Well, the dust has settled since “Across the Sea” aired last week on Lost. The general consensus seems to be that the episode was … disappointing, to say the least. Personally, I didn’t love the episode, but I certainly don’t understand a lot of the extreme sentiment floating out there. I don’t want to dwell on it though, everyone is entitled to feel their feelings.
Through my reading, I did find a couple interesting articles that I wanted to share. As always, Jeff Jensen did an amazing with his recap and analysis of the episode over at Entertainment Weekly. He was one of the rare analysts who came down generally in favor of the episode. I really enjoyed James Poniewozik’s take on the episode from his blog on the Time website. It was a sensible critique of the episode with a bunch of good points. For those of you wondering what the brains behind Lost (and the writers of the episode) Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse thought of the reaction to the episode, you can check out this interview they did with Alan Sepinwall. It might just make you angrier, though.
I don’t really want to spend this whole space on the episode. It is what it is. I don’t think I’m going to be able to change anyone’s opinion of it, and don’t really know that I want to, or that the episode deserves it. Even I will admit that it was a let down. My big hope is that when put into context with the rest of the series, it will hold up much better. We’ll see. What I want to do is take a step back as we move into the final hours of the series and reflect on all the things that have made Lost such a great experience over these past six seasons.
- The Characters: First and foremost the characters are what make up this show. I think the lack of familiar faces was certainly one issue that a lot of viewers had with “Across the Sea.” For me, it was one of the reasons that I didn’t find it too upsetting. At the end of the day, this show has always been a show about Jack and Kate and Sawyer and Locke and the rest of the survivors of 815 (along with Ben, Desmond, et al). If the back story of Jacob and Smokey is a little weak, it really doesn’t effect the characters that we care so much about.Over six seasons these characters have become extremely deep and vivid. Are they likable? Certainly they are deeply flawed people, and yes, some of them are hard to like, but that may just make them more interesting. The growth has been impressive. Look at the arcs of characters like Sawyer and Jin. Do you remember how awful Jin was in season one? He was possessive, selfish, chauvinistic, and at times cruel. Sawyer went from selfish conman to leader. Ben has gone the gamut as well, starting as a weaselly villain and turning into a sympathetic, if not pathetic, character.
- The Storytelling: I’ve talked before about how well the flashback technique has served this show. Regardless of the plots and characters, the storytelling is really excellent. By flashing back through the characters’ pre-crash lives (usually one per episode), the audience was able to learn more about the characters, who were largely a mystery at the beginning of the series, while informing the action and behavior on the island.Perhaps the thing I appreciate the most is that the minds behind the show knew that they couldn’t sustain the flashbacks. They were nimble and clever enough to change up the storytelling while maintaining the same feel of the show … twice no less! After the flashbacks, they moved on to flashforwards, and in this season flashes to the parallel universe where flight 815 did not crash.
- The Mysteries: To say that there are a lot of mysteries on Lost is quite the understatement. The intrigue, the questions, all the unknowns — I love them. I love that the show invites its viewers to participate. Certainly, we don’t have a say in the outcome of the show (though fan reaction did play a role in the deaths of Nikki and Paulo), but you have to engage your imagination to enjoy Lost at every level. Answers are hard to come by, never simple, and almost always open to interpretation. This may frustrate some, but I love it. I love being able to wonder and postulate on what things mean.Twin Peaks is one of my all time favorite shows, and there were no answers in that series. None whatsoever. Everything remained open to interpretation. It was a bold choice and I loved it. I know Lost will provide more insight than Twin Peaks did, but in reading interviews and listening to the podcast, you can bet that Lost is going to leave some things for us to discuss.
It’s hard to believe that in less than one week the show is going to be over. Everything is going to have been played out. I can’t wait to see how it is all going to end and begin to discuss what it all means.
Photo Credit: ABC