I never watched LOST the first time around, so recently went through all six series, and I couldn’t help viewing some of the show through a writer’s perspective.
Imperfect? Perhaps. I certainly had issues with the way certain characters died. I couldn’t quite believe Charlie’s death. What? He couldn’t make it out of the room, close the door, and fastened it somehow from outside? If the door had an outside wheel lock, he had the time. Failing that, he looked small enough to swim out of the porthole once the glass exploded and the room filled up with seawater. Escaping was definitely worth a try. Likewise, Jack’s attack of John Locke/not Locke was reckless where he appeared to give the extremely obvious, present and enormous bladed weapon no consideration at all. No human half gutted with that thing would have carried on to save the island. I have an issue with shows where they have characters slice their hands open for a splash and dash of blood, wrap any old rag around the cut (infection anyone?) and carry on with a perfectly useable hand apparently in no pain at all, so knife in the gut and twisted… I never understand why the public is supposed to swallow such rot.
And though we’re shown Caleb’s origins towards the end, that never explains the mystical elements of the island. At one point, we’re shown a hidden crypt with Mayan or Egyptian type symbols, which appeared to the home of the smoke monster — so I was prepared to believe in an ancient god, but then we’re shown the pool of golden light with no clear connection between the light and the symbols. Is this an ancient worshiping ground? Worshipped by who and why? Is this the source of good and evil? If so, why did in manifest in two boys? If the island needs protection, why doesn’t God make it untraceable? One minute it’s difficult to find or get to and yet seems to be more easily reached by sub than aircraft. Alas, LOST leaves us with far more questions than answers.
The major problem for most viewers seems to be the ending, with the question of were they dead all along. I never thought so, and I have no major issue with the show’s end. Not one large enough to have spoiled the experience for me; however, I feel that an alternative timeline where something Desmond did in the pool to alter the outcome yet left them all with the memories of what happened would have felt far more satisfying.
And on that note, the writers negated the specialness of Desmond. Sure he ‘pulled the plug’ and that made not-Locke mortal, so he could die, but he was trapped on the island, anyway. And what was he? The devil? One of the devil’s minions? Pure evil? Or simply a hurt little boy inside? Desmond might have destroyed the island and says he made a mistake. After all he’d been through, that seems poor recompense.
The afterlife idea leaves too many questions. Why would Sayid end up with Shannon and not Nadia? Which woman was the love of his life? Things like this and more pop into my mind, when presented by the ‘we created this space as a way to meet up once we all died’. When did they all make this decision? Does heaven automatically bring you all together with the people you spent the most important time in your life with? What was the overall purpose of the island? For it certainly wasn’t where good and evil battled it out for all eternity to keep the world turning — not if the end is the end and the island was at last safe. What was the light? And when the water returned, why didn’t Jack turn into a smoke monster? Viewers certainly saw someone else get thrown in and changed, so why not Jack? Because he had a virtuous heart? Questions, questions, questions.
This is a great illustration of a problem all writers face. It’s often too easy to come up with a fabulous idea and then write yourself into a corner. At the end of all drafts, the writer must look to see what questions the narrative raises and whether they can answer them all…. Although sometimes the writer may not wish to answer and may leave it to the audience to speculate, but it’s a tricky thing to pull off. I like some open-ended stories, but LOST isn’t one of those, and so I would have preferred a few more answers.
But, having said all that, the storyline spaced out all my niggles, and at least the show had an end, unlike so many. It remained consistent and I love well-plotted, non-chronological story-telling. I imagine some viewers might find that kind of narrative difficult to follow, but I had no trouble following the storyline at all. It’s an action series, a mystery, and, like all the best stories, heavily character driven. I enjoyed the show despite every glitch because I invested in those characters.
In all good character stories, the people populating the work MUST go through a transformation. They must change, to emerge a different and (in most cases but not all) better person. In that I found LOST to be a captivating show, especially when one realises that it’s not a story about people being lost on an island, but a group of lost individuals who discover who they are and what they’re capable of together and when facing adversity. But that is why a different ending would have been far more satisfying. An end where they got to live new lives, yet remember what they went through and thereby complete their transformations in a way more satisfactory than meeting again after death.
When writing, try not to get lost of where you are in your work and when typing THE END weigh up whether you’ve not only answered all the questions you wish to against reader/viewer satisfaction. It’s still fine to go against the grain if you feel that strongly, but make it an active decision, not a mistake.