Monday, May 24, 2010

L.A. Times Botches Lost Finale Review

L.A. Times botches the review.  Spoilers at the link despite many mistakes.  My own discussion follows the break and will include spoilers -- hopefully if you're reading a news feed, it doesn't include stuff after the break.

Here's a quote from the review:

Instead, it turns out the passengers of Oceanic 815 are all dead, victims, if the end-credit imagery is to believed, of the same tragic plane accident that started the whole thing. Six seasons of polar bears, bachelor pad hatches, landlocked ships, personal submarines and a fleet of fallen airplanes, and it was all apparently some sort of shared afterlife experience.
The writer was corrected in the comments. Wonder how long that review will stay up un-edited.

Also wonder what the odds are that the reviewer comes back, makes some complaint about fanboys, blames her lack of comprehension on the writers, and says that even with the new knowledge her opinion is unchanged.

Anyway, reviews like that are what producers use to justify putting a giant white cross on the bottle of holy water that John Constantine has just told us is holy water -- then reinforcing that point by having the demons who are being disintegrated by that holy water say "Oh no!  Holy water!"

As far as the Lost finale, I'm ultimately pretty satisfied with it given the numerous constraints they had (gotta leave people and questions alive for movie sequels) and how difficult it is to end a series with that sort of impact.

More satisfying than the Sopranos and BSG endings -- not as sharp as the finale for The Wire.  The flash-monad was ultimately unneeded for the season's plot, but provided good emotional moments and helps soften the blow of Jack dying at the end.  Though I think even that bit is left ambiguous (for obvious, movie-making reasons).

Loved the callback to The Prisoner -- Who is Number One?!

Hafta say one criticism leveled at the series that holds no water with me is the complaint that "they're just making it up as they go along!"

That's what makes serial fiction interesting.  Can the writer keep juggling all the plots?  Can they make it come out cool?  What are they going to do when that next twist they throw in the story paints them into a corner?  Can they find a satisfying way out.

That's what makes Stephen King's the Dark Tower series fun, what made all those Dicken's novels serialized in magazines fun, what makes reading a long run of an author on a comic book fun.  When done well, you end up with a particularly entertaining and surprising epic tale.

It's a real author's challenge.  Criticize them for doing it poorly.  But if you know anything about writing or the history of writing, you sure as hell shouldn't be criticizing them for taking on the challenge.


dan said...

I enjoyed the show a lot through about the middle of season 3 through to the end of season 5. But I was really disappointed with the finale and most of season 6. No dramatic stakes - the entire flash sideways arc just fizzles out for no purpose and the Island plotlines were also aimless. I can forgive them some Judeo-Christian mumbo jumbo but not the complete lack of dramatic tension.

Steve Peterson said...

The overall goal and result felt right to me -- kill smoke monster and establish new protector.

But I think they would have benefited if they laid out the goal more clearly early in season six so we'd know what the stakes are and get dramatic tension from failures along the way. My suspicion is that they wanted to retain the weekly twists all the way through to the end, but twisty stories stop having twists in act three and start wrapping things up (other than one big twist at end). And season six was effectively act three.

Though I'm also suspicious now about the flash sideways not actually being a flash sideways. There's enough left ambiguous that, if they do make a movie, that we can wind up going back there.

Little stuff, like "it's a place you constructed on the island." Well, a flash sideways alternate world could also have been constructed -- and constructed in such a way that it appears as some collective vision of an afterlife of the people involved.

Bigger stuff: if they're going to lay out 85M for a movie, then they're going to want John Locke and Jack Shepherd and probably a lot of the other supposedly dead stars in it because those people will sell tickets.

The writers might think that the ambiguous afterlife serves as a sufficient conclusion for the series if there are no follow ups -- but also provide an out in the likelihood that they'll do a feature sometime down the line.