The 'Lost' Hour: Season 6 redux

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Jen Chaney and Liz Kelly
Washington Post "Lost" bloggers
Wednesday, June 2, 2010; 12:00 PM

It's been more than a week and we ("Lost" fans, that is) are still reeling from a doozy of a finale and -- dang it -- lingering questions. A little group therapy is clearly in order.

Join "Lost" bloggers Liz Kelly and Jen Chaney on Wednesday, June 2 at Noon ET to talk about "Lost's" sixth and final season.

Liz and Jen, both obsessive "Lost" fans, have been writing their weekly dueling analysis of the show since 2006. When not debating the merits of Sawyer's hotness, they write the Celebritology blog. Jen Chaney also acts as movies editrix and DVD columnist for washingtonpost.com. For episode analysis, discussion transcripts and more, visit washingtonpost.com's Lost Central.

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Liz Kelly: Well, here we are -- almost a week and a half later and my brain, at least, is still stuck in "Lost" mode. Seriously, I'm finding my mind wandering to thoughts of glowing caves and empty caskets while trying "Real Housewives of New Jersey." Lost, it seems, is not done with me.

Jen, I suspect is in the same boat (an outrigger, if you must know).

Jen Chaney: I am indeed, Liz.

Before we get started, I want to direct your attention to Emily Nussbaum's piece in New York Magazine. While I don't share the same level of betrayal that she expresses, I think she makes some very good points about why some felt disappointed with season six.

We can discuss that, lingering finale questions or whatever is on your mind. Let's go.

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Washington, D.C.: So, several of my friends believe that the original plane crash killed the Losties due to the shot of the wreckage at the end of the broadcast (which the network admits they stuck on there). This is driving me crazy, will Lindelof and Cuse break their silence to clear this up? Some ambiguity is great, but I think the whole show becomes BS if we're supposed to believe they were all dead the whole time.

Jen Chaney: As we noted in the blog last week, that wreckage shot was simply a coda, a last glimpse of the fuselage as a way to say goodbye to the show.

In Canada, that footage didn't even air after the last LOST. So I don't think we should read too much into it, although it's understandable why people would. After all, I was the idiot who kept looking at it for an Oceanic logo and, upon not seeing one, assumed this meant the Ajira plane had crashed.

Yeah, I was really on my game when we did the last analysis. Have you ever run a marathon and then fallen on your face right before you reached the finish line? Kind of how I felt -- hadn't fully wrapped my head around things yet. Not that I have, fully, now...

Liz Kelly: I think it was late last week that we learned that Damon and Carlton had nothing to do with tacking that wreckage footage on to the end of the show. It was done by network suits. So I wouldn't factor it in to your thinking re: the finale at all.

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DC: More of a Comment than a question: After watching part of the finale when i t was rebroadcast last weekend i am more angry than i was when the finale first aired. The more i think about it, the more it feels like LindeCuse did a bait-and-switch on all of LOST's loyal fans of the past 6 seasons. Many people theorized that the island was a type of Purgatory and that redemptive acts on the island allowed you to "move-on" at peace. that the creators/writes vehemently denied that the island was purgatory allowed many of us to take the island at face-value and belive that it was somehow real and that the plane wrekc passengers were actually survivors. What is most angering is, if you deny that a story is about Purgatory, then don't drop purgatory into the final season's plot line. This is disingenuous at the least. It seems clear that if they knew what the final moment of the series was going to be 6 years ago, then they clearly knew what the subtext of the story of the isalnd was, they simply didn't want to admit that viewers were correct for fear of losing ratings numbers. and it is hard to take them at their word regaridng the story arc from start to finish when they proclaim that charcaters like Ben were only meant to appear for 3 episodes before disappearing from the show. this shows how much filler they added to buffer their original concept.

the story was about purgatory ( like Hank said) and most viewers knew it all along....

Liz Kelly: This is, of course, the biggest complaint by far from people who were way disappointed in the finale. We expended our energy trying to extricate meaning from this show that didn't involve it being a purgatory because Damon and Carlton denied -- seasons ago -- that it was a purgatory. Also, they denied that the characters were dead.

So, Damon and Carlton have some serious 'splaining to do.

But, there is the alternate view -- that Jen and I kind of espoused last week -- that the island was not purgatory. Just sideways world.

Liz Kelly: In which case Damon/Carlton weren't technically lying all that time, but it still comes off as a slightly lame move.

Jen Chaney: I still stand firmly in the sideways was purgatory camp. And maybe that's what you think, too, DC. Either way, purgatory or limbo still played a role in the ending, so whichever camp you're in, I think it's understandable to feel a little frustrated by that.

I don't have a problem with "filling" like Ben's character. When you're writing a narratives that lasts as long as this one did, it's only natural to take detours and add in elements that weren't originally envisioned.

Now that I've wiped the tears from my eyes, though, I'm more bothered by the golden pool and the MIB/Jacob narrative, which Nussbaum talks about in her piece. We've said in these discussions before that the introduction of those two brothers so late in the game didn't seem entirely organic. And while I was willing to buy it, in the end, it does feel tacked on.

I think it was perfectly appropriate for the finale to be character-driven, and for Jack to sacrifice himself. But on his path to that point, I wish we could have tapped back into the mythology that had already been so skillfully ingrained in the story from the beginning. What if, after the Incident, it had turned out that the Losties had messed with the electromagnetic "magical" properties of the island in a way that actually increased the danger that Jughead would detonate? Maybe Jack could have saved them from that.

I don't fancy myself a Lost writer -- not even close -- but it seems like there could have been a way to tie together what we already knew about the island with what happened in the end, rather than introducing the Indiana Jones Cave of Golden Weirdness.

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Takoma Park, Md.: After watching the finale again on Saturday night, then watching Jimmy Kimmel right after, I'm really peeved at our local ABC station for not putting Kimmel on until 12:30 when none of us could stay up for it. I felt that watching it right after the show was really cathartic. Matthew Fox seemed quite taken by the episode when he first came on. LOVED the orchestra playing the little LOST riffs.

Jen Chaney: I liked Kimmel, too. And like you, I found hearing Matthew Fox's take on what happened to his character helpful to hear right after the show.

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Bon Voyage: NPR's OnPoint radio show last Monday was about the end of Lost. Host mentioned bloggers "Jen and Liz" as if you were household names. Were you guys "big" in the Lost blog world? If so, notoriety deserved--you all were reverent and hilarious at the same time; The perfect combo for Lost. Thank you.

Liz Kelly: I think we built up a bit of cred for ourselves over the past four years of Lost blogging. But the Lost blogging/commenting community was a big one and one blessed with many stars -- both from traditional media outlets (like us and Jeff Jensen) and hobbyist bloggers like JoPinionated and DocArzt, who both built up huge followings based on their good instincts and coverage.

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The Incident: I always had the impression that the bomb Jack dropped down the shaft and Juliet subsequently detonated somehow created the "sideways world." But knowing what we know now about the "purgatory/holding place," I'm not so sure I understand the connection between "the incident" and the Losties' sideways existence.

Any thoughts to help clear up the loose ends?

Liz Kelly: In retrospect it doesn't seem as if the incident really had much to do with sideways at all. Sideways just happened to fall in the narrative timeline after the incident occurred. Which really does make Juliet's "It worked" a puzzling statement. Unless she meant that by detonating jughead, Jack was set further along his path to fulfilling his destiny.

We speculated all season about whether or not either world had an effect on the other. It seems now that the answer was no.

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Kimmel clip: Is it possible to post the clip to the Kimmel show for the Matthew Fox interview?

washingtonpost.com:

Jen Chaney: All things are possible. Thank you, Paul!

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Washington, D.C.: This season ended up illustrating the problem with storytelling tricks. In pursuit of that "Gotcha!" moment, the writers ended up creating something hugely dissatisfying. We know now that all the stories told in the alternate universe were just a trick to throw us off the trail, to make us think the bomb had spawned another reality when in fact it had nothing to do with what we were seeing. But that renders a good 50 percent of the final season, and most of the finale, totally pointless. Why did it matter if Desmond gathered everyone at the church at a specific moment? THEY'RE FREAKING DEAD! What, if he didn't get them to the church, they'd become more dead?

And the whole story with David -- really? Liz, imagine that your child is born, you lovingly raise him/her, and 15 years from now, a handsome ruffian from a previous life touches you at a vending machine and you realize you're actually dead. Um -- the fact that your child was imaginary wouldn't bother you? Really? You'd just prance off into the light, totally happy with that? Ridiculous.

Liz Kelly: Well, the reason for gathering them in the church was apparently because they needed to move on -- together -- to whatever (supposedly better) reward awaited them after sideways world. Because they spent the most important times of their lives together. Or somesuch.

But, as another commenter asked, was this purgatory only "real" for Jack? Because if, as many have assumed, sideways world is timeless and our Losties gathered there after dying at different points in life -- old, young, etc. -- why would Aaron be there as an infant? Would he really be forced to face eternity as a months-old baby? A raw deal for him and for Claire, who will need to invest in some kind of heavenly Diaper Genie with an eternal warranty.

As for David. I think that's part of why Jack was resistant to moving on from sideways world. He was loathe to leave David, the son with whom he had finally established a healthy relationship.

Jen Chaney: I have been toying with sort of a hybrid view of sideways, one in which sideways exists for everyone but the moment in the church is really Jack's moment, so we see everyone as he remembers them -- through his eyes.

Christian told Jack that "there is no now here" when he gives his sideways-world explanation speech. So if they are in a realm outside the space-time continuum, to get all season five on you for a second, perhaps their acceptances of their deaths all took different amounts of time. And perhaps Jack's limbo lasted longest of all.

To us as viewers, what happened in L.A. after 815 landed seemed to encompass a few weeks. But for Jack it could have been many years before he accepted his death and moved on. A blip to mere mortals, maybe, but decades in Jack-limbo time.

Does even half of that make sense? Sigh.

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Rockville, MD: I'm digging the theory (I think it was Jeff Jensen's, in part) that, by saving the island and the light, Jack made the sideways world possible. It brings everything together in a better way for me than just thinking of the sideways world as a relative non-sequitir to the island.

Liz Kelly: Well, I guess that's right in that by saving the island Jack redeems himself, becomes a man of faith, comes full circle and is then ready to move on from sideways world. So by realizing his destiny/potential on the island, he makes what happens in sideways world possible.

But since sideways isn't a real place, I'm not sure saving the island would cause it to cease to exist.

Jen Chaney: Shoot, I can't find the part of Jeff's epic two-parter column that gets at what you're talking about.

But to put it in different terms, maybe because Jack finally fulfilled the role of a Candidate, they were able to find each other on the other side, to see each other in another life. And that's what they all needed to move on, at whatever point they eventually passed away.

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Sad: Not only has Jorge Garcia no longer getting paid to play Hurley and live in Hawaii, his dog was struck and killed while he was preparing to move.

Liz Kelly: I know. We linked to this in today's Morning Mix. As dog lovers, our thoughts are definitely with Jorge right now.

Jen Chaney: I was so sad to hear that news, too. Awful.

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MeriJ in Takoma Park: Any thoughts on the Bad Robot employee post that's been going around?

I love the way ABC attempted to discredit him by suggesting he was a intern they let go years ago. (As of a week ago, at least, he was still happily employed at Bad Robot.) For what it's worth, I joined that Buffalo Bills chat room and it's clear that he had been carefully sharing insider hints with his six or so Bills buddies for years, but very conscientiously and responsibly. I wish I'd known about him before, since every post he's every made has been deleted since the post-finale one went viral.

A couple of things he said in the viral post:

They wrote the last scenes of the finale just after wrapping up the pilot, starting where Jack enters the church up right to his death on the island with the second plane flying away. They saw it a test to let the show evolve and yet not rewrite a line of that ending.

The island maintains a balance between good and evil in the world - always has and always will.

The TV show Lost addressed the unique dilemma faced during Jacob's tenure as protector -- by his own rage, he created a devil whom he could not kill. It took 2000 years of bringing people to the island (and watching MIB corrupt them over and over so they would kill one another) to fix his original sin. Richard altered that cycle by helping Jacob realize he needed to play a more active role.

Jen Chaney: Hey, MeriJ, commentor extraordinaire!

Like you, I didn't know about any of this until it was too late to ascertain whether these postings had really been circulated throughout the course of the series.

I can believe they knew what that last shot would be. It was a gorgeous last shot; regardless of what anyone says, those last few moments -- when Jack goes to lay down next to dear old Vincent -- remain incredibly, incredibly moving. I've finally gotten to a point where I can think about them without tearing up, but it took a week!

I have a harder time believing that the writers knew Jacob and MIB were so integral since the beginning. If they did, I wish they had introduced the concept of MIB much earlier than they did. Jacob we knew about -- MIB didn't show up until the S5 finale, which is why he feels tacked on even if he wasn't.

Liz Kelly: I don't have a substantive comment in answer to your question, but did want to weigh in on the last shot. I still get chills when I replay that scene of Jack laying down in the bamboo (and Vincent with him). It was so well-executed and really a fitting end to the show.

What I didn't like, however, was the church suddenly filled with white light as our smiling Losties looked forward to their journey to the afterlife. It honestly felt a little "Highway to Heaven"-ish to me. Kind of ham-fisted for a show that built a reputation on being smart and edgy.

Question: Would it have been any less effective if we'd just stayed with Jack, dying with a smile on his face knowing he'd redeemed himself? Me, I think it would have been more powerful.

Again, I feel like we need to include a disclaimer here since we're being so critical. We love "Lost" -- Jen and I and all of you. So I guess that's why it's doubly disappointing to have the show ended on a weak note. (The weak note encompassing the easy out of making sideways a purgatory, the Highway to Heaven vibe, the waste of the first half of season 6 on temple foolishness and the somewhat unnecessary introduction of Jacob/MIB to the storyline).

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Washington, D.C. : Theory - the island was a version of hell on earth, a place for the candidates to get a chance in this life to become better people - to be able to make it to purgatory. Without the chance on the island, they wouldn't have made it there themselves, which is why they were all necessary to each other.

It seems the whispers are in some part of a Dante "Inferno" type layer of hell. But, my questions are why was the island on the bottom of the ocean? Why do some sacrifices seem more redemptive than others? Ie - Micheal's versus Sayid.

washingtonpost.com: Maybe Sayid was able to forgive himself but Michael wasn't.

Liz Kelly: That is a good question, though, about the island being on the bottom of the ocean. Why would we need to see that as part of our introduction to sideways world?

Jen Chaney: I was thinking about the island at the bottom of the ocean thing, too. Especially because, at first, I was convinced that's where the island ultimately went because we saw it in "LA X," and we also knew that Ben and Hurley were no longer protecting it.

But as with most things, I think I was wrong about that. My sense is that we saw that imagery almost as a teaser, a way to tell us from the beginning what the stakes would be in this season. Jack didn't know he was dead yet, and he didn't know he had saved the island. Which is a little confusing, but that's my best explanation.

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You Tube madness: I've been rewatching the final, as well as other previous episodes, on YouTube/Hulu ever since last Sunday. Phrases said in earlier episodes have taken on deeper meaning because of the finale. Have you two changed your mind on your conclusions in the last week and a half? I'm firmly in the Sideways/Purgatory camp, and that Kate, Sawyer et al made it back home on the plane...

Jen Chaney: I changed my mind about several things about 15 minutes after our analysis went live.

I'm in the same camp as you -- sideways is purgatory, and Ajira made it home. Which is another question I have -- how did that plane get off the island so easily, with no one having nosebleeds or anything else? Did Jack's actions release the "bubble" around the island just long enough for them to fly on out of there?

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From one Aaron to another,: Good afternoon Jen and Liz! While I think that I have my head wrapped around what happened in the finale (sideways-world is the "purgatory" or meet-up point for the Losties prior to moving on past their earthly lives/deaths), I still feel raw about Seasons 1 through 5 being... unnecessary? I mean, for a while there, everyone was spinning theories about Aaron and what he means to the Island and/or the world at large, his metaphorical meaning, his quest, and... pffft. What do you think LindCuse will put onto their big multi-disc release (August) to answer some of these dangling questions?

Liz Kelly: As Jen said earlier, I don't think we should view seasons 1 - 5 as unnecessary since serialized TV fare will inevitably contain a certain amount of "filler" to stretch itself out over a multi-year run.

I do agree, though, that not resolving the Aaron storyline, along with the fertility stuff, is a big oversight. And, again (at the risk of sounding like Pierre Chang's scratched Willie Nelson record), the writers could surely have figured out an elegant way to work closure for those elements into the show rather than spend their time dreaming up Dogen and Lennon.

Jen Chaney: At the risk of sounding like a cheeseball, I don't think any of it was unnecessary. "Lost" made all of us think and do research and read books (please see "A Brief History of Time") we might never have picked up otherwise. So I don't feel like I wasted my time dissecting all those little details.

I didn't expect all of them to pan out. As I said before, it would have been nice if some of those core island issues had been woven in more effectively, but I don't think that renders the entirety of the series useless or not worthwhile.

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Jack's Son: A thought occurred to me while reading the previous commenter's point on Jack's son. Maybe the point wasn't that Jack had a son, but that Jack could escape from the mistakes his father made. The director seemed to go way out of his way to make David look a LOT like Jack, from dressing them the same way and having them walk the same way. I don't view David as Jack's actual child, but more as Jack's chance to see what his life could have been like if he'd had a good father.

Liz Kelly: I think Jen pointed this out in last week's chat or the analysis. That the point of David wasn't so much David, but Jack's need to create a fulfilling, healthy father/son relationship. Which I buy. I still think, though, that his love for David and unwillingness to part with him was part of why Jack resisted succumbing to "moving on."

Jen Chaney: Totally agreed. Jack needed to connect with David to let go of his daddy issues.

He felt enormous guilt for, indirectly, causing his own father's death. His way of letting go of that was to mend a severed connection with a son he never had.

That sounds weird, but I think that's the upshot.

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Liz Kelly: I need to skedaddle to head to a doc appt. Fab talking about Lost again... even if only for 50 minutes.

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Washington DC: My only response to the criticism about introducing MIB so late in the series is that they actually did introduce MIB earlier, the viewers just didn't know it. Christian Shepherd, the man in the cabin that Ben thought was Jacob, fake Locke, smoke monster, etc were all MIB but we had no idea. I wonder if going back to watch the whole series will give us a different perspective on that aspect.

washingtonpost.com: I've been thinking the Man in the Cabin is Hurley from the future, from when he's the island's guardian, as part of some untold story.

Jen Chaney: Well, I always thought the Man in the Cabin looked like Locke. And hey, guess what -- turns out he kinda did.

But when I say introduce MIB, I mean in a recognizably human form, as in the character Titus Welliver played.

I kinda liked it better when the Smoke Monster was just smoke. He was so much more fun back then.

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In Definite Withdrawal: Had a dream last night about the Lost finale, in which Michael Cera and a supporting actor from Harry Potter (not even a major character) were going to ride around the island on a mail delivery boat until they got the signal that MIB was mortal/woundable, and then their job would be to attack and kill him. I swear I'm not making this up - I even tried waking myself up and when I fell back asleep, the dream picked up right where it had left off!

Jen Chaney: I have no words for this. You've clearly spent a lot of time thinking about "Lost," Harry Potter and "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World" lately. It's the only explanation.

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Incident: Okay. I, too, am a little frustrated that the Incident didn't have anything to do with sideways world. I have one nagging thought... Everything that happened on the island happened. So, a huge bomb goes off and only Juliet dies? The other main characters are fine? I don't get it, unless it was one of those "candidates can't die" moments (even though there were others that survived that weren't candidates).

washingtonpost.com: And how did a nuclear bomb go off in 1974 -- but everything that happens in the Swan in the future still happens. It makes me so... No, Liz, put that taser down...arrgggh....

Jen Chaney: Well, I've seen some theories tossed around that suggest Jughead didn't fully detonate, that maybe they flashed before it happened.

I mean, clearly there was a massive hole in the ground and Juliet was under a pile of rubble, but metal objects had started flying around before she banged on the bomb. If Jughead had completely gone off, I have to think the whole island would have turned into nuclear winter. So an argument could be made that it didn't explode, that what happened, happened and they were unable to change the course of events.

I was trying (lamely) to suggest this in an earlier response when I asked,"What if, after the Incident, it had turned out that the Losties had messed with the electromagnetic "magical" properties of the island in a way that actually increased the danger that Jughead would detonate?"

In other words, what if the bomb hadn't really gone off at the end of S5 but the fact that it could explode was still a real possibility the Losties realized they had to deal with? That might have been a more interesting development then, "Hey, let's go to the temple!," although perhaps the writers thought people would have been a little sick of the whole bomb issue after season five.

Whatever, I'm just spitballin'...

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Kew Gardens, NY: While I'm ok with not having many questions answered, I wondered whether you had a theory as to why Ben killed Locke in Season 5. Had he been following MIB's orders thinking they were Jacob's, surely he would just have killed Locke outright or allowed the suicide to take place. What was there about the mention of Eloise Hawking that led to the murder, and how did that mention fit in with MIB's long plan to exploit a loophole? Thanks for all your wisdom over the years and hope to read your insights after the DVD release with the Hurley/Ben extra scenes.

Jen Chaney: Really good question.

I think Ben was under orders to get Locke back to the island -- and to get him back dead -- because he was following MIB's orders. So why stop the guy from committing suicide, only to kill him yourself?

I'm not sure that Ben pulled John off the noose with the intent to kill him right away. He figured he would later, but not until he got some information out of him. But when Locke mentions that he has to get in touch with Eloise, it sets Ben off because it suggests, once again, John has more knowledge than Ben does.

So Ben killed him out of anger and jealousy, but with the knowledge that the guy had to die eventually anyway.

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Why the plane could leave the island: Well, Hurley was in charge by then and he allowed it to happen. He's not as insular as Jacob was, so people could come and go on the island.

It's pretty much the same reason why Widmore could show up on the island. Jacob was dead, so Widmore was no longer prevented from finding it.

If there's a question as to why something did or didn't happen, it's all because Jacob wanted it that way.

Jen Chaney: And there you have it.

I hate to say it, but I think Jacob also wants this chat to end. Still so many questions and not enough time to answer them.

As Liz and I have said numerous times, we have often been moved, sometimes amused and always honored to dissect this series with you, here and in the blog. We all obviously still have our nits to pick, but both Liz and I still love this show, warts, temples and all. And we love all of you for loving it with us.

With the alleged answers coming on the DVD, I have no doubt this conversation will continue. Thanks again, everyone.

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