I never watched the show, having learned my lesson from “Twin Peaks” to stay away from ambitiously cryptic serials, but (a) this is the big story of the day, to my amazement, so we owe the fanboys among us a thread and (b) not knowing what I’m talking about has never stopped me from blogging before. Besides, it’s the last 10 minutes that’s getting the buzz and you don’t really need to have followed “Lost” to form a judgment on that. (Skip ahead to 1:34:30 below to watch.) Everyone knows the basic plot outline: They crashed on a mysterious island years ago, they’ve had a thousand unexplainable things happen to them since then, and in lieu of explaining those things last night, they gave you … this. Which, I have to say: I really like. I understand why a lot of Losties detest it. You’ve been reading a thousand-page mystery novel that’s gotten more convoluted with each chapter, and on the very last page, instead of the whodunnit — they gave you a poem. The question is, was it a mystery novel or was it something else? Via Jim Treacher, this rings true with what I’ve heard from other “Lost” fans:
Ultimately, “Lost” didn’t succeed because of the mythology. We’ve seen too many examples of mythology-heavy, character-light series fail over the last six years to think that. “Lost” succeeded on emotion, whether that emotion was fear of the monster in the jungle, or grief over Juliet dying, or joy at Desmond reuniting with Penny, or thrills at Sayid’s breakdance fighting and Hurley riding to the rescue in the Dharma bus. When “Lost” was really and truly great, it locked you so deep into the emotions of the moment that the larger questions didn’t really matter.
My question for the people who are disappointed: Given the sheer volume and inscrutability of the show’s subplots, didn’t you already know that you weren’t going to get answers? It sounds like it would have taken a full season to wrap up the loose ends. And from what little I know of the individual gimmicks, I’m not sure any satisfying account was possible. How do you elegantly explain something as goofy as the “smoke monster,” for instance? Answer: You don’t, and luckily, you don’t really need to. It’s simply part of the ride.
As for the last 10 minutes, as hokey as some of it is (the ecumenical stained glass is awful), it actually appeals to my atheist eye. Not entirely, of course — it’s overtly spiritual — but the idea that the mysterious “mythology” they obsessed over during the course of the show didn’t really matter in the end is gratifying to a skeptic. I also like the ambiguity in the fact that the lead character isn’t dead until the final shot. Is the scene in the church real or a comforting vision with which he consoles himself in the last moments of consciousness before he closes his eyes — at which point it’s all over (literally)? Food for thought, or at least a light snack, although I don’t think that question’s important either. They’re going for the heart here instead of the brain, and they managed to reach it. How many shows can you say that about?