Friday, August 13, 2010

Part II - Let's get LOST (Episode 6:17/18 The End)

If you haven't seen the LOST finale yet... first of all, what rock have you been living under? And secondly...
Don't say you weren't warned. This is the second installment of a three-part discussion of the LOST finale. You might want to go here and read Part 1 before you continue on with reading this post.  Now that we've gotten that out of the way, let's talk LOST...
As I said in my previous post, there were so many things I wanted to discuss about the LOST finale I couldn't do it in one single blog post.  It was a finale that ended six years worth of storyline and obsession; I couldn't possibly relegate all my thoughts and feelings to one blog post.  Besides, I'm having trouble letting go (obviously) so any excuse to drag out the discussion, and linger over the magic that was LOST and I'm on it.  In my first post, I discussed the most shocking moment of the finale.  In this post, I'll discuss what I thought was the most heartbreaking moment of the finale, which was a hard decision since there were so many moments that touched my heart or made my eyes fill up with tears.
I thought this was the most heartbreaking moment of the night:

On the island, Jack stumbles through the bamboo forest, passing the white tennis shoe hanging from a branch, now dirty and weathered after three years of being exposed to the elements. Jack comes to the spot where he first woke up from the crash and collapses to the ground, still clutching at the wound to his side. He lays back down on the ground when he hears a dog bark - it's Vincent. Vincent greets him then lays down beside him, fulfilling the reoccurring theme that if you live together, you won't die alone. Staring up into the sky, a dying Jack witnesses the Ajira plane fly overhead as his friends head home. He smiles, knowing he isn't going to die for nothing. Jack's eye closes. He is gone. The end.

The first thing we saw in the first episode.
There is a poem called "The Dash" by Linda Ellis that talks about the date of birth and date of death on one's tombstone and how those dates aren't what is important, nor are they anything that anyone will remember, but rather it's the little dash in between the two that holds so much meaning. In some ways, you can look at Jack ending up in the same place he started the show as very depressing.  He went through all of that and ended up in the exact same place he started?  What was the point? But where he started and where he finally came to an end in this little adventure isn't as important as the time he spent in between those two moments, and I think that's what the LOST writers were trying to get at with the finale. It is not the time spent, but how it was spent: the relationships we had, the moments in which we chose to do something good, something heroic, something selfless, something loving, something forgiving, that truly matter. This is a beautiful truth that we could all do well to remember on a daily basis.  Jack could have been on the Oceanic 815, crashed on the island, and died right there in that bamboo grove.  Instead, he had an amazing adventure and lived a lifetime in those three years.  He loved and was loved, he struggled with his faith, he (eventually) overcame his need-to-fix-things savior complex and his daddy issues, he had some amazing friendships and, oh yeah, he saved the world from evil and destruction. 

There is something beautiful and compelling about the symmetry of this in the storytelling, coming back to where we started, but being a much different person, informed full of experiences, and that goes for Jack as well as the viewers.  It fulfilled the classic story archetype of the "Journey" or the "Voyage and Return" in a satisfying way.  And even at the very end, the writers were still challenging the viewers with questions about fate versus faith and free will.  Was it inevitable that Jack would die there, on the island, in the bamboo grove, no matter what he did?  The LOST writers continually challenged their audience to engage their gray matter and think about the story and actively participate in understanding it.  That's one of the things I appreciated most about this show.

The last thing we saw in the last episode.
So in those ways, I loved this "real timeline/island" part of the finale as much as I did the "alternate timeline/heaven" part of the finale.  However, as I did with the alternate timeline part of the finale, I too had problems with this ending.  I understand that the LOST writers said they weren't going to answer every question posed by the story and didn't want to de-mystify all of it, and I like that approach, but I still feel like they didn't give us quite enough to form a satisfying conclusion. I think it's acceptable to leave it up to the viewers to come to their own conclusions about some of the mysteries, but I felt like it needed a more dramatic and definite ending to the major points of the mythology they had introduced. 

I'm still confused as to what purpose the island served, exactly. What did the magical cork at the bottom of the waterfall have anything to do with anything? Why was it necessary to keep the Light Source "corked" and protected? Why did the Light Source turn the Man in Black evil and how did it turn him into Smokey? Why bother with all the Dharma stuff?  Why was Dharma even there to begin with?  And why focus so much on the importance of the hatches or Dharma if in the end it didn't factor at all into the big finish? Who was behind Dharma anyway? Was Widmore a secret benefactor behind Dharma?  Speaking of which, why did Widmore want so desperately to regain control the island? To use and corrupt the power from the Light source?  What was his feud with Ben about? Why was Walt special and did the island enhance those abilities? What was the deal with all the fertility problems on the island? Why was it important that Claire raise Aaron instead of giving him up for adoption?  Was he special? What was the deal with Ms. Hawking? Could she time travel? How did she know Desmond was time traveling?  Why introduce so many weird and fascinating aspects of the story, such as all the references to Egyptian and other ancient civilizations and mythology, if you're not going to address them or wrap them up in some way? 

Aside from all the mythology type questions, there's the matter of the ones who went home: Miles, Sawyer, Kate, Richard, Claire, Frank.  I'm not typically someone who ruins the fun or the spirit of a film or TV show by complaining about all the practical explanations for how things couldn't have worked out a certain way. It's easy for me to suspend my disbelief and "just go with it".  But when they showed Jack looking up into the sky and smiling as his friends flew overhead, instead of being relieved and happy like Jack, it nagged at me - how are they going to have a "happily ever after" when they land back in the good old USA?  How in the world are they going to explain that the Ajira flight crashed on an island, everyone died except for Frank and Kate, but when they managed to lift off from the island, they brought back people who were presumed dead from a separate plane crash three years ago (Sawyer and Claire) that just happened to be on that same island, where they also happened to find Miles (who arrived on the island via a secret mission on a freighter) and Richard - a dude who has no identification of any kind.  I know we're just supposed to be happy and content in the fact that they survived and escaped the island alive, but this still bugged me.  Maybe because the writers had already shown us the reality of the Oceanic 6 and the logistics and problems they had when they tried to re-enter society after going back home after the crash.  I guess what I wanted to say to the writers was this - don't play it straight one minute, then cop-out the next.  I know you only had a few hours to wrap everything up, but come on... 

The bottom line is that, despite the nagging questions, the ending still left me an emotional mess. Seeing Jack collapse on the same place where the story started, after fighting the good fight, and in his last moments, with Vincent by his side, having that happy smile come across his face, then closing his eyes... I still get teary-eyed just thinking about it. Rest in peace, faithful hero.

There were lots of other heartbreaking moments in addition to the one I chose to focus on here. For example, all the moments when different characters were reunited in the afterlife and recognized one another - Sawyer and Juliet at the vending machine, Sun and Jin in the hospital with the ultrasound, Kate and Claire and Charlie. Nevermind seeing everyone reunited in the afterlife... (sniff sniff)

During Desmond's first encounter with Jack, he ended their conversation with his famous little catch-phrase, "I'll see you in another life, brotha." and sure enough, he did.  He saw him in the afterlife. (Cool, huh?) Despite my dissatisfaction with some elements of the finale, it was overall satisfying and bittersweet, and I too will be seeing all these characters again soon, as I re-watch the series on DVD. In the meantime, if you still feel like discussing it (this long after the end of the show...I know I'm very late to the discussion party, but humor me...) please leave me a comment and let me know what you thought about this part of the finale. What questions or elements are still bugging you? How did you feel about Hurley being left on the island as the new caretaker?  Did you want a scene of Desmond and Penny reuniting one last time? (I know I did.)  Leave me a comment and let me know. Namaste. ;-)


hyacinthinemoon said...

There are still so many things I want to know, besides how the people on the plane will explain what happened once they get back to the main land again.

I want to know what happens to Hurley and Ben? Do they have to protect the island and from what, now that the smoke monster is dead? How long will they be in charge and when they are gone, who will take over?

Also, I didnt' like how smokey went out, I wanted more action and an amazing death scene rather then Kate just shooting him. What? Thats it? Total disappointment.

I liked the alternate realtiy story line a lot and enjoyed the Jack themed ending. Both were beautiful. :)

I loved watching this show! I can't remember ever being so into a TV show or following anything like it. I just hate to see it end. I want more LOST and I can't help it.

D.L. White said...

I've heard there's going to be a 20 minute "short" on the Season 6 DVDs that will show Hurley and Ben on the island. I think I read that there will also be interviews on the DVDs with Lindeloff and Cuse explaining some of their choices and filling in some of the holes they just didn't have time to address.

Oooo - I'm so glad that you mentioned Smokey's death - I wanted it to be more dramatic too. I mean, black smoke could have poured out of Not-Locke's eyes and mouth or something crazy. It was very anti-climatic.