They seems to be a weird division amongst those that watched Lost. The problem seems to be the ending and it's tarnished the entire series. The subject comes up from time to time and the argument seems to be fanboys defending it and those that go along with the herd. Guess that makes me a fanboy. But it doesn't. I didn't like the ending first time round but my loyalty to the show kept me defending it. Quite frankly it was some of the best television that has graced the screen. This and my experience with Heroes has nudged me into a new theory that those late to the party only came because someone brought them along.
For those of you reading this it's likely that you are fairly clued in to new TV and cinema. If Lost and similar shows are your bag then you, like me, were in it at the beginning. When it came to Heroes I was ahead of the curve and saw the whole first season in one session on YouTube before it was hastily taken down. Both shows grabbed the public's attention and both looked to be long running, successful shows. Now as we know Lost made it to the end of it's run, a rare occurrence these days. Heroes suffered a different fate; the critics. And lazy ones at that. The main moan seemed to be the pace of the show in it's second outing. I found this a little odd. I waited for the boxset and as before watched it in one go. Aside from a slight compactness due to the writer's strike, which hit all shows running at the time, I really didn't have a problem with it. The herd mentality changed. Instead of being fans of the show all of a sudden viewers were quoting critics and bemoaning the very things that made the first series great. The ending of Lost seemed to do the very same thing. It gathered so much hype, and rightfully so, that it became of major media interest. The press as we know like to big something up and tear it down. Something grabs the collective consciousness and they pounce. So what is the best thing to do as a critic? Watch the show and give your view or stand apart from those that like it and come at it with all you've got?
Well I'd like to say all of those that performed the latter are all well know from their moment in the sun but sadly I couldn't name a single one of them. J.J. Abrams on the other hand created a show of pure quality that everybody has heard of and will go down in history despite the ending. His name I know.
I re-watched the series again recently and thoroughly, thoroughly enjoyed it. In fact I forgave the ending, it was quite sweet. My only niggle now is something Abrams did, something that he had done before. For any of you that watched Alias you would have followed Sydney Bristow and the oddness of her spy life. It was a lighter show, a bit of action against bad guys in nightclubs, some black ops, the odd saucy outfit and politics amongst the other characters that were enemies or friends depending on the day of the week. Now I liked the show, it sums up escapism for me. Until I watched it again and realised how much I hated the protagonist. A rather good plot device is to have the main character bullheaded, egotistical and offering the impression that he or she is always right and that no one else can manage. We follow them and initially root for them as they draw out the story and follow the twists and turns. And if you haven't worked out where I am going with this one, I hate Jack. And to a degree Kate. The main characters, the likely love interests and the pair of them are complete pains.
So my trade off for the series in retrospect is that a lot of the screen-time is filled with characters that had served their purpose first time around. As a friend pointed out to me as I finished the show the second time, it's a show that benefits from advanced knowledge. And for my part opens up all of the other characters that you didn't really have time to look at at the time. I did have questions from the first run. Well one actually, I think I may have been distracted when they explained the voices in the woods. That was nice to get eventually but the rest was plain sailing. I didn't really watch it again to find anything out, just to watch it for fun. And it was a pure joy.
Having seen it before and knowing the answers to the big questions the show gives you a chance to savour the other characters and their storylines. Ok, Jin heavy episodes were a slight struggle but there isn't a bad show amongst them. How many programs can you say that about? Even episodes featuring the flashback/forward/sideways of a character you didn't identify with had enough for you that you don't even remember the specifics of slower storylines. But then I suppose someone will be saying that there was one episode that they hated, the problem one, the last one. What was the problem with it?
First time around I wanted more. The flash sideways, the waterlogged island, the new lives for those that weren't on the plane gave me a taste for something magnificent. Then Sam Beckett pops up in the back of my head, 'oh boy', and the show left me with a quantum ending. Trick me once, shame on you... It seemed a bit twee, the setting being the bigger problem despite it making perfect full-circle sense. The irate little atheist in me started off on one. Second time round, not so much. No, no conversion, maybe a little more mellowed with forewarning but knowing the outcome I had a little more time to look at the set dressing. The multi-faithness of it all diluted the problem and I accepted what was happening. Part of the problem is there was no other way to end it from that point. The show was so epic it needed a resolution for all of the characters. To show how they grew. A lot of shows are about growing up, it's a part of the paradigm of a show with a story arc and the arc on this one was littered with broken characters. Be it redemption, revenge or faith each came to the end of their journey, leaving as a whole rather than their fractured former selves.
Now I know there are some out there that just didn't get it. The whole show not just the ending. It is a show that really needs to be fully viewed. There is that much depth that missing a few episodes along the way and you may literally lose the plot. Maybe this makes the problem worse for group discussion but the ending crystallises it and I really feel the need to defend it because it was such a good show. I mean really, every aspect of Lost was so well done it almost hurts to think about it. The photography, the acting, the scripts, every Star Wars reference and the unfolding mystery of it all. And how many conversations did it spawn? Everyone at work talked about it, emails bounced back and forth trying to fathom one bit or another. How many shows generate that sort of interest? How many shows have that many good cliffhangers on a regular basis?
Now there is the argument that the ending was made up on the spot. Contradicting that the people that actually made Lost who claimed they knew all along how things would end and everything in the middle was written toward it. I'm not so inclined to believe those that claim the former, pretty much because a studio wouldn't let the show get that far without an idea and opinion isn't fact.
So I was there at the beginning and there at the end, as were many of you. So surely it's up to us to make our own minds up about this one. I tend to come toward shows and films with an open mind. Nearly everything that has been over hyped I've hated and the opposite for anything I watch with lower expectations. For the record I quite enjoyed the Green Hornet and hated The Road. Does this make me a bad person or a wolf in sheep's clothing eyeing up the herd. The Road incidentally is the only film I've watched and hoped throughout that the main characters get killed. How on Earth did they sodding survive up until the film began? Hate them.
And, relax... What was it about the ending that everyone hated? I've glossed around the storyline enough not to give too much away so there's little I can suggest. By the end, every question of import was answered and there wasn't anything that wasn't tied up. I'm guessing that I'm in a minority, I watched the show in the full knowledge that I would watch it again. After watching a bad film people often quip that's two hours of my life I won't get back and Lost was how long? I suppose investing so much time for a brief ending for a one time viewing would get the hackles raised which is why I jump in to defend Lost's honour so quickly. Even after it's first airing I was miffed but still stuck up for it. I don't grasp continued annoyance with the finale because the rest of it gave so much and with hindsight (and also the second viewing) I feel more defensive about it than ever. I respect its creation and everything that went into it. All of the subtle touches, the effects in filming, the polar bears, Lapidus' line about the funeral and Juliet's smile, which has to be the best smile on television ever. It gave more than it took. And as much as it took it really didn't take so much that the ending deserves to sum the thing up in its entirety. The show is a classic through and through. Oceanic 815 took us all on a trip of a lifetime and although it didn't end as we'd hoped it's a trip we ought to consider taking again. We have to go back to the island.