Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Film (TV) Appreciation - Flashing Back to Lost

Film Appreciation reaches into the pre-LBF archives to find what Cody Hamman wrote about the television series Lost soon after the show's finale. Spoilers ahead.


Six years ago, I was a fan of JJ Abrams' show Alias when I heard that he was involved with the creation of new show about a group of people who survive a plane crash on an uncharted desert isle. Sounded sort of like a dramatic Gilligan's Island. I was intrigued by the idea, largely because I wasn't sure how they could make it work for a full, multi-season series. So I checked this show out... and it turned out to be much more than I expected.

The mysteries get all the attention and they're a big part of the fun, but I was never one in a rush for answers, I would just take them as they came. There were a lot of answers along the way, some things remain unclear, some are just left up to fan imagination. I'm fine with what we got. For me, it was about taking the journey with the characters. I ended up connecting to the characters, caring about them, emotionally investing in their stories and situations on a deeper level than I have with any other TV drama. Loving these people, hating these people, getting wrapped up in it all.

Building up to finale night, I rewatched the entire series, pilot through season 6. It was my first time going through it all again, and it was interesting to see how it played once I knew the answers to so many of the mysteries and really knew what was going on. I enjoyed it, I re-connected and got wrapped up all over again. It confirmed that even though the series is over, I'm not done watching it.

Season 1 is fantastic. The crash, meeting the characters, watching them learn how to survive, realizing things are a bit off on the island, a lot of great stuff. Season 2 is awesome. The hatch, the button, the Others, things get stranger, a bit darker, the "man of science, man of faith" debate really amps up. Season 3 and its adventures in New Otherton is good, but the flashback aspect was getting played out, kind of tired. They did all they could do there and were in danger of starting to tread water - then the showrunners negotiated an end date with ABC, and everything changed with the s3 finale, which is still my favorite of all the finales. Charlie's sacrifice, NOT PENNY'S BOAT, flash forward, "We have to go back!" So awesome. Season 4 took a hit by the writers strike and they had to drop a few episodes, speed things up a bit after the eight that they had completed before the strike, but it works and I love the freighter folk story and the flash forwards. Season 5: The Return is fun with its time jumps and dropping the Losties into '70s Dharmaville, building up to The Incident. And now season 6 and the full leap into mythology. "Man of science, man of faith" has a clear winner here. It was different, but I was still engrossed.

Throughout the series, the character I've most related to and sided with was Jack. My journey through watching the show has really matched the one he went through in it. I was a "man of science" with him. Don't push the button, fight against accepting the supernatural. I thought John Locke was an ass, if you crash on an island you don't fight to stay on it, these people need rescued... And my perspective changed along with Jack's. I accepted the supernatural/spiritual side of things and gained new respect and caring for Locke. Locke could be annoying and he did some jerky things - blowing up subs and throwing a knife into a woman's back, come on - but he was also often on the right track. He was also a very sad, pathetic character and on rewatch, knowing that the Locke alive on the island after the return is not really him, he had a really tragic end. Poor John Locke. I loved Jack's line to Smokey in the finale, "You're not John Locke. You disrespect his memory by wearing his face."

The season 6 flash sideways... An alternate 2004 where the plane doesn't crash and the characters are slightly different. Or so it seemed at first. I know the resolution to the flash sideways stories did not go over well with everyone. I can understand why, and some could even bash it with the same words used by the guy in Juliet's book club at the beginning of season 3, "by-the-numbers religious hokum pokum". It wasn't at all what I thought it would be, I was hoping it would remain an alternate time and everyone would just be able to continue living their lives, the knowledge of the other existence fully rounding out the character. But what I got is probably better than that, because my hope doesn't make for much of an ending, and still leaves some people living in two different timelines at once. A lot of people are upset, a lot are very confused and misinterpreting it, thinking it means that everyone died in the plane crash and everything they watched didn't happen. But that's not the case, as Christian tells Jack, everything was real. Everything happened, it's just that at the end of everyone's lives, whether they died during the show or long after Smokey's defeat, they all meet up in the sideways. It may be sappy for some, but I thought the ending was pretty beautifully done. I loved all the reunions and the flashes of awareness, of memory, and it all gets me a bit choked up. Full acceptance came when someone online put forward an idea that didn't occur to me, but made sense - the bright light that they enter when they "move on" in the afterlife is the same light that glows in the heart of the island and inside everyone, tying together the job of the island's protector and the objective to keep the light lit with the resolution of the sideways. I like it.

So, I checked this show out... Six seasons and 121.5 hours (I think) of episodes later - it was a fun journey, it was a hell of a ride. I had a great time.

Remember. Let go. Move on.

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