Last night's episode of Lost seems to have provoked a heated debate on several of the message boards that I frequent (Television Without Pity, Entertainment Weekly and Hit Fix) with fans ranging from loving 'Across the Sea' to just as many crying foul on the Jacob/Man in Black origins story. I fall mainly in to the first camp as I really liked the episode but I do understand that there were issues and I think that it could have come at an earlier point in the season. This is the third from last episode and I like many others would have enjoyed spending it more with the characters we have known for the last six years, though it was a ballsy move to have this instalment here with none of the regular cast. As I have said I did enjoyed the episode as a whole but it has definitely left me with the 'something missing' feeling that was being expressed by several viewers on Twitter last night. One thing that wasn't missing for me which seems to have pissed off quite a few people is not knowing Man in Blacks name, at this point for me I think whatever name he is given will be a disappointment, much in the same way that when it was revealed what Big's name was in Sex and the City it was such a non exciting reveal, I'm fine with Man in Black.
What this episode got me thinking about was whether this season has been provoking a different reaction in the audience because we know that this is the final season? The simple answer to this is yes, of course episodes are viewed differently knowing that the end is in sight, but is this preventing some from enjoying this season as a whole and will there be more enjoyment when it can be watched back as a whole without the worry of what will happen at the end? This is another trend that I have been seeing recently is fear of what the final episode will bring, that to have spent six years invested in a show like this will not bring about a resolution that is satisfactory and there will be disappointment. What will be satisfactory any way? There are different parts of the show that viewers enjoy, some are rabid about the mythology side, others prefer the more character based stories and I'm sure there are some out there who just want to know who Kate will end up, once again I am a little of all of these (not so bothered about the Kate/Sawyer/Jack triangle, I'm all about Penny and Desmond), so I figure that I will be quite easily satisfied with the resolution.
There are obviously those who have the ending of the show written already in their mind and I don't think that they will ever be satisfied with whatever Lindelof and Cuse comes up with, in fact as they have already acknowledged there will be people that won't be satisfied. Should this give people cause for concern? What I think would be best would be to just go will the flow, enjoy these last 3 and a half hours of television and then either rejoice or bitch about it afterwards.
Lost as well seems to provoke such a strong reaction from it's audience, more so than many other TV shows and I find it hard to believe that people are crying 'Jump the Shark' and proclaiming that they are no longer fans of the show this late in the game (I have seen these sentiments on the various message boards today). The fact that people have spent so much time with this show and with these characters, whether it is watching them on TV or theorising online it is not surprising that there is such a strong reaction, passion is not in short supply when it comes to Lost fandom. This is a good quality to have, but could this passion in turn be ruining this season for some with a preoccupation as to how the show will end, what questions will be asked, what does it all mean? Is there too much pressure on this aspect of the show that some fans are finding this season hard to enjoy?
What I am trying to say really is this, there is still time for satisfaction, this season has produced some excellent episodes and it will interesting to see how people view 'Across the Sea' when it all ends, if it had aired where 'Ab Aeterno' was for example would there be this bother over this episode? I'm sure there would still be an unhappy contingent but timing definitely seems to be one of the issues, pacing being another problem that some have suggested with this episode.
To cool down from this polarising episode check out this sketch from last night's Jimmy Kimmel which features a very funny appearance from Jacob and Man in Black: