!!!SPOILER ALERT!!! IF YOU ARE NOT FULLY CAUGHT UP WITH EITHER OF THESE SHOWS AND YOU DON’T WANT THE ENDINGS RUINED FOR YOU, I WOULD RECOMMEND NOT READING THIS BLOG POST UNTIL YOU DO.
This past Sunday and Monday saw the final episodes ever for my two favorite TV dramas of all time. I’m more of a sit-com and reality guy, so that’s not saying a lot, however, I do think they were great shows. It all started over 4 years ago, when I was just a young college freshman who didn’t want to pay for cable in his dorm room, and thus, found himself illegally downloading full seasons of TV shows to my new laptop computer off of something we called “The Hub” at the University of Minnesota. You could only get it if you were living somewhere on campus, and so you needed to be connected to the school’s network for it to work. Anyhow, this “hub” allowed you to file share faster than anything off the internet, since it was kept on our local area network, and thus, I wasted a lot of time watching TV shows that I had never seen before. All three of my roommates in our luxurious dorm room of Pioneer N207 decided we wanted to start watching 24. We were all hooked immediately. The show’s non-stop action was addicting, and when each episode left us on another cliffhanger, they would all peer-pressure me into going “another deep” before I went to bed around 1 or 2 when I had 8 AM classes to get up for. I usually caved. What could I do? Jack Bauer was unbelievable, and those first few seasons were so awesome I couldn’t resist the temptation. We were such big fans during the first two seasons, that I was inspired to make this picture.
After the first two seasons, we started talking about pulling some sort of marathon for season 3, where we would watch all 24 episodes back to back and thus, truly making it real time. Unfortunately, we couldn’t agree on what day to do it on, and I got impatient and went ahead. I caught up completely and finished seasons 3-5 on my own, and so, I had watched 5 seasons of 24 in about 4 1/2 months. All of this time, our friend Ryan was promoting this other new show that he had started watching called LOST. I was stubborn. I thought it sounded too science-fiction for me. I arrogantly proclaimed that it was nowhere near the league of 24, even though I had never seen it. But, as finals week came, and I knew my time was running out to download all of the first two seasons, I gave the pilot a try. At the very end of that first episode when they hear the crazy French woman’s distress signal, and it had been going for 16 years or whatever, I was immediately hooked. That eerie sound over the radio, and then Charlie looking off into space and saying, “Where are we?” just struck me with pure intrigue. I was disgusted with myself for being so against this show, and now I frantically downloaded the first two seasons before I moved out of my dorm room. I watched season 1 with my brother when I got home, and then season 2 at my summer job as a camp counselor. And so after that summer, I was caught up with both of my favorite dramas, and I was head over heels for both of them.
Now, season 3 of LOST was kind of lame, as the show was just kind of stalling until they could negotiate their end date and then begin revealing secrets methodically towards the end. And so, I still believed 24 was far superior as its season 6 was up at the same time. Then season 4 of LOST was far more purposeful, while 24 was off the air due to the writers’ strike. Season 5 of LOST was still great, although I was annoyed somewhat about the time travel. (How on earth was it decided that some people from one plane end up in the 70s, and other people from the same plane are still in present day?) Meanwhile Season 7 of 24 was awesome in my opinion as it made its comeback, and this time Jack was working with the FBI in Washington rather than CTU in LA. And so I still believed 24 was the better show. But this season of both shows is what finally turned me to LOST’s side. I know a lot of people didn’t like the alternative reality that now appears to have been a purgatory, but I absolutely loved it. Not at first, but by the end of the show, I thought it was a magnificent ending. The episode where Desmond finally sees everything and “wakes up” so to speak, was my favorite of the season, and I even declared it my favorite of all time. Meanwhile, 24’s final season seemed to run out of clever new conflicts, and finally had run its course with me. I was bored with it. It made a great run at the end when Jack went absolutely crazy and started killing everyone, but I thought the best way to redeem the show was for Jack to die tragically, because he had narrowly escaped death so many times, it would only make sense. But no, they didn’t even have the guts to do that. I guess they want the open possibility of a movie plot, but they could have made it in some other time before this final season. By the way, of all the nerdy technical analysts that worked at CTU, why did they have to have Chloe, the most annoying, worst-acted out character in the history of the show be the one to stick around for season after season? And why didn’t they ever explain how Jack didn’t die at the end of season 7 like he supposedly was supposed to? Just mention it once already! Anyhow, so since LOST came together so well at the end, and managed to keep more from season to season, I have to give it the nod for being the better show, and they did it with 2 less seasons. 24 should have let Jack die at the end of season 7, and then we wouldn’t have had this joke of a season, and we still would have gotten the tragic ending I wanted, and I might just have it ahead of LOST.
Now, as for the ending of LOST, and what it all means, I of course, have my own theories. I also want to say, despite what some people say that it was terrible in those last 15 minutes, I thought it was beautiful. I got emotional, although, I didn’t cry, that’s almost impossible for a movie or tv show to do to me. But, here’s my take on what it meant. To me, the key idea of what it meant was when Jacob explains to Richard with the wine bottle and the cork what exactly the island was. It was then kind of obvious that the big stone that Desmond pulled out of that little light-filled pool was that cork. He pulled it out, and then the Man in Black was no longer superhuman because whatever life force or energy that made him so was now unlimited by that “cork” and was escaping into the world where it would destroy everything, starting with the island. I guess it left the Man in Black when this happened. What was that life force or energy? I don’t know, but it looked like the gates of hell when Desmond pulled that stone out of there. Also, Richard once told everyone that they were in hell when they were on the island. These reasons really made me think at first that they were all dead at the moment of the crash, and the island and everything after that was their purgatory, and when they blew up the hydrogen bomb in season 5, they created the alternate purgatory that was much closer to heaven, and once they could be “woken up” by their past purgatory’s memories, they could move on and pass into heaven. I’ve changed my mind and decided they were still all alive after the crash, but somehow were located on an island that was at the gates of hell, and thus, acted as a purgatory for many other people, and that’s why we heard them whispering in the jungle. When Jack walked into the bamboo forest and laid down to die at the very end, it was just like where he woke up from the crash in the very beginning of the show, and that coming full circle made me think that he had been dead this whole time. Especially when the end credits showed the plane wreckage with the quiet ambient sounds of the beach, rather than the chaos that was there in the pilot after the crash. It almost like them saying, “this is what the island was really like after the crash”. Now, a lot of people claim that Jack’s dad, Christian spelled it out for us to say that everything on the island did happen, and so that we know they weren’t dead on the island. But who says that they couldn’t have been dead, and the stuff that happened in purgatory couldn’t still have “happened”? To me, that’s not a strong enough point, but I still am in the camp that they were alive, otherwise how do you explain Juliet coming to the island? She didn’t die, she just rode a sub to get there. Same with Ben Linus, and the Dharma Initiative. Now here’s a thought for you. As Jack lay down in the bamboo field and saw the plane fly overhead, was that the plane that Sawyer and Kate had just got on, or was that the plane of the new purgatory that Jack was about to enter, where Flight 815 didn’t crash over the island? Along with that, I have a small list of unanswered questions that are fun to think about, or complain that they were left in ambiguity.
1. If Hurley was the new “Jacob”, and the Man in Black was now dead, who would ever kill Hurley to allow him to die? But he obviously did, because he ended up in purgatory as well.
2. Why couldn’t they have told us why Walt was special? This is one of my biggest beefs with the show. They convinced us that he was so special and that’s why the others wanted him, but then after he left the island, they only revisited him that one time.
3. Why was Jacob considered the good guy, and his brother the bad guy? The Man in Black was the one who accepted the truth about his mother, and all he ever wanted was to leave the island. I thought Jacob was an idiot.
4. Charles Widmore and Ben Linus: Who was the good guy here? I side with Widmore, but Linus ends up as Hurley’s #2, so who really knows.
5. The Dharma Initiative and the Others: same question. This is now a running theme of the show, that is, the blurred definitions of good and evil. I don’t like either of these groups, but the bigger question here is, who were the Others? That wasn’t even explained. I mean, they were human right?
Well, that’s all I got for now, but there are still tons of questions out there, and they won’t ever be answered, only debated. But as for the debate of LOST vs. 24, I’m going with LOST, and it’s not really close anymore. Oh, and just because I feel like it, my favorite LOST characters are, in order:
1. Sawyer, 2. Desmond, 3. Sayid, 4. Locke, 5. Man in Black. And last is Ana Lucia. Also, if Jack Bauer was on the island, he would have gotten all of these answers for us by pointing a gun at Jacob and screaming, “What are the secrets of the island?!, you got 5 seconds before I pull this trigger!!!”
I also just want to say that I know a lot of people were frustrated with LOST for not revealing more of the secrets of the island before the end of the show. That was me for a while, but this final season I finally began to accept the fact that they just weren’t going to explain a lot of things, and I just wanted to enjoy the story they were telling. So in the end, I went with my emotional and creative side rather than the analytical and logical part of me, and embraced it. Part of this process was helped by a podcast I listened to that was Bill Simmons interviewing one of the producers of the show. So yeah, I’m still frustrated that a lot of questions weren’t answered, but I’m still pleased with the show as a whole, and I was very entertained by it. Also, I should reiterate just how great a show 24 was in the early years, and this last season shouldn’t change the fact that its idea to have 24 hours of real time television was absolutely brilliant, and actually pulled off very well. I am going to miss these shows.