A FAREWELL TO LOST
by L.L. Soares
I’m not sure what most of the hardcore fans of LOST thought of the final two-and-a-half hour episode. But as someone who watched the show since Day One, and stuck with it through the times when it seemed to lose its way, I found the ending to be predictable, yet solid. And at least it had an actual ending.
I was never a fanatic for the show. I thought it was smart and interesting (especially its riffs on physics – the riffs on philosophy didn’t seem as clever). And it was one of the rare shows that handled time travel in a way that wasn’t a complete bore (The show HEROES, for example, had a great first season, but “jumped the shark” as soon as Hiro went back in time to ancient Japan – which completely killed the show’s forward momentum – something that the series never really recovered from).
By the end, I even found myself liking characters I’d normally detested. Like Desmond. I never liked him and found his constant uttering of the word “Brutha” to be more than a little irritating. By the end, I not only had a change of heart about him, but I almost found his “Bruthas” kind of endearing. Also, Charlie. By the end I didn’t really like him, but I didn’t dislike him as much as I did earlier in the show’s history. Which is odd, because as a rock star character, I should have liked him. Then again, maybe it was Dominic Moneghan I didn’t like.
The final night began with a two hour recap of the entire six seasons. This was quite a feat in itself, but it worked well. The recap alternated between clips of the show, and members of the cast and crew talking about a particular character or storyline. It actually did a good job of refreshing my memory about a few things that had happened early on – and tying a lot of things together, showing how some seemingly trivial things in the beginning actually did link to the final outcome, and the show wasn’t a bunch of random events after all.
Throughout the night, too, they aired emails and notes from reviewers/fans saying stuff like “Gee, I’ll miss this show.” A little hokey, but considering the rabid fan-base, it was a nice touch. My favorites were “I never understood Trekkies until I became a Lostie” and, a sad one, “The last six years have been my longest sustained relationship, sorry to see it end” (or something to that effect).
Then it got to the final episode itself. As I said, it didn’t have a lot of surprises. We knew that good would overcome evil (unfortunately, because I thought the Man in Black was a much more interesting character than Jacob). Jack temporarily became Jacob’s replacement. The MIB was vanquished, and the world was saved from imminent destruction (Rats!). In an alternate timeline, where the plane never crashed, Desmond and Hurley gathered together everyone who had been on the island, so even in the world where the crash didn’t happen, these people find each other. As they do, each person (or at least most of them) seems to have some kind of epiphany where they finally remember the time they were on the island – like they suddenly have access to a keyhole where they can look in on this alternate world.
Between flashbacks, flash forwards (where we got to see glimpses of the future before it happened), to flash-sideways (the alternate history version where the plane didn’t crash), the show did a lot of screwing around with time. And then there was a whole season where characters constantly popped in and out of time, due to a strange time warp on the island. You would think all this jumping around and alternate possibilities would get irritating or boring, but I stuck with it, and found some of it actually rewarding as a reviewer. The show used these devices in very interesting ways.
And then there were the different “tribes” throughout the show. The castaways. Who eventually became aware of “The Others” – people who were already living on the island when Oceanic Flight 815 crashed – and who were rather hostile toward these newcomers. There was the Dharma Initiative (scientists in the 1950s and 60s who were on the island to study its strange magnetic anomalies). Eventually, the Dharmas were wiped out by the Others, but they left behind equipment and a series of underground bunkers. One of which contained Desmond when we first meet him.
At one point, some of the main characters even got off the island and returned to civilization (The Oceanic Six), but they still felt an overriding compulsion to go back.
And that’s not even the end of the stories within stories. In this final season, we found out there were people on the island even before that. A pregnant woman washes up onshore, and is found by another woman with suspicious motives. The pregnant woman gives birth to two boys. After the mother gives birth, she is killed by the woman who acted as her midwife. She then adopts the boys as her own. One grows up to be Jacob, the other, the Man in Black (who is never really given a name for some reason).
Their family dynamic is interesting. The Man in Black (MIB) is obviously the favored child, yet he rebels. Jacob, always trying to earn his “mother’s” love, is the “good” son. At one point a ship crashes onto the island – the original Others – and the MIB leaves his family to join them, hearing tales of worlds beyond the island. Jacob stays behind with “mom” and later inherits her mission when she dies – that of protecting the island.
The MIB is actually the one who kills their adopted mother (when she sabotages his escape from the island), and Jacob gets revenge by hurling his brother into the maw of a cave that emits bright light (the “heart” of the island). We’re not sure what happens to him there, but it appears that the MIB dies and this releases the notorious “smoke monster” that we’ve seen throughout the series. The monster is able to take on the appearance of anyone who has died, and mostly appears as the MIB.
When the MIB finally gets his revenge and kills Jacob (he can’t do it directly and has to trick Ben into doing it), a replacement must be found to protect the island and its glowing heart. Which is the main story of LOST in a nutshell. The castaways were the potential replacements, who were eliminated either through death or circumstance from being in the running for Jacob’s job. (Of course, even when Jacob is supposedly dead, he’s not completely gone, since his “ghost” hangs around to pick his successor).
And then there are the terrific characters. Jack, the doctor with father issues; Sawyer whose main goal was to get revenge on the con-man who swindled his family and led to his parents’ murder/suicide; Kate, who killed her abusive stepdad and had been on the plane as a fugitive being brought to justice; Hurly, the overweight man-child whose role in all this became more important as the series progressed; Locke, the paralysed man who suddenly found he could walk after the plane crash, and who became a major player as the series progressed; Ben, the ruthless leader of the Others, who fluctuated between acts of pure evil, and acts of unexpected compassion; and Richard, the eternally young servant of Jacob’s who sought to keep the machinations of the island in motion.
And these are only a few of the many characters whose lives we got to explore throughout the series. Through flashbacks to their former lives, their actions on the island, and their fates in the future and in the alternate earth, the show did an extraordinary job of fleshing out a large amount of characters, and yet never once did it seem confusing or tedious. You always knew what was going on if you paid attention – you just didn’t always know “why” all this was happening, until the end.
Being able to juggle so many characters, storylines, and possibilities was what made LOST such a worthwhile show. It’s why I stuck with it, even though the rough patches. And I found the ending satisfying for the most part. Not much happened at the end that we didn’t see coming, but it all came full circle, and closure was achieved without the viewers feeling cheated.
As the island storyline and the “flash-sideways” storyline finally converge at the end of the series finale, Jack dies in the “real world” of the island (leaving Hurley to be the new Jacob, with Ben as his helper), and everyone gets back together in the flash-sideways storyline for a reunion in what turns out to be the afterlife (at what point did the flash-sideways storyline become heaven? Or was it that way all along?). It brings up more possible questions, but at the same time makes perfect sense and feels like a real ending.
After six years, you actually felt that maybe you didn’t waste all the time you’d invested in watching the series. Which, in itself, is incredibly rare in broadcast television.
© Copyright 2010 by L.L. Soares