Coming to terms with Lost
I’m finding myself oddly at peace with the end of Lost today, having spent far too much time thinking about it yesterday and this morning. There are still a number of things I would have done differently. For one, Hugo would have discovered the numbers (4, 8, 15, 16, 23, 42) and their relationship to the candidates. I don’t mind that the mystery of Walt was never explained, but I would have liked to know more about the wheel and how it moved the island, why it was frozen, and a little more about the Dharma Initiative. I would have liked the Charles Widmore story to be more coherent. The infertility problem was a mystery I was fine not understanding – I still think it may have to do with Jacob’s rules about mothers.
I think the entire end (including the last three or four episodes) would have been much, much stronger if we’d had a glimpse of the cave and the light before, and if some hints had been made earlier on that this light was connected to the hatch and to the energy on the island. One of my big complaints about the last few episodes was that so much new material was introduced all at once, it felt like they introduced this material and then wrapped it up in a handful of episodes rather than wrapping up much older mysteries.
All that aside, however, today I feel more reconciled about the ending. The Christian Shepherd speech was a bit much. More could have been shown and not explained there at the end (though perhaps it was necessary to spell out, in no uncertain terms, that all that happened had happened, that some had died before Jack and some afterward, if only to dispel any notions that they had all died on the plane in the beginning.) The more I think about it, the more I think that yes – the show could have used a bit more time to wrap up the plot in a more satisfying way, but there really was no perfect way to wrap the show, and giving us all these moments with the characters we’ve come to know and love was a good and important thing to do. The emotional power of the finale was perfect. And as tacky as a reunion like that may be, maybe in a way it was also kind of nice. Maybe lots of answers would have been, in the end, sort of disappointing, just like the revelation of the whispers on the island was disappointing.
See also Todd VanDerWerff and Alan Sepinwall for two really great takes on the finale. I want to especially share with you this passage from VanDerWerff’s post. Keep in mind the exchange between Kate and Jack after the concert. He says he’s confused, and she says she knows. If he comes with her she’ll show him what he needs to know.
One of my favorite books of all time is "Watership Down." In that story, the main action of the book ends with around 20 pages left. (It’s here that I’ll warn you there are spoilers for "Watership Down" ahead, but the book is almost 40 years old. C’mon.) The rabbits who have come to Watership Down to make their home have survived an incursion by the borderline fascist General Woundwort, and everyone is safe for a little while. It’s a lovely scene, but it’s made even more moving by the short epilogue, set in an undetermined future. The book’s hero, leader Hazel, has grown old and is enjoying one last summer among all of those for whom he built a world worth living in. Which is when El-Ahrairah, something like the rabbits’ folk hero and/or god, arrives to take Hazel away to what’s after, not a rabbit Heaven, not exactly, but definitely a place where there will be less pain and less worry. The final sentences are elliptical, suggesting more than showing, creating something that is and always will be while staying just ahead of us. We are not yet ready to see what is next. We can only catch pieces. Hazel worries about those who will go after him, but El-Ahrairah insists he needn’t worry. "They’ll be all right," he says, "and thousands like them. If you come with me, I’ll show you what I mean."
So when Sawyer was reading "Watership Down" back in season one of "Lost," I thought it was just a tip of the hat from the producers to a book I loved. I didn’t know it was the answer to the whole series.
I’m not entirely satisfied with the end, not even close, but I’m finding some sense of peace with it today. I certainly don’t think the last six years of the show were somehow wasted.