EXPLAIN YOUR GRIPE
Sent at 1:20 PM on Monday
Ben: The whole sideways world was a ruse! "You all made this world together so you could find each other". LAME! What was the point of all those subplots in the sideways world? Functionally they were space filler that could have been used to explore a lot more of the mythology
me: partially agreed.
everyone's gut reaction to Sideways Purgatory is going to be "meh"
(which, incidentally, the show's creators said would be the worst possible outcome. they said "meh" specifically)
however, you have to keep in mind the metastory
LOST is a show in which a huge amount of the plot is playing off other shows and on fans reaction to the story itself as it develops.
everyone thought that the island was going to be Purgatory or hell or whatever (and they played with that when Richard thought it was) but it turns out that the island was real and the sideways world was afterlife!
and the sideways world isn't sideways at all. It's the Mother of All Flashforwards, which LOST is known for
Sent at 1:25 PM on Monday
me: the plot twists in sideways/flashforeverforward world aren't supposed to be relevant to that world; they're supposed, like all the flashforwards previously, to lend depth to the primary plot, which is the island. Off the island was always supposed to just be context, never its own plot.
Sent at 1:26 PM on Monday
Ben: But that's my point. By failing to deliver at the end, they completely devalued the metastory (and really the gave short shrift there during the last few episodes to the Jacob/MIB conflict). It pointed out that all these mysteries that they created over the years weren't really related to the story line at all but were just used to hold onto viewers.
me: no, no, no, no, no
the mysteries don't need to have tricksy little agatha christie answers at the end.
they are for context and reference as the plot develops.
this is the Role of Hurley (especially in the earlier seasons), talking about how he's confused if this happens then why this...he is the Ideal LOST Watcher and is living the island like we watch the TV show.
which is why he has to be the guardian at the end: the island is the story and Hurley is the Guardian of the Mythology, the plot itself, much as geeks guard the Star Wars canon.
Ben: no but they need to relate and be consistent with the main plot. So there is a fate worse than death if you go into the light hole but Desmond and Jack can go there just fine?
me: you have to discriminate between inconsistency and lack of full explicit explanation.
Umberto Eco says good novels are "lazy machines"...they force you to fill in the gaps in the incongruities and participate in the story writing.
which means your explanation of that apparent inconsistency might be different from mine.
sure, you can say, "they messed up"
or you can say that Jacob's adoptive mother was fallible and mistaken about the nature of the light.
and that both Jack and MIB died from the electromagnetic radiation or whatever (and were physically deposited in the same place on the river) but that the MIB stuck around because he was Evil and for whatever reason wasn't allowed to go off the island (even though Jacob obviously was)
and could even come up with a whole substory for why that's the case
and that Desmond is in fact not really alive at all (or completely dead, or whatever) since his flashforwards now seem to be memories that he has after eventually dying and going to Purgatory.
Sent at 1:34 PM on Monday
Ben: So this is the difference in world views between us: You are willing to look at the good things the show has done and erase/fill in the bad things with your own imagination. I however, do see the bad things as laziness and at worst manipulation but am not willing to fill in the gaps. Leaving parts of the story to ponder and wonder at is good for any story, but to leave major discrepancies lingering is sloppy. This idea that a group of people create their own purgatory to spend time with one another before heaven is silly, but not terrible. To devote half a season to that place and then pretend like it had something to do with earlier plotlines (Sunken island/bomb) is unacceptable.
me: TOM FREAKING BOMBADIL
is my easy answer to that
Ben: Yah you know how much of the book that was? ONE CHAPTER!
me: oh, and let's all sail off to the magical western isles
I understand that it will take awhile to convince you of this.
but think about it from this perspective:
separate the Plot out into two areas
Canon Plot and supportive, lesser plot.
the Canon Plot is the island. LITERALLY the island.
the island is the engine of the story, and the characters within the story sense that the story is important even if they can't, being within the story, understand the idea explicitly.
everything off the island is subtext to that main story by definition
and as you're watching the show you should imagine the Island Plot and then draw little lines from that main line to the subtexts outside it.
if you imagine the plot as something of which the island, and the outside world, and Flashforward Purgatory are all parts, this doesn't work and you'll be dissatisfied
if you imagine the Canon Story as the island itself, from Crash (and eye opening) to Jack's death (and eye closing), the story is smaller but more coherent and richer
Sent at 1:44 PM on Monday
Ben: You are correct that if I cut out the whole Sideways world, then I would be a lot happier with the show. Not completely satisfied, because as mentioned there are certainly other things they dropped the ball on, but still like you said happy with a show that was much better than most everything else on tv. The problem was, that they made the sideways world the ending, and if they put that emphasis on it, its hard for me not to.
me: if the show had ended with them all shaking hands and looking at the happy Heaven light, I'd have been ticked.
but the show ended with the main character, who had arrived on the island after a plane crash opening his eyes, seeing a plane fly off before dying and closing his eyes.
which was Arguably Perfect. If you rearrange the emphasis in your head it will be a better ending.
also keep in mind that if you were entirely satisfied with the ending at 11 last night, chances are you'd have been dissatisfied with it later on in life. Such is the fate of all perfectly tidy endings.
its imperfections give it Replay Value
and leave room for non-canon submythologies to reconcile the supposed inconsistencies
(Eco has an article on that too)