By GUY AOKI
(First published in The Rafu Shimpo on June 3, 2010)
SPOILER ALERT: If you have yet to see the “Lost” finale, stop reading now.
After leading on millions of fans for six years about what their complicated television series was all about, the producers of “Lost” did the unforgivable:
They explained what a new component of the final season meant yet didn’t even try to answer the outstanding questions of the first five seasons.
I had a feeling I’d be disappointed with the 2 1/2 hour finale when the previous two episodes failed to really accelerate on the revelation pedal. In the penultimate episode, some of the cast finally got to meet the mysterious Jacob who’d brought them to the island years ago. For some reason, we were made to believe they could only see him for as long as it took for the ashes of his mother to burn (convenient: this gave him less time to explain things to them… and to us). But he didn’t even make good use of the time he’d left himself. He just told Jack, the doctor, that one of them had to take his place to protect the island. Not against what or whom. Not how long it’d take and even who he is and how long he’d been doing it (centuries).
Yet that was apparently a good enough explanation for Jack because after not much contemplation, he volunteered. Yeah. Very realistic.
The new element introduced in the sixth year was the “sideways world” where the passengers of Oceanic Flight 815 actually landed at their destination—Los Angeles—and never crashed onto that mysterious island. Our non-castaways seemed relatively happy in their lives. So, on the island world, when Sayid died and Jin and Sun drowned, we had hope that they’d actually get to live on in the sideways world because Desmond was able to journey between both worlds and was trying to help the cast remember their island lives.
The final episode was emotionally satisfying but not intellectually. It was beautifully done as one by one, the beloved characters remembered their island lives. This was especially poignant because many of these people had already died on the island. Jin and Sun, very much alive in the sideways world, remembered they’d drowned on the island and cried. Sawyer remembered Juliet who’d also passed away. Sayid united with Shannon, who’d been accidentally shot to death in Season 2. Claire remembered Charlie who’d drowned. And on and on.
So now we’d see some connection between the two worlds, right? To make a long story short, Jack opened the long lost coffin of his father and found nothing. Then his father appeared. Since Dad agreed he’d died, how was it possible he was there talking to Jack? Well, because Jack himself was… dead (after that revelation, we saw how Jack expired on the island after re-starting the cave’s glow after dumbly having Desmond extinguish it). All of the characters in the sideways world were deceased. Some had died on the series and others passed away at various (unseen) times in the future. But at this point, they were all dead and had created the sideways world as a way of working out unresolved issues. They included many of their fellow castaways because of the bond they felt between each other.
The reunion scene in the church was amazing to behold: Characters who’d met their end throughout the past six seasons were all together as they greeted Jack with smiles and hugs, expressing the enormity of what they’d all experienced together. Then Jack’s father opened the entrance to the church and a white light shown through. Where they went after that is open to our religious beliefs. If nothing else, the scene made me strangely comfortable about dying.
So everyone who died on the island—including Sayid, Jin, and Sun—really did die.
The episode will probably get Emmy nominations for writing, directing, acting (possibly for Matthew “Jack Shephard” Fox, which would be a first), and the beautiful music (I couldn’t get it out of my head the following day). But the list of unanswered questions from the first five seasons is truly unforgivable, and I’m surprised there hasn’t by now been a huge backlash against executive producers Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse to the point where fans literally force them to cough up the answers.
Here are a few of mine: Why was John Locke, an invalid, able to walk on the island? Why did Locke temporarily lose control of his legs after Boone died? Why did the seer say Claire had to raise her baby herself or something terrible would happen (we saw no signs of it after his birth)? Why did Ben kill Henry Gale and who was he? What were in the Dharma Initiative notebooks and what did it reveal about its human subjects? Why did we hear whispers in the jungle just before the Others surrounded the cast? Why did that stewardess join the Others so willingly and act so flippant towards Jack? What happened to the children from the back of the plane and were they tied into the Others trying to figure out how to get women to give birth successfully?
Did the Others have secret powers (why the ability to suddenly appear with torches and steal people without making a sound)? How was eye patch man able to survive the frequency that appeared to kill him when he started foaming at the mouth? What were Walt’s powers and did he kill his mother? How could he appear to Locke after Ben shot Locke in the stomach if he wasn’t dead, and how could Locke survive it? How could Ben treat Juliet’s sister’s cancer when he couldn’t cure his own?
How far did Sun take revenge against her father and Widmore? What was Widmore’s motivation all along and why couldn’t he act like the good guy he supposedly was vs. telling the castaways “the deal’s off?” Who was “the accountant” Sayid’s girlfriend worked for? What went wrong with the girl in Faraday’s experiment?
How did the Smoke Monster, impersonating Locke, know Ben killed Locke if it happened back in civilization and not on the island where he’s been trapped all his life? How did Jacob get off and back onto the island?
Lasting Impression Department: I was pleased to read a recent interview Oliver Wang conducted with Cuse and Lindelof on AsianPacificArts.usc.edu because Cuse remembered receiving an award from MANAA for “Martial Law” starring Sammo Hung and Kelly Hu:
“I take a lot of pride in my own history of casting Asian actors on my series.
“I created ‘Nash Bridges,’ and two of the six original series regulars were Asian: Kelly Hu and Cary [Tagawa]. And then ‘Martial Law’ which stars Sammo Hung. I won a MANAA award for that, and at the time, I was told that when Sammo Hung kissed one of the female leads, it was the first time that it happened in prime time television.
“And I worked on a show called ‘Black Sash’ which starred Russell Wong as the lead.”
I’m sure other Asian men kissed women before, but I’m glad Cuse remembered how significant it was. I was the one who pointed that out the night we gave him the honor, so it’s nice to know he not only remembered MANAA but the importance of giving Asian men love interests. MANAA also honored Cuse a second time for casting so many Asian/Asian American actors in “Lost,” the only time someone received an award from us a second time.
“In the case of ‘Lost,’” he told Wang, “I think we felt that there were these really tremendous Asian actors who were underserved out there on the landscape and that they would bring things to ‘Lost’ that just weren’t being seen on other shows.”
As much as I’m upset at Cuse for withholding so many answers in “Lost,” you have to admire his track record of including Asian American regulars in his shows.
And in the case of “Martial Law” and “Black Sash,” Asian stars.
Dead Stop Department: The season-and series-finale of “FlashForward” aired last week with the foreseen April 29th finally arriving. Seems as if every vision came true though we didn’t get to see the aftermath of some like the white guy and the Japanese girl finally meeting. Sigh! Doesn’t that just warm your heart that on television a white man can fall in love with a Japanese woman and vice versa before even meeting and that their visions can come true?! (Just so we’re clear: I’m smirking as I say this)
So what do the producers do after they get April 29th out of the way? Why, they create another FlashForward about 14 minutes later so people have another vision of their future, which would set up the second season. Only there won’t be a second season since this show kept losing viewers.
Can’t Beat The Original Department: Although clips of the upcoming “Hawaii Five-O” have yet to surface, CBS has posted online the show’s opening. The one-minute original was one of the best of any television series with its suspenseful music, panoramic views of Hawaii, dynamic camera angles, and of course, the camera zeroing in on Jack Lord on the balcony of a hotel where he turns around and looks arrogantly at the camera.
The new version is only half a minute long (probably a concession to the times; most shows don’t even have an opening theme song and actor credits just appear on the screen as the story begins without as much hoopola). The music sounds cheesier than the original and less time is devoted to the four main actors. There are recreated shots from the original, which brings a smile to my face, and the camera zeroes in on the new Steve McGarrett-Alex O’Loughlin but instead of him looking directly at the viewer, the camera freezes on his profile.
Till next time, keep your eyes and ears open.
Guy Aoki, co-founder of the Media Action Network for Asian Americans, writes from Glendale. Opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.