Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Unpopular Opinions: LOST

This coming weekend is the tenth anniversary of the finale one of the largest fandoms I’ve been a part of: LOST. It feels like it was surrounded by controversy the whole time the series was around. A shipwreck, a mysterious island, time travel, conspiracy theories, and purgatory. I’d never been part of a fandom with such intense theories along the way and I’m not sure another will ever compare. But with a fandom that was so critical with its theories during its run, it was only natural that the show ended up with a lot of criticisms by the end.

The series ending was good
The series finale was NEVER going to appease everyone. In particular, the flash-sideways were widely misunderstood. Throughout the series’ run, a theory kept popping up that the Island was purgatory. Repeatedly, the writers said that wasn’t the case. However, in the final season a “flash-sideways” timeline came into play. It was assumed to be a result of time travel, but in the series finale it was revealed to be a form of purgatory. Let me repeat, the Island WAS NOT purgatory. The flash-sideways WAS purgatory. I never understood why people struggle to understand that.

Not all the questions needed answers
Similar to the series finale controversy, after the series was over I felt like all I heard were complaints about how there were still so many unanswered questions about the show. What was the heart of the Island? What’s the deal with Libby? Who built all the Egyptian-esque ruins?  The writers said that some of these (like Libby) were supposed to be answered, but due to actor availability and such they weren’t able to. That being said, not everything needed to be answered. If we got a massive info-dump in the final episode, it would’ve been boring. Personally, I’m okay with the Island still having an air of mystery in the end.

Nikki and Paulo weren’t so bad
The problem with Nikki and Paulo is that they appeared out of the blue and tried to take center-stage after months of being invisible. At the time, the writers were trying to appease viewers by exploring more of the other survivors and their stories. I think it backfired because they tried to make Nikki and Paulo main characters. If they’d been recurring characters, like Rose and Bernard, who periodically appeared through season 3-4, it would have been better. Also, they just didn’t bother me as much as they apparently bothered other people. Just would have been better if they introduced obscure survivors periodically like they did with Arzt or Frogurt.

Ana Lucia was a good character
I’m not saying you have to like her, but she was a great character. In fact, I started re-watching the series during social distancing and my wife (who’s only watched bits and pieces) had an immediate dislike of Ana Lucia. I feel like that was pretty common back in the day. But it’s not because she’s a bad character. If anything it’s because she’s a good character. I think you’re meant to hate her at first and you may never actually like her as a person… but as her complexities and backstory get revealed, she gets more depth and substance. And all in the course of one season.

I liked Season 3 (with minor exceptions)
Season 3 of LOST started to drag on, especially in the first half. It’s because of all the filler and lowered ratings that the show runners got the deal to end the show after a total of six seasons. It gave the writers a chance to play out their preferred end game, instead of fishing for stories (that’s how Jack’s tattoo backstory happened….). But other than a few filler episodes, like the tattoo backstory, I liked season 3. The pacing kind of failed at times, but when doesn’t it? Every show has downtime. You can’t expect every episode to be groundbreaking.

Time travel from Season 5 was genius
I mentioned this in a post about time travel, but I really enjoyed the time travel in LOST. I don't have a problem with the Back to the Future time travel set up, but there's something about LOST that makes sense to me. And yet the time travel arc from LOST got quite a bit of flack. But to me it gave the show a needed change of pace and it gave them a chance to tell the stories they wanted (like Rousseau and DHARMA) in a way that would have been impossible. Or at the very least, disjointed and awkward. Instead, we got to see DHARMA close up and personal. I'm still not sure I like how they did Rousseau's story (I was hoping for more mystery) but it was still good, as far as time travel.

Man in Black wasn’t such a bad guy (at first)
I’m not sure this one is so much of an “opinion” as an observation. Toward the tail end of season 6, we got the backstory to the “villain” of the story. But the thing is that he didn’t start as a villain. In the flashback episode that gives us backstory for Jacob and the Man in Black, we see how the “Mother” treated them. If anything she was the bad guy of the series. She killed Jacob and MIB’s mom and took the babies, she killed a village of people on the Island for digging a hole, and she refused to let MIB leave the Island. At first, before becoming Smokified, MIB wasn’t bad. He just wanted to see what was in the outside world. He wanted to know where his birth mother came from. It wasn’t until he was pitted against Jacob that he started being a bad guy. And he did all his bad guy deeds out of desperation, to find a way to leave the Island finally.

What do you think? Did you watch LOST until the end? Where would you disagree? LOST is still one of my favorite shows and I don't think there could be another show like it. It's always worth a re-watch.

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