Friday, May 28, 2010

Some Random Thoughts On The LOST Finale

The final episode of LOST was a rich reward for those of us who stuck with the show through the entire run. Emotionally the ending was a home run, providing the ultimate resolution to the fate of the characters we've come to know and love over six years. For some, the ending may not have been intellectually satisfying, for there are still a wealth of mysteries which will never be explicitly explained. I choose to view that as a gift; it allows the LOST fan community to continue to theorize and argue meanings throughout eternity.

I can hardly imagine the confusion a curious viewer might have, tuning in to see what all the hype was about. The finale is meaningless without understanding the history and complex relationships between the characters. And this fact is, ironically, the very point they were making. In the end, it's only your connection with others that matters. Learning to offer and accept help. Forgiveness. Letting go.

This is the lesson of LOST. We are all are survivors stranded on Island Earth, surrounded by strangers, adrift on a tiny speck of dust in an awesomely beautiful and mysterious Universe. Via spirituality and scientific inquiry, we seek to find meaning. Our reality is no less bizarre than that of LOST - and if you don't agree you aren't paying enough attention.

I won't go into deeply into the mythology in this post. For most of the series the writers skillfully walked the fine line between faith and science. Mysterious happenings could be attributed to either paranormal or scientific (or at least sci-fi) causes. Although it seems that the writers have come down squarely in the "faith" camp this season, the overall series had heavy doses of science. I think the moral is that faith and science are not mutually exclusive. Perhaps the writers were aware of Clarke's Law: "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."

In the first season a popular theory was that everyone in the crash died and the island was Purgatory. The writers brilliantly reverse this, so in the final season we learn that life on the island was real, and what we thought was the real world was an afterlife construct they created "so they could find each other".  It is still not Purgatory though. In this construct, many key events on the island were again played out; characters were often seen in reflection. They learn to help each other. They achieve peace. They are reunited with those who meant the most to them. In the end, only the relationships they forged were meaningful.

The most repeated phrase in LOST was "We've got to learn to live to together or we're going to die alone". The comforting message of the finale is that nobody does it alone.

The closing scene was perfectly executed. Jack lies down to die in the bamboo field where his (and our) journey started, relief and acceptance on his face. When Jack smiles with childlike delight when the dog Vincent appears and lies beside him, I wept like a little girl. 

I've never cried over a TV show before. I doubt I will again, because something like LOST isn't likely to come around again for a very long time.

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