Given that I’ve been an absentee blogger for, oh, probably six months (maybe more), it’s fitting that the end of Lost would be just what I needed to hop back on the saddle. The truth is, I’ve contemplated putting reviews up here for episodes all season, but I’ve found myself far more intrigued by what other folks have to say. There are tens of people out there, many of whom write more elegantly — and think more complexly — than I.
But with all of the talk these days about what Lost means, and whether the finale will deliver some cosmically awesome wrap-up of answers to fans, it seems only appropriate to weigh in. Not on the whole season. Not on all the meaning. Just to say a word about what the writers do or do not “owe” us.
I think Jason Mittel gets the closest to expressing how I feel about answers on Lost, in dividing his questions into Outriggers, Mechanicals, Mythologies, and Plots. The first we can fill in the gaps for ourselves. The second are really, at the end of the day, not important to our fundamental understanding of the narrative, particularly given that this is a SciFi/Fantasy gambit. The third and the fourth are more “important,” but only in so far as they explain why things happened on the show the way they did. He points to what are probably my most hankering questions: what on earth happened with the original Incident in 1977? And how did Jughead blowing up create the Sideways world? And what about the Island being underwater? I’m paraphrasing here, and imbuing some of my own questions into Mittel’s, but ultimately I feel that without giving us some form of an answer to these questions we are being denied crucial plot points.
However…when I think about the outrigger mystery that inspired the “Outrigger” category of questions, I wonder if I’m barking up the wrong tree. The reason the outrigger mystery (reminder: while traveling through time in Season 4, Sawyer, Juliet, and co. hopped into an outrigger at the Losties deteriorating beach camp; as they paddled on the sea, a second outrigger, that had been parked at the Losties’ beach camp as well, approached and a gunfight ensued; Juliet shot someone on the second outrigger, and then time shifted; we were never shown who was in that second outrigger, though we determined that the gunfight had taken place in 2007) was so important to fans was because we felt that someone of importance to our narrative on the second outrigger was shot by Juliet. Damon and Carlton have made clear that they did not feel it was necessary to “close the loop” on this, even though they know who was on the second outrigger. Though irritated at first, I recognize that if the writers and producers of the show don’t feel it’s important to reveal something to us, than it is simply not important. It doesn’t matter at all who was on that second boat, even if someone was shot, because it has no relevance to our narrative.
Similarly, while at this moment in time I feel it is extremely important that we receive an explanation of how the original Incident played out versus the Jughead Incident (and what happened to the Island in the aftermath of both versions), if, by the end of the series on Sunday night, this isn’t revealed to me, I’ve, in a sense, received an answer: it has no relevance to our narrative.
In the same vein, if we receive no more information about Eloise Hawking and Charles Widmore and their motives, how can I be mad? It’s not as if these characters did anything that our writers and producers cannot account for — they exist in the heads of our writers and producers! Their motivations and desires and storylines were laid out for us as much as necessary in order to understand their part in this particular story, as told by our writers and producers.
Which is all to say: I guess I’m beginning to understand why I am satisfied by the answers we’ve gotten when others are not. I’m not here for every bit of the narrative to be fleshed out — only so far as the story is told. I may wish we knew more about this or that, but I care much, much more about how this all boils down to a satisfying ending for our characters. I have watched this for all these years to see if Damon and Carlton could tell me something about the meaning of the universe, through the allegory of the Island. I’ve watched so they could tell me a story. About people.
I think James Poniewozik has it pretty right, when he defends the right of TPTB to tell the story they want to tell, even if some fans think they are being “arrogant.” They aren’t telling us the story we want; and if we want to try our hand out writing a “better” story, we’re certainly welcome to. Lord knows there are scary places on the internet where fan fiction flourishes.
But I don’t want to give the impression that I’ve decided we won’t get any answers. While I don’t think I’ll be mad if answers don’t come in the form I am hoping for, I also think it’s premature — and sad — to lose faith that our writers and producers won’t produce answers. TPTB have, at times, done a masterful job of closing loops and answering questions. Remember how bewildered we all were by Richard’s visiting a time-shifting Locke and giving him the instructions about having to die? That mystery was solved, in a terribly satisfying way. How we didn’t understand Richard’s visit to Locke as a child? Again, solved beautifully — and not for another two seasons!
In the same way, I expect that we will get more information about what sort of game Eloise was playing throughout the series, and whether she was working with the MIB (or merely being utilized unknowingly). And whatever happens, I believe we will feel satisfied. Because we are only being told what we need to be told by those doing the telling. Not more, not less.
All of this said, though, I reserve the right to be disappointed on Sunday night. But I don’t expect that will be the case.