LOST Finale: End of an Era

lostIt’s been a few days, and I think I’m finally ready to write about the series finale of LOST.   Remember, I only saw LOST for the first time a few months ago – and then I devoured the show whole.

It’s been quite an interesting experience; on the one hand, I didn’t have the years invested that others did.  On the other hand, I was able to quickly view the series as a whole, without dwelling too much or creating my own theories.  I wasn’t distracted by the mundane current events like the Writer’s Strike that might have shaped my perception of the writing.   And now, in less than six months, I’ve seen a show that spanned six years in its entirety.

Oh, the finale.  I was excited all day on Sunday, and even watched that extended clip show beforehand (and I can’t stand clip shows).  Unlike many people, I didn’t cry once when I watched the finale; I might have been choked up a few times, but I think I spent all my tears for this show in the episode that featured Sun and Jin.

The episode made perfect sense to me – that is, until that very last shot during the credits, but I’ve since decided I was struggling to place too much meaning in it.  I’m not going to waste time explaining the end; there are countless sites across the Internet that will do that for you (or even Jimmy Kimmel).  Thus, with the assumption that you’ve already seen it, let’s discuss the finale, as well as the conclusion of the series as a whole.

I’ve never disliked the episode, but for a few days I wasn’t sure if I liked it, either.   Immediately after watching it I felt that the episode summed up the final season, but it didn’t quite feel like it had provided closure to the entire show.

Upon reflection, however, I couldn’t really think of Big Questions that weren’t addressed in some form or another.  Oh sure, I could think of little questions – Who made the four-toe statue and why?  Why was Walt “special”?  What was the deal with Ben’s little friend Annie?  – but they could either be inferred or they weren’t really central to the plot.

I think what frustrates some people is that questions about the Island were, indeed, answered, but only so much as it directly affected our little group of castaways.  We know about the most recent batch of Island protectors; we do not, however, know what happened In The Beginning.  In a show that posed some epic questions about heady topics, the answers were not truly the answers to Life, the Universe and Everything.  Maybe the sort of people who really wanted those epic answers are those who want them equally as badly in their own lives.  Or maybe they just want a Silmarillion of the Island.

I find it sort of disconcerting and fascinating at the same time, how some of the answers were so much less epic and so much more… human.  Take the MIB, for example.  That first shot we see of him, sitting on the sand with Jacob and telling him he hates him?  So bad ass.  It truly seemed like the Island was at the center of the eternal struggle between good and evil.

In reality, however, it was more a microcosm of that struggle.  For all the black and white, good and bad metaphors, the MIB and Jacob were truly just two men passing the time instead of God and the Devil.  Mixing things up even more, the MIB wasn’t all that bad as a human; capable of guile, but really his flaw was that he wanted to think in larger terms.  Jacob, on the other hand – simple, good Jacob – doomed his brother to a fate worse than death.

The Island was something beyond the petty struggles of the MIB and Jacob.  It was the cork – maybe holding back evil, maybe just holding back chaos – but the only struggle on the Island was the one Jacob created.  It’s implied that Hurley – a less stunted, more complete, empathetic individual – ushered in a better era.  And there’s no telling what Jacob’s Fake Mother was like as Island Protector, but I imagine her reign was less eventful as well.

Now to the Sideways world/Purgatory issue.  I’m okay with this, on the whole; I don’t feel like it’s a cop-out.  I think having the entire series as Purgatory would be a copout.  I do wish the last meetup scene had been somewhere other than a church; I get that it was connected to Jack and his central daddy issue, but literally having the waiting room of the beyond be a church felt a bit heavy-handed.  Even Narnia, as it clobbered you over the head with metaphors, was not in a church.

I’m generally okay with the feel-good mushiness of the reunions, as well.  After all, with all the horrible situations we’ve seen these people in, it’s refreshing to see a show finally throw its poor people a bone.  Sayid and Shannon, however… ugh.  We’ll leave it at that.  Supposedly that scene was taken exactly as it was written in the first season – maybe a little tweaking could have been done, guys?

Would it be nice if they had all gotten to live full lives?  That Sun and Jin had raised their child and Charlie hadn’t drowned?  Maybe – but this is acceptable to me.  If you accept the Island as real, you have to accept the events as real as well.  And the knowledge that they were able to be together in some form, before they moved on to Heaven or reincarnated or something else, is probably the next best thing.

Do I still think the show is worthy?  Absolutely – it remains one of the most consistently written shows I have ever seen, even with its imperfections.  The dialogue remains some of the most sensible and believable I’ve ever heard (LOVED the moment when Jacob said, “I don’t know where to begin” and Hurley, well, told him what we were all thinking).  And I’m okay with mixing my sf with the metaphysical – this show has done it from the very first episode.

The answers might not have been the ones we were expecting – but they were answers, nonetheless.  And a full, complete story over the course of six years, on a network TV show, does not come around often.  Whether or not we agree with every aspect of the show’s conclusion, I think most can agree that we’ve witnessed a phenomenon, one worthy of respect.

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