BLOG The Lost Goodbye

SFX blogger Will Salmon reckons that the Lost finale will prove that the writers haven’t just been busking it for six years. Well, not entirely…

In just two days’ time, it’s all over. After six years, Lost ends this Sunday. No more Desmond! No more DHARMA hatches, polar bears or interminable Kate episodes. If you’re not waiting up till 5AM to watch the episode’s premiere – simulcast with the US – then make sure you avoid Facebook, Twitter and other media outlets on Monday, cos they’re gonna be teeming with odious wags just waiting to spoil the ending for you.

What will that ending be? Not a bloody clue – though if there are still any Kate and Sawyer shippers out there, I reckon things are looking more and more stacked in your favour. But it’s been interesting these last few weeks, particularly since "Across The Sea" aired, to see how keen some fans have been to jump up and down and go, “Look! The show-runners were making it up as they went along!”

Well of course they were – at least in part. Writing a TV show is very different to writing a novel. With a book, the author has the benefit of being able to finish the story, fix mistakes and make sure that everything fits together nicely before anyone else reads it. With TV (and comics), the story is assembled in public, week-by-week and with all manner of behind-the-scenes uncertainty going on: actors unexpectedly dropping out, new talent being found, key locations becoming unavailable and so on. It’s simply impossible to map out every eventuality beforehand.

For their part, Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse have long stated that they know where and how Lost ends. Maybe that’s true. Maybe it’s not. It doesn’t matter. The only important thing is how it ends, not when they decided to make Locke the smoke monster.

The other fan grumble this year has been that there are still too many unresolved mysteries, and that the sideways world has taken valuable time away from explaining things properly. It’s true that we don’t, and probably never will, know the Man In Black’s name, how the island came to be, or where Mother came from (Mother’s mother, presumably). But answering questions like those make the show smaller. Lost isn’t about whether Smokey is a cloud of nanobots, a demonic entity or the spirit of Noseybonk. It’s a science fiction character drama about science and faith (and surely both of those world-views will have to unite to save the day in the finale), about the way people instinctively create groups of Us and Them, and about redemption. With all the vital mysteries explained now, I’d rather we got some satisfying resolution for the characters I’ve come to care about over the last six years than find out who was dropping off the DHARMA food parcels back in season two.

Were the show-runners busking it all along? We’ll probably never know. There’s plenty of evidence in the show to back up what Damon and Carlton have said. Likewise, there are enough loose ends and inconsistencies to suggest otherwise. But that’s good. It ensures that this series will be argued over for years to come, much like its spiritual predecessor, The Prisoner (the original of course, not that gash with Gandalf in). And in just a couple of days, we’ll finally be able to assess whether we’ve been led on a wild-boar chase for the last six years, or if this really is the most intricately plotted, thematically rich American SF series of all time. I know which one I think it is.

Jacob really is a dick though.