Thanks to Anthony Quinatano for passing this along vio io9:
More details and links here.
Thanks to Anthony Quinatano for passing this along vio io9:
More details and links here.
What should be the last word on LOST? Cheesy? Lame? Cliched? Cheap? Vapid? Insulting? All good options, but I think there’s really only one word that ends up describing what LOST became in the end.
I’m not trying to be smug, but I predicted it would turn out like this. I knew it. I think we all did. It didn’t happen all at once, but gradually the sloppiness and laziness of this much anticipated season became obvious. There was the wrong date on Aaron’s sonogram, then Kate’s name not being on the cave ceiling even though it supposedly was on the cave ceiling, the pointless Temple subplot, the Stargate Lighthouse, finally the awkward, stiff, so bad it made me cry scene where Michael was trotted out to give the lamest possible explanation for the whispers.
They’d been all but screaming from the rooftops that we wouldn’t be getting any goddamn Answers. It was all about the characters, yo. Those stupid questions were all red herrings! Not just the big ones, like Walt and Aaron and the Numbers. All of them!
They seemed genuinely shocked that anyone had been expecting any answers from them.
We actually really just set out to make a show that we thought was kind of cool and entertaining, and we never imagined that people would get wrapped up in the intricacies of it to the degree that they have.
At times they got downright insulting about it:
Not only did Damon inadvertently describe the process by which American kids grow up both stupid and fat, but he made it clear exactly how much respect he had for his audience. Which is to say – he thought we were chumps. He thought we weren’t really interested in answers to the gajillion questions he’d posed. We didn’t want to see the design behind the mysteries and characters revealed in a brilliant fashion that would reward us for our years of devotion. All we really wanted was cheap, generic junk food. So that’s the way he ended his series.
The famously funny.
The infamously awful.
And the sublime.
Obviously the boy wonders knew everything LOST had ever been was hanging in the balance on May 23. Carlton Cuse himself described the metric by which he knew they’d be judged.
I’ve been MIA the last third of this wretched finale season. It turns out it’s not really much fun to hate on something that you once loved. It feels terrible actually.
It was our own free choice to gabble away on message boards these last few seasons talking about wormholes and string theory and exotic matter and Schrodingers goddamn cat. We did it long after it became obvious that these two guys weren’t able to write that kind of story. It was obvious they weren’t quantum physicists. Or even the kind of guys who passed physics in high school.
You know who these two really remind me of now? The two con men who pretended to be tailors in Hans Christian Anderson’s The Emperor’s New Clothes. They convinced the dopey Emperor he was getting a new set of gorgeous threads, but really he just ended up walking down the street with everyone laughing at the pimples on his butt. The Emperor, it turns out, was us.
The consensus was unanimous:
But how did the finale fare out in the land of media, both old and new? Did they stick their landing or did they …
I realize there were some in the fast food media who, as expected, were bowled over by the cliche overload of the finale. USA Today not only found it “thrilling”, ” clever” and “profound”, but they mocked those of us who’d bought into that silly mystery crap.
If you were looking for explanations for every twist and turn, you didn’t get them. (Some viewers won’t be satisfied until the producers churn out a multi-volume island manual that answers questions that were never actually posed.)
And as expected, both “I live next door to Damon” Kristin dos Passos and Cheerleader in Chief Jeff Jensen dissolved into predictably soggy heaps of teary satisfaction.
“The End” was an emotionally draining epic that had me crying with almost every single “awakening” and has left me mulling the true significance of the Sideways world, which was revealed to be a Purgatory-like realm created by the souls of the dead castaways themselves. (Purgatory! The irony!) I was so happy The Island was saved. I was so moved by Jack’s heroism and sacrifice and the glorious significance of ending where he began, as well as that Doubting Thomas allusion there at the end. … I loved Ben’s contrition. I loved Locke’s forgiveness. I loved it when Ben told him to stand up and walk again, and Locke did.
But if Darlton let themselves listen to anyone other than their friends in lowbrow places, they probably realized they’re going to have to stay in that bunker a little bit longer than anticipated. The New York Times trashed it on both the Arts page:
But you have to think that the gauzy, vaguely religious, more than a little mawkish ending of ‘Lost’ – “Touched by a Desmond” — will not sit well with a lot of the show’s fans. … The “Sopranos” finale was ambiguous and a bit of a shrug, but not puzzling; to me the “Lost” finale, in the immediate aftermath, felt forced and, well, a bit of a cop-out.
Across six seasons, it’s true, we learned endless facts about the island — about its geography, its inhabitants, and what had happened on it across decades and centuries. But we never learned the whys behind the facts. And with the final season in the books, there’s good reason to think that we never learned them because the show’s creators never had a well-thought-out “why” for their story in the first place. The island wasn’t a real mystery — it was just a MacGuffin.
Once upon a time, there was a television show about a bunch of people on an island. For six years it was one of the most fascinating things on TV. And then it ended, in the worst way possible. … Lost ended tonight, and with it the hopes and dreams of millions of people who thought it might finally get good again. SPOILER ALERT: It didn’t. What did we learn? Nothing. We learned nothing from two-and-a-half hours of slow-motion bullshittery backed with a syrupy soundtrack.
“The End” didn’t so much answer the long-dangling mysteries—Why do pregnant women die on the island? Why was the character of Walt (Malcolm David Kelley) special? What is this island? What was with all of the Egyptian hieroglyphics? What was the character of Desmond’s ultimate purpose on the island?—as it did ignore them altogether….Considering how much time viewers have spent trying to figure out the relationship between the island timeline and the Sideways one, it is also frustrating that it turned out that there is none—or more precisely, that what happened in the Sideways timeline didn’t affect what happened on the island at all.
There are second chances in life, but there are no do-overs. At least all the time travel, the donkey wheels, the smoke monsters were vehicles to explore the human condition. They were as fantastical as purgatory, yes, but they were also grounded in the terrestrial realities of life, death, and the pursuit of happiness. The show’s purgatorial clusterfuck is not. It is a venue for wish-fulfillment. Thus, the finale wronged not just me, but the show itself.
A series like “Lost” doesn’t need to solve all of its riddles, but it does need to address the right ones…. The comic-book paraphernalia and texture of the island — its secret bunkers with their code names, Jacob’s migrating cabin with its creepy paintings, the ersatz normality of the Others’ compound ringed by those sonic pylons and the fantastically mechanical grinding and dragging sounds that used to accompany the appearance of the smoke monster — were not peripheral to the heart of “Lost.” They were the very essence of its appeal.
And the message of the Hero Quest in mythology is certainly not the gauzy, happy, angels-at-the-doorway one “Lost” fans had to settle for last night. Once Jack stepped into the church it looked like he was walking into a Hollywood wrap party without food or music — just a bunch of actors grinning idiotically for 10 minutes and hugging one another.
By leaving everything unanswered right up to the end, and then pulling a narrative switcheroo instead of finishing the story that was being unveiled, Lost basically mocked those who bothered to watch from the very beginning, as such rabid viewership proved entirely unnecessary. Thus, the finale of Lost rendered the entire series run relatively pointless and effectively killed any and all rewatchability of the prior episodes. So, in the end, Lost ended for me with season three.
With all that and so much more being said, is there really any point in me writing anything else about this sad spectacle ? Is there anything left that really needs to be said? I’m over it. I could live without never giving LOST another thought. I’m literally itching to erase it off my dvr. But I promised I’d do this. Inquiring minds seem to want to know what it all meant to me. So, here we go, one last time, for old time’s sake.
I think others have pretty much covered the shameful way we were taunted with questions that were never intended to be answered, even as recently as the run-up to this season. They were running full speed ahead right up until late April, not only implying that we’d be rewarded for our detective work, but throwing new questions at us! Of course everyone was excited to see what the answer to the puzzles would be. And then we got this:
When all is said and done, people are going to point to the skeletons and say, ”That is proof that from the very beginning, they always knew that they were going to do this.
Their story was tacked on, like everything else in Season Six. In fact, the whole finale could have been slapped on at any random endpoint. It wasn’t a culmination or an inevitability or a hard earned catharsis. The message that after death we’ll all live happily ever after with our bestest BFFs could have been, as one reviewer noted, a perfectly good finale for Saved by the Bell or Happy Days. Or a kiddie cartoon, for that matter.
But all this ground has been covered, and better, by others. Few disagree that in the end the LOST “storytellers” failed in their central mission – to pull together a coherent and satisfying end to the mysteries they themselves had chosen to create. But I was surprised to see how many, at least in the immediate aftermath, seemed to think that the finale succeeded in a different area – that of giving resolution to the characters. It became like the one good thing people could say about LOST – that it was a terrible ending, but at least the characters all got “satisfying resolutions”. I don’t know where they’re seeing that. Maybe people just need to convince themselves that it couldn’t possibly be as bad as it all really, really was.
To be fair, not everyone was fooled. But far too many were. If I have to pick what I consider to be the Number One Inconvenient Truth about the LOST Finale, it would be this:
Let’s start with a somewhat minor, but nonetheless pivotal, character. Claire and her baby, who she’d been apocalyptically warned must not be raised by another, seemed to be mystically connected to the Island.
John Locke, who so wanted to be special and who came to the Island and had his legs magically restored and who had a child’s faith in the beautiful Island and who tried and failed to convince Jack to stay and who left what he loved and sacrificed his life for the sake of his Island – his “resolution” was that he got to wait in Limbo Land until Jack – freaking Jack – got around to not only dying, but to accepting that he was dead.
Locke’s character “resolution” was to further the glory of Jack, even in death. What once seemed like an epic duel between equally matched protagonists went out with a weak, faint sounding pfffffffft. By the time the big showdown happened, Locke wasn’t even there.
But don’t worry. Be happy! It’s not like there’s anything we can do about it now. Except maybe this …
Sun and Jin’s “resolution” came at the end of three long seasons wherein they both did, collectively, nothing.
Finally they reunited. Then they died the next day, with not even a passing acknowledgment of the daughter who had been at the heart of their story. In Purgatory, or Limbo, or whatever the hell that Sideways bullshit was, they had to wait – for Jack, of course – until they could speak English (the language of Jack’s heaven) and follow their dear leader into the light.
We can also add Sayid to the list of screwed over characters.
In post-9/11 America, it was shocking to see an Iraqi soldier in the Revolutionary Guard presented as a sympathetic character. But Sayid worked his way into our hearts, despite being the sickest killer in the bunch, because he was a passionate man. Who loved Nadia.
Instead we learned that the only great thing in Hurley’s extremely long life was Libby, the girl he once almost went on a picnic with the day before she got shot. Nothing else. So once he finally died, he – like everyone else – waited for Jack, and then finally, I guess, he got to have a girlfriend, even if they were both dead.
We had watched his evolution, one of the most beautiful in the show,
But in Season Four, fanboys everywhere rejoiced as Sawyer’s hotness got sucked away and he was reincarnated as a neutered Deputy Dawg, flashing big buttery grins at his tall blond Dharma-wife.
Kate didn’t do any better. We don’t know when she died but we know she never met anyone better than Jack. That’s sad enough. You didn’t deserve that, Kate.
This is where the poor character development leads straight into The Second Inconvenient Truth About the Lost Finale:
If we accept that the gang in the church had to be there together because they were the only people that truly mattered to one another, we have to realize that all these people lived HORRIBLE lives here on earth. Think of all those who didn’t matter to them:
Damon Lindelof: This is the critical mystery of the season, which is, “What is the relationship between these two shows? … Where’s Libby? Where’s Ana Lucia? Where’s Eko? These are all the things that you’re supposed to be thinking about.
Why was Eloise worried that Desmond would take Daniel away?
What was Ben waiting for? Did he need Danielle Rousseau to wake up too?
Why wasn’t Michael allowed into Jack’s heaven? He blew himself up with a bomb just like Sayid did. Why did he have to be trapped on the Island as a whisper? Was it because he didn’t have a Schmoopie?
See? Look! It was an Apollo candy bar! And Number 23! Holy moly! My mind, she is blown! Darlton, you iz geniuses!
So the whole Sideways/Purgatory/Bullshitland that the characters “created” for themselves after death was not about Redemption (except for Jack.) And it wasn’t about Free Will, one of the other alleged “themes” of LOST. The characters may have created this place, but they didn’t know they were doing it, and they didn’t know why they did it, and most of the connections they unwittingly created for themselves meant absolutely nothing in the final denouement, just like all the connections built into the pre-crash flight and the off Island world meant absolutely nothing.
I always did love the visual imagery of LOST, but you can’t just throw random symbolic elements onscreen and call that a story.
Not only could we tell that a man was good based on whether he was blond and blue eyed (Aryan=Good) and wearing a white tunic, but we could even tell the moral destiny of a baby by the color of his blanket! And see! They were playing a game. Like how the LOST writers were playing a game with us.
“We Yanks, however, do not want froufrou endings. We want things definitively tied up. And by “things” I mean lots of people dead.”
“We really like gratuitous explosions.”
“Because if there’s one thing we like more than explosions, it’s surprises.”
I kind of wish, as an American, that people like Damon wouldn’t speak for what “we Yanks” appreciate. I’d just like to let the global audience out there know that not all Yanks tell their kids to shut up and eat cheese and not all Yanks are proud of being stupid and unimaginative.
I am one Yank who became totally enchanted by the “froufrou” of LOST’s endless literary, religious, scientific and philosophical allusions. Yes, I gradually recognized that it was an exercise in futility, but I still hoped against hope that there was some bare bones design behind it all, some order to the chaos. But the truth is out now: There wasn’t any. Ever.
Cuse and Lindelof have dropped plenty of guideposts along the way. Several characters are named for authors or philosophers (Locke, Milton, Rousseau, the Zen master Dogen) whose concepts play into the story, and classic works of literature sneak into key scenes. The writers say they use these references as “a tip of the cap” to their influences, as Lindelof puts it, “as opposed to saying, ‘Hey, we came up with this idea for the first time.”
I think Darlton should have taken this full disclosure thing one step further. The writers who influenced them weren’t Lewis Carroll or James Joyce or C.S. Lewis. Come on, guys! Be honest. The literary influences in your writing room were more along these lines, right?
Killer the dog WAS. Now Killer was born to a three-legged bitch mother. And he was always ashamed of this, man. And then right after that, he’s adopted by this man, Tito Liebowitz. He’s a small-time gunrunner and, uh, rottweiler fight promoter. So he puts Killer into training, next thing you know Killer’s GOOD! He is DAMN good! But then, he had the fight of his life. They pit him against his brother Nibbles. And Killer said, “No, man, that’s my brother, I can’t fight Nibbles!” And he made him fight anyway. And then Killer, Killed Nibbles. And Killer said, “That’s it!” And he called off all his fights, and he started doing crack, and he ffffffff-FREAKED OUT. And then in a rage, he collapsed, and his heart… no longer beat. Wow.
“I read an article recently saying that 80 percent of American poll respondents said they thought Harry wouldn’t survive the final book. As is the case in many polls, there’s probably a degree of wish-fulfillment here. In other words, we want the little bugger to die.”
Fuck you all, dirty whores. Yes I’m talking abotu real people because you suck and fail at life. I loathe you all haters, you deserve all the spit and shit on your faces as you can get for all those years trolling the internet. Our fandom doesn’t have any respect? STFU you son of a bitch you! Keep fooling yourselves that Skate was eyefucking the whole season. You’re only embarrasssing yourselves, even some decent skaters can see. Yes, there are sane skaters out there who appreciate them sanely.
From statements the producers of “Lost” have made over the past five years, they developed a dynamic with die-hard fans (and disillusioned fans and skeptical non-fans) that was infinitely more complex than any of the personal relationships among the series’ characters. Could it be that in resisting the geekiest, nitpickingest, most Aspergerian demands of their audience they swung too far in the opposite direction, dismissing as trivial everything but the cosmic (the tedious and largely unnecessary Jacob-Smokey background) and the sentimental (making sure that every character receives his or her designated soul mate or therapeutic closure of the most banal Dr. Phil variety)? If so, “Lost” may be the quintessential example of a pop masterpiece ruined by its own fans.
Miss Mary mostly just used our site as one of the many from which he’d steal spoilers or pictures or media mentions, all of which he’d post on his own board without credit. But in the run up to the finale, his juvenile pettiness was on full display. One night, when I guess he was getting bored down in that basement bunker, he put on his best squealing imitation of what he thought a dumbass Skater fangirl would sound like:
I juust had my friends sister email me about the finale. She works on the set if LOST She told me that in the finale that Kate tells Jack she loves him Uve now given up on this show after the Juliet kiss scen
They are sending me scans tomorrow. And they will send to dark UFO tomorrow as well I promise I am not lying and this is real I wish it was not: (((((((((
In fact, I’m pretty sure that most nerds wouldn’t know Romance if it jumped up and kissed them on the mouth. That’s part of what makes them nerds, after all. Sci Fi and Fantasy genres have never been a romance friendly milieu. Romance, when it appears at all, is generally very stilted and unrealistic, and caters to the male sensibility exclusively. Most women in this genre are blond. All women are beautiful, although beauty is completely optional for the male half. It is common, and preferable, in Nerd Romance, that the female abjectly worship her mate. Strangely, though, Nerd Romance rarely features … s.e.x.
Basically, the way Romance ended up being depicted on LOST, the uglier a romance was,
the less we saw it happen,
the less sensual it was,
the more weird and shallow and gimmicky it was
– the more likely it was to end up depicted as Twu Wuv in the finale.
For years, we heard – from the mouths of the Darlton themselves – that Sawyer was their Han Solo. Even a Star Wars neophyte understands that Han is the romantic hero of the story. He’s charismatic and sexy and adorable in all the ways that Luke is not and can never be. It’s a type, an archetype, and an especially entertaining one, in my opinion.
Purgatory was so custom made to make sure Jack would be comfy in his new afterlife that he even got a whole fake person tailor made for him – David.
about Jack becoming the hero that Jack always wanted to be,
about Jack not being a drunk or a stalker psycho ex husband,
about Jack having the perfect son who loved him perfectly,
about Jack getting the respect from Dad that Jack always wanted,
about Jack fixing everything for everyone just like Jack always obsessed over,
and about everyone loving and wanting and waiting for Jack before any of them could start their eternal afterlives. The message wasn’t “Live together or die alone”. It was “die alone and wait for Jacksus to lead us into paradise.”
With this predictable, but disastrous, narrative choice to focus on only one character above all the others, Lost managed to destroy the last hope that LOST could ever have been a great story with a message that was universal or transcendant. The strength of LOST had once been in the variety of its characters, in the way, that each one of them represented a slice of humanity, a slice of heroism, a slice of each of us. If there had been a truly humanist vision behind the LOST story, each of us could have seen ourselves in some incarnation within the story. We could have come away with some unifying vision of what it means to be human and to be connected to other humans. I think this is what many of us had hoped for. I know I wasn’t the only one who imagined that’s what we were witnessing. This TIME Magazine article gives a great interpretation of what LOST could have been, what so many of us thought it would be, but what it sadly decided it didn’t want to be:
But Lost has not a single protagonist but a huge ensemble of heroes and antiheroes with checkered pasts. The loser, the con artist, the arrogant doctor, the fugitive, the junkie: each has his or her part in the quest, which has less to do with good beating evil than determining how to be good, less to do with getting the happy ending than finding out what it means to have a happy ending. Collectively, they are — to borrow the title of Joseph Campbell’s classic study of myth — the Hero with a Thousand Faces, or at least a dozen or so. It’s a concept of heroism for our complicated, connected world, where problems are too complex for a single savior.
LOST’s problems weren’t too complex for Jack. He solved them all, all by himself. Locke tried to save everyone but only ended up giving the Monster a body to use. Desmond thought he could do it, but he couldn’t. Sawyer, Kate, Sayid, Sun, Jin, Charlie, Claire, Hurley, Ben – they may have moved the problems along, but none of them helped to solve or fix a damn thing. It was Jack, all Jack, only Jack.
The Geniuses in Chief liked to say that the show was telling them what it wanted to be about. We couldn’t hear it, being mere peons of the audience, but I guess what the show was telling them was that it wanted to pretend for a really long time to be about cool, intriguing characters and ideas and mysteries … but then at the last minute it wanted to be about Jack getting his ass kissed, his balls washed and a big fat halo super glued on to his head.
So, LOST is over. Finally. And good riddance to it. Sometimes I still find questions popping into my head. Like:
Why did Kate wear a dress into the church but then showed up inside wearing pants?
Or, if Michael said the whispers were souls trapped on the island, why was Duckett who died in Australia trapped there telling Sawyer “it would come back around”?
And like why did Hurley and Ben have to stay behind on the Island if the Smoke Monster was finally DEAD?
But then I slap myself and realize – I don’t have to think about this shit anymore! Ever! And that’s good, because finally it’s safe to admit what many of us suspected, but never wanted to say: It was all bullshit.
Is there anything good to say about LOST in the wake of this debacle? Well, the music of Michael Giacchino was always stirring and emotional. The visuals of this show were magnificent. All kudos to the Art and Cinematography departments of LOST. The acting was often stellar and I hope to follow many of the actors into bigger and better careers. And of course, I’ve made some great friends, some of the smartest and wittiest people on the internet, and we made a home at Fishbiscuitland, which is staying open for business. But that’s about it. This was the kind of finale that nullifies a series, that ruins it forever, that renders any rewatch moot. And that’s not an easy thing to do. That kind of failure comes around only once every few decades. So I guess Darlton can claim that distinction. However, I really don’t think they should ever show their faces at another Comic Con.
It occurs to me we still haven’t settled on an actual, literal last word. I think we know what Darlton’s last word to the fans was:
But as for myself? I always enjoyed sprinkling quotes on my LOST recaps. How about this? LOST was …
… a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Please note I’ve posted this with comments turned off. Feel free to drop by Fishbiscuitland if you’ve got something to say.
No, it does not involve freighters OR smoke. Check it out.
A greedy, evil corporation has unwittingly created a natural disaster the likes of which the world has never seen. Protocols were ignored. Warnings were unheeded. And none of the damn eggheads in Washington can seem to come up with a way to stop millions of barrels of crude from pumping into the goddamned Gulf, threatening our Americanism!
Jeff Jensen thinks there is still plenty of `splaining to do. Do you? Jeff released a must read theory that seeks to provide an explanation for the island – amongst other things:
I’m sure the day will come when I will stop thinking about Lost. That day has not yet arrived. My mind keeps whirring with ideas, observations, and elaborate theories…not to mention plots for the first six episodes of the Hurley-Ben spin-off! Here’s the synopsis for the pilot: While Ben transports Jack’s body back to Los Angeles for a proper funeral and burial (special appearances by all the Ajira-escaped castaways!), Hurley must stay behind on the Island after Jack’s ghost tasks him with two urgent missions: properly disposing of Fake Locke’s enchanted corpse by obliterating it with Charles Widmore’s electromagnetic woofers and preparing for the imminent arrival of Number 108 on Jacob’s Lighthouse sundial, the mysterious ”Wallace.” Admit it, kids! You want that story, like, now!
This makes for a perfect segue to a concern many of you keep raising with me: wtf have I been doing throughout season 6, and what does the future hold.
We will continue to post on the site, but we’ve been taking a break. We’ve learned to “let go.” Temporarily, at least.
The number one question I get these days is: what did you think of the finale? My answer: adequate. I always bristled when anyone, at any level of the LOST scene from creators to fans, split hairs over whether the mythology or the character story was more important. The only valid answer, in my book, is that both were equally important. To say one was more important than the other is, in my opinion, a cop out; it says you are uncomfortable with your ability to explain or digest the other aspect. Character is, of course, the most important element of any story, but when you say that the world that has served as the platform for your characters’ life altering journey is not important to the conclusion of the story … that is just wrong. (You particularly don’t get to say this when the central object of your mythology has been adamantly called a ‘character’ in your story from the beginning.)
That said, I’m not really disappointed with the finale. I take a more pragmatic approach: whatever Damon and Carlton gave us is, without question, the ending. So we can’t apply, logically, our own expectations as to what elements the ending needed to contain as a measurement of whether it was good or bad. The breadth of the LOST story has been less like a TV show and more like a novel, and I suspect that if we arrived to the ending more with the pace one would in a book – ie without gulfs of anticipation between the chapters – their would be much less disappointment in the fan scene. When you read a book, you are along for the ride and willfully cruising to whatever resolution the author has in store; when it is over you reflect on the story as a whole. You do not get to dictate what direction the story goes in as you go along.
LOST suffered a lot of undue fan criticism over the years that no other show would be subject to for the simple reason that it is a big story. LOST has momentum, and at times it has felt like the fandom has been trying to steer that momentum furiously, emitting seething frustration at their inability to change the course. LOST has changed course occasionally at the kvetching of the fan base, but not in the big picture – always in ways that ultimately turned out to be finite, save for the decision to end the show.
Where am I going with all of this? The LOST finale didn’t meet my expectations, but that is no reason to dislike it. The fact is, I loved it. I loved it because it didn’t meet my expectations, but it has taken a little bit of time for me to realize it. More on the meat of the finale, and the ‘big story’ in coming weeks.
Someone has released a video of a lost scene of the finale. It isn’t as emotional as the original, but it may provide the answers some of you are looking for. From io9:
And for an extra laugh, check out the Locke and Jack Lightsaber Standoff.
You can let go now.
For years I have imagined LOST’s future and its resolutions. I have greatly anticipated “The End”. Some of my ideas were good, some were not. Some of my hopes were justified, others were, frankly, pretty unreasonable. I can guarantee you that my version of the ending would not be as good, or as moving, as the one we saw. And I think that’s probably true for all the possible ending we had collectively anticipated.
Without any doubt the finale hit all the right emotional notes for me. Kate and Jack’s separation, Hurley’s acceptance of leadership and Jack’s death were very special moments. Living in the UK we watched the finale the following morning and our 2 year old son woke up towards the end and joined us. And as Jack was reunited with his father, my son came to sit and cuddle with me. It was all a bit too much. And then Vincent sat down with a dying Jack, perhaps the greatest moment in all of LOST, and I was gone. All of the ‘Awakenings’ were so well written and executed and had me welling up – except the Sayid & Shannon one, I’m sure we all were thinking “Shannon? Really?”, though I suppose they did indicate earlier in the season that Sayid didn’t deserve Nadia – one bomb to the chest does not totally excuse 20 years of torturing and murdering! There were some seriously awesome, stand out dramatic highs – Locke threatening to kill Rose & Bernard, the two groups meeting on the hill, the Jack/Locke literal fight to the death, the Ben/Locke forgiveness scene outside the church. So many satisfying moments. Yet these are not the things that most people are talking about.
The ending was not what I was expecting – the Island story was far more straight forward and its resolution contained no great twist (which I suppose is a twist in itself). The other timeline (the terms ‘Alternate’ or ‘Sideways seems redundant now – so I’m going to call it the ‘Flash Upwards’) finished on a truly surprising note; the afterlife; the spiritual realm; the first plain of heaven.
I did not see that coming. I have always loved the spiritual part of the story but for it to finish on a purely spiritual note – that was bold and fearless storytelling. I am still shocked actually.
Just as shocking was that the story of the finale was actually quite simple:
On the Island – Desmond puts out the light at the heart of the Island which causes the Island to fall apart and for Locke to be mortal again. Jack and Kate kill Locke before the team separates – Kate and Sawyer joining Claire, Miles, Richard and not dead Frank on the Ajira plane off the Island. Ben and Hurley choose to stay and help Jack restore the light, causing him to die, leaving Hurley as the New Jacob with Ben as his number two and Desmond alive and able to return home.
The Flash Upwards was even simpler; each of the Losties gaining their epiphanies before heading to the church where Jack gained his epiphany and the central conceit of the Flash Upwards was revealed by Christian Shephard.
The job of recapping “The End” doesn’t seem so important as it did before – the story is fully told and we are no longer theorizing over potential outcomes but are now trying to understand and process the events and prescribing them meaning and significance. So rather than track through the various scenes and pick through the dialogue I’d rather look at the events of the finale in terms of meaning and significance – Okay? No? Well, tough.
The Island story worked on the premise of the mythology revealed during the rest of the season. The clearest description of the Island is that of a ‘cork’ that prevents evil and malevolence from corrupting and destroying mankind. The heart of the Island is the light at it’s source – when the light goes out the Island fails and the evil takes over. The smoke monster wasn’t the evil itself but the MIB had become an agent of this evil. I have no doubt that he would have killed Penny, Charlie, Aaron, Walt, JiYeon etc. had he escaped from the Island. Or perhaps he wouldn’t have needed to – Was the implication of the light going out on the Island that it would also go out in the heart of every man, leaving mankind soulless, or without conscience, and the human race would have descended into anarchy, oblivion or armageddon?
So Jack’s death wasn’t for nothing – despite Locke’s suggestion moments before his own demise. It was sacrificial – literally for the good of all men. It kept alive the hope of redemption and progress for all people, allowing the rest of humanity to grow and be transformed like Jack himself had done during his Island experiences. The ‘Jack-as-Christ’ allusions have been there since “316” – which was a rather blatant hint towards Jack’s destiny. He even seemed to receive a partial resurrection. He did not perish in the bowels of the Island but was transported to the spot where Jacob found his lifeless brother. There was enough energy and strength in the Doctor to stagger to his final resting spot – the place where his journey began, amongst the bamboo – to watch the plane fly over and for him to know that his mission, his purpose, was complete – he saved those he loved and all of humanity too.
The imagery and pacing of Jack’s death and sacrifice were beautiful. I found the final moments of the Island story to be everything I had hoped for; beautiful, moving and complete. What surprised me was how the rest of the Island story was resolved in the series but not in the LOST universe – with the Ajira 6 leaving and Ben & Hurley as Island leaders it left a mass of potential for future novels, comics and online stories – even film and TV spin offs. Whether or not ABC/Disney will cash in or honour the story told remains to be seen. But if Star Wars, Star Trek, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings etc. are anything to go by, we will be wooed into paying for more chunks of the LOST universe in the future. I had expected a more finite ending to the one we were given (basically a lot more deaths and for the Island to sink). Although I am a little nervous about future cash-ins and sub-standard LOST material I think having only 2 deaths in the finale and leaving the Island intact is a great move. The fact that the only people who died in “The End” were Jack and Locke – the story’s central characters – made their passing more poignant. They could have easily littered the finale with bodies as they have done in previous years – Rose & Bernard, Miles, Richard, even Desmond, could have died without a dramatic change to the story line – but they reserved the deaths for those crucial moments. A good choice that served the story well.
Daniel Faraday had set up the concept of the alternate timeline. His idea to reboot history – to stick a great big atomic variable in the middle of the river to divert history’s course – was the set up that made us believe the other world we have been watching all season was a different version of history to the one we have witnessed in the preceding five seasons. We now know that this was ‘The Long Con’ they have been building towards. The twist that this world was not an alternate reality but a realm of the afterlife has two consequences for the story. Firstly it causes us to reevaluate the whole ‘Flash Sideways’ story as a ‘Flash Upwards’ – the parallel tale of this other world has been an epilogue of the Island story – a narrative device to bring resolution to unresolvable story threads. Secondly it causes us to reinterpret the whole story, all six seasons, as a spiritual journey. Of course this has been alluded to from the very start – the first two episodes to follow the Pilot were ‘Tabula Rasa’ (the spiritual state that is represented by the clean slate opportunity of crashing on the Island) and ‘Walkabout’ (as Locke himself says – “a journey of spiritual renewal”). We’ve had Dharma wheels and statues of Mary and Bible verses and Churches and Christians, Catholics, Muslims and Namaste and Priests and Monks and ‘The 23rd Psalm’ and baptisms and so many more images of spirituality that I couldn’t possibly list them all.
The big thing is this: they are not allusions and references anymore – they are the story. The final scenes of “The End” put the whole story into a clearly spiritual framework. The spiritual side stopped being an element of the show and became the heart of the show. It became part of the narrative. It moved from being hinted at, to being talked about. It went from being in the background, to right at the forefront. The key other-world narrative structure of the final season was a spiritual premise. No longer a part of the story, it became the story. Because of this I want to spend some time delving into the theology revealed in the finale and what they are saying about the the afterlife, but more importantly, what they are saying about life itself.
The ‘Flash Upwards’ world is not purgatory – I think the show has been very clear, it is what you do in your life that counts. Those who aren’t ready yet stay as whispers on the Island – seemingly until they have paid some of their debt. The Island experiences of the castaways have been a metaphorical purgatory – they have sought and achieved redemption and release from their mistakes and destructive habits even, like Jack and Sayid, it is only really at the end of their lives they reach that place. The ‘Flash Upwards’ was about awakening and remembering not penitence and reconciliation.
The ‘Flash Upwards’ world is also not a limbo – though this idea goes closer than purgatory. Limbo was thought of as the place where people went they died prior to Jesus’ sacrifice, which made it possible to pass on to heaven. As we saw it, the last act on the Island, Jack’s sacrifice, is followed by the Losties moving on into the light. But it is Jack’s awakening that allows that, not his Christ-like sacrifice. The afterlife is not affected by Jack’s Island sacrifice – Sun, Jin, Sayid, Charlie etc. are still in the ‘Flash Upwards’ and they died before Jack’s final actions. So this realm is not the limbo of traditional thought.
The ‘Flash Upwards’ is also not a part of heaven. Not the heaven of Christian Theology anyway (though perhaps, Christian Shephard Theology!). What are we to make of the fact that the ‘Flash Upwards’ world was inhabited by Keamy, Mikhail, Omar and Anthony Cooper? Were they there to get a second chance that they failed to take? Or were they seeing out their cosmological destinies – dead and disabled? Or was this world only real for those who were in the Church? If so what about Ben, Alex, Rousseau, Helen, Nadia? Does Locke’s reveal to Jack – “You don’t have a son” apply to him too – “You don’t have a wife”? Or was this world only real for the survivors of Oceanic 815? If so why does Ana Lucia not get a ticket – she certainly reached a point of progression, growth and redemption before she died? Is it mid-section survivors only (plus Libby & Bernard who were romantically attached to Hurley and Rose)? Or was this just Jack’s collection of people – if so why did the other’s have to wake up? This is certainly not the your-in-by-grace or out-through-sin of Christian theology. Most importantly – any heaven where there is no all-loving & all-good God is no heaven at all.
In fact there can be no direct overarching explanation of this world from traditional religious beliefs – a fact rammed home to us by the statement making stain-glass window that dominated the final encounter between Jack and his father. All religions lead here. All are right and all are wrong. This is an important distinction in LOST because the story is more about spirituality than it is about theology. It is not about explanations but is about experiences.
The ‘Flash Upwards’ is what Christian Shephard said it is:
“Everyone dies sometime Kiddo… there is no ‘now’ here… this is the place you all made together so that you could find one another… the most important part of your life was the time you spent with these people, which is why all of you are here… nobody does it alone Jack… you needed all of them and they needed you… to remember and to let go…”
Even though the ‘Flash Upwards’ is a spiritual ream – the first plain of the afterlife – we are not shown this because the writers wanted to share their thoughts on life-after-death. We are shown it because of how our future existence and our spiritual nature change our lives before we die. Jack and Desmond describe this very thing when Des claims that ‘This doesn’t matter’ because he knows of the afterlife that awaits them. Jack strongly disagrees – “All of this matters”. Life is not about where you end up when you die, it is about what you do now, the people you love, the difference you make, the good you do. The central premise of the entire show is this: ‘Live together, die alone”.
Amongst all the many themes that have made up the intricate tapestry of LOST, this one has been the centre. It is the characters themselves, their spiritual journeys and the community and relationships they formed which help them grow and progress and ultimately, find redemption. Nobody does it alone. No man is an Island. Sawyer, the man who defined ‘Every man for himself’, had precious little to do in the finale, save punching Ben in the face, stealing his gun and holding Kate’s hand. Whereas Jack the man who defined, ‘Live together, die alone’ had everything to do. He has the world to save.
As I’ve spent the last few days pondering the finale another thing has crossed my mind. The idea that ‘Nobody does it alone’ applies not just to our characters but also to the ‘Lost community’. We have all been enthralled with the events and characters of this epic saga and now we are in our own ‘Flash Upwards’ world – needing to process what has been, needing to find others, needing to remember, needing to let go. By writing and reading and commenting on this very article we are all engaging in our own awakenings and epiphanies. I’ve watched virtually every episode of this show alone with my wife. It has been a precious thing for us. There are others in my life, friends and family, particularly my sister, who I have spent six years debating and discussing every detail of the show with. And increasingly online I have engaged with many of you and many other recappers and bloggers and theorists. We all would have enjoyed this show alone, but it is has been infinitely better and special doing it together. Everyone else who engages with this story in the future will not have the privilege that we have had of working it out together. The final scenes will be on Youtube, the plot summary will be on Wikipedia and the key story parts will infiltrate popular culture so that no-one will be able to approach LOST with fresh eyes again.
LOST has meant a ridiculous amount to me. It has been brilliant escapism, diving into this universe and exploring it for six years. Yet it hasn’t been simply entertainment – it has been a door way into dozens of great books, particularly The Stand, The Dark Tower series, Slaughterhouse 5 and The Fountainhead. It has also upped my meagre level of education - I know tons more about Roman, Greek and Egyptian myths and culture because I’ve trawled through Wikipedia seeking to understand the show a tiny bit more. There is so much I’m going to miss. I’ll even miss the hiatus.
So Jack’s eye has closed and the story is over. We are now in that place where we are learning to remember and let go together. I’m going to do some other posts over the next few weeks and months – including one on the visual imagery of LOST which I am really looking forward to. Thank you to everyone who made the show over the last six years. All of it mattered – it mattered to me.
JACK: “Where are we going?”
CHRISTIAN: “Let’s go find out”
So much for their radio silence after the finale! In yet another interview, Lindelof and Cuse shockingly emphasized that the journey to the end may not have been set in stone from the beginning. In revealing what we already know, they give some insight into the writing process for the show.
In this interview with Sci Fi Wire, Cuse and Lindelof revealed, “There was a big, mythic architecture which included a lot of what’s in the finale, in terms of where we end the show, that we knew way back in the beginning.” To prepare for a season, they held mini-camps for the writers before each season to map out the architecture of the upcoming season. However, they were not beholden to the blueprint. Lindelof underscores, “It’s good to have a plan, but at the same time the most important plan is making the next episode really good.”
Read the full article here, Sci Fi Wire: Dude! Lost’s creators explain they actually IMPROVISED!
A Sirius XM show called “Geek Time” was able to talk to Damon Lindelof before he went into radio silence.
From all of us who made the show, we really hope that you don’t feel it was a waste of your time. We hope that you spent the entire night not just thinking about the finale on a story level, but that you were emotionally affected by it.
There are two feelings that you feel when you watch the ending of a television show. The first is the feeling that you have of just understanding that the show is over and the second is what your response is to actually what’s happening on the screen.
What I liked about the Soprano’s finale was that it changed the experience because when Chase cut to black, suddenly that feeling of “the show’s over” was replaced by “is my cable out?” – he kind of changed the conversation about it.
For us, we tried to write the last two and a half hours of the show so that those two feelings would feel like they were the same thing. So, you’re feeling of saying goodbye to the show – of the show not being around anymore – was actually literally perfectly paralleling what we were showing you on the screen.
If you had an experience anything like that, then it was mission accomplished.
If you didn’t, we blew it and I apologize.
This is a two-part post. The first section discusses the finale and addresses a significant overarching theme of the show, which is affirmed in those final scenes. The second section explores the potential legacy of Lost and offers a definition of “good storytelling” to see how Lost measures up. Hope you enjoy!
“Let no one build walls to divide us
Walls of hatred nor walls of stone
Come greet the dawn and stand beside us
We’ll live together or we’ll die alone”
Billy Bragg,“The Internationale”
I was sincerely awed by the emotional power of the last few scenes of the finale, which were intensified even more by the subtle tenderness of Vincent, who did not let Jack die alone. I realized that, despite my recent criticism of everything Lost, from hokey dialogue to implausible motives, I have maintained a deep connection to these characters. Much has already been said about how the finale, and the series in general, is fundamentally a character-driven story. But it wasn’t just the individual personal dramas that moved me; it was the return of a few very fundamental themes, most notably, redemption through community. Emotional interdependency and salvation through a communion with others drives this episode and, arguably, the entire narrative.
Jack’s transformation from doubting Thomas to savior was compelling by itself. He journeyed from being a reluctant leader to a prodigal son and, finally, a man of faith. From there, he was able to see that he had a purpose, that there was an order to the universe and that he was chosen to protect it from chaos. As Damon Lindelof said in an interview and I will paraphrase here, the metaphysical conflict has shifted from faith versus reason to order versus chaos. The Smoke Monster threatened to destroy everything and send them “all to hell,” as Isabella (Richard’s wife) told Hurley. Granted, we did not get an explicit answer about what exactly would happen, but we can assume that by destroying the monster, Kate and Jack might have very well saved the world, and that whatever Jack did with the giant cork, he preserved the island. Jack did all of this selflessly; he served as the sacrificial lamb for all of humanity.
Jack became a willing participant of an extraordinary community, a kind of microcosm of the world, and worked with this group to shift the paradigm of the island. He had to accept, not only his role as a leader, but his function as savior. Quite literally, he did all of this “in communion” with others. So it was not only Jack that was redeemed, but everyone who cooperated in the greater cause. And they all achieved a sort of salvation, or at least authorization to “move on,” by re-assembling the group in the afterlife and by remembering the significance of their lives together. This theme—redemption through community—has arisen throughout the series, most notably in Jack’s “live together, die alone” speech, so it is no surprise that it plays such a crucial role in the resolution of the plot.
It makes sense too, within this context, that Hurley has been appointed as the next Jacob. He understands the value of community and how, if done right, a collaborative effort can elevate human beings. Recall his very first job on the island—to distribute food to the “masses”—and remember the golf course he made to ease the tension within the group and bring them all together. He is clearly in communion with others. What many of us didn’t realize before, including me, is that being in communion with the island is not as important as emotionally connecting to others.
The episode’s inherent message is that social collaboration and emotional engagement are the keys to redemption and a “life after death.” Christian tells Jack that all of his friends have come together “to remember;” they have constructed a shared space together because “No one does it alone.” Like Jesus and the disciples gathered at the last supper for communion, in anticipation of renewal and transcendence, the Lostaways gather to create a place for their own salvation, even if being saved is simply “letting go.” (Remember the “Lost Supper” image?)
It’s “Just a Story”: Lost’s Legacy and the Purpose of Storytelling
“We read books to find out who we are. What other people, real or imaginary, do and think and feel…is an essential guide to our understanding of what we ourselves are and may become.”
—Ursula K. Le Guin
People have asked me if I think Lost is a work of literature. I suppose this is a reasonable question, considering I’m writing a book titled Literary Lost and that I am a teacher of literature. But the answer, of course, is a resounding ‘no.’ How can it be literature? It was written for one very specific type of medium—episodic television. But that aside, certainly both written narratives and television shows serve a similar purpose: to provide entertainment through fictional stories.
Azar Nafisi, author of the memoir Reading Lolita in Tehran once paid a visit to our university and I was fortunate enough to have her as a guest in my classroom. One of the things we discussed was the role of fiction in our lives, the significance of stories that “are not even true.” (Here I quote Salman Rushdie’s Haroun and the Sea of Stories “what is the use of stories that aren’t even true?”) In Nafisi’s memoir she answers this question with the following statement: “A great novel heightens your senses and sensitivity to the complexities of life and of individuals, and prevents you from the self-righteousness that sees morality in fixed formulas about good and evil…”
Lost is not a “great novel”—it is not a novel at all–but I think most viewers would agree that it does pass the test of good storytelling, in the sense that it has “heightened our senses and sensitivity” and that it has been guarded about judging its characters, careful to stay away from “fixed formulas” of morality. Lost has allowed its viewers to identify with a diverse community of people struggling with basic human problems and learning to connect with one another. I think a majority of the audience would agree that it has pushed viewers to interpret aspects of their own lives in a new light, just like any good story should do. In fact, many fans have expressed such extreme sentiments as, “Lost has changed my life” or “the show has changed the way I view spirituality”… or even “the way I read literature.” These comments and other responses like them are unique to Lost, at least in the world of broadcast television storytelling. Certainly they count for something in the assessment of Lost’s success as an engaging narrative.
Thanks for reading. Long live Lost!
I’m not really sure if this is a spoiler or not, but I’ll be on the safe said and keep the front page summary clean. During an interview on Attack of the Show Michael Emerson revealed what the DVD bonus epilogue will entail. No, it won’t be 20 years later when Walt is all grown up and sends his own kids on a train to Wizard School.
The epilogue will actually be a self-contained story featuring Number One and Number Two, Hurley and Ben respectively, and will also have an appearance from Walt. Here is what Kristin Dos Santos from E! reported:
“For those people that want to pony up and buy the complete Lost series, there is a bonus feature,” Michael just told our Kevin Pereira of Attack of the Show!, which airs tonight at 7 on E!’s brother network G4. “Which is um, you could call it an epilogue. A lost scene. It’s a lot; it’s 12 or 14 minutes that opens a window onto that gap of unknown time between Hurley (Jorge Garcia) becoming number one and the end of the series.”
Michael says this extra footage is not the premise for a spinoff. “It’s self-contained. Although, it’s a rich period in the show’s mythology that ‘s never been explored, so who knows what will come of it.”
Lost is dead. Long live Lost. And so it ends, in much the same way it began: with a close-up of Jack’s eye, staring straight up past the tall stalks of bamboo that circled the sky above. This time however, that eye would close, and with it, our six-season journey that took us right back to where we started—with questions about a mysterious show that seemed to parallel the mysteries of life. For some, the journey was far more compelling than the destination. For others, it was the perfect resolution and they can walk away feeling fulfilled. Whatever you thought about the conclusion, the one thing most viewers can agree on is that the show challenged us to think in ways we might not have otherwise. In short, Lost was a real trip. And what a long, strange trip it’s been.
Read the full column at The Layman’s Answers to Everything blog…
This post first showed up on DarkUFO as someone claiming to be from Bad Robot. I don’t think that there is any credence to that claim, but his take how everything fits together is intriguing.
UPDATE: DarkUFO contacted ABC and found out that this person was indeed an intern at ABC, but he or she was released 3 years ago.
Good stuff on here! I can finally throw in my two cents! I’ve had to bite my tongue for far too long. Also, hopefully I can answer some of John’s questions about Dharma and the “pointless breadcrumbs” that really, weren’t so pointless …
It was real. Everything that happened on the island that we saw throughout the 6 seasons was real. Forget the final image of the plane crash, it was put in purposely to f*&k with people’s heads and show how far the show had come. They really crashed. They really survived. They really discovered Dharma and the Others. The Island keeps the balance of good and evil in the world. It always has and always will perform that role. And the Island will always need a “Protector”. Jacob wasn’t the first, Hurley won’t be the last. However, Jacob had to deal with a malevolent force (MIB) that his mother, nor Hurley had to deal with. He created the devil and had to find a way to kill him — even though the rules prevented him from actually doing so.
Thus began Jacob’s plan to bring candidates to the Island to do the one thing he couldn’t do. Kill the MIB. He had a huge list of candidates that spanned generations. Yet everytime he brought people there, the MIB corrupted them and caused them to kill one another. That was until Richard came along and helped Jacob understand that if he didn’t take a more active role, then his plan would never work.
Enter Dharma — which I’m not sure why John is having such a hard time grasping. Dharma, like the countless scores of people that were brought to the island before, were brought there by Jacob as part of his plan to kill the MIB. However, the MIB was aware of this plan and interferred by “corrupting” Ben. Making Ben believe he was doing the work of Jacob when in reality he was doing the work of the MIB. This carried over into all of Ben’s “off-island” activities. He was the leader. He spoke for Jacob as far as they were concerned. So the “Others” killed Dharma and later were actively trying to kill Jack, Kate, Sawyer, Hurley and all the candidates because that’s what the MIB wanted. And what he couldn’t do for himself.
Dharma was originally brought in to be good. But was turned bad by MIB’s corruption and eventually destroyed by his pawn Ben. Now, was Dharma only brought there to help Jack and the other Canditates on their overall quest to kill Smokey? Or did Jacob have another list of Canidates from the Dharma group that we were never aware of? That’s a question that is purposley not answered because whatever answer the writers came up with would be worse than the one you come up with for yourself. Still … Dharma’s purpose is not “pointless” or even vague. Hell, it’s pretty blantent.
Still, despite his grand plan, Jacob wanted to give his “candidates” (our Lostaways) the one thing he, nor his brother, were ever afforded: free will. Hence him bringing a host of “candidates” through the decades and letting them “choose” which one would actually do the job in the end. Maybe he knew Jack would be the one to kill Flocke and that Hurley would be the protector in the end. Maybe he didn’t. But that was always the key question of the show: Fate vs Free-will. Science vs Faith. Personally I think Jacob knew from the beginning what was going to happen and that everyone played a part over 6 seasons in helping Jack get to the point where he needed to be to kill Smokey and make Hurley the protector — I know that’s how a lot of the writers viewed it. But again, they won’t answer that (nor should they) because that ruins the fun.
In the end, Jack got to do what he always wanted to do from the very first episode of the show: Save his fellow Lostaways. He got Kate and Sawyer off the island and he gave Hurley the purpose in life he’d always been missing. And, in Sideways world (which we’ll get to next) he in fact saved everyone by helping them all move on …
Sideways world is where it gets really cool in terms of theology and metaphysical discussion (for me at least — because I love history/religion theories and loved all the talks in the writer’s room about it). Basically what the show is proposing is that we’re all linked to certain people during our lives. Call them soulmates (though it’s not exactly the best word). But these people we’re linked to are with us duing “the most important moments of our lives” as Christian said. These are the people we move through the universe with from lifetime to lifetime. It’s loosely based in Hinduisim with large doses of western religion thrown into the mix.
The conceit that the writers created, basing it off these religious philosophies, was that as a group, the Lostaways subconsciously created this “sideways” world where they exist in purgatory until they are “awakened” and find one another. Once they all find one another, they can then move on and move forward. In essence, this is the show’s concept of the afterlife. According to the show, everyone creates their own “Sideways” purgatory with their “soulmates” throughout their lives and exist there until they all move on together. That’s a beautiful notion. Even if you aren’t religious or even spirtual, the idea that we live AND die together is deeply profound and moving.
It’s a really cool and spirtual concept that fits the whole tone and subtext the show has had from the beginning. These people were SUPPOSED to be together on that plane. They were supposed to live through these events — not JUST because of Jacob. But because that’s what the universe or God (depending on how religious you wish to get) wanted to happen. The show was always about science vs faith — and it ultimately came down on the side of faith. It answered THE core question of the series. The one question that has been at the root of every island mystery, every character backstory, every plot twist. That, by itself, is quite an accomplishment.
How much you want to extrapolate from that is up to you as the viewer. Think about season 1 when we first found the Hatch. Everyone thought that’s THE answer! Whatever is down there is the answer! Then, as we discovered it was just one station of many. One link in a very long chain that kept revealing more, and more of a larger mosiac.
But the writer’s took it even further this season by contrasting this Sideways “purgatory” with the Island itself. Remember when Michael appeared to Hurley, he said he was not allowed to leave the Island. Just like the MIB. He wasn’t allowed into this sideways world and thus, was not afforded the opportunity to move on. Why? Because he had proven himself to be unworthy with his actions on the Island. He failed the test. The others, passed. They made it into Sideways world when they died — some before Jack, some years later. In Hurley’s case, maybe centuries later. They exist in this sideways world until they are “awakened” and they can only move on TOGETHER because they are linked. They are destined to be together for eternity. That was their destiny.
They were NOT linked to Anna Lucia, Daniel, Roussou, Alex, Miles, Lupidis, (and all the rest who weren’t in the chuch — basically everyone who wasn’t in season 1). Yet those people exist in Sideways world. Why? Well again, here’s where they leave it up to you to decide. The way I like to think about it, is that those people who were left behind in Sideways world have to find their own soulmates before they can wake up. It’s possible that those links aren’t people from the island but from their other life (Anna’s parnter, the guy she shot — Roussou’s husband, etc etc).
A lot of people have been talking about Ben and why he didn’t go into the Church. And if you think of Sideways world in this way, then it gives you the answer to that very question. Ben can’t move on yet because he hasn’t connected with the people he needs to. It’s going to be his job to awaken Roussou, Alex, Anna Lucia (maybe), Ethan, Goodspeed, his father and the rest. He has to attone for his sins more than he did by being Hurley’s number two. He has to do what Hurley and Desmond did for our Lostaways with his own people. He has to help them connect. And he can only move on when all the links in his chain are ready to. Same can be said for Faraday, Charlotte, Whidmore, Hawkins etc. It’s really a neat, and cool concept. At least to me.
But, from a more “behind the scenes” note: the reason Ben’s not in the church, and the reason no one is in the church but for Season 1 people is because they wrote the ending to the show after writing the pilot. And never changed it. The writers always said (and many didn’t believe them) that they knew their ending from the very first episode. I applaud them for that. It’s pretty fantastic. Originally Ben was supposed to have a 3 episode arc and be done. But he became a big part of the show. They could have easily changed their ending and put him in the church — but instead they problem solved it. Gave him a BRILLIANT moment with Locke outside the church … and then that was it. I loved that. For those that wonder — the original ending started the moment Jack walked into the church and touches the casket to Jack closing his eyes as the other plane flies away. That was always JJ’s ending. And they kept it.
For me the ending of this show means a lot. Not only because I worked on it, but because as a writer it inspired me in a way the medium had never done before. I’ve been inspired to write by great films. Maybe too many to count. And there have been amazing TV shows that I’ve loved (X-Files, 24, Sopranos, countless 1/2 hour shows). But none did what LOST did for me. None showed me that you could take huge risks (writing a show about faith for network TV) and stick to your creative guns and STILL please the audience. I learned a lot from the show as a writer. I learned even more from being around the incredible writers, producers, PAs, interns and everyone else who slaved on the show for 6 years.
In the end, for me, LOST was a touchstone show that dealt with faith, the afterlife, and all these big, spirtual questions that most shows don’t touch. And to me, they never once waivered from their core story — even with all the sci-fi elements they mixed in. To walk that long and daunting of a creative tightrope and survive is simply astounding.
Here is another alternate Lost ending from last night’s Jimmy Kimmel Live.
After the final LOST logo faded away, we were left with the end credits and several images of the Flight 815 wreckage. At first I thought it was a look back at the series-an homage to where we started. Then I saw it was being used as an argument that the island was purgatory the whole time-showing that no one survived the initial crash.
A comment someone made on reddit got me thinking about a third option. One of the biggest gripes of the finale was that we did not receive the answers to the mythology that we have been analyzing and theorizing over for years. I think these images may give us the answer we’re looking for or at least some closure to the mythology.
The hatches, the temple, the statue, the lighthouse, the smoldering black rock, and all those confusing hieroglyphs are all just remnants of people who have come to the island and now are long gone. Each one of these places has a compelling story to tell, but the details are locked away in the past. Well, add another mysterious location to that list-the 815 wreckage, risen up from the tides.
Imagine if our show took place after Jack closed his eyes for the last time. A group of strangers crash-lands onto a strange and wonderful island, just as confused as the Losties were when they first arrived. The first couple of days, an adventurous few discover this huge crash site, along with make-shift tents and branded food that oddly resembles the Wal-Mart Great Value brand. At night, instead of hearing scary New York City cab sounds, these people are greeted by a pair of beady eyes staring out at them from the jungle. The next day, a big guy with Yoda-like wisdom and a knack for Ranch dressing comes out to meet the newcomers. Besides the obvious question of how does this guy retain his figure on a deserted island, they ask, “What’s up with the plane crash?” The friendly sage would smile and simply reply, “Oh, heh, that’s how me and my friends got here.” And thats pretty much all the information you would get about it. Sure, there might be a flashback episode detailing how Hurley got the job right before he passes the job to the capable Ji Yeon-who, coincidentally, was among the newcomers. But the 815 plane wreckage would be just another point of interest on mystery island.
Thankfully, our show wasn’t about the animated Ben and Hurley spin-off, Number One n’ Two, nor was it about the people who built the temple, the statue, or even the Swan Station. Lost was about Jack and Kate getting caught in a net, Hurley offering Ben an Apollo Bar, Sawyer and Juliet finding love in time travel, and Claire and Charlie eating invisible peanut butter. It was about the characters and their paths to happiness, love, and redemption. And now, the only thing that remains is this oceanic plane wreckage. All their struggles, pain, and joy wrapped up in one set piece.
I think that’s exactly what they were showing with the final images. Lost was a character story through and through, but now their story is just another part of the island’s complex and perplexing mythology.
What do you guys think? Sound off below!
Edit: Looks like ABC has come clean. A spokesperson said, “The images shown during the end credits of the ‘Lost’ finale, which included shots of Oceanic 815 on a deserted beach, were not part of the final story but were a visual aid to allow the viewer to decompress before heading into the news.” [LA Times]
I think the perfect way to decompress is to let the story of Lost slip peacefully into the island’s mythology.
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.
Do you wish Lost ended differently? Check out the three alternative endings that Darlton wrote for the Jimmy Kimmel Live Aloha to Lost Special.
I think the ending deserves its own Rate and Rant. In a few short bullets here is my short explanation of the ending:
I’ll have my own interpretation of the ending (which I will post in a little bit), but I’m pretty sure Lost is a story we will be dissecting for decades to come. What did you think?
What do you do when the show you’ve been covering for FIVE years comes to an end? Start all over again, of course – with www.LOSTPendium.com.
What LOSTPendium is NOT: Lostpedia. Or anything like it. In fact, I imagine we’ll be sourcing Lostpedia.com a lot! Pendiums are in fact the polar opposite of `pedias, so silence any notion that I’m making a move towards the reference market.
What LOSTPendium IS: A lot of people have been concerned that the LOST community will fall apart after tonight. There has never been a doubt in my mind that the LOST fan community will last a long time. When talking about this with other folks, I usually reference the ‘Wrapped in Plastic’ fanzine for Twin Peaks. Which is STILL running.
The fact is LOST is still not resolved after tonight, but we’ve been given enough information this season to make it worthwhile to go back to the beginning and look at the series all over again. In context.
Then, there is the mysteries that remain unsolved. Is the information to solve them embedded in the show? It’s my belief that many of them can be solved with information provided by the show, and just a wee bit of conjecture, and I hope you’ll join me in figuring them out. On that note, if you are interested in contributing PLEASE feel free to drop me a line.
LOSTPendium.com will most absolutely NOT be a LOST news site. To be perfectly honest with you, I’ve become a little disenchanted with the whole LOST paperchase this year. The excessive lengths that people have gone to in the quest to be the first to copy and paste the hardwork of professional journalists everywhere has made it feel cheap to engage in. I’ve kept my feelings to myself on that while a lot of people have complained about this site not keeping up with the news, but the fact is I just don’t have the drive to be second anymore – and I think fans should put the effort into reading the work of the terrific entertainment journalists out there at the source. So that explains that for those who think that we have ‘given up’ on LOST this season.
LOSTPendium.com will be 100% analysis, worship, and conversation centered on the fabric of the show itself. With the tapering of the news flow, and the quelling of the hunger for spoilers, we fans can finally get back to doing what made this community so engaging and vital in all of our lives: sharing our passion for the story, mythos, and characters of LOST. I hope you will join me!
DocArzt.com will remain running, so don’t delete your rss subscriptions, bookmarks, facebook, twitter, or myspace connections yet. But in the meantime, be sure to follow @LOSTPendium on twitter for updates as we prepare it for day one, and visit www.lostpendium.com and add it to your bookmarks. Stay tuned for more fun stuff.