LOST Theories - DarkUFO

Where they making it up as they went along? Yes and no. As a writer in the entertainment industry, I can tell you we usually know where we’re going with a story, but we’re not always clear on HOW we will get there.

Knowing something about how TV shows are written, rewritten and then produced, my theory is that ALT timeline finale was rewritten after the season was already in production. Cameras were rolling on the Island (Good vs Evil) drama and the ALT Timeline stories with characters experiencing deja vu, thinking they met somewhere before—two realities that would somehow merge or not merge. I thought this was a very bold and intriguing way to bring the series to a climatic finish and answer many questions while commenting on the themes of destiny and fate. No matter where you go, there you are… even in time/space.

However, at some point, I believe the producers flinched and thought they needed something more. Most likely they didn’t like or trust the ending they had and then scrambled to come up with a better one. I say ‘scrambled’ because in the final episodes of this season, there was a ton ‘script scrambling’ – that is, writers making dramatic choices in a rushed manner, panicked by deadlines, they attempt to fix the ending. Like a family packing for vacation at 3am, then rushing to make a 7am flight, they inevitably forget or leave some important things. Maybe they even run a few stoplights speeding to the airport, breaking rules they would normally follow, just to make their flight.

Previous seasons moved at a very deliberate pace, and the season finales always had great plot twists and surprises with a big dramatic payoff—that is, we didn’t see it coming, but it always made sense within the Lost world. The revelations always added a new dimension to the Lost world and followed a logical through-line. Previous seasons did a brilliant job of setting up those big revelations and they were therefore dramatically satisfying on all levels, character, plot, and theme.

How do I know there were rushed script rewrites that resulted in a less than satisfying ending?

#1 Too many dangling elements, things (mostly dialogue) that were a setup for one ending that was dropped when the new ‘spiritual’ ending was written. I’d have to re-watch the final season to list all of these, but a rule of good dramatic writing is that there really are no throwaway lines. Meaning everything a character says has meaning— “that’s weird, déjà vu, haven’t we met before?” The early focus was on coincidence and a strange a feeling familiarity. Yes, I know this sort of all follows with the Spiritual ending of people meeting up in some sort of afterlife waiting room before they ‘move on to the next place’. But if that is what they were going for from the start, there would have been more subtle elements that indicated the ALT reality was not what it seemed. I’ve watch this show with a writer’s ear for 6 years, and I know how careful these writers are to set up revelations and the ‘spiritual’ revelation was a late addition.

#2 The finale had a rushed pace, and the order in which the characters had their “moment of clarity” in the ALT timeline felt more convenient than following any kind of story logic. Jack being the last one to ‘understand’ was more for dramatic purposes—he’s the main character and he gets to have the last big moment. Several of the ‘moments of spiritual clarity’ felt extremely contrived—Sayid and what’s her name (Shannon). The emotional impact of Claire and Charlie seeing each other ‘again for the first time’ was undercut by the fastest birth in the history of obstetrics.

They needed to have these flash-sideways B-stories to compliment the A-story of the Island. For most of the season, these were well written and boldly gave us an intriguing look into our characters leading different lives—different but strangely the same. As the season neared its conclusion, there was this notion to get them all together for some type of revelation or merging of the timelines. I picture a room full of writers tossing around ideas of how to pull this off in a meaningful way. They probably felt the pressure to swing for the Soprano/MASH/Newheart fence and wanted something worthy of the previous season finales. This is a tough spot because they know they only get one shot at it, and they will have to live it...forever. At some point, someone said, “What if it’s not an ALT reality but something else?” Stop right there! In previous seasons, the flashbacks, flash forwards, and flashes in time, all dealt with a real dramatic situation happening in real dramatic time (past, present, future). The notion of the flash-sideways being something else, something that was NOT REAL, a metaphysical experience in which the characters are essentially in a ghost play for their benefit, this breaks with the established pattern of two real life dramas (A/B stories) playing out each week. The B-stories always had a thematic character relevance to the A-story, and later, the flash forwards also became a plot device for revealing information in an interesting way.

So, for this seasons we’ve been watching the one thing we were always told we weren’t; something that wasn’t real. Logically every character in that ALT world who was not at the church, was some sort of figment of memory or imagination created by the Lost characters. A sort of Turner Show in a pre-heaven where the Lost characters are all like Jim Carey, unaware they are in the show.

As a writer, when I think about the William Atherton principal character—the way that character was written tells me they hadn’t come up with the Spiritual Reality ending. All the early season six centric episodes had B-stories with similar characters, people who were drawn too real to be part of a false reality. But, I believe those centric episodes were already in pre-production when the new Spiritual Reality ending came about.

#3 Jacks neck scar. The produces claim this was the big clue. But I think they are being disingenuous because the neck scar and bleeding could have been used to connect the two timelines. Eloise Hawking made the point reuniting them all would be a bad idea, but Desmond is compelled to ignore her and sets about to bring them all together. This story was going somewhere, heading toward something in the ALT timeline, but it was dropped at some point and quickly replaced with the Spiritual ‘moving on’ ending.

#4 Great writing is a thought process. Behind every episode, every scene, every line of dialogue there is a deliberate attempt to communicate an idea, a meaning, a conflict. Writers are like magicians in that the misdirection doesn’t work on us; we catch every line, every clue, every signpost, and when there is an abrupt change in tone and meaning, when the thought process starts rethinking itself, we catch it. What I’m getting at is that good writers can talk through every beat of their story and answer the question of ‘why’ right down to the comas and semi-colons. The producers would have a hard time defending the thought process or logic behind the finale in the context of the entire sixth season. Bottom line: The ending worked on an emotional level, walking hand-in-hand to ‘the next place’ with your best friends will always strike a chord. But on a story/theme level, the ending was not as inspired as previous seasons.

Final thoughts: In my opinion Lost is one of best shows ever produced for television. The first-rate writing, the layers of themes and deeper meanings, and high-quality location production made the series one that will be watched, talked about, and studied for years to come. J.J. Abrams will have to call Lindelof and Cruse this morning and tell them what a great job they did. But I can’t help but think what the finale would have been like had he come back to co-write and direct the final episodes. Abrams’ handling of the time paradoxes and realities in Star Trek was inspired—the logic was beautiful and added a dimension to the story and characters. But when Christian Shepard said, “There is no now, here.”, I couldn’t help groan and think of ‘What Dreams May Come’ and ‘Defending your Life’. The revelation of the Spiritual Reality we’ve really been watching didn’t quite fit with everything that has lead up to it. Nevertheless, I still watch Seinfeld in reruns despite their semi-misfire finale, and I will continue watching , talking about, and enjoying LOST.

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