Monday, May 24, 2010

On the LOST finale

LOST ended last night, and we had a viewing party at our place (and us without a kitchen!) with friends new and old to celebrate/mourn the passing of a great show. I personally thought it was great.

I’m not going to start gushing theories about what the Island really is or what the deal with Walt was or how the smoke monster worked. I just thought I’d reflect a bit on the overarching themes and meaning of the show.

If you'd asked me before the finale what LOST, ultimately, was about, I'd have answered with an oft-repeated quote from the show: Live together, die alone. After last night, I'd amend it to (and this is vague but might be slightly SPOILER-y, so fair warning): Find meaning in life together, die together.

Lost is about many conflicts: science vs. faith, good vs. evil, self vs. community, free will vs. destiny, but mostly it's about finding connection with others in the chaos of life, and pursuing purpose together with them, even when the mysteries remain mysteries, or simply lead to more questions.

So far the internet consensus on the finale is mixed, and a lot of people seem genuinely not to understand it (no, it was not all a dream, nor were they all dead the whole time). But while I have some disappointments (I wanted more closure for Sawyer) , I thought it was overall pretty great, and a fitting end to a sure-to-be classic show.


Josh said...

I've enjoyed watching LOST over the years, but I think the mixed reviews of the final episode have been deserved.

On the one hand, I think the strength of the show has been its characters (not its mythology), so I was glad to see a happy ending for most of them. (And the exclusion of Ben from this ending was interesting--perhaps he needs more time to forgive himself...?) Also, I thought the acting in this final episode was superb--much stronger than typical TV acting. And I appreciated that the show turned out to be more spiritual adventure than science fiction.

On the other hand, many questions were left unanswered even as new questions were raised. My new questions include: Given the show's ending, why have anyone get off the island alive? It just makes one wonder what becomes of these characters. Also, I understand why Hurley (the new Jacob) and Ben (the new Richard)survive, but Desmond...? Why does he survive? It also seems odd that Sayid's romantic reunion prior to entering heaven (or something like heaven) would not be with the love of his life.

The biggest disappointment for me, though, was the triteness of the closing minutes. (I did like the final scene's poetic symmetry, with Jack dying and the show ending where his journey and its story started.) An afterlife imagined as a blissful place of reunion with loved ones (complete with a bright light) is hardly original. The sentimentality of the final minutes seemed to me to be the resort of writers who had lost their way with a convoluted story. It was an easy way to end what had become a mess.

Travis Greene said...

I agree, having Sayid reconnect with Shannon instead of Nadia was weak. I forgot they had hooked up until that moment, actually.

But I didn't see the final moments in the church as "we're all happy together in heaven". I saw it more as a reunion/funeral for Jack that they never got to have in life (possibly engineered by Hurley with his Island powers). I also liked the idea that some reconciliations may be possible (like with Ben & Locke) only after death. So, more "The Great Divorce" than Hallmark bereavement card, for me.

As for the mythology, well, the Island was always a MacGuffin. It was about the characters, and what they learned about themselves. We don't know what became of Desmond, Sawyer, Kate & the rest, but Jack gave them a fighting chance.

Josh said...

Yeah, I agree that the show was more about lost characters seeking redemption than the island mythology. And I think the show stands as a great illustration of the postmodern longing for a re-enchantment of the world (the Western world was largely disenchanted by modernity). LOST holds out the hope that the scientific and the spiritual can coexist.

I hadn't thought of the ending in the church as being more about Jack than the other characters. Maybe. My interpretation is that the sideways reality was purgatory (or a purgatory-like place) and the light into which Jack's father is leading the group is heaven (or a heaven-like place). All of the characters journeyed through this purgatory toward a joyful reunion and entry into the light. This interpretation fits with the Roman Catholicism of the show's creators.