Archive for the Just Watching Category

Lost or Mass Effect 3 All Over Again!?

Posted in Just Watching with tags , , , , , on March 16, 2013 by Rabidgames

Obviously, big fat spoilers for both shows ahead. Read at your own risk.

Apologies. Yes, Rabidgames is late. Late for a long time. He just finished watching Lost. So, the situation will be the other way round for most of you.

But before we come to the rather sad similarities, let’s point it out one amusing … coincidence: In both franchises, we have spent time with a protagonist called Shep(h)ard. It is Shep(h)ard’s role to guide his flock, as different as the two flocks may be (may should be emphasised, since a Paragon Mass Effect Shepard is pretty close to the Lost Shephard). Plus, you know, sacrifice, leadership, burden of responsibility and so on …

Anyway, Mass Effect 3 and Lost definitely have one thing in common: THAT ENDING! Raaaaaaaaaaaaage!!!!!! Bitter disappointment after a long time of investing time, and most likely lots of educated guesses and wild theories. In both cases, we have spent dozens, if not hundreds of hours with the characters. And in both endings, fans were not exactly happy, to put it mildly.

But that Lost ending … fucking hell, there were even three colours! The white exit light, the golden source, the red waterless pit … But hey, who cares if there are bigger fish to fry: have you ever thought about the myriad of plot holes that just arise because of the flawed ending? Yes, the fate of most main characters is explained, but what about the island? What happened to it? Who guards it now? What about the source? Is the smoke monster dead forever? And what was the point of many minor characters? Is there no redemption for Michael, Mr. Eko, Ben, Richard, the Widmores? And what about Vincent, the dog? Is he doomed to roam the island forever? What was the purpose of the temple? Who did build the statue? Who were the very first humans to set foot on the island?

Does that remind you of Mass Effect 3’s last hours, or rather minutes? Where is Harbinger? Where did the Normandy crash land (also, in both franchises, there’s a last second escape of trusted companions via a flying device, and the main character stays back to potentially sacrifice themselves)? And so on.

But the problem is not just the endings themselves. In both cases, there’s been a rather shambolic thicket of plot holes (well, time travel is always an issue now, isn’t it? – just think about Aaron; a three-year old in the ‘real’ world, but a baby in the sideverse), confusing character developments all over the place and many, many questions simply left unanswered. Unfortunately, Lost won’t ever get an Extended Cut.

Worst of all, they are similar in one case: The endings seem like a last minute brainstorming result. As for Mass Effect 3, it’s a child ex machina and a blatant rip-off from Deus Ex Human Revolution threefold ending, plus ignoring 99% of all our decisions; as for Lost, it’s a plunge into mysticism and biblical allegories. Many mysteries remain unsolved, many questions unanswered. And in both cases, it seems like strange decisions to decide the end plot in the 11th hour.

Look at Mass Effect 3: Nothing ever points out to a sentient guardian within the Citadel. Starbrat just pops out out of nowhere, invalidating most of our decisions by giving us simplified choices. We know Bioware didn’t spend much time there – after all, we got the Extended Cut which is still bad, but hey, it’s not an abysmal pungent piece of shit anymore. At least we know why the Normandy was there, although it still doesn’t make sense. And yet, there are still questions forever to be unanswered: Where is Harbinger? Why the hell didn’t the indoctrinated Rachni queen call the Reapers to the Crucible?

Now look at Lost. Sure, there’s a development in the last season (although some people like Dogen are just there and don’t really add up), but the omniscient explanation to allow anything is “there is no NOW here”. Yup, that smells like space magic. Just make up a fairytale purgatory dreamed up after detonating a hydrogen bomb to stop the electro-magnetic source from exploding, also known as ‘sideverse’ … alright, that’s a pretty brutal test of suspension of disbelief. As said before, there are many, many plot holes, and just as with Mass Effect 3, Lost does not even care to try to explain them away. Here’s a simply solution, it explains everything you need to know, please swallow it, alright folks, goodbye, we just leave before you can digest it.

Ultimately, the endings don’t ruin the experience, but they leave a sour taste in any thinking guy’s mouth. Of course, it is easier to forgive Lost for the disappointment: After all, we did not play hundreds of hours as our very own, individual Commander Shepard there, we were just spectators from afar. But still, after both franchises seemed to have reached a point of critical narrative mass, the writers backed down, threw all logic and common sense over board and decided to take the easy way out; call it religion, call it mysticism, call it whatever you like to call it. It is simply not satisfying – but the main reason why the endings suck is not even the mystical approach, but all the loose ends.

Rabidgames assesses: The similarities are in fact astonishing. In short: The journeys were worth travelling, but the destinations are not a place which brings enlightenment or closure. In fact, if you turn around you can see lots of lost luggage at the edge of the road. And yes, there is one word for it: Bad writing.