The Nighttime Novelist...accomplishes more in about 240 pages than a dozen other "how to write" or "craft your novel" books have ever done.

--Helen Gallagher/Blogcritics




Monday, May 24, 2010

LOST: Thou Art Redeemed (Part III)

Well, maybe not all ways satisfying, or not all questions answered...there are dozens (being optimistic) of questions still hanging out there, some of them logistical, some of them just trivia. A few examples: Dharma Food Drops? Libby's husband, or her insane asylum stay? Patchy the One-Eyed Immortal? Waaaaaalt? Aaron, Ji-Yoon, and other island orphans? Where did the new washer-dryer come from in the hatch? Why was Ilana a religious soldier of fortune and yet she was throwing around dynamite in her satchel like she was looking for her cell phone?

I was noticing these types of questions even watching the finale: So Bernard and Rose jumped from the 70s to present island time a week ago...and managed to bring their entire home with them? Did they have to be touching everything? Was Bernard stretching his toes in order to jump with his La-Z-Boy made of coconuts?

I have no idea and I don't care. Or, I do care...but not that the questions weren't answered. I care enough to keep thinking about these even now that the show is gone. To consider what might have happened on the island we didn't see, what might've happened to our few Lostaways who escaped, went back to the real world, and presumably lived out their lives in some kind of peace. To consider how long Hurley and Ben were the Batman-Robin of the island, and what adventures they had during their tenure. Or even just to go back and consider those Dharma Food Drops and where they might've come from. I've got some ideas. Any one might make a good episode.

The mystery involved in LOST was the best kind...the kind that encouraged fans to try and answer themselves. Look back at archived message boards, particularly during the first two seasons, and you'll find fans doing just that, recommending books and philosophers and metaphysicians and pseudo-scientists and theologians. You'll find a hollow earth theory...yes, that the Lostaways were inside the earth. You'll find kooky ideas and kooky passion and uninhibited creative leaps, because the fans felt like they were really part of the show. After all, the show only lasted an hour a week. The discussion boards, however, were always open.

What mysteries are still out there, unresolved, I may take up in this same way. The DVDs are sitting on my bookshelf. The characters are still on the island when I pop one in. There are still places to discover that haven't been added to the hatch door map. Grab the blacklight and the glow-paint and I'll show you. And besides, and this is more to the point, our lives are still mysterious and full of wonder. The characters may've answered the biggest question of all by now, and have crossed to the other side, but those of us still here have our own questions to ask and answer. We're still carrying our pasts on our backs. We wake up each morning happy we've made it through the night, and we begin planning a course for our redemption and rescue which may or may not be thwarted by dynamite. We've still got work to do.

For these characters, the work is over and the reward finally earned. And though I'll miss them terribly, I'm glad they found what they were looking for.


  1. Beautiful analysis, Jody.

    Especially this: "And besides, and this is more to the point, our lives are still mysterious and full of wonder." That's the feeling the finale left me with, and that's a pretty spectacular thing for a television show to pull off.

    I actually really enjoyed the flash-sideways stuff, even before I knew its significance. All of the characters seemed to be a touch happier (now I understand why). And, of course, watching them recognize each other was really rewarding.

    Thanks for writing this, and thanks for getting me into the show in the first place! :)

  2. Nice Jody. I was pretty frustrated with the show throughout most of S6. But it was just a fantastic finale.

  3. I just got around to watching the finale today (a little late, I know). It was interesting to read a review from this perspective -- i.e., purely an analysis of the storytelling. I almost completely agree with you, except for three things.

    1) I was thinking too during the final Jack-Locke smackdown about how the central conflict was really between them. But I just didn't see enough of Locke in the UnLocke. Whereas Jack-as-Jacob, as you point out, was really just "a better version of Jack," UnLocke really represented none of what made Locke a "force of nature" in S1. They were both played by Terry O'Quinn, but, as Jack says to Smokey, "You're not John Locke, and you dishonor his memory by wearing his face." Furthermore, I didn't even see the MiB as a being of pure evil/the ultimate adversary -- he was basically just an unfortunate guy who had been betrayed over and over and wanted to escape his cursed lot -- true, at the expense of killing people, but nowhere near to the extreme of Ben, Widmore, or half the other characters. So the fact that it wasn't really Locke and the sympathy I had for the MiB sort of deflated the epic out of what was supposed to be the ultimate conflict.

    2) I agree that with you and Cuse/Lindelof that some questions are better as mysteries, but some of the events in the middle of the series were pretty poorly planned. I mostly attribute these to it being a tv show... The Others had to be randomly killed and replaced with other Others who were even more mysterious because because a show that had built itself on intrigue had to constantly up the ante (cf. Jack Bauer biting out jugular veins). The dozens of other redshirt Oceanic passengers had to be there in S1 for Jack et al to lead, and they in turn had to die (and apparently be denied Heaven!) because they became dead weight. I still don't think the random time jumps throughout S5 were at all necessary. So, yes, S6 makes a lot of winks at S1, but what about everything in between? If it were a novel, I'd say much of the bloated and rambling middle would have been rightfully cut.

    3) This is subjective, but, while I don't have a problem with the flash-forward reality being "purgatory" on principle, I think the deal with Christian Shepherd coming in at the last moment to play the trope of "wise father figure delivering the moral of the story" followed by gratuitous slow-motion and white warm light was a bit too easy and corny. I was half-expecting the 'Touched by an Angel' dove to fly away. I dunno. Maybe I just wasn't sentimental enough to let them get away with that.

    But, yeah, for what it was, I was pretty happy with it. Like everyone else, it seems, I had low expectations that somehow by the grace of nondenomenational Jesus managed to be blown away. If you have any further thoughts on this, please share. And again, thanks for posting this. It's always a pleasure to read your thoughts.