Lost – “The New Man in Charge” Epilogue Review

“The New Man in Charge”

August 6th, 2010

“The New Man in Charge” is entirely unnecessary.

There is absolutely no creative justification for this epilogue to ABC’s Lost, which will appear on the Season Six and Complete Collection DVD sets releasing August 24th, unless we admit outright that fan desires play a prominent role in the creative process. Of the three non-commercial functions of this epilogue, which I’ll get into below the jump for the sake of avoiding even the slightest spoilers for those wanting to remain pure, only one feels as if it comes from an honest creative place: the others, meanwhile, seek to answer unresolved issues in the eyes of fans rather than unexplored ideas in the eyes of the writers.

I have no intention of spoiling the epilogue, as it isn’t “out in the wild” through legal means and I don’t want to make ABC angry with me,  but I do want to talk about it in a bit more detail after the jump if only to try to understand its existence.

I was hoping it wouldn’t seem so crass.

There’s a line early in “The New Man in Charge” where characters demand answers as if they feel they are entitled to them, and it says a lot about this epilogue’s basic function: the people wanted answers, and so the Lost producers are going to give them to you. The episode doesn’t actually have what one would call a story, instead delivering a basic structure which allows for two separate scenes which serve two separate functions.

The first is to directly answer some questions regarding the island which any intelligent viewer who was paying attention would have figured out a long time ago. They manage to find an excuse to show another Orientation video, but what we see isn’t actually news at all, which means that the only function of the video is to make certain fans say “I was right!” For me, so much of the finale resisted this sort of blatant pandering to the audience’s desire for answers: even in the Flash Sideways, things came together in a way which returned to core emotions rather than plot details largely because they knew that a large portion of the audience relied on the latter and Damon and Carlton were uninterested in traveling in that direction.

Specifically, I was incredibly annoyed that the Polar Bears were laid out for us: it was one of those mysteries that I solved myself by just paying attention. We saw Charlotte discovering a Dharma collar in the Tunisian desert, and then we saw Ben turning the Donkey Wheel in an extremely cold environment – we had more than enough information to put together what they put together here. I like Dharma videos as much as the next person, and I thought it was cute to discuss the Hurley bird and other sorts of experiments, but there comes a point where the tongue-in-cheek opening just didn’t work with how I engaged with the show. Perhaps it pleased fans, but I think I expected something different from an epilogue, which implies a connection to the main narrative, than a silly little bonus feature.

This raises the fundamental problem with “The New Man in Charge,” in that its function seems at odds with the entire point of the finale. “The End” said goodbye to the island and these characters, showing us the end of their journeys and emphasizing the series’ importance in their lives. By returning to a point in between where they left (or remained) on the island, the epilogue brushes against questions which the finale seemed to suggest weren’t as important as the characters’ experience on the island. Since it has already been revealed that it involves Ben and Hurley, I can say that it doesn’t fill in anything which gives us new information on why Ben decided to remain in the Sidewaysverse, nor does it really offer much time with the two characters interacting with one another. It uses the basic idea of the two men running the island and delivers convenient scenarios for responding to fan desires, which means it avoids having any real meaning despite existing in a space where such meaning seems possible. I understand why there isn’t deeper meaning there, as they don’t want to directly wade into the finale’s conclusion, but by entering the space it all it raises the questions, making the lack of answers that much more awkward.

In the case of the second “scene” in the episode, the function does shift in a slightly more interesting direction: it still relies solely on what seems like fan-driven response to the series, but the surprise cameo feels more purposeful and has a stronger creative energy. If it’s cold and uninviting to have facts clearly established during the season laid out for those too lazy to figure it out for themselves, it’s warm and inviting to see a character who we perhaps didn’t see enough of throughout the series itself.

Now that it’s out in the wild, we can talk about Walt in a bit more detail. I like the idea of bringing back Walt, but I do think that the scene coasts on the cameo without providing any legitimate drama. Nothing that’s reveals feels particularly poetic, or particularly meaningful: the “explanation” for Walt being special is less explanation and more vague statement, and the idea that he’s going to go with Ben and Hurley to the island doesn’t really offer anything different than our pre-existing “Cool things happened on the island that we don’t get to see” reaction to the Hurley/Ben pairing at the end of the finale. Tying Walt into that isn’t worthless, as he was one of the characters who was given no form of resolution by the finale – if only he knew that he would be totally shafted after his death – and all, but I think there needed to be something more substantial to make this a necessary epilogue for his story as opposed to a DVD extra for those craving more content.

However, since so many were craving more content, this epilogue feels purposeful: it’s wonderful to see Michael Emerson back in the role of Benjamin Linus, to see how the nuances of his character have changed in order to play this new role. I don’t care about knowing small details about the Dharma Initiative, but I do care about spending more time within this world. As a result, I wish that there was more in this epilogue that really focused on smaller moments of lives being lived. While I understand why they wouldn’t return to the island, both logistically and in terms of having already said goodbye to that space within the finale, the epilogue can’t escape how manufactured it feels – robbed of true character moments, every line of dialogue feels designed to say something to the audience or to answer some question instead of sounding like how people would talk. Without those moments, the pleasures of seeing Benjamin Linus and Hugo Reyes again are fleeting, quickly replaced by the sense that this exists solely for the purpose of selling DVDs.

That’s why we’re really here, isn’t it? “The New Man in Charge” exists as a glorified DVD extra masquerading as a bit of narrative closure, closing narratives which exist more in fan’s heads than on the screen. Perhaps Lindelof and Cuse can justify the epilogue’s existence by suggesting that this sort of tension between fan and creator narratives has always been integral to the series, but I think that they would have been better served delivering a few enjoyable scenes featuring enjoyable characters rather than so turning over the narrative to fan interests. As a fan who loved the series’ character focus in the finale, I didn’t want the epilogue to revert to a mode of discourse which lacks subtlety and which elevated subtext to text without any creative justification.

For those who purchase the Sixth Season, or the Complete Collection on DVD on August 24th, I think you’ll probably take something positive from “The New Man in Charge”: perhaps one of the answers will satisfy a curiosity, or maybe seeing Michael Emerson return to this role one more time will be worth the twelve minutes. However, taken as a short narrative, this epilogue feels precisely the opposite of the series’ finale: where the finale breathed life into death, this epilogue makes a series once alive with potential seem sterile and perfunctory, which is unfortunate whether we consider this a narrative extension or a throwaway bonus feature which is supposed to enrich, rather than muddle, our response to the series.

Cultural Observations

  • I’m aware that there’s an ethical minefield to be navigated here, but considering that ABC is asking people to shell out considerable money for the DVDs based largely on this epilogue’s existence, I think it’s fair that consumers have some idea of what they’re getting, especially with pressure to pre-order the Complete Collection for the sake of its silly tchotchkes.
  • As it has not aired officially, I would suggest that you resist spoiling it in the comments if you have seen it already – I’ll be policing.
  • One thing I am interested in hearing in the comments: if anyone who didn’t like the finale has watched the epilogue, did it play any better for you (without details, of course)? I’m curious to hear from that side of the equation.


Filed under Lost

38 responses to “Lost – “The New Man in Charge” Epilogue Review

  1. Lost is like a drug dealer, addicting its customers and then stringing them along for years. This is one last fix that was made solely to keeping fans desperate enough to buy the complete series dvds.

  2. ninjaraiden2k

    I would say , as someone who loved the finale, that when I heard about this extra bit of narrative, I immediately took it as a set of “glorified deleted scenes”.

    With “The New Man in Charge” and the Lost Encyclopedia coming out, I see both of those projects to be Silmarillionesque in function. They are clinical auxillaries to be processed or discarded at each particular viewer’s whim.

    The Lord of the Rings Saga still stands on its without The Hobbit and the Silmarillion just as the Complete Series of Lost can stand without the mobisodes and any future annexations.

  3. I agree with basically all you said Myles. The epilogue feels very tacked on and exists only to sell DVDs. The “answers” scene felt extremely manufactured and there wasn’t anything truly learned. It was almost all info the series already hinted at or was obvious to understand. There was one “answer” that felt really out of left field and just random for the series. The only real enjoyment that came out of that scene was seeing what the new Ben Linus is like under Hurley’s command. For once I watched without thinking he had an ulterior motive, yet he’s still pretty creepy and just as enjoyable.

    The second scene was the exact opposite for me in that it was too vague. It was nice to see the surprise guest and the basic idea of it was good, but with little context to what purpose that plot will ultimately serve it feels unnecessary. The whole epilogue felt as if it came from a studio trying to make money rather than creatives trying to wrap up loose ends to a story. It’s not to say the scene is awful or ruins anything of the ending, it’s just as Myles said, leaves you feeling cold.

  4. KG

    I haven’t seen the epilogue yet, but aren’t epilogues usually just contrived wrap-ups for the happily ever after anyway? Even JK Rowling did an epilogue in Harry Potter which was met with mixed reaction. I think epilogues generally ARE there for the fandom rather than for serving any literary purpose. I’ve never read or seen an epilogue that I could say was perfect or even close to perfect. Epilogues are too short and don’t have enough content to do more than wrap things up with a nice bow and a happily ever after. So, I see what you’re saying, but it seems like everything you said is kind of what happens with most epilogues. Will and Grace comes to mind in TV land.

    • Not surprisingly, I LOATHE the Deathly Hallows epilogue for precisely this reason.

      However, in the case of Harry Potter, the epilogue flashes into the future in a sort of “where are they now” fashion. The Lost epilogue, meanwhile, is sort of awkwardly trapped in between the end of one of its narratives and the definitive end of “The End,” which makes it far more awkward for me.

      • KG

        The trapped between two narratives awkwardness makes sense. I’m still interested in seeing the epilogue just for the sake of being a fan of the story and the characters involved, but “The End” was the perfect ending for me, so I don’t think there is anything that could really add to the story in a meaningful way for me.

  5. Grace

    I haven’t read these other comments because I’m at work and kind of surreptitiously paying attention to this epilogue business. I just watched it and I have to say I agree completely with what you said regarding the first half, but the second half was very satisfying.

    From both a character and plot standpoint, I felt that this thread needed addressing. I hated the finale, and while this does nothing to atone for it (as it shouldn’t, because what happened happened), it does leave me feeling like a story still exists on the island.

    This first half was just silly. Those weren’t even the questions I (or, I wager, anyone) needed answers for.

  6. On the record as a finale-lover, I enjoyed TNMIC as a flashback to the show after months away. Does it reveal great things? Certainly not, as any questions answered are either already pretty obvious, easy to piece together, or pretty irrelevant (or just raises additional questions). But the first scene was fun for me, mostly for Ben-being-Ben and another orientation film.

    The second scene is more character-centric and should be rewarding, but just felt kind-of nice in a familiar way. Ultimately, the point is fan service, another collectable like the jigsaw puzzles and mobisodes. As such, it was enjoyable in that ephemeral way that I’ll probably not watch more than 1 more time (when I get the DVDs).

    But here’s what I think is the more interesting question – why are people freaking out over this link as something they don’t want to be spoiled? If we assume that it is in fact an accurate copy of the whole mini-episode, what’s the difference for fans & critics to watch online vs. waiting 3 weeks for the DVDs? I know why ABC is pissed, but how is it a “spoiler” to anything but DVD sales?

    • I think that now that it’s EVERYWHERE, concerns over spoilers are less important. When I wrote about it, it was a few clandestine streaming links which were getting pulled – now that it hit Jezebel and the like, access is much more broad.

    • ninjaraiden2k

      I think that some people need these extras to be a reason to buy the dvds/blu-rays. Instead of buying the season/collection for the episodes themselves (which should be the main impetus) it’s that need for the “new” taht drives them

  7. Randy Lao

    The ending of this epilogue brought a wide smile to my face. It’s something that not only we anticipated coming, but we sort of were hoping for. Although, I can see how it wouldn’t fit in the scope of the show’s finale. I thoroughly enjoyed a last obligatory wink that LOST has continually given us for the past 6 years.

  8. djones

    It’s ok as a piece of throwaway fan-candy, but I have to agree that from a creative standpoint there was no reason for it to exist in the form it does. I wasn’t big on needing answers for the most part, and was very satisfied with the finale even if it retroactively made much of season 6 illogical or pointless. Because of that I’m not the target for this, but it does feel like a wasted opportunity to put this together and give us so little of both the cameo guest and Hurley. The whole show was produced in Hawaii, so it’s not like revisiting the island setting would be difficult in a technical sense, and expanding this to 20 minutes or so would give them an opportunity to have some actual character moments instead of bits of fan-service. I wouldn’t go as far as viewing it as non-canon, which I’ve seen flying around, but it’s certainly non-essential and not worth the price of admission for anyone who wasn’t already going to buy the complete collection.

  9. Jeffster

    The writers obviously have no respect for the audience and this is their own jab back at the fans who didn’t swallow the garbage they shoveled down our throats for seasons on end and go along with their ridiculous “it’s all about the characters” line (as if this glorified soap opera ever had good character writing). The entire tone of it is condescending and insulting. None of the “answers” they supplied here were anything people wanted.

    How about dealing with the arbitrary “rules” that defined the entirety of season 6 and basically the foundation of the entire show. Oh wait, they can’t, because there was never an answer to that. It was the writers displaying their plot machinations transparently on screen with no forethought to whether it made a lick of sense. The entire show is an insult to the viewers intelligence and the characters are poorly written cyphers that serve a non-existent plot.

    • Alan

      shut up your hooligan. You’re a disrespect to the intelligent fans of LOST. The rules were already practically explained, you could figure out each individual one by re-watching all the episodes. You’re pathetic and your comprehension is the perfect example of how dim-witted a good portion of the fan base is. It’s not our fault you have to be spoon-fed you ignorant baboon.

  10. Pingback: Don’t Worry ABC, I’ll Still Buy the Sixth Season of LOST on DVD… « Jeff's Idiosyncratic Musings

  11. Jeff Jensen

    Howdy. Among my many thoughts, opinions, and questions I have about “The New Man In Charge” is this: Does anyone else feel this is coming too soon? It seems most of the reviews that have posted examine the short through the perspective of the finale, or more specifically, finale reaction. That’s totally fair. But if we were getting this in December, with more distance from the finale, with cooler emotions (both pro and con about the finale), I wonder if the reaction would be different–perhaps more on the theme of what Myles articulated here: “For those who purchase the Sixth Season, or the Complete Collection on DVD on August 24th, I think you’ll probably take something positive from “The New Man in Charge.'”

    Then again, maybe the short was ALWAYS going to elicit more finale processing, was always going to be an opportunity for lover/hater grieving catharsis. The content and themes certainly invites that engagement.

    Another thought: The charge that “this thing was made just to sell DVDs” charge seems irrelevant for several reasons, including: 1. I don’t think the short was ever going to be the determining factor in consumer purchase. Lost fans were going to buy this set for the same reason they bought previous sets. 2. Regardless, no one was ever going to have to pay to see, anyway. Case in point: Why this review even exists. Someone was going to post this on the Web–most likely ABC themselves, if just to neutralize this very criticism.

    All this said, I was disappointed in the short, too, but for very different reasons than Myles. I came to this last, original piece of Lost content not so much wanting “answers” (though I was curious to see what it had to say about whatever mysteries it was going to tackle) but to experience, for one last time, the feelings I felt when I watched whole episodes of Lost–one last hit from the Lost bong, if you will. Alas, the grass was pretty weak. The first section was too arch even for Lost, the second section lacked the imagination-firing intrigue I expect from a Dharma film (I never doubted Chang’s authenticity/sincerity, and that’s not fun), and the third section simply didn’t have the emotional power that it aspired to, especially for anyone who has long yearned for closure with its featured character. There’s a very specific reason for this, something most people are afraid to talk about, because it feels too unkind to say, even for Lost haters. I’ll put more specific language to this later, when we can talk openly about that which, for now, is a spoiler.

    Keep rocking it, Myles. Big fan.

    • Not surprisingly, you raise some great points, Jeff, and I look forward to the day when you can elaborate further.

      I think you’re right that distance from the finale is an issue: however, I think that no matter where this epilogue were to be released, it can’t help the fact that it sits awkwardly between the final on-island moments and the end of the Flash Sideways storyline. It’s not an epilogue in the traditional sense at all, and so I think that any sort of analysis will be forced to touch on its relationship to the finale. Also, as you point out, the content of the epilogue seems to reference the kind of ending which many viewers wanted, so I’m not sure an extra few months would have honestly created that much distance unless some other show replaces Lost culturally (which seems unlikely).

      As for your discussion of the commercial nature of the epilogue, I think my issue is that it feels commercial – while many have sold it as a winking gift to the fans, I found it so blatantly functional that it took me out of what little story there is and forced me to consider its context as a DVD extra (which, generally speaking, are there to convince people to buy the DVDs even if it won’t be a deciding factor). I have no issues with the short being used in this capacity, but I have issues with the short embodying more that sort of crass function rather than a real creative impulse.

      I would also suggest that our perspectives aren’t that far apart: while I focused on the problematic nature of the epilogue in terms of its relationship with answers in this piece, it was the same lack of feeling which soured me on the piece, and which led me to try to expand on my concerns in this fashion. It could have been as messy as it wanted to be if it had only felt like “one last hit at the bong,” and it just didn’t.

      Which is something I look forward to reading more about at EW in the future.

      • Chris

        In response to Jeff’s point that the epilogue is not meant to sell additional DVD’s, I couldn’t disagree more, take me for example. Both my girlfriend and I were staunch Lost fans from the very beginning. In anticipation for the final season we begun rewatching earlier seasons to refresh our memories of the stories and even purchased the Season 1 DVD’s before deciding to simply rewatch online. I had every intention of purchasing the complete series DVD’s but midway through season 6 I realized I may not truly enjoy the ending that was coming. Before coming to this conclusion my girlfriend purchased the season 2 and season 3 DVD sets for me, but because I had already rewatched these seasons I did not open the packages. After being throughly disappointed by the finale, I promptly returned season 2 and season 3 and I wish I could return season 1.

        Now personally the entire series has been tainted for me by the finale. I can’t recall where I read this, but I believe the writers and producers became too arrogant, they didn’t like the “Star Trek” like direction some fans of Lost were taking the show in and to counter this effect they got too caught up in purposely not answering certain questions they they themselves spent many episodes building upon, simply to break out of this mold. From my perspective they did not take into account aspects of the show that drew many fans into the series in the first place and I for one cannot forgive this, but for other disappointed non-comic con attending former fans of Lost this epilogue may be enough of an olive branch to pull them back in to possibly purchase the DVD’s. (My own sister let me know about this epilogue and I can say she might be one…)

  12. paul

    saw it. possible spin off? the offer kind of makes me think “the end” isnt really the end.

    any thoughts if youve seen it?

  13. lylebot

    I loved the finale and I also liked the epilogue. I wasn’t watching it for more answers. In fact, I’m of the mind that the major plot thread addressed at the end of the epilogue was already wrapped up in the show itself and was not in need of further explication. So I really did not need that. Nevertheless, I liked it, mainly because I liked seeing Ben and Hurley again and because it felt (to me) like Lost.

    I also liked it for a somewhat more subtle reason. When you talk about “the fans” and “fan service”, it is worth keeping in mind that the view of fandom we have—being based on TV critics like Sepinwall and their commenters, and maybe on superfan sites like DarkUFO or Lostpedia—is extremely biased and not representative of the wider world of fandom in the least. Most fans are not reading and writing about the show on the internet, and most just never make the connections that we do. Cuselof get a much better sample of that population, and have a much better sense of what fans as a whole are confused about. What I liked about the epilogue is the feeling that it was giving those fans some of what they wanted while tweaking the hardcore internet fans the whole time. As a hardcore fan myself, I watched it with a wry smile, thinking “these guys are totally tweaking me, and I love it!” That’s part of why it felt like an actual episode of Lost to me.

    Two other points: first, AFAIK this was filmed at the same time as the finale, so at best it’s a response to anticipated complaints, not actual complaints. Second, the idea that anyone is expecting fans to buy the DVD largely because of the epilogue is pretty silly considering that Seasons 1-5 sold well on DVD without any epilogues or anything.

    • Jeff Jensen

      Myles, a great response, and I agree: I don’t think we’re that far apart at all. Thanks for taking the time to respond–I have more to say in response to your response, and promise to do here, in this space, when I get a free moment.

      Lylebot, I like your perspective on Lost fandom, which has always been a very tricky thing to characterize. More on this later, too.

  14. Andy

    All great points being raised here. I pose this question though: if instead of hyping this as an epilogue, a new piece to the Lost puzzle, what if they had just released it in pieces as “deleted scenes?” Sure it wouldn’t necessarily be canon, but it would still give the fans some insight into what the writers thought of some of the mysteries without coming with any added pressure of being a true Lost episode.

  15. Ian

    I totally agree with the analysis presented. I’d just to add something to it. I’ m French and have been struck time and time again by the need, typically American, to “have closure”. If you you pay close attention to situation in American fiction, this is an expression much used. The aesthetic “parti-pris” in the last episode to emphasise the characters’ experiences compared to the factual aspect of things has left millions of viewers frustrated and this, in a world where uncertainty is anathema, is untolerable. I think that, with this “epilogue”- as it is one for the viewers if not for the story- caters to the more materialistic fringe of Lost fans.
    Bonjour de Marseille, France.

  16. Xander

    I never would have considered ‘the new man in charge’ as being entierly unneccesary. But I have to agree that your points about the two scenes are quite valid.

    I guess I didn’t feel that way because since the Finale aired its the only LOST i’ve seen. I wish they would make more… sigh.

  17. Hated the finale, liked this short. I thought the island part of the finale was all right, but I didn’t think it lived up to what I was expecting. The flash-sideways in the finale ruined the flash-sideways for me forever. It made most of the finer details of the flash-sideways irrelevant and made it the sort of thing that could have been done in a couple episodes, at most. Half the season was wasted, then, and we could have gotten a lot more closure on wide-open storylines that never got dealt with.

    This short was kind of fun, I thought. I was hoping for more substantive answers, but we got a few definite ones that we didn’t have before. It was more like the sort of thing you see at the end of a movie after the credits, and you can’t evaluate it as anything other than that, or I think you miss the genre.

  18. OtherJacob

    I thought that the finale was insulting to the audience… and “The New Man In Charge” simply confirms that the creators just don’t get why such a large portion of the audience was frustrated by the finale.

    The anger isn’t so much over a lack of “answers”, but rather that the final twist had to do with something that had only been introduced in the final season and ultimately did not fit in with anything else in the series as a whole.

    • It’s not just that. Even the whole flash-sideways gets rendered relatively insignificant by the reveal at the end. Jack’s son turns out not to exist. Daniel’s stuff about changing things and making them all wrong is dead wrong. Eloise’s comments about violations make no sense. What’s the point of the details of what they all go through if it’s a non-reality waiting area for wherever they end up, and it’s the island that matters? I didn’t want any past-changing, so I was hoping it wasn’t that, but this doesn’t seem much better to me. They could have taken care of what they needed to do with the flash-sideways, given the way they ended it, it maybe two episodes. That would have freed up a good portion of the final season to tie up loose ends and give satisfying endings to the characters who were just tag-alongs all season (Sun, Jin, Ilana, Miles, Frank come to mind). But at least the epilogue was kind of fun, even if it had little meaning and not much in the way of answers.

  19. Chris

    I was an avid Lost fan from the very beginning, but the finale completely ruined my experience with this drama. I considered myself to be viewer who enjoys intelligent programming and I like it when there are subtle puzzles that one must solve on their own (like the polar bear puzzle mentioned by the article author), but I felt that the final season of Lost completely ignored issues that the writers spent episodes building upon. A prime example of this is the importance of Walt. Almost an entire season (season 2) was spent building up Walt’s importance, but this issue was not mentioned at all during the final season.

    I have read a detailed transcript of the epilogue and while I am glad the most glaring oversights have been addressed it is simply too little to late. I was pulled into Lost because I loved the mysteries behind the characters and the mysteries behind the island, I wasn’t looking for a commentary on life, death, and the afterlife and although I accepted what was coming as we neared the finale the lack of answers to major season shaping questions ruined the series for me.

  20. Mark

    The final season of lost really did dissapoint me. I always look at the best shows as shows that i will want to watch more then once. But because the off-island part of the final season wasn’t real you really can’t enjoy that part of the 6th season again. Once you know the answer its just a waste of time. Other shows like Ashes to Ashes have a similar final season but don’t take away from wanting to re-watch the series.

    The epilogue was fun, it was a chance to get a slice of lost after having missed it for so long, i have nothing bad to say about it. I’m just waiting for Michael Emerson to be back on television, my week of tv isn’t the same without him.

  21. Harry

    Spoiler ALERT******

    So here is my view of the epiologue that no one seems to pick up on. Walt is brought back to the island to take over when Hurley is done. In Fact Walt is forever the gatekepper of the island and never dies which is why he is not in the flashsideways after life scenes.

    That is the job That hurley tells him about.
    To me that is a completly satisfying answer about Walt and how he was special.

  22. Snap

    I completely disagree that the epilogue is unnecessary.
    I think most of Season 6 was unnecessary, the flash sideways was pointless and a waste of time (why should we be more invested in the afterlife of characters?), the spiritual allegories were heavy handed, the dramatic and sudden introduction of a central, deity type “villain” was just an easy cop-out to keep Terry O’Quinn on the show, any of the “answers” that the writers deemed fit to include were often just tacked on and contrived (i.e. “the dead people are the whispers”).

    Season 6 of Lost does not fit very well with the canon of the series. Lost had a chance to create a truly timeless piece of science fiction. After viewing Season 6 several times, I still think that it would have been much more satisfying for the series to end with Season 5 rather than completely tarnish the legacy of the entire series with Season 6.

    Because I was so disappointed with the final season (and maybe even just the last half of the final season), the epilogue was a welcome breath of fresh lost air. It “felt” more like the lost that I knew and loved in Seasons 1-5.
    You do not have to answer all questions to create a relevant and satisfying piece of work (i.e. anybody see Inception?), just choose artistic and thought provoking ways to keep the viewer engaged and thinking (of which I think the epilogue did, but the finale did not).

    • Harry

      Hey Snap I disagree with your view of the flash sideways.
      I will agree there was too much of it. But i think it was important to show the afterlife. That afterlife is taking place on the island. The light on the island is the afterlife. So it shows what they are fighting for on the island.

      • Snap

        The show always had a “Faith” vs. “Science” element that was paralleled through many of the characters. And I think that some of the spiritual allegory in the sixth season was properly affecting.

        Would you mind clarifying your views for me?
        How is the afterlife taking place on the island? The writers stressed that island events were taking place in a real, tangible time line.
        How is the light of the island representing the afterlife
        It was mentioned the light represented the “light” in all men, how does that parallel the afterlife? Why does the man in black change into some form of energy when he came into contact with the light (or afterlife) yet Jack and Desmond were able to go inside and see/touch it?

        Why are they fighting for the afterlife (or to achieve being in the afterlife)? Do you mean that the island is key or doorway to everyone on earth reaching the afterlife or only those on the island?

        • Harry

          Mind you my views are a theory but it is one that I like.

          My theory is that the chamber of light is the after life, the individual lights are people’s souls. I believe the woman referred to it as life,death, and rebirth. The light is our souls and we hang out in that chamber waiting to be born again. That why there are dead people on the island who are not ready to move on (Michael, etc..). when the lost group moves on at the end they move into the bright light. yes the island events are happening in a real timeline. I am saying that the flash sideways is taking place in the chamber of light, that is where there souls are.

          I have no idea why the MIB became the smoke monster upon entering the chamber. That is a good unanswered question. My guess is that Desmond is special, and that Jack is the guardian. I admit that seems like a weak answer to that question.

          Yes, I mean the island is the home of the afterlife (that cave specifically). that is why it is important that it isn’t destroyed. The island only became a “Cork” in relation to the MIB. So, in the end we all get to go to the island.

  23. Tausif Khan

    With this last review of Lost I have now completed 3 sets of Lost reviews.

    I read the AV Club (Classic) reviews which were started by Todd Van Der Werff before he left to become the Culture editor at Vox.

    After the end of the third season AV Club (Classic) reviews, I shifted my review reading style, as the AV Club (Classic) reviews were very substantive digging deeper into the context in which the individual episodes of Lost were made and did not need to read any other reviews. However, after the classic reviews I was interested to read more recap/reviews as they focused on recounting the events of an episode I had just watched. Even individual recaps provided me with an interesting perspective because in order to develop their own perspective on the show the recap/reviewer needed to highlight certain aspects of the show to demonstrate the poignancy of their perspective in understanding the show overall. Therefore after season three I read the recap/reviews of Alan Sepinwall, Noel Murray, and those of Myles McNutt here at Cultural Learnings.

    I favored those reviewers who had covered Lost from the beginning and who did specifically episode by episode reviews so that I would have something to read after each episode. The problem with this is that I missed out on the Reviews of Maureen Ryan one of my favorite critics, who after reading the “Critics face the…” review roundup entries here at Cultural Learnings led me to believe I had missed out as she provided the perspective to me that most bothered me about the show overall, the sheer misogyny and racism (less so with the latter) that was built into the structure and demonstrated in the text of the show. Ryan laid bear exactly why it would become clear that the finale would only focus on the plight of the white males as they determined the future of their own lives and that of humanity, while pretty much every female character on the show remains tied to some abstracted but innate biological yearning to be mothers that the shows creators imparted on the female characters. This to me was the best criticism of the show overall and why I find reading Maureen Ryan’s work essential in understanding what television creators think about the world and not only how society operates but how society should operate. I ended up avoiding Maureen Ryan’s reviews for two reasons. One because she herself says that she does not like the process of episode by episode reviews and likes to “marinate” in the ideas of the show before writing a review. Two, The Watcher site where she originally blogged was too cumbersome to sift through in order to match episode to review.

    I want to end this comment on two notes, one very minor, and another a larger thematic criticism of the writing you have done at The AV Club (Classic) and here at Cultural Learnings.

    The minor point is simple. When Hurley learns about where the numbers came from in his trip to Australia, he learns that the man who first learned of the numbers was out at sea in his capacity as a member of the Navy, and heard the numbers over a radio transmission. Later on the Island I believe we learn that Rousseau had recorded her message over an outgoing message from the radio tower which were a list of numbers. For me this led me to believe that creators were telling the audience that someone was drawing these people to the island with a purpose and that it was not preordained by some mystical force. The reason why this is important to me is that for me, it would give a better sense of the political understanding the creators were bringing to the series, as the notion that a person was bringing the survivors to the island implicates that this move is politics as manipulation. However, as the series grew, the creators tried to make this manipulation less dark by giving meaning to why they were drawn to the island, as it was the characters’ destinies, more so the white male folk than any of the others, but I digress. The creators were also undoubtedly interested in religious mythology from the beginning as the Boone/Shannon episode and the pseudo-incest was intended to evoke the 7 deadly sins, but was dropped as the mysteries of the island and the mythology developed therein became more compelling and Boone/Shannon less so as they were killed off.

    The second point I wanted to raise was to identify something I felt missing in your AV Club (Classic) reviews. This is unveiling the language the creators were using to communicate directly to the audience. In the first three seasons, the creators were constantly trying to find out which storylines, mysteries, and characters were most interesting to follow. For me early on the creators made bold statements as to what the audience should focus on in the telling of the story by boldly killing off characters, shifting character traits to different characters when storylines did not work. For example, the creators moved away from the seven deadly sins idea by killing off Boone/Shannon, and shifting the focus on the adventures, mysteries, characters of the Island. With Boone we shifted to the mystery of the plane, the strangeness of its sudden appearance, the meaning of its presence, and eventual opening of and exploration of the hatch. The creators realized the could not explore the depravity of sexual relation on a network show and therefore shifted emphasis to focus on island mysteries. Shannon’s death, lead us to a greater focus on the character traits, and different survival philosophy of the tailies by Ana Lucia’s harsh and brutal rule leading to her murdering Shannon. This further solidified the creators intentions of focusing on the complications of character interaction rather than rotely explaining the answers to mysteries, and explaining the mystical elements of the show. With Locke it became clear early on that they wanted to use Terry O’Quinn as a villain as Michael constantly warned his son to stay away from Locke, they made Locke’s intentions on the island, and his endgame, opaque beyond the very idea that he was there to find himself. They made Locke scary with the scar over his eye, his mystical wisdom about the island, and his sudden proficiency at weaponry. Then when it became clearer that Locke was going to be a much more interesting character as an actual action adventurer they made him the person who uncovered the Island’s mysteries as Jack and the others tried to survive and get off the Island. Similarly when the creators knew that Walt would not be on the show much longer, Walt’s Stephen King-like evil supernatural powers which were established with his step father being weary of taking care of him, were shift to Hurley, who really didn’t have a back story, as the much more benign ability to speak to dead people, and also complicating his character by making Hurley not just a fun loving goof ball but schizophrenic, making the character darker. This allowed the show to keep the elements it needed to maintain the themes and elements of the show it wished to explore even though they knew characters, and storylines would have to be jetisoned to keep the show compelling.

    My point in raising all of those shifts is to point out the idea that has been raised by TV critics before is that TV shows teach you how to watch the show itself by conditioning the viewer to focus on what the creators find interesting by communicating those messages through the dialogue and visual cues present on screen. I felt this analysis was missing from your TV Club (Classic) reviews and would be something that would become readily apparent in taking a long review perspective of the show. The reason why I felt this issue needed to be mentioned particularly in the reviews of “Lost” is because of the divisive fan reaction to the show, fans who wanted answers to mysteries versus people who tuned in every week to see what strange things would have to our heroes (who were not necessarily so in a past life) and the courageous things they would do to overcome the odds to survive to the next day and hopefully get off the island.

    Having said all of that I wanted to thank you, Alan Sepinwall, and Noel Murray through guiding me through watching Lost 7 years after the show ended.

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