Yup, I’m a LOST-a-holic, or at least I was until this past Sunday’s (Monday on the web for me) series finale. If you’re looking for Buddhist themes running throughout LOST check out Kyle’s blog or the Worst Horse for a good round-up (I won’t get into those too much here, as PLENTY of people have already done that). What I want to dive into is the finale itself. First of all, yes, I liked it. I know there are many out there that didn’t, and there are many out there that simply didn’t understand it. So let’s dive in.
Almost goes without saying, but yes, SPOILER ALERT!
So we finally find out……not much really. And that’s okay with me. I liked that we didn’t find out the origin of the island, or a lot of the more mystical elements of the series. One of the most engaging aspects of the series was that sense of being kept in the dark, and the mystery that shrouded the island and characters. To take that away on the last episode would have done a disservice to the narrative that the writers created in the first place. It also would have been another depressing chapter in the history of spoon-fed tv series/movie shows that Americans seem so fond of.
But I think that the fixation upon “what is the island?” “what’s up with Walt?” “why didn’t Ben go into the church?” and other such questions that led viewers to disappointment detract from the real appeal/theme of LOST, and the significance of their final outcome.
Yes, the supernatural and spooky elements of LOST (along with those ridiculous cliff hangers) certainly did draw in and sustain many of the viewers, however, that wasn’t the real point of LOST, was it? LOST was never about the island, the island was merely the stage where the real story could unfold and the characters could reveal themselves in their true light. Every episode was filled with their stories, and very little in the way of the supernatural really every happened (which is what gave birth to many people’s love/hate relationship with the show). The show was about the process of human transformation. Just look at the Sawyer character. He went from low-life con-artist to hero and good guy (with many flip-flops along the way). Or Jack’s stubborn “there is no purpose” nature in the beginning to full-fledged faith-based believer. This is where the real power of the show was.
So about the finale. Yes, everything that happened, happened. And the “flash sideways” world that was created was a type of purgatory. And yes, it all did make sense! Some have argued that the writers wrote themselves into a corner, and were “unable” to explain the greater mysteries of the island. This couldn’t be further from the truth. There was plenty of opportunity to explain away the mysteries of the island, the writers simply chose not to (though I have read that due to time constraints and other real-world circumstances, some of the predicted story lines didn’t end up the way originally intended). But that’s okay; the show doesn’t suddenly lose its appeal because the writers live in the real world. It seems nobody wants a mystery anymore, we’d rather just have someone tell us the answers.
So what was it all about? What did it all mean? I’ve seen plenty of explanations out there, and even more complaints. Here’s my take (and what I’ve been saying LOST is really about for a couple of years now):
It’s all about the connections we make on our journey as a human. The characters couldn’t escape them even if they tried. Example: Sawyer goes to Australia to find the man who conned his mother and caused his parents to die (who turns out to be Locke’s con man father) and meets up with Jack’s dad in a bar who is there to see his daughter Claire who ends up on the plane to LAX with everyone else. There are about 20 more of these 7 degrees of separation, but you get the point. Everyone on the island was connected in some way before they got on the plane and those connections are what drove their personal transformations while on the island. This theme was the basis for the flash-sideways story line, as it took a connection to one another in order for each person in purgatory to “awaken”, thereby allowing them to move on.
There was also the whole “let go” theme that I found interesting as well (there are many, many others, take your pick); in that everyone needed to let go of something in order to move on with their lives. This was true for their lives on the island, as well as for many of them in the flash-sideways universe/purgatory/dmv line. There are lots more to discuss, as LOST was a very complex show. And I’d love to sit here and talk about all the cool themes and intriguing story lines (Jack’s son in purgatory being a manifestation of his own wants/desires regarding his relationship with his own father) but that would take forever.
But if the writers had closed every story line, and gave us all the answers, there’d be nothing to discuss, would there? This show will keep us talking for a while, and I’m sure to revisit it a few times over my lifetime.
In the end, it all seemed to come down to one of the lines that made the show famous from Season 1: “if we can’t live together—we’re gonna die alone”.
p.s. – I will say that the death of Locke/smoke monster was anti-climatic, but that was the only thing I found disappointing about the finale.