*** WARNING: Spoilers for LOST and BSG to follow. You have been warned!!!! ***
Like many of you, I spent my Sunday evening in front of my TV, looking for some closure after six years of Lost. Like many of you, I had my theories as to what in the hell was going on, and I’d heard from several sources that the end of this great show wouldn’t disappoint.
Unfortunately, I was disappointed. Actually, I was furious. I’ve since calmed down, but I still think the ending to Lost wasn’t good enough. I mean, sure, it wasn’t as catastrophically stupid as the Battlestar Galactica finale. I can admit that a goodly portion of the reason I didn’t care for the LOST finale was that I wanted it to resolve itself differently than it did. I loved the time-travel stuff in the previous season, and I had every reason to think the whole nuclear bomb thing spawned a separate timeline in which awesome events would occur allowing the people in the “real” timeline to eventually prevail through a final payoff of their previous nuclear option. It didn’t. Not my favorite option, but I can live with that.
Here’s what does bother me.
Imagine that you are running a D&D campaign. The adventure revolves around solving some big mystery, and every clue the players uncover seems to raise several new questions. Your players love this stuff, and they keep asking you to do more of this. This goes on for years, and is one of the most beloved campaigns your group has ever known. Many of the larger secrets of the story you’ve been weaving all these years have yet to be fully revealed, and your players all have theories. Eventually, you decide to end the campaign. You end the current story arc, explain vaguely a couple of the campaign’s mysteries, and then suddenly all the PCs are in Valhalla giving each other hugs. I imagine at least a 72% chance that you will be stoned to death via hurled dice.
Call me crazy, but if one of the primary means by which you engage your audience is by coming up with freaky inexplicable crap to keep them wondering, you had damn well better do a good job explaining what you’ve been causing all their poor neurons to needlessly fire about by the time the series ends. Instead, we got a wrapup of the current story arc, an explanation of all the weird crap that ever happened in the form of “well, that’s how Jacob ran things”, and ten minutes of violins and group hugs designed to make my wife cry. When you end this kind of series like they just ended Lost, it no longer matters whether they had any idea what they were doing from the start. You never find out. Did they end it this way to keep people asking questions? Maybe. But that’s not a very nice thing to do to your fans who have been dying for any shred of information since the beginning.
The sad thing is, had this been just another season finale, I probably wouldn’t have my knickers in a twist. I enjoyed all the Jacob vs. Smokey and picking a new protector stuff. I thought Hurley was a cool pick for the new guy, and Ben perhaps the most interesting choice of his #2 available. I even sort of like wondering if Jack turns into a smoke monster. In fact, I liked pretty much everything except for the “alternate reality actually being Purgatory” bit. That was the final twist of the knife to me. They told us the island wasn’t Purgatory, and they told the truth. That was just evil. That made me think that somewhere in California, the producers of Lost are in an underground bunker filled with money – laughing at all of us.
Photo cc 1995 Jeff Kubina