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Entertainment :: LOST: The End, Part 2
  submitted on May 25, 2010, 7:22 PM

If you missed Part 1, you can find it here.

A couple things that I left off before I get into the flash sideways...

-I got excited of the prospect of Richard Alpert heading off into the civilized world and adjusting to life there a la Crocodile Dundee. Now, obviously Richard is somewhat acclimated with modern day society as evidenced by his recruitment of Juliet when he brought her to the island, but I still find the idea of a guy from the 1860s having to start a new life in the city of Los Angeles quite sitcom-worthy. We've got that, and we've got Sawyer and Miles in their buddy cop show, let's get on it ABC.

-Not to criticize the writers, but holy crap did they drop the ball. In a show that is filled with Star Wars references, when Kate told Jack she loved him, how can you not have Jack respond with "I know." I mean, c'mon, it's not like this show takes itself too seriously to pull that off, they just had Hurley bust out a "I've got a bad feeling about this" earlier in the episode! It would have been beyond greatness. For shame, LOST writers, for shame.

The Flash Sideways. Okay, well, turns out there's nothing sideways about it, but we've been calling it that all season, no need to stop now. I find my brain to be a jumbled mess of thoughts when it comes to the flash sideways that we've been witness to all season. First off, I loved it. All season, I really enjoyed everything they showed us (Well, maybe not Kate's episode. Sorry Kate, old habits). You had this world in which all of the characters we've watched since the beginning of the show were in a completely different place. Well, the same place, but with a completely different destination, and with different lives to lead. And yet, despite all those differences, my favorite parts about the flash sideways were the moments that were reminiscent of the rest of the show. Everything that we remembered, and loved about the show, we were able to relive it, only in a different way. We saw classic scenes between Jack and Locke, Nadia and Sayid, Sawyer and Miles, Desmond and Jack, Hurley and Libby, Charlie and Desmond, Locke and Ben, Jin and Sun, Kate and Sawyer, and on and on it goes. All of these relationships that we had been able to see before, some that we hadn't seen in years, rekindled right in front of us. Ignoring what it meant to the LOST story, it was just plain fun to watch. Much like the on island storyline, with Hurley and Jack finding the caves, or seeing Shannon's inhaler, or Sawyer reflecting by the cages, it was a slice of nostalgia pie, given to the fans to consume. An homage to the thing that made LOST great, the characters, and their relationships with each other.

And yet, it was even more than that. What we got on LOST was a group of troubled, flawed, characters. What we saw in the flash sideways was an insight into what they could be like if they were able to overcome their inner demons (Except for Kate. Again, sorry). Jack, still very much a doctor's son, but this time with the opportunity to change things, to move on past how his father treated him, and build a relationship that he could never have had with his father with the son he never had. Sawyer, perhaps still haunted by the death of his parents as a child, but instead of being consumed by the man that he hated and ultimately becoming him, he becomes a cop, someone who tries to do what's right in the world. Desmond, a man that was always very much afraid, and unable to commit to anything, and was willing to do whatever he could to win the approval of Charles Widmore, the father of the woman that he loves. Now, a man who is in control and has his life together, and very much has the approval of Widmore. Locke, a man who couldn't escape the misfortune of being Anthony Cooper's son, with that misfortune ultimately manifesting itself in the form of a wheelchair, a daily reminder to Locke of what had been done to him. Instead, Locke is still in his wheelchair, but it's for a different reason, and he's still able to live his life, and be with the woman he loves, Helen. Hurley, once was a cursed man, now is the luckiest man in the world. Jin & Sun, before in a troubled marriage because of Sun's father, now in a much happier (and dangerous) secret relationship that does not require such a burden.

Early on in the season I talked about the idea of the flash sideways being an epilogue of sorts. With a show like LOST, how do you just say goodbye to your characters at the end without dragging it out? You want to see them one last time, just to see them. And not just the handful that manage to escape the show alive. I don't know if I compared it to this or not, but it made me think of the final Lord of the Rings movie, Return of the King. Yes, the ending of the movie was longer than the rest of the movie itself, but it was because we had experienced such a journey with all of these characters, it seemed only fitting that we see what happens to them. But how do you do that with LOST? You can't just have the last four episodes be an epilogue, it's beyond anti-climactic. But if you spread it out over the course of the season, giving bits and pieces here and there, so that people don't know it's an epilogue until the end, that could work. It's like introducing us to the concept of the flash forward, only instead of revealing it at the end of the episode, you keep the wool over our eyes all season.

Now, the major flaw with this idea was that if this flash sideways truly was an epilogue, then it would imply that the past 5 years were effectively rendered meaningless, since the plane landed, nothing we saw actually happened, and that's just not good for anybody. You can't give us an ending that negates the entire series and expect fans to be okay with that. And, as we saw, that's not what they did. In the end, they did give us what basically amounts to an epilogue, only it really had nothing to do with the rest of the show.

Knowing that now, and looking back at it all, they really went out of their way to mess with us. And it's not the first time they've done this, either. With the initial flash forward, they didn't screw with us too much aside from Jack drunkenly talking about his father despite the fact he was really dead. But I'm also reminded of an episode in Season 4, a Jin & Sun episode. Up to that point in the season, every episode had been flash forwards only, no flashbacks. So we get to see Sun's flashforwards, and she's pregnant, going into labor, and is a little delirious from everything that's going on and asks for her husband. Then, in a separate set of scenes, we see Jin running to the store to buy a stuffed animal as a gift, and he's in a rush to get to the hospital. The scenes are interwoven to make us believe Jin is taking the stuffed bear to the hospital to give to Ji Yeon, but instead it turns out Jin was in a flashback, and in the flashforward he was actually dead. I remember really disliking the episode, as I felt the swerve was cheap, and made me feel like they were pulling that on us for the sake of doing it. The introduction of the flashback into Season 4 wasn't done as a storytelling device, merely as something to enhance the con they were pulling on all of us.

But with this season, I feel different about it. Deception and concealment of the flash sideways world's true purpose was necessary, because its secret just isn't something they could have told us until the very end. I find myself looking back and thinking how crazy everything was that we were meant to look at in a completely different way from what it actually was. Take the Incident, for example. The ultimate red herring. At the end of Season 5, a bomb went off directly over the pocket of electromagnetic energy where the hatch was being built. Jack & Co. believed that the bomb going off would prevent the Incident, that it would lead to the hatch not being built, which meant Desmond wouldn't push the button, which meant their plane wouldn't crash, and everything would start over, with the plane landing in LAX. On the flip side, though, perhaps the bomb going off was the Incident, and by detonating the bomb, they were simply doing their part in the history of the island. And so we were left with that ambiguity at the end of Season 5, did the bomb going off work, or didn't it? How do we start off Season 6? With two storylines, one in which Oceanic Flight 815 lands at LAX in 2004, and one in which Jack & Co. wake up in 2007, wearing their Dharma jumpsuits, standing by the imploded hatch. So immediately we label the flash sideways as somehow being related to the Incident. The ambiguity continues! Did it work, or didn't it? But now that we can look back, we can see that clearly the Incident was the bomb going off. They prevented nothing, and instead everything played out just the way it was supposed to. Whatever happened, happened. The Incident had absolutely nothing to do with the flash sideways world. But of course we didn't know that at the time. And it didn't stop there. Damon & Carlton basically alluded to the idea of the flash sideways world being somehow related to the Incident in their interviews and podcasts. Or one of my favorite moments now looking back, Juliet's "final words" to Sawyer as told by Miles (the guy that can hear dead people's thoughts, appropriately), "it worked". A very vague and confusing comment at the time, since it clearly didn't seem to work given the fact Sawyer and everyone else was still on the island. But we all believed it to mean that in the flash sideways, it did work, and her comments before she died about getting coffee, etc., meant that we would see that happen in the flash sideways world. Instead, we learn that "it worked" was simply referring to Sawyer getting his Apollo candy bar out of the vending machine by unplugging it! Love it.

Okay, but let's bring it all back around. What is the flash sideways world? It's a place where (most) everyone we knew went to when they died. Everyone died at different times, but eventually they all did, and went to this place, to see one another one last time before they moved on to whatever awaited them in the afterlife. Could it be purgatory? I suppose, although I feel like it's a place that is similar to purgatory, but without the requirement of purification or punishment, or anything like that. I look at it more as how Christian put it, a place for everyone to find each other, to remember, one last time. As much as it was a place for awareness and reflection on what their lives were with each other, I think that's what it was for us as viewers, as well. I don't think about it too much in terms of the rest of the LOST story, because the flash sideways is really it's own entity. You could remove it from the show, and the story still plays out the same. The value of the flash sideways is not the story, but the characters. If you are watching LOST because you are invested in the characters, then the flash sideways world was made for you, so that you could enjoy and appreciate everything that they are one last time. I've seen discussions on whether this place is supposed to be for everyone, or if it's only Jack that is truly experiencing this, which is a fair point since there are hints that that is the case (Jack being the last to remember, his final conversation with his father), but I guess for me, that stuff isn't all that important. Watching everyone suddenly wake up, and remember their lives, and remember the people they spent their lives with, and even fitting in one last sappy LOST reunion inside the church, that's what was important to me. Ultimately, that's what I got out of the flash sideways. And that's why I loved it. It was really everything I could have asked for from an epilogue.

LOST. When it comes to television shows, for me LOST is in its own category. I don't claim to be a TV guru, despite the massive amounts of TV I may watch. There are many "great" shows that I have never seen, The Wire (I know, I'm working on it), MASH, Twin Peaks, Breaking Bad, etc. But based on what I have seen, nothing is better than LOST. It was compelling, complex television, with interesting characters, great relationships, lots of mysteries, plenty of suspense, just enough science fiction to whet my appetite, and a well thought out universe for the story to take place in. It's not a show without flaws, of course, but in the end, I think the positives far outweighed the negatives. I loved the experience, especially the sense of community and discussion that was created as a result of it all. The show has really changed how I look at TV, for better or worse. I think I'm going to have to lower the bar going forward, because I just think it will be pretty hard to top what LOST has meant to me.

Anyways, it's been a fun ride, I really enjoyed being able to share in the discussion of the show with everyone, and I'm glad you all liked what I had to say enough to read my blog every week. This will probably be my last LOST-related post, at least for the foreseeable future. Don't forget about Chronologically LOST, where you can see the whole show in chronological order. I expect to start releasing episodes in the next few days, which you can feel free to watch and enjoy at your convenience. That's all for me, thanks for reading.

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