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I have been having a go with some of the shippers on this site with their tendency to make derogatory comments about the intelligence and dedication to the show of people disappointed in season 6 and the finale. There was a response by BooRadley2015 that I think pretty much hit the nail on the head and I couldn't do a better job, so I thought it deserved its own article post.
This was a little disappointing. Your conclusion seems to be "haters gonna hate." But if you're going to write a thoughtful defense of the finale, it would help to address dissenting opinions rationally and respectfully, and not just dismiss them out of hand.
You say you 'still hear and read the opinion “that it was rubbish.” That it “didn’t make sense” or “it was a complete let down.” I know some people say that, but many people have more reasonable objections, and I don't think you consider them here. You say "people look at the finale as what the final twist was, and whether or not it answered every question they had rattling around inside their heads." Apart from dismissing viewers compelling questions in a pretty condescending manner here, it's unreasonably reductive to refer to the resolution to a seven-year-story as "the final twist."
It's not true that "a good story is a good story regardless of the final outcome." The ending is an important part of the story. You may just aswell say a good story is a good story regardless of the beginning or the middle." If you watch a conventional murder mystery, only to find out in the last minute that the victim actually died after choking on a peanut, it does affect your satisfaction with the story.
You can't compare a story to a meal. The last mouthful of a Big Mac doesn't resolve the burger in the same way that the climax of a story furnishes resolution to a storyline.
I agree that people "were too expectant on the finale being all about answers" (although I don't endorse your ungrammatical wording). I think it's unreasonable to reduce a complex plot to a series of "questions" and "answers." But the LOST writers themselves did provoke a lot of questions that were central to the plot at various times - the fertility problems, for example - that viewers invested a lot of time and energy into investigating and discussing. The style of the show also led viewers to expect resolution to these mysteries (we got answers to some questions, but not others). You really can't lure your viewers with a payoff that isn't coming. It's kind of a bait-and-switch.
You say "The finale was never going to be about answers" but about "wrapping up the story, and providing us with character resolution." Many viewers would consider those the same things.
You can't say "the flash-sideways timeline...was a self-contained mystery for the final season." It did have an impact on the trajectory of the storyline as a whole. The conclusion that "Lost was always a character story" in nonsensical. What the heck is a "character story?" What does a story with no characters look like? The fact is the "mysteries" and the "characters" were two aspects of the one story. You can't separate them, and you can't claim that we shouldn't have been interested in both. How can you be interested in, for example, Juliet and Sawyer, without also being interested in the questions of how and why they ended up on the island, how Sawyer came to be a candidate, how the time travel phenomenon worked, and what actually happened during The Incident?
You dismiss what you call "mystery element" far too easily. It wasn't just there to "provide a hook." The sci-fi element wasn't a mere gimmick, it was central to what made LOST different to Grey's Anatomy, or Twilight. You say "the mystery was never the sole reason it was successful, but an additional combination of excellent characters and amazing attention to detail. The latter had people scanning episodes for hidden clues to unravel complex web of questions. Any attempts to make a show driven by questions, without that same amount of effort and care put into the rest of it, was always bound to fail." What you've just described as "hidden clues" and a "complex web of questions" IS what people are talking about when they refer to the mystery or sci-fi element of the show. You just haven't thought this through. You conclude by saying "So yeah, some people hated the ending because they expected a reveal that made every question click together seamlessly. So why did the rest of us love it?" But you can't divide viewers into "haters" and "lovers." In actuality there were many die-hard fans like myself who loved the series, who STILL love the series, who understood the ending, but felt that it was a mawkish, simplistic resolution to a smart, complex story. You say most of those disappointed by the ending fit into the category of "the casual viewer who only watched it every week and scratched their head trying to remember what they saw last time," and assert that you're addressing "The fans who came straight to Lostpedia to document the episode and contribute to the analysis and trivia on the episode article. The people who jumped straight onto their favourite forum and started sharing their giddy reactions and spend the next week writing theories, reading others or recording their very own podcast. The people I’m talking about are the diehard fans, who put all their time into the show between episodes. People who could pick out an intentional allusion to a previous episode, because they knew them that well." But many of those you've just described are the very ones who were interested in the more complex plot elements that were not satisfactorily resolved in the finale.
I think you dismiss "casual fans" too readily, generally: "If you hadn’t watched the pilot since it aired, then it was a scene which was wasted on you... If you were only a fan for an hour a week, you were likely to come away disappointed." That's not really fair. Casual viewers were part of what kept LOST on the air, and you don't have to be a die-hard fan to enjoy the series. In fact, one of the criticisms of the ending was that it was calculated to impress the casual fan, with a big emotional payoff that wasn't intellectually challenging, and didn't require too much familiarity with the details of the plot. The exclusive "us and them" mentality just seems unnecessarily high-schoolish. Lots of different kinds of people watched the show, with different levels of commitment.
Finally, you seem to be concluding that "true fans" loved the ending, and anyone who didn't love the ending was not a true LOST fan (see the "No True Scotsman" fallacy). YouTube commenters are fond of alleging that if you didn't like the ending, you probably didn't "understand" the ending. But it wasn't difficult to understand. The criticism, for the most part, is that it was too simple. They saved the world, and everybody was eventually reunited in the afterlife. That's it.
Now one's doubting that the ending was emotional. You don't really need to prove that it was moving to see Juliet and Sawyer recognize one another in front of the vending machine, or to watch Jack hand over the leadership to Hurley. Everybody knows it was emotional - we're disappointed that it wasn't more cerebral. You say that "if you put your heart and soul into it, you got an emotional and satisfying ending." But it wasn't just about heart and soul, it was about the mind, as you yourself seem to acknowledge here. And for those of us who really enjoyed the thought-provoking, puzzle-solving, mind-bending aspects of the show, the conventional "going into the light" ending was less than satisfying.
It's just not fair to conclude that the "legacy of the show is often discredited by naysayers." The legacy of the show is DEBATED by FANS, some of whom were disappointed. Five years on, I think it would be better to admit that critics don't fall into two neat groups of "naysayers" and "die-hard fans" at all. I, for one, loved the show, loved the characters, and jumped head-first into many a debate about the nature of Smokey, telekinesis, time-travelling bunnies and Schrodinger's Cat. Those intense discussions about really compelling subjects filled a gap at a time in my life when my brain needed something to engage with. I spent more time on the Lostpedia forum than I care to admit, but it was a lot of fun. And I knew many die-hard fans who, like me, loved the story, AND the characters, but felt lukewarm about the ending. Five years on, I do still wish it had ended differently, and every time I pull the box-set off the shelf for another rewatch, it's with mixed feelings.
August 9 by BooRadley2015 Reply