Sunday, June 6, 2010


Heaven is a place,
a place where nothing,
nothing ever happens."
- Talking Heads

What should be the last word on LOST? Cheesy? Lame? Cliched? Cheap? Vapid? Insulting? All good options, but I think there's really only one word that ends up describing what LOST became in the end.


I'm not trying to be smug, but I predicted it would turn out like this. I knew it. I think we all did. It didn't happen all at once, but gradually the sloppiness and laziness of this much anticipated season became obvious. There was the wrong date on Aaron's sonogram, then Kate's name not being on the cave ceiling even though it supposedly was on the cave ceiling, the pointless Temple subplot, the Stargate Lighthouse, finally the awkward, stiff, so bad it made me cry scene where Michael was trotted out to give the lamest possible explanation for the whispers.

This scene was when it hit me. I can pinpoint it as the exact moment in time when I knew that this grand finale season was going to suuuuuuuuuuck. I didn't want to accept it just then but as the weeks went by, there was no escaping the reality.

As LOST's finale season careened to its dreadful clusterfuck of a conclusion, carrying the reputation of a once great series on its back, even The Darlton tried to warn us away from hoping for too much. They started to say stuff like this:

"We're going to get killed," said executive producer Damon Lindelof.

They'd been all but screaming from the rooftops that we wouldn't be getting any goddamn Answers. It was all about the characters, yo. Those stupid questions were all red herrings! Not just the big ones, like Walt and Aaron and the Numbers. All of them!

At times they got downright insulting about it:

Not only did Damon inadvertently describe the process by which American kids grow up both stupid and fat, but he made it clear exactly how much respect he had for his audience. Which is to say - he thought we were chumps. He thought we weren't really interested in answers to the gajillion questions he'd posed. We didn't want to see the design behind the mysteries and characters revealed in a brilliant fashion that would reward us for our years of devotion. All we really wanted was cheap, generic junk food. So that's the way he ended his series.

To be fair, we should acknowledge that putting together a great series finale is a daunting project. The history of tv finale success is spotty. There are the famously poignant.

The famously funny.

The infamously awful.

The controversial

And the sublime.

Obviously the boy wonders knew everything LOST had ever been was hanging in the balance on May 23. Carlton Cuse himself described the metric by which he knew they'd be judged.

We don’t know whether the resolution between the two timelines is going to make people say, “Oh, that’s cool” or “Oh, fuck those guys, they belly-flopped at the end.”

So which was it? Cool? Or a belly flop?

I've been MIA the last third of this wretched finale season. It turns out it's not really much fun to hate on something that you once loved. It feels terrible actually.

I'm embarrassed to remember how naively I approached this season, described by Cuse as a precious Christmas present they were going to slowly let us unwrap. I even went back last fall and recapped the glorious Season One in excrutiating detail, believing the hype that we were finally about to revisit that masterpiece and watch all its mysterious potential be fulfilled.

I tried to imagine how cool, how fun, how satisfying, it would be to see the big clock come together under the hands of the master watchmakers.

Instead what we got were gears and springs and meaningless numbers strewn all over the floor like a fish kill of red herrings, while the "watchmakers" mocked the audience for ever mistaking them for people who cared. Yes, if you're wondering, I do feel kind of stupid. I had faith in these two bozos. What can I say?

As tempting as it may be, it's probably wrong to blame Darlton. After all, it was our own choice to keep watching. We decided all on our own to imagine that we were playing some kind of puzzle. No one told us to expect that! Why would we think that a story about six magical numbers that were magically connected to cataclysmic events, or a story about an island where diseases are cured but pregnancy kills, or a story that wove intersecting timelines into a vast interdimensional web of coincidences and fate - why would we think any of that was meant to be a puzzle??? We must really be stupid!

It was our own free choice to gabble away on message boards these last few seasons talking about wormholes and string theory and exotic matter and Schrodingers goddamn cat. We did it long after it became obvious that these two guys weren't able to write that kind of story. It was obvious they weren't quantum physicists. Or even the kind of guys who passed physics in high school.

No one told us we had to prattle like morons about determinism and gnoticism and Manicheism and Buddhism and Catholicism and Egyptology and Philip V. Dick. I mean look at these two guys. Why would we think they had some kind of wisdom to offer?

You know who these two really remind me of now? The two con men who pretended to be tailors in Hans Christian Anderson's The Emperor's New Clothes. They convinced the dopey Emperor he was getting a new set of gorgeous threads, but really he just ended up walking down the street with everyone laughing at the pimples on his butt. The Emperor, it turns out, was us.

At least we were in good company. In the days after the finale, I got calls and emails from pretty much every family member, friend, frenemy or casual acquaintance who had ever loved LOST, or knew that I once did. There were sighs, sad shakes of the head, muttered expletives, viral video exchanges and the always hilarious fancraft that LOST fans had raised to an artform.

The consensus was unanimous:

But how did the finale fare out in the land of media, both old and new? Did they stick their landing or did they ...


I realize there were some in the fast food media who, as expected, were bowled over by the cliche overload of the finale. USA Today not only found it "thrilling", " clever" and "profound", but they mocked those of us who'd bought into that silly mystery crap.
If you were looking for explanations for every twist and turn, you didn't get them. (Some viewers won't be satisfied until the producers churn out a multi-volume island manual that answers questions that were never actually posed.)
And as expected, both "I live next door to Damon" Kristin dos Passos and Cheerleader in Chief Jeff Jensen dissolved into predictably soggy heaps of teary satisfaction.
“The End” was an emotionally draining epic that had me crying with almost every single “awakening” and has left me mulling the true significance of the Sideways world, which was revealed to be a Purgatory-like realm created by the souls of the dead castaways themselves. (Purgatory! The irony!) I was so happy The Island was saved. I was so moved by Jack’s heroism and sacrifice and the glorious significance of ending where he began, as well as that Doubting Thomas allusion there at the end. … I loved Ben’s contrition. I loved Locke’s forgiveness. I loved it when Ben told him to stand up and walk again, and Locke did.

But if Darlton let themselves listen to anyone other than their friends in lowbrow places, they probably realized they're going to have to stay in that bunker a little bit longer than anticipated. The New York Times trashed it on both the Arts page:
But you have to think that the gauzy, vaguely religious, more than a little mawkish ending of ‘Lost’ – “Touched by a Desmond” — will not sit well with a lot of the show’s fans. ... The “Sopranos” finale was ambiguous and a bit of a shrug, but not puzzling; to me the “Lost” finale, in the immediate aftermath, felt forced and, well, a bit of a cop-out.

and the Editorial section:
Across six seasons, it’s true, we learned endless facts about the island — about its geography, its inhabitants, and what had happened on it across decades and centuries. But we never learned the whys behind the facts. And with the final season in the books, there’s good reason to think that we never learned them because the show’s creators never had a well-thought-out “why” for their story in the first place. The island wasn’t a real mystery — it was just a MacGuffin.

Max Read at Gawker thought "The Lost Finale was incredibly Dumb", which pretty much sums up the consensus of my inner circle:
Once upon a time, there was a television show about a bunch of people on an island. For six years it was one of the most fascinating things on TV. And then it ended, in the worst way possible. ... Lost ended tonight, and with it the hopes and dreams of millions of people who thought it might finally get good again. SPOILER ALERT: It didn't. What did we learn? Nothing. We learned nothing from two-and-a-half hours of slow-motion bullshittery backed with a syrupy soundtrack.

Televisionary's Jace Lacob tried really hard to hide his disappointment in this piece at The Daily Beast, but he couldn't quite do it.
“The End” didn’t so much answer the long-dangling mysteries—Why do pregnant women die on the island? Why was the character of Walt (Malcolm David Kelley) special? What is this island? What was with all of the Egyptian hieroglyphics? What was the character of Desmond’s ultimate purpose on the island?—as it did ignore them altogether....Considering how much time viewers have spent trying to figure out the relationship between the island timeline and the Sideways one, it is also frustrating that it turned out that there is none—or more precisely, that what happened in the Sideways timeline didn’t affect what happened on the island at all.

Aside from coining the pithiest descripiton of the finale - "a prom of the dead in a chapel of love where everybody is farting rainbows" - Chadwick Martin of Slate nailed one of the finale's main flaws:
There are second chances in life, but there are no do-overs. At least all the time travel, the donkey wheels, the smoke monsters were vehicles to explore the human condition. They were as fantastical as purgatory, yes, but they were also grounded in the terrestrial realities of life, death, and the pursuit of happiness. The show's purgatorial clusterfuck is not. It is a venue for wish-fulfillment. Thus, the finale wronged not just me, but the show itself.

As did Laura Miller at Salon :
A series like "Lost" doesn't need to solve all of its riddles, but it does need to address the right ones.... The comic-book paraphernalia and texture of the island -- its secret bunkers with their code names, Jacob's migrating cabin with its creepy paintings, the ersatz normality of the Others' compound ringed by those sonic pylons and the fantastically mechanical grinding and dragging sounds that used to accompany the appearance of the smoke monster -- were not peripheral to the heart of "Lost." They were the very essence of its appeal.
And the message of the Hero Quest in mythology is certainly not the gauzy, happy, angels-at-the-doorway one "Lost" fans had to settle for last night. Once Jack stepped into the church it looked like he was walking into a Hollywood wrap party without food or music -- just a bunch of actors grinning idiotically for 10 minutes and hugging one another.

Scott Mendelson's fine essay, republished at The Huffington Post, decided that the finale was so bad that it managed to nullify the series almost as a whole, although he - like me - hopes it will still be possible to enjoy the first three seasons before this series started its sad, end date driven decline:
By leaving everything unanswered right up to the end, and then pulling a narrative switcheroo instead of finishing the story that was being unveiled, Lost basically mocked those who bothered to watch from the very beginning, as such rabid viewership proved entirely unnecessary. Thus, the finale of Lost rendered the entire series run relatively pointless and effectively killed any and all rewatchability of the prior episodes. So, in the end, Lost ended for me with season three.
With all that and so much more being said, is there really any point in me writing anything else about this sad spectacle ? Is there anything left that really needs to be said? I'm over it. I could live without never giving LOST another thought. I'm literally itching to erase it off my dvr. But I promised I'd do this. Inquiring minds seem to want to know what it all meant to me. So, here we go, one last time, for old time's sake.

I think others have pretty much covered the shameful way we were taunted with questions that were never intended to be answered, even as recently as the run-up to this season. They were running full speed ahead right up until late April, not only implying that we'd be rewarded for our detective work, but throwing new questions at us! Of course everyone was excited to see what the answer to the puzzles would be. And then we got this:

The superclunker episode Across the Sea. We found out the only thing worse than getting no answers was getting the LAME answers they came up with. Why did they even bother to answer the pointless Adam and Eve "mystery", for instance? Was that at the top of anyone's mind? As compared to things like - who bankrolled all Ben's trips off the Island, who was Penny's mother, why did Libby give Desmond a sailboat, what was the sickness, why did Rousseau's crew hear the numbers on the radio, why did Claire leave Aaron ... not to mention all those silly little trifles like why was Walt so special and why did pregnant women die and what the hell was up with those numbers? But nope. They didn't feel the need to address any of those mysteries. They needed to give us a bogus backstory for two skeletons that almost no one remembered. Why?

My guess is because Damon had stupidly bragged about it back in 2007:
Of course, in his hamfisted way, he managed to prove exactly the opposite. It added nothing to that remembered moment to find out that Jacob, the 40,000 year old virgin, buried his bad twin and his another raising mother in the cave after a night of interfamily murder. We just met these people. They meant nothing to us.

Their story was tacked on, like everything else in Season Six. In fact, the whole finale could have been slapped on at any random endpoint. It wasn't a culmination or an inevitability or a hard earned catharsis. The message that after death we'll all live happily ever after with our bestest BFFs could have been, as one reviewer noted, a perfectly good finale for Saved by the Bell or Happy Days. Or a kiddie cartoon, for that matter.

What's more, by bottom loading all the mysteries and saving them for the end, rather than building them organically into the fabric of the story, they belied the pretense that they were master storytellers. A good story needs pacing. I had assumed their need for a fixed end date was in order to allow them to pace their story. But we all know now that had nothing to do with it.

We could tell that Mama Clegg was not the Island's Eve. She was only another interim hermit guardian, just like Jacob. Someone came before her, maybe the people that carved the cuneiform marks into the big stone plug. Someone before Momsy built the light sealing contraption inside the big shiny hole. Who was that person? Why did they do it? We never really learned why the Island was special, what was the source of its power, what its power really was. We never learned why the Smoke Monster had to be contained on the Island, what would have happened if he'd escaped. We entered the final battle of the story without knowing the stakes.

We just knew it was really important for Jack. Because he used to be a man of science. And now he is a man of faith. Faith in the Island. OK. But why?

The story never created any meaningful metaphor for the Island. It was the "warmest, brightest light you've ever seen or felt." It was a little piece of "something that's inside of every man." The enemy was "evil incarnate". It would all "only end once", except that - since Hurley became Jacob - it didn't! It was a myth that was never told, a myth, if we can even call it that, that never coalesced into anything more than mawkish abstractons. It meant nothing. It was just pretty pictures.

What's more, the characters themselves experienced no consequences. The very same second that The Great Jacksus laid down his life, he was handed his eternal reward. His sacrifice wasn't a sacrifice at all, just the last step in him being handed all the presents and goodies and heavenly lollipops that anyone could ever dream of.

It was a pretty sweet deal. Save the world and go straight to heaven. Doesn't really tug at my heartstrings. Or make me feel anything at all. No stakes. No consequences. No metaphor. No myth.

But all this ground has been covered, and better, by others. Few disagree that in the end the LOST "storytellers" failed in their central mission - to pull together a coherent and satisfying end to the mysteries they themselves had chosen to create. But I was surprised to see how many, at least in the immediate aftermath, seemed to think that the finale succeeded in a different area - that of giving resolution to the characters. It became like the one good thing people could say about LOST - that it was a terrible ending, but at least the characters all got "satisfying resolutions". I don't know where they're seeing that. Maybe people just need to convince themselves that it couldn't possibly be as bad as it all really, really was.

To be fair, not everyone was fooled. But far too many were. If I have to pick what I consider to be the Number One Inconvenient Truth about the LOST Finale, it would be this:

It was NOT "about the characters."

The biggest secret that Darlton managed to hide from us was that the characters never really mattered. At all. Yes, LOST had a great cast of mostly wonderful actors, who emoted the shit out of the material they were given to work with, even if it was often insane nonsense. But charismatic acting is not the same thing as good characterization.

I think the primary failure of LOST's end story was its failure to respect and resolve its characters. Except for Jack, none of the characters got any better resolution than the mysteries did.

Let's start with a somewhat minor, but nonetheless pivotal, character. Claire and her baby, who she'd been apocalyptically warned must not be raised by another, seemed to be mystically connected to the Island.

But then Claire dropped Aaron in a cabbage patch. He got raised by another anyway. And Claire became a crazed axe murderer.

That was her character arc. We never saw how she went crazy. We never saw what happened when Aaron got his Mad Mama back. We missed every interesting thing that Claire's story could ever have been about. All we know is that Claire eventually died and re-birthed Aaron in her self created purgatory while she waited for her big brother Jack to arrive, so she could spend eternity with Charlie - the guy whose death she never even mourned.

How was this character arc resolved? What is satisfying about this characterization? How is it even a characterization? It's a collection of cutesy coincidences - She's Jack's sister! She's crazy like Rousseau! Only worse! - that ultimately went nowhere and meant nothing.

Ok, maybe you say Claire's a bad example, because she wasn't an important enough character. Let's take the great John Locke then. Because no one can say Locke wasn't an important character. How did this great character get his resolution in the finale?

Well, basically he stayed dead.

Until Jack came to fix him.

John Locke, who so wanted to be special and who came to the Island and had his legs magically restored and who had a child's faith in the beautiful Island and who tried and failed to convince Jack to stay and who left what he loved and sacrificed his life for the sake of his Island - his "resolution" was that he got to wait in Limbo Land until Jack - freaking Jack - got around to not only dying, but to accepting that he was dead.

Locke's character "resolution" was to further the glory of Jack, even in death. What once seemed like an epic duel between equally matched protagonists went out with a weak, faint sounding pfffffffft. By the time the big showdown happened, Locke wasn't even there.

Like so much of the audience, Locke got screwed. Sorry, John, you were just road kill on the Highway to Jack's Heaven.

But don't worry. Be happy! It's not like there's anything we can do about it now. Except maybe this ...

Sun and Jin's "resolution" came at the end of three long seasons wherein they both did, collectively, nothing.

Finally they reunited. Then they died the next day, with not even a passing acknowledgment of the daughter who had been at the heart of their story. In Purgatory, or Limbo, or whatever the hell that Sideways bullshit was, they had to wait - for Jack, of course - until they could speak English (the language of Jack's heaven) and follow their dear leader into the light.

We can also add Sayid to the list of screwed over characters.

In post-9/11 America, it was shocking to see an Iraqi soldier in the Revolutionary Guard presented as a sympathetic character. But Sayid worked his way into our hearts, despite being the sickest killer in the bunch, because he was a passionate man. Who loved Nadia.

Nadia was at the nexus of all his moral quandaries - he betrayed his country for her, he betrayed his boyhood friend for her, he struggled off the Island and married her, only to lose her again. And with her death, he lost his soul. His character resolution? Well, first - of course - he had to wait for Jack. Obviously. Then ... uh ... he hooked up with Shannon and he got to go to Heaven!

Did this make sense to anyone???? Was this supposed to be a joke?

Sadly no. They were serious about this shit. See, Sayid didn't really love the woman he'd devoted his life to, the woman his entire story had been about. He only wanted what all men want in Geekland - a blonde American babe.

Hurley apparently lived out his roly poly life on the Island, maybe for centuries, with Ben. Although that might have made a great season of LOST all by itself, we never got a glimpse of it.

Instead we learned that the only great thing in Hurley's extremely long life was Libby, the girl he once almost went on a picnic with the day before she got shot. Nothing else. So once he finally died, he - like everyone else - waited for Jack, and then finally, I guess, he got to have a girlfriend, even if they were both dead.

Sawyer's story ended in Season Four.

We had watched his evolution, one of the most beautiful in the show,

from guilt ridden, self loathing orphan to passionate lover and hero.

But in Season Four, fanboys everywhere rejoiced as Sawyer's hotness got sucked away and he was reincarnated as a neutered Deputy Dawg, flashing big buttery grins at his tall blond Dharma-wife.

And that was it for poor Sawyer. He got to scream and cry while Juliet died ... over and over again ... then he sat on his ass until it was time for Jack to save the world. Then he did absolutely nothing for all the rest of his life until it was time for the most anticlimactic and uninspired cup of coffee in tv history. And then he hugged Jack, and he too got to pass through the pearly gates.

Character? Resolution? I can't find either one in this story. The complex, charismatic character that stole my heart and first addicted me to LOST disappeared the day he jumped off the helicopter and saved the life of the woman he loved. I watched and I hoped and I put up with Carlton's insulting insinuations that we were only watching to see him take his shirt off, but the Sawyer that I loved never ever returned to LOST.

Kate didn't do any better. We don't know when she died but we know she never met anyone better than Jack. That's sad enough. You didn't deserve that, Kate.

This is where the poor character development leads straight into The Second Inconvenient Truth About the Lost Finale:

It had a very depressing message.

In order to believe in whatever the Shiny Happy Afterlife was meant to be, we have to believe that nothing that ever happened to Kate, Sawyer or Claire after they left the Island ever meant a damn thing. They had to wait TO DIE before they could live.

Well, technically, they had to wait for JACK to die before they could live again.

If we accept that the gang in the church had to be there together because they were the only people that truly mattered to one another, we have to realize that all these people lived HORRIBLE lives here on earth. Think of all those who didn't matter to them:

Charlie Hume didn't matter to his Mom and Dad, and neither did Ji Yeon, a fetus for all eternity.

Hurley didn't want to be with Grandpa Tito or Mami Carmen or any of the people who loved and raised him.

Helen was good enough for Locke's purgatory, but she didn't rank high enough to make it into his heaven.

Jack's alcoholic, philandering daddy was the High Holy Priest in his Heaven,

but the old Moms who put up with being married to this creep didn't rate any heavenly reward.

Sorry, Margo, your son just wasn't that into you.

Juliet had no place in her heaven for the sister and nephew she longed to see for so long.

Nadia? She was no biggie to Sayid. Just a passing fling.

Boone never had anyone in his life who meant anything to him at all and the greatest moment of Shannon's life were those few weeks she spent trying to breathe without her inhaler in the Rape Caves before she got shot in the gut.

Kate and Sawyer never missed their mothers either, or Tom, or Clementine, or Kevin, or each other.

The only thing this "heaven" proved is that all of these people lived sad, loveless lives on earth. But so what if life sucked for all the Losties? They got to be in a clean, perfect heaven with all the other pretty people, paired up like the giraffes and zebras on Noah's ark.

In the LOST credo, it turned out the only thing that ever matters in life is finding a Schmoopie. Parents, children, lovers, friends - none of it means a damn thing. The key to life is The Schmoopie.

Throughout the years, LOST made a big show of flashing various religious symbols at us like stolen watches from under a trenchcoat. The Church of Shiny Happy People felt like self parody, what with all the spiritual tchotchkes stuffed into every available corner.

A dharmachakra, an aum, a menorah, a Ganesh ... I guess they couldn't find space to shove in any voodoo chicken feet or Rasta spliffs or Wiccan wands.

But no one should have been fooled. The religious message of LOST was conventional Judeo-Christian group think of the most joyless kind.

Humans must unquestioningly accept the will of a capricious, often vicious Higher Power, because he's Jacob and you're not. Life's a bitch and then you die, but in the religion of LOST, once you find your Schmoopie ... and once the great St. Jacksus arrives of course ... even cold blooded killers can all go to Hollywood Heaven together.

Damon Lindelof: This is the critical mystery of the season, which is, “What is the relationship between these two shows? ... Where’s Libby? Where’s Ana Lucia? Where’s Eko? These are all the things that you’re supposed to be thinking about.

Got that? The only question Darlton cared about answering in their finale season, the ONLY one, was this: What was the Sideways universe? The Sideways that didn't even exist until this season. And what was the big revelation about the Sideways? That it was a completely separate, non intersecting, non connecting afterlife that the characters "created for themselves" while they waited to enter Heaven, or the light, or what the fuck ever. After swearing for years their story wasn’t about Purgatory, they made their finale season all about ... frigging Purgatory! Haha! Gotcha!

It's not that making the story about Purgatory would have been such a terrible idea. It could have been a coherent theme to carry over the seasons, showing us each person's passage to Enlightenment after their death. But this mish mosh didn't even make any kind of theological sense as Purgatory. What was the point of it, except to bide everyone's time until Jackie-poo arrived? Sawyer did not create a purgatory where he could repent for the murder of the innocent sweet shrimp seller.

Kate did not atone for the wrongs she'd done. In fact, she made herself a world where she was innocent, wrongfully accused. All that bad stuff? Nevah hoppened.

Charlie was still on the junk needle in his self created purgatory, only richer than Croesus this time around.

Sun and Jin for some reason created a purgatory where they were even more miserable, where Jin killed people and Sun got shot.

And Sayid apparently filled his self created purgatory with even more murders – I guess the ones he didn’t get around to committing in his killing spree of a life.

By creating a trite, pat purgatory, all the stories we'd invested in suddenly felt shallow and pointless. In one fell swoop, they managed to dishonor almost every character and render their stories meaningless. It didn't reflect the reality of our human experience, where all our acts have real consequences, where we don't have an escape hatch into paradise, like we found out the Losties had. But this purgatory had other problems as well. Basically it just didn't make any goddamn sense.

Was the highpoint of Aaron's life really the day he was born? It's hard to imagine how horrifying this poor kid's life was if the first six hours were the highlight. Or was Aaron just a symbol, not an actual human baby with a soul of his own? Even in death, was Aaron just a prop in Jack's Heaven?

Why was Eloise worried that Desmond would take Daniel away?

If she was "awake" and understood that she was dead, why was she still in purgatory? And why didn't she understand how it worked? She had been paired with her Schmoopie, so why couldn't she get on the Ark?

What was Ben waiting for? Did he need Danielle Rousseau to wake up too?

Because of course Danielle would want to spend eternity with the mouse faced creep who made her life a living hell, rather than the dearly beloved father of her child. She just hadn't woken up yet and realized who her true schmoop was.

Why wasn't Michael allowed into Jack's heaven? He blew himself up with a bomb just like Sayid did. Why did he have to be trapped on the Island as a whisper? Was it because he didn't have a Schmoopie?

And what about poor Walt? Not only wasn't he special in any way, but none of the other 815-ers wanted him in the heaven they created for themselves. Can you believe it? They wanted Libby there, but they didn't want Walt! They wanted Penny there and most of them didn't even know who she was! Boy, they really, really held that puberty thing against him, didn't they?

Why was Juliet Jack's wife?

Seriously. Why in the hell would she create that for herself? And why would she have an imaginary son with him? Forget about the realization that her precious sister actually never meant anything to her. I'm more hung up on that numbingly redundant candy machine conversation. When Miles listened to her dead body, remember that he heard her say "it worked"? What was she talking about? The bomb worked? Her hope to never have met Sawyer worked? No! She was talking about the candy machine of course!

When Sawyer unplugged it and plugged it back in, it worked! Wow! How clever was that? I mean, that's why we all stuck with LOST, wasn't it? For stupid gimmicky shout outs and conversations written entirely in cutesy catchphrases.

See? Look! It was an Apollo candy bar! And Number 23! Holy moly! My mind, she is blown! Darlton, you iz geniuses!

So the whole Sideways/Purgatory/Bullshitland that the characters "created" for themselves after death was not about Redemption (except for Jack.) And it wasn't about Free Will, one of the other alleged "themes" of LOST. The characters may have created this place, but they didn't know they were doing it, and they didn't know why they did it, and most of the connections they unwittingly created for themselves meant absolutely nothing in the final denouement, just like all the connections built into the pre-crash flight and the off Island world meant absolutely nothing.

LOST wasn't about connections at all, you see.

It was all about how many times you can pull a meaningless WhatTheFUCK plot twist on the audience. It turns out, you can pull an entire show out of your ass based on nothing but constant gotchas and contrivances, and you'll be able to fool ... well, a whole lot of people. For a really long time. Like for six years.

I think so far we’ve established one thing: Thinking about the LOST finale is not a useful exercise. The whole Man of Faith vs. Science debate, as presented on LOST, was designed to undermine the value of thought and contemplation, to degrade intellectualism. Just believe. Just have "faith". And what we were asked to have Faith in on LOST was ... Nonsense. On LOST, the Faith argument was used to hide lazy thinking and cheap storytelling. The only thing we were having Faith in all along was Chuck E. Cheese.

So here's another Inconvenient Truth that we learned from the finale:

LOST had no intellectual design behind it.

In the past if I'd seen this image of the Monster being thrown off the cliff:

I'd have dug out my favorite Dore print of Lucifer being thrown out of heaven. But at this point that feels like it would only be giving them a respect they don't deserve. I wasn't impressed that Jack's hicky turned out to be a mark from the tip of a knife. I really didn't care that Jack stumbled to his death from a wound to his right side, like the wound Doubting Thomas pondered in the picture Jack gazed at in 316. I can't be bothered to dig out images to illustrate these things. I get it. Symmetry. Mirrors.

I always did love the visual imagery of LOST, but you can't just throw random symbolic elements onscreen and call that a story.

By the end, LOST had lost all its intrigue for me, 100%. Without a story behind them, symbols alone feel superficial, and cloyingly facile.

I had given up on the idea that there was an intelligent design behind LOST's Famous Thinker Namedropping, but I was still dumbfounded by how incredibly facile and superficial the use of imagery became.

Not only could we tell that a man was good based on whether he was blond and blue eyed (Aryan=Good) and wearing a white tunic, but we could even tell the moral destiny of a baby by the color of his blanket! And see! They were playing a game. Like how the LOST writers were playing a game with us.

I can't have been the only one who misread Damon Lindelof's New York Times editorial some years ago. Remember how he had the audacity to lecture J.K.Rowlings on how she should end the Harry Potter books? I think a lot of people thought he was advising her to be brave, to do the unexpected, to do the unpopular. But re-reading that thing, it's obvious he was saying no such thing. In point of fact, he was laying out exactly the way he planned to end LOST - catering to what he considered to be the stupidity and short attention spans of the American public.

"We Yanks, however, do not want froufrou endings. We want things definitively tied up. And by “things” I mean lots of people dead."
"We really like gratuitous explosions."

"Because if there’s one thing we like more than explosions, it’s surprises."

I kind of wish, as an American, that people like Damon wouldn't speak for what "we Yanks" appreciate. I'd just like to let the global audience out there know that not all Yanks tell their kids to shut up and eat cheese and not all Yanks are proud of being stupid and unimaginative.

I am one Yank who became totally enchanted by the "froufrou" of LOST's endless literary, religious, scientific and philosophical allusions. Yes, I gradually recognized that it was an exercise in futility, but I still hoped against hope that there was some bare bones design behind it all, some order to the chaos. But the truth is out now: There wasn't any. Ever.

In other words, they were saying that great minds in history had addressed great issues and told great stories ... but Lindelof and Cuse weren't trying to do that. They were just copycats. Who didn't have the skills. Sort of like this:

I think Darlton should have taken this full disclosure thing one step further. The writers who influenced them weren’t Lewis Carroll or James Joyce or C.S. Lewis. Come on, guys! Be honest. The literary influences in your writing room were more along these lines, right?

Killer the dog WAS. Now Killer was born to a three-legged bitch mother. And he was always ashamed of this, man. And then right after that, he's adopted by this man, Tito Liebowitz. He's a small-time gunrunner and, uh, rottweiler fight promoter. So he puts Killer into training, next thing you know Killer's GOOD! He is DAMN good! But then, he had the fight of his life. They pit him against his brother Nibbles. And Killer said, "No, man, that's my brother, I can't fight Nibbles!" And he made him fight anyway. And then Killer, Killed Nibbles. And Killer said, "That's it!" And he called off all his fights, and he started doing crack, and he ffffffff-FREAKED OUT. And then in a rage, he collapsed, and his heart... no longer beat. Wow.
Anyone who ever followed Damon Lindelof on Twitter, begging people to vote up LOST on some poll where it was losing out to Ghost Hunters or something, knows that this dude believed in the power of the button pushers. He said as much in another inadvertent admission hidden in that infamous NY Times editorial:
"I read an article recently saying that 80 percent of American poll respondents said they thought Harry wouldn’t survive the final book. As is the case in many polls, there’s probably a degree of wish-fulfillment here. In other words, we want the little bugger to die."
I don't see how poll watching could ever be a good practice in any creative enterprise. It seems to me that "conventional wisdom" is in itself the death knell of originality. But we do know the boy wonders liked to follow polls, and given the dumbassery of the LOST fandom, this may possibly explain how LOST managed to fail so utterly. Let's look for a minute at the kind of fans who truly and deeply loved this LOST finale. First of all there's people like this lovely young Jate fan:
Fuck you all, dirty whores. Yes I'm talking abotu real people because you suck and fail at life. I loathe you all haters, you deserve all the spit and shit on your faces as you can get for all those years trolling the internet. Our fandom doesn't have any respect? STFU you son of a bitch you! Keep fooling yourselves that Skate was eyefucking the whole season. You're only embarrasssing yourselves, even some decent skaters can see. Yes, there are sane skaters out there who appreciate them sanely.

These are your fans, Damon. You own them now. Don't look now, but they may be all you got left. We've learned now that fanmail campaigns and obsessive poll rigging pay off when the writers have neither balls nor any kind of plan. Sure, you managed to destroy your show's reputation and legacy, and sure, your name will be mud to any LOST fan who ever tried to follow the show on an intelligent level, but you did manage to satisfy geniuses like the poster quoted above. So, uh ... Congrats?

It would be wrong for me to blame the batshit Jate/Suliet fans entirely for how inane and angry the LOST online discourse became. By far the bigger culprits were the vicious, often misogynist fanboy types who camped out at the site run by my old friend DarkUFO. Given Darlton's addiction to pandering to the lowest common denominator in the fandom, there's no way they weren't aware of the whims of Fanboy Central. On that loud, big, spoiler whoring board, any sensible disagreement or alternate viewpoint about LOST was systematically shouted down, mocked to shit and banned out of existence by the torch and pitchfork carrying villagers.

It's sad to think that LOST was once considered cutting edge precisely because of the cyber-conversation that had grown up between fans and writers, a conversation that may have ultimately destroyed the integrity of the story. Laura Miller's Salon piece makes a great case for another Inconvenient Truth:

LOST was "Ruined By Its Own Fans"
From statements the producers of "Lost" have made over the past five years, they developed a dynamic with die-hard fans (and disillusioned fans and skeptical non-fans) that was infinitely more complex than any of the personal relationships among the series' characters. Could it be that in resisting the geekiest, nitpickingest, most Aspergerian demands of their audience they swung too far in the opposite direction, dismissing as trivial everything but the cosmic (the tedious and largely unnecessary Jacob-Smokey background) and the sentimental (making sure that every character receives his or her designated soul mate or therapeutic closure of the most banal Dr. Phil variety)? If so, "Lost" may be the quintessential example of a pop masterpiece ruined by its own fans.
Infintely more complex, indeed. DarkUFO was despised, and rightly so, by the LOST inner circle, because of his thoughtless and selfish spoiling of their big Season 3 and 4 finale surprises. So, was it REVENGE that made Darlton write an endgame that fanboys hated even more than Skaters? If so then the irony of Fanboys and Skaters being on the same side is delicious. Nice job, dudes.

Fanboys and Skaters were the natural enemies of the LOST Fan Kingdom. Aside from Andy Page's smarmy egotism, the defining feature of his site was his petty vindictiveness towards Skaters, most likely because we were the ones who unmasked him for the poll rigging liar and all around skeevebag that he was. How petty was he? I don’t think anyone outside of Fishbiscuitland quite understands. For years he lurked 24/7 on our board under his chosen alias:

Miss Mary mostly just used our site as one of the many from which he’d steal spoilers or pictures or media mentions, all of which he’d post on his own board without credit. But in the run up to the finale, his juvenile pettiness was on full display. One night, when I guess he was getting bored down in that basement bunker, he put on his best squealing imitation of what he thought a dumbass Skater fangirl would sound like:
I juust had my friends sister email me about the finale. She works on the set if LOST She told me that in the finale that Kate tells Jack she loves him Uve now given up on this show after the Juliet kiss scen
And then a few moments later:
They are sending me scans tomorrow. And they will send to dark UFO tomorrow as well I promise I am not lying and this is real I wish it was not: (((((((((
I busted him right away, explaining that even squalid fangirls were smart enough to trace an IP, and he ran straightaway, skirts flying over his head, to erase the evidence that he was, in fact, every bit the petty, juvenile twit we’d always known him to be. Apparently he didn’t want anyone to know that the great and powerful DarkUFO loved to troll among the squalid shippergirls he always claimed to despise. We banned the bastard after that, but Lord knows how many other sock puppets this douchebag had over the years, or how deeply into the pie his poll rigging fingers really were. It’s all water under the bridge now, thankfully – one more reason to be happy that LOST is over.

LOST is over, MaryAndy. Suck it up. You have to go out and get a job now.

MaryAndy may have just been one of the creepy curiosities of the LOST fandom, but his Skate Hate was something that was shared by most of the fanboys who followed LOST, including, it seems the Alpha Nerds who wrote this dreck. It brings me to one of the biggest downers of my LOST experience. Maybe it doesn't quite count as an Inconvenient Truth, but it's a Truth nonetheless.

Nerds hate romance.

In fact, I’m pretty sure that most nerds wouldn't know Romance if it jumped up and kissed them on the mouth. That’s part of what makes them nerds, after all. Sci Fi and Fantasy genres have never been a romance friendly milieu. Romance, when it appears at all, is generally very stilted and unrealistic, and caters to the male sensibility exclusively. Most women in this genre are blond. All women are beautiful, although beauty is completely optional for the male half. It is common, and preferable, in Nerd Romance, that the female abjectly worship her mate. Strangely, though, Nerd Romance rarely features ... s.e.x.

I'm sure many are wondering how I feel about Sawyer and Kate being left flat in the finale, about them being the only couple left out of the great cosmic circle jerk. Every obscure, asexual couple in the show's history, from the non starter of Daniel & Charlotte to the anti-romance of Ben & Danielle got some kind of validation in the story, yet the long romance of Sawyer & Kate, deeply embedded into the fiber of the story, was ignored completely. I was disappointed, but not shocked, and not all that broken up over it. It's hardly the only thing that didn't make sense, and it’s not like it made the finale any worse. I don't think there was any way it could have been any worse, to be honest. It may well have been a blessing in disguise that they didn't pander to Skaters. If they had, I might have been tempted to watch it again, and this way I'm forever protected from that fate.

The gloopy cheese-bubbles that were meant to signal eternal schmoopiness in the "The End" made the Gray's Anatomy's finale look like Shakespeare. I don't think LOST could possibly have trivialized the idea of romantic love more if they tried.

Basically, the way Romance ended up being depicted on LOST, the uglier a romance was,

the less we saw it happen,

the less sensual it was,

the more weird and shallow and gimmicky it was

- the more likely it was to end up depicted as Twu Wuv in the finale.

Sayid and Nadia's series long love story, just like Sawyer and Kate's, ended up meaning nothing. In both cases, the women were swapped out for the leggy blonde at the last second. Meanwhile, Jack and Kate, who spent the last two seasons in a deep funk of apathy towards one another were magically transformed with one last WTF into the most vapid kind of Nerd Lovers imaginable.

These writers had no intuitive sense of how to write romance, and what's more they seemed to have a strange antipathy towards the concept of passionate sexual love. It's incredible, but true, in the entire run of the whole series, there was only ONE deeply romantic, loving sex scene in the full six years.

Yes, it was one of the greatest tv love scenes ever and yes, it will be remembered long after this dreadful finale is forgotten, but still ... Only one! In six years! That's shocking. It almost makes you wonder what other issues these guys were repressing. Women were never important to these writers as anything other than babymakers and schmoopies. Sex for the most part was invisible, except when it was making women pregnant so they could die. But when it came time for the Darlton to imagine what the secret in the bowels of the Island would look like, they created a big rod. And a shiny wet hole.

I know. Ew. But don't blame me. I didn't write this shit. The ultimate denouement of this phallic fantasy was that the big hero man had to stick his rod back into the hole. Then the world was saved. And Jack was bathed in an orgasm of light.

Sheesh. These two guys should have just taken their Jack Action Figure and gotten themselves a room.

The LOST writers, of course, chose to make a love triangle central to their story from the very beginning, and to keep it there and promote it until the bitter end.

For years, we heard - from the mouths of the Darlton themselves - that Sawyer was their Han Solo. Even a Star Wars neophyte understands that Han is the romantic hero of the story. He's charismatic and sexy and adorable in all the ways that Luke is not and can never be. It's a type, an archetype, and an especially entertaining one, in my opinion.

But LOST, since it couldn't be original in any other way, decided that this well loved archetype would be the one, the only one, that would stand on its head. They de-sexed their Han Solo and made sure that he ended up getting gotz in the end of the story. There could be no romantic victory for Sawyer, just like there could be no heroic victory, because nothing could be allowed to deflect any light from the greater glory of the magnificent Jackass. Sawyer's fate, and the fate of Sawyer and Kate as a love story, was one more casualty of LOST's Revenge of the Alpha Nerds.

And here's the last saddest, most Inconvenient Truth :

LOST was never anything more than The Jack Show.

All of it was just passing time until it was time for Damon's surrogate, Jack Shephard, to win all the marbles. The only character that got any true resolution in this story was Jack. Jack became Jacob! Then he gave up being Jacob! Then he killed the bad guy! Then he saved the world! Then he died a great hero, knowing he'd saved the world! Then he won the Kate trophy! Forever! In heaven! If you ever doubted that this was The Jack Show, check it out: No one could go into Heaven until Jack got there. He was even the most important person in Heaven!

It's a very inconvenient, but unavoidable, truth that these two rich, mainstream Hollywood white guys could only envision a story that revolved around a privileged mainstream white guy like themselves. It's laughable to think back at how LOST was once considered a groundbreaking show because of its multicultural cast. As the years went by, the black people disappeared, the Asians learned to speak proper English, the Middle Eastern man became an evil beast and the females all became interchangeable schmoopies. Even the lesser white men had to take a backseat to the Great Jacksus. Locke ended up inert,

Desmond ended up not being very special after all,

and Sawyer was kept around as nothing but eye candy.

The decks had to be cleared to make sure no one, at any time, outshone the Great White Hero. Face it, even Purgatory was Jack's Wet Dream. Who besides Jack got a damn thing out of this Sideways world we're told they all allegedly created for themselves?

Claire was still the unwanted bastard stepsister who was pregnant with a baby she didn't really want. Kate was still a fugitive. Sayid still a killer. Charlie still a junky. Locke still crippled. In Jack's wet dream, Sawyer couldn't even get a woman! If nothing else, that proved that we were living in Jack's fantasy world.

But look at what Purgatory was like for King Jacksus. He was the generous kindly brother to Claire that he had never been in real life. He got both of Sawyer's women before he did, and even impregnated one! He magically cured Locke’s spine. Who needs a miraculous mystical Island when you’ve got St. Jack? Miracles were just all in a day’s work for him.

Purgatory was so custom made to make sure Jack would be comfy in his new afterlife that he even got a whole fake person tailor made for him - David.

Now, David, of course never really existed. Poor kid, I'm sure it would ruin his day to find that out. Once Jack had been convinced that he would have been the bestest daddy in all the world, David, I guess, just poofed away. Jack was done with him, he returned to the void to which all things go that Jack no longer has any need of. His only function was to help Jack work out the all important Jackiness of being Jack.

I really can’t think of any way they could have undermined their quasi-spiritual “message” any more completely than by focusing the entire endgame on the glorification of only one character. I know LOST prided itself on making pseudo-religious pudding out of all the world’s great faiths and philosophies, but I’d really like clarification on which mutant religion they drew their inspiration from for this final act. In what faith is the individual ego considered a viable path to salvation or nirvana or enlightenment? Make no mistake: this final episode was about about one person and one person only. It was about Jack fulfilling all of Jack’s dreams,

about Jack becoming the hero that Jack always wanted to be,

about Jack not being a drunk or a stalker psycho ex husband,

about Jack having the perfect son who loved him perfectly,

about Jack getting the respect from Dad that Jack always wanted,

about Jack fixing everything for everyone just like Jack always obsessed over,

and about everyone loving and wanting and waiting for Jack before any of them could start their eternal afterlives. The message wasn't "Live together or die alone". It was "die alone and wait for Jacksus to lead us into paradise."

With this predictable, but disastrous, narrative choice to focus on only one character above all the others, Lost managed to destroy the last hope that LOST could ever have been a great story with a message that was universal or transcendant. The strength of LOST had once been in the variety of its characters, in the way, that each one of them represented a slice of humanity, a slice of heroism, a slice of each of us. If there had been a truly humanist vision behind the LOST story, each of us could have seen ourselves in some incarnation within the story. We could have come away with some unifying vision of what it means to be human and to be connected to other humans. I think this is what many of us had hoped for. I know I wasn’t the only one who imagined that's what we were witnessing. This TIME Magazine article gives a great interpretation of what LOST could have been, what so many of us thought it would be, but what it sadly decided it didn't want to be:
But Lost has not a single protagonist but a huge ensemble of heroes and antiheroes with checkered pasts. The loser, the con artist, the arrogant doctor, the fugitive, the junkie: each has his or her part in the quest, which has less to do with good beating evil than determining how to be good, less to do with getting the happy ending than finding out what it means to have a happy ending. Collectively, they are — to borrow the title of Joseph Campbell's classic study of myth — the Hero with a Thousand Faces, or at least a dozen or so. It's a concept of heroism for our complicated, connected world, where problems are too complex for a single savior.

LOST's problems weren't too complex for Jack. He solved them all, all by himself. Locke tried to save everyone but only ended up giving the Monster a body to use. Desmond thought he could do it, but he couldn’t. Sawyer, Kate, Sayid, Sun, Jin, Charlie, Claire, Hurley, Ben – they may have moved the problems along, but none of them helped to solve or fix a damn thing. It was Jack, all Jack, only Jack.

The Geniuses in Chief liked to say that the show was telling them what it wanted to be about. We couldn't hear it, being mere peons of the audience, but I guess what the show was telling them was that it wanted to pretend for a really long time to be about cool, intriguing characters and ideas and mysteries ... but then at the last minute it wanted to be about Jack getting his ass kissed, his balls washed and a big fat halo super glued on to his head.

So, LOST is over. Finally. And good riddance to it. Sometimes I still find questions popping into my head. Like:

Why did Kate wear a dress into the church but then showed up inside wearing pants?

Or, if Michael said the whispers were souls trapped on the island, why was Duckett who died in Australia trapped there telling Sawyer “it would come back around”?

And like why did Hurley and Ben have to stay behind on the Island if the Smoke Monster was finally DEAD?

But then I slap myself and realize – I don’t have to think about this shit anymore! Ever! And that’s good, because finally it's safe to admit what many of us suspected, but never wanted to say: It was all bullshit.

Is there anything good to say about LOST in the wake of this debacle? Well, the music of Michael Giacchino was always stirring and emotional. The visuals of this show were magnificent. All kudos to the Art and Cinematography departments of LOST. The acting was often stellar and I hope to follow many of the actors into bigger and better careers. And of course, I’ve made some great friends, some of the smartest and wittiest people on the internet, and we made a home at Fishbiscuitland, which is staying open for business. But that’s about it. This was the kind of finale that nullifies a series, that ruins it forever, that renders any rewatch moot. And that’s not an easy thing to do. That kind of failure comes around only once every few decades. So I guess Darlton can claim that distinction. However, I really don't think they should ever show their faces at another Comic Con.

It occurs to me we still haven’t settled on an actual, literal last word. I think we know what Darlton's last word to the fans was:

But as for myself? I always enjoyed sprinkling quotes on my LOST recaps. How about this? LOST was ...

... a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

Oh, well.