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May 30, 2010

LOST Conversations

Hi Lostie's,

A few days have past since the LOST series finale aired and I'm still in denial that we will not have our beloved show grace us with a new episode...not next week...not next season...not...
Well, you get the idea.

I waited a couple of days to peek around the Internet at fan reactions to the finale.   I wanted to be sure that I wrote up my  thoughts on The End the same way I wrote up all my other notes, without being spoiled and without influence before or after an episode aired.
A few friends shared their honest thoughts and honest perceptions with me about the show, the story and its writers, the LOST community, recappers, bloggers, podcasters, theorists and fans. It is enlightening to see how the journey was for the them over past six years. I thought it an interesting idea to collaborate and post  some of their thoughts here.  I will post a series of these shared thoughts so be sure to check back.  Also I encourage you share your LOST journey with us, so leave your thoughts in the comment section below.

Here is Joshua M. Patton. thoughts:
A few seconds after I watched the final moments of LOST, my cell phone rang bearing a call from a fanatic friend in Florida. I imagined that upon answering the phone, I would hear his sobbing voice seriously asking if he should perhaps gouge out his own eyes so that the image of Jack closing his eye would be the last thing he would ever see. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Rage peppered with expletives met my ears, “Those bastards! How could they? I mean dead the whole time?”

“What?” I said, incredulous and wondering if he’d seen the same television show I had just watched. Had he closed his eyes with Jack, he would have been spared a modicum of this anger because of, what I believe to be, ABC’s decision to show the crash site over the credits. Since this space is normally occupied by promos, and with no more LOST to promote I’d decided to opt out of the promo for “Rookies” or “Other Modern Family/Parenthood Show,” that those whose living depends on “the next thing,” would hope may replace LOST in the zeitgeist. Although they think “zeitgeist” is a German word for money-fountain. ABC, on the other hand, took a much higher road than I thought they would.

When I looked at those images, I clearly saw the remains of the survivors’ camp, piles of sorted clothes, and the burned fuselage. I read this as one part homage to the beginning of the show and the second part, perhaps, was a suggestion that since the Island lives on this crash site, and the remnants of those who lived and died here, is now as much a part of this island as the four-toed foot, the Dharma barracks, and the Black Rock before it was blown to smithereens. The show ended when Jack’s eye shut and Christian definitively said that everything that happened to him was real and it did matter. It was not the Ajira plane, although it is perfectly within fans’ rights to believe that plane never landed safely, but I’ll get to that in a moment.

The other reason for my friend’s dissatisfaction, I think, is how central a theme love was to the end of the show. His personal life is fraught with stress as an impending divorce has separated him from his wife and, even worse, his children. I think that once he realizes that in his own sideways world, this woman that left him would not have caused his “flash,” and once he realizes that, perhaps his perception will change. Love and the overall spiritual element of the ending also left some fans dissatisfied. Another of my friends is a rabid agnostic. A man of science, his faith was in that everything would be explainable by science. Thanks to articles in Popular Mechanics and Wired, he believed that everything on LOST had a scientific explanation and left no room in even his imagination for magic.

So while that may be a more legitimate grip than a misunderstanding about the images run over the credits, Still, I don’t even think that sending our characters off into a bright light is the real reason for my friend’s and everyone else’s dissatisfaction with the way the show ended. The reason is that for the past six years, LOST has been simultaneously two shows. There is the show the writers and producers and actors have presented to us and then there is the show as we’ve written it in our minds. The finale itself was an expertly done elegy for the series. These characters and their tragic paths to redemption and then ultimately salvation was always what the show was about. Just like the stories of Narnia was about the children who visited the world and Hogwarts was only seen through the eyes of the three main characters, so was the island a magical and deeply mythological place that only served as the setting for a story about the survivors of a plane crash.

LOST is a show that demands much of its viewers. Unlike procedural dramas and other such formulaic shows, LOST provided us with a myriad of stories that crossed many genres. The much reviled Exposé was a murder-mystery show (with a twist), He’s Our You was a spy-thriller, and many other episodes of the show defied genre classification. This is not what I am getting at. At its height, the first season, the promises of the show’s mysteries were much more appealing than once the answers started coming. A brilliant story through-and-through, many viewers found that the answers they were being given were less intriguing than the ones that they had imagined in the hours, days, or weeks after a given episode.

To be fair, the writers of the show have more or less given us paths to the answers. Rather than give us specific facts on a platter, the writers give us suggestions, sometimes from dubious sources, and confirmations that need to be married up with information given in other episodes. When answers are given to us straight and with no ambiguity, e.g. the whispers, many viewers are left feeling unsatisfied. As someone said on the lovely and talented Maggie Furlong’s web show Instant Dharma, the most satisfying thing the writers could give us is closure on a topic, rather than didactic answers. When the answer to a question is hidden we have mystery, once we have the “answer” that exhilarating mystery just becomes another bit of information. This once fascinating question is as robbed of its magic as the digital effects of Avatar would be reduced to its ones and zeros.

Yet, just because there are certain answers given to certain questions, such as the polar bears, it doesn’t mean that your theory about how the polar bears are the ones that built the Dharma Barracks is any less valid or any less a part of the show. When Karen and I first corresponded, one of the first things I told her was that I thought most of her theories were completely and utterly ridiculous. The wonderful thing about Karen, and others like her such as her podcast partners the ODI and Vozzek69, is that usually when the answer proves to be nothing like the particular nutty theory postulated weeks before, her enjoyment of the show does not seem to diminish. It was a wonderful gag that when the LOST community of website-runners would grade each episode, they mostly used a typical “A” through “F” grading scale, Karen used an “A+” through “A++++++++” scale. Just because the show went to a different place than she thought it was going to, she was merely happy to have had her passport stamped in that far corner of her imagination.

In fact, all that wild speculation and willingness to explore even the most absurd ideas paid off for them in that after “The Candidate,” they were perfectly primed for what the finale ultimately showed us. I downloaded and listened to the last ODI podcast, but in bits and pieces because they always give you at least two hours of LOST ramblings. On a long drive back to Pittsburgh from a more rural part of Pennsylvania, I was listening to the last half hour or so of the podcast the day after the finale and, while I don’t have quotes, they essentially nailed the scenario – all along really – that the Lostaways had to atone for their baggage and join the community to move on, spiritually speaking. While this was sandwiched between theories that the island is a shoehorn and that Christian Shepard is Santa Claus and the President the point isn’t that one theory was correct and others are off-the-mark, confused, or batshit crazy, but that these folks had opened their minds to the possibility of anything. This is not to say that they are apologists nor that they will swallow anything like gullible pelicans, in fact of all the theorizing stayed very true to the characters as we knew them. They were anchored to the show by these characters and through them, anything was possible.

Karen and Vozzek69, as far as I know, were not professional writers who saw in LOST an opportunity to find a dedicated audience, but two rabid fans who were compelled by this fictional story that they loved and the only way to make sense of it all was to work it out on the (web)page. I began my writing career in a similar fashion; at a very young age there were things I loved and things I couldn’t make sense of, so I thought I would organize those thoughts on paper. As if summoned by a supernatural force, they too began to peck away at the keys and have done what all good writers do: organize thoughts and ideas for those who cannot. A mish-mash of literary analysis and rabid imagination, they and others wrote the second storyline of the show and it is one that will never end. It’s the stories told by the fans, the podcasters, and the other LOST writers: Karen, Vozzek69, and others. And thank Hurley for them, because there is still quite a bit to talk about.

You can check out Joshua's blog at: www.thelastrube.blogspot.com

Shared Thoughts From JO of Get LOST with JOpinionated
None of us knew what we were in for when LOST debuted on September 22, 2004, but without a doubt I had no idea that this television series would have such a profound effect on and change my life. The level of creativity from start to finish was astounding and inspiring; to be able to weave and intermingle so many elements and characters for six seasons was an admirable and tremendous accomplishment, and one we will probably not witness again for 5-10 years.

To be honest, I did not care how LOST ended. I trusted the writers and producers based on the stellar quality of the overarching story and seasons leading up to the last episode, and enjoyed every second of the journey they provided for all of us. I was pleasantly surprised and touched by the emotional resonance of the Flash Sideways reveal, and truly loved the final ten minutes of The End. After watching the series finale four times, the same two words come to mind: beautiful and perfect.

Shared Thoughts From Andy of DarkUFO:
Being part of the whole LOST "experience" running the site has helped me enjoy the show so much more as I could see all the reactions of the fans each week on the site along with all the great insight our recappers and theorists made.
The show itself hooked me from the very first minutes and that feeling of not being able to wait for the next episode has never dwindled, even after the Finale. I still feel I want more LOST.
Hopefully all Lost fans will meet up at the "church" at some point in the future.
Namaste.

Shared Thoughts from Chris of  Super Duper Stream:
"Lost, for me at least, began as a story about a dozen or so normal, broken human beings who find themselves coping with the real issue of being trapped on an Island, and unreal issue of supernatural events. These people were not your usual TV cliches - the two de facto leaders were a Doctor who harboured cryptic tattoos and an unassuming woman hiding the fact she is a 'dangerous' fugitive.

Although this is where Lost began, and the writers did a fantastic job of returning us to our core characters and their attempts to overcome the various real and supernatural events thrown at them, along the way something altogether more magical happened. These writers weren't just entertaining us, they were teaching us, guiding us. Like a veritable mash-up of every theme, story, myth and idea ever conceived, Lost took us, the viewer, through every genre imaginable in weaving their tale - romance, science fiction, action, adventure, mystery, crime, comedy. All of them had their moment to shine.

What Lost has done for me is to provide a gateway to all these fantastic stories and themes. It has taught me more about philosophy, books, science, history, etc than School ever did. Through via various aspects of the fandom that have taken each piece and investigated it further, I have learned so much. There are websites out there solely devoted to the various books mentioned in Lost and how they tie into the overall motif, websites out there dedicated to the etymology of the character's names, others too that deal with the repetition of phrases and how they make up a rich tapestry over time. Each of these people, these fans, these websites, make up a chain that wraps and envelopes the Lost story to make it something altogether stronger and larger. I also feel like I have been a link in this chain - my own forte is in analyzing all of these ideas and theories and condensing them into something that is easier to understand without all the intricate details.

As you can see, it is hard to tie Lost down into one core aspect - it is the storyline, the characters, the themes, the fans, the community. All of it, combined, makes Lost what it is, was and always will be. Magical. One of a kind. Easy to love. A perfect marriage of quantity and quality. There were some little aspects that I didn't like with Lost, some minor details I disagreed with, even felt they were 'wrong'. But for everything I didn't enjoy, there were hundreds more things I did enjoy, and I guarantee there were thousands of fans who LOVED the very thing I didn't. And I think that is where Lost's successes lay - it could never be everything to everyone, but I think there was enough of everything there that everyone could at least love some part of it.

Now that we've reached The End, I still feel like the journey has only just begun. To fully appreciate all the little details, we need to go back to the start, to re-watch the show, to continue to share our opinions and takes on the past six seasons, and to continue to read and share with each other all the things we loved and noticed - and maybe together we will eventually understand everything that has happened. And until then, I will relish every moment of the journey."

2 comments:

  1. Thank you for sharing these with us! Very well spoken. I wish I had a gift with the written word. Look forward to more of these !
    ~Debby~

    ReplyDelete
  2. I've really enjoyed reading the thoughts of several people about this show that changed many of our lives. Thanks and please keep them coming! I will so miss LOST!
    Mahalo and Namaste!

    ReplyDelete

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