Monday, May 24, 2010

LOST's WTF Ending

(Spoiler alert: For those who have yet to see last night's finale of LOST, you may want to hit your backspace button and not read this post.)

Years ago, I suspected that this is how LOST would end: The castaways would find out they were dead all along. But I dismissed that as beneath J.J. Abrams' talent as a writer. Doing so would've been been a limp retread of that entire season of DALLAS in which we find out the entire year was just a dream. It was one of the most notorious jump-the-shark moments in TV history.

Little did I believe that Abrams would go for that very ending. For six years, we always had faith that by the series finale, all loose ends would be tied up tighter than a Jack Shepard tourniquet and no stone would be left unturned. Instead, we were left with more loose ends than we can count.

For instance, I can understand the philosophical ambiguity of us not knowing where the "dead" castaways are going but we can assume they've moved on and will transition to heaven. While somewhat unimaginative and something a second string writer would conjure, it remains a perfectly valid explanation as to their ultimate destination.

However, what was the island? What was the purpose behind it? Why was the Dharma Initiative so obsessed with it other than a vague mission to harness the island's potent but largely unexplained power? And Charles Widmore never adequately explained his own obsession with the island or what specifically he was after other than an equally abstract desire to also harness its power?

If they were dead these past six years, why were Kate and Sawyer/James Ford allowed to leave the island with Miles, Richard and Frank? Leave the island to go where? Richard had lived on the island most of his life and Frank and Miles arrived on Widmore's freighter and weren't on Oceanic 815.

Same with Desmond and Ben Linus, who were left behind on the island with Hurley, the new Jacob by default. And if Hurley and Desmond (and possibly Ben, who preferred to remain outside the church) transitioned to their final journey, then how could they remain on the island?

And if the island could in a metaphysical way resurrect the dead, then why were there only 48 survivors from the fuselage in the pilot episode (more from the later discovered tail section) and why did most of the passengers immediately perish in the crash? And why wasn't Michael, one of the original characters, at the reunion?

Midway through LOST's run, after we find out at the end of season three that some of the castaways managed to escape the island, it became very difficult to follow the twists and turns visited on us every week what with time travel, alternate universes and realities and so forth. But I managed to see every single episode of this series and the lack of resolution, while it isn't enough to justify a feature length movie, left me hungering for more.

While there's something universally satisfying about all of us coming to terms with our individual ends, it nonetheless is kind of a bittersweet resolution considering that almost all the characters went on to better alternate lives only to be told through overwhelming consensus that this, too, was an illusion and that their transition would be an ambiguous one. Many of these characters, especially Hurley, Jack and Desmond, finally figured it all out and set up lucrative, satisfying lives for themselves only to be told this was a lie and they'd have to give it up for an ambiguous fate with no guarantee of eternal happiness.

It was like "Lets Make a Deal" and being forced to choose the one door offered.

About five minutes before the series ended, I just knew, being a writer with an instinct for the circular, that the closing image would be the exact reverse of how the show opened six years ago: The dying Jack Shepard closing his eye, with Vincent the yellow Lab by his side. It was a nice, elliptical touch but not so nice as to make up for the unanswered questions and untied loose ends that offer lack of resolution while not seeming to justify a feature-length film that would.

Was anyone else as dissatisfied with the ending as I was?


At May 24, 2010 at 2:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

man, I felt so similarly to you that this is the page that came up when I typed "lost wtf" into google.

At May 24, 2010 at 3:30 PM, Anonymous P'ville reader said...

You didn't spoil it for me because I didn't watch. I looked in on the show sporadically for the first few seasons, but it never grabbed me enough to be a regular viewer. Stopped entirely just after the "capsule" thingie, long before the Smoke Monster, characters appearing in L.A., etc.

Because it's a cultural phenomenon, I do read articles on it, just as I do with pro sports (another thing I care nothing about) because I want to be culturally literate. On the whole, it sounds slightly stupider than the also-unsatisfying finale of "X-Files." Wonder how they'll wrap up "24"? I hope the terrorists win!

One last thought to tie this to a bigger picture. Crap endings like this are an example of why I don't believe in Bilderberger-style overarching conspiracy theories. If smart, creative people with total control over a simple fictional situation can't properly pull off a series ending, how can financial wizards, explosives-planters in the WTC, etc. perfectly engineer some grand, world-altering scheme?

We can see how the Cheney regime fucked up a relatively easy deal like the WMD lie. Blew feces into their faces worse than any non-existent bio-bomb. Yet some people believe there's a grand plan to manipulate the world economy for a specific aim, or spray "chem-trails" into the atmosphere to change the planetary environment or re-engineer the human race's DNA?

At May 24, 2010 at 3:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i agree that the finale was utterly disappointing, no answers at all, but you've misunderstood the ending. they havent been dead the whole time, they all died at different times. kate, sawyer, hurley, ben, etc died later in the future after jacks death and the church scene is supposed to be them gathered together after they have all died.

At May 24, 2010 at 6:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Agreed, I am very frustrated that so many questions about the actual island were unanswered but yea I do think you have it wrong a bit. In the end when Jack is talking to his father in the church Christian Shepherd says something to the effect that "here" has no time. Which would explain some people still being alive on earth. But yea, The sci-fi fan inside of me is livid for giving what turned out to be a drama so much of my time.

At May 24, 2010 at 9:04 PM, Blogger The Seeker said...

Dude, spot on!

At May 24, 2010 at 9:13 PM, Blogger Jill said...


I think there are 2 kinds of Losties, and I suspect they largely break down by gender: There's the ones who care about the characters, for whom this ending was just fine, and the ones still obsessed with what happened to Walt, what the Dharma Initiative was trying to do, and on and on.

There is an element of throwing up your hands and giving up to this finale, but it also made sense. I get the sense from your post that you are assuming the island reality is death, but Jack's father makes clear that the island was real. Hurley's exchange with Ben also shows that. I too thought perhaps they were all dead when I saw the wreckage at the end, but I think that was a bittersweet image, nothing more.

What I am surprised by, though, is the strong element of the end of TITANIC in this -- something I would not have expected from Cuse/Lindelof. But while there was a lot that was mawkish here, I loved it...especially the Sawyer/Juliet reunion, which I think many of us longed for as just being RIGHT.

You can dissect the weaknesses, the unanswered questions, or you can take it was a bittersweet goodbye to people we've grown to know and care about (except Kate, who's annoying to the end). I choose the latter.

At May 25, 2010 at 12:47 AM, Anonymous Discount coupons said...

Great stuff, I just love them.

At May 25, 2010 at 5:01 AM, Anonymous Machwulf said...

That "Writers of Lost" parody was quite keen in it's observations. Lost was great at creating mysteries and then leaving viewers (*Title card here)

From the first Ocular pan-out, Lost has been EPIC Potluck,a gestalt mix of drama, mystery, suspense etc.

The story has always been secondary to the experience. I agree it's better to wrap (rather than jump MORE sharks), but this 'Final Season' seems incomplete.


At May 25, 2010 at 5:08 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i regret seeing all 6 seasons :/ what a waste of time

At May 25, 2010 at 9:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I watched every fucking episode, and spent hours discussing and thinking what theory was behind, and this all they could come up with??!!
lost producers, you suck!!!

At May 25, 2010 at 10:17 AM, Blogger jurassicpork said...

The more I think about it, the ore I realize you guys are right: The castaways did die at various times. I'm thinking of what Hurley told Be outside the church: "You made a good #2." And Ben responded, "And you made a good #1."

Past tense.

Truly a sad ending to see these people for the final time knowing they were dead and then having to give up happy lives they thought were real.

I don't know. If I was Abrams or Lindeloff, I would've written a different ending.

The last episode had some high drama. And Jack kickinging Locke/the Smoke Monster off the edge of that cliff (shades of Moriarty on the Reichenbach Falls) was probably the most dramatic moment on TV since the Fugitive shot the one-armed man.

At May 25, 2010 at 11:08 AM, Blogger Jessica said...

I agree completely with your opinions about the finale. I was utterly disappointed and kinda want the last 5 years of my life back. I kinda always had a feeling it would end this way, and I kinda feel like they took the easy way out. I stayed loyal but still feel LOST! And maybe thats the way they wanted it lol.

At May 25, 2010 at 2:03 PM, Blogger Strategiczny Bełkot said...

I'm just happy to have not been a fan all these years and just to have watched it indiferently. Otherwise I would be mess. I knew there were not going to be any answers at all, because those loose ends were imposible to tide up. There was too many of them. For instance - what was the island, what was the giant 4 fingered foot statue, why there was no mr. Eko at the end, what happened to Walt, why the children could not be born on island and so on. The season 4 and 5 made most sense to me. We almost could understand, what the island was. The "we are dead" or "we created a new world for us" explanation is so hollywood and childish. I expected much more than that.

At May 25, 2010 at 2:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

the thing i really dont get is, wasnt the other world surposed have started because they blew up the hatch in the past and hence stopped themselves every crashing on the island? and then suddenly at the end its supposed to be a like waiting area before they 'move on'

At May 25, 2010 at 2:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i loved the entire show every single episode apart from the last bit that mde no sense. well it made sense but considering tht lost is one of the greatest shows ever made they sure know how to f**k up an ending. I can do better obviously with many more special effects crying blood tears etc then listed here: jack Hugo and Desmond use the magnetic energy to kill lock. Jack and Hugo stay behind to take care of the island everyone else buggers off on the plane. Jacob then appears and explains wtf the island is IN GREAT DETAIL then maybe rap it all up with some awesome magnetic energy light show and move the island again for the hell of it or something. although this ending is undoubtedly very shit because i made it up as i typed it, it is surely a lot better then the crap i was left with.

At May 25, 2010 at 2:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

and does anyone feel a bit bad for the smoke monster guy? technically all he ever wanted was to get off the island ever since he was a little boy and before he became the smoke monster!

At May 25, 2010 at 3:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

They weren't dead the past six years, and they didn't die when the plane crashed. What happened on the Island was real. The alternate timeline was a form of purgatory/limbo which they all created so they could be together and help each other move on. Christian said to Jack something along the lines of, "some of them died before you, some long after you."
Kate, Claire, Sawyer and the rest who left on the plane all went on to live their lives, as did Hugo and Ben. I don't feel like they took the easy way out at all. This way we got to see all the characters reunite. It was the perfect send off for the show bringing everyone back together.

At May 25, 2010 at 4:00 PM, Anonymous P'ville reader said...

You probably already noted this in your head, JP, but isn't it ironic that a post about a dead, and ultimately irrelevant, TV show gets 10x as many comments as one of your well-thought-out political posts? Kinda like your blog's ultimate chart-topper in comment terms was the thing about the cops arresting the elementary schooler in Florida?

At May 25, 2010 at 5:04 PM, Blogger jurassicpork said...

You probably already noted this in your head, JP, but isn't it ironic that a post about a dead, and ultimately irrelevant, TV show gets 10x as many comments as one of your well-thought-out political posts?

Oh, you know it. I was amazed when I logged on this morning and found out I already has about 400 hits and got over 1000 yesterday. At first, I thought Buzzflash or someone big linked to me then I found out it was LOST fans finding my blog at the top of the list.

At May 25, 2010 at 7:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I impatiently watched a few episodes of "Lost" during the first season, until I realized that I was only watching it to find out what would happen to the laborador.

I decided my time would be better spent taking my own dog for a walk, instead.

Ms Wilberforce

At May 26, 2010 at 9:45 PM, Blogger Jill said...

What makes you so sure Smokey died and Christian wasn't Smokey?

At May 27, 2010 at 10:12 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The first comment said it and it was true for me as well. I literally found this after typing "Lost WTF" into google, after scouring the Fuselage and other forums for some 'finale-hate' catharsis. I will quote someones comment that really resonated with me;

"It's such a hollow feeling because I loved every minute of Lost until the finale, now I feel like I've been taken for a fool and the whole thing was just purposeless because in all honesty we started with nothing and ended with nothing. I am truly devastated."

At May 28, 2010 at 7:05 PM, Blogger Dicky Moore said...

What disappointed me about the finale was that it seemed like the whole "flash-purgatory" plotline was irrelevant. It was dreamt up just so we could get the some resoltuion at the end of the show. But there were so many questions unanswered about the island, and those who got off it.

I also find it a little disappointing that they should feature the afterlife so prominently. Most of what went on in lost was so unbelievable I don't like them tarring the afterlife with the same brush. It's a bit offensive.

At May 31, 2010 at 3:31 PM, Anonymous jvan said...

yeah.. i also feel like i wasted my time. season 2-3 were awesome, im just glad i didnt buy the last episodes in bluray from the playsation store... it sorta feels like the media is trying to globally prepare us for the end of existance. almost like the 4th branch is trying to butter us up for the slaughter. like the characters of lost were also on borrowed time. 2 years till the black hole in the center of the milky way sucks us in... lost flas forward, and whatever new shows they'll infiltrate our minds with will just bring us closer to acceptance of our own global mortality

At June 8, 2010 at 8:10 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I also googled "wtf lost". I'm so pissed off right now...I can not understand how the writers can do that. six seasons, for this? Really? I still got so many unanswered questions... :(

At June 12, 2010 at 3:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think that writters have to comopromise theirl script in order to estend into multi seassonal chunks. that said i think by the end the writter/studio/ndetwork has milk a series dry so there is no need to make a compromise of a coherent resolution. they already made their money and odds are that if you see thde finale they have gotten what they wanted from you already.
any one remembers the sopranos ending ?

At June 12, 2010 at 6:49 AM, Anonymous SphinX said...

typed 'wtf lost' and got this blog post. Shitty ending. I thought of very same ending but the electromagnetism stuff made me think its going somewhere. Damn it. Wasted Series.

At June 17, 2010 at 4:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Honestly Lost started going downhill starting in season 3. Season 3 was when they were captured by The Others, and that was when the audience expected to get some real answers, but instead they gave us very vague explainations to things and thats how the story continued on for the rest of the series.

At July 11, 2010 at 7:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

LOST, wtf kind of ending was that AND not a single answer was FOUND!!!

At August 6, 2010 at 8:30 PM, Anonymous reshmaji said...

Geeeez... So I just finished season 3 on netflix (Jack speaks to Kate outside some airport, in what seems to be a flashback but I don't even frickin know anymore, like he knows her).. and so I googled Lost season 3 wtf and low and behold... I find this :)

Saved me a lot of time and trouble, now I refuse to watch the rest. I'll go nuts investing that much more time and ending up practically where we began just not obliviously content and feeling sort of punked.


At August 20, 2010 at 1:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

OMG! OMG!!! I thought I'm the only one who conciously wrote "LOST, WTF?" on google.. Geez

yea man, it utterly sucks and total Bullshit, but.. I think there will be season 7, or.. Lost the movie..idk,, but one thing so true. Abram is gay, he made ppl dissapointed so much right now..

oh one more thing,
Why Michael not on the church, cos that womens shooter is now in HELL! lol

At January 23, 2011 at 2:39 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

lol, I also found this as a result of googling "lost wtf"

I'm glad I've read all these posts, other real-life viewers theories have me feeling much better in regards to the characters I've come to know than the finale made me feel

yeesh, a lot of good animes end up this way too, many great ideas and themes opened up, and then half-assed or never even wrapped up, but then a year or two later somone who cares enough usually gets a budget together for the movie that replaces the shitty ending to the series, I can only hope that happens wit lost, maybe call it Found :D


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