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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

One Last Look at Lost: The New Man in Charge

Back in May, I wrote about my disappointment with the finale of Lost. My greatest complaint was the episode's failure to address some of the most intruiging mysteries surrounding the island and the Dharma Initiative. The show provided an emotional resolution, but I was looking for intellectual satisfaction too. In other words, I wanted some answers to the questions the show so gleefully raised over the course of six years.

Last night, Sylvia and I watched "The New Man in Charge," the twelve-minute epilogue included as a bonus feature on the Lost Blu-Ray set. Without giving too much away, the mini-sode chronicles a short vignette providing a glimpse into Hurley's new role as island overseer, with Benjamin Linus as his right-hand man.

As might be expected, the short didn't answer every unresolved question, but it did tackle a few minor mysteries; and more importantly, it gave one neglected character some resolution and the possibility of new adventures.

Deliberately, I think, the answers provided by the short were fairly predictable, the sort of thing viewers could have - and perhaps should have - come up with on our own. The episode almost reads like fan fiction, with its love of minutiae. In fact, the answers given are so logical and straightforward one should assume that the showrunners are taking a bit of a poke at the audience - admittedly with some justification. It's as if they're asking "Really - you needed us to answer that question for you?"

And yet there's clearly a method to their madness, because I find myself with somewhat warmer feelings toward a show that disappointed me in the end. "The New Man in Charge" by no means completely redeems the series' climax, but it does mitigate some of its sins, if only by reminding the audience that our own imagination is a perfectly valid a tool for interpreting and continuing stories crafted by others.

In effect, the producers are saying that the answers are out there - now go find them. Or create them. Perhaps, in the final analysis, that's the best way to end this encouraging viewers to "get lost" in the best possible sense, by finding their own answers - answers quite possibly more satisfying and creative than any Lost's producers could have given. This epilogue encourages viewers to add to the show's mythology on their own.

I think that's a pretty good message from a medium that usually encourages passive absorption of culture, rather than active engagement. And now I've found a way to make peace with Lost after all.


Totty said...

I hope your use of "mitigate some of its sin" was intentionally ironic (based on what I've read of the finale) and not coincidental.

Earl J. Woods said...

The irony was indeed intentional.