Step Away from the Watercooler: Thoughts on the Last Episode of Lost

26 May

Let me preface this post by informing you that I have never watched an entire episode of Lost. I have never have had nor will I ever have an urge to watch the entire series. However, I would like to comment on the “twist” ending of the series that seemed to captivate America for six seasons. Please don’t read ahead if you have not yet seen the ending of Lost.

Spoiler Ahead!

From my understanding, the surprise twist of Lost is that all the characters were dead the entire time, and no one actually survived the plane crash. This was part of a subplot called the “flash sideways,” which is symbolic of an afterlife that was alternate to the real life experiences that took place on the island. If this is an incorrect analysis, please feel free to correct me. However, if this is a correct analysis, my response to this is: duh.

I remember having a conversation with someone a few years ago about Lost. This person tried to convince me that watching Lost would be the best thing to ever happen to me, and on par with winning a small Las Vegas jackpot or having hot sex with Leonardo DiCaprio. Ahem, not so. There is nothing that turns me off more from a TV show than constant analysis of the plot and characters, and endless media coverage (I remember when people discussed Lost on Best Week Ever and in panel discussions on CNN.). The over-saturation of Lost made me hate Lost before I could ever watch it.

My biggest qualm with Lost is not its existence, but my ability to predict the “surprise twist ending” years before it disappointed millions of viewers. Whenever someone wanted a reason for why I did not want to watch Lost, my explanation was this: “I already know how it ends.” Actually, I had three predictions for what would happen at the conclusion of JJ Abrams’s brainchild:

1. The entire series will end up being the imagination and/or dream of a precocious child. A wide shot of the plane crash survivors would cut to a close-up of a young suburban boy in bed. The boy awakens and realizes he is late for school. He jumps out of bed, gets dressed, and runs out. The camera pans over drawings of planes and plane-related mishaps scotch-taped to the walls. Then blackout. And alas, ’twas all a dream. (A la the Tommy Westphall Universe theory.)

2. The plane crash “survivors” were dead the entire time and the island is a gigantic metaphor for purgatory, the disillusionment of human relationships and the acceptance of one’s life. Hmmm, sounds about right. This theory has been the most common on Lost fan sites and television blogs.

3. The camera pulls out from a shot of the survivors at a rapid pace, revealing the scene as a snow globe with an island scene inside of it. (Again, a la Tommy Westphall.)

How did I imagine any of these endings? I’m a writer and I hope to one day work as a staff television writer. These endings are completely standard for any sort of show that intends to lead an audience on a trail of confusion (See: St. Elsewhere, Dallas, and Newhart.) Why do you want to confuse an audience? It keeps people interested and it puts money into the pockets of network bigwigs.

The idea that the island in Lost served as a setting for purgatory is a good one; however, it was probably hinted at from the first episode (From my understanding, a dichotomy between the colors black and white established the symbolism of good vs. evil, in the very first episode). When was the last time that a large amount of people survived a plane crash anyway? And if they did, what are the chances that they could crash on an island in the South Pacific with polar bears, mysterious black smoke and time travel oddities? Lost went as far as it could take us into the imaginations of writers who tried their best to create and execute a vision for a TV show that would captivate and confuse a broad audience. They certainly succeeded – in the last six years, I could not go through a consecutive week without hearing, “Did you see Lost?” No, I did not see Lost. Perhaps I’ll write my own mysterious magnum opus of a television series and call it, No, I Did Not See Lost. Then I will be a millionaire with the freedom to make lame movies in the vein of Mission Impossible: III (Let’s face it, MI:3 was no original Mission: Impossible) and Cloverfield. Yeah JJ Abrams, I just went there.*

*A little-know fact about JJ Abrams is that he wrote the 1992 Mel Gibson movie Forever Young.  As a child I probably watched this movie dozens of times. How could a movie with the tagline “Time waits for no man, but true love waits forever,” be bad? Props to JJ Abrams for writing the early nineties masterpiece, Forever Young.

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