It is no secret that I am a Lost fan, and in spite of having watched all of the final Season live, as they were being broadcast, I can’t say I’ve been watching since the beginning. I picked up the show around the end of Season 3, and it wasn’t until part way into Season 5 that I started watching them as they were coming out. Even then, as I first sat down to watch Season 1, I wasn’t even sold on the show until Episode 11 – when they first find The Hatch – that I was really hooked. That alone probably explains quite a bit about meas a fan; rather than the characters, the actors, stuff like the DHARMA Initiative and the monster were much more interesting to me.
Anyway, I’ve been resisting the urge to write about the Series Finale until today. Part of me feels like I’m still unpacking things here and there, thus making an overall interpretation of the show incomplete, or at least, moot. Part of me also feels like I can’t really offer much more insight than the show does itself; sure, there are a few unsolved mysteries that were swept under the rug here and there, and I can certainly understand why so many people are suffering from a case of the WTFs, but to me, it works as an ending. I don’t feel cheated, and I don’t feel like it was bad in the least bit. I was definitely entertained.
[Warning: Spoilers ahead.]
I also felt a little vindicated, when it turned out that I was onto something when, over two years ago, I wrote an essay about the use of sound in Season 1. (Here’s the link.) While I made no predictions about the future of the show (Why would I? How could I?), the overall thrust of my essay was that Hurley is important to the show, because he is our in-show proxy, that helps us understand the mysteries of the island because we’re more like him than anyone else on the show. This comment has particular significance now that it has been revealed that Hurley is the protector of the island. Not only was that very satisfying, personally, but makes total sense, meta-textually. Think of the writers as Jacob and Jack, and the fans as Hurley, and the analogy works. While the writers must move on, we as fans will protect the island through being emotionally invested fans of the show itself.
The circular nature of the show was also an inspired ending. The loop feels so complete, that the Pilot episode of Season 1 makes an excellent follow-up to the Season Finale. (Try watching them back to back. It really, really works.) I think this particular ending signals a number of things to us. First, this ending was planned from fairly early in the creative process. (How early is fairly irrelevant; the fact that they even TRY to answer as many questions as they did illustrates that the end was a consideration at a number a stages while the show was being made.) Second, all the imagined Prisoner connections I was seeing extend further into the show than I thought. And lastly, for a show that toyed with Time Travel as a narrative device (both literally and symbolically through narrative structures), it only makes sense to end where it begins. Flashbacks, -forwards, and -sideways seem particularly appropriate for a show that is going around in circles the whole time anyway. (Considering that there is strong evidence to support the notion that this is not the first time the island has had to gather forces to help destroy a Smoke Monster like this, again, helps suggest that this really is the only ending that makes sense, anyway.)
As with anything, there were some things that I did not like. But, as I’ve said before (and will say again), there are very few stories that I’ve read that are completely flawless anyway. I can’t think of many things that I’ve enjoyed 100% (with the possible exceptions of four albums), and it would be ridiculous to suggest that Lost should have been held to such a high standard, too. More than anything, I would say that the extreme emphasis on religion and religious themes really started to bog the show down at times. I am not religious, and find a lot of religious themes completely lost of me (no pun intended).
I was especially frustrated with the Sideways Universe acting as a sort of afterlife for the characters, which seemed very unnecessary. However, upon reflection, this notion of the afterlife does not fit (exactly) any of the religious concepts I’m familiar with, and in fact, seems to be an amalgam of a variety of notions. The Lost version of the afterlife doesn’t appear to suggest that any particular faith is the correct one, but rather, the relationships and friendships that we forge in the real world entirely determine what happens to us when we die. It isn’t quite enough to convince me to adopt religion (specific ones, or just a general sense thereof), but it does seem to suggest that even if religious faith is onto something, it is more motivated by what we do here and now, than by what happens to us before and afterward. It’s not a perfect fit for me, but it is certainly better than most television world views, that’s for sure.
Etc., etc. I could go on and on, and I’m still sorting through all the things I noticed / liked / observed / connected with throughout the entire Series. Let’s just say that I really, really liked it. But there were two details in particular from the final show that, for me, really exemplified what I loved about the show overall:
As Desmond (now immune to severe electromagnetic discharges) is lowered by Jack and Flocke into The Heart of The Island, he wanders past a few different human skeletal remains. Nevermind that The Heart of The Island is supposed to either turn you into a Smoke Monster, or kill you due to the extreme electromagnetic forces. Somehow, at some point in the past, a few people have gotten in. Who, and how? Clearly, that’s another show. It makes the cuneiform script found on the stone plug itself seem almost irrelevant.
Wait, cuneiform script? You mean there were people on the island BEFORE the Egyptians, who already pre-date Jacob, the Smoke Monster, and their mother? Really?
It just goes on and on like that. And I, for one, couldn’t be happier. I haven’t been hooked on a Network TV show since High School, and while I can’t say that my faith in Hollywood has been completely restored, I’m more than happy to know that someone, somewhere, can come this close to getting it right.