Hello (and goodbye), Dr. Nick! "Lost" – The Final Word

 
By Nick Gorini
 
They say good things come to those who wait. I don’t know who “They” are, and I’ve learned that occasionally, patience isn’t always a virtue.
 
But waiting almost always gives you one thing: perspective.
 
It was never my intent to document my immediate, visceral reaction to the ending of ‘Lost’. Going into Sunday night, I knew whatever my initial feelings may be (“That was PERFECT!” or “How could they have done this to ME?”), I needed time to reflect on the ending in the context of the entire Lost experience.
 
I mean, that’s what it has become for those of us who love this show, right? It was more than TV – it was a journey, a ride that for one hour a week put us somewhere else. Not just on the screen, but in our own noggins’. And if you believe in some of Lost’s theories, it may have been our collective consciousness-noggins, otherwise known as “col-coggins”.
 
Maybe at the end of our lives, we will all meet at some alternate bus depot in the sky (don’t call it Purgatory!) that we created out of our own desire, the desire to figure out every remaining Lost mystery. So, so many…
 
We can spend our oddly-houred days kissing strangers or beating the crap out of them with no repercussions. Heck, in some cases, they may even THANK us, even after running them over with our car. Then we can meet in a balmy, tropical Catholic Church with non-denominational stained glass (we wouldn’t want to exclude any of our viewers), hug it out one last time, and realize that the mysteries aren’t what mattered in the end.
 
What mattered is that we all experienced Lost, for better or worse, with joy or frustration, together.
 
Before I digress into any specifics of the finale, I want to say something that is all too obvious, but needs to be heard, so bear with me:
 
Network television is dying.
 
We all know it. The viewers know it, the advertisers know it, the executives know it, the cable companies and satellite/Direct TV entities know it, the writers and actors know it, too.
 
It may take a few years before the last rites are read, but network television is like Lost’s Michael, wandering around a magical wonderland, unable to move on because of it’s past indiscretions, haunting us with cheap reality shows, tabloid news and crappy copies of “Lost.”
 
“Lost” snuck under the radar. It remains one of the most expensive shows ever produced. Cinematic in quality, epic in scope, complicated in plot, and deep, deeper than most anything found in popular culture today.
 
Apparently, we hate that kind of stuff. That’s why we get endless seasons of Dateline NBC, C.S.I., Two and a Half Men, The Biggest Loser. Dumbed down and cheap. You want intelligent? You want challenging? Watch AMC, HBO or Showtime. Read a book.
 
Network television, still free. For a limited time. And it gave us Lost. How did J.J. Abrams ever convince, coerce or blackmail ABC into putting this show on the air? Is Abrams the modern day Robert Johnson, selling his soul at the crossroads so the devil may gift him with unworldly talents? Or was it that mysterious elixir of talent, luck, timing and connections that got this gift off the ground?
 
If J.J. Abrams was a character on Lost, he’d be asking himself if it was his destiny to bring Lost to the masses, something he was always fated to do, or if it was hard work and sheer determination that put him into that position.
 
Whatever the case may be, Lost is like network television’s supernova, a final, bright hot burst of energy and beauty before the final, slow sputtering of a dead star.
 
Blah, Blah, Blah. What did you think of the finale?
 
The finale was overwhelmingly satisfying on an emotional level. But like Icarus, I think Lost may have flown too close to the Sun.
 
(Yes, just one paragraph ago, I called Lost a sun, more or less. But it’s the internet, and I can mix my metaphors. Writing on the internet is like the Frat Party Jungle Juice. It could be good, but there’s about 18 different flavors in it, and no one’s really sure what all’s in there. Just drink it.)
 
Before I explain what didn’t work for me, let state for the record, that Lost is still my favorite show of all time. Well, okay, top five of all time, for sure. It’s given me so much, and will continue to do so for many, many years.
 
In an effort to mend this dichotomy, and to heal my lost, broken heart, I have suddenly split off into two equally annoying bloggers (me, and me). Each will give his thoughts.
 
The Original Timeline Blogger
 
Oh gee whiz! What’s not to like? Some of my favorite moments:
 
· Naturally, all the enlightenment moments were incredible, especially Juliet/Sawyer’s, and Jin/Sun’s. What these couples went through to get… What? They’re dead? Oh man, that breaks my heart even more. Makes those scenes even more poignant.

· The Island as a real place. A daring move. And keep Locke/Smokey as a villain all the way to the end. No mystical spiritual wake-up call. Just a bad man needin’ some killin’.


· Kate finally having her kick-ass episode. She iced the Smokey Monster, kissed the boy, enlightened her dead boyfriend, saved her friends, and reunited Aaron and Claire. Way to go out on top, lady.

· Setting up a guilt-ridden Sawyer to pull a self-sacrifice, but saving him. Why? Because he has some soul homework to do, man.

· My man Lapidus lounging poolside, waiting for the outrigger pick-up. Waiting to fix and fly some survivors home. And phew! Alpert and Miles made it to the end.

· Thanks for not killing Desmond. He deserves some Penny and Little Charlie time. Good job keeping us guessing about his motives in both timelines right until the end. It was a great island twist for him to uncork the island, expecting some wonderful thing to happen, but nope! Stuff a cork (back) in it, Bruthah!

· Nice re-intro of Rose, Bernard and Vincent. Hope they’re enjoying their remaining island lives. Maybe now they’ll be a little more involved, with Hurley at the helm.

· Hurley, the new number one! That was nice – his heart was always the most loving, and in that regard, he makes the ideal new leader. I also like that Ben told him that Jacob’s didn’t have to be the only way. It could be a kinder, gentler island-nation.

· Speaking of Ben, he had an awesome, awesome episode. His island end was perfect, and I understand why he felt the need to work out his pre-afterlife purgatory-time a little longer. He and Locke exchanged what needed to be said from both people.

· Embracing controversy, you chose to make the suspect sideways timeline the afterlife, knowing millions of fans would likely freak out. You did it because it was what the arc of the characters dictated. And you were telling us that there are bigger issues to consider than The Numbers, Jacob’s Cabin, The Ash, or Who Keeps Dropping Dharma Food And Beer From The Sky.

· Speaking of the sideways world, it’s hard to see how anybody could be shocked. You guys dropped hundreds of hints this past year, if anybody looked hard enough. No one dying, timelines all screwed up, everyone bumping into each other… Yes, these souls are meant to be together. Not necessarily the living bodies, but these souls are the community that needed to learn how to live together, or die alone. And of course, they end up moving onto something greater together.

· Once you made it formal that it was the afterlife, my mind started racing through all the scenarios. Faraday and Charlotte will gain awareness and move on together. Eloise will have to follow. 
Ben may take a little longer. I remembered poor Dogen in the sideways world speaking of the importance of love between parent and child, and remembered that Dogen’s drunk driving caused the death, or near death of son. I thought about him getting to resolve that shame, guilt and pain in this after-death waiting area, and I thought, maybe this sideways world WAS Jacob’s gift in return for island service.

· I still don’t think Jughead ever went off. It was just the act of faith from Jack and community that caused or gave Jacob cause, or whatever powers that be cause this sideways split.

· Nice to watch Jack have such admiration for Locke that he tells Smokey he’s doing a disservice to the man for wearing his face.

· And man, it doesn’t matter who or what Terry O’Quinn portrays: weak or strong, powerless or omnipotent, good or evil… He just does it all so well. Did you know that he was the only guy that was cast without an audition? They knew they had their Locke before they even completed the very first script. That tells you that these guys knew what they were doing.

· Of course it had to be Christian’s coffin that gave Jack the awareness he needed. And of course, the scene between father and son finally putting away old hurts (remember, it was Jack who sabotaged his dad’s redemption path at an AA meeting, so they both got their lashes in) held great power. Man, you guys gotta get me choked up again?

· Jack’s overt Jesus symbolism (being lethally pierced in his side by Smokey) added to the impact of everything you reached for as story-tellers.

· Jack’s final sacrifices and his death, right back where the show began? Now that, that was perfect. And just when you can’t take any more, Vincent has to lie down next to Jack?… Break out the hankies, people.
 
The Sideways Timeline Blogger
 
Man, that was an awesome ending, except for the following:
 
· Dude, it’s totally purgatory. You told us it wasn’t, only it is. And yes, you said everything on the island really happened, but the island still served as a dang living purgatory, for these people to fix themselves before they go to the non-living purgatory, to meet again, to go to the next place.

· So on the island, you kept Smokey as Smokey. Helluva villain. But you spent all season giving us hints that Locke’s consciousness was still alive within his old body. Remember when Smokey started shouting lines that Locke had shouted in seasons past? You were you just pulling my chain? Wasn’t Locke supposed to reawaken in some form on the island?

· So, Michael and Walt weren’t good enough to meet in the sideways world? Walt never hurt anybody, and Michael tried to do a lot of good things. The Others kidnapped his son, for crying out loud.

· So, nearly every sideways character had a special someone to meet n’ greet before heading to the other side. Except for the Boone. Boone, whose enlightenment we didn’t see. Boone, the best looking guy on the Oceanic flight, who was nice to everyone and who’s only fault was crushing on his step-sister, doesn’t get purgatory playmate?

· A literal cork, in a literal drain? The island as a metaphor worked plenty fine, especially as described so excellently by Jacob in Ab Aeterno. A literal cork is keeping Hell at bay?

· What have you guys got against kids, anyway? Aaron stops serving a purpose, so he kind of disappears as a character, and is only used as a plot device? After you spent several seasons hinting at how special he was? Same thing with Walt, too. And man, I understand that David was a manifestation of Jack’s heart-wrenching need to fix things with his father, but to introduce us to this sweet kid and then have him so easily dismissed as not real? That sucked, and I didn’t buy it.

· You know what else I didn’t buy? Sayid hooking up with that brat Shannon. Never did. And to find that, after all those years searching and pining for his soul mate Nadia, and to lose her in tragic ways numerous times, Sayid is going spend his afterlife with a Ditzy McBitchy? What a disservice to an awesome character.

· You were the ones who introduced us to the fact that Eloise Hawking knows all. How? When did she become enlightened? I understand that now she and Ben (who’s going to stay awhile, to work some things out) can run around, enlightening the remaining crew, but c’mon, man.

· Speaking of Ben, who had a totally awesome finale in many ways, could you not have hinted at how he’s going to try and resolve things with his pseudo-only-in-purgatory girlfriend and daughter-figure? When you guys do the DVD extras (which by the way, are apparently going to have a 14-minute Coda, or epilogue that shows us Hurley and Ben running the island – think I’m kidding? I’m not. It’s true), will you include a scene where Rousseau realizes who she’s sleeping with?

· You guys were missing an episode that explained why Claire hung out at Jacob’s cabin and didn’t seem concerned that little baby Aaron was at the beach without her. And why she was so pissed when she found out Kate saved Aaron.

· I can totally forgive most of the unsolved mysteries, because I understand your intent to challenge us to let go, but you spent so much build up with Jacob and Smokey that all of their stuff felt a but like a waste of time when compared to all the other awesomeness that went down.

· And not to over-think it again, but the way it played out, if Jack had ignored everything and stayed on the mainland, he’d be married to Kate, raising his nephew, hanging out with Hurley, visiting home-building Sayid, etc. Locke’s body would’ve never made it back to the island to be possessed by Smokey. Jin would still be alive, Jacob would still be alive, Juliet would still be alive, Sun would still be alive, Desmond would still be with Penny, Ji-Yeon wouldn’t be an orphan, etc. Jin may have eventually found a way off the island and back to his family, etc. Some of the time travel stuff would’ve happened, but Faraday probably would’ve lived, too. I don’t know. Sounds to me like Jack should’ve never come back to island…

· I like that on the island, you actually left some open-endedness. Hurley, Ben, Desmond, Rose and Bernard still kicking it tropical-style, Jack getting his proper sending, and a plane with Kate, Sawyer, Claire, Lapidus, Miles and Alpert making it back home. I like that at least four of those in-flight characters still have a lot of inner turmoil to work through (Sawyer, Kate, Claire and Alpert), but I still thought these six characters deserved a more fitting goodbye. It all felt so rushed and forced.

· Lastly, and this is the softie in me, now that I know Sideways Jin and Sun were also dead Jin and dead Sun, I think they should’ve been on the plane, flying back home to Ji-Yeon, man! How could you do that!? You guys are cold. And I think the airplane scene would’ve had much greater impact if we’d seen those two sharing a seat, bruised, battered but very much alive, ready to head home and be a family. Those characters more than earned it. I know I’m not supposed to tinker with the creation – I myself have been bashing on people who think they have right to tell Cuse and Lindelof how the story should end, but well, here I am doing it. Damn it! I insist, well more like beg and plead, that this is a story-telling error!… Ahem, I’ve regained my composure. Sorry about that.
 
And in the end, the love you take, is equal to the love you make
 
You know what I will always remember about this show? Not the finale. I’ll always remember the mood, the pitch-perfect music, the feeling I ALWAYS got five minutes before an episode began, and that incredible feeling I had when that episode ended. “Oh God! I have to wait a w
hole fricking week?!”
 
I’ll always remember Charlie and his death, polar bears in the premiere, and Eko building a church. I will never forget Benjamin Linus and will think of him every time I try and weasel my way into or out of something (WWBD? What Would Ben Do?).
 
I’ll always remember jaw-dropping backdrops, and how my family put up with me when we went to Oahu last year and I brought a map of Lost shooting locations. By the way, Waimea Falls rarely looks as pristine as it did when Sawyer and Kate went for a dip. Still beautiful, though.
 
I won’t forget the hatch, Hurley’s numbers, funky Faraday and Jeremy Davies’ unique line readings, or how Sawyer started off as my least-favorite character and ended up being one of my favorites.
 
Who can forget Juliet, in my mind the most complex and compelling female character on the show? And I won’t even forget Mr. Friendly (I was looking for you to pop up in the sideways world all season), Patchy or all the other pseudo-villains that strolled through the island.
 
I won’t forget that Michael got a raw deal, or how quickly we all became hooked on the cool sincerity of Desmond. I also won’t forget that after doing a horrible job introducing new characters, they got it right the following year with Miles, Faraday, Charlotte, etc. parachuting in.
 
I won’t forget the guys who portrayed Jacob and Smokey, who either deserved more screen time or maybe shouldn’t have been seen at all. I can’t decide. Oh! And I won’t forget that Richard Alpert was rewarded with one of the finest hours of television this year.
 
I will always remember how awesome Kate could be, but that the writers seemed to struggle with her character at times. I think Evangeline Lilly rose above and beyond the occasion, making the character better than what was sometimes on the page.
 
I won’t forget all the laugh-out-loud humor we got from Sawyer, Miles, Hurley and Ben. Even Lapidus had some good zingers. Remember when Ben told Jack that the secret of the island was an enormous underground hamster wheel? And that wasn’t far from the truth?
 
I will remember all the nights I spent online in the Lost rabbit hole. This show got me to read about things I NEVER would have otherwise, and I think I burned a hole in my Wikipedia.
 
And I will always remember all the arguments, debates and struggles between Jack and Locke. Two characters that represented the warring entities in us all. Such tragic people, with so much of that tragedy by their own design, trying so hard to find themselves. And that ultimately, they needed each other do it.
 
Sigh. So many other things I will always remember and cherish about this flawed, yet kinda perfect show.
 
In the end, it seemed like they wanted to tell us something basic about our lives, something like:

1.   What you do matters.
2.   Everyone makes messes.
3.   Life gives you chances to fix these messes.
4.   There are no easy fixes for messes. You have to put in the work.
5.   No one fixes all of his or her messes before departing this world.
6.   What important is that you try, and you tried.
7.   What survives? Love. Love is the only thing that carries forward.
8.   To move on, you need to let go of those messes and embrace that love.
 
Folks, it has been an enormous pleasure to write about Lost. If you read any of my posts, I just want to take the time to thank you so much. And many, many thanks Peter Carlin for giving me a virtual soapbox and a small plot of his internet stoop to shout out to the world about Lost.
 
Thanks for reading and for watching.
 
Catch you on the Sideways
 

"Lost" in Translation: The End of the End

The father, the son and the holy hottie

In the end there were no fireworks. No yelling and screaming. No fingers in the chest nor recitations of missed ballgames, withering slights, alcoholic screw-ups or Oedipal murderousness. The surface anger melted and all that remained – in the sheer white light outside the Unitarian church – was a father and son sobbing happily in one another’s arms.

Their friends sat in the pews, unbloodied and unbowed. And, finally, together.

The island, with its heroes, villains, monsters and constant life-threatening struggles, was less a literal place than a stage for a greater emotional battle: a thrill-ride version of psychotherapy:, where the patient is made to confront, engage and then move beyond the obsessions and weaknesses that have defined his/her life.

Everyone’s answer is different. For Jack it was accepting surrender; for Hurley it regaining self-confidence; for Miles it had something to do with discovering his faith in duct tape.

What matters is that what once were lost are now found. And what was “Lost” is now a memory. A long series of memories, actually, packed with action and adventure and dark humor, but also yearning and heartbreak and frustration and all the stuff of human exerpience. But no matter the blood and bombs and bad-ass thugs and monsters and on and on, the source of all that white light  came from within the characters themselves.

The mythology, as cool and confusing as it could be, was exactly like the cool, confusing mythology we all weave for ourselves: A Hollywood-style animation of the internal drama flickering behind all of our eyes.

Are you ready to move on? That’s always the question. And for most of us, pretty much most of the time, the answer is emphatic: Helll, no. Thus psychotherapy, if you’re a secular urban mod with health care and/or expendable cash. College kids can take philosophy classes, and engage in dorm room bickerfests about reality. Everyone else gets religion, or worst case, primetime tv. And just in case you wanted to wrap it all up in one tidy package, these last six years have also given us “Lost.”

A simplified version of the bigger versions, of course. But also free(ish) and pretty to look at, and way more often than not, some lovely combination of thoughtful, mysterious, action-packed and hilarious.

So much to love, hate, watch and debate over the years. But as we hit the final moments yesteday – in the church with all the central characters (but no Mr. Eko! Where the hell was Mr. Eko!?! Or Michael? Or Walt? Or Aaron?), the stained glass-of-many-religious-symbols and the sheer white light outside, was that specific answers to specific plot points weren’t the point of the story. Like every mythological story (see also: the Bible, political speeches, etc) they were parables about bigger problems and bigger ideals. Animations of the spiritual pursuit that gives meaning to everything else that happens in our lives

Everyone has unanswered questions. Why the Egyptian statue? What did it mean for your sideways life in L.A. if you got killed on the island? What did it mean for your island life if you got killed in L.A.? (wither the mortal soul of Keamy?) Was the island purgatory? Or was purgatory actually in the sideways world in L.A.?

You could debate all these questions, and about 100 more, for the rest of eternity. You could branch off into different faiths and sub-faiths, you could create philosophical schools and vast cultures based on your reading of the “Lost” mythology. It’d be ridiculous, but anything plus about a millennium can seem to add up to that much. Then you could take up arms and try to wipe out all the heathens who took up with the other faiths.

For now the “Lost” world will just divide into different critical camps, write reviews, post on the internet, and etc. But the root impulse – the reading of liturgy, the interpretation, the delineation of right, wrong and arguable – follows in the grand tradition of all faith-based reasoning. Is it ridiculous to take a tv show so seriously? Certainly. But wait a thousand years and. . .

I loved the ending, myself. I was always in for the internal story, anyway. For me the action itself mattered way less than the way it was reflected in the characters’ eyes – or, more accurately, how it sprang from the characters’ internal conflicts, flaws and aspirations. I may not have understood exactly where that big stone bathtub plug came from, or why the Man in Black got smoke-ified in there, while Jack emerged alive, only to fall victim to the gash in his side (did anyone miss the stigmata reference?) and then to die, happily, in the same bamboo jungle where he arose at the start of the series, determined to face down the smoke and flames and fix everything and everyone in his path.

Now the time for action had gone. He had finally fixed something within himself, and with his friends safely airborne, a sweet dog at his side he could rest. The journey was over.