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film criticism by maryann johanson | since 1997

question of the day: What about those last images in Lost of the crashed plane on the beach?

Yes, it’s one more Lost post, one more instance of me talking more about a show I said I was done talking about. Hey: it’s my site.

I was intrigued this morning to come across a post at the L.A. Times blog Show Tracker about those final shots of the Lost finale. You know, the ones of the wreckage of the crashed Oceanic flight 815 on the beach, with nary a soul — living, dead, or flashed sideways into purgatory — around:

Those images are part of what led me to wonder whether everyone had been killed in the crashed and none of what we saw on the show actually happened. Apparently, however, ABC is stunned that anyone could interpret these images that way:

Well, ABC wants to clear the air: Those photographs were not part of the “Lost” story at all. The network added them to soften the transition from the moving ending of the series to the 11 p.m. news and never considered that it would confuse viewers about the actual ending of the show.

“The images shown during the end credits of the ‘Lost’ finale, which included shots of Oceanic 815 on a deserted beach, were not part of the final story but were a visual aid to allow the viewer to decompress before heading into the news,” an ABC spokesperson wrote in an e-mail Tuesday.

While there still may be unanswered questions related to that religious and spiritual conclusion to the “Lost” story, the photographs were really just a nostalgic, transitional touch added by ABC executives — and not executive producers Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse.

I think I wanna call bullshit on that. Pictures of a plane crash are not generally considered a good way to decompress. (Images of a peaceful Hawaiian beach, sans horrifically burnt wreckage of a plane crash, might have done that.) And I find it hard to believe that the network would add such images without consulting the producers of the show.

But my question today isn’t so much about rehashing the finale but about whether we should or shouldn’t feel obligated to take ABC at its word. What about those last images in Lost of the crashed plane on the beach? If they add more room for speculation and/or interpretation, should we feel free to consider them even if everyone involved insists they’re not connected? The images were part of the experience of that final episode, after all, and they were not obviously disconnected from it in the same way that, say, the commercial breaks were. And it’s not like the network had no input into the show all during its run, so if we dismiss these images because it was all the network’s doing, does that mean that we can dismiss any plot developments that we know came about as a result of the insistence of the network (such as, for instance, not wanting to hire back an actor).


(If you have a suggestion for a QOTD, feel free to email me. Responses to this QOTD sent by email will be ignored; please post your responses here.)

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