Friday, June 4, 2010

Lost Again (Babble)

I’ve had some time now to contemplate the ending to the show Lost, and since I don’t have anyone here to discuss it with, you lucky people get to read my musings on it.  (Or not.  I have complete sympathy for people who are not interested.  It’d be like trying to have a discussion with me about sports.  I don’t care.  You can’t make me care.)  This post is also a mess of spoilers, so for those who may still watch it all, don’t read this.  (I’m talking to you, Kraco5.  Go read this old post again if you need something to pass the time.)  If you never plan to see it, read and enjoy how nonsensical I can sound!  I know that at this point even people who care might not care because it comes on the heels of a lot of more timely analysis, but remember, I don’t have a husband around to talk to, and I just want to get some thoughts out of my head.  Indulge me and share some of your own theories.

Okay, my thoughts on Lost for anyone who cares to read them are these:  The finale, on an emotional level, was satisfying.  You couldn’t ask for a more perfect set of last few images than Jack stumbling past his father’s weathered tennis shoe and lying down in the bamboo to die.  To watch the plane fly away was hopeful, and I was a wreck when Vincent the dog showed up to lie down with him so he wouldn’t die alone.  The eye shutting to that last little note of music was perfect.  The symmetry of all of that was beautiful.  The episode, like the series in general, left us with a lot to think about.  That’s the fun of it.

I’ve been reading too many reactions online of people who seem to have confused the explanation of the sideways timeline with the island timeline.  The sideways timeline may have been a kind of purgatory, but I think they made it pretty clear the island was not.  I don’t think we need a perfect explanation for anything that happened in sideways land because it was a fiction they were creating for themselves.  Our core characters wanted to move on together to whatever comes next, and there is no way to know how long the sideways timeline played out until that happened.  For all we know Hurley and Ben ran the island for a thousand years before they died.  I like that idea, because that would mean after a millennium of penance Ben was still working things out before he could move on.  (Which seems appropriate for someone who killed so many.)  I think the moment Rose told Jack he could ‘let go now’ on the plane at the beginning of the season was the moment Jack died on the island.  That would mean even though as viewers it looked as if the sideways timeline was in the past, it was a form of the future we were catching up to, which has a very Lost type twist to it.  Despite arguable problems with the sideways stories, the awakenings and reunions in that timeline were also satisfying.  I loved Sawyer and Juliet by the vending machine and getting an explanation for what she was saying when she died in his arms at the beginning of the season.

Great stories don’t typically answer every question.  If they did there would be nothing left to discuss.  I know at the last book club meeting with Aden and her friends we talked about our theories of how the grandmother in the story The Witches lost her thumb.  Roald Dahl never tells you, and it’s far more interesting and mysterious that way.  If we had a simple explanation it would have killed the discussion because what would be the point of talking about it?  Mysteries where you get to fill in every blank become disposable, like a finished crossword puzzle.  Lost decided to leave us with many things to puzzle out, and in general I don’t have a problem with that.

BUT!  As much as I’m willing to let certain answers go, here are the ones I’m annoyed I didn’t get:  I seriously needed the backstories for Widmore, Hawking, and Libby.  I also wanted to know if Desmond’s interference in the regular timeline that was sparking course corrections was also responsible for retroactive changes as well (which would help explain away inconsistencies, like how Charlie couldn’t swim originally and was a champion swimmer later, or why that image he saw of Claire escaping with the baby on a helicopter never happened).

There is this hilarious bit about unanswered questions here, but some of these do have answers already (for instance, that image of Ben’s mom had to be the smoke monster, and ‘The Economist’ was Widmore).  The main one in this list that bugs me too is why The Others were in disguises ever.  What was that about?  And in my opinion the fertility issues on the island were the biggest thing that really should have been explained.  That was central to so many stories over and over I think that was unfair to offer us nothing on that topic.  And the reason Chrisitan Shephard could appear in so many places the smoke monster couldn’t?  I think it really was the ghost of Christian Shepard.  When Jack saw him standing in the water in White Rabbit?  And later in the flash forward?  I think he really saw his dad.  Not sure why he would appear to Michael on the freighter, but I suppose once one accepts dead people injected into a storyline, one should not get too picky about why they do what they do.  I think when the smoke monster in Locke form told Jack he was posing as his father, he was (gasp!) lying.

Here are my other guesses on a lot of things.  As much as I know many people disliked Across the Sea, I think it answered a lot of questions.  And I don’t mean the obvious ones, I mean that because we know the backstory for Jacob and his brother it explains a lot.  Jacob had important powers and responsibilities (although I couldn’t help thinking while he was at his loom about that quote from the Holy Grail where the knights are standing around watching the Mighty Tim make flames pop up from the ground and they say to him, “I can see you’re a busy man….”)–but the thing about Jacob is that he was really just a guy, and one with a messed up history at that.  How did he choose the people he picked to come to the island?  Well, how would you?  It could be for any random reason that seemed good the day he thought of it.  If a god is picking out people you expect certain standards, but a lonely guy with mommy issues?  I’m impressed he picked as well as he did.  Same goes for the smoke monster’s motivations.  Why did he kill the people he killed?  Again, a clever vengeful devil should do something evil with meaningful impact, but a lonely dead twin made of smoke with mommy issues?  Maybe he left people alone who were interesting to watch and killed others when he got bored.  I can see that.

In any case, I have a sense that the combination of Jacob’s powers and his general flaws helped create a lot of things that don’t make sense.  Maybe all those goofy costumes The Others were wearing were made for them by Jacob on his loom.  What else did he have to do most days?  (It doesn’t explain the bad fake beards, but there are weirder choices people make in reality, so whatever.)   Heck, the island looked uneventful enough most centuries he could have built that giant statue of Tawaret himself.  Also, our only clue on the fertility issues is the death of Jacob’s birth mom and his complicated feelings for his adoptive mother.  Maybe someone with Jacob’s powers doesn’t have complete conscious control of them.  Maybe any time he spent brooding over his mommy issues bled over onto all of the island in such a way that they became part of the fabric of existence there.  Maybe under Hurley’s reign the fertility issues ended and a new statue was built to honor ranch dressing.  Could happen.

Or maybe it had nothing to do with Jacob, and the glowy warm light with its warming glowy glow was causing interference for anyone else also trying to create life so close by.  I can see that, too.  But it would have been nice to have the writers of the show at least point us toward some kind of answer instead of leaving it so open.  I can let go of questions about the polar bears because that was probably some Dharma thing that a scientist with grant money thought was a good idea.  I can also explain away the mysterious Dharma food drops as related to the goofy time problems on the island.  For all we know the food drops happened in the 70’s and thanks to temporal anomalies didn’t hit the ground for 30 years.  Why not?

Widmore is still a puzzle.  I think he was working for Jacob, or trying to help Jacob in his own way, but wasn’t necessarily carrying out specific orders.  I don’t think Jacob, for instance, told Widmore to fake the plane crash at the bottom of the sea, but Widmore saw an opportunity to ‘help’ and went ahead with it.  In terms of his being inconsistent on things like letting Ben keep the baby, well, it just speaks to someone winging it.  If he was trying to help Jacob and not getting any decent direction, then he’d have to just go with his own judgment, and I’m sure ordering someone to kill a baby in a way that feels abstract is different from the baby showing up in front of you and then making a decision about whether it lives or dies.  That just seems human, and putting a fickle human spin on many of Lost’s mysteries may explain many of them.  The only big Widmore plan I do think Jacob was involved in was priming Desmond to be able to uncork the island.  I think the quarantine stuff was simply to keep him in the hatch where pushing that button for so many years immunized him against its electromagnetic effects.  Or maybe there really was some kind of ‘infection’ that was related to the smoke monster.  But that whole thing makes my head hurt, because I didn’t get the sense that the children stolen off the beach were getting injections, so why was Ethan intent on injecting Claire and her baby?  Ugh.

Here’s a LIbby theory I have that I haven’t read anywhere yet:  I think her dead husband was the same dead David that Hurley was talking to.  I think both Libby and Hurley could speak to the dead and that’s why they were both in the mental institution, and when David tries to trick Hurley into jumping off the cliff on the island it’s motivated by jealousy over Libby.  Somehow Libby must be tied to Widmore so that she could get the boat to Desmond, but I guess how or why we’ll never know.  That we wasted any time learning about Jack’s tattoos when we could have had a Libby backstory is a bit maddening.  (Or even an Ilana backstory.  Heck, I’d have even preferred a director’s cut of an episode of Expose.)

Zombie Sayid needed some kind of explanation.  That wasn’t fair to have him rise from the dead and not let us know what was up with that.  And why did Claire leave her baby?  I thought she was dead for a long time, killed in the explosion in Dharmaville that took out all those redshirts, but in the end she flies home, so I guess not.  Zombie Claire made more sense.  (You know something has not been sufficiently explained when a walking dead theory seems the most reasonable.)

Anyway, it was a good ride.  I loved being surprised and hated waiting so long between episodes and the whole thing was a good use of the medium of TV.  I can’t believe it stretched out for Mona’s entire lifetime, but it was worth watching.  (I nursed her all through season 1 and a bit into season 2!)  I’m tempted to buy the over-priced definitive box set when it comes out, but it’s still all free on Hulu, so I may start watching it all again from the beginning.  Knowing what I know now it will be extra enjoyable and frustrating this time.  I have a few more months before Ian gets home to get through it all.  It’s hard to sleep without him, so I tend to watch programs on my computer at night until I can’t stay awake anymore.  Lost reruns could serve that purpose well.

Anyone have any other theories about any of the big unanswered Lost questions?  I’d love to read them.

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