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LOST: The End

As the landmark show has done for six seasons, LOST's finale left us with plenty of questions.  Thankfully, it also gave us a solid foundation on which to base our interpretations of the show’s core meaning. 

LOST was a show that broke rules throughout its existence, whether it was announcing a series end date, utilizing unorthodox narrative structure, or seriously addressing questions of spirituality, and those risks were part of what made the show great.  The writers and actors of LOST were unafraid to challenge viewers with an uncompromising vision, and that respect for the process paid off in the final product. 

I truly believe there will never be another show like LOST.  It may well be that its run serves as the swan song for network television.  We'll have to wait to understand the show's place in television history, but for now, we can analyze its legacy within the context of its final hours. 

ABC / Mario PerezAs a loyal fan of LOST, someone who has relished the high points and kept faith during the low, I would find it hard to believe that any real fan of the show would be disappointed by "The End."  If before the finale you didn’t accept that the show was not about mythology or science fiction, but rather the journey of its characters, then you wasted 121 hours of your life.  The power of LOST comes from its human element, not the supernatural.  Sure, the setting of the show incorporated many fictional tropes, some of which were pretty cool, but at its heart was a story that addressed the big questions, of love, redemption, and the meaning of life. 

For most of this season, I was among the viewers who were skeptical of the Sideways storylines.  I was unsure why we needed a new narrative device so close to the end, but as I had done for five years, I trusted in the show, and my faith was rewarded in the finale.  The revelation that the Sideways world was not an alternate reality but instead a form of afterlife meeting place was surprising yet satisfactory.  The reconciliation of the timelines provided what I really wanted, the knowledge that the Island timeline was real, and that it meant something.  As Christian Shephard told Jack, "the most important time of your life was the time you spent with these people."  That idea, that individuals can be linked through shared experience, is a fitting end for this group's journey.

This explanation certainly leaves a lot to unpack, and I can understand that some people could be turned off by the fact that the meaning of the Sideways world is ambiguous.  I am left wondering if any of the alternate storylines meant anything aside from bringing the castaways together.  Did it mean anything that they got a glimpse of what life could have been like if they never crashed?  Or, because they apparently created that world, do those speculations only serve as a means to an end, to a remembrance of things as they were? 

Other questions I am still struggling with include why certain people were included or excluded from that final group in the church.  Daniel Faraday seemingly grasped the nature of that world, yet Desmond told Eloise Hawking that he wouldn’t be coming with him.  I took this to mean that he would move on later, perhaps after he helps Charlotte realize her past.  Also, we never saw an epiphany for Penny in the Sideways world.  Can we just assume that Desmond, as enlightenment catalyst, brought her consciousness at some point?  I accept that Michael wouldn’t be there because he was trapped on the island, unable to move on, and I guess Walt wasn't really essential to this core group, so for the most part the right people were in the room.

That final scene, and the episode as a whole, just felt right.  It was great how the show essentially came full circle, referencing the past in a way that allowed the characters to move forward.  The recreation of central moments of their Island life was fun for the audience and a fitting way for the characters to receive their epiphanies.  And to have Jack be the last to understand, to be the conduit for the explanation of the Sideways world, as we simultaneously see him dying in the Island world, was as well-planned a sequence as you could ask for, culminating in the perfect symmetric image of his eye closing.

Some extra thoughts before I conclude.

Scenes I love from the finale:

  • Charlie: "I was shot by a fat man."
  • Ben’s look of gratitude when Hurley asked for his help.
  • Juliet and Sawyer’s shared epiphany.

Some more lingering questions:

  • Did Desmond truly serve his purpose as failsafe on the island?  Well, he did serve a purpose; it just wasn’t the one he, Jack, or Locke thought it would be.  He survived moving the rock, temporarily making Locke mortal.
  • So why were Desmond and Jack able to survive being in the heart of the island, and MIB suffered "a fate worse than death"?  Perhaps part of the fringe benefits of being the Constant. 

I could write pages more, but I think I got to the heart of my opinion on LOST’s final chapter.  It was a rewarding experience to go on this six-year journey, and I truly feel that the finale fulfilled the spirit of the show.  I look forward to talking it over for a while longer, and then, when I’m ready, to let go and move on.  

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Reader Comments (3)

Grat stuff man. I didn't really start watching this show until people were telling me about the cool mystery and sci-fi parts of it, and I liked the last few seasons and the emphasis on that. But I'm all for the ending. I heard a lot of criticism about how they didn't answer enough questions, but as much as I wanted some, I realized that they were going for a more allegorical tilt to the last season and it really swept me off my feet. I came for the mystery but I think I stayed for the characters.

May 24, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterj leo

I think it was a fitting end to an exciting journey. There are very few media texts that can examine the beauty of life's struggle and the enduring spirit of human potential the way LOST has, and that's what makes it such a touchstone in pop culture. It took risks, asked questions, and stumbled onto something very honest. The whole series was about how to live, how to make sense of the chaos and the odds against you, and the way lives intertwine because of that journey. Ending the series in a more realistic or "grounded" fashion would have felt forced, and demystified the universe. I think obsessive fans will always nit pick about the fantasy elements, the laws of science within the series, and other trivial minutiae, but they're missing the point. The series has answered all the large thematic questions it posed, perhaps not in a spoon fed fashion, but it a way that reassures viewers while staying true to it's purpose. All in all, it just felt right, a rarity in today's television landscape.

To my knowledge, no other long running series has closed out as gracefully as LOST has, and that feat is just as amazing as the story itself.

May 24, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMike DiGrande

i think i've seen LOST twice, and that was early-on before things got weird. maybe i'll check it out on dvd.

June 7, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTheBigShowAtUD

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