“Lost” and Why I Hate Goodbyes

16Apr12

It’s almost here.

My relationship with “Star Wars” went basically like this: I saw them when I was really young, then backed away and got into G.I. Joes and Transformers, but then had a “Star Wars” resurgence in early high school that has rarely waned. Prior to the high school period, my favorite movie of the three was “Return of the Jedi” for a perfect reason: I was 7 or 8 years old. I still contend that the first 40 minutes of “Jedi” have everything a “Star Wars” movie should have, but during the high school period is where I started to have a less loving relationship with the final chapter of the trilogy (during college I almost lost all love for the film thanks to an ill-advised writing class where I was studying everything about what makes stories work; I saw the warts. Luckily these warts were eventually — and ironically — covered during the Special Edition re-releases, at which point I fell back in love with “Jedi” for simply existing).

I remember re-watching the trilogy during my high school years and getting to “Jedi” and being upset with it, not for many of the reasons people often list (Ewoks, not enough darkness, other bullshit). I was upset with the movie because it was The End. Completing “Jedi” meant the story was over and there was nothing else to look forward to. It is for this reason that one of my DVD’s to take on a desert island has always been “Kill Bill, Vol. 1″ without “Vol. 2.” A.) It would serve as motivation to get off the island to complete the story, even though that’s crazy because I’ve seen the ending before, and B.) I wouldn’t want the “Oh… it’s all over” disappointing feelings that come with closing chapters.

One clever transition involving getting off desert islands and closing chapters, we come to tonight, the series finale of “Lost.”  While I am excited and holding onto the fact that this show has never let me down with a season finale, I am getting a sinking feeling that I experienced with another “Star Wars” trilogy.  Put bluntly, Season 6 of “Lost” seems to be very similar to the prequels.  Lots of mythology and magic and arbitrary “facts” and “rules” seem to appear for the sake of getting the writers out of a jam, and the characters seem to be lazier versions of their past selves.  Choices are made for the sake of moving things along.  Oh, sure, Jack’s had 5+ seasons to come to grips with his leadership role and his relationship to this island, but to actually TAKE THE JOB of island guardian from Jacob he thought about it for 2 seconds.  Or, in my memory, Jack thought about taking the job for as long as it took the Emperor to re-name Anakin “Darth (pause to think for a second) …Vader.”

On that note, is that how the Sith got their names?  Their masters just thought of a word off the top of their head and that’s that? To recall an earlier Tarantino movie, what if someone doesn’t wanna be called “Mr. Pink?”

ANYWAY, a lot is riding on this finale, just as it was with “Revenge of the Sith,” and I wouldn’t be surprised if characters drop in facts out of nowhere just to shoehorn in all the answers they can, a la the whole some-Jedis-disappear-when-you-kill-them bit in “Sith.” 30 seconds before closing credits, Jack will stand victorious on the beach, waving goodbye to his friends on a ship headed for the mainland.  Then Sawyer will receive a text from Jack which reads, “I just found out why the Others were wearing make-up!”

However the main similarity between these two pop culture reference points is hype and fan-theorizing.  ”Lost” is a show which thrived on allowing its fans to come up with crazy theories to solve the island’s mysteries.  We wanted those answers.  Desperately.  We also wanted them to be great.  When they weren’t great — or even when they were just satisfactory — they could never live up to the theories we had imagined in our heads… just as the Clone Wars never lived up to the one in our imaginations (for the record, my version involved Jedi-vs-Sith, lightsaber-on-lightsaber action).  ”Star Wars” fans had dreamed of these moments, hinted at for nearly 30 years, so there was no way anything could really live up to our expectations.  So it may be with “Lost.”  The intriguing part about the first couple seasons of “Lost” was that we came up with crazy ideas as to why a polar bear was on an tropical island.  Turns out the reason was semi logical, which actually is completely contrary to what we wanted.  I remember somewhere down the line the producers of “Lost” said that there is a scientific reason for the island’s weirdness.  But I think we not only wanted magic, we would have been fine with it.  Just accept it.  Don’t try to explain magic (remember the last time you heard someone explain magic?  On this blog?  That’s right: “The Dark Knight”)

But what I’m really grappling with is that idea of finality itself, the accepting that something has ended.  This has always been my biggest criticism of “Jedi” — not that it ends poorly, but that it ends at all… and then I sort of got what I wished for and didn’t want it — but it’s a really hard thing to consider when you’re talking about weekly television.  We’ve invested hours and hours and hours to not only watching but thinking and discussing and theorizing about “Lost” that now when we come to the end, we have carried all this weight with us and it feels like we’re not getting any return on our investment.  It’s a bit unfair, but it’s also the truth.

So here’s to you, finale of “Lost.”  Let’s hope you’re more satisfying than “Revenge of the Sith,” which shouldn’t really be that hard, but they way you’ve drug stuff out, who knows?

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