Thursday, May 27, 2010

What We Watched For: The Big Angry Lost Post, Part 2 of 2.

[ NOTE: This post contains spoilers—both in the sense that it reveals certain details of the Lost finale, & that it will probably leave you with a negatively-tinged outlook on the show, life, & the pursuit of television-fueled happiness. ]

Previously on What We Watched For:

("... the Dharma Initiative, which I assume is a club for facist yoga enthusiasts...")

Or, more accurately:

Also, this:

("If I f— him, he's not ever going to be the same again.")

All right, enough stalling: This post has been hard to write, because I just feel so thoroughly drained from the whole phenomenon—the 4.5 hour event that was this past Sunday, plus the 4-ish hours my friend & I spent afterwards in my living room, mourning & ranting & generally parsing so intently that I felt like I talked it all out of my system—such that to revisit it would be too much, would stir up the sting of true disappointment we tried to discuss away.

But I promised—to my (one hand's worth of) Readers & to myself—& it's gotten to the point where I have other potential entries pre-written & backed up, so here it is—if disingenuously, because all I really feel is numb & more than a little duped.

Another friend & Lost viewer—the one, in fact, who enabled my first viewing of the show—sent me this video:

... which is basically the fan-but-not-fanatic's version of The Official (Lostpedia) List of Unanswered Questions. Out of this brilliantly orchestrated soup, all of which I think are spot-on, jump a few that really bugged me. Also, I've provided my own answers, because according to Darlton, I ought to be able to enjoy guessing for myself. Because that's fun & productive. (...)

Why can't women on the island have babies, & what does this have to do with anything?: I mean, come on! This was such a big deal in the first few seasons! It's the whole reason Juliet even existed as a character! (Except, you know, to be a muted-voiced killjoy—& to give Sawyer someone to bone while Kate was in a different year.) This really ought to have been addressed somehow in the explanation of Island mystique. Instead, the "answers" featured a Superbirth, in the unexpected arrival of magical twins (Jacob & the Man in Black). Weak, Lindelof.
Anneliese's Explanation: Ben Linus personally attempts to ritually impregnate the women of the island & is unwilling to accept that he is infertile / has demon sperm.

The General Bundle of Walt Questions, AKA What was his deal?!: Really, they made such a point of highlighting Walt's magical magicalness in the beginning—but then, suddenly, he pubesced & was worthless to them. Which I just don't get: children in the real world grow up, too! (She says, thinking of her ever-testosterone-fueled 13 year old brother.) Was there something important about his being the tween messiah? & could they not foresee that the show was going to run longer than they could keep a child actor in suspended animation?
Anneliese's Explanation: It was, in fact, Walt's Cuteness & Smallness that were going to save the Island. In the head of the statue of Taweret, there is a cockpit just big enough for someone Walt's (original) size—because we all know that the statue was built by the Munchkins when they came with Henry Gale in his balloon—& when the statue is controlled through that cockpit, it becomes a Weapon of Robotic Destruction, with the sole purpose of taking down the Smoke Monster. But, as soon as Walt grew up, they couldn't use this sweet ending, so they just booted him off the show.

Wasn't Sayid's soulmate Nadia?: The answer is, yes. His love for her was, in fact, his only character motivation ever. When Desmond brings Sayid back from the dark side with his speech about love, he is talking about Nadia; when Sayid has to perform terrible deeds in the name of love (in Flash-Sideways or otherwise), he performs them for Nadia. His three-episode fling with Shannon was just that—an island romance, the ultimate "because you're here" hook-up—until Shannon got killed off for being one-dimensional, & everyone happily forgot about the mistake of a character she had been, including Sayid.
Anneliese's Explanation: The actress who plays Shannon had one episode left in her contract; they promised her, when they killed her, that she could come back for the finale.

Why don't the rules of time travel apply to Desmond?: By which I take our avid questioner to mean, why doesn't Desmond also flash through time in Season 5? Though the answer to that specific question probably has something to do with his anti-electromagnetic superpowers, I choose to extrapolate from that another question: what the hell happened to everyone else on the plane? There were thirty-some survivors, right? All of those extras bumbling around on the beach in Seasons 1 & 2? Did they jump in time, too, like Rose & Bernard? If so, where the fuck are they?
Anneliese's Explanation: Every time Desmond says "brother," the Smoke Monster kills a kitten; their vengeful ghosts keep him stabilized in time. As for the other people, I like to imagine that, from the start, they had their own leader, their own token girl, their own funny fat guy—except instead of an ass-backwards, non-mystery drama free-fall, they're happily filming a sitcom on another part of the beach.

If the Smoke Monster can't leave the island, & was zombie-Jack's Dad, how does Jack's Dad appear at a hospital in L.A.—& on a freighter? How did the Monster get into Jacob's cabin?: No one has any fucking idea. I mean, really. Especially the freighter—because maybe Dead Horace telling Locke to go to the cabin was actually the Smoke Monster impersonating Dead Horace, & maybe it was the Smoke Monster's cabin all along... But then what was that shaking chair all about? & still, this doesn't explain how Christian was able to appear to Michael on the freighter—whether he was a version of the Smoke Monster (who can't travel across water) or a ghost (who only exist on the Island itself). [Note: I just read that last sentence & am now seriously contemplating Seppuku. Talking about this show makes you sound crazy.]
Anneliese's Explantion: Christian Shephard is the Lord God Almighty (or, you know, the Christian Shepherd), & his only son, Jack, must sacrifice himself for the sins of mankind. [Links to THE Spoiler.] This theory is subtitled as, Lost Sells Out to the Christian Right—or, in a previous draft, Lost Writers Are So Up Their Own Asses That They Don't Understand the Implications of Having Someone Named Christian Shephard On Their Show, Let Alone Making Him the All-Knowing Messiah Whose Son Dies For the Good of Man, & Who Leads People Into Heaven—Which Is Located In a Church, No Matter How They Try to Dress It Up Like a Buddhist Synagogue.

If both of Daniel Faraday's parents are British, & he went to Oxford, why doesn't he have a British accent?: No, really.
Anneliese's Explanation: I got nothing. This was just extremely poor planning on their part—or, rather, empirical proof of a lack of planning.

Why does only one specific bearing get you off the Island? Why do those returning to the Island need to recreate the circumstances of their first arrival? Why can they move the Island? Why did they move the Island? What the fuck is this island?! & what, for God's sake, are "the Rules"?: The first rule of the Island is, you don't talk about the Island. The second rule of the Island is, you don't talk about the Island. Especially in the finale.
Anneliese's Explanation: Look, I can theorize 'til I'm blue in the face about Taweret being a battlebot, postulate about a rain of lollipops that falls on the Island every Sunday at 4—but is only visible to those who believe—& still, it won't do me any good. I can never pretend to know what I'm talking about, nor can I even come close. Because this show is an insular, short-lived piece of badly constructed fiction. Am I the only one who finds it wildly presumptuous that they chose to explain the mysteries of the afterlife, but not their own goddamn magical Island? In the discussion of What Is Yet to Come For Us All, there are thousands of years of musings & tradition we can use to speculate, & perhaps Lost could be commended for raising/adding to the debate—but not when it comes at the expense of delving into their own "mythology."

& this is what I find most insulting: the perpetuation of the show's greatest myth, that somewhere behind his superhip glasses & supersmug leer, Damon Lindelof has this whole working idea of what the Island is—but, because he presumes we wouldn't want the mystery spoiled, he has only shown us a slice. Of course, this is 1) not true 2) stupid 3) so clearly false as to boggle the mind—

"But wait," my friend sagely stopped me, just before the smoke (Monster Inside All of Us—it was one of those dumb Verizon things) began to waft from out my ears. "Wait. Pause. What did we like about the show?"

His question took me totally by surprise; there was so much to hate about this bullshit excuse for a finale, how could he even ask—? But then I remembered: hate & love are just two sides of the same coin (or Othello piece, to keep with the spirit of the show). If I really cared nothing for Lost, why spend so much time talking about it—or writing about it now, for that matter? Something about this show intrigues me—or at least it did, once upon a time, & that's worth acknowledging.

So, in an unprecedented turn, here is What I Ultimately Liked About Lost:

1) The so-seeming Gods of the Island are subject to human error. As Jacob says first & foremost when trying to explain, "I brought all of you here because I made a mistake." I've always preferred depictions of the human quality in the divine, à la the Greek pantheon. So, well done there.

2) In that vein—though I'm pretty sure that this is just me, & the Island was definitely supposed to be important & special—I'd like to think that its magical magicalness was in question, perhaps because they didn't explain it. Though we're told a few times over that the world will end OMG if the Beautiful Light That's Inside Every Man goes out, when it does, the only thing we see happening is the Island itself falling apart. It is, in that (& every) sense, a self-perpetuating phenomenon. Unclogging the Sink Drain of Hell could ultimately be inconsequential to the rest of the universe; Jack could very well have died for nothing. Still, in the final moments of the show, he looks up at the plane taking off—a plane full of his newfound friends who are now flying to safety—& he smiles: he has made his own "meaning" by making meaningful human connections. This moment was, to me, far more effective than that overblown Purgatory-Meets-Virtual-Reality subplot.

3) They explained where Vincent went—& he lived.

So, fine. I'll stop complaining. I won't go over how wildly idiotic & trite those Love Connection moments were; how I was basically right about the kung fu movie showdown between Good & Evil; how the moral of the story was ultimately that being in a successful heterosexual couple is the key to Heaven—or, at the very least, that being in a plane crash is a reasonable cure for loneliness. It's just not worth it anymore.

Because I think we can all accept that the finale was really fucking lame & disappointing without having to dwell on it much longer. So, let's acknowledge the good & the bad—in defiance of that black-white divide—& realize that though the show's end was stupid & preachy & poorly constructed, we can still take its main teaching on into later life:

Never Get This Into a Single TV Show Ever Again.

So, now, on the count of 108 (=4+8+15+16+23+42), let's all shut our eyes to this six-year "Made you look!"—& really, truly let go.

Today's Headphone Fodder:

I saw HUMANWINE at the Middle East this past weekend: transcendent, to put it mildly. They played all of the songs I hoped for, rendered songs favorite I had forgotten about, rocked everyone to their core for over an hour—the Platonic ideal of a concert, really. What wonderful, wonderful performers—especially Holly, of course, whose voice sends shivers through my skin, plucking up goosebumps & quaking at the spine. She is, by far & away, one of the greatest female vocalists out there, just as her band is one of the best to see live. This song, in particular, was one of the ones I never really separated from the pack before, but now I can't seem to stop humming it—or watching this live version on YouTube. One set of lines I find particularly beautiful:
& I tore up my arms, made them like wings /
They could have been anything.

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