Monday, May 24, 2010

LOST 6x17/18: "Perfectly perfect in every way"

The finale of LOST was one of the most highly anticipated television events ever -or at least hyped as such. The ratings seemed to support this, as they remained fairly steady for the duration of the episode – an unprecedented occurrence for a single event that lasted two and a half hours. If you’re reading this blog, you undoubtedly watched the episode, and you’ve probably been debating it for the last couple of days anyway. So rather than recap the full episode, I’d rather share with you my reaction to it and a couple of parallels I drew.

I loved it. I haven’t been uniformly positive about every episode of the series, but this was an amazing finale. Yes, it was sentimental. No, we didn’t see Walt or get the answer to what the numbers really meant or get the Man In Black’s name. (It was Samuel, by the way, according to a video clip on E!'s site.) And yes, it got pretty dusty in the room numerous times on Sunday night. But I feel great about “The End”.

Lost 6x17/18: The End

Top moments from the finale:

  • The Jack vs. UnLocke Crouching Tiger-like fight scene on the cliff. Epic in the storytelling, this was an epic moment in cinematography, as well.

  • Jack hands the keys to the island to Hurley. Hurley was always a fan favorite, and probably the most innocent among them. He was also a very simple, but that also made him pure and a very similar choice to Jacob.

  • Locke and Ben's conversation outside the church. It was good to see Ben's redemption continue and that he wanted to continue his life with Alex and perhaps Rousseau to repent for his on-island denial of her. To see John Locke kick away that wheelchair and embrace the island was a great moment.

  • Juliet and Sawyer finally go Dutch. The moment in LA X when Juliet is dying in Sawyer's arms is paid off finally as they meet at the candy machine over, of course, an Apollo Bar. To see their recognition was perhaps better than any other "awawkening" on the finale. (Though I'm sure some Sawyer/Kate "Skaters" felt otherwise.)

  • The callbacks to earlier episodes. From Jack and Locke looking down the golden cave waterfall toward Desmond reminding us of looking down the Swan hatch at him, to Juliet giving Sun a sonogram again, to Vincent and Jack in the bamboo forest, to the literal cork in the island that was keeping good in and evil out...

  • The score. Michael Giacchino's score was at least as important as any other element of LOST, and perhaps even more important than most. Thankfully, they made the decision for the series to use Giacchino and a live orchestra to score the series. In case the ending of LOST didn't get you somewhere between teary and sobbing, Giacchino's score undoubtedly did. Or else you have no heart.

* * * *

Some of my thoughts on the episode generally...

One theory of the Big Bang is that the Universe will eventually attain a critical density after many billions more years of expansion. It will reach its maximum size and then begin to contract, pulling in on itself and eventually ending with a dense mass of hot matter – known as the Big Crunch – resuming to a state similar to that in which the Universe started. As this happens, at least as I imagine it, the closer the matter returns to the Big Crunch state, the faster it moves.

This is how I interpreted the last season of LOST. We saw the Universe of the Losties begin to contract into the Big Crunch (or the big church?). And as we neared the end of the season, the action began occurring faster – Jin and Sun got a quick goodbye, Widmore no more, Sayid see you later…

The series ended much the way it began, with Vincent finding Jack on the beach and a close up on his eye. Except now, as the Big Crunch completes its contraction, we see Jack die, content as he sees a plane fly overhead that the next Big Bang will take a different path.

* * * *

One other thought I’ve been stuck with since yesterday… The final scene in the apparently non-denomonational church (on the stained glass window were a Christian Cross, a Jewish Star of David, a Hindu Om, a Muslim Star and Crescent Moon, a Buddhist Dharma Wheel, and a Tao Yin & Yang) felt to me a lot like the final scene in the 1984 film, Places in the Heart, a movie I saw as a kid. The film, set in the 1930s South, ends in an idealistic scene of redemption where all the characters are celebrating communion together at a church – black and white, killer and victim, alive and dead, etc. Regardless of their places or their actions in life or even when they died, they were all together spiritually. In the final battle of science vs. faith on LOST, the writers make the statement that the winner is faith.

* * * *

I can understand the confusion or even frustration of many fans. The ambiguity of elements of the final episode – and especially the final shots of the wreckage of an Oceanic flight – might appear to negate all of what we’d watched for the last 6 years…perhaps even negating anything we’d learned about the mythology of the island – from Jacob and MIB to the Dharma Initiative to the Others and the 815ers. I don’t believe that’s the case at all. Everything that happened on the island happened. After all, we know that on LOST, Whatever Happened, Happened.

In the Jimmy Kimmel reunion/recap special, Jimmy points out that in the season premiere, “LA X”, as the turbulence starts to subside, Rose tells Jack, “You can let go now. It’s ok, you can let go.” This was the first clue – in retrospect, a massive one – that the sideways was all leading to Jack letting go and crossing over. However, that off-island sideways flashes were happening in the limbo of Jack’s mind as he was stumbling through the bamboo forest. (Coincidentally, bamboo is tied to the creation myth in some Asian cultures.) He lays down there, just as we’d first found him, with Vincent escorting him again to his next phase…letting go.

As Juliet is giving Sun a sonogram, she tells Sun that her baby is "perfectly perfect in every way." LOST had its missteps, but as far as an overall television experience, it was a near-perfect experience to me.

Thank you, LOST, for six amazing years of unprecedented television.

Drop your comments, interpretations or recipes below.

- Sean Salo


Jenn said...

What do you think about the very last scene - the wreckage on the beach. It's a pristine wreck - so is this what really happened to flight 815 - bash, boom, that's it - or is this the wreckage of Kate/Sawyer/Milo/Richard/Lapidus' plane?

(m)Jaye said...

I go back and forth with thinkning that maybe they were all dead to begin with, and I can find answers, but the quote "Whatever Happened, Happened." drives that notion away. I also think there are key phrases in the show that will lead you to it's conclusion: "Live together, Die alone"; "Whatever Happened, Happened"; & "Let go". I also think that Vincent is an extension/stand-in for Walt. People are going to either read TOO much into things, or not enough. Also, they may not realize that the checklist of questions that they want answers to, some may have already been answered in some way shape or form. Either way, I'm content with having a few questions left.

Phil said...

I was actually pretty angry immediately following the final episode. I've watched the episode twice since that initial reaction, and I think I've found an inner peace with the episode. I think that I would not have been happy with any ending. Just for that reason. Its the end. I loved the idea of it being a purgatory type place 6 years ago, there is no reason to not enjoy it now. The show was an amazing experience for me( all 6 seasons). It has seen me move twice, get married(on 8/15/08 no less) and have a baby girl. The end...was the end. And I'm ok with it now.

Lourdes said...

What I came to realize is the series really centered around Jack being redeemed and letting go of his demons. Please note that most of the characters had their demons also. This whole journey was based on people "letting go" or being redeemed. Jack died happy knowing that Kate and Company had made it off the island on the plane. Unfortunately, Jack did not release all of his demons upon dying. The "sideways" is where they "existed" and tried to redeem themselves. This was their purgatory. Jack needed to see his father and see the others to finally let go and move on.

I know a lot of folks are still asking what was the island, the light, and why could the women have babies. The island was a "tool" used to help Jack and company achieve redemption. It is not important what the island is. It was a tool or vehicle needed to "accomplish redemption". Their experiences on the island were real. It was part of each indivduals healing process. I think the writers did a great job in ending the series. NOT THE ENDING EVERYONE WANTED, BUT THEY WERE FINALLY AT PEACE WITH THEMSELVES AND EACH OTHER.

Sean said...

@Phil - everything that happened on the island happened. The only purgatory was the flash sideways, as I'm seeing it now. Though I guess it's a possible interpretation, given the wreckage at the end.

@Jenn - I don't know that it was Oceanic. A lot of speculation it was just b-roll of the wreck as an image for the credits... Could have been Ajira too, and Lapidus and team didn't make it off the island after all. Not sure. They conspicuously don't have any logos...

@(m)Jaye - Agreed. Whatever Happened, Happened is the key.

Sean said...

@Lourdes - Agree. Which explains why people like Nadia or Ji Yeon weren't there (sad as that made me) - they weren't critical to the most important time Jack spent - on the island.

michael said...

Sean, I just want to take the time to thank you for your hard work and dedication to this blog. It has become an extension of my weekly LOST experience and I will truly miss it!

Phil said...

@sean-totally agree sideways flash was only time it was purgatory. I also agree that the whole show was jacks redemption. And everyone in sideways flash was how he would have seen them had they been in his life. Or something to that effect. Everytime I start thinking about that it gives me a headache.

Faye said...

The finale emotionally satisfied me, but didn't come close to mentally satisfying me. And I'm trying to just let all the questions go and revel in the "happy reunions/awakenings". LOL

Thanks for all the hard work you put into these blogs, Sean. You're the only reason I had any clue what was going on.

DJWildBill said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
DJWildBill said...

I have bi-polar feelings about the ending. I absolutely loved happy ending with the reunion (albeit sans Helen for John... wtf? Where was she?) in the church. The explanation provided by Christian was fitting and so poignant within the Lost mythology: "there is no 'now' here." That sums up everything and now we can see why the characters were at different points in the calendar and still wound up in the hospital together and also why Dr. Jack Sheppard could work such long hours AND devote time to David (not to mention why David didn't mind waiting on dear old dad while he conducted an impromptu major surgery) and to attend a concert without yawning once.

I'm still convinced that Lost is a game and you could interpret what we've been shown as "game over" without ever seeing the actual players outside our vantage point. But, that's just another interpretation within the mythology that is becoming, billowing, ebbing, flowing, and swirling as Lost.

What I don't like about the ending stems directly from the ending they chose to portray. We have an ambiguously spiritual ending confirming the deaths of all the principle characters and through that we've been shown that everything that happened on the island that we weren't given answers to may have been an intentional red herring, a masterful misdirection meant to add mystery and depth without expanding the Losties universe within their Universe. I had planned to go back and watch the entire series again (minus commercials) and see what clues I could further unfold through hindsight. Now I know that the Easter eggs, the histories told within the flashbacks, the unknowing intertwining of the characters' lives, the clues themselves don't really mean that much. Instead, I should focus on the people and the lives they lead rather than the surroundings and environs they encounter and endure.

Had Spanky and Alfalfa watched this show they'd has made Damon and Carlton honorary members of the "He-Man Woman Hater's Klub" for all the masculine elements contained in the mystery but they would have revoked that membership on the last syrupy episode in which masculinity through mystery was flung out the window and they got in touch with and exploited their experimental feminine side.

Now, don't get me wrong, I am a feminist and a firm believer in equality in all aspects of life. What I don't like is what I perceived as a sudden left turn in the story line. Possibly on a second viewing (more like an actual fifth or sixth viewing now for season six episodes) I'll be able to see the transition to a softer mode of story telling and be more accepting, but I doubt it.

The island's mystery is legendary and the stuff which trans generational epics are crafted around. We've been shown the ending of the Oceanic 815 passengers but we've not been shown the ending of the island. This opens the door to a sequel, a spin-off, and a "Lost: The Next Iteration!" show ten years out. Will Hurley still be in charge? If so, Jorge Garcia can do a guest spot to be that generation's Jacob-esque spiritual leader. The whole thing can start again without impacting upon the memory of Lost or this show's characters.

Frankly, now that they are dead, let's stop mourning their loss and start anticipating the arrival of the next batch of Losties. Oh, and if on that show they also time travel then two of their characters should be Nikki and Paulo and they can inexplicably go back in time, meet out Losties and die in 2004 only to return alive and well to their troops in 2014 after wakening in their graves when the Medusa spider's bite wore off.

Whew! I'm so ready for "Lost: The Next Iteration!" I want to see what games Hurley will challenge his group with.

Joe B said...

I too was disappointed at the end - initially. I thought for sure, the only explination that made sense was that they all died in the crash, and that the whole story was in Jack's mind in the few moments before he died.

But two upon further review, two lines in the last couple minutes of the episode turned me to the "Sideways is Purgatory" theory. Line 1; Hurley telling Ben he was a great number 2. Line 2; Christian telling Jack there is no now here.

So this tells me that life on the island was real and did go on. All the character were able to meet up in the church after they died in real life (at various different times), but because time had no meaning in purgatory, they were all there together to move onto the big white light.

I would be curious to find out if the creators of the show had all this in mind when they first came up with the idea for the show, or if it had developed over time

Sean - - thanks again for the blog. Thanks for explaining all these years all the things I missed while watching the show.

Sean said...

@DJWildBill - Thanks for your great comment here and in previous blog entries. Agree this was a pretty radical left turn. I'm certainly not completely forgiving of the mysteries left behind like castaways on the island, but I still found it an emotionally satisfying end to the characters we grew to know.

Iulia said...

I think it was indeedy perfectly perfect in every way..i'd like tot hink the island events DID happen, otherwise how could the characters have connected enough to want to be together spiritually..i doubt the crash itself could bond them in such a strong way...i also think the numbers were explained in as much as 'jacob had a thing for numbers'..unfortunately, i watched the episode online, since i don't have a tv and i din't get to see the wreckage shots at the end...any idea where i could find those?

Lawrence M Mullins-Wright said...

I Love that Desmond was the Grim Reaper. My favourite part of the last few eps.

Other than that I would just say that LOST has been the two words I have been chanting over and over again since I started watching it again (season 3). 'Physics & Love'

Brilliant ending to a brilliant show.