Monday, May 24, 2010

Lost: The End

Eyes Shut

After six seasons, Lost is finally over. How was the ending? Two hours and 25 minutes of awesomeness... and then five minutes of confusion, greatly impacted by what I assume is ABC's decision to pair the closing credits with a shot of Season 1's Oceanic 815 fuselage chillin on the beach.

Warning, Spoilers ahead.

Here's my interpretation, after a night's sleep and a whole lot of thinking in circles.

There is an island. Hidden on the fringes of the real world, in a place where time and space are irrelevant. On this island is the Source. As the woman who raised Jacob and the MIB said in the Season 6 episode "Across The Sea", the light at the center of the island is Source of everything: "life, death, and rebirth."

In the last five minutes of the finale, Christian Shepherd reveals to Jack, and us, that Sideways-World we've been seeing this last season is really the afterlife-- a sort of meeting place before souls can "move on". Move on to where? Well, that might depend on your religious beliefs, but whatever is on the other side of that light, it's clearly either some form of heaven or reincarnation. Think of the Flash-Sideways as really a Fast-Forward Flash-Forward... what we're seeing is happening at some time far in the future when all the characters we know have all died.

In this last episode, we saw how necessary this flash-sideways afterlife was: it allowed these people, some of whom died without their purpose in life fulfilled, some who died without saying goodbye, some of whom had other unflinished business, to resolve their issues, to reunite and remember the joys and adventures they had throughout their life. For someone like Ben, who had his childhood stolen and his life manipulated for the worse, the afterlife is a place where he can be a hero and a real father. For someone like Jack, it's where he can finally get some resolution with his father. For Locke, its a place where he can spend happiness with Helen again. For Sayid, its a place where he can learn to finally forgive himself. Etc. Their realizations may have been aided by Desmond, Hurley, and others, but it doesn't matter: they happen all the same, and when they do, the characters can finally move on. They're not trapped, like Michael, the whispers, and the ghost we see Miles talk to back in the real world (remember when he found that money in the kid's hiding spot?)

Now back to the island. The Source, as a line of defense, conceals its location on the island (and the location of the island itself). But the island does exist in the real world (otherwise, how could one travel back and forth from it?). So its inevitable that people will find it. And clearly, some should. Because the island, as Jacob said in "Ab Aterno," is a real place where people can change their lives. Where their past doesn't matter. Where they can work out their issues BEFORE death. For the Losties, it was the place where they learned what kind of people they really were.

But as the Woman warned Jacob and the MIB, some people shouldn't come to the island. Because if they got too close to the Source and destroyed it... well, goodbye life, death, rebirth, everything. If the light here dies, if Smokey succeeds in destroying the island, or leaves it without a protector to be destroyed by some curious man, the heaven or reincarnation that relies on the island's source is gone. If the light goes out, then there is so flash-sideways afterlife, or great white light beyond that. No cloud blanketed heaven or Buddhist reincarnation. No happy cast-party in a all-religions church and a door of light opened by Christian Shepherd. Just...

Darkness.

Or, Dead is Dead.

So the island needs protectors. And since it exists in the real world, its protectors are human beings who come to the island either by fate (Desmond), by their own exploration (Dharma, Charles Widmore) or by invitation from the island's current protector (the Losties and the Candidates among them). MIB didn't want the job, and he almost led to the island's demise. But Jack did want the job, and he sacrificed his life to do it. He closes his eyes, and lies down, in the same spot where he opened his eyes and got up in the Pilot episode. Dying, now that he's completed his purpose: saving heaven and rebirth. Saving life.

That's what the Losties accomplished on the island. What they needed to accomplish all along. The island wouldn't let them go before because it needed them, all of them, especially Jack, to save and protect the source, which was in peril due to Jacob and the MIB's sibling rivalry. Once the Losties did their duty, they were free--to go to the afterlife, to return back to the real world, or, in Hurley and Ben's case, to stay and protect the island.

At the church of all religions, Hurley thanks Ben for being a great #2. It's clear that Hurley and Ben have not been island partners for the mere seconds it seemed in the episode. As Christian Shepherd says to Jack, the afterlife is a place where time doesn't matter. We're supposed to realize that we're seeing Hurley and Ben again at the end of their unseen reign on the island. Did they help heal lost souls who came by fate to the island's shores? Did they create a new band of Others? Was a new smoke monster unleashed? Did they bring their replacements to the island? We don't know what happened. Only that apparently their governance of the island was successful, and the gooey white light of the cycle of life is still intact.

We also don't know what lives Kate, Sawyer, Miles, Richard, Lapidus, Claire and Desmond lived when they returned from Lost island. Bothersome, but it's fun to speculate. How would the real world cope with the very odd appearance of a mostly-empty presumed crashed airplane, filled with only two passengers of the original flight (Kate and Lapidus), one person presumably lost in a freighter disappearance (Miles), two people presumably lost on a crashed Oceanic 815 flight (Claire and Sawyer), a guy who was last seen in a hospital bed recovering from a gunshot wound (Desmond) and a guy who works with a mysterious organization called Mittelos Bioscience and just so happens to be hundreds of years old? The press would not be so quick to dub these the "Ajira Six" and accept whatever incredible story they made up. Did Kate and Sawyer shack up? Doubtful considering the afterlife scenes we saw. But maybe Sawyer became a good father to Clementine. Maybe Kate helped Claire raise Aaron... and adopted Jin and Sun's baby Ji-Yeon. Maybe Desmond, Penelope and little Charlie inherited the deceased Widmore's millions and bought a sports team (they do like running in stadiums). Heck, maybe Richard went back to work at Mittelos and came up with a hip new line of eyeliner for their cosmetics department. That's all stuff for the sequel.

No, it doesn't answer everything. Why didn't Mom just let the MIB leave after Jacob was chosen to succeed her? What was Widmore trying to do, really? What's the deal with Walt? And plenty is up for interpretation. I'm still not really getting why the island is underneath the ocean in the afterlife. Maybe its because that's the afterlife of the island, when it does someday finally expire (hopefully no day soon).

But this episode did answer the big thing. What was it all about? The Losties came to the island to save the source of heaven and earth from destruction, and their mission was accomplished. In the process, their lives were transformed. They found fulfillment, love, and forgiveness. And that's what they needed from that very first season. The loop has been completed.

And most importantly...

Maggie Grace
SHE'S BACK!!!!!!!!!!!

One last thing. Jimmy Kimmel sucks. He teased us with three "alternate endings" and I stayed up to watch them, only to find that they were three limp, unoriginal parodies that were already done better earlier this week by funnier comic troupes and you-tubers. Last time I'm ever watching Kimmel.

But after 6 seasons... I'm (sorta) satisfied with the way the series played out. I would have done a lot differently, but I'm not angry at The End. How 'bout you?

--------------------------
More theories from around the web:

Blogger Robz888 has a Narnia/Oz theory.

EW's Doc Jensen pretty much agrees with me.

Emily from NYMag resides in haterville.

The boys at Slate do not approve either.

Alan Sepinwall is a fan, and sort of figured out the sideways universe before anyone.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Yeah, the Kimmel show was really lame. I turned it off before they got to the alternate endings; I was pretty sure they'd be stupid.

Alex The Writer said...

I thought the alternate endings were going to be real, red herrings they produced to throw off production people, etc, like they do for some big budget movies. Thank God I didn't stay up for that. Although, Jin trying to park the Dharma van was pretty funny.

Adam said...

I agree, Alex. Totally thought they were going to be like the alternate coffin reveals they showed after season 4.

Tara said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Modcitzn said...

I just feel like it's easy writing to sum up all of the relationships. They dug them selves a hole with the island that they couldn't get out of. I would have been happier if they had said that the flash-sideways was a parallel universe. Everyone that lived and died on the island was able to see a glimpse into this universe and feel what it was about. They spent all of that time growing as people and they are better for it. Now they get to have that growth and maintain a normal life as a reward.
The writers were distracting us from all of the loose ends by lacing the finale with sappy reunions. There are a ton of things that happened that are completely left open:
Why and how was Desmond able to withstand the electro-magnetic charge?
How did Charles Whidmore play into things as far as him thinking he was the only one that could save the world. How was he informed about the smoke monster and what the island was?
Why was the island able to travel through time by someone turning a wheel in the mysterious electro-hole?
Where the F#$k did the Polar Bear come from?
etc.
I agree with your analysis of the ending that was given to us. The people that are still claiming the Island itself was purgatory, are silly. I just feel like they left too much open and didn't fulfill their promise. They were advertising all season about how there would be no more questions and that everything would be answered. They didn't explain anything. They had their time on the island and then met up in purgatory so they could move on. That doesn't explain anything. The show was about them being lost on a mysterious island that seemed to be alive and was very much a character of the show. I feel somewhat cheated.
I also felt cheated by Jimmy Kimmel. It was a cheap was to get some ratings up. I was hoping that they had an alternate ending that would win me back. I will never watch that man again.

Anyways... To end my unorganized rant of gibberish. It felt like they had no idea what they were doing so they took the most common ideas they could find on the net and worked that in there to appease the most people. Those of you that say I don't get it, are wrong. I get what it is "supposed" to mean. I watched the recap too. They really drove home the whole "it's about the relationships" theme. Crap.. crap I tell you..
A story of a group of people finding themselves and finding each other in a random nonsensical place that does nonsense things. They are better people now and they move on to "Heaven". (In a christian church, but it has a Buddah statue so it's multicultural)
anyways.. blah blah blah

Adam said...

Thanks for your comment, Mod. I don't think it was realistic for the writers to answer every single question. For example, how do you even answer a question like "Why and how was Desmond able to withstand the electro-magnetic charge?" What answer would have made sense to you? He's made of midi-chlorians? For me, it was sufficient to know that he's the only one that turned the failsafe in the Swan station, and by doing so, he activated a device that in effect, turned HIM into the failsafe. (See my crazy theory for more on this)

Who was Dharma? Lets take it for what we saw. A group of scientists who found the island and noticed some crazy stuff was going on. When Desmond pulled out that cork, it sure looked like a volcano was coming up... do you remember that was discussed in Ben's first flashback episode?

There are clues throughout. And I think the more we dig, the less questions we'll really have.

That said, sure, I wish a lot more had been clarified in the finale. But it was only 2 and a half hours.

Anonymous said...

hey adam, one of the best posts i have seen about the finale. i thought the finale was great...it hit on all my emotional sensibilities. i needed the character's lives to be tied up nice and neat, and the finale delivered on that end. i am a little frustrated about the number of questions still out there. i agree that it is not important that all the questions be answered, but what is the deal with those damn numbers?? i thought that was one of the biggest(if not THE biggest) mystery of the whole show, and they didn't address it at all. grrr!! anyway, just wanted to thank you for your thoughts.

Seth said...

Was Desmond on the Air Ajira flight at the end? I thought he was laying in the stream with Ben and Hurley?

Hot Mama said...

Adam,
Your posts are awesome. I hadn't considered that anyone had really made it off the island alive (including Kate, Sawyer et al) because I assumed that all the Losties had actually died in the original plane crash. That would have made the island a sort of purgatory for those Oceanic passengers who had not yet fully earned an immediate trip to heaven or hell (remember there were a lot of dead passengers who never reached the island). But that theory would not explain Rose and Bernard who we know are clearly "good" and therefore would have been ready for their final reward. It also would not explain how the Losties (sans Claire, Sawyer, Juliet and Jin) were able to escape the island and return to civilization in season 4. Your interpretation explains all of this beautifully. With time being irrelevant, it is also entirely possible that Kate, Sawyer, et al did escape the island and live out their lives (as people made better by their island experience), finally reuniting with their friends and loved ones. Of course this theory does not explain Richard's earlier statement to the Losties about them already being dead.
The finale gives us all lots to think about. Let's also stop to acknowledge the incredible editing, acting, special effects, photography, stunts, etc. that made this final episode and the entire series the best television viewing ever.

~Mizu~ said...

@Seth
No, Desmond was in the stream, he didn't get on the plane, but the last conversation we see with Ben and Hurley, Ben tells Hurley that he can start his leadership of the Island by getting Desmond home safe, and that's what Jack told Desmond last too - to get home to Penny and Charlie.

I think that's even proof that there's a definite difference in time between the last shot of the island and the last shot of flash-sideways. Because Desmond's there with Penny, so he obviously got home safe, and they look like they've just been together forever, as well as Hurley and Ben's comments about #1 and #2 at the church.

I think there couldn't really have been a better ending. Some people may say they've been conned or ripped off, but if we had been told everything, it would have been completely out of character for Lost. It's a mysterious show - we know all we need to know, and now the show will be eternal because it'll always have theories from it's die-hard fans, and we'll never let it really die. That's how any show as amazing as this would hope to go out.

I only know around four people where I live who've never stopped watching it. And that makes me feel pretty hard-core. And all the real fans online and all over the world... yeah, I think this is the best way for Lost to end. And although it leaves it open that it could all start again, I hope it doesn't, because for me that would just cheapen the ride.

Adam, I salute you, best summing up I've read so far :D

Bexster said...

Adam-

Great post! I forwarded it on to a couple "others" that I think are a little confused or irritated with the finale. I watched it for the second time last night and after watching it again, it begins to make more sense and I think your evaluation of the entire show is spot on! As for the main questions not answered, I also agree that the more people think about it or to go back and watch the entire series over again they will find most questions can actually be answered. Great show that will definitely be missed, good thing I am about to start this journey again with the very first episode!

Anonymous said...

I agree it was a great ending, although I thought the island a little unsypathetic, Jack killed the MIB and saved the island, why did he have to die , I think a better ending would of been his eyes reopening similar to episode 1

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