“See Ya In Another Life, Brother”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

18 Comments

  • By Brittany K. James, May 26, 2010 @ 9:36 am

    Beautiful Rose. Absolutely beautiful. I agree more than I can say. I was so moved by the finale that I cried all through it and….I cried so much the next day! I re watched it and cried so much more. I felt the collective consciousness of the mourning of so many at the end of the show, and I have to admit it was a bit overwhelming. But it was incredible for all the reasons you said…and there’s nothing I could say about it better than you just did…thank you..

    Love,
    Brittany

  • By Julie, May 26, 2010 @ 9:43 am

    Psst… It’s Walt, not Will. ;)

    I think that Michael wasn’t in the church because he was stuck as one of the whispers on the island. As for Walt, if we’re to assume that he grew up and led a full and happy life, perhaps his destiny was elsewhere.

    I agree that Nadia was more important relationship in Sayid’s life than Shannon. However, I think Sayid was probably the most valuable relationship for Shannon. I think it was her who needed him in order to move on. Maybe he knew that.

    Great write up! I watched the show early on, but fell behind and gave up on it amidst a big change in my own life. I decided to go back and catch up earlier this year. So glad that I did. What an amazing journey!

  • By Toni, May 26, 2010 @ 9:44 am

    Oh my dear friend, this post of yours sums up absolutely everything, everything I felt about the finale, and in such a better way than I could have said it.

    “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.””

    I loved that part. When I was a little girl, my aunt died, and everyone talked about seeing her in heaven again someday. I said to my mother, but that’s kind of sad for Aunt Joni, having to wait all that time alone until we get there. And my mother said, oh no. She’s there, and we’re there, and we’re all together. I said that didn’t make sense, and my mother said, it doesn’t, but that’s okay. It’s heaven *because* we’re there together, and it wouldn’t work any other way. It’s such a nice way to think of the afterlife, imho. I hope that’s what it is, personally.

    I agree with you about the island’s mysteries — some things, I think, we’re just supposed to accept as truisms for the show’s universe, and move on. Others, I think there were some outside forces at play. The actor who played Eko chose to leave the show when he did, so that’s why his story was abbreviated. The kid who played Walt grew, and *fast*. He apparently sprouted up a couple of feet and hit puberty. The writers decided to write him out and let him go as a character, rather than try to explain how he’d changed.

    I have a theory about Walt, though. I think he was special, the way Smokey was special, and the way Hurley was, Locke was. I think Walt absolutely was a candidate, and could have protected the island… but I think his life took a different path. I think he’d suffered so much — his mom, his dad — that Jacob let him go, the way Locke let him go. It’s just my theory and the show wasn’t clear about it, but it works for me.

    “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?”

    I think David was Jack, really. Remember Locke said, he looks just like you. (And he kinda does, in a way.) I think David was there so that Jack could work out his father issues in that direction, as he hadn’t had the chance to do with Christian. Again, just my theory.

    I’ll stop filling up your post with my ramblings now, but thank you for this wonderful review of the series, and the finale.

  • By Beth, May 26, 2010 @ 10:07 am

    Beautifully written as always. Thanks for giving a context to the thoughts zooming around my head after watching the show. I agree that the finale was a great piece of television.

  • By Rose, May 26, 2010 @ 10:25 am

    Thank you so much, Brittany! Yes, I feel there were quite a few folks mourning the end of the show, and then mourning the passing of the characters themselves in a big, emotional way. That can be very overwhelming. I know, though, that it’s cathartic, and I appreciate that release very much. I’m glad you enjoyed the post! xo

  • By Rose, May 26, 2010 @ 10:27 am

    Julie, THANKS!! I don’t know why I always want to call Walt Will! (I did go back and edit the post, thanks to you!)

    I never thought about Sayid being so important to Shannon! That is a very important idea, I think, and one that makes their reunion really resonate for me! Thank you so much for pointing that out. Sometimes, we are catalysts for others’ growth and we don’t even realize it! Beautiful!

    It was, indeed, an amazing journey! Thanks for stopping by to discuss it with me! xo

  • By Rose, May 26, 2010 @ 10:33 am

    Dear Twinsy, thank YOU for stopping by and adding your wonderful comments! You are not taking up too much space!!

    Your mom had a perfect and valid explanation of the afterlife, I think, my dear. And obviously, one that works completely in the context of the final scenes in LOST. I am in agreement with her–except I don’t think most of us realize that we may be existing in other realities all at the same time. We’re used to such a linear concept of time we may not be able to wrap our brains around that!

    I think your theory about Walt is interesting, too. I would’ve liked to see more exploration of those “special” characters–but, like you said, the producers perhaps had to let Walt go as a character because he grew up so fast. Same with Eko–you can’t always allow things to evolve because other factors get in the way. Ah, television!

    And that’s an interesting idea about David being Jack himself. I do think David was Jack’s way of working through issues with his dad, so that makes some sense. And if you can create whatever you want in the afterlife and you’re childless in your lifetime, why not create a son, or a version of yourself that you can relate to and learn from? I can buy that for sure.

    I would certainly be happy to debate anything else with you, dear, here or hereafter. :-) Thanks again for adding all of your wonderful thoughts! xox

  • By Rose, May 26, 2010 @ 10:34 am

    Thank you, Beth! For me, writing out all of those zooming thoughts helps me to organize them. I’m glad it was good reading for you! ;-)

  • By Nat, May 26, 2010 @ 11:58 am

    I loved your post Rose. To put it simply, I kept saying wow last night after finally watching the episode, and your thoughts reflected much of what I was feelings. On the David as Jack premise, Locke actually tells Jack “you don’t have a son, Jack” right after his spinal surgery in the alternate existence when Locke remembers and asks Jack to go with him. That stuck out in my head, but they didn’t elaborate on it, and I think you’re spot on about how it fit in.

  • By Jay, May 26, 2010 @ 12:19 pm

    Wonderful post, Rose!

    I liked reading everyone’s reactions/theories as well. Julie’s idea about Sayid and Shannon makes sense and lends plausibility to seeing them together in the end.

    I also liked Toni’s theories on Walt and Jack’s son.

  • By Rose, May 26, 2010 @ 1:33 pm

    Thanks, Nat, for stopping by and adding your thoughts. The “wow” factor for this episode was pretty big for me, too, and it took me awhile to process through all of my emotions once the show was over.

    I do remember Locke telling Jack he didn’t have a son after his own epiphany in the hospital room, but of course, Jack didn’t know how to respond to that. Perhaps by the time he reached the church and came to his own understanding, he didn’t “need” to see David any more. Maybe that’s why he didn’t find him at the concert, but found Kate instead. :-)

    Isn’t it fun to talk about all of this stuff?

    Jay, I love reading all of the theories swirling around, too. It makes it extra fun to go back and think about (and watch!) the finale all over again. :-)

    Love to you all!

  • By Patty J, May 26, 2010 @ 2:30 pm

    Rose–thank you so much for posting this blog! I really enjoyed reading it and you helped with insight that I might have otherwise missed. I loved LOST and will miss it (especially Sawyer and his cute little dimples). I simply fell in love with him and his name calling/defense mechanisms. I didn’t understand all of it, but that is the beauty of LOST, always leaving you to ponder and always wanting more. This was truly one of the best shows on tv.

  • By Toni, May 26, 2010 @ 2:41 pm

    I agree that Sayid was the most important relationship in Shannon’s life, that makes a lot of sense and explains why she would need to find him in the afterlife.
    I thought a bit about why Sayid found Shannon, and not Nadia. I think there’s something to the idea that much as Sayid felt for Nadia, Shannon was the woman that allowed him to fully be that good man he wanted to be. With Nadia, there was always the shadow of where they’d come from, and what he had done and who he had been. I don’t say he they didn’t love each other, but I think with Shannon he started fresh, free of the past, and had he been able to start a life with her, it might have ultimately brought him more happiness.

  • By Rose, May 26, 2010 @ 3:47 pm

    Patty, thanks for stopping by! I know you’re Sawyer’s girl, and I will definitely miss all of his wonderful nicknames (which were still prevalent in the finale, LOL!). It was an awesome show all-around, and I will always remember it.

    Toni, Keith and I were just talking about this very observation regarding Sayid and Shannon on our walk this evening. I think it’s a very astute one, and it does help me to see their relationship in a whole different light. Thanks for sharing it here!

    Wonderful discussion, everyone! I truly appreciate all of these comments.

  • By Kate, May 28, 2010 @ 12:30 am

    Gawd Ive cried buckets this week. What with the end of my favourites like 24, Dancing with the star,s, celebrity Apprentice. I had to save Lost to watch it on a day where I could focus.
    I will miss hearing that name Freckles. Loved Sawyer.
    Did you see the Jimmy Kimmel special with the cast of Lost?
    He mentioned a few things. Walt was written out because he sprouted up so fast it didn’t look like Michaels son. Michael wasn’t there cause he was stuck on the island whispering.
    I hope the cast are up for emmys but then I thought some of the last scenes in 24 were awesome too.
    It was mentioned too that perhaps this might have been Jack’s story of his death and his life review. That in that nano second his life flashed before him and all the people that meant something to him.
    I also noted that Jack was told by Locke he didnt have a son and I wondered perhaps if he hadn’t passed on yet.
    Kate said to Jack when she met him again that she had missed him and I took that to mean that she had lived out her life and died quite old. Perhaps the way everyone else who knew why they were in that church and Jack didnt remember why, might show that Jack was *Lost* making his way to being found again.
    That ending had me crying buckets. So beautiful and emotionally satisfying. I will miss them.

  • By Rose, June 8, 2010 @ 9:40 am

    Thanks for your comment, Kate–sorry it took so long for me to get back with you here! I didn’t see the cast on Jimmy Kimmel, but those are interesting points. I knew that Walt had been written out of the show a while ago because of his growth, and other cast members had left because of salary disputes, etc. This is pretty normal, I think, for any show, and I think the finale did a great job of wrapping up the story working with everything they had.

    Like you, I will definitely miss them! xo

  • By Bertha, July 3, 2010 @ 4:38 am

    Very interesting post, Rose! Love reading your thoughts on it, and what you said about ‘soul groups’ made so much sense, especially with how everyone ended up in the church together.

    I was never really invested in the Jack-Kate relationship to be honest, and I find that I am still somewhat indifferent to them in the end – doesn’t mean that the final shot of Jack, with a faithful Vincent next to him wasn’t powerful still. But I particularly find the scenes involving Jin and Sun, and most definitely, Juliet and Sawyer’s reunion to be particularly sad (in a bittersweet way). What broke me was Hurley’s expression when he saw Charlie at the motel.

    Sayid-Shannon: I agree Shannon wasn’t a particularly likeable character, but I think I always view her as someone who saw Sayid the way Hurley and the others saw him. Someone who is good, without the baggage of his past, which unfortunately, Nadia is so intricately tied to.

    I’m with Toni about David. I think in a lot of ways, Jack’s relationship with David was the kind of relationship he never had with his father, and perhaps that was his soul’s way of resolving the issues he has with Christian. And until he’s able to resolve that, personified in the relationship alternate-Jack has with David, Jack can’t let go and move on.

    I saw the last 8 episodes in a block, and it was a wonderful way of reminding me why I loved the show and that I actually still care about the characters when I thought I stopped.

  • By Rose, July 3, 2010 @ 4:58 am

    Thanks for posting a response, Bertha! I’m so glad to have your insights here.

    I was never very invested in the Jack/Kate relationship, although I always liked the two characters. I just think I never realized how much I liked and appreciated Jack until his death was imminent. And he really did evolve quite a lot over the course of the show, which I always like to see in a character. And the romantic in me always wants a “happily-ever-after” moment for a couple, so I’m glad Kate found him in the afterlife, just as I’m happy Sun and Jin, Sawyer and Juliet, Charlie and Claire, Sayid and Shannon (for whatever reason), Hugo and Libby, and Penny and Desmond found each other, too.

    I like your reasoning that Jack had to work out his issues with his father before he could move on in the afterlife, and that David was a way for him to do that. That’s makes a lot of sense to me, so thanks for that bit of wisdom!

    I’m glad you had a good experience watching the end of the show. Thanks for sharing it with us here! :-)

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