Like many Americans, Mister Words was a huge fan of the ABC series Lost. And like many Americans, Mister Words watched the series finally and said, “Seriously? That’s the ending? You gotta be kidding me.” Not that the road the writers took was totally wrong; indeed, it was emotional and touching. Unfortunately, in writing that isn’t always enough.
To continue the Lost image system, in one of his several alternate lives Mister Words works as a television and film writer. During the years in the story trenches, a truth about storytelling became evident: successful writing engages both the mind and the heart. Just like love and marriage, you can’t have one without the other. Our minds love to be engaged by puzzles and intricate storylines, whodunits, and complex thrillers. At the same time, plot alone does not a story make. It is characters who draw us into the story, who pull on our hearts, who make us care about what is happening.
In the series finale, Lost went totally down Emotional Road. And while it was moving to see characters united in love and moving on to the next phase of existence (whatever that may be), the writers callously left too many untied knots that left our intellectual side going “wait a minute! What about Michael and the polar bear and the Dharma Initiative and moving islands and Mr. Eko and cosmic chess games and connected number sequences? You teased us for six years with the promise that somehow this was all going to add up and now, in our final hour, you leave us with hugs and handholding?”
If the writers of Lost had to pick only one road, ultimately audiences care more about feeling than thinking. We’ve all sat through brainy mysteries or loud action movies that leave us bored and unengaged because we have no emotional stake in the outcome. In that regard, ending on warm and fuzzy works. But that’s not entirely where Lost took us on the six-year journey. They promised us answers to some intriguing and complex riddles, and unfortunately it’s not enough to say 2+2= hugs.