of the Island, which in turn gave the Island all its magical powers and “unique electromagnetic properties”. The essence of Smokey – the heart of his power – was tied to the Island. The area immediately around the Cork was so close to this power, that it would kill anyone who came close – a nice defense mechanism from preventing anyone from removing it… except Desmond. Once Desmond removed the Cork, that power was released, and SmokeLocke became mortal. Unfortunately, with all that pent up power suddenly being released, the Island began to fall apart under the impact of this surge of power. Even more unfortunate for Desmond, he survived the whole incident. Although logic would tell you that he would have eventually died as the Island collapsed, were it not for Jack, in his mind, this was the worst case scenario.

He was back trapped on the Island.

Smokey. After the epic battle with SmokeLocke (where Jack gains not only the bleeding cut on his neck that we saw throughout his Flash Sideways, but also the fatal cut in his side that we all interpreted to be a scar from his appendectomy – but now I guess it could be either), Jack realizes that his rule as king of the Island will be short-lived, since it’s up to him to replace the Cork and restore balance to the Island now that SmokeLocke had been killed. He passes the torch to Hurley (fittingly using the Oceanic 815 water bottle), re-corks the Island, but somehow is not killed by the exposure to the electromagnetic power that again begins flowing from the Heart of the Island. Instead Jack is “spit out” from the Heart of the Island just like Anti-Jacob was – where he stumbles to his death in the bamboo forest with Vincent by his side.


All of this brings up one big question – what happened to Smokey with all these transitions?

My best theory from “Across the Sea” was that The Woman was both Protector and Smokey rolled into one, and she split those powers among Jacob and Anti-Jacob to create a balance and limit the chance for man to abuse those powers. Jack became the new Jacob, but SmokeLocke still had the Smokey powers (since Kate’s bullets this episode had no effect on him). Once SmokeLocke died, what happened to those Smokey powers? Did they return to the Heart of the Island? If so, why didn’t Jack become Smokey when he was exposed to the Heart of the Island? Or is it that since Jack (and later Hurley) were “pure of heart”, that there was no Smokey anymore?

In the grand scheme of things, I’m not losing any sleep over these questions – but based on the Egyptian hieroglyphics we’ve seen over the years, as long as the Island has existed, there has been a Smokey on it as well. For Smokey to suddenly cease to exist because Jack and Hurley are “good people” seems a little silly to me. On the other hand, the image of Hurley “hulking out” and becoming Smokey in a moment of rage seems super awesome to me, so that’s how I’ll pretend things ended up.

I think that wraps up the “main storyline” on the Island, but there are a few side items worth noting before we move on to the Flash Sideways…

Rose and Bernard and Vincent. It turns out that Sayid didn’t save Desmond from the Well, but Rose or Bernard or Vincent did. So even though Sayid did end up saving our Survivors from the bomb on the Sub, he wasn’t suddenly “100% good” again after his encounter with Desmond. As for Rose, Bernard, and Vincent, their existence on the Island was finally explained (they time traveled along with our Survivors). They remained uninvolved in all the silly drama that our Survivors found themselves entangled in, and as a result, had a pretty happy little life on the Island. In my head, I picture Hurley, Ben, Desmond, Rose, Bernard, and Vincent having picnics on the Island and talking about the good old days for years to come until each of them meet their natural deaths.

Of course, Vincent never dies. The Island has a thing for dogs.

Benjamin Linus. The flip-flopping of Benjamin Linus was a little far-fetched during the final few episodes of the series. I suppose we can justify it as being a “long con” that he was trying to pull on SmokeLocke – one that conveniently allowed him to kill Widmore in the process (talk about two birds with one stone), but even at the beginning of “The End” he was putting a gun in Sawyer’s back and leading him to SmokeLocke. Then at the end, he was helping our Survivors kill SmokeLocke. But the most confusing thing of all is the way that he magically escaped from being pinned underneath that tree. I was sure that was going to be Ben’s redemption. He saves Hurley from being crushed, but ends up dying in the process. Instead, he gets what he wanted all along – a true role of importance on the Island, as Hurley’s #2.

Richard Alpert and Frank. Thank God that both of these characters ended up being alive and well on the Island, saving them from unceremonious off-screen deaths that neither deserved. Alpert is finally aging, and Frank fulfilled his destiny of flying Ajira 316 after all (yeah, still super unrealistic to me).


Claire. I’m sorry, but Claire really didn’t add anything to this season. The scenes with her were always awkward, the storyline with her being “claimed” by SmokeLocke never really panned out to anything, and she did little besides throw out empty threats to our Survivors and provide a purpose for Kate being back on the Island. They probably should have just let her die in Season Four.

Okay – I think that wraps up my thought about the Island. Let’s move on to the Flash Sideways.

Flash Sideways. First of all, should we continue to call them the Flash Sideways? Per Christian Shephard, there is no such thing as linear time in the Flash Sideways, but they are all taking place after each character dies in life – making them Flash Forwards, right? Oh well, we’ve called them Flash Sideways for this long, might as well stick with it for “The End”.

After a season of waiting, we finally got our explanation for what the Flash Sideways represented – a place created by the Survivors so that they could meet up before moving on to the next stage of their afterlife (heaven?). I loved this explanation because it made everything that happened on the Island over the past six seasons “count”. Dead characters weren’t magically alive again. People didn’t get a second chance to correct their mistakes. Everyone died, like I was hoping for – but by having the Flash Sideways, it wasn’t the most depressing finale in television history. It had a happy, hopeful ending.

Having said that, I definitely have some problems with how these Flash Sideways were handled this season.

The biggest complaint that I have is that for the first time in Lost history, the writers were intentionally trying to trick the audience with red herrings that make no sense now that we know the truth. Why would Jack be married to Juliet, instead of Kate – who was much more of his “true love” in life? Why would characters like Charlie and Faraday say things like “we aren’t supposed to be here” and “none of this is real” – when in fact, even if it wasn’t the final stop in the afterlife, it was apparently a necessary stop along the way? I understand that the Flash Sideways could be viewed as a sort of “dream world”, where things are based in reality, but slightly different – but some of it still feels cheap. We’re going to tackle some explanations for these differences in a moment, but it still doesn’t seem right that we’re making these stretches to explain something that should make total sense at face value.

In short, I think we could have spent a lot less time in the Flash Sideways and achieved the same end result.

The other thing that was weird was the collection of characters who “created” this reality. With the exception of Boone and Locke, who were kinda BFFs on the Island back in the day, it seems like unless you had a significant romance with another character on the show, you weren’t invited to the “moving on” party at the end. This meant that there was no unifying factor between all the characters who had their epiphanies and “moved on”, which seems a little weird. But I can’t deny that it made for a great, emotional final scene for Lost.

Let’s look at each character who “let go”, and what caused each to do so:

Boone – we never learned what led to Boone’s epiphany, but I’m guessing it had something to do with getting over Shannon, again.

Rose and Bernard – not shown, but it seems like both of them understood what the Flash Sideways were from the start. Rose made a comment to Jack about “letting go” on Oceanic 815, Bernard was weird and cryptic when Jack talked to him, and both seemed to have found a peace in life that might have carried over into the after-life.

Claire – giving birth to Aaron, causing her to “let go” of the guilt she felt for abandoning him in the first place?

Kate – helping Claire give birth to Aaron, which only happened because she stopped running and helped a very pregnant Claire in the Flash Sideways world… so I guess it was really about no longer running away? It’s a stretch…

Charlie – touching Claire, which showed him that he could be a good person and loving pseudo-father, instead of a junkie rock and roller? This makes no sense either, since Flash Sideways Charlie didn’t really do anything to prove that he could make the right decision and sober up – he was just in the right place at the right time… thanks to Hurley’s intervention.

Sun and Jin – seeing Ji-Yeon’s ultrasound, which helped them “let go” of abandoning their child in life so that they could die together? That doesn’t make much sense either, but it’s the best I’ve got.

Sayid and Shannon – touching each other, which apparently means that even though Sayid spent his entire life searching for Nadia, two weeks on the Island with a hot blonde made her his soul mate. Likewise for Shannon, two weeks on the Island with an Iraqi torturer was the best time of her life? It makes no sense, unless you play the “Sayid realized that he couldn’t be with Nadia because he didn’t deserve her after all the bad things he did” card – but it’s the afterlife! Isn’t that your chance to “let go” of the wrongs of your past?

Locke – regaining his ability to walk reminded him of all his time on the Island, which definitely was the best part of his life. Noticeably absent from his after life epiphany? His fiancĂ©, Helen – so I guess he was “moving on” from her and didn’t really love her after all? Weird.

Libby and Hurley – kissing, which let them finally have the relationship that they were robbed from on the Island?

Desmond and Penny – touching, which might have helped Desmond get over his abandonment of Penny twice in life thanks to that damned Island (who knows if he ever returned back a second time or not). But Penny? She’s definitely the oddball inclusion in the final scene, having never set foot on the Island or even met the majority of the characters in the final church scene. But it made for good TV, I suppose.

Sawyer and Juliet – perhaps the best part of any Flash Sideways epiphany, we finally realize that there was no greater meeting in Juliet’s “it worked” comment from “LA X” – she was simply experiencing the moment in the Flash Sideways where Sawyer got his candy bar. Although if you think about it, this means that she must have been living through the Flash Sideways for quite some time before she actually died – and in dying, she jumped to the place in the Flash Sideways where she had her moment with Sawyer… unless I’m thinking too linearly about the Flash Sideways and time doesn’t really work the same way there. I also loved that she summed up all the weird stuff with the Island and the Cork with her “you an unplug it and plug it back in and that’s technically legal” line. Love Juliet.

But again, what did either of them actually “let go” to earn this epiphany? They just touched. Neither did anything to overcome the issues they had in life or prove that they learned some lesson, did they?

Jack – finally we have Jack. You could make the argument that Jack was the one who created the Flash Sideways, and it would make a lot of sense. In it, he learned to get over his daddy issues by being a good father to David (PS – sucks to be you David, you don’t actually exist or get to “move on” with your parents), accepted his own father’s death, and performed the ultimate “fix” of John Locke. If it was all about Jack, the Flash Sideways would have made perfect sense.

You can see the issues, right? Aside from a few characters, the Flash Sideways weren’t really about “letting go”, they were about connecting with your loved ones in the afterlife so that you didn’t have to go on alone. It’s like “live together or die alone” taken to the extreme. I’m fine with this explanation – but again, if this is the case, then a lot of the stuff that we saw in the Flash Sideways was unnecessary filler… it really didn’t matter what fake lives these characters were living in the Flash Sideways because they were all fake – all that mattered is that they found their loved ones, regardless of what it took to find them.


Wrap Up. Originally, I was going to post my “what I would have done differently” thoughts here – but I think I’ll wait and do that for my next post. For now, let’s just focus on what actually happened in “The End”. In the end, I think that “The End” was a great episode – and I think that most of my issues with the episode actually had nothing to do with the episode, but rather the ones that led up to it. As you can see, looking back on the final season as a whole, there was a lot that didn’t make a lot of sense and seemed a little sloppy. But we’ll get to that later as well.

I feel like everyone is all burned out on discussion of “The End”, but if there are any outstanding items you’d like my take on, feel free to post them in the comments. Otherwise, I’ll be back in the next few days with my overall thoughts on the series and what I would have done differently.


Monday, May 24, 2010

Unanswered Questions Report Card

The final season of Lost was not without its faults. I’ll be the first to admit that, and will touch on that subject in much further detail in the near future. It’s totally understandable that the series finale didn’t connect with everyone the same way that it connected with me – it was more about the emotional connections with the characters and the big picture “fate” of the characters we grew to know and love over the years than the mythology. If you loved Lost for the sci-fi elements, you were disappointed. If you loved Lost for the characters and their relationships, you loved it. If you loved both (like me), you probably came down somewhere in between, depending on how the final scene connected with you. Again, for me, it was fantastic.

It’s very easy for a show to have a great season finale. I can rattle off a dozen off the top of my head that blew me away. However, it’s much harder to do a great series finale. Thinking back to all my favorite shows over the years, I can only think of two candidates: Lost and Scrubs. Both found a balance between staying true to the series and sending it off in an extremely emotional way that stuck with me for days and weeks after the fact.

But that’s not the point of this post. It seems like the biggest complaint that people had about “The End” is that it didn’t answer the big questions that they still had about the series. So I thought I would revisit what I deemed to be the “big questions” before this season began to see how many were answered… and how many were not ( – then we’ll see if this argument is justified:

10. Juliet and the Jughead – ANSWERED. I thought we would get this reveal early in Season Six – but as it turns out, it took until the final moments of the series before we got the real answer – The Jughead simply caused the Incident, just like Miles had predicted. It didn’t create an alternate timeline, it didn’t change the past, it simply reinforced “whatever happened, happened” – just like I had hoped all along. (Note: It also seems that a side effect was the transportation of our Survivors from 1977 to 2007.)

9. Adam and Eve – ANSWERED. Adam and Eve = Anti-Jacob and The Woman. Was it anti-climatic? A little? Was it proof that the writers had this whole storyline planned from the start? Hell no. Was it a question that was answered? Yes.

8. The Island History – PARTIALLY ANSWERED. More than any other question, this is the one that I wish we got a little more answers to. Yes, we learned how the Black Rock arrived on the Island, who built the FDW, and the history of Richard Alpert… which actually were the three things I specifically mentioned regarding this question in my original post – but I’m greedy and still want more. I didn’t need to go any further back in time to learn about the Egyptians (which would have undoubtedly come across as ridiculous), but I would have liked a little better answer about why it was such a bad thing if the Island was destroyed and what would have happened if SmokeLocke had escaped the Island. Getting these two additional pieces of information would have gone a long way in justifying everything that happened on Lost, and helping us understand the importance of the final battles between SmokeLocke and our Survivors, since we would know the repercussions of losing that battle.

7. Good and Evil – ANSWERED. Even though the answer was… there is no answer. As I predicted, things stayed predictably “gray” throughout the final season. Even when the writers went so far as to make SmokeLocke the “bad guy” by killing off a number of fan-favorites, they turned around and made his character totally sympathetic in the next episode by revealing what made him the way he was. The only disappointment here is characters like Ben, who flipped back and forth from good to evil numerous times throughout the last few episodes on a whim.

6. Jacob and Anti-Jacob – ANSWERED. They were two brothers, born on the Island, who became the Protector and Security System for the Island after some heavy manipulation by previous Protector, “The Woman”.

5. The Others – UNANSWERED. Yes, we spent some time at the start of the season in the Temple… which was a huge disappointment. But we never learned much about the nature of the Others and their society on the Island. Were they continually getting instructions from Jacob via Alpert? Did they develop the rules of their society on their own? Were they truly “worshippers” of Jacob who were acting to protect the Island, or were they a group of people being tricked by Anti-Jacob via Ben all along? What was up with the kidnapping and costumes from the early seasons? The writers had plenty of opportunities to answer these questions every season, and every season they decided not to – which means they didn’t know, didn’t think it was important, or wanted to leave it intentionally ambiguous to let the Others be whatever we wanted them to be. Disappointing.

4. Fate vs. Destiny – ANSWERED. Jacob brought our Survivors to the Island to become candidates to replace him, because they were all individuals who needed the Island as much as the Island needed them. Although I still think it would have been cooler to find out that Jacob didn’t know much, and was retroactively evaluating his candidates based on who accidentally ended up on the Island, the body of evidence seems to point to the opposite – Jacob was a flawed individual who “pushed” characters in a way to bring them to the Island. He wasn’t perfect – his actions resulted in the deaths of hundreds of people over the years (at least), but he brought them to the Island. It wasn’t just a coincidence.

3. Smokey – ANSWERED. We didn’t get the “nuts and bolts” answer of what Smokey was made of, but most of us didn’t want that anyways. We learned that Smokey was SmokeLocke who was actually Anti-Jacob, who turned into Smokey after being thrown into the heart of the Island a long time ago. There are still unanswered questions about why the ash and pylons kept him out, why he killed some but not others, and other miscellaneous “rules” that would have been nice to find out – but we got the big answer.

2. The Funky Island Stuff – PARTIALLY ANSWERED. We got answers to the Numbers, Richard never aging, the Sickness and the Whispers… and a lot of people thought they were lacking. So maybe it’s for the better that we never got firm answers to the other items in this category, like the time travel, moving the Island, random appearing and disappearing of Others, etc. More than any other question, I’m okay with leaving some of this stuff unanswered. The Island is a mysterious place where magical things happen – to find out exactly why takes away some of the “magic” from the equation. But like most, it would have been nice to get a little closure to the Aaron / Walt storylines from the early seasons.

1. The Fate of the Survivors of Oceanic 815 – ANSWERED. The most important question of all, and one that was totally answered in the finale. In short, they die. We all die, eventually.

  • Jack sacrifices himself to save the Island (and world?).
  • Hurley becomes the new Jacob, Ben becomes the new Alpert.
  • Alpert, Kate, Sawyer, Miles, Claire, and Frank escape the Island on Ajira 316 to live out the rest of their days in the “real world”.
  • Sun, Jin, and Sayid die on the Island.

As predicted, everyone got a little bit of redemption on Lost. Their time on the Island made them better people, helped them “let go” of the baggage they brought to the Island, and find love.

So looking back, it looks like in the end we received somewhere between 70% and 90% of the big questions answered. Sure, it’s easy to come up with a bunch of smaller questions – but these were the big ones I had before the final season started. Looking at them, I have a hard time being upset at the finale using the argument that “they didn’t answer any questions”.

But again, as we discussed earlier this season – Lost is open to interpretation. Maybe you didn’t feel like any of these questions were answered “enough” for you to be satisfied.

One more thing - after the episode ended, I started looking back at some of my earlier posts to see how close / far away from the real ending we were way back in Season One. I came across the following post from April of 2005:

Locke is already the most sage-like character on the island. Is he really serving as their "Christ-figure", giving them guidance for how to live through their new life on the island? If you buy the whole "They’re in purgatory" theory, it could be that when Locke met the monster way back when, he was changed to become a guide of sorts to get everyone else’s souls to the same place he is. That’s why he’s working to get them to "release their inner demons" and "move on", even though everyone has a TON of past baggage in their lives.

Replace “Desmond” with “Locke” and it’s pretty damn close to what we saw in Lost’s final season. That’s pretty cool.

What next? “The End” analysis, complete with an analysis of the big picture storyline of Lost. For now, keep on discussing – but let’s keep it civil, people!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

"The End" Instant Reactions!

Brian's One Word Review: Powerful.

Part of me thinks that we shouldn't jump right into our normal over-analyzing of the episode, nit-picking details and trying to reconcile what we just saw with the previous 119 hours of the show. On a strictly emotional level, the Lost finale was fully satisfying, emotional, epic, sweeping, and felt more important than any television finale I've ever seen. The wife was in tears. I was confused as I tried to work it all out in my mind. In short, it was everything you would want from the final episode of Lost. If you didn't tear up a little when Vincent laid down next to Jack, you do not have a heart. The final ten minutes were about as perfect as anything I could have imagined for the last Lost - and the episode as a whole had everything I wanted - action, closure, callbacks to the major moments from the previous five seasons, and plenty of perfect "character moments" that are really going to make us all miss these characters.

But I suppose I need to give you something, so that you can sound smart and impress your colleagues tomorrow morning at work - so here's my take on the ending.

Flash Sideways. Finally, it all makes sense. Although this is definitely up to some interpretation, here's my Cliff's Notes understanding of the Flash Sideways.

  1. The Flash Sideways were, effectively, purgatory.
  2. The world in the Flash Sideways was somehow mutually created by all of the Lost characters, as a place to "meet up" before moving on. Per Christian Shephard, "this is a place that you all made together so that you could fine one another. The most important part of your life was the time you spent with these people. That's why all of you are here. No one does it alone. You needed all of them, and they needed you." For what? "To remember and to let go."
  3. The Flash Sideways were a place to work out and accept the things that each person did in life, to come to terms with their lives before moving on to the afterlife - whatever that may be. It's a beautiful symbolism that ties into the overall Lost theme - finding redemption in life, accepting those decisions in death - and then MOVING ON.
  4. Everyone dies - but they didn't all die together. We're trying to fit the Flash Sideways in a very linear timeline, and that's the problem. "There is no now, here." They're a different world - separate from the physical one that we live in. Some characters died long ago (Charlie), some died in "The End" (Jack), and some are going to die, even though we don't know when or how (Hurley, Ben, Kate, Sawyer, Frank, Miles, Claire... and even Richard Alpert - although I didn't see him in the final scene).

Beautiful, hopeful, powerful stuff.

There will be all sorts of full analyses of this episode and the entire series forthcoming - but for now, I kinda want to sit back and bask in the Losty goodness of this episode (and watch Jimmy Kimmel).

But for now - discuss!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

"What They Died For" Instant Reactions!

Brian's Two Word Review: Finally, but...

A lot finally happened in this episode that we've been anxiously awaiting for most of the season (if not longer)... but the payoff didn't exactly live up to the hype in a lot of cases. Still, it's pretty clear that we are moving full steam ahead, and I'm pretty pumped for the Lost-a-palooza on Sunday night. I know a lot of people were complaining about the show for the past week, but I think it's shaping up to be a pretty fantastic finale - if nothing else, this episode gave us a hint of how the final episode is going to feel. Epic. Powerful. Final.

So what happened?

Across the Sea. We finally understand why the writers chose to show "Across the Sea" so late in the game - there was a lot in this episode that directly referenced that episode... although give the Lost fans a little credit - we probably would have remembered it even if it happened two months ago, after all, most of us still remember minute details of things that happened five years ago on the show. Still, it makes that episode a little more meaningful in the grand scheme of things, which should appease some of the people so unhappy with it.

Jacob. I also finally understand why they writers had to wait so long for Jacob to finally explain his plan to the Candidates in person - but it's been pretty obvious for the entire season that Jack was the only real Candidate, wasn't it? He was the one who was suddenly talking about "destiny" and "letting go" and "believing in the Island". That's what you call nailing the job interview right there. But having said that, couldn't Jacob have given this speech earlier in the season, and then have a few episodes of the Candidates reacting to this monumental decision in trying to figure out if they can trust him, if any of them want to do it, and what it would mean? Even if Jack would eventually make the right decision, wouldn't it have been nice to see him think about the consequences of his decisions (more than the two seconds between him asking "how long do I have to do this job?" and drinking the water)? Since so much of the season has seemed to be lacking an overall focus, it seems like this storyline could have been a good way to gain some traction.

Speaking of Jacob - was this the last we'll ever see of him? Apparently the only reason that we were seeing images of him on the Island was because Ilana gathered his ashes from the fire, keeping him from fully burning away... although when Ilana gathered those ashes, the fire was already out - so it's not like they were going to burn away anyways. It seems as though his brief two minute speech were the only instructions he was going to give Jack and Co - now it's on them to figure out what to do with them. But you can't blame him, at least he gave more instructions to them than he received from The Woman when she made him the new Protector of the Island.

Candidates. In regards to the Candidates themselves, we finally got an explanation for WHY Jacob brought all these people to the Island in the first place, and it's something we've noted for quite some time - the lives of all of these people were crappy before the Island. They needed the Island as much as it needed them... but this is pretty crappy for all the happy, good people on Oceanic 815 who died unnecessarily in the process, isn't it?

We also confirmed the reason that Kate was no longer a Candidate - once she "became a mother", she found her purpose, she had someone to care for, someone who needed her as much as she needed them. She no longer needed the Island. This also seems to establish that Jin was the Kwon Candidate, not Sun - since she also had a child. However, Sun and Jin are another great example of Jacob's flawed logic. Since they fell in love and had each other after arriving on the Island, shouldn't this have eliminated both from being Candidates long ago?

It's also pretty funny that as much as we fans of Lost have eliminated Kate from the running of being the new Protector of the Island, Jacob laughs at us and says "it's just a line of chalk on the wall - if you still want the job, it's yours!" Maybe we shouldn't have been obsessing over all the names this season. I think anyone left on the Island is now a possible Candidate... although those numbers are getting pretty thin.

Death. After two years, countless theories, and a ton of buildup, we FINALLY got the confrontation between Widmore and Benjamin Linus that we've all been waiting for... and it ended without any explanation of their history or "the rules" between the two of them. I have to admit, it was pretty sweet that Ben FINALLY got his revenge on Widmore for killing Alex - but the slaughter of both Zoe and Widmore just seemed like the writers didn't have any other use for them - and their purpose was pretty much just to bring Desmond to the Island.

Note: Widmore also claims that Jacob is the one who visited him and told him what to do. One, that would have been a pretty awesome scene to show earlier this season, rather than just hearing about it after the fact. Two, this adds some more blood on Jacob's hands - since he basically led Widmore to the slaughter of SmokeLocke.

In other shocking news - was that the quick and dirty death of Richard Alpert, the guy who couldn't kill himself if he tried earlier this season is suddenly swept away by Smokey and dies off camera? Logic would tell you that this is crazy talk, and he'll most certainly show up again - perhaps with Frank (come on Frank, I was hoping you were going to wash up on shore in the beginning of the episode!), and Miles (who conveniently ran off, setting the stage for him to play some huge role in the finale) - but if not, that was a super crappy way for him to go.

As for Zoe, it's interesting that SmokeLocke said "if she's not going to talk to me, she's useless" - maybe we're supposed to take the instructions of Dogen literally. If you let SmokeLocke talk to you, he has some power of manipulation over you, and you can't kill him. If you don't let him talk to you, you have the power over him to kill him. But if this is the case, what character is left that hasn't talked to him, who can kill him in the end? Or is it just a case of Zoe being a worthless character whose time was up (my vote)?

Benjamin Linus. So... did Ben just do a professional-wrestling-style bad guy turn, or is he manipulating SmokeLocke to eventually save the day? I'm really hoping for the later, since the past few seasons have really shown Ben growing into a sympathetic character on the show. I can forgive his murder of Charles Widmore (they had a pretty long-standing grudge, and payback's a bitch), but if Ben suddenly becomes SmokeLocke's right-hand man who tries to murder the Candidates, it would be pretty illogical... and where is Claire in all this? Left on Hydra Island, all alone, again? Man, no wonder she has abandonment issues.

The Island. As many predicted, Desmond is the "wild card", invincible to the electromagnetic properties on the Island, capable of pulling another "fail safe" maneuver to prevent SmokeLocke from leaving... but apparently SmokeLocke can also use this to destroy the Island? I'm not sure of the logic here, but it seems like he now has to kill the remaining Candidates AND stop Desmond before he can leave. I can't help but think that "destroying the Island" = "sinking the Island", which is exactly what we saw in the Flash Sideways. Does that mean that the Flash Sideways actually represent what happens if SmokeLocke wins, and the series could potentially end with a "choose your own adventure" ending where Reality #1 = our Survivors defeating SmokeLocke and Reality #2 = SmokeLocke winning? Then it's up to the viewer to determine which is really the "happy ending"? Seems kinda lame, but that's the direction I'm heading in right now.

Like I said in the beginning, things are finally moving - but I can't help but wonder how much more enjoyable this season might have been if some of these things had happened earlier to give the audience (and characters) a little more time to think about them, digest them, and theorize about them. As it is, we've got four days before the finale and we're just now getting an idea of where the action is heading. It would have been nice to have this momentum slowly building all season instead of going 0 to 60 in the last moments.

But I digress. This was a great episode of Lost, and there's plenty to discuss. I'm going to try and do a brief analysis (if possible) and a quick episode preview for "The End" (maybe) - but like I said, that's a lot to do in the next four days while I'm out of town.

I will say this - thank you very much for all the nice comments in the past few Blog posts. It's nice to know that people do appreciate the time and effort I put into the Blog, and I'm glad that I've been able to enhance your Lost experience over the years. Someone also suggested now is a good time to do a final "Lost... and Gone Forever Census" - which we've done a few times in the past with always shocking results. So if you want to take part, just post the city / state / country that you're reading from in the Comments Section. I'll tally up the votes after the finale.

For now, discuss!