March 9th, 2011

I know I’m well behind the curve on this one, but I just got through watching the last season of Lost, and all I can say is, Hmmmm.

I’ve really enjoyed and admired this show at times.  I liked their ruthlessness with cast and audience.  I liked their willingness to take crazy turns,throw in new characters and keep you guessing.  It was always very slickly made and put together (although the same-old island locations did start to pall after a while), and offered some really creepy, cold skin moments.  I very much liked the structure of the show, in which the “now” action on the island is interspersed with snippets of the past (or future) of given characters, allowing the people and events to suddenly be shown in totally new lights.  I liked some of the acting (though in general the prettier the actor, the worse the performance).  I even quite admired the way that, just as they seemed to be on the verge of giving you some answers, they’d totally shift the questions, because they always did it with a kind of total belief that kept you, if not believing, then at least watching.  It’s about a plane crash, no, about some numbers, no, a hatch, no, a button, no, it’s about the dharma initiative, no, time travel, no, some climactic inscrutable war of good against, no, an invisible guy in a hut, no, it’s actually not about that at all.  We don’t know what it’s about.

I guess, given the way that it twisted and turned, that it misdirected, fast-talked and routinely bamboozled its audience to the point of frustration, the ending was never really going to suddenly answer all those questions, now, was it?  But I was hoping for something that at least intrigued, that gave me a sense of what the fuck? in a good way, because if Lost did anything well, it was what the fuck? in a good way.  What we got was a lot of lumpily spooned-up mumbo-jumbo, so incomprehensible that it had to be explained to us via the medium of Jack’s dead dad and still didn’t make any sense.  It was what the fuck, yes.  But not in a good way at all.  And schmaltzy too!  Feelgood folks chuckling away to each other, all paired off and enjoying a big hug.  You guys!  What about that crazy island, huh?  Good times!  I dunno, it felt like a real betrayal of the ruthless edge the show delighted in wielding at its best. 

I expected to be disappointed, in the end.  I’m not sure I expected to be that disappointed.

Posted in film and tv by Joe Abercrombie on March 9th, 2011.

35 comments so far

  • SwindonNick says:

    I’m so glad I gave up at the end of season one. I initially thought it would get cancelled so nothing would be resolved but didn’t think it would go for that long, come to a proper end and then go off on a lame note.
    When you think of the hours invested as a viewer, what a way to let them down at the last hurdle.

    Best thing on TV at the moment might well be Being Human…..

  • Sonny says:

    Spot on, Joe. The critics generally adored it, which I found quite odd. I wasn’t expecting specific answers (because the events were so implausible that an ‘explanation’ for a smoke monster would be equally nonsensical) but a tighter sense of closure wouldn’t have gone amiss. Also, the truth behind the side-flashes was just plain dumb – ’nuff said.

  • ColinJ says:

    Yeah, I was one of the few who was initially fooled into thinking the ending was good. But on reflection it’s clear to me that the show just shit the bed in probably the worst way any show ever has.

    I was in the midst of buying the blu-ray box-sets for the show so I could go back and watch it from the beginning, but once I saw that finale I realised what an utter waste of money that would be so I stopped buying them.

    Granted, there are those who argue that NO ending could have ever satisfied fans. And maybe that’s true but I thought the last season wasted FAR too much time at the beginning with all that temple crap, which ended up meaning very little.

    Althohgh the finale of the show did leave us all with a momentary warm fuzzy feeling it really was a conceptual and thematic failure after everything the show had put its loyal fanbase through.

    Epic fail.

  • Andrew Dunn says:

    I’m in full agreement here. I wouldn’t have been at the time, right after I watched the finale; I found it competent enough at the time (although I hadn’t got on with one of the final episodes which was a really mundane and banal ‘genesis story’ for the island and Jacob and his adversary) but the more I thought about it the less satisfying it was. The entire final season seemed… pointless. Particularly all the alternate-reality-purgatory stuff, which despite supplying some of the best bits of the final season (like Keamey and his eggs, or the Ben-centric stuff at the school) made absolutely no sense when combined with the rest of the storyline.

    I can’t see myself going back to watch it again, despite having grown to love the programme in its middle seasons. A show that found its feet and then lost its way, leaving a pretty stellar middle run which cannot stand alone out of context, and is unsatisfying when seen IN the final context. A real shame.

  • JonathanL says:

    I’m on the same side as Nick. Gave up after season 1. If you’re watching a TV show for the long plot, you’re going to be disappointed. I’m re-watching Battlestar Galactica and seeing how I like it knowing that the end of the show is jury-rigged to fit into the show’s most basic conceit. Turns out it’s still quite good, but it probably would’ve been better without the “here’s the deal” before each episode.

  • Martin Keamy says:

    Despite the ending, I absolutely don’t regret watching the show at all and would still recommend it to everyone. It was the journey that mattered, and plus the final scene didn’t have any bearing on anything before the last season.

  • Cookie says:

    Same here. After BSG – which disappointed me in a similar manner – the second example in a row how to majorly fuck up the ending of a mytharc-heavy show. Seems like the creators of such shows mostly think about it one arc at a time and the character drama, without giving much thought about the bigger picture. Shame.

  • mus says:

    I couldn’t agree more with Joe. I felt so let down by the ending. Six years for that? Really? That was the best they could come up with?

    The ending made me realise that everything cool they’d shown in the other seasons was purely there for effect “Hey this will be cool and get people wondering, so lets put it in!”. But with no explanation for most of the intriguing images, and moments, it just left a nasty taste in my mouth.

    I’m happy to re-watch lots of TV shows but Lost is one I can’t see me ever wanting to touch again.

    Such a let down.

  • Chris Upton says:

    Hmph! BSG final season was a big dissapointment. Talk about making it up as you go along! And wtf was that psuedo religous thingy in the opera house? Signifying a slight delay for 5 minutes whilst they get the frigging door unlocked? I’ll admit I wasn’t paying much attention by the end.
    A lot of U.S tv has far superior production values/dialogue and tv acting (less young actors straight out of drama school ‘ennunciating’ to camera) than its UK counterparts but there is occasionally problems with story structure and pacing. Boardwalk Empire,Dead Wood(though I had other reservations about this show as well)and the ultimate offender Carnival.

  • Don says:

    The final season of Lost was pure crap. It is hard for me to fathom that the same people that wrote and directed the first 5 brilliant seasons of Lost were at the helm of the 6. I think that there must have been some in-fighting at ABC over the direction of season 6 or a key writer left before season 6. I cannot believe that the same people who wrote/produced 2 of the greatest plot twists ever at the end of Season 3 and Season 5 really were the same people who wrote/produced Season 6??? Part of me considers that season 1-5 are canon, 6 was not canon and the end still needs to be written.

    Lost had created enough questions over the first 5 seasons that they could have revealed a few answers each episode and concluded the show with answers to the biggest questions. Instead we got a damn pyramid (really, REALLY!, they just found the damn thing now), an alternate reality (won’t even get started on this) and some horrible CGI (in the season premiere).

    In the end, the name of the show did not allude to purgatory or the survivors being lost, but to the fact that the producers never intended to answer the questions they created. It was a big middle finger to the fans of the show.

  • Sedulo says:

    The end of Lost was cheese supreme. Unplug the water stopper! No, damn you! Insert the water stopper, because the island needs you! Fly this plane outta here, or…not. Hey, we’re all together in a churchlike building, where were you? Now we’re all so happy. Awwww. The end. WTF?

  • Sedulo says:

    Regarding BSG, I think it started going downhill a few episodes after they escaped from “New Caprica”. Sure the cylons and their revelations were still interesting, but all of the angst in the crew and character arcs that spun away into nonsense were a shame. I liked badass Starbuck, non political Apollo, drunk, canny Tigh, masterful Adama, hallucinating nasty Baltar and mistrust of cylons.

    The end was horrid. I had people call ME to ask what it meant. Yeah, like I was supposed to know? Ha ha!

  • Joe Daine says:

    I have to say when Lost first aired I thought it had lots of promise but unfortunatley it appeared the writers were more interested In making things stranger and stranger for no apparent purpose. I switched off when people began to jump through time, just a little to Quantum Leap for my taste. Also did anyone else notice how Lost began a generation of tv shows that all got more and more convoluted and then petered out: Heroes,Flashforward, the Event.

    Haha, I always thought the first episode of Flashforward should have had a scene were one of the actors see themselves in a years time sitting on the coach eating cornflakes waiting for work to come in.

  • Erik says:

    myself and the mrs watched this show from beginning to end. for most of the last two-three seasons all I wanted was to see someone get eaten by a shark. since that did not happen and the ending was a big steamy pile of poo, I offically swore off network TV dramas.

  • Joe Abercrombie says:

    BSG is an apt comparison because for me both shows tried too hard to explain things, in a way. Lost would have been a lot better off leaving the origin of Jacob and his brother mysterious, than trying to explain it with some nonsense about light in a cave that rendered the whole thing ridiculous without giving any real explanation per se. BSG likewise should never, ever, have started spending time chez cylon and trying to mine their motivations. It was way better when the cylons were just the unknowable other, and the show was about examining the human response to them. In a way I’ve more sympathy for Lost because at least it always existed in the realm of the semi-magical. After two seasons of hard-edged reality, BSG really didn’t have to go there.

  • mike says:

    Never really latched onto Lost, i think i’ll stick with Fringe.

  • Abalieno says:

    Both Lost and Battlestar fall in a similar category because of a problematic ending. Lost is a bit more complex and still satisfying, but they share a similar pattern: they both betray their premise.

    It happens even in videogames, the game works one way for all its length, then changes completely its rules for the end boss. And it sucks.

    Battlestar betrayed its premises because of an implied “plan” that just wasn’t there. Lost instead wanted to be sci-fi, trying to write its mythology in pseudo-science, only to drop everything and go full mysticism in the last season.

    What’s wrong with these endings is that they are completely sidetracked from what was the core.

    But then where are the better examples and alternatives to these shows? Based on mystery and weaving an extremely complex mythology? Evangelion is on example, still heavily criticized by many.

    Erikson’s Malazan series does certain things similar to Lost, relying on a number of mysteries and a huge mythology, but from my point of view deals with it much better. It provides answers all along, building and resolving constantly. And then from the very beginning it aims straight to what will be the conclusion, so consistent to a “vision” that has always been there. So for me an example of how you do this right.

    But alternatives? I mean across all the mediums and cultures. There aren’t many attempts at huge mythologies and highly ambitious purposes.

    Malazan, Donnie Darko, Lost, Battlestar Galactica, Akira, Evangelion, X-files, 20th Century Boys, 2001: A Space Odyssey.

    Other examples that come to your mind?

  • Neal Asher says:

    I can just see the meeting they have while discussing the making of a show like this. It would all be about concepts, possible viewing figures, the target market, and just about everything but story arc and a proposed ending. I’m learning to hate these extended-franchise ropes with their unravelled ends that are only knotted, if at all, when the viewing figures are down and the money is running out.

    Apologies, Mike, but Fringe is another one. Enjoyable characters and episode stories but it’s obvious they had no idea where they were going other than to ape X-files.

  • Chris Upton says:

    I think the risk for a show with some sort of structured plot (you know, beggining, middle and end! How quaint!)is that it could get canceled before the story is told. Firefly getting axed was a real waffle iron to the testes for me.

  • Jacqie says:

    I am totally behind the cart and just am watching Season 1 of Lost now (I’m at about episode 20). While there are intriguing moments that are keeping me going, I have a stiff disapproval for the dramatic moments at the expense of any common sense that crop up almost every episode. I am still deciding if I want to watch more seasons or not.

  • Shay says:

    I loved Lost and was deeply disappointed by the whole last season. I adored that it would give you snippits of information which you would think would be important later and then were never brought up again.

    To me it felt like they decided to chuck in the jacob vs lock thing at the end just to tidy up the fact that they had so many loose ends they would never effectively be able to tie it all up nicely.

    The only finale that disappointed me more was Battlestar Galactica.

  • Robb says:

    I watched Lost religiously from the very beginning. Towards the end of the third season is when it all started to go to hell. Same with BSG. After the Baltar trials, which I thought was the best part in the whole series, the show just plummeted into this ridiculous pit of over dramatized nonsense about things I don’t even recall.

  • Bazooka Joe says:

    If you take away all the flash-sideways that occurred in the Final Season, it is actually quite awesome. Think about how that last fight ended…it’s just perfect. Jack. The island. It all comes full circle.

    My plan is to get a copy of the final season, rip it to my laptop, then edit out all the flash-sideways scenes. Then watch it in that form. I, too, felt betrayed by the gooey-feel-good reunion crap.

    The impact of a character dying is completely taken away with the final season. Suddenly their deaths and struggles are meaningless.

    On a similar but unrelated note, one of my favorite videogames is Fire Emblem. In that game, if you screwed up a mission, that character was dead for good! You couldn’t redo the level. You lost that battle. At the end the game summarizes all those characters lost in the war and at what battle. It was powerful. It hurt. It was awesome. I wish more games were like that.

  • Nicholas D. says:

    Joe, this is entirely unrelated to the Lost post. I just wanted to say I’m really enjoying Best Served Cold (yes, I’m apparently behind the times). Thanks very much for the great read, sir!

  • Shane S. says:

    Joe you playing Dragon Age 2?

  • Daithi says:

    The extra scene they created for the DVD boxset ‘The New Man in Charge’ is actually a much better ending for the show and feels more fitting.

  • ssgorik says:

    Sorry folks, but I loved LOST. I was a sucker for the characters though and while the mysteries were awesome I went into the finale more worried about my favorite characters than finding out some stuff about the island. I also liked the flash sideways because, again, the characters. The flash sideways was just a way of letting them do things they weren’t able to in life like Jack raising a son and being a better father to him than his dad was to him.

    Also, a few episodes before the end there was a scene explaining that the island was basically a cork in a bottle holding back some evil. I remember hearing that they considered the scene a big reveal and worried they were putting it in too early. Well, all that remained was a couple episodes after that and the finale so it clued me in real quick that that was their island explanation and no more was coming in regards to that.

  • Sean Sheep says:

    I am still smarting almost 12 months after watching the final episode. Up to the end I was a regular contributor on Lostpedia, but one week after the finale I left, and tried to get on with my life.

    However, I still cannot believe how we were duped by the writers. (Oh yes, we were). It was not just that the major plot mysteries what were not answered – numbers, time travelling, island moving, etc., but it was all the minor stuff which was totally inconsistent, like Widmore telling Locke that there was a war coming and if he was not on the island the wrong side would win, when it was the opposite which was actually the case; stuff like the ash which was supposed to keep smokie out (and did when Fake Locke attacked on of Ilana’s men), but seemingly had no effect at all when Fake Locke decimated the temple; the inconsistency in Christian’s behaviour – in the light of the fact he was supposed to have been smokified every time he appeared on the island, why would he try to convince Locke (and help him) to get the 6 losties to return (when Jacob, his nemesis was trying to do exactly the same thing?).

    There are lots of mysteries left unanswered, but it’s the total inconsistencies I can’t live with. I know the writers always claimed it was about the characters, but they couldn’t even get that right. Sayid’s great love was Nadia. Nadia first, last and always. There is absolutely no way whatsoever, he would go off into that eternal sunset holding hands with Shannon. Aaron is a baby in the “waiting room”; did he never have a life, and are you seriously telling me that Sawyer never found another relationship?

    The last episode, and the last season was just badly written and did not live up to the first five seasons.

  • John says:

    Watched lost thought it was very good but yeah a bit hmmm at the end.

    I’m currently watching Season of the witch And was quite surprised to learn it’s set a land called styria!!!

    Oh and just finished heroes, amazing job as always!!! Well done that man!

  • Adam Roberts says:

    It’s all about fathers, you know. That ought to appeal. You’re a father yourself.

  • Adam Roberts says:

    Hmm: that link didn’t come through right. What’s the deal, Joe? Is your site allergic to links?


  • Trey Griffeth says:

    Mr. Abercombie, I have only one thing to say to you in this regard: Go fuck yourself, the ending was great.

  • Neil P says:

    It’s a good job Lindelof doesn’t read your blog or he’d be fighting a war on two fronts with you and your new friend GRRM 🙂

  • KMags says:

    The ending of this show I rather enjoyed was such garbage i feel like the writers had smashed me in the front of the face with a 2 x 4. What a pitiful and cowardly way to end a good series. What, made lost good was never the big question…it was all the little questions, and that’s what never got answered in this feel good lovefest. I just made myself angry again just thinking of it 😛

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