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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

LOST OPPORTUNITIES

Re: the LOST finale-- I called a fair number of developments, but obviously, not The Ending.

Elsewhere I said that I felt that LOST would end with some sort of figurative transcendence. Technically I wasn't wrong, but given all the philosophical issues with which the program dealt, I had hoped for something more substantive.

At some point I recall reading a quote from one of the producers, either Cuse or Darlton, asserting that he didn't think viewers should consider either Timeline A or Timeline B to be "unreal." I don't have the quote to hand any more, but assuming that I'm remembering it correctly, the producer in question may have prevaricated a wee bit. Again technically, "Timeline B" is not "unreal," since it's apparently a way station for souls struggling to connect with their forgotten lives. Thus it's "real" in the metaphysical sense. But I'm reasonably sure that the guy who made that statement knew that his audience wouldn't be thinking in those terms. Said fans were probably thinking more along the lines of, "Is this a timeline that has to be sacrificed, like the Edith Keeler timeline in CITY ON THE EDGE OF FOREVER?"

Now it's perfectly legitimate for authors to dissimulate to keep their audience from guessing where a given story (particularly a continuing story, and particularly in the Internet Age) is going to go. So the maybe-Cuse/maybe-Darlton quote as such doesn't bother me.

I am a little bothered, thought, that they set up a question within the boundaries of the show and didn't conceive a solid answer. I could have lived with simple ambiguity, but after six seasons of hinting to audiences that determinism and/or causality were not the only game in town, the producers stepped back from the implications of their philosophical setup.

I wrote here:

A happy medium betweeen free will and determinism would have to acknowledge the reality of all of the empirical factors that make a deterministic worldview possible, much as Kant acknowledges the reality of the contingent. LOST has made this acknowledgement consistently-- "Dead is dead," "Whatever happened, happened"-- but the show has also consistently suggested that, though contingency can't be abolished as it is in a C.S. Lewis apocalypse, it can be suspended for a time.


I'm not objecting to LOST's decision to rule in favor of contingency. It's certainly their right to portray such a world. But when Sherlock Holmes exposes the untruthfulness of vampirism in "The Sussex Vampire," the detective doesn't do so by resorting to guys whose psychic powers give them the power to temporarily change the future. Sherlock doesn't say things like "Don't mistake coincidence for fate;" he says that coincidence is all there is and fate is just man's attempt to see connnections where none exist.

Frankly, though there were some touching moments all through the finale, I would have preferred a resolution like the one propounded by many LOST fans: that somehow the two continua would be merged. Some characters would still be dead, some might be alive but changed, and so on.

At the same time this "third world" would have been very difficult to intimate to the viewing audience, since it would've occured at the climax, when there wouldn't be much time to expound on what had changed and why. When DC Comics started getting into multiversal matters, they'd confine themselves to a few turned-around touchstones-- the new Flash lived in a different city from the old Flash, or Benedict Arnold was the first president of the United States. But this sort of turnabout is appropriate to story-beginnings, not conclusions.

The "limbo-LOST" explanation of Timeline B had the advantage of making it possible for all of the characters to revisit moments that the hardcore fans loved, and that may have been the bottom line, even more than exploring the themes of "letting go" or of "celebrating the moments of your life." But more than the jillion and one continuity questions that'll (mostly) never be answered, I'm bothered by the LOSTguys bringing a gun onto the stage and never firing it.

5 comments:

beamertravis said...

Gene,

A pleasure to see you contributing to the blogosphere!!!

Best,

Wayne

Gene Phillips said...

Thanks for your support, Wayne. Best to you too.

beamertravis said...

Looked at your other blog too. Nice... This medium is made for work like yours. Are you still in H-town?

Gene Phillips said...

Yes, still plugging away there.

Yourself?

beamertravis said...

Shoot me an e-mail. I'll get you caught up. Let's say Sandy and I live a bit closer to you and H-town now...