I’ve only had a few hours to process the Lost finale, and I was asleep for most of them, so this is still a little unformed and right off the cuff. Still, right off the bat, I’m a bit of two minds on how it all wrapped up…
(Behind the jump for those who prefer to remain spoiler-free.)
Okay — after conversation both with Prairie and in the comments to this post, it seems I didn’t quite “get it” right off the bat, and misinterpreted the end. The more I talk and think about it, the more I understand, and the more I like how things wrapped up. So, don’t pay too much attention to what follows…or if you do, please read through the comments as well. I’m actually quite okay with the fact that I didn’t get it at first and needed to talk it out. Too much TV is dumbed down so that the masses don’t have to engage their brain matter, and can just sit and zone in front of the tube. That this show didn’t take its viewers for granted, didn’t spoonfeed everything, and was willing to do things in a way that could (and, in my case, did) lead to some initial misinterpretation, forcing me to think about it, is a good, good thing.
On the one hand, I really enjoyed the majority of the finale, especially watching all the characters we’ve journeyed with for the past six years reach a point where they felt whole. Each of them finally got to a point of accepting themselves, their life, and their decisions. It can probably be argued that that was the point of everything they went through — the journey from broken, lonely, isolated people (each of them essentially an island in themselves) to whole, connected people, involved with the people around them, caring for themselves and others. The island, then, was essentially either limbo or purgatory, acting to allow the characters to heal themselves through their trials — or, perhaps, the island was functioning as Meister Eckhart‘s Hell, as summarized in the film Jacob’s Ladder:
You ever read Eckhart? Eckhart saw it all too. You know what he said? He said the only thing that burns in Hell is the part of you that won’t let go of your life. Your memories, your attachments. They burn them all away. But they’re not punishing you, he said. They’re freeing your soul. So…if you’re frightened of dying, and you’re holding on, you’ll see devils tearing your life away. But, if you’ve made your peace, then the devils are really angels, freeing you from the earth. It’s just a matter of how you look at it, that’s all.
On the other hand, though, I feel a little bit as if it ended up as one big cop-out. It really looks like in the end, nothing actually happened. The plane crashed, the passengers died, and everything we’ve seen has been little more than the final crazed moments of hallucinatory brain activity of one of the passengers (probably Jack) before death finally takes hold. It’s just one very small step removed from the “it’s all a dream” reset button, or the infamous St. Elsewhere snow globe.
(A further spoiler warning regarding the film Jacob’s Ladder.)
The thing is, while part of me is annoyed at the feeling of being duped by the cop-out ending, I went through the same thing the first time I saw Jacob’s Ladder, a psychological horror film when uses a very similar device. That film, as hinted by the quote above, is about one man’s journey through his own personal hell as he learns to accept his death — only, of course, neither he nor the audience realizes this until the very end. When I first saw Jacob’s Ladder I was entirely pissed at the “cop-out” ending, but on subsequent viewings and with a little more thought, I grew to appreciate that in this case, it was the journey that mattered and that made the story powerful.
I can’t say for sure that Lost will end up in the same place as I let it percolate through my brain. But I’m at least going to do my best to give it a chance, and not to let a little dissatisfaction with the final fifteen minutes taint the fun I’ve had watching this show for the past six years.
It’ll be interesting to see what other people have to say as the final wrapups and analyses start to appear.