Tag Archives: There’s no Place Like Home

Did Lost’s Flashforwards Spoil Its Own Finale?

As you may have read, earlier this week I had the privilege of being a guest on the second episode of the /Filmcast, the official podcast of SlashFilm.com. It’s quickly making a name for itself as one of the most thorough and lively entertainment podcasts around, largely due to the dedicated of Dave, Devindra, Adam and Peter to making it an interactive and enjoyable experience – it was an honour to only briefly be a part of it.

The episode is now available for download @ Slashfilm.com (Or should be soon, I’ll update the link later), or you can subscribe via iTunes (Link will take you into iTunes to do so, FYI), and I had the pleasure of discussing the Lost finale with the fine gentlemen in the show’s first quarter (Starting at about 14m, but listen to the whole thing folks). And, well, it got me thinking (What doesn’t?).

In a third season episode of How I Met Your Mother, Barney Stinson (played by Neil Patrick Harris) finds out ahead of time that his friend Marshall plans to slap him (as part of a “Slap Bet”) during Thanksgiving dinner. At first, he chides Marshall for this childish error: now that the element of surprise is gone, all of the suspense is taken away, and the slap has lost its impact. But then the anticipation gets to him, tearing apart his emotions and leaving an empty shell of a man who (eventually) gets the slap and a celebratory song to go with it.

Now, I doubt that the writers of this particular episode were necessarily thinking in these terms, but I find great meaning in this storyline in lieu of a re-engaged question of “spoilers,” a four-letter word in a lot of internet circles. I am part of these circles, an adamant believer that spoilers need to be marked extremely carefully if not excised entirely. For example, I’m okay with a spoiler being found in a review of an upcoming episode, but not on the front page of a popular entertainment site (Not that Zap2it has ruined countless episodes of Survivor for me, or anything).

I raise this issue for two reasons: first off, Entertainment Weekly’s Ken Tucker recently fired a shot at people like myself. In admittedly his harshest pullquote, he ends with the following:

Knowing the way something turns out shouldn’t ruin anyone’s pleasure. Hey, it’s a 24/7 media world. The best way to kill spoiler culture, if you don’t like it, is to say one thing to both spoilers and spoiler ”victims”: Grow up.

Admittedly, this is bound to upset a lot of people, myself included – yes, it’s a 24/7 Media World, but that doesn’t necessarily excuse unlabeled spoilers within 12 hours of an episode airing. However, Tucker’s point gained more clarity through something he said earlier:

I admit that if someone tells me who won The Amazing Race before I’ve seen it, I may gnash my teeth a little. But chances are, it will make me want to see how those people scored their victories and how the producers edited the game even more.

First off, if anyone ever ruins The Amazing Race for me, I might have to hurt them.

Second, after discussing it with the folks on the /Filmcast on Monday night, one of the things that came very clear was that Lost Season Four had one problem for quite a few people: it had been spoiled. We knew how it ended, knew that our castaways would get off the island and that they would be called the Oceanic Six and that there was a whole lot of fishy things about their departure. It wasn’t just that we presumed what might happen (Like Chekhov’s gun, for example), but that we actually knew the end result: we just had to, as Tucker seems to argue, enjoy the journey and how the producers take us to that conclusion.

So when we all sat down to discuss the Lost finale, and we all kind of agreed that the ending being spoiled had a profound impact on how we viewed the season, I wondered whether here we have a microcosm, a perfect test for Tucker’s thesis and the argument of spoilsports around the globe. And while it is certainly open for interpretation, I tend to believe that it both proves and disproves this concept that knowing only makes the heart grow fonder.

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Season Finale – Lost – “There’s No Place Like Home, Parts 2 & 3”

“There’s No Place Like Home, Parts 2 & 3”

May 29th, 2008

“Who the frak is Jeremy Bentham?”

[In case this 4700 word review wasn’t enough, here’s more post-podcast thoughts about the Lost finale! Was the finale spoiled by the one which preceded it, dooming it from the very beginning? Well, no, but it’s a valid argument.]

This is the question that pervades the conclusion to Lost’s fourth season, one that I asked myself the second the name was uttered. Now, I presumed that this (like most Lost names) had special meaning, but resisted the urge to head off to my computer to use Wikpedia to find out which philosopher or some other profession the show was using to describe this intriguing character who, as the finale unfolds, we learn was in the casket we saw a season ago.

And, well, I didn’t even have to wait until I returned to my computer: someone who was only in the TV lounge to watch a show proceeding Lost knew the story, and immediately it clicked: it wasn’t his ideas that made him an ideal choice, but rather his legacy.

From Wikipedia:

As requested in his will, [Jeremy Bentham’s] body was preserved and stored in a wooden cabinet, termed his “Auto-icon”. Originally kept by his disciple Dr. Southwood Smith, it was acquired by University College London in 1850. The Auto-icon is kept on public display at the end of the South Cloisters in the main building of the College. For the 100th and 150th anniversaries of the college, the Auto-icon was brought to the meeting of the College Council, where he was listed as “present but not voting”. Tradition holds that if the council’s vote on any motion is tied, the auto-icon always breaks the tie by voting in favour of the motion.

In an episode full of light bulb moments, pieces falling into place as we knew they had to, this was the biggest: a realization that, in kind with the words of the characters standing beside the casket, there was life after death for its occupant. Death is strange on the island, we know this: whether it’s Christian, Claire or Charlie, it is clear that dying is not final in this world.

And there is nothing final about this finale; while we turn the corner on one chapter of the lives of our castaways, the series has simultaneously created a whole new set of mysteries, a whole new structural question (perhaps even rivaling our post-season three confusion), and certainly more than enough dramatic potential for the final two seasons to resonate just as strongly as this one.

To be frank, this is no “Through the Looking Glass;” its moving pieces were smaller, and its scale (even considering Locke’s mission from Jacob) are in no way going to create something to that level. However, the episode fulfills that finale’s potential, paying off storylines both emotional and adventurous, and providing more than enough fodder for Lost fans to continue salivating for the final 34.

In the meantime, let’s salivate over this one.

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Reflections: Preparing for the Lost Season Four Finale

Preparing for “There’s No Place Like Home”

When Lost ends its fourth season tonight, it has a lot to live up to: not only is the show known for its mind-blowing finales, in particular its most recent one, but it is coming at the end of a season with a lot of momentum. It’s hard to deny that the show’s fourth season has been strong, and also that it has made the best of its shortened schedule. As a result, excuse me if I have high hopes for its end note.

Now, that’s not to say that I think tonight’s finale (airing at 9 EST on ABC, but I’ll be watching it at 6 EST due to the Canadian simulcast) will reach the heights of “Through the Looking Glass,” the stunning conclusion to last season. It’s the same logic I used in defending the slower pace of the season premiere, “The Beginning of the End,” to those who felt that it lost some of its momentum. This sentiment implies, falsely in my mind, that the only momentum the finale created was “OMG, Flash Forwards;” clearly, its success goes beyond that.

I love “Through the Looking Glass” because it feels like a high point in the show’s mythology while also feeling like the climax of a high-powered adventure film. As Michael Giacchino’s score ramps up, and as we get soaring helicopter shots of various travelers, there is something about it that feels epic and sweeping. In the weeks previous, they had set all of the moving parts in place: whether it’s the Looking Glass itself, the trip to the radio tower, the arrival of Naomi, Charlie’s sacrifice, Locke’s apparent death, or the beach ambush, a lot came to a head in that two hours simply on an action level. At the same time, of course, we ended on a realization that it was frakking with the show’s structure more than we ever bargained for.

Season Four, with only fourteen episodes, doesn’t seem like it should have had time to get to that point. After last year’s finale, there was a lot of questions, but the season has done a great job of developing a structure that best serves those questions on a dramatic level. No, they aren’t answering a question a week, but the future has done wonders for the show’s ability to create dramatic pathos. Flash forwards are intriguing in their own right, but their greatest benefit is providing build-in payoff to a season that (even shortened by the strike) that has every ability to feel like a complete ride in the process.

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Lost – “There’s No Place Like Home, Part One”

“There’s No Place Like Home, Part 1”

May 15th, 2008

It’s not often you see a three-hour, two part finale, but it was clear at this point that Lost needed it – there’s a lot of pieces to put into place for the show at this point, and the really intriguing thing is that we, as the audience, know what the end result is: we know which of these people leave the island, so “There No Place Like Home” is a lesson in how this season’s new set of questions has worked so well.

And no, we don’t get much of the way of answers this time around: as is the nature of any hour before the finale kicks in, there really isn’t much here that progressed the plot in any way. We never got to see inside the Orchid, we didn’t see anyone die or officially be rescued, and even the flashforwards were less informative than they were situational. That’s not to say that the hour wasn’t entertaining, but it was just a lot of the things that needed to be done and over with before the finale can kick into gear.

So, if we look at it as an episode, probably somewhat uneventful – as a first act to the finale as a whole, it’s a great piece of setup work.

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