geoffrey gauchet

Why the LOST Finale Didn't Suck

Ah, the last LOST post (presumably). It's bittersweet. I think Terry O'Quinn said it best during the pre-finale recap special: "It's like when you're reading a book, you don't want to close it after the last chapter, but then you do and you say 'Man, that was a good book!'" (That's a paraphrasing). I love the show, but I'm glad to have some closure.

I've seen positive and I've seen negative comments about the finale. I won't be one of those people that says that if you didn't like it you didn't "get" it. Obviously not everyone is going to like everything. However, I'll say this: my initial feeling was "Ehhh… I'm not sure." After sleeping on it last night, I feel really happy with how it all ended because they didn't treat me like a little kid and spell everything out for me. I like interpreting meanings. I think spelling out metaphors ruins the metaphor.

That said, THAR BE SPOILERS AHEAD! If you haven't seen the finale and don't want to know how it ends, stop reading now. Also, I wrote this after only discussing with Rhea and I haven't read anything online yet. I don't want my opinions or theories to be tainted!

So, my general impression is that it was a great episode. I think if you ignore that it was the finale and look at it as just a regular LOST episode, you'll see that it was just all around awesome. The events that occurred on the Island were some of the best TV and some of the best LOST I've seen in a while. It was funny, it was sad, it was action-packed, it recalled old LOST standards like Sawyer nick-naming people. And it took six damn years, but I finally liked Jack. Jack was so awesome in the finale. Maybe it was his new confidence and acceptance, but even when he was being typical stubborn Jack in the LAX timeline and wouldn't accept is "awakening" I was still liking him. Another thing that took six seasons to finally happen: Kate said something intentionally funny that I laughed at. When she made the "Christian Shepard? Seriously?" joke, I laughed because it was sort of a nod from the writers to the viewers like "Yeah, we know…". I liked that.

So, down to brass tax: how do I feel about the absolute ending and how it ties everything up? I'm fine with it. I did think the glowing light in the doorway of the church was cheesy and totally enhanced the silly Heaven metaphor, but other than that, I was fine with it. As Rhea pointed out to me, series finales are always cheesy because they always have to bring back all the cast and they get all sappy at the end, like LOST did when everyone was hugging and reuniting. She also suggested that perhaps the light in the doorway at the church was the same (or related) light as the one at the heart of the Island. I can buy that, especially since the light itself wasn't what killed Jack: it was the electromagnetism. And, not only that, MiB became smokey instantly, Desmond did not and neither did Jack. This is likely because they were inherently good people and the universe turned MiB into smoke because while he had somewhat good reasons for his actions, he was a essentially an evil guy. So the light wouldn't have harmed the others. Plus, they're already dead.

Speaking of the Heaven metaphor, I'm not totally thrown off by it. For one, they never say it is Heaven. They never say where they're going from the church (BTW, is that the same church where Eloise Hawking had the room with the giant pendulum?) so it could be another plane of existence, it could be Heaven, it could even be the Island. Who knows? That's left for us to interpret. I think people get too bent out of shape with LOST getting similar to religious stories and they think the show was this big religious allegory. I don't think that's accurate. Similar to how South Park poked fun at the Simpsons because they've done everything already and no one can ever be creative without someone else saying "Simpsons did it!", the same can be said for the Bible. Nearly everything that happens in any modern story happened in the Bible. Just because a story features people rising from the grave or going to a special place when they die does not mean it is a religious reference. It just means that that's what happened in that story. I mean, how many movies have had someone kill someone because they were sexually promiscuous? How many movies have people come back to life after they've been killed? Bible did it!

I do have some questions, but they'll have to be interpreted. For instance, why isn't Ben going with the rest of them? Most likely he's not ready to let go. He got very happy when Danielle told him he was like a father to Alex, and he's always felt horrible that he got Alex killed, so he'll probably hang out in the LAX timeline for a while and be with Alex some more until he's ready to let go. Hurley seemed very much like he knew why Ben wasn't going, most likely because the two spent a long time on the Island together.

Speaking of Ben and Hurley, I'm mostly convinced that the LAX timeline (I don't want to call it a flash-sideways anymore. I feel that since the "sideways" stuff takes place after everyone died, it's technically forward in time, after they all got off the island (or didn't) and died. For that reason, the flash-sideways are technically flash-forwards, just a lot more into the future than the stuff we called flash-forwards. So, I'm calling it the LAX Timeline since it's the timeline where they landed in LAX, but "timeline" is probably a misnomer as well.) was created by Hurely and possibly with Ben. I think that once Hurely became the protector of the Island, he inherited some of the powers that Jacob had (and presumably Jack, though he didn't live long enough to use them) and was able to create this "world" for everyone to go when they died, which falls right in line with Hurley's ability to communicate with the dead.

So, what about the people that weren't at the church? I think Richard didn't need to go to the LAX world because he had already let go of everything. He let go of his wife when Hurley let him talk to her ghost. He let go of the Island long before he left. And he let go of everything once Miles found a grey hair on him and he knew he was aging. I think Richard discovering that he was aging let him die peacefully. He was hundreds of years old—I'm sure he was tired of being alive. So, since he had already let go, he wasn't there.

How about Michael? I think one of two things happened to Michael. One possibility is that he was "awakened" and remembered everything, but because he was pretty stubborn and also didn't like a lot of the Islanders, he probably didn't want to go where they were all going. Or, it's possible that Michael just still wasn't ready to let go, similar to how Hurley asked Desmond why Anna-Lucia wasn't coming with them and Desmond responded "She's not ready yet." I think that whole exchange between Hurley and Desmond existed primarily to explain to us why not everyone was in the church, like Arzt, Michael, et. al. Rhea, however, suggested the possibility of Michael's "soul" being trapped on the Island, since he was kind of a prick about everything, maybe that was his destiny? She also points out how Michael was always being trapped wherever he was, like when he got off the Island and he kept trying to kill himself, but he couldn't because the Island needed him still. Another idea we came up with was that if the LAX timeline is indeed the product of Hurley, Hurley would've done anything to help Michael because he liked him. If Michael wasn't in the LAX timeline at all, it's likely because either Hurley couldn't find Michael or Hurley wasn't allowed to take Michael from wherever he was trapped.

Ok, fine, that explains Michael, but what of Walt? Well, we know Walt was special. But that aside, everyone there was dead. Walt wasn't that old, so he probably wasn't dead. Or if he was, he was probably stuck with Michael. I also think this answers why Jin and Sun didn't have Ji Yeon with them—she was still alive in the real world. Rhea suggest that once Ji Yeon gets older, Walt may visit her to help explain everything to her. And who knows: they might even go back to the Island and Walt will become a protector.

But what about Aaron? Well, Aaron's a tough one to interpret. It's possible Aaron died at a young age and so he got to "start over" as an infant in the LAX timeline, but I don't think that's very likely. Aaron was probably still alive in the real world and so he didn't exist as more than an infant in the LAX timeline. Plus, Kate delivering Aaron made both her and Claire remember the Island, so maybe infant Aaron was just a catalyst and once Claire walks throw that glowing doorway, infant Aaron will cease to exist because he already actually exists in the real world and infant Aaron was just a figment of their imaginations to help move along the "awakenings." Rhea suggests also that Claire would only know Aaron as an infant and so he was in the LAX timeline as an infant to help make Claire the happiest she could have been and will now get to grow up with her wherever they are all going from the church.

As for David, Jack's son, once Jack realized everything and let go, David disappeared since he was just a figment of their imaginations because Hurley felt Jack needed a son. This explains why we never saw him once Kate went to go help Claire backstage at the concert.

Oh, and apaprently Mr. Eko was supposed to be explained, but he wanted five times the money they offered him. Way to go! Cuse and Lindelof should have worked around that, but I guess they can just put him in the "Wasn't ready yet" category.

At first, I felt Christian being there was a bit lame, but, Rhea pointed out that when you're dead and in a place where other dead people are, chances are you'd find your parent before your friends, especially if you're Jack and you started to want to fix everything with your dad, but it was too late because he was already dead. Plus, even though it was the Man in Black, Christian played a pretty big part in the story of LOST on the Island, and he was also a big part off the Island, having fathered two of the castaways and being grandfather to Aaron, and he met Sawyer and a list of others pre-crash.

All in all, I'm pretty happy with the way it ended. Did we really need every detail solved? Not at all. Every great story with a mythology as complex as LOST's in the history of story telling has always left some details up to the reader/viewer to interpret. It personalizes the story more and gives it more meaning to you. Plus, I feel that if they had explained everything to me and didn't let me figure some stuff out on my own, I'd have felt as if my intelligence was insulted. I'm a big boy—I can understand subtle hints and metaphors and allusions without you explaining them to me.

The thing is, LOST is in its own world. All stories are in their own worlds. Just because their worlds share similarities with our real world does not mean that all of our rules apply in their world. For instance, people feel like it's a cop out to say "It's a mysterious island" as a response to everything that can't be solved with science. But honestly, that's a totally valid answer. Why was the light in the middle of the Island and why did it affect the rest of the universe? Because that's what the Island does. It's a mysterious Island and these are its properties and aspects and abilities. Complaining that they answered questions with "That's just how the Island is" is like complaining that Superman can fly. "Why can Superman fly?" Because he's from Krypton. Everyones fine with that explanation. No one complains that you can answer every question about Superman's abilities with "he's an alien." Because that's how it is in the world of Superman—in the world of Superman, he can fly because he's an alien. The same goes for LOST: The island had magical properties because in the world of LOST, that's how that Island worked. Complaining that a story uses its own rules and mythologies to explain its own rules and mythologies is futile. You could do this with every single movie, book, or TV show every created if you waste enough time picking it apart. Take Star Wars for instance: The Force was a mysterious power that some people had and everyone wondered what caused it. And then, inPhantom Menacewhen Lucas finally explains that the Force comes from midi-cholorians, everyone was let down because it was just some microorganisms. Not that exciting. Wasn't it more exciting when you didn't know the source of the Force and it was just this fun, bad-ass power that certain people had?

Accepting the fictional realities of a story is what makes stories fun and exciting. Trying to constantly link them to our realities destroys the fun and mystery of the story and renders it dead. LOST explained the Island the best it could: mysterious center of the universe that kept the balance of good and evil in the world. Turning off the light in the center of the Island turned off all the rules of the universe which would cause the universe to crumble upon itself. Since the rules were disabled, this is why Jack and Kate were able to kill Locke—sorta like the shields being down inIndependence Day(yeah, sorry for that simile). Jack put the light back on and everything settled back down, but someone still needed to protect it after he died, so Hurley and Ben did that. And chances are, they elected someone else before they died. And the cycle will continue forever. Just as Jacob protected the Island before Jack, and the woman who raised Jacob and the MiB protected the island before Jacob, and someone protected the island before her, and so on and so on. It's a cycle that will always be because it needs to happen to keep the universe in balance. (To cover one detail: I think when the Island started falling apart after the light went out, the rest of the universe felt similar shakings because the universe was imploding. When it all stopped after Jack put the pillar back in the hole, most probably attributed the shaking to an earthquake-type event). The whole protector of the light portion of the story directly mirrors the Dharma hatch button-pressing part of the story, which further pushes the cycle theory I outline above.

LOST explained everything necessary for us, as viewers, to understand the universe and the world in which the story takes place. They did not explain everything, like the washing machine in the Hatch being new, or the bird that said Hurley's name, but those are things that you can interpret for yourself and aren't necessary to understand the overall story of LOST, which is simply this: Some people go through life unhappy and fight this alone. Once they all find a common purpose and let go of the things in their lives that held them back from growing as people, they were happy.

So, contrary to what I've said in the past, Lindelof and Cuse were right: LOST was ultimately about the characters.

And, technically, Kate and Jack were dead at the end, so I'm happy.

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May 19, 2010
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January 11, 2011
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