Monday, May 24, 2010


Don't read this if you're a Lost fan and, for some unfathomable reason,  you haven't watched the final episode.

I'm still digesting last night's Lost finale and I'm sure I'll have more to say about it as your comments come rolling in, but, for now (and I reserve the right to completely change my mind), let me say that it was an excellent ending for the show we've all been watching this year—let's call it Jacob's Island—but it had precious little to do with the Lost we were watching for those other five years.  As a guy who's written a number of stories that have explored similar themes in a similar way, I loved the Sideways World/Afterlife resolution (even though you could poke about a thousand holes in the story*), it was right up my spiritual alley, but the Island resolution was—

Well, let's just call it disappointing.  (Although Jack's final moments—watching the Ajira flight pass by overhead, the inevitable closing of the eye—were perfect.)

That said, nothing I saw last night changed my mind about what an extraordinary show Lost was.  Warts and all—and, yes, there were many warts—it was a challenging, thought-provoking, heart-tugging, absolutely amazing ride.  As a viewer, and as a writer, I salute Lindelof and Cuse for their achievement.  

So what did you think?

*For instance:  Sayid, in life, was a torturer, a stone-cold murderer, who struggled desperately to find atonement.  He goes to the Afterlife and what does he do there?  He commits murder again.  But, y'know, he's a good guy at heart, so he gets to pass on to the Next Level.  (And what's he doing with Shannon, a woman he probably knew all of two weeks?  Nadia was the love of his life!)  Michael kills two people because he thinks it's the only way to save his son, tries to atone for his sins by sacrificing his own life...and he's stuck on the Island (whatever that is, we still don't know) forever as a whispering voice.  And Kate's Heaven?  Tell me, what was she working out?  She was a fugitive on the run.  She helped Claire, sure, but she did that while she was alive; in fact she sacrificed everything to go back to the Island, get Claire out and reunite her with Aaron.  Her Afterlife served no purpose whatsoever.   Okay, okay, I'll shut up now and await your comments.

© copyright 2010 J.M. DeMatteis


  1. A satisfying end for me too. I was pleased with the finale, the version I saw on the screen of a TV, and the version(s) that played and are still playing on the screen of my mind.

    I agree about warts, and hope I do change my mind often about a lot of this stuff.

    And I'm also quite thankful and pleased that there isn't a nice, neat, tidy explanation of all that happened (happens) as I'm grateful to have some great mind-cud to chew on.

    The presentation of the 'flash sideways' as being built by all of them as a place with no here or now, intentioned for remembering, reconnecting, and letting go, moving on, etc. worked for me. With some folks not ready while fully immersed (Anna Lucia), some not ready while manipulatively powerful (Eloise Hawking), some not ready while feeling unworthy (Benjamin Linus), some ready (those inside), this place was obviously important, and places this realm at a level of 'real' that tastes different to me than the 'It was all real' of the island/time-based world.

    Regarding some of the comments in your note (*), for me the feel of the flash-sideways as shown to us viewers, was more Jack-centered than universal. With everyone connected, and each in their own central (hero) story, as well as other's stories as supporting roles, I felt we witnessed the connections made, realized, remembered, and shown in 'flash sideways' as Jack's path to letting go. It was the way he needed it to happen. Those whom he felt he had to save, felt he couldn't save, felt he did save, and felt sacrificed themselves to save him. Those he felt the strongest connections with, we saw it from Jack's viewpoint of the infinite. Limited and incomplete while perfect and whole.

    And so it ends, and so it begins.

  2. I hear what you're saying about the Sideways World, Tim, but, if that was the case, then the entire Sideways experience should have been shown from Jack's POV. He should have been encountering these people, learning about their stories, interacting with them, etc. I actually think I would have preferred that.

    As it was, most of the other characters hardly brushed against Jack until the very end. The writers chose to present the stories of Sayid, Kate, Hurley and the rest in great detail, as ways to wrap up their individual karmic paths. It didn't feel Jack-centric in the least. Ben stays behind because he hasn't worked out his karma yet. If he was just a part of Jack's letting go, he could have easily moved on with the others.

    That said, I loved the Sideways stories: they made this season work for me. Without them, I might have given up on the show. (Oh, who am I kidding? I would have watched no matter what.)

    But here's the big question: In five years, will we all look back at LOST as a high point in television drama...or will we all be scratching our heads saying, "What the heck was all that fuss about?"

  3. Working on my review right now. I hope to have it posted on my blog tomorrow, along with my comments on the series finale of 24. I'll send you a link when it's up.

  4. I think one of the main problems people are encountering with this final season was completely inevitable. People got so invested in this story and made judgements (not value judgements necessarily but more "this is what's goin' on" "this is what they are trying to do" type judgements) and when the last season did not fit these judgements these audience members had a WTF moment. I've noticed that the hardest thing for a viewer or reader to do is to suspend their understanding of the world, to put off judgement and simply let a story be told to you from beginning to end and wherever it takes you it takes you.

    For instance, you reveal in your last post about Lost that you made certain judgements that might have contributed to your disappointment. You say you wanted it to be more Philip K Dick than Stephen King. You also imply that they used to be more Philip K Dick and have gotten Kingy. Yet, the creators of the show have said that from the beginning of the show they have been using the Stand and the Dark Tower series heavily in the creation of these characters and the world they inhabit. To me this reveals more about your lack of taste for King than it does anything about the show.

    Also, I think people wanted too much personal validation from the series. My christian friends didn't want it to get too science oriented or too eastern. My Atheist friends didn't want it to get too spiritual and so on. I think this ended up making many fans have a hard time with it because it ended up being a situation where the show doesn't fit the framework of any major popular belief system but rather uses belief and death loosely as story elements.

    I don't see how this season is that different from the others. Many of the issues being dealt with this season were raised throughout the series. The smoke monster character is not really entirely new to this season either. While we hadn't met him in his current form, they seem to establish through ben and locke that communication or understanding with the creature is possible and achieved in season 1 or 2. Ben is being manipulated by him throughput the series. Also, since he takes the form of the dead, one could see any appearance of a dead character as the smoke monster manipulating outcomes (unless it is implied otherwise). While we didn't meet him in this form until recently, the character was there and his plan was in action very early on.

  5. All interesting points, Aaron (hey, wait a minute, you're not Claire's son, are you?)...and that's what's wonderful about LOST. We'll all be debating it, putting forth our thoughts and feelings about the show, for a long time to come. Thanks for sharing yours.

    By the way, I knew about the writers' fondness for THE STAND -- and I've read my fair share of Stephen King -- but, however much they stated it, I never really saw that reflected in the show itself until this season.

  6. Thanks for responding! I've never commented on here before. You are one of my favorite comic writers. Moonstone is one of my favorite stories.

  7. One of the reasons I started this blog, Aaron, is so that I can dialogue with folks who have read (and hopefully enjoyed) my work. So please feel free to check in whenever the whim strikes.

    And I'm assuming you meant MOONSHADOW, not MOONSTONE, right? :)

  8. I think the people who have the most problem with the ending were the people who were more interested in the Island & its mysteries than the characters. I can see why those people would not be happy. Some questions were answered, but a lot remains unanswered. I do think the island & its mysteries were interesting, but personally, I always cared about the characters more. I thought the actors, writers, etc did a great job with the characters throughout the seasons and the ending was all about the characters, as it should be. Thats why we got the answers about the island, Jacob, etc before the finale so that the ending could focus on the characters.

    Loved the ending. I think its the best ending they could have. If they had focused on the mysteries of the island that they hadn't answered, we would have never found out what happened to the characters. We'd probably still be watching the series finale right now. lol.

    Plus, I think Lost has always been a show that challenges you. It makes you think. It never, ever just said 'Ok, this is what this is' like most TV shows do. Take the sideways for instance, all season long everybody just assumed that that the bomb had created a another universe. Thats what WE came up with to make sense of the other reality. The show never actually told us that sideways was another universe. Sure, there were hints, but the viewer was just left to make up his or her mind about it. Brillant.

    I'm glad they didn't hand us all the answers. We can come up with our own answers about the island, the light, etc.

    As for what we'll be thinking about all this later on, personally, I think its always going to be one of my favorite television shows. And for right now at least: my all-time favorite series finale. Do I think another series finale will come along and be better? Probably. Then again, maybe not. Time will tell.

    Tonight I'm watching the Jimmy Kimmel Lost special from last night. I want to see what the other endings were. Also it'll be interested to hear what the cast/crew thought about the finale.

  9. Well said, Daniel.

    I think that the characters AND the mysteries can both be served by the story—and, really, the Island itself was perhaps the main character on LOST. My frustration isn't that we didn't get all the answers—that would have been way too much—but that important plot elements were pretty much jettisoned, others were brought in very late in the game and given center stage. I also think the story line this season pinged and ponged sometimes randomly and...

    Well, I could go on, but here's the bottom line (well, two bottom lines):

    1) I haven't stopped thinking about the finale all day.
    2) I plan on watching it again as soon as possible.

    That says more about how I feel about LOST than any critique I can offer.

  10. Amazing, isn't it, DC, the power this show has to permeate our consciousness? I still haven't been able to shake that episode...

  11. you assumed correct! i must have had those crazy thunderbolts on my mind!

  12. A few crazy thunderbolts never hurt anybody, Aaron.

  13. My take on Lost is somewhat different than the norm. This is me calling Lost what I think it is: Bad writing, poor pacing, and ridiculous plotting from day one.

    I watched the first season and sort of enjoyed it. About five episodes into season two I was bored out of my mind. So, I watched the recaps and then the finale just so I could understand this cultural phenomenon.

    Well, I don't get it.

    Okay, I'll give you interesting characters, great casting, and a cool concept. But in return we get dangling sub-plots, characters acting out-of-character constantly, and decompression. This entire story could've been told in one season with half the characters. Seriously there were about 20-people-too-many casted for this drivel.

    Also, the ending made no sense. These guys constantly wrote themselves into corners and never figured a way out.

    Sorry. I just had to get that out.

  14. I totally understand how you feel, Nicholas. And I think there were plenty of others who felt the same way, which is why there was a drop-off in viewership over the years.

    I actually agree with a lot of what you say...but I found much more to the world of LOST and to those characters. Was there excess, dead ends, things that made no sense? Sure. But there was also a richness of story -- hell, LOST was drunk on story -- and character, a depth of mind and heart, a sense of cosmic awe and grand, pulpy fun. LOST made me think, it touched my heart, it penetrated my soul in a way few television shows ever have.

  15. Okay, I'll give you TWO seasons worth of pure story. That's followed by four seasons worth of Jack punching somebody, or intense staring/kissing/tension.

    Every seen was a climax to someone telling somebody else "YOU HAVE TO DO THIS!" Then that thing they did never mattered. It got tiring.

    There must be something there of course. It's this generation's Star Wars and I'm lost to as why (pun intended).

  16. Y'know, Nicholas, sometimes a story clicks for someone, sometimes it doesn't. When it clicks, in some deep soul way, we're able to forgive glaring faults and embrace the whole (just as we do with the people we love).

    You mention STAR WARS. Well, I'm the guy who feels about SW the way you feel about LOST: I just don't get it. Oh, sure, it was entertaning, but I never saw what the huge deal was. Still don't. A good part of the world clearly feels differently. And that's just fine.

    Now as to WHY some stories click for us and others don't...well, I think that may be worth a post in the near future.

  17. I'm feeling bad being Mr. Negative here. Here's the things I liked about Lost:

    -The actors were charismatic and interesting.
    -The characters were really great.
    -The chemistry between the actors was a lot of fun.
    -The ideas of spirituality, faith, hope, and redemption were beautiful.
    -The final shot was fantastic.

  18. Don't feel bad, Nicholas. When all the smoke (monsters) and hype clear away, it's just a TV show...and you're allowed not to like it!

    As for your list: Hurley indeed! What a terrific character and, from all indications, an equally nice guy in real life.

    Y'know, if this IS real life. And not the Sideways World. Or a flashback. Or flashforward. Or...

  19. Got to watch the end online today since I was stuck on a cruise all week-- pretty brilliant ending, overall-- very glad it went for the emotions rather than some coldly logical explanation of everything. Hey, the "flashes of memory" motif was a little bit like the last pages of "Moonstone" #12, wasn't it? And the struggle for redemption which most of the characters endured had some JMD pangs as well. I know that the creators were big on Watchmen and other comics and would not be at all surprised if they had warm feelings towards your work as well...
    On another note, I've come up with a term (though I'm sure I'm not the first) to describe incidents and people who come along early in life which carry echoes into one's post-formative years (similar names, situations, etc)-- Pre-flections. Any experiences of that type which stand out for you? Figured this was appropriate to bring up while discussing LOST since a lot of mirroring took place in the course of the series- and the final episiode as well. Happy June,impending summer etc! You keep writing 'em, I'll keep devouring-though I'm finally making the switch to collected editions as my primary means, since the flow of incoming gets too damn expensive when it comes to the Wednesday arrivals. One has more control when deciding which book to buy/read next. Having suffered the addiction since 1972, this is a big step for me, but it's the only one I can make at this point. As a writer/editor, what's your take on this? I've had fears that if readers desert the monthlies en masse it might mean a collapse of the whole enterprise (in its current/traditional form); if they stop selling, it would be cost-prohibitive to produce long-form volumes at a reasonable cost, no? I certainly stored up a lot of ramble in the past week! Thanks for your attention!

  20. I watched the finale again the other night when ABC re-ran it, Jeff, and I felt pretty much the same way about it. Loved some of it, was hugely disappointed by other parts. But, looking at the series as a whole, the stuff I loved far outweighs the disappointments. And I'm sure I'll be watching the finale again when Season Six comes out on DVD...with twenty extra minutes. (Among other things, maybe we'll see how they got that tree off Ben.)

    I'm seeing a new trend here. People changing the name of MoonSHADOW to MoonSTONE. What's up with
    that? (Or were you just yanking my chain?)

    Pre-flections? I like it. Doesn't just apply to people, either. It applies to events...books... films...TV shows. For instance, TWILIGHT ZONE was certainly a pre-flection of my entire life.

    Re: collected editions. I think comics will survive and thrive in the coming years, but the monthly so-called pamphlet will probably go the way of the dinosaur. At least the physical pamphlet. With the rise of iPad-like devices that will allow for an easy digital reading experience, we still might be getting monthly 22 page bites of comic book thrills, just not printed on paper. Of course, given enough time, the same will probably be said for the collected editions...and most, if not all, printed material. Here's hoping that day doesn't come too soon. I like holding a physical book in my hands. But, then, I haven't read a book on an e-reader yet.

    And a happy onset of summer right back at you. All the best -- JMD

  21. Ah, but will the DVD be as special as the Bly-ray edition of Douglas, Robot Hunter the movie(with the 49 extra seconds)? Doom Patrol 1-7 joined me on the trip -along with all things Blackest Night- and I loved how you updated the personalities established by Bob 'n' Ross waaaaay back when. The Iron (or was it Lead) trivia fixation was efpecially delicious...
    Of course I was yankin' with Moonstone, though the name brings back memories of a great SF bookstore in DC when I lived there in the '80s.
    Think you might ever make it to a con in NH or Boston? The owners of Double Midnight Comics in Manchester NH throw a con which has pretty great guests. Mind if I bring up your name as a possibility for the future?

  22. Glad you enjoyed METAL MEN, Jeff. Going into the project, I didn't know all that much about them -- I took the gig because I'll never turn down a chance to work with the brilliant Mr. Giffen -- I pretty much discovered the characters as I wrote the dialogue. But there was so much joy in the discovery: I totally fell in love with that wonderful cast. To say that I was incredibly disappointed when DC pulled the plug on the series is an understatement: I could have written METAL MEN for a couple of years, at least. Maybe we can sneak them into BOOSTER GOLD.

    I don't do very many conventions: it's hard to pry me out of my office. That said, feel free to bring up my name. You never know...

  23. Greetings! Just stumbled upon your blog for the 1st time. Been a fan of yours since reading the 3rd Man-Thing series (very fun stuff).

    Like so many other viewers, I've enjoyed the side of LOST that's about humanity, the one that shows flawed human beings making game-changing choices between good and evil, self or sacrifice, and how to live in a broken world. But I've also enjoyed the side of LOST that piques our curiosity about the island's purpose(s) and keeps us interested in and guessing at the grand explanation for everything.

    I think, though, that the writers used the finale (and the whole final season) to primarily resolve the 1st side I mentioned - the one about humanity. It's cathartic to see Jack's actualization and his satisfaction in the final scene(s). With the second side - the overall explanation - the writers did something clever: They gave us just enough to show us that this stuff was already happening (the "mother" who adopted Jack and MIB) and continued happening (Hurley and Ben). We don't know where the mother came from nor what Hurley and Ben had to face. And therein lies some more genius. The writers gave us just enough answers to remind us that the all along the show has primarily been about the 1st side that I mentioned: humanity.

    I'm sure I'll continue thinking about and rewatching LOST for quite some time :)

  24. What did I think?! Hmm. I dislike "Dream" or in this case I guess it was "purgatory" stories as nothing in that "sideways flash" story really had anything at stake the way it turned out. Plus, that ending was too...perfect. They all got to hug and reunite. That's not how life works.

    The Island story was mostly about stopping the smoke monster rather than the character driven type of story which made up most of the Lost stories over the years so I was a little disappointed in that part of the equation also. I did like Lost the show over the years, but had hoped for a bit more in the final.

  25. It's not the way LIFE works, Tim, but it may very well be the way DEATH works...and it was the Afterlife after all. That said, I understand why some people were let down by the Sidways story...even though I loved it, warts and all. (I actually think they could have come up with a sci-fi explanation, related to the bomb going off, that would have allowed them to tell basically the same story yet please the folks who who wanted a more science-fictional resolution. Y'know, the bomb, interacting with the energies at the heart of the Island, created a shared dream-pocket universe for the characters to work out their issues. Come to think of it, that's what I wanted the Island to be: a kind of consciousness-mirror, a place that pulled dreams and desire, fears and nightmares, from the characters' unconscious minds and manifested them, allowing them a material-world venue for working it all out.)

    As I've said, I think the Island part of the finale was a great ending for THIS SEASON, but it felt unrelated to most of what's come before on the show.

    But I'm still going through LOST withdrawal and I've been listening to Michael Giacchino's beautiful soundtrack music quite a bit these past weeks.

  26. Well, I loved the show, but did some head scratching after the finale. I did like this final season more than some of the last two (though every season has its moments). I was warned about JJ Abrams by a friend / fan of his previous hits. He said that Abrams poses great mysteries and suspenseful lead-ins that keep the viewer interested, but that he often falls apart when it's time to make those build ups pay off. I now can see that a great many suspenseful situations or conflicts arose from time to time, and were sort of abandoned suddenly. There are many examples, but to the final resolution:
    If the H-Bomb blew up those on the Island at that time, why were various others in the side pocket / afterlife holding pattern? Desmond comes to mind. He wasn't on the island in the 1970s and I don't recall him dying. Or did they live from that point and really the latter parts of what was happening on the Island actually happened, but we were just seeing it out of sequence as a future of their dead bodies scenario (taking place at the time they all would have arrived in LA 3 years earlier)? If that's so, then why the need to arrive safely in LA all together, when most of the people on that plane had died years before, based on their own personal continuity? It just seems like you might have group karma up to a point, but to all be arriving together, including the unborn children who did not die in ANY continuity... well it's just plain confusing.

    I get that the creators wanted to create discussion and not want to tie every loose end, but there are such big holes, that I really can't figure out what we're supposed to assume happened.
    I honestly feel that some major plot elements were being created with one thing in mind and then occasionally they all said, "Wait, what if THIS is what's happening....?" and then totally changed directions.

    Granted, this was an ambitious project with many many main characters. That's what I loved about it. It's like a good comic saga or, I imagine, a soap opera. There are many main characters and we tune into one or another at different times. Twin Peaks was one of the first shows I saw to do this. It's why X-Men can be so good. There isn't one character with 10 side characters. They are all important in their own right.

    I liked the flashbacks to Jacob and the final Jacob flashback. I took from that, that his brother died in the sacred stream and the black smoke just assumed his form for a very, very long time. Until it assumed Jack's father's form, and then John Locke's. Why, I have no idea. The black smoke was a very odd element that seemed to change from season to season. At first, it stalked them constantly, then it was totally random. Then it seemed Ben controlled it, but really didn't at all. LAter he seemed like a Jacob's brother trying to just get off the island, but then Jacob's brother died, so it couldn't be him, right??

    I like the Island, and didn't need every mystery of it to be explained. I liked the amalgam of ancient temples and statues. It tells me that many ages of people have been trying to fully understand it's power an mysteries. Individual aspects of the Island / Power mystery seem odd or not fully explained. I like the obsession that people felt about the island. I love the 1970's situations and the Dharma Initiative scenes. That saved the 5th season in my opinion.

    Overall, unforgettable and I'll probably watch it again some day and hopefully answer some of my questions by paying closer attention.

    p.s. did you notice at the very end in the church waiting room, there was a stained glass window with all of the major world religion symbols on it?

  27. And the questions go on and on and on. I agree with a lot of what you say, Eruch. As a writer, it was very clear to me that quite a bit of what went into the show grew out of the "Hey, this is cool, we'll figure it out later!" school of writing. But the truth is, there's nothing wrong with that, I do it all the time, but you've got to come back to it and offer a satisfying explanation when the time comes. (Which isn't always easy!)

    One element I've been thinking about, post-series, is the whole Ben-Whidmore conflict. We were led to believe that this was the central conflict upon which the whole fate of the Island rested. There was even a scene (in the flashforwards, I believe) where Ben visited Whidmore, they discussed the coming war between them, and Whidmore asked Ben if he was there to kill him. Ben told Whidmore that he couldn't kill him, it was "against the rules." So it seems to me that many of the ideas they later fed into Jacob and the Man in Black were originally intended for Ben and Whidmore, leaving those two characters dangling in the process. (Whidmore's explanation of why he came to the Island -- "Well, Jacob came to me and now I understand!" -- was pretty lame and, even though it was logical for Ben to kill him, it certainly seemed arbitrary in context of the larger plot.)

    We could talk for hours about the Sideways plot, but, overall, it satisfied me and, more important, it has stayed with me, resonating in my consciousness. And, yes indeed, I noticed the religious symbols in the church. Almost identical to the symbols decorating Meher Baba's Tomb-Shrine.

    It's a small universe after all.

  28. I just had a thought. The sideways plot is satisfying because we have all watched these characters suffer so much for so long, it was nice to see them in some meaningful lifepaths. Jack had a son whom he cared about, Sawyer wasn't a crook and had some respect, Ben was a good person! It now reminds me of the book by one of my favorite authors of all time, Douglas Adams, "So Long and Thanks for all the Fish". It was sort of giving Arthur Dent a much needed break and allowing him to find love and be happy, after 3 or so books of humiliation and things going from bad to worse to much much worse.
    I enjoyed the pocket reality on it's own and not as much in relation to the whole series. But I got a kick out of Ben having dinner with Russo and the daughter that they really fought over, and having it be great. It feels true to reality somehow. Life gives way to death and rebirth and somehow you have to work out your karma with these people whom you have wronged.

    It always seems that when most people group the world religions, the Taoist yin yang symbol wins out over the Zoroastrian flame every time. I wonder, are there really that many card carrying Taoists wandering around?

  29. I agree, Eruch, that the pocket universe was almost its own series, pretty much unrelated to the Island mysteries. It was like a mash-up of LOST and TWILIGHT ZONE, which is probably why I enjoyed it so much.

    Re: the religious symbols. I think it's that the general public is far more aware of the yin/yang symbol -- which, since the sixties has been absorbed into popular culture and popular consciousness -- than they are of Zoroastrianism. Of course there was no reason the Zoroastrian flame (which is right here on my wedding ring, along with the Hindu Om sign, Buddhist wheel, Christian cross, Jewish star, Muslim moon & star and Meher Baba's "mastery in servitude" imprint) couldn't be included, as well.

  30. I think a follow up comic series of Lost Tales would be ripe for exploring more of the many other sideways stories and characters from the Island. JMD if you were to given the opportunity to shine a light on characters and events from Lost, who or what would you explore?

    I can imagine you writing a story about Rose, Bernard and Vincent living out their lives in hiding from the Others, searching for that elusive peace. Or Michael, still haunting the Island and seeking redemption? Or Daniel's three-year disappearance during the 70s and the revelation that led him to return to the Island.....?

    Lost has left us so many untold stories just waiting for writers to be let loose in the playground!

    Robert Thomas

  31. That's actually a FANtASTIC idea, Robert...and those stories you suggest are wonderful. And let's not forget the history of the Island itself, the various groups that have lived there down through the centuries. So many stories to tell...and, yes, I'd probably jump at the chance to write a few.

  32. Hey, Mike Fox—

    For some reason your comment was hidden away somewhere, just found and posted it today. Sorry about that. And thanks for you insights about LOST, you make a very interesting point there! All the best -- JMD