Friday, May 28, 2010

Why LOST's Series Finale Disappointed

Because LOST was six seasons long. That's 121 episodes, or eighty-four hours and forty-two minutes of solid television. Think about that. If you decided to do nothing but watch LOST for eight hours a day, five days a week, it would take you more than two weeks to get through the whole thing. That's a lot of build-up to get to a one-hour payoff.

And of course, that's not even the full story. Because let's face it, the people who were really into the LOST finale had been watching the show since the beginning. Sure, it wasn't a continuous time commitment, but the really big LOST fans put six years of anticipation into the ending of the series. Six years of discussing, dissecting, examining and cross-examining in the firm and fervent belief that the series would reward that degree of enthusiasm. (Ironically, Penny Arcade got it more or less right from the start.)

And what did they get? A fairy-tale ending. The Island is a big magic power source guarded by an immortal, who is looking for a replacement. The guardian has an evil shapeshifting brother who covets the power and hates the guardian. There's a big fight. Good wins, but not without cost. It's a decent enough ending, fairly common and no better or worse than the people writing it, but the people who put six years and eighty-four hours of emotional investment into the show were never going to be satisfied with that.

Honestly? They were never going to be satisfied, period. You can't come up with an ending good enough to justify 121 episodes of build-up. That's the danger of series built around big mysteries, from LOST to BSG to Twin Peaks. The answer to "Who killed Laura Palmer?" is always just going to be, "Some person," and the longer you wait before revealing the answer, the more irritated people are going to be that they waited that long. Building a series around one big mystery is risky for that very reason. Sometimes it's better to have a show where every episode can stand alone. The pay-off may not be as big, but at least it won't fall flat.

18 comments:

magidin said...

What disappointed me was that I liked the first two years because of how it went about revealing the background of our characters; and in some respect, once they went to the flash-forwards and the flash-sideways (as opposed to the flashbacks), they abandonded that. Did we ever find out what it was that Kate had really done, or her motivation? If so, I missed it. Did we ever find out exactly how Locke ended up in the wheelchair? As I remember, he was up and down. Did we find out what demons Jack had been fighting? No. Did we find out why the baby was so important? No. It all got thrown by the wayside once the writers "buckled down" and started "answering" the questions of the island. I cared very little about the island, I cared more about the people on it, and their intriguing backstories seem to have been sacrificed as soon as the "flash-forward" happened. That's what disappointed me.

Jason said...

See, I thought it disappointed because it set up a science fiction atmosphere, while denying it was science fiction, then resolved everything in pure fantasy?

You can make a strong conclusion to a long buildup - if it's something new and interesting that feeds directly off of the whole run. If people can look back and see the hints, feel that all the the things that were strange before make sense, etc.

From what I gather (not having watched it), the resolution of the questions of the island came down to more or less "LOL A WIZARD DID IT" crossed with "IT WAS ALL A DREAM!" While any ending would be somewhat disappointing, they chose some poor resolution that was also legitimately unsatisfying.

As another blogger mentioned, the writers decided to use the SF sandbox, but not respect it. They set up a series that would appeal to an SF audience, then just kind of chucked in an answer that wasn't in keeping with the sandbox's rules/culture.

David Gallaher said...

I wasn't disappointed. I loved it. it was a show about science vs faith and faith ruled out.

magidin said...

If I had thought it was a show about 'science vs faith', then I would certainly have been disappointed with the trite ending.

John Seavey said...

So what, exactly, represented "science"? The smoke monster, or the immortal guy? :)

Jason said...

Immediate (flippant) answer: If "faith" won, and "science" lost, I'd say "science" was represented by the average viewer.

Jeremy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jeremy said...

I think this animated gif adequately sums up the finale.

http://i.imgur.com/wtzBE.gif

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Xela said...

I thought they had a really cool thing going with the alternate reality and really wish they had stuck with trying to find a real answer there. They had so many good opportunities and had already set us up for anything. I thought for sure that Ben telling Hugo "those were Jacob's rules, you can do it differently" (or something like that)was opening the door for almost any kind of connection with the island and outside world they wanted. Maybe Hugo's rules allow for everyone to become one with their alter reality - maybe their lives were so lost in the other world that they had to merge with the new one to be whole... I don't know...anything but "oh, well, they are all dead" For me this ending is 2nd in cop-out endings only to Dallas and the "it was all a dream" crap.

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I cared very little about the island, I cared more about the people on it, and their intriguing backstories seem to have been sacrificed as soon as the "flash-forward" happened. That's what disappointed me.

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well I gonna tell you why this finale really suck, in the entire series you wait for a finale totally different, and when the moment come, this people give us this.

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