I'm currently in Hollywood (the section of Los Angeles County, not the tacky euphemism for the U.S. entertainment industry) working -- fine, procrastinating -- on punch-ups for an exorcism film going into production next month. Due diligence being key, I recently viewed several new-ish additions to the genre, including The Last Exorcism.
I can summarize this movie in 17 syllables, because haikus are cool:
Brilliant writing, bro
Primo acting too. Shame the
Ending kinda blew
In a Jungian bit of synchronicity, Lost co-creator / executive producer Damon Lindelof deleted his Twitter account the same day I popped The Last Exorcism into the ol' DVD player. I say 'synchronicity' because variations on this accusatory haiku have been levied against Mr. Lindelof since his iconic television program bowed out in May 2010.
You see, a vocal group of folks contends Oceanic flight 815 didn't stick the landing. Put another way, they despised the way Lost ended, and have been real dicks about it on Twitter ever since. Particularly so in the wake of the Breaking Bad finale, which we all can agree was several flavors of awesome sauce.
I reckon we can also all agree it would be misguided -- if not downright naïve -- to think this cyber-vitriol didn't in some way contribute to Lindelof's account deletion. That's basic cause and effect, cousin.
But here's the irony: Damon Lindelof and Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan had an identical agenda while wrapping up their respective series: avoid an X-Files-style ending at all costs. 'Memba the X-Files finale? For those who repressed the memory, our once-beloved sci-fi / government conspiracy show went out with one serious bang of a whimper, with Fox Mulder seated at a military tribunal, explaining in detail how nine seasons of X-Files mythology could somehow be pieced together in a quasi-cohesive manner.
Yep, in lieu of an ending, viewers were given an explanation, one akin to a lecture from that drunk guy at the bar expounding on how the Cubs could have won six World Series by now were it not for peak oil and those goddamed Freemasons. Rule one of compelling writing: show, don't tell. Rule two: military tribunals are dumb.
The Breaking Bad finale was a near-perfect end to a near-perfect series. Nothing was left to ambiguity, which given the show it set out to be, was the right call. That said, I'll be saddened if the new normal for series finales requires all loose ends to be tied up without allowing for the slightest trace of speculation and conjecture. Lingering questions should never be perceived as the enemy of quality. Lost could have easily answered every single smart -- and dumb -- query that seeped into the web's myriad message boards and subreddits. But it respected us more than that. Here's how things could have gone down in the finale had Lindelof refused to save us from our need for absolute closure:
JACK: They're all... They're all dead. I'm dead. You're dead.
JACK'S DEAD DAD: Everyone dies sometime, kiddo. Some of them before you, some long after you.
JACK: Hmm, that's pretty clear, but some people might think we all kicked off in episode one and have been dead ever since.
JACK'S DEAD DAD: Oh, for f**k's sake, really? Okay fine: everything in season six Los Angeles takes place after we all died, where we're all in a holding pattern of sorts before moving on together into the afterlife. But everything else that happened on the show was 100% real. Also, women can't get pregnant on the island because of the high levels of electromagnetism, which explains why polar bears were brought in for fertility testing purposes. And the food drops kept happening because nobody told the DHARMA Logistics Warehouse dudes in Guam to stop. Also, this show always focused on relationships and spiritual questions over -
JACK: Maybe I should grab a chair...
And that, muchachos, is what happens when we give viewers what they think they want.
Full disclosure: I believe Damon Lindelof is some kind of robotic next-level uber-genius. And not just because he and I co-penned the alternate version of Sex and the City 2 (which grossed $278 million in sideways universe money). Over six seasons, Lindelof, executive producer Carlton Cuse, and their crack team of scribes put together one of the most ambitious, original, and thought-provoking programs to ever hit the small screen. And in an attempt to sidestep the dreaded explain-every-last-bit-of-minutia X-Files ending, these fine folks opted not to spell everything out, assuming we were smart enough to connect a few dots.
Many of us were smart enough, and thus got to enjoy one hell of an ending. Alas, the ones that weren't took to the web, berating Lindelof for Nuremberg-type crimes against humanity. And now he's no longer on Twitter. Which kinda sucks, 'cause that dude was fucking funny on Twitter.
To summarize: the Breaking Bad ending was perfect for Breaking Bad, the Lost ending was perfect for Lost, and the Last Exorcism ending didn't quite work. Anyone who thinks otherwise can bully me on Twitter. Preferably via questionable grammar and syntax.
Follow Steven Shehori on Twitter: www.twitter.com/stevenshehori