Sorry, I know The MAD Blog has been extremely LOST-centric for the last few months. This will probably be my last post about the show now that it’s over. If you have never watched LOST, then talk amongst yourselves… but I feel sorry for you.
I know I am always saying I never watch TV, but that’s not exactly true. I do catch the occasional episode of “30 Rock” and “The Big Bang Theory” and maybe one or two other shows. This is mostly through osmosis because The Lovely Anna and my kids watch TV which means I do occasionally watch TV. However I find few shows very engaging and think most of it utter garbage. I find most TV shows are full of cliche, recycled plots and dumbed down dialogue and stories… and don’t get me started on “reality TV”. So, when a show comes along that I find so original, so well written and so tremendously smart that I am actually looking forward to the next episode every week, it’s a truly rare occurrence. LOST is the first TV show since “The Sopranos” that did that for me.
I was first hooked on it when MAD assigned me the job of doing the artwork for the parody back in 2005. I had not watched it yet and it was about 7 episodes into the first season when I got that assignment, so I had to borrow some taped episodes from friends and MAD staffers. I started watching the first episode one night after dinner, thinking I’d watch the seven I had on tape over the next couple of days. I turned the TV off at about 3 am having watched every episode I had and setting the TiVo to record the rest of the season automatically. I can’t say I’ve seen every episode as it aired (in fact I’ve watched most some times weeks later if I’ve got a lot going on), but I can say I’ve always made sure the recordings were set and have watched every episode through the series finale last Sunday.
And I’m very glad I did.
That’s not the case with everybody. I’ve read more than a few venomous Facebook posts and tirades on the interwebby. One good friend of mine who I thought was a little less close minded tweeted “I’m sorry but LOST is BULLSHIT”. I’ve always found it funny how some people can’t stand anything that reaches a certain level of popularity. They seem to have this odd opinion that if anything is that popular it has to be crap, even though they either haven’t seen it or didn’t give it a chance and therefore have no valid opinion. I have a certain theory about that. I think these types just can’t stand not being part of the event, and rather than get in on the fun they would rather just show it disdain. How sad for them. If they truly did not watch LOST because of that reason, then they missed out on something special for nothing. A show like this isn’t easy to follow because it’s serial nature demands your constant attention, so I don’t blame anyone who just couldn’t do it… but I do feel sorry they missed the ride.
LOST was not a show for the faint of heart, the short of attention span or, not to put too fine a point on it, the stupid. The writers never treated their audience with anything but great respect for their intelligence and imagination and never talked down to them. They never came out and beat us over the head with a cut and dried explanation of anything (no matter how much we begged for it sometimes), preferring rather to make us actually use our heads and think about what we had seen and to discuss (or argue) about what it meant. In the end it did all mean something. We weren’t greeted with a Sopranos ending.
The writing was refreshingly original and sharp. The characters were beyond engaging. The story unfolded and unfolded and unfolded and walloped us with more surprises than I thought could possibly have been rolled into a single storyline. Nobody… and I mean NOBODY saw it coming when we realized in the final seconds of the season three finale when Kate came out from the shadows that the recent scenes outside the island were not flashBACKS but flashFORWARDS. My mouth hung open on that one. That’s just one example, although the most hard hitting of them all. At times it seems the show was doling out too little in terms of answers and it was frustrating, but once the network and studio decided to end the series the ship righted and it’s been one fantastic journey since.
SPOILER ALERT!!! Final episode details abound shortly!
So, what did I think of the finale? I thought it was terrific and true to the entire series. It left a lot of things to ponder and think about, but in the end it DID explain it all (well, the big stuff). However, like the series itself, it didn’t present us with a user’s manual of an answer… it made us think about it and rewarded us for paying attention and left us with some things to keep thinking about. I’d have expected nothing less.
What really amazes me is how many people I’ve talked to didn’t understand the ending. I’ve heard a lot of complaining about how cheesy it was that they castaways had been dead all along since the crash. THAT’S NOT WHAT HAPPENED. They didn’t die in the crash. Everything that happened on the island really happened. Everything. Everyone was dead at the end, but not from the crash.
In the final moments of the show, Jack has sacrificed himself to restore the island’s light and again stop up whatever terrible power is kept at bay there. He had passed the ageless gift on to Hurley, who agreed to be the new guardian. Realizing Jack is gone, Hurley asks Ben to help him protect the island to which Ben agrees.
Back in what we were calling the “Flash-sideways”, Desmond has been going around to the other castaways, who are all living lives that we believed were a result of the explosion that took place in the past that prevented Oceanic 815 from crashing at all, and reawakening them somehow to their memories of being on the island. These memories seem to be more than memories. Sun and Jin, when reawakened, suddenly know how to speak English. These reawakened people seem to now actually become the ones from the island, and not their “sideways selves” remembering alternate memories. We already know something is not right with these “sideways selves”, because they are not living continuing lives that are the same as the ones they had been living prior to the Oceanic 815 crash. Sun and Jin are not married but having an affair. Jack has a son he never had before. Desmond doesn’t know Penny and works for her father. Sawyer is a cop with Miles as his partner. There are many more examples. These lives had been changed far before flight 815 failed to crash, which had been a recent occurrence in this “sideways world”.
The reawakened castaways all go to a church where Jack’s father’s body is finally brought for his funeral. Jack is the last to reawaken, and his dead father appears to him seemingly real and explains some things. We discover Jack is dead, as are all the people in the church. They have been waiting for Jack to join them to “move on”. The place they have been, which we thought was a new timeline resulting from the prevention of the crash, was not a “flash sideways” but a kind of way-station world where those saved by the island, those who found what they were looking for there, have been living a kind of dream life they have created waiting for the day they would all finally be dead and able to gather and move on. When these events are happening we have no idea, as Jack’s father says “There is no ‘now’ here”. Some of the islanders cannot move on, and are missing. Michael is not here, he is doomed to haunt the island because of the mistakes he made (that’s why he appeared before Hurley a few episodes back, and that’s what the whispering voices are… some who committed evils while on the island are stuck there as spirits). Anna Lucia isn’t here, although her spirit is in this limbo world still wandering. Not all those moving on are from the crash… Jacob brought others to the island and not all on that plane. I believe that the island gave everyone that came to it a chance for redemption of their souls, and some didn’t take advantage of that chance. Some did bad things against their fellow islanders, and that excludes them from receiving the island’s final gift.
How do we know they didn’t die in the crash? Outside the church Hurley and Ben say goodbye. Ben will not come in, choosing instead to remain in limbo… or perhaps he cannot move on. Hurley says to Ben “You were a great number two.” Ben relies: “You were a great number one.” This tells us that Hurley is done with his guardianship of the island and some time has passed since he began that task. How much time? Given the agelessness of the guardian it could have been hundreds of years. He and Ben had some times together, and are saying goodbye. Also, in the church Kate embraces Jack and tells him how much she missed him. Kate was one of only a few who actually made it off the island in the plane Lapidus flew. She obviously lived some kind of life, perhaps a long one, before finally dying and coming to the way-station world. No, they didn’t die in the crash and events and time have passed since Jack saved the island and the plane flew off. One by one they all die and end up at the way-station, awaiting the time they can all be together again.
Regardless, now those who embraced the island and what it offered them are whole again and move on together. Is it Heaven? Does the stone cork in the cave of light keep back Hell? We don’t know, and many little things remain unanswered. Instead we are left with the uplifting message that these people whom we have gotten to “know” over the last six years have found a peace in themselves they were all desperately searching for before they found themselves on the island, and are moving on together.
What a journey. It’s a cliche to say that the joy is in the journey and not the destination, and perhaps that is true in the case of this show, but I found the ending to be as smart and thoughtful as the journey was wonderful.
Bravo J.J., Jeffery, Damon, Carlton and all those who believed in us as an audience and took us on this terrific ride.
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881 New profile pic courtesy of my self-caricature for the Scott Maiko penned article “Gotcha! Mug Shots of Common (but Despicable) Criminals” from MAD 550
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