Hey all: Sorry I haven’t been here much; it’s been an insane season where I’ve barely had time to update my own blog, much less this one, and I apologize for not being here more (I missed you guys!) But after that staggering finale, I wanted to post something here.
After the episode “Across the Sea” aired and audiences were pretty divided down the middle about loving it or hating it, Damon tweeted what I’ve used as my title for this post. (I, as the geeky Lost fan, just sniggered and went, “He said POLAR.”) He wasn’t just talking about “Across the Sea”… he knew what was coming in two more weeks.
Last night the episode aired and I was absolutely shattered. The show I had followed and researched and written about and LOVED above everything else was now finally over. I was saying goodbye to the characters. I literally dropped everything (pen, paper) and just sat on the couch with my face in my hands, rocking back and forth and sobbing uncontrollably. The patio door was open behind me and I imagined all of my neighbours, outside setting off fireworks because it’s the long weekend here in Canada, all wondering what the heck is wrong with that woman in her living room over there. I was just… wrecked. But those tears were cathartic tears, saying goodbye to the show, goodbye to the characters… and goodbye to the anticipation of this wonderful finale. But what I was NOT saying goodbye to, was the speculation.
For yes, this finale has left things WIDE open for the viewers. The same people who thought The Sopranos ending was a major cop-out, leaving things to the viewers to figure out, will hate this ending. And yet, think about what would have happened had they actually provided answers. First, most people would hate them. “Uh… the whispers are the bad people stuck in an island purgatory?? That is LAME,” shouted many when they finally answered that question. “So let me get this straight… after 5 years of documenting every single frakkin’ use of those six numbers, they just HAPPEN to be the random freakin’ numbers that Jacob used when he was listing off the candidates? Oh my GOD that is stupid,” said many people when they revealed THAT one.
Without sounding totally sycophantic here, I actually was fine with both of those answers. I thought they happened a little abruptly, with Hurley saying, “Hey, I think I know what the whispers are!” in one, and Smokey saying, “Jacob had a thing for numbers” in the second one.
So if they’d come out and said, “This is what the island is. And this is what that shiny light was. Oh, and Jacob and his brother actually turned out to be nothing more than this. And this is the sideways world… and this is how the Dharma Initiative found the island… and the Others originated by this…” we would all be sitting here right now simply debating whether or not we liked their answers. But look what we’re doing instead – we’re talking, REALLY talking about what this series was about, and what it meant to us.
Yesterday I wrote up a tribute of what this show means to me. I come to Lost on a very personal level, with my own views of faith and family and political affiliations and beliefs and set of morals and personal “rules,” to use a Lost term. And every single person on this blog and watching Lost comes at it with their set, and they are unlike the set of anyone else watching. So they made it personal – they gave us this finale that offered us a way to interpret it in a personal way, while also giving us the tools we could use to actually figure it out for ourselves.
After I got up from the couch, still sobbing, and made my way over to the kitchen table to do the CTV chat (fittingly, with my giant Sopranos poster behind me that you would have seen if you’d caught me on the National last Friday), I still had tears streaming down my face as I logged into the chat, and after I was in there, I did a quick flick over to Twitter to see the reactions. It ranged from, “Thank you, Damon and Carlton, for 6 wonderful years” to, “I hope you rot in hell and your house burns down.” SERIOUSLY. Someone wrote that.
It actually made me pretty angry to see such personal comments and personal attacks made against them, and I considered recording an angry video podcast. But I changed my mind this morning after sleeping on it, and realized that when you make a show that’s as personal as Lost is, unfortunately you’ll have to bear the brunt of personal attacks when people are unhappy with what you gave them. A lot of Skaters will be upset with the show, for example. I was actually surprised at how much Kate did NOT choose Sawyer… But for me, not having shipped in the past 6 years, it certainly didn’t cast a pall on anything for me. I could understand why it would for those who had really wanted Kate to end up with Sawyer. If it’s any consolation to them, I really thought that Kate taking off in the Ajira flight was a suggestion she WOULD end up with Sawyer off the island, and would take him back to meet her bestie, Cassidy, and he’d meet his daughter, and Claire and Aaron would come and live with Kate, and they’d all live happily ever after as one big communal family. But that’s because, as much as I claim not to, I really love happy endings sometimes. BUT… if they’d actually presented that ending to me on screen, I would have called it trite and ridiculous. It makes more sense in the rainbow world of my brain.
So… polarizing is a bad thing? While I’ve said all along that I didn’t want the Lost finale to overshadow the series that came before it, I love how much people are talking about it today. I doubt the end of 24 or Law & Order will spark this much discussion… nor will ANY ending this season. For the next few weeks, that finale WILL overshadow the rest of the series, but for the serious fans like us, we’re already going back over the series and pulling together the threads that led us to this place. And maybe in doing so, some people who either originally disliked it or were confused by it will suddenly get it, and it’ll change their view of it.
Some people will hate it, yes. But if you loved the show up until episode 6.16 and then didn’t like the finale, are you REALLY going to dismiss the six years that came before it? Did people dismiss the entirety of Seinfeld just because the ending sucked? No. And while this is obviously different – Seinfeld was not a serial with an overarching mystery that pulled everything together and instead was a series of standalone episodes – I think the things we loved about this show were still present in the finale, whether you liked it or not. Sawyer and Kate didn’t end up together in any obvious way, but the writers (and Josh and Evangeline) gave us Sawyer and Kate to begin with, and many moments of the two of them to savour. Perhaps you didn’t like things coming down to Jack’s perspective in the finale, but you can’t argue that Jack wasn’t integral to everything.
Because I loved it, I’m afraid the only way my opinion could change would be to like it less. And I’m sure once I start picking all of the pieces apart that could very well happen. (I mean, the obvious thing that jumped out at me this morning was the sadness that this WASN’T Locke’s journey, as I’d hoped it would be.) But for now, I loved it, and will continue to look at it in the days and weeks to come. So let’s keep talking.
Nikki Stafford is the author of the Finding Lost series of books, which offer episode-by-episode guides to each season. The guide to season 5 is now available at Amazon.com, and is currently working on the season 6 book, which is available for pre-order. She posts regularly on her television blog, Nik at Nite.