By now, most people who care about it have seen the series finale of the television show Lost. If the buzz I’ve heard around the Internet is any indication, people feel two ways about the ending: they either loved it, or they hated it. I unabashedly fall into the camp of those who loved it, and I’ll tell you exactly why if you indulge me and keep reading.
I came to Lost much later than most fans of the show. I’d heard a lot about it over the years, but I didn’t want to invest in another television show. I’m the kind of person who gets attached to T.V. shows pretty easily if I like the characters, but watching a weekly program is a huge time commitment, not to mention the level of emotional investment I usually tend to make. When Lost started, I wasn’t prepared to do that, and as the show continued on in subsequent seasons, I knew I’d have to start back at the beginning if I wanted to make heads or tails out of the island mythology. But I had a lot of friends who watched the program and would chat about it, and I started to feel a bit left out. Was I really missing something spectacular? It sure sounded like I was. So, last summer, at the beginning of June, I rented season one of Lost from Netflix. I knew that the upcoming season six would be its last on network television, and I wanted to get caught up on the show before it began airing its final episodes in January, 2010. My intention was to watch the show by myself–but when I saw the pilot episode, that quickly changed.
I was so visually and emotionally impressed with the first episode of Lost that I said to my husband and twin teenaged sons, “I think you guys would really like this show. Do you want to watch it with me?” Thus began a family odyssey last summer, where we watched the whole mystery of the plane crash, the island, and its inhabitants unfold over five seasons. We viewed all five years of the show by the end of 2009, and we were all definitely ready to invest in the final season when it began in January.
I know there are plenty of people out there who think that the mysteries of the island were not explained in a plausible, satisfactory way. I am not one of those people. Quite frankly, I never really cared much about why Oceanic Flight 815 crashed on the island. Although the smoke monster and the polar bear were kind of interesting and frightening, I never really cared why they were strange anomalies on the island. Although the Others and the fights between the different factions of people made for intriguing story lines (sometimes, and sometimes for tedious ones), it never really mattered to me why or how those Others got to the island. All I cared about was the fate of the passengers who crashed, the ones I was introduced to in that pilot episode, the ones who made indelible imprints on my heart.
Yes, some of the characters bugged me (Shannon), and some of their story lines didn’t make any sense (what was all that about Walt being psychic or something?) And yes, I am in the camp of “Why were some of those characters in the finale and some weren’t?” (Michael and Walt were noticeably absent, but Penny, who’d never even been on the island, was there.) Be that as it may, I can look past that, because the finale was so, so good in so many ways. Mostly, to me, a Spiritualist and a medium, it was incredibly emotionally and spiritually fulfilling, which is why I loved it so much.
The beauty of the Lost finale lies in the relationships between the main characters. One by one, in their alternate reality off the island, the characters “wake up” to the reality of their lives on the island and the importance of the people that shared those experiences. The emotional intensity of the scenes between Jin and Sun, Charlie and Claire, and especially Sawyer and Juliet were some of the best moments of television I’ve ever witnessed.
Sure, the flashbacks helped, but what mattered were the connections re-made by the ones experiencing them. And as far as I’m concerned, Terry O’Quinn deserves another Emmy award for his portrayal of John Locke. His post-surgery scene with Jack was breathtaking.
And wasn’t that always what Lost came down to in the end? The struggle between faith, represented in earlier seasons by John Locke, and science, represented by Dr. Jack Shepherd? I think this is a huge part of the importance of Lost, but to me, the show’s message can be summed up even more simply. It’s a show about love. We see that in the finale as we watch all of the characters come together in a better understanding of themselves and each other while in the alternate reality. And we see that in Jack’s heroic actions on the island itself as he attempts to destroy the Man in Black (now walking around in Locke’s body) and to restore The Light that the island keeps on behalf of the whole universe.
Much has been made of the alternate reality timeline that has been running since the beginning of season six and plays such an important part in the final moments of the show. It’s obvious to me that the alternate reality is a level of the afterlife where, as Christian Shepherd tells his son Jack, there is “no time.” He explains it’s a place that the survivors of the plane crash made after they died so that they could all remember, let go, and move on, together. Did they all die in the plane crash, as some people seem to think, deeming the whole six seasons of Lost a kind of purgatory (or, as Richard called it, “hell”)? No. As we’ve been told many times on Lost, what happened, happened. Everyone died. They just did it at different times: some on the island (like Boone and Shannon and Libby, and, in the heart-breaking way it played out, Jack), some off the island after they’d made their final escape at a time in the future we don’t see (Kate, Sawyer, and presumably Desmond, since Hurley and Ben decided their first order of business as the new island caretakers was to get him back to Penny and their son). For me, this was a beautiful and inspiring idea on the part of the writers, an idea that highlighted once again the importance of our relationships. No matter what our actions in life (Jack’s heroics, Locke’s spiritual growth, Ben’s despicable actions and his subsequent turn-around), what carries the most weight are our connections to the people in our lives. These are the members of our soul group, the ones with whom we learn our most important and valuable life lessons. The survivors of Oceanic 815 and many of the other folks who interacted with them are members of a soul group, and they needed each other for their spiritual evolvement and growth to take place. What a beautiful message!
I’ll admit it: I cried buckets throughout the finale. I never realized how much I cared about Jack until he was mortally wounded, and he and Kate were forced to admit their true love for each other.
The scenes between Hurley and Jack were very touching as well, as were the interactions between Ben and Hurley. Hurley always was the voice of the viewer on Lost, asking the questions we wanted to ask and voicing our frustrations and our fears. How appropriate that gentle, loving Hurley ends up the caretaker of The Light when Jack completes his final earthly mission. And how wonderful that he can forgive Ben all of his faults and ask him to help with the protection of the island, allowing Ben to finally find some measure of redemption and honor, which is all he really ever wanted in the first place.
Of course, being human, I was a little disappointed in a couple of things about the finale. I have a hard time believing that Sayid’s relationship with Shannon was more important than the one he shared with Nadia. But perhaps I’m being narrow-minded. Maybe Sayid’s relationship with Shannon was critical to his spiritual evolution, and this was why they were reunited in the afterlife as opposed to him being reunited with Nadia. I’ll have to live with it, I suppose, but I wanted more for Sayid, one of my favorite characters on the show and one who tried so hard to shake off the restraints of his questionable past.
I also found myself wondering about the nature of Jack’s relationship with his son, David, in the afterlife they all created. What did this mean? Was this Jack’s way of trying to work out his own issues with his father before he moved on to a higher plane of the Other Side? Was David some other member of Jack’s soul group who stayed behind (like Ben) when Jack moved forward and beyond with his friends from the island? I don’t know that I’ll ever get an explanation for this, but that’s OK. The mysteries of the Universe sometimes remain that way.
Naturally, I’d love to know what happened to Sawyer, Kate, Claire, Miles, Lapidus, and especially Richard in the interim between their leaving the island and the time they all actually passed on to Spirit. What must 19th century Richard think about the modern world he finds himself in? (Is that a Lost spin-off in the making?) I’d love to know how Hurley and Ben get Desmond off the island and back to Penny (again, this might make an intriguing extra episode!) But these are minor questions that don’t really need answers. It’s gratifying to know that eventually, when they’re all ready, they find their way to the people who mean the most to them.
By far, the scene in the church between Christian and Jack at the end of the episode was incredibly rich and emotional for me. Jack’s transformation and final understanding was incredible to watch (kudos to Matthew Fox for his work in this entire episode), and Christian’s explanations to his son’s questions were especially fulfilling to this Spiritualist medium. I also truly appreciated the set decoration touch of having a stained glass window behind the two that represented many of the world’s most prominent religions. The beauty and the immense understanding offered in the afterlife are available to everyone, no matter what faith they embraced during their physical lifetimes. By the end of Lost, Jack had become a man of faith. Yet his connection to his soul group was critical to his spiritual progression, and none of them could move on without the others–thus, the wonderful scene in the church where they’re all reunited in understanding and love once more.
Jack’s final scene in Lost brings the whole story full circle in an amazing way. Lying on his back in the bamboo field, bleeding out, he assumes the same position where we first saw him in the pilot episode. He accepts his death and his role in the fate of the island. As he does, Vincent runs in, just as he did when Jack first awoke after the plane crash. This time, though, Vincent lies next to Jack, a beautiful moment of power and compassion as Jack takes his final breaths. He sees the airplane fly over head, the one carrying Sawyer, Miles, Claire, Richard, Lapidus, and Jack’s true love, Kate, and he knows that he’s saved them. He smiles, reassured that he’s fulfilled his destiny. And, as the first episode of Lost began with a shot of Jack’s eye opening up, the last episode ends with a shot of Jack’s eye closing forever.
Well, until he reaches that point of understanding in the afterlife, which has been happening throughout the whole episode.
For me, this episode of Lost fulfilled my hopes for a powerful, provocative, and happy ending for the members of Oceanic Flight 815. What could possibly be better than reuniting with your true loves and your friends in a beautiful place after the hard toil, frustration, and challenge of this physical lifetime? To me, the castaways of the mysterious island deserve this fate. They’ve been through hell on earth, and they’ve found a little piece of heaven on the Other Side.
When we first met Desmond, he said something strange to Jack as they parted: “See ya in another life, brother.” He was certainly right, after all.
Thank you, Lost. You’ve entertained my family and helped us grow closer by discussing you and your weird, quirky story lines. You’ve helped me to explain commitment and violence to my sons, thus making our communication with each other stronger and better. You’ve filled my life with adventure and love, and you’ve ended by giving me hope and inspiration. And you delivered, by far, the best television finale I’ve ever seen.