Monday, May 24, 2010

Reflections on the Lost Finale--full of spoilers

I just finished watching the final episode of the TV series Lost. Whoa, there was a lot going on! Do not read on if you don't want to read some massive spoilers about the show.

Clearly, the big reveal of the episode is the explanation of the flash-sideways as the afterlife. Remember back in seasons one and two when a lot of people thought the "survivors" of Oceanic 815 were all really dead and the island was supposed to be Purgatory? Purgatory has finally come to the show, even if it isn't called that. The characters in the flash-sideways have been running into each other and slowly been discovering their previous lives, realizing the need to let go and move on. Most of them do this in a final scene in a church, where Christian Shepherd almost literally "shows them the light." Kate Austin even says earlier in the episode, "Christian Shepherd? Really?", referring to the obvious literal meaning of his name.

The flash-sideways/afterlife shows a couple of things. First, the characters need to work together to move on (presumably to Heaven). This idea is a great artistic representation of the communion of saints. Second, it shows that this life is incomplete and fulfillment is ultimately only in the afterlife. Third, even if your life ends really badly (blowing up with a bomb, drowning, etc.) you can have a happy ending. Fourth, a lot of times, couples save each other (here is a case where the exception does prove the rule: I think Ben wasn't ready to move on yet because he was in the most dysfunctional couple on the show, viz. him and Rousseau).

They left a lot of questions unanswered, especially about the island mythology. I was prepared for this because the producers, Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse, have been saying on their podcast that they wouldn't answer everything that the fans wanted to know, partly because there was no way to fit it all in and mostly because they wanted to conclude the story the way that they had planned it. I think a lot of fans are obsessed with the mechanics of the plot or how the island works (how did the smoke monster get his powers, what are the rules between Jacob and the Man in Black, how does the island regenerate people/only regenerate some, what different people have come to the island and what's their stories, etc.). The creators are clearly more interested in the interpersonal relations of the characters and wanted to resolve those issues. I'll have to think more about the mythology. I suppose I was satisfied enough with what they gave us. I don't really care about all the different groups who've been on the island though it would be cool to know what the "rules" of the island are.

Lost is over now, what will I do? I'll probably re-watch the whole thing now that I know all that they'll tell me about what is going on.

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