Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Dead is dead, and that's how it should be.

 ("Yo, Jack, would you put this in the sub for me?")

It ain't the death.

As Lost has been winding to a close these past three months, there has been an internet war (although a semi-polite one) breaking out between those who thought happy endings were coming all around, and those who felt death and destruction was inevitable.

I've never been in the happy ending camp.

The type of story Lost has been telling has always had one neon sign writ large and hanging above it since the very beginning: Sacrifice.  Sacrifice, we have been told again and again, is the only thing that truly separates us from the monkeys and Smoke Monsters of the world.  So, death to all and sundry was, I always thought, as sure for many of our heroes as taxes are for us.  And ever since Sun and Jin's wet firecracker beach reunion was quickly followed by Sun's miracle gunshot recovery and Jin saying, "Everything's cool, baby.  We're going to be hunky dory from here on out," they have been dead Koreans walking, as far I was concnered. 

So it wasn't the death that bothered me, because I was expecting it.  In fact, for a brief moment last night, I thought everyone on board that sub was going to die, and that was going to lead us to the birth of the Sideways World and a new chapter in our story, which I thought was eminently cool and would maybe save an episode that I felt had been sputtering big time up to that point.

But then the wet firecrackers again went sploof.

The illogical plot machinations were legion.  Smocke's plan was apparently to find poorly hidden explosives in the plane (not so crazy); wire them    with a convenient digital watch he didn't know would be there    when no one was looking (a little bit crazy); get Jack's pack away from him long enough to load a new bomb into it (fairly absurd); get Jack to take the pack back without bothering to check why Locke had it in the first place (totally crazy and absurd); have Kate get struck by a random bullet (beyond crazy absurd); then have Jack, and not Sayer or Sayid or Frank or Jin, end up being the one to carry Kate (and the backpack of doom) into the sub of death that Jack had no intention of getting into in the first place. 

Well, ok then.

Seems like the variables in Smocke's plan were so numerous and varied as to make Daniel Faraday's notebook look like a Tickle Me Elmo cut 'n paste.

That was so ridiculous that it makes all the meaningless times Smocke saved a candidate's life just to manipulate us into thinking he didn't really want to kill them seem minor by comparison.  Darlton have said that all of Smocke's life saving duty was simply a part of his master long con of the candidates, but I think it was all part of their long con of us.  And since they made me believe Smocke didn't want to kill the candidates at all, yet never for a second made me question my belief that he was still pure unadulterated evil, which they have said was their goal so far this season, I'd say fail-fail for them and me.

It's wasn't the death.  It was the execution (very much no pun intended).

After taking six years to fill us in on even the most mundane of details, Lost has now rushed through more story and nonsense in the past two weeks than they have in the past two years.  Had it not been for the whole Dharma download last season, then I'd say there was more plot in the past two weeks than there has been in the whole rest of the series combined.

And just like that, Sun and Jin, Frank and Captain Red Shirt, Sayid and several subbies, they are all dead and gone.  Not entirely gone, mind you, as they are still there in the Sideways World, but the people we have followed and loved for six years bit the dust in the quickest, most illogical manner I could ever have possibly...

Yeah, a night's sleep did nothing to alter my early reaction from last night, did it?

You'd think a show that has been able to routinely make a few castaways returning from a few weeks trekking across the jungle into a slow-mo reunion that rips your heart strings out would stage the deaths of four major characters so as to create an emotional and epic moment for the ages.  But you'd be wrong about that, it turns out.  It just felt as if it was time to get busy dying, because they had wasted too much time getting busy getting busy this season.

What did I want?  Did I want an entire hour of Sun and Jin trapped in the sub, the water rising ever so slowly while they told each other stories of Ji Yeon and Dharma brownies?

Well, maybe.

I may not know art, but I know what I like.  The books which inspired so much of Lost, Stephen King's Dark Tower saga, are at the tippy-tippy-top of my must read list.  They are filled with more death than any six seasons of Lost, and that death comes to minor and major character alike.  I love those books even though my heart breaks each time I read them (three times, so far), so death by literacy is no stranger to me.  I have come to expect it from staggering works of heartbreaking genius, because sacrifice really is the one thing that cuts across all cultures.  It is the glue that holds us all together, whether the sacrifice be major or minor, because we are a people capable of transferring our genetic desire to survive from ourselves to others. 

I mean, I'm the guy who will always let Mrs. Schmoker have that last bite of pie when we are out at a restaurant.  I know from sacrifice, my peeps.

So, I can tell you with all sincerity that it wasn't the death that bothered me.  It was the execution (ok, maybe some pun intended this time) of it all.

I have a laundry list of things similar to the shakiness of Smocke's plan I would like to bitch about, but I'm still not up to a blow-by-blow description of why I thought last night's episode blew.  I still believe firmly that nothing that happens in these final hours will lessen my appreciation for all that has come before (always been a journey over destination guy, and always will be), but I honestly do now believe they aren't going to come close to sticking this landing.  For all the warnings Darlton issued about character trumping plot in this final season (and how we should be prepared to get great character resolution at the expense of plot-ish answers), I'm struggling to see how Sayid, Sun, Jin, and Chesty got any true character resolution at all.  They just died, quickly and quietly, after having barely been a part of the story at all this season. 

I really hope I'm going to eat all these words.  I really hope further developments, a re-watch or two, and some time cogitating over what others have to say about last night causes me to say, "Oh, what a stupid I am!"

But I don't think so.

As I said last night, I'll be back with the blow-by-blow recap eventually.  I need to watch it again and mull things over.  Perhaps it simply was the suddenness of it all, and upon reflection I'll look at it all in an entirely different manner.  But after the rushed, far less poignant than it should have been Sun/Jin reunion on the beach three weeks ago, their rushed, far less poignant than they should have been deaths last night merely ensured that the Island incarnations of my favorite Island couple will never get anything approaching the sort of resolution a show as complex and deep as Lost had me expecting they would get, even in death.

And that doesn't bode well for everything to come, I don't think.


  1. Come over to the dark side, Schmoker.

    You are not the only one who didn't like last night's episode, but unlike you I have been feeling that way for most of the season. Now that you have finally seen the light (or dark), I look forward to what you have to say about the episodes to come.

    That Sun would simply allow Jin to stay there and drown with her, allowing her daughter to become an orphan without even a token fight, violated everything they had ever established about her character. That moment, where their child was never mentioned so that reality wouldn't intrude on the faux-Titanic bullshit of it all, was the true shark jumping moment. They violated character and logic in order to pull on heartstrings, which, in my case, didn't work at all.

    And that was without me ever even stopping to consider how shaky Smocke's master plan was, as you have pointed out so well. That was the 140 year plan in the making?

    I've been sort of so-so on the season as a whole this year, but your blogs on it have brought me around time and again, Schmoker. Nothing, however, will alter how bad last night was. Six years for that? Six years for a bullshit, manipulative death that violated the heart of those two characters?

    I'm a journey guy, too, Schmoker, but now I don't even really care where the journey goes from here.

  2. Our daughter will be rich. What does she need two goofy parents for?

  3. Is your heart made of stone, Schmoker? For someone who says he loved Sun and Jin, how could you not be moved by their deaths? Separated for seemingly forever, now they can be together forever in death. That was poetry.

  4. I don't know what to think now, but I do know that the entire death by sub exercise was terribly plotted and staged. From the impossibility of the escape (you can't swim out a blow hole that is still filling up, let alone swim to the surface from five minutes down without getting the bends and drowning on your swim back to the beach) to the dramatic inertness of the deaths (Sayid's actually happened off screen, and was such a quick turnaround from the Zombie he had become that it made no sense that he ever was a Zombie), I sat their stunned for all the wrong reasons.

    It was like the writers thought that, since the show had been a sci-fi/fantasy mish-mash all along, they could completely throw out all realism and logic now that the end was coming.

    Basically last night was saying, "We have to wrap it up now, so we have to abandon everything that made the show great up to this point."

    Realism matters even more to a show such as Lost. When you are telling a fantastical story, you are even more hidebound by the reality you create than if you were telling a mundane story. You can't violate the reality you have created, because then all tension evaporates.

    How could Sun and Jin and Sayid and Frank all die without my shedding a tear? I cried when freaking Ana Lucia died, for goodness sakes. I cried when Ben had his cathartic moment with Ilana. I cried when Sun sat at Jin's fake grave and cried herself, and I even knew then that Jin wasn't really dead---yet I still cried.

    How could I not be moved by their deaths?

  5. Oh my. I've been thinking about this all last night and all day today and I'm mainly depressed. Not even Ryan's telling us they've added a half hour to the finale has made me happy.

    And I'm mad at myself! I PLAINLY SAW Smocke hand Jack the backpack and it was obvious but I still didn't get it.

    I thought Sayid was back with us and I think he was but now he's not.

    I'm one of those who kept thinking why doesn't Sun OR Jin say something about their daughter (though I'm willing to forgive them since they weren't even used to being back together yet and knew they were going to die and realistically, they may have only been thinking of themselves.) Can't fault them for that - they were reunited for what? An hour?

    You're right about the digital watch conveniently being there. TOO convenient - too coy - too precious.

    Does being a candidate now mean that you're gonna die?

    After watching Hurley break up on the beach, which DID bring tears, I'm almost AFRAID to watch any more and that is NOT the way I wanted to spend the next couple of weeks.

    As you say, Schmoker - doesn't bode well - not well at all.