Monday, May 24, 2010

A LOST Goodbye

Spoiler Alert!


Scratch head.

Listen to husband say, “I hate ABC.”


Listen to husband, pulling up the bed covers, ask, “Who was Jacob? What was the damn island? We still don’t know.”

Sleep on it.

Wake up and decide I liked it. I really liked it. I still don’t understand a lot of it, but are we supposed to? No. What can we take away from it? Plenty, actually.

First, we’re not alone in life. We’re all in this together, and we need each other. We’re all lost on an island, scared and confused and hurt. “We stand together, or we die alone.” There are always Others out there whom we don’t understand, who don’t understand us, and who can be hostile or helpful. We should probably try to understand them and befriend them, but too often we end up fighting them for no other reason than they are Others. In fact, I think on a fundamental level, Lost is a six-year-long sermon against holy war. The others are just like us (remember that wonderful scene in the temple with Sayid and the Japanese guy, right before Sayid kills him?), and we all ought to be helping each other get through.

Then, of course, there’s a Smoke Monster/Boogeyman/Random Evil out there that can end everything for us in a second.

We also need leaders (the Chosen) to hold us together and give us direction, but they make mistakes and we need to pay attention. Sometimes the laws or customs the Chosen develop need to be changed. Jacob wasn’t perfect. He made a mistake in killing his brother (think Cain and Abel rather than Jacob and Esau), and he spent the next 2,000 years making up for it. Ben recognizes this after Jack sacrifices himself to save everyone else, wounded in the side by a blade (subtle, eh?). In the end, Ben sees the possibility of change in his new leader, Hurley. Those who least want power wield it best, and apparently, Hurley does a good job. Under Hurley’s leadership, even Ben does a good job, too.

Love that.

Science, it appears, doesn’t have all the answers. Each answer just leads to more questions. We were seduced by all the talk of electromagnetism, atomic bombs, and time instabilities into believing we’d get scientific answers (or science fiction answers) to explain what the island is and how it works. The message at the end of Lost seems to be that faith has to be there because science won’t yield all the answers we want. We can’t have one without the other, which is something I’ve believed for a long time myself.

Metaphor is a form of faith; the island is like life, the purpose of which we can only know indirectly. The truth is too bright a light for us to comprehend. Sawyer tells Jack, “Well, Moses, come down from the mountain and tell us what the burning bush said.” But even Jack doesn’t know for sure. That’s all the answer we’ll get. If Jack can accept that, with his scientific skepticism, and take a leap of faith, so can we.

That’s why we need our temples. They bring us together in community, and they can teach us forgiveness, harmony, and peace. The Bible is one long story about how we come together in community and keep screwing it up. The Hebrews in the Old Testament and the early Christians in the New Testament let pettiness and temptation lead them into conflict over and over again. The Bible is the story of us humans trying to get it right and always failing. But we keep trying; we keep building temples so we can find each other and sit down together. The final scenes in the church, with the stained glass representing the unity of different faiths, verged on the cheesy, but don’t we all hope the end is that comfortable and well lit?

Finally, we need to let go and move on. “Everybody dies sometime,” says Christian Shepherd. We die without all the answers but in community, together and forgiven, loved and loving. We get it right, eventually.

And a Christian Shepherd opens the doors for us.

Now I'm off to read what other people took away from last night's weirdness. Feel free to share your own thoughts in the comments. I'd love to hear what you took away!


  1. Susan, it will take me a while to get my thoughts into writing, but I was extremely happy with the finale. Very emotionally satisfying. In the end, I didn't need any answers to my questions. In the end, the show was about the characters I've loved for six years. Now, I've started to cry again. I hope no one walks into my office right now.

    I've read a lot of comments on the Internet from people who didn't understand the meaning of the finale. I think they didn't listen carefully to the Christian/Jack conversation.

    I'll try to post more later after I collect my thoughts.

  2. Thanks for this post, Susan. If I believed in plagiarism, this is what I'd steal. But I don't -- no worries! You've given a very succinct and smart reaction here, and I really, really dig it.
    Thanks again!

  3. I would have liked neat answers as I still have so many questions, but the thing I love about Lost is that it is such a great character study--and that was perhaps as interesting as the storyline to me. I loved the happy reunion ending. That's just the sappy girl thing in me, I guess. I was so glad to see Hurley have an important role in the end. I didn't want anything to happen to dear Hurley! (Maybe the great leadership quality that Hurley offers is that of peacemaker.) And I loved Desmond's role too. Desmond's confidence about the everything coming together in something of a divine plan made me feel tingly! Every step of the characters before was so fraught with uncertainty and fears of the unknown and Desmond's purposeful "understanding" seemed to stand in stark contrast. I loved the way he smiled at the oddest moments--knowing it would work out right. I think he didn't have all the answers (evident after the "uncorking"), but he seemed to have a knowing about where he was headed and what he was supposed to do at long last. There is so much to the story, one can analyze it a thousand ways. I suppose we draw from the show those themes that hit a thread with each of us.

  4. I'm still processing all that was the Lost finale last night, but a few thoughts...
    Easy answers would have been, um, easy, but I'm so glad the writers left so much open to our own interpretations.
    Ben, left just on the outside of the final circle in sideways world, but a faithful assistant to Hurley (yay, Hurley!) on the island.
    Rose! And Bernard! And Vincent! I too, liked that Jack did not die alone.
    Juliet's and Sawyer's reunion, teary sigh.
    Sayid and Shannon, not so much... :P

  5. Well said! I fully agree with your take on it, though I could never have put it so eloquently.

    I still have many, many deep thought pondering questions which will occupy my spare time for some time to come, but there are only 2 very simple ones that really eat at me...

    1. Did they all die in the plane crash, and have they been dead this whole time? I would have liked that one definitively answered.

    2. Is Ben NOT dead, because he didn't join them in the church? Nor did Michael and Walt, or Elloise and Whitmore for that matter.

    I'm forced to make an effort not to try to tie up all those loose ends, the OCD in me prefers things nice and tidy...this could make me crazy.


Thanks so much for taking time to comment!