“No one can tell you why you’re here, Kate.”
In ‘What They Died For’ – Lost’s penultimate episode — we learned that scores of folks met their final fate on The Island over the last six years because, essentially, some names got scrawled on a cave wall. It only makes sense that Lost gave us a poetic flip of the coin in its final moments, answering perhaps the biggest question of the entire series: What did each of the castaways live for?
Lost‘s final episode, ‘The End’, was high on the melodrama and great character moments, as the ‘live together, die alone’ theme unfolded as a final thesis for the show with an unexpected twist. But, in a way, Lost really also ended in a pretty expected way, with a raging nerd-debate that won’t be ending anytime soon.
Leading up the nondenominational church doors opening to white light, we got a Lost episode that was structured to be the finale of all Lost finales, finally taking us to ‘The End.’
The two-and-a-half hour episode played out like an “epic of epic-ness” (if I can steal the tagline to the upcoming Scott Pilgrim flick.) Memorable cues from the past five season finales were assembled into a story of good versus evil on a crumbling Island, while meta-commentary on the importance of remembering — and letting go — were injected into just about every scene. As the castaways “awoke” in another existence with flashbacks of their other lives, we got flashes back to the great moments we’ve spent obsessing over a mysterious Island and its inhabitants.
The meta-flashbacks began with Jack and Locke looking down the cave exactly as they did at the opening of the hatch in the cliffhanger of Season One. But Locke wasn’t interested in going down the hatch this time, just as the rest of the pivotal cues from seasons past were played out with different results. Desmond failed at being a fail-safe. The Island threatened to disappear. Jack opened another mysterious coffin. And we were blinded by a white light one last time. Remember, and move on.
Like the mysterious coffin coming off the plane late, my final ‘Lost Luggage’ column is turning up quite later than I was hoping due to me being misplaced across the country. Even though there are tons of things I can write about, Lost has always been best enjoyed not typing alone, but with discussion and hearing other’s opinions. So, it only makes sense that I welcome back Joe Dilworth, PCZ’s EIC, to help me remember and let go of a show that has taken up tons of my headspace for much of the last decade.
Ryan: So, ‘The End’ aired on your birthday. What did you think? Was it a good gift, or are you looking for a refund?
Joe: I think the finale did an excellent job in wrapping up the story that began with the first episode. No, all questions and mysteries were not answered, but that’s sort of how life works, isn’t it?
I really liked that the strange, mysterious, unexplainable Island storyline turned out to be the “real world” and the mundane, normal LA X verse turned out to be Purgatory or Limbo. The creators of the show have always been coyly meta by having characters wonder aloud at some of the fan theories, so to have a popular one become the story in the end, albeit with a bit of a twist, was a nice touch.
For me, it was emotionally satisfying and a perfect way to end these characters we have followed for the last six years. They left us wanting more — what is The Island like with no Smokey and Hurley in charge? What did the survivors do once they left the Island? Is there any way Frank Lapidus could be any more of a badass?
And, they gave us an ending that was satisfying, that honored the characters, and those of us that invested so much time in this story and one that will be discussed and debated for a long time. I couldn’t ask for a better birthday present from a television show.
Ryan: Which unresolved questions do you wish got more screen-time?
Joe: I feel a lot of the stuff about the Dharma Initiative got sort of dumped by the wayside. That seemed to be so important for about half the show and then got summarily dumped once the Island and our favorite Losties became re-stuck in time. Also, why, exactly, were Widmore and Ben Linus in such a violent conflict about the Island? I don’t think it was ever really explained what either of them hoped to gain by taking control of the Island and what either of them thought that really meant.
Ryan: Jacob’s cabin is at the top of my list of unanswered questions – and I really thought it would have figured more into the End Game, along with more of Widmore’s backstory. (And I wouldn’t have complained if we got more Hurleybird, too.)
But the one thing that still bothers me a bit with the finale is how they left things with the children. It goes back to what I think was a lack of resolution in Walt’s Island story, but it’s still felt in the fate of Ji Yeon, too.
For a show that’s full of characters with messed up parents, this thread could have been addressed in more depth, trying to close the loop of crappy parenthood. Also, it kind of bugged me that Aaron was there in the final church scene, since he presumably was raised by Claire and Kate, and lived a longer life. Should he really be entering the Afterlife as a baby? If the church scene was all about how Jack remembered Aaron, I don’t know that that holds up either, since he knew him much better when he was 3 years old.
And what about Jack’s LA X kid? That’s got to strain that parent-son relationship all over again.
Moving on — as I should — is it possible to pick a favorite scene out of all the great individual moments in the finale?
Joe: You are right, there are so many terrific moments in the finale, it is very, very difficult to pick just one. Having said that, I would have to say the final moments of Jack Shephard lying in the place where the show and the story began, dying, Vincent lying next to him and having that shift back and forth with the Losties happily moving on to the great beyond together.
That sort of summed up my feelings at the end of it all. It was a very sad, yet profoundly happy moment. We, like the characters and cast, had one final moment together before moving on to whatever happens next.
Ending the show full circle with Jack’s eye closing in close up (whereas it opened in the opening seconds of the pilot) was as simple, perfect and moving as the final piano note along with the LOST logo right after.
Ryan: I’m getting verklmept — but yeah, there really were too many good moments, big and small, in the final episode. The ‘awakened’ Kwons beaming at Detective Sawyer was kind of great. The vending machine scene with Juliet and Sawyer was well played. Hurley taking the Island Protector spot from Jack was perfect and made so much sense –especially with Ben as his Number Two — but it still managed to be heart-breaking.
My second favorite scene had to be the re-emergence of the real John Locke, as he wiggled his toes, followed by his attempt at trying to convince Jack to come along with him on one last faith-based mission from his hospital bed.
I felt the ending didn’t totally stick the landing the first time I watched it, but the strongest moment of the episode was one that I only really appreciated in my second viewing. Originally, I didn’t love the LA X-verse reveal, then I got too caught up trying to piece everything together as it was still unwinding. And then the confusing end credit scene added another layer of “wait—what?” And I really had my hopes up that everyone was assembling in the church for a ‘We Have To Go Back, Jack’ surprise party, with the reveal that somehow they had gotten the sunken Island to reappear. But that was all my own baggage. I’m one of many that thought my cable cutout during ‘The Sopranos’ finale, and I’ve grown to love that ending.
But watching Lost’s ending unfold a second time, the Jack and Christian convo rocked me pretty hard. Not that I wasn’t sniffling a little bit the first time, but the second time I wasn’t focusing on putting any of the puzzle together – I just got sucked into the performances between the two, and the heaviness of what Christian was laying down.
The episode was full of these great ‘awakening’ moments where people were apparently really psyched to learn they were dead. When Jack pieces it together – that he died – there’s a moment where he completely sinks with that realization, like he failed by dying. I’ve never felt much for Jack over the years, but that did it for me. And for Christian – who caused so much emotional damage for Jack — to be there to console him, and explain what it was really all about – well, that moved my mostly-stone heart.
On a geeky level, the one thing I did like about the LA X reveal was the callback to the Season 3 flash-forward. Instead of moving forward in time, this time though, we learn they’ve been a place where there isn’t even a “now…here.”
Ryan: Any final thoughts?
Joe: I applaud the creators, crew and cast for giving us something to discuss for the last several years. Whether the show dragged or was riveting, there was always something Lost-related to talk about. Also, I hope that more shows take a page from Lost by working out an end-date and telling a complete story. Deciding when the show was going to end and setting how many episodes would be told in the intervening seasons was a bold move by ABC and Lindelof and Cuse. I would like to see more series do that with the respective network committing to telling a complete story. I think that would improve the quality of many shows and enriching them as well, but also it might help keep some shows from getting the axe too early.
As far as the episode itself, it completed the emotional journey of Lost in a way that was true to the show itself — it was unpredictable, polarizing to the fanbase and left the viewers yearning for more. Basically, it was exactly like every other Lost season finale, except this time there is no follow up. The theme we were left with fits perfectly: “Remember and move on.”
Ryan: My current thoughts on ‘The End’ was that it was a good finale to the series, but the season itself was not my favorite, by far. There seemed to be too many disposable characters and settings that never seemed to move anything forward – hello, Temple people — and while the reveal behind the LA X-verse was a surprising twist, it was often a challenge to get invested in it. It’s sort of even more frustrating because after the reveal, the stories told in the LA X-verse seem pointless. I’m still mulling it over, but, yeah, I don’t know that I’m in a hurry to revisit those episodes.
But, ultimately, I think the season’s biggest misfire was having Smokey as a Big Bad. Sure, we got to understand him as a character, but Lost had always been a balancing act –faith and science, free will and destiny, god and evil –and in its final and most important act, one side dominated.
Having said all that, Lost was unlike anything on TV and I haven’t been that invested in a single show in a long time. But still, it does feel like time to move on.
(But there’s no way I’m not going back when it’s released on DVD.)
Photos courtesy of ABC.com