Lost was one of my favorite shows. For me, this was the epitome of appointment television and one of the few programs I tried to watch live every week. When I heard that showrunners Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse actually requested an end date, I was thrilled at the implications. In my mind, this was proof that there was a gameplan all along. They had a definitive story they were trying to tell, one with a beginning, middle, and ultimately, an end. So why is it that they felt the need to alter the structure of the final season by introducing the now-infamous “flash sideways?”
The end of Season 5 presented a brilliant storytelling narrative. It appeared as if most of the cast were killed off in an explosion. An explosion that would potentially reset the timeline as if they never crashed on the island to begin with. When Season 6 started, these flash sideways appeared to be that alternate reality. They intercut this world with a parallel story in which the timeline never reset, and they were still on the island. Eventually, it appeared that these realities were bleeding together. To me, this was a pretty cool idea, confusing as it may have been. However, Lindelof and Cuse refrained from specifically clarifying what they were doing until the final episode.
I have two major issues with this alternate reality. The first being that it didn’t enhance any of the story that came before. Without giving away the payoff, this reality served no function within the grand scheme of the show. Other than providing a red herring (albeit a really cool one), this storytelling device could have been completely excised from the show, and in my opinion, not affected the story in any way.
My other problem is that the alternate world just wasn’t interesting. The show always felt very cinematic in it’s exploration of the island, but by placing our characters in the real world, the show started to feel cheap and generic. The little teases and clues were always fun, but as the season progressed, the story lost momentum. I found myself anxiously waiting to get back to the island, and what I found to be a terrific storyline.
This would be the story of Jacob and the Man in Black. These two characters provided the real meat of the season, exploring a fascinating history that brought much needed clarification to the present. I’ve read a lot of controversy as to the direction these characters pushed the show, especially in the episode “Across the Sea,” but I completely enjoyed it. Again, I don’t want to give too much away, but I will say that their story is truly epic and spans centuries. This is why I found it so frustrating to be completely immersed in their complicated battle, only to be suddently ripped away to something as bland as Sawyer as a cop.
Particularly fascinating were the evolutions of Ben and Locke. I wouldn’t dare to ruin the specifics of their characters, but I can say that by the end, these were not the same people we were introduced to many years ago. If there is one thing that the writers understood, it was character. Even in the flash-sideways, they never lost sight of that. It was the greater story that suffered.
One of the highlights of the recently released DVD is a short film entitled “The Man In Charge.” I can’t discuss the specifics of this without ruining key plot points, but I can say that Ben plays a pivotal role. It was a nice treat to get to go back and revisit some of these characters I thought I would never see again. This short also provides a couple of additional answers, although nothing we hadn’t pretty much guessed by this point to begin with. There is also a documentary that runs just over 38 minutes entitled “Crafting A Final Season.” Featuring several interviews, this puts into perspective how difficult the process of ending the show was. Both from a story-telling perspective, as well as an emotional one, this was a tough program for most of the cast and crew to put behind them.
(The Cast and Crew talk about the final script on red paper)
Also included is a feature called “A Hero’s Journey,” which breaks down the characters from the perspective of, as the title says, a hero’s journey. I found this particular segment to be pretty uninteresting overall. After this was the extra called “See You In Another Life, Brotha.” This was a classic line from earlier in the show, but this feature explored the flash-sideways and gave a lot of different perspectives on the situation. Mostly consisting of the cast discussing how liberating it was to shoot real-world scenes, this feature did nothing to sway my opinion of this storyline.
As with every Lost DVD, they also include several behind-the-scenes features specific to individual episodes. There are six on this set, and I thoroughly enjoyed all of them. I love getting to watch this kind of analysis on a case-by-case basis, seeing the cast and crew in their element, actually creating these moments.
In ranking the seasons, I would probably place Season 6 towards the bottom. That doesn’t mean that it’s not worthwhile, and even occasionally great. There are moments that rival anything they’ve ever done before. You just have to sit through a lot of filler to get to them, which is something I’m not used to with this show.