Well, the time has come … albeit weeks late (hush, I occasionally have a life) .. for my final LOST season recap. I suppose it’s fitting that I’m composing this final piece while on a flight to LAX, since that’s the event that started it all for our not-so-merry band of travelers. If you’re reading this it either means my plane didn’t go down and strand me on a mysterious island, or that it did, and this island gets great wifi.
But back to LOST. As I said, we’ve reached the sixth and final season of this epic, and boy am I glad we did. Not just because it means I will no longer need to watch the show, tweet about it, or write (okay, mostly complain) about it, but because I actually mostly like the sixth season.
Weird, I know, but don’t go busting out the emergency kits just yet. There are still a lot of issues with the season, and with the way they played out the overall story of the island. I just thought it pertinent to get the good stuff out first.
The sixth season is unique to all the others, in large part due to the fact that it includes what I’m going to call “flash purgatories”.
Okay, I’m going to take a little aside here to get one very important thing off my chest. Contrary to what many seem to believe, the castaways WERE NOT DEAD THE WHOLE TIME!! I understand how it might be confusing, but trust me, they weren’t. It’s actually rather explicit in the dialogue of a number of episodes, but yet people always seem to come back to the ‘they were dead the whole time’ nonsense. So, once and for all … while they were on the island, they were alive. Eventually, all of them die, but not all at once. In this universe, when you die you go to a kind of purgatory where you experience a version of your life unlike that which you experienced when you were alive. In this case, a version in which Oceanic 815 doesn’t crash and everyone is left to go on their merry ways. The big twist, of course, is that you are on a great big spiritual mission to reunite with those people who were with you at the most profound moment or experience of your life — in this case, the plane crash/island.
These ‘flash-purgatories’ are my favorite part of the sixth season of LOST, because they offer a deeper look at these characters that we’ve only sort of gotten to know over the course of the last five years. I like that it’s Charlie who first realizes that he’s living the wrong life, and that Desmond is the one who makes it his mission to bring all the Oceanic passengers together. I like that some of the relationships that trigger memories for the passengers aren’t romantic (though many of them are). Sun and Jin remember when they see their daughter on the ultra-sound for the first time, Kate and Claire remembering when Aaron is born, and a few others (though not many). I think my only problem with the way the memories are triggered is that it places a LOT of emphasis and importance on relationships that I really didn’t care for (Sayid and Shannon) or that I just did get or feel they developed very well (Hurley and Libby). Generally, though, these scenes were my favorite parts of the whole season. They were … nice … in a way that the drama and terribleness of the island wasn’t. Perhaps most importantly, they were hopeful, and hopeful is not an adjective I would usually use for LOST.
There were other little things that made this season better than others. The biggest one for me was that they finally stopped forcing the Kate/Jack relationship, having mostly played that out, and instead shifted Kate’s focus entirely to Aaron and Claire, and working to repair that relationship. While I still think it would have played out much better if Kate and Claire had developed a real relationship earlier in the series (she delivers Aaron and then they talk like twice more), allowing that relationship to play out at least a little in the final season gives Kate more to do in that season than I think she’s ever really had to do all series. Sure, she features heavily in the earlier seasons, but her storyline is rarely given much meat outside her involvement in the Jack/Kate/Sawyer love triangle.
I also really liked that Jack wasn’t the one who took over as the watchman of the island, rather leaving it to Hurley to do. As with a great deal of the larger mythology of the island, this decision struck me as very biblical in origin, but in one of those rare, good ways. If you’re not a Catholic School survivor like myself, allow me to explain. In the Old Testament, God called upon King David to do a lot of things in order to build his kingdom. Some of these things were pretty terrible, and involved war and death, etc. Here’s where things get a little fuzzy, so correct me if I’m wrong, but eventually God asked David to build a city or a castle or a kingdom or something, but told him that he would not rule it. David had done too many terrible things in the service of God to be worthy of serving as the king of this place, and instead it would be his son Solomon who would rule, and who would be the greatest and most just ruler ever. Basically the lesson at the end is that Solomon wouldn’t be able to rule as well as he did if David hadn’t done all the difficult and terrible things. The same goes for Hurley. Hurley is the guardian the island needs, just but also kind. Jack is the guy who has to do all the terrible, difficult things in order to keep Hurley that kind of person. Jack has to sacrifice in order for the island to be what it’s supposed to be.
I thought this was actually a really good bit of character AND story work from the writers … and that’s not something I say lightly.
Of course, this wouldn’t be one of my LOST recaps without at least a little complaining. While I did generally enjoy this season, there were a few bits that were … less than stellar.
Let’s start with the stupid, because I just need to get it off my chest. How in the hell did Juliet survive the initial explosion? For that matter, how did the LOST writers think nukes work? Whatever they thought, it’s definitely not like that. Accepting that an H-bomb likely wouldn’t have the same nuclear fallout of it’s atomic brother, it’s also a hell of a lot more volatile, and would have essentially vaporized pretty much all of our main cast. Instead, Juliet, who was literally ON TOP OF THE BOMB, not only doesn’t get vaporized, she survives long enough to whisper something to Sawyer. A scientifically accurate show LOST is not.
Now, onto the real criticism, which encompasses mostly just the third to last episode and all of it's crazy shoehorning of massive amounts of mythology as a means of explaining everything that's about to happen. Largely, I don't think it was necessary to understand the history of Jacob and the Man in Black, partly because the ship had really sailed on any viewer needing that amount of backstory to understand what was going on, and partly because it really just made things more confusing overall. In their attempt to explain every little detail about the island, they actually just offered up more questions, and more or less bored me to tears with a filler episode I didn't need, want, or care about.
Largely though, like I said, I enjoyed this final season. Much more this time than the first, possibly because I took my time getting through the series instead of barreling through it as quickly as I could, like last time. Ultimately, I'm glad I rewatched the series, and honestly, I don't hate the show now as much as I did. I also actually like Kate and Sawyer, who I HATED last time, and found a deeper appreciation for some of the storytelling (though obviously not all of it). A friend of mine recently said that watching LOST was a lot like being in an abusive relationship. It starts off great, gets pretty shitty, and then just as you've had enough and are ready to break it off, it does something good again and reminds you why you started dating in the first place.
At the end of the day though, I think we really need to look at LOST for what it is, a show that changed the face of television for better or worse. I think we all know on which end of that spectrum I land.