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Why the End of LOST was perfect....
on January 23, 2012
Why the end of LOST not only worked, but was truthfully the most fitting conclusion the writer's could have given us...
LOST is one of the most important television programs in the history of syndicated story telling. Period. Genre-bending, ground-breaking, budget-busting, gloriously epic both in terms of character development and the scope of it's intricately-woven, mystery-laced narrative, LOST is the most unique television show ever produced. This note is me finally attempting to put down in words what the end of LOST really meant, and why it is the most satisfying ending fans could have ever hoped for.
It has been 1 year and 7 months to the day since LOST ended its six-year run on ABC. During that time-period I have watched the entire show over, and had time to really let my thoughts and feelings sink in. I have moved past the point where I believed the show was perfect in every way, and have achieved a new, and even deeper appreciation for what was done right.
To understand what the end of LOST was really about, we need to understand what the whole show was about. The title `'LOST'' proved to be a loaded one. During the first two seasons of the show we are introduced to the lives of all 14 major characters prior to their crashing on the Island. These first two seasons let us know what the show is focused on: the characters. Each and every one of these characters is geographically lost on this island, yes. However, They are also `'lost'' spiritually, emotionally, and in almost every philosophical way you could think of. Jack is a broken man, eaten up by regret and anger stemming from his complicated and often turbulent relationship with his father. A man who is obsessed with fixing things, controlling every situation, and proving his father's decades old sentiment `'you don't have what it takes'' wrong, Jack becomes the de facto leader of the group. His `'live together, die alone'' mentality would prove to be the true motto of the entire show. This show is about a community of people who must come together in order to survive, or they will all die.
John Locke, a man who has believed his whole life that there has to be something more out there than his dead-end 9-5 jobs, a man who never quite fit in, who never quite felt at home, an orphan in every sense of the word. A man who's longing for a purpose, for a home, for meaning in his life, caused him to fall in love with the Island and to be sensitive to it's true nature, even when the others couldn't see it. John's belief in the power of faith and the role of destiny provided the audience with the first piece of the puzzle as to what this dazzling, sprawling story was really all about.
Kate Austen, a woman who is running from her past. From her relationships, from the police, from her fears and self-loathing. In Kate we find a portrait of a woman who is unable to face herself and move on with her life.
Sayid, a man who was forced to torture people during the gulf war, a man who wants so desperately to believe that there is good in him, but who always ends up believing what others tell him he is, Sayid is a lonely man who never quite grasps that your life is your own to make of it what you will, you are not fated to make the same mistakes in the future by the failures of your past. Sayid is running from his past, instead of facing it, and finding the strength to forgive himself.
Sun and Jin, the love story of the series. Jin, a man who will do anything it takes to take care of his wife, even if it means risking everything. Sun, a woman who struggles to find her own place in the relationship, who tries so hard to understand Jin's actions, yet ultimately loves him regardless of his mistakes. Their story is a testament to married couple's the world over, a lesson in what it really means to love another person, and to put that person's well-being above your own.
Charlie, the washed up rock star with a heroin addiction. Charlie is running from his past, from his rocky relationship with his brother, and with his own self-doubt and resentment for how his life has turned out.
Claire, the young, single mother who fears for her child's safety, and doubts her ability to be a parent.
Hurley, a lovable average guy who has never harmed anyone a day in his life, but believes he is cursed. He is running from his curse, and what he believes is his mental instability.
Sawyer, a man haunted by his past, filled with deep anger and resentment. A man who cons people for a living because deep down he has never been able to trust anyone besides himself.
Michael, Walt, Shannon, Boone, Ben, Juliet, Miles, Faraday, Widmore, Charlotte, Desmond, Penny, the list continues...but the point becomes clear.
LOST is about a community of people from, 5 different continents who are thrown together. Each of them is running from something. Their past, their mistakes, their personal demons, addictions, and afflictions, broken relationships, broken hearts, shattered dreams, and disappointed relatives. These people, who for so long have been running from themselves, have become LOST. When Oceanic 815 crashes on the island, they are forced together, and not only that, they have nowhere to go, they have no place to run from themselves anymore. They are forced to work together, putting aside their racial, cultural, ethnic, differences in order to survive an island that in almost every way imaginable represents a reflection of themselves.
The Island, the most enigmatic character on the show, is both the setting for these characters' redemption, and the catalyst behind that redemption. Mysterious, baffling, miraculous, dangerous, and of indescribable importance, the island is the key to healing these broken characters.
The ultimate theme of LOST is letting go. Letting go of the past, letting go of anger, failures, mistakes, and broken promises. Letting go of heartache, self-doubts, fears, and addictions. Overcoming the past by finding strength in those around you, surviving both physically and emotionally by forming a community. Each of these characters over the course of the six seasons of the show are tested by the island time and time again in a variety of ways both big and small; obvious and subtle. The Island serves as a judge, counselor, and healer to each of these people, helping them shed their hang-ups, realize who they really are, and grow into the people they were always meant to be. THIS is what LOST is about...finding yourself. Making your own destiny by realizing that the power to do the right thing has always been in your hands. Recognizing the strength that we each have, and the inner sense of what is right and what is wrong, and that the ability to decide to do the right thing is ours and ours alone. It is an individual responsibility, and we can't blame the past, or our fathers, mothers, friends, or other relatives for our failures. We alone are to blame, and we alone have the power to forgive ourselves, to let go, and to move on. This is what the show was about.. The mysteries served to test these characters in ways that kept us hooked, kept us entertained, and served to move the plot forward in a fresh, unique way. But the mysteries were only relevant in how they related to these character's journeys of letting go of the past. By the time the 2 and a half hour series finale rolled around, whether or not each and every little question had been answered paled in comparison to the hope that our character's would find the strength to let go of the past and move on. Would they find the redemption the island so desperately attempted to give them? It is in THIS context that ANY discussion of the finale of LOST MUST begin. The show was about the characters, and it ends with the characters. And, how it ends, in my opinion, is untouchable.
Exciting, frustrating, slightly amusing, beautifully nostalgic, heart-breakingly final, and inexplicably fitting, the finale of LOST stands as one of the greatest closing chapters in the history of popular fiction. The characters have been presented to us all of seasons 6 in two different time-lines. A world where the Island is of no consequence because flight 815 never crashed, and a universe in which the first five seasons have built to a shocking show-down between our soon-to-be-redeemed heroes and an evil of unspeakable magnitude. The entire final season had us simultaneously scratching our head and biting our fingernails. By the time episode 121, aptly titled `'The End'' aired, we were emotionally exhausted and, like our characters ready to face the ultimate conclusion of what had been a journey of incredible discovery, and deep sacrifice.
Before I explain how the finale perfectly realizes the theme of letting go of the past in order to move on, I must divulge a few spoilers. Without any big, long-winded exegesis, here it goes: The `'side-ways'' world is simply a limbo of sorts where the souls of the characters went AFTER the events of their lives. The characters were real, they all lived, all crashed on the Island, all experienced the dramatic events of the series, and all, eventually, at different times, and in different places, died. When they died, they all ended up in the same `'limbo-verse'', as it were, and we discover, in the most emotionally-charged turns of events of the entire series, and perhaps in television history, that the purpose behind all of this was so they could remember their lives, let go of the past, and move on to the afterlife together.
On the Island, the evil is defeated, and the ultimate hero sacrifices his life to save those he cares for most. The end, which could not have possibly come more full circle, perfectly reflects the beginning of these character's journeys. In the limbo-verse, our characters were given a final opportunity to deal with any unresolved issues they had at the time of their deaths on Earth. Those who had worked through most of their issues, like Hurley, had significantly better lives in the side-ways world than they ever did during the events we saw of their lives in earlier seasons. But most died with unresolved issues, problems that still needed to be worked out. We see these final issues and obstacles overcome as the characters remember each other, their lives, and the events that have bonded them together into what is now revealed to be a spiritual, as well, as physical community of people. Once each of the characters has remembered their lives, they are free to let go, reunite with the most important people from their lives, and move on. To Where? Someplace where Locke will never need a wheel chair again, somewhere where Kate will never need to worry about being safe ever again. Some place where Sun and Jin will never have to be apart, a place where Sayid would never need to worry about his dark past threatening his happiness. A place where Hurley is loved, accepted, and important. A place where Charlie is clean, free of his depression, and free from the chains that dragged him down during his life on Earth. A place where Desmond will never have to search for Penny, or convince her that he really loves her. A place where Jack knows that his father loves him, and will never have to wonder if he has what it takes. A place where these characters will have found redemption, love, self-assurance, peace, happiness, closure, a future. Free of the past; free from heartache, free from death, a home. A real destiny, a real purpose. A place where they will no longer be LOST.