'Six in Six': How 'Lost' might lose its way in Season 6
Yesterday, I tried to preemptively quell any and all uneasy feelings in the "Lost" community as Season 6 approaches. With Comic Con looming this week, hype for the final season will be burning brighter than Jacob's body after notLocke pushed him into the pyre in the season finale. But while I just stressed that we shouldn't be...well, stressed as the end nears, that doesn't mean it will be an easy road for Darlton and Co. to travel next year.
So, in this installment of "Six in Six," I'm going to look at the six biggest problems the writing staff will face in crafting a series finale that leaves the audience feeling satisfied. I'm choosing the word "satisfied" versus "happy," since I'm not anticipating a finale that features Queen's "We are the Champions" playing over a series of smiles and hugs. But I'm not sure anyone truly WANTS a happy ending. Closure for major characters and storylines? Yes. The "Lost" version of Han Solo hugging Ewoks? Not so much.
With that in mind, here are the six things the writers must avoid come Season 6.
Getting "lost" in its own continuity. Many shows have striven for the level of narrative continuity "Lost." And I can't think of a single one that didn't end up tripping over itself at some point, unable to rectify "shocking" developments with well-established canon. As the noose closes around the full scope of the show's story, the writers need to consult their story bible early and often. Failure to do so will yank audience members out of their suspension of disbelief and send them scurrying to Lostpedia to confirm that yes, the show just completely violated dogma laid down previously. (And yes, I'm looking right at you, "The Life and Times of Jeremy Bentham.") Having a mystery that we can't solve is thing. Having a mystery that we have NO CHANCE of solving is another. Violating established premises is an easy way to annoy a fan base.
Focusing on story, not character. Seemingly before Season 5 started, Darlton pre-emptively apologized for the season to come, promising it was necessary to get through the season to return to Season 1-esque character-based episodes. Well, we're through a nose-bleeding season, one in which characters were slaves to the story the writers wanted/needed to tell. The show needs to return to its core strength: telling fantastic stories of ordinary people reacting to extraordinary circumstances, then grounding those stories in relatable ways. What made "The Constant" my favorite episode ever was not its mind-bending construction, but the emotional through line that made the story accessible: Des' need to contact Penny. I'm hoping Rose and Bernard's admonishment to Kate and Company signaled a return to the episodes that made us fall in love with the show in the first place.
Raising new questions versus answering existing ones. The old "answer one question, raise 6 new ones" formula that the show has specialized in for the past few seasons? Yea, ain't gonna fly anymore. We have, at my last unscientific count, eleventy bazillion to answer at this point. "Why did Jacob touch these people at particular points in their lives?" is the last question this show gets to ask before I start asking some of my own. Most of those will be variations are "Are you blooping KIDDING ME?"
Keeping characters apart for too long. Seasons 4 and 5 split major characters up in ways that didn't always yield satisfying results. While the Team Locke/Team Shephard scenario from Season 4 made dramatic sense, it still stunted the camaraderie built up over the first three seasons. In Season 5, Those Left Behind existed on a show far superior and interesting to those who left the Island. By the time The Oceanic 6 returned, they were punished by having to deal with Radzinsky and Frickin' Phil. If we're truly getting back to Season 1-esque shows, let's get the band back together good and proper. Live together, die alone.
"This show is death." Somewhere along the line, "Lost" apparently turned into a jungle-based version of the "House of Blue Leaves" sequence from "Kill Bill." Remember when death was truly a shocking event on the show? Me neither. I think around death #65 I cried uncle and said, "Yes, I get it, the stakes are high on this show. Will you please stop shooting people?" We've come a long way from Boone, Ana Lucia, and Libby. This isn't a good thing. Piling up the body count higher than the stash of Pearl notebooks by the capsule dump won't raise the stakes in Season 6; it will simply inure us, making supposedly shocking deaths nothing but a humdrum collection of blood and guts.
Missing the landing. I don't know what the story of "Lost" truly is. I thought it was about getting off the Island, until "Through the Looking Glass" blew that theory out of the water and demonstrated that the writers had another endgame in mind. My working assumption is that is the show is not about LEAVING the Island, then it's about SAVING the Island. But even if this isn't the direction in which the writers take the show, I have to come away feeling like the six years had built towards something that feels organic as a whole. Nitpicking certain parts of the overall show will be expected, and to assume an airtight resolution is both unfair and frankly ridiculous. But above all, this is what the show HAS to get right. You only have one chance to leave a last(ing) impression, "Lost." We know you have it in you. And we can't wait to see it.
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