Monday, May 24, 2010

Series Finale Thoughts

I am emotionally drained right now.  I have just watched the series finales for Lost and 24 back to back.  And the thing is, I just don't know how I feel, yet.

I couldn't help but think about series finales last night.  I'm rewatching Babylon 5 with some friends right now, and we're down to the final episodes.  I remember how I couldn't wait to see how it all ended, and how bummed I was that it aired the final episode on the day before Thanksgiving, meaning I didn't get to watch it until almost a week later (and after the friends I was watching it with then had watched it).  Even though that wasn't nearly the same popularity, I felt like I was part of something big.

Last night, I will admit I was a bit disappointed I wasn't watching the show "live."  But I did want to hang with my friends, so I was willing to wait until tonight.

As I said, I really don't know how I feel about either show ending.  Let's take them one at a time (and spoilers will now commence).

Lost - So the flash sideways we've been seeing all season was with our characters already dead.  And the time on the island was the most significant in all their lives.  Evil was defeated and good triumphs.  I think I could have bought that if we'd seen more on the island at the end.  We spent so long focusing on the sideways characters there at the end, and I wanted a little more about the island.  I know they never told us, but I am going to believe that Desmond got off the island and back to Penny.

I don't mind the fact that all the questions weren't answered.  But I don't quite have the feeling of completion I was hoping for.

Then there's 24.  They had promised us that it would not end happily for Jack.  And, right from season 1, that's how they've set up the show.  I would have bought this as an ending for any other season, but I don't want the series to end that way.  Yes, I know they are planning a movie.  I doubt it will give us much more closure than this.

I think my biggest disappointment here is that Jack deserves to be happy.  After all he's done for the country, he earned it.  Again, this isn't the show.  But they can break their rules for once.  I was tempted to not watch this season after those opening scenes of a happy Jack.  That's the image I want to remember.

And before anyone says, "That's not realistic, and 24 has always been realistic."  Really?  You're going to claim 24 is realistic?  And I go to fiction to escape reality.  I like my happy endings.

Then there's President Taylor.  I loved her character last season.  Frankly, I never did buy the change they did to her for the final quarter of this season.  It still seems out of character for her.  When Logan turned bad in whatever season that was, at least I was able to buy it by the end.  Here, I didn't, so her turn back to good didn't feel as dramatic as it should have been.

Even with these complaints, I'm still trying to process stuff.  Maybe it's because I have invested so much in the shows for so many years that I want to like how they ended.  And maybe in a couple of days I will feel the closure I am not feeling now.

The first time I watched the last few episodes of Babylon 5, I wasn't thrilled.  Some things were definitely left hanging, and that didn't make me happy.  But over time, I have grown to appreciate the ending the way it is.  The creator was striving to tell a good story over five seasons (at a time that wasn't done).  Yes, there were a few things that didn't pan out along the way, but for the most part, it does work.  And I feel like the story is complete.

I think that's my biggest complaint with 24.  It definitely doesn't feel like a complete story.  In fact, it feels like they need something to wrap things up.

Lost, on the other hand, feels like it thinks it's a complete story.  Maybe as I think about it over the next few days and read other's thoughts, seeing how things fit together, I will feel like a did get a complete story.  I sure hope so, because I enjoyed the ride so much.

I've invested 8 years into 24 and six into Lost.  No matter what I feel about these shows in the morning, this represents the end of a big era in my TV viewing in less than 5 hours.  And if that hasn't earned me my mixed feelings and emotional weariness, I don't know what will.


f8d90a said...

LOST does think that it is a complete story... and I don't think it is. I was extremely disappointed in the ending of the show, especially because it ignored so much past material. The past questions and mysteries were shown to be largely irrelevant to the story itself. They were only important because of the serialized nature of the story.

The ending, too, was not specific to LOST. Almost any show can give a "this time was about the relationships you built with one another" message.

If you feel like reading a mini-novel, I typed up my criticism this morning. I just put it up so I could link to it:


Erin said...

I haven't watched 24, but reading your blog I almost wonder if the two shows were sort of working in tandem. Kinda sounds like both Jacks went through something similar.

I really liked the LOST finale, though I want to watch it again because the first time I was kinda freaked out by it. Not so much the show itself, but the commercials, if that makes any sense. Seemed like they were trying to say something really creepy...

But I'm not really creeped out anymore, and I do think the finale was very well done despite the ambiguity. I was hoping to see Jacob again... though we did see him on Kimmel, which was a bit odd. Or kid Jacob, anyway. Don't know what that was all about.

If you're like me, though, the finale will make a lot more sense in the light of a new day.

Matt said...

I find the hearkening back to B-5 interesting. I don't remember my initial impressions when I watched it for the first time (perhaps you do?), but at this time I don't remember many negatives.

I have to admit that I feel much the same as Chris about Lost. I feel as though so many questions were left unanswered and were judged irrelevant in light of the chosen finale. This wasn't a show about terrorism like 24, but was the body count any lower? And what did it all matter? Why couldn't the Man in Black leave? What IS the island? What is the light? Why was it worth dying for?

I understand how it was a happy ending, but it rubbed me very wrong with the worthlessness of the flash-sideways and its purgatory (without judgement?) nature.

But I think I'll go read Chris's short novel now and stop complaining here. ;-)

Mark Baker said...

The more I've thought about it, the more I'm coming to agree with Chris. There were just too many dropped stories/mysteries to be explained. It did feel like there was an emotional resolution to things, but the mysteries just weren't explained. It's not that I expected every question answered, but they ignored too many of them.

Matt, I can't remember for sure how you reacted to the B5 finale, but you did watch it out of order since you were moving. The biggest thing that bothered me was how they left Londo, and you missed all of that the first time around.

f8d90a said...

Someone posted this on a friend's facebook wall. Given your affinity for the genre, I thought you'd like the comment.

"It was like the equivalent of reading a murder mystery novel where all the developed characters are suddenly killed off before the rushed final conflict between uninteresting characters comes to a lackluster and somewhat unexplained ending in the second to last chapter, BUT all of the deceased characters get together and go off to heaven in a super happy final chapter."

Matt said...

I found a great video that someone made with many of the unanswered questions in rapidfire, accompanied by clips. I shared it via Buzz but haven't posted it to my blog yet.

f8d90a said...

That collegehumor video on unanswered LOST questions was fantastic.