Monday, May 24, 2010

Lost Finale Recap: Part One of Infinity

This opinion is currently under construction.

I imagine I'll be writing about last night for the rest of my life.  And I would guess that I will not be alone in that.

I finally got to see The End.  It took much doing, an internet trick or two, and the ability to maintain a Zen-like calm in the face of many a technical glitch, but I did finally get to see it.  However, I was falling asleep through the whole thing, as it was near 2 a.m. before I could actually start watching it, so I'm not exactly ready to write the Recap to End All Recaps just yet, but I am getting there.

Seeing as it was nigh on 5 a.m. before I finished watching it, however, and seeing as I have had only about three hours sleep during the past 36 hours, why don't we just start working on it together?  This will be my first draft, with a lot of shit flung at the wall.  You can hit the comment section to tell me what sticks, and then I will endeavor to get more coherent about everything with every draft.

Just... wow.  That is all I have to say at the moment.  Just wow.  You'll have to give me a minute to work my way through it before I can give you more than that.  So let me digress for a moment on the circumstances that led to me watching the finale at three o'clock in the morning, and then we will get to the show itself.

And we will do all of that right after the jump (that's internet-speak for "click 'read more' below")...

Turns out it was not just my house getting a fritzy Time Warner signal during the finale of Lost, after all.  It wasn't even just my neighborhood.  Apparently it was system wide around here, and it wasn't even Time Warner Cable's fault.  The local ABC affiliate, WEWS, went completely wonky during the telecast.  No one in NE Ohio could watch the finale.  That's right, most of an entire state got a Lost finale broadcast with massive glitches ripping through it again and again, on a second by second basis, obscuring video and sound over and over again.  I gave it a half hour before I caved and turned it off, deciding to wait until it was posted on the internet.

But, hey, they announced today that it will be rebroadcast in its entirety     in a week.  So, you know, I guess didn't really need to resort to internet piracy to see it.  I just needed to wait until May 29th.  My bad.

And I guess I didn't need to rip Time-Warner a new one after all, but it still felt good to do so.  Time Warner still goes down on me every other week, and believe me when I say that isn't as much as fun as that sentence makes it sound.  They deserve to be ripped on a semi-regular basis, anyway, even if this particular screw up wasn't their fault.  I'm sure something else soon will be their fault, so consider my last post to merely be ahead of its time.

Mrs Schmoker and I thought about it, and we can never recall a local television signal going on the fritz in quite that way in many a year, if ever.  Cable goes out on a regular basis around here, but never before have I seen a major network affiliate have that sort of isolated transmission trouble.  It ended up being about six hours (or more) of bad signal from the ABC affiliate, and it just happened to occur for the very first time in memory just as the Lost finale was about to air.

I would have to say that is a sign.  That was Jackob talking to me.  Or the Hugo in Black maybe.  Or maybe #2 Ben broke into WEWS, took a cheese grater to some circuit boards, and messed up my Lost viewing for a purpose I cannot yet understand.  After all, the whole situation was so unusual and ill timed so as to make it all just so very Lostian.  Perhaps someone out there    or someone UP there in the great sideways world in the sky    was trying to tell me something.  Maybe God or Jacob or the island wanted me to know that I watch way too much television.

Or maybe it was just a glitch.

Or maybe some higher power was trying to send a message to someone else in NE Ohio.  I guess it doesn't all have to be about me.

Nah    it was probably all about me.

With little sleep or sustenance since the show ended, I have nothing left in me to write an extended and detailed recap at this point.  But that's OK, I think.  This will just be the first of many posts where I recap, rewrite, review, regurgitate, and recycle the Lost finale.  I'll be recapping, rewriting, regurgitating, and recycling the Lost finale for the rest of my life.  But I will hit you with a hail of bullets before I go, and then come back later to write my first proper recap in Recap, Part Two of Infinity.

  • Now that was what they call enlightenment, eh?  Literally.
  • So Lost was never about the Island.  In the end, this was a story about a group of people, and that story continued on even past death.  
  • It was a story where all of the extraneous bits of action that did not directly relate to what happened to the characters was deemed irrelevant to the story.  Anything not character-centric was considered so much flotsam and jetsam.  It's all still there to be examined, but it's not about to be explained.  The island and the mythology were merely window dressing all along.
  • Yeah, that's fair.  I took a punch to the gut time and time again last night (errr...this morning), and so for me to sit here and quibble about hatches and cabins and ghosts, oh my, would be ingratitude of the highest order.  I got about 90% of what I wanted out of the finale, and that 90% was exponentially ramped up to 11.
  • So, let's work that out.  90% multiplied by 11 equals 990%.  If you had told me the finale would be 990% of what I wanted going in, I would have kissed you right on the mouth.
  • Rocky Balboa was punching me in the groin with each and every awakening, and to do that to me is to love me.  Like someone experiencing full on Stockholm Syndrome, after last night (errr... this morning) I have nothing negative to say about my jailers of the last six years.  Not today, anyway.
  • Ultimately, however, Lost was not a story about storytelling, as it has so often been called.  It was a story about character building.  
  • So to be fully honest here, the story part of the storytelling took a huge beating during this final season.  With a purpose, I understand, but, nevertheless, part of telling a story is also... well, telling a story.  They nailed to the wall everything character-related, but they left behind the wreckage of an amazing mystery tale in their wake.
  • Whoa now.  That sounded a little bit like complaining.
  • It wasn't complaining.  I have oft cited Lost's ability to move me this and way that, and how rare that is, and how grateful I have been for their doing so consistently over six long years.  I have said that even if they did not come close to sticking their landing, my overall opinion of Lost could not be dented.  Well, they stuck that landing, for the most part, and now my overall opinion of Lost has been hyper-inflated and cast in iron.  They may not have tied up their tale and snipped away all the loose ends, but they tied my gut up into knots aplenty, and that is still a feat to be reckoned with.  Attention must be paid.
  • I was actually more right than I wanted to be.  No one saw the Way Station-before-you-jump-to-the-Great Beyond coming, but I did end up seeing almost everything character-related that was coming.  And for a show that ended up being all about character, that was a lot to suss out.
  • Being right about a few things wasn't always that satisfying, however.  My favorite part of Lost has always been its ability to surprise me, and so just a small part of me was disengaged when so many things unfolded exactly as I foresaw them.  It was still a kick in the stomach that Locke's wiggling toes were his constant, but just a tad less so for my having seen that scene, right down to the camera angle, coming at us over a month ago.
  • Team Shannon.  Yay!!!!
  • Yeah, I hit that one right on the nose ever since Sundown, when Sayid made his Faustian bargain with Smocke.  But that never seemed to me a tough one to call.  As soon as they started making a mystery out of Sayid's true love, it was always going to be Shannon.
  • And whether I called it or not, that moment hit me hard.  Having just watched Season Two over again during the past month, the Shannon-Sayid romance is strong with me, and I was heavily invested in their reunion.  Based on what the show has shown us over the years, it was a love far more real and earned than the love between Sayid and Nadya.  
  • Sayid's love for Nadya was borne of guilt and responsibility.  It was something a damaged man clung to when he had nothing else, but it wasn't real.  It wasn't whole.  Sayid's romance with Shannon was two broken people actually healing each other, and it had more impact on their lives than anything that had come before for either of them.
  • Shannon and Sayid came to the island broken, and they made each other whole.  The only drawback is that it happened nearly five years ago, and that does make it hard to remember compared to the Nadya story, which got to play out in endless variations before our eyes from the first season to the last.  If you had not recently watched Season Two, it would have been easy to forget all about how moving and earned Shannon and Sayid's love connection was.
  • Widmore and Ellie, not evil.  Team Ellie, yay!
  • It never made a lick of sense that two people in league with the MiB would bring Desmond to the island.  End of discussion.  And they brought Desmond there not once, but twice.  Regardless of whether or not Charles was a dick, he was never evil.  
  • And the only evil part of Eloise was her hair.  
  • Charles and Eloise as evil was a dead end discussion from the word go.  The worst I was prepared to accept was that Ellie just wanted some more time with her sonny-boy before letting go.  And while that sounds like I really foresaw the Way Station, I did not.  Indeed, Ellie did just want more time with Daniel before letting go, as Ben wanted with Alex, but not in any way that I ever imagined.  I may have got the intention correct, but none of the details were something I remotely saw coming.
  • Which is to say that I never envisioned that the Sideways World was a sort of purgatory    although I much prefer the Dark Tower term: Way Station.  I felt strongly that the Sidways Losties were going to have to pick up the ball and run with it, but I thought that meant finishing off the Man in Black in the Sideways World, or having to give up the Sideways World and somehow recreate the Island World, where they would then put right what once went wrong.
  • Turns out nothing ever went wrong on the Island after all.  That IS cool.  I kept waiting for the Island to go POOF and the Sideways World to appear, and that never happened.  I was so sure that was going to happen, and I was so wrong.  
  • That it never did happen was likely my favorite part of the actual plot of the story. 
  • That means what happened on the Island actually was a full story.  Everything that happened, happened on the Island.  That was where the beginning, the middle, and The End of our story really took place.  There were no do-overs, no gimmees, no alternate worlds.  That they found a way to do that means so much to me.  
  • That they found a way to do all of that and still give us the cathartic release of the Way Station World means even more.
  • That they didn't find a way to do all of that and explain about glass eyeballs and cabin ash matters to me not at all.
  • All I ever really needed to know about the Island was made clear.  It is a part of the fabric of reality.  It just simply must be.  It is the nexus on which all reality rotates, and it really has no beginning or end we are capable of understanding (unless you can diagram, explain and reconcile The Big Bang Theory and Creationism for me right here and now).
  • Having read Stephen King's Dark Tower saga was the ultimate preparation for understanding what the Island was. 
  • Read Stephen King's Dark Tower saga.  Thank me later.
  • I just wonder when Darlton first envisioned that way station.  In the end, it meant the Sideways World did not have to tie into any of the mythology as a whole.  In the end, the Sideways World was completely removed from the rest of our story, and so it was an idea that could have arisen at any time all the way up until they began writing the season six opener.  I will wonder forever if their love of irony ended up combining with the fact that the first collective guess about the Island was "it's purgatory."  Did the Sideways World come out of the fact that the real world    meaning you and me    had long ago abandoned and buried the 'purgatory' theory?  Did that make it safe for them to go that way, knowing that no one would ever see that one coming in a Jacob's Age?
  • Was the Island ever supposed to be purgatory, too?  And did they abandon that idea when it became the first, best guess of most people?
  • This is a really rambling post with no focus or purpose.  Can you tell I got to bed at 5 am and got no sleep last night?
  • Sun and Jin got their closure, and that also meant the world to me.  I still think their deaths (and the death of Sayid) were poorly executed as drama, but I'll save any real criticism of that for now.   I need to watch the whole season again now before I go off half-cocked on that one particular bee in my bonnet. 
  • Hurley and Ben sitting in a tree...
I have to go now, but I will be back with more on this very soon.  That is one promise you can take to the bank.  I'll be back to write about this one again and again and again, as I suspect so will you.   In the meantime, I'll be reading everything you have to say, both here and abroad.  And please leave something here.  Tell me what you thought.  I want to share this experience, for good and for ill, with all of you.  There is a lotta love in this room right now, let me tell you.

Farewell, Lost.  For now.  You will always be a part of me.

(EDIT: Had a few emails already, so let me address something others have brought up to me.  Yes, I can see that perhaps what we were being told was that everyone died in the original 815 crash.  It will be a long time, however, before I even go there.  For one thing, regardless, the story is still the story.  It is still there to be understood and analyzed, and whether it was all some sort of near-death experience is something for another day entirely.  Another year, perhaps.  But, yes, that did flash through my mind when Jack lay down in that same spot, and then Vincent came and gave him that same kiss.  And then we saw the wreckage, which, yes, could have been intended to signify that no one lived through the crash.  But right now I seriously doubt that is what they were saying.  It will take another complete revisiting of the series from beginning to end for me to be able to seriously consider and reject or affirm that idea, but all of them dying in the crash seems to contradict the ending completely.  If they all died without ever having known each other, then it's hard to understand why they would all need to congregate in the great Way Station in the Sky.  How exactly would Jack have known about Penny and Desmond, for instance, if they all just died in the crash?  And that's just one small inconsistency out the many I can immediately pick out of the "they all died in the crash" theory.  

But it's not important even in the slightest.  And even if that does prove to be the case, it still wouldn't alter a single interpretation of the meaning of it all.  Dead or alive, those people and that story have meaning in abundance.  And so there is far too much to understand before I even begin to contemplate whether or not the crash killed them all.  However, I will say that Jack's clothing at the end provided a small symbol to me to  indicate that was not the case.  If they truly wanted us to take away that interpretation, he would have ended up in the same suit he was wearing in the pilot.

Right now, I do believe that it all did play out exactly as we saw it.  And whether it did or not, that will not change a thing for me.  That is parlor game analysis, as unimportant to the big picture of Lost as its customers are to ABC's Cleveland affiliate, WEWS.)


  1. Finally, Schmoker!!! You are caught up with us, man. Welcome back.

    That really sucks about Ohio losing the ABC feed, or whatever happened, but I'm glad you worked overtime to get something up today. I'll gladly give you a day or two before you put something more coherent together.

    A story about people rather than a story about storytelling---I really like that description. I was floored by what I did not see coming, and I was touched by what I did. I will mourn the mysteries that never were explained, but I just can't bring myself to care at the moment. Probably I will care about them eventually, but I'll just have to wait for eventually to happen in order to find out.

    And, yeah, dude, you called a lot. Congrats. You predicted where this was going more than anyone I have read online, and I read a lot online.

    When Locke wiggled his toes and woke up, I even said to myself, "Damn, Schmoker hit that one on the nose."

  2. Dude, say it ain't so. They are really waiting a week to rebroadcast it? Holy technology, Batman.

    I am also too spent to digest and regurgitate my feelings, Schmoker. But I'll be back to do so when you are. Thanks for getting something up today.

  3. I thought you were kidding, and then I clicked on over to the link you provided about the ABC glitch in Ohio. I don't blame you for suspecting cosmic foul play that conspired against you. That is just too strange. When has anyone ever heard of a such a thing happening before?

    What do you think of the idea that everyone died in the crash, and that the final scene was merely what really happened to Jack when we saw him in the pilot? Were they trying to tell us that Jack died in the bamboo field way back when, and that everything else was a dream or hallucination or something?

  4. To me, I liked that so many of the character-centric things were "predictable" (although FLocke lampshading it by saying to Jack "Aren't you the obvious choice?" made me laugh). It meant that, over the course of these six seasons, the writing team and the actors have provided us with consistent characters that we understand and empathize with. We know what pushes their buttons, and where (or with who) their destinies should, and ultimately did, lie.

  5. Agreed, Tatiana. I felt just a slight disconnect, because I honestly have been able to predict so little about Lost over the years, and enjoyed being wrong immensely. But when things I have been predicting lately started coming true last night, I honestly did not know how to handle it. It was a weird feeling to have while watching Lost.

    By the way, I took a quick glance at the final scene on the Island, and the "they all died" theory can be blown to pieces. They specifically showed the same shoe hanging on the same bamboo shoot from the pilot. Only this time it was aged, moldy, barely hanging together, and they stuck it right in our faces with the camera angle. In the pilot, it was white and fresh.

    Now I understand they wanted to make sure we had the clue we needed so as not to start going down the "they all died" road. They obviously did not all die in the 815 crash, and, as I said before, it really matters little one way or the other. We still watched the same story no matter what happened, and it all still has the same meaning. You can believe they died if you like, but I'm not sure how that would change anything.

    But they didn't die in the crash. That's just starting to sound ri-goddamn-diculous at this point.

  6. Kevin Not SmithMay 24, 2010 8:09 PM

    I'm not sure what to think about a show I thought was somewhere between meh and yuck last night, but that now is making me all emotional the more I think about it. I came here, Schmoker, because I thought I'd find some derision to buck up the cynical side of me, but instead your rambling, sleep deprived post is convincing me that it was wonderful.

    Was I in denial last night? Am I in denial today? I don't know, but anything that can make me waffle like this can't have been shoddy. Maybe I just watched something important and don't understand or realize yet. But I want to watch it again now, and I wish I had taped it. How did you get your copy again, Schmoker?

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  9. Thanks, Infinity. I've been away from the blog for the last week, so I am just now checking comments. Please feel free to share anything here. That's why the comments are open.