Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Random Thoughts on 'Lost' and '24': Series Finale Preview

***SPOILER ALERT*** - if you haven't caught up on "Lost" or "24" through this week's episodes, you've been warned. You are safe to read one section or the other if you've only caught up on one of the two, however.

This is it: The 2½-hour "Lost" series finale is on Sunday, followed by the 2-hour "24" series finale the very next day. Talk about an epic two days of television!

Lost

While I am really looking forward to this, I'm going to try not to hype this series finale up too much, unlike ABC. I always fast-forward through the commercials, but I think I saw a commercial touting the series finale of "Lost" as "THE TELEVISION EVENT OF THE DECADE". I mean, seriously? This is what ABC does, though. When they have a successful show (which doesn't happen all that often, apparently), they overhype and beat it to death. That's what they did with "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire" in 1999-2001. At the peak of the show's popularity, ABC decided to put it on three nights a week, and that basically killed the show.

But I digress. I think what I'm trying to say is that you shouldn't let the ABC hype machine determine your expectations for the "Lost" finale. It can't possibly live up to the ABC hype, and as is the case with all series finales, there will be some unanswered questions and ambiguity left over that are sure to fire up the message boards and keep people talking about the show long afterwards. That said, "Lost" season finales always deliver. I don't know what we're going to see, but I think it'll be good. My expectations are high; just not ABC-high.

Here's what I'll be thinking about the most when watching the series finale:

What will happen with "Locke" (a.k.a. "Man in Black", or "MiB" as I'll refer to him henceforth)? Surely, he must be able to die somehow. But how? Maybe water is the key? The smoke monster can't travel across water, so can he drown? But he's not really human either, so does he even need oxygen to begin with?

MiB's demise seems to be the most likely outcome, but who knows? I think the apocalypse would be kind of fun, too - I mean, this is just fiction. If everything goes to hell, that's alright with me. I also think that MiB will realize some form of success in his quest to leave and/or destroy the island. The series finale wouldn't be all that interesting if the primary antagonist didn't have some success along the way, right? ... Well, not if they introduce a major plot twist along the way, which they undoubtedly will. Maybe the death of MiB would actually spell doom for everyone on the island rather than save the island like everyone thought. Wouldn't that be fun?

What's the deal with the sideways flashes? The storylines in the alternate timeline (or whatever it is) have been, for the most part, boring. But given how much time this season has devoted to the sideways flashes, they have to be important. We just don't know why yet. Fortunately, sideways flash closure is all but guaranteed in the finale, we'll see what the point of all this was. Do I have too much faith in the show's writers?

Who else is going to die? They've been killing characters off left and right the last few weeks. That's great, but I was hoping for Sun and Jin (my favorite characters) to make it to the end. Darn it. How come they have to die, but Kate (my least favorite character) gets to live?

Is Richard dead? Yes, the smoke monster pretty much laid him out. But we never saw Richard's body after that, and I was under the impression that MiB couldn't kill him, either because he's an immortal of sorts, because that would violate the "rules", or both.

The farther along we get, I think the less I actually understand the "rules". Did Jacob set all of these "rules"? Is Jack now free to set his own "rules"? Do Jacob's "rules" carry over to the Jack dynasty? I don't expect answers to these questions. Beyond the first two questions I posed, I expect the finale to be mostly action with minimal question answering. I think the writers are done answering questions about the island's history and mythology, and that what we know up to this point is all we're going to get.

Finally, in the Season Five episode "The Little Prince", who were the people shooting at Sawyer/Juliet/etc from that other canoe? Ever since this brief scene from one of those random time flashes last year, I've been waiting for this scene to resurface for the last year and a half. Who were those people? "Lost" will do this - they'll introduce an obscure mystery, then they'll revisit it sometime later and "close the time loop" long after you've forgotten about it. Unfortunately, Cuse and Lindelof have suggested that this scene will not be revisited in the finale. Closing the loop was more trouble than it was worth, apparently. Fail. I don't consider that information a spoiler, because if you've been obsessing over this as much as I have, it's better you know this going into the finale. One less thing to be disappointed about.

24

Unlike the previous 24 episodes (going back to last season), the second half of this season of "24" has been immensely entertaining. Why? Because Jack Bauer is kicking ass and taking names (as they say), and because at this point, there is no clear "good side" or "bad side". Jack is always on the good side, but now he's taking things a little too far, don't you think? Hard to call him a "good guy" at this point. The president certainly isn't a "good guy" anymore either, thanks to her efforts to cover up Russia's involvement. It's been an interesting struggle to watch. When everybody on both sides is flawed, and there is no clear "good side", it's more intriguing. It's also been fun to watch Jack lay waste. Sure, his rampages have been completely over the top the last two weeks (who knew a SIM card would still work after spending a few minutes in someone's stomach?), but so what? It's the end of the series! Go out with a bang! Jack Bauer is the greatest action hero of our generation, after all.

Credit to the writers for making the end of the series worth watching. The end of your typical "24" season usually isn't all that interesting. By this point, we know the terrorists won't get their way, and we know what's going to happen in the last two hours. This year, we know that the Russian conspiracy will come to light, but there's so much more to it than that. While I am curious to see how the president will emerge from all this, really it all comes down to Jack. What's going to happen to him?

We know Jack isn't going to die. They are planning on making a "24" movie, after all. But he's burned too many bridges at this point to just be able to walk away a free man, right? Jack going to prison would be boring, so I think the most likely outcome is for the series to end with Jack "on the run", suggesting that he's going to have to be "on the run" for the rest of his life. Or at least until the movie comes out.

As I've said before, the fact that there's going to be a movie bothers me. I'd much rather the series finale be the absolute end of the Jack Bauer story arc. As a result, there won't be as much "finality" with the "24" finale as there will be with the "Lost" finale. Not just because of the movie, either - while "Lost" is the end of a six-year-long story, each season of "24" - including this one - is self-contained. Will the series finale feel like a proper series finale, or will it just seem like another season finale? Did they even know this would be the series finale when they wrote the episode?

Either way, it doesn't look good for Jack. Does he deserve a better ending than this? Perhaps, but I'd much rather Jack go out with guns a-blazing than end up with a softy "I love you, Kim" / "I love you too, Daddy" ending. Here's hoping Kim Bauer stays a safe distance away from the series finale. I don't have my hopes up, though, since she is probably the one person who can reel Jack back in from the cusp of insanity. And I acknowledge that it can't really be a true series finale without a Kim appearance.

Oh, and one more thing: how many times has Jack been stabbed this season? Are we up to three now?

One more week before my two favorite TV shows of the last few years are gone for good. Better enjoy them while I can! I'll have some closing thoughts on both shows next week.

1 comment:

James Allen said...

Here's what's going to happen:
1. MiB will successfully destroy the island with Ben's help. Time will reset, connects to sideways universe (explains the island under water shot at the beginning of the season).
2. Desmond will successfully recruit Island folk to go back to the island again.
3. The sideways people will help the non-sideways people defeat the MiB.
4. Party time.