Why I Love The Lost Finale
"Desmond, you've done enough. You wanna do something? Go home and be with your wife and son." "How about you, Jack?" "I'll see you in another life, brother."
Lost is one of the greatest shows in the history of television. It is a dizzying combination of a brilliantly diverse characters, dense mystery and a mythology to rival the great Twin Peaks. It may not be perfect - there are some dodgy episodes here and there - but hell, what is? Lost is like life, you don't always get exactly what you want, but as the man said, you get what you need. The ending to Lost was divisive when it first aired. A lot of people didn't seem to understand what was happening or why, or when they did, they didn't like it. The answers crowd, who couldn't keep up with the mysteries the show examined, were a constant pain through the original airing, fixating on the things that didn't immediately make sense. This will be familiar to those who recently watched the new Twin Peaks. Lost is more direct than Twin Peaks, but it still prizes mystery above all else. It believes that the question is the thing, and that through the journey of self-discovery we can become something closer to the essence of our, for want of a better word, souls. It is in the journey that we can truly understand who we are and who can be. If not in this world, then in another, perhaps in one constructed by a great team of artists.
The ending to Lost is, in my opinion, the greatest of any TV show in history. It has much in common with Twin Peaks, with the way it expresses reality in all its facets, from dreams to visions to other dimensions of existence. Some think that because the final season showed our characters existing in a life after death that this makes the season somehow less real than the previous seasons. A common complaint was also that the ending was too happy, and that it diminished the journeys of the characters in the preceding five years. This shows a basic misunderstanding of both season 6 and the entirety of the show. Lost spent its six years examining the way in which flawed, desperate people get through life and how they grow and become better people. It examined every aspect of the lives of these people and it is only right that the journey would conclude with their experiences after death. There are stakes here, and this alternate reality would not be possible if Jack hadn't sacrificed himself for the island. This is made very clear in the show, but it is something that too many people missed. The light at the heart of the island, is the light that fills every soul, and it is the light that our heroes return to at the show's end. If that light had been extinguished, there would be no life or afterlife.
I am not a theist, and I have been called on more than one occasion an anti-theist. While I am in good company with this tag - Christopher Hitchens hello! - I don't think this diminishes my capacity and belief in the transcendent experience to be found in good art. This is, like Twin Peaks, a shared dream. Dreams are just as real to the individual as waking life. We experience it differently and we know not to confuse it with day to day reality. It is in art though that this dream experience becomes something we can all relate to, through it being shared.
I believe that good art like Lost allows us to transcend our physical limitations and become something greater and purer and better than we are otherwise. I don't believe that Lost has a traditional happy ending. Its conclusion shows us that, just like in the previous five seasons, our characters need to put in the work to understand their flaws and fears, in order to move on and go back to the place where we come from. Those who put in the work in life, are those who can find peace. Look at Ben, he has still not forgiven himself for all of the awful things he did in life. This is again, something that was ignored by people who felt the ending was too damn optimistic. It is not simply a reward for a life spent well, but an eye on a process of spiritual growth, in a way that ran through the entire series. The lives depicted in season 6 are no less real than those in the previous five seasons. As Christian says, they are just as real as ever. Through the actions of our heroes, the magic and mystery is kept alive, and we are not limited by our mortal sacks of flesh.
I find the ending to be incredibly moving. The story on the island is a staggering, brilliant result of six years of complex and emotionally compelling storytelling. There are so many aspects that I find moving. Let me list a few. The first is the line delivered by Jack to Desmond, quoted above. These people are connected through their souls, and the line delivered by Jack takes on so much meaning with the realization of the reality of the final season. It made me cry. Jack sacrifices himself, in the same way that Locke did, for the good of others. It is so right that he finds peace in the end. That final scene... just incredible. Looking up at the sky, Vincent beside him, helping to ease his passing. The eye closes. The story ends, and we wake up.
I also adore the line Jack delivers to the Smoke Monster. "You're not John Locke. You disrespect his memory by wearing his face, but you're nothing like him. Turns out he was right about most everything. I just wish I could have told him that while he was still alive." All John wanted was for Jack to believe him, and in the end he did. So powerful. A shout out to the great Terry O'Quinn for being sublime in not one, but two roles here. He is as menacing as BOB in Twin Peaks as the Smoke Monster, and immeasurably inspiring as John Locke. The scene that makes me cry the most however, is the scene between Jack and his father Christian. As you may know, I lost my father six months ago. I have had many dreams where I speak to him, and I cried so much when Christian helps Jack to let go. When Christian puts his arms around him and tells his son that he loves him... SO MANY TEARS. We may not be able to have this afterlife in reality, but in art, in art it is as true as anything else.
When I watched Lost first, I felt the show had too many traditional religious stuff. I was a strident, not very nice person when it came to religion and I went on many rants about how I felt that the show was condescending to those who didn't have a religion. Well, the conclusion of the show expresses why I was so damn wrong-headed. No religion needed. Everyone is welcome. There is no right or wrong God revealed in the closing moments. Those who grew up, and developed are those who can move on. Even those who have done terrible things. I remember reading the great Neil Gaiman comic book series Sandman, and the Devil says something like "I didn't bring anyone here, they wanted to be punished." This is not about a God who judges the worthy and the worthless. This is about how we feel about ourselves, about how we can only be ourselves when we let go of all of the anxieties and fears and hatred that hold us back. I love Ben's line to Hurley about how Jacob ran it one way but that was just his way of doing things, and that nothing would stop Hurley from doing it better. Another great twist is that the true villain of the show, the Smoke Monster, is pretty much a carbon copy of the Old Testament God. He is unforgiving, full of hate and wrath and is capricious as all hell. Jacob is the New Testament God, while not perfect, still a great improvement and someone who offers forgiveness.
Some words on how much I love Hurley here. Hurley, played by the hilarious, touching and soulful Jorge Garcia, is a character that many probably thought was just there for comic relief. By the end of Lost, he is one of the most important characters. If you haven't, please watch the Blu Ray extra, The New Man in Charge, which answers some questions if that is your thing, but also puts some of the issues with Lost to rest. Namely, the fate of Michael and Walt. Here Walt is brought on board by Ben and Hurley to return to the island and help his father find peace. I LOVED this. It was one of the things that I had an issue with, how Michael ended up. Hurley is someone who will do it better than Jacob. No longer will people be confined to the island, at the expense of their freedom and lives. Jorge Garcia plays Hurley with such soul and humour and love. I would follow him anywhere. He is what a spiritual leader should look like in 2017. Love that moment with Charlie and Hurley!
It is not inappropriate that the faithful viewer is the one rewarded in the end. Those who are willing to accept the show for what it is and not what they want it to be, are those who truly understand the show's ending. Those who believe that cynicism isn't cool or reflective of a canny mind, are those who understand why the show could never have ended any other way. When I love something, I love it with all my heart. And I will defend it to the best of my ability. Not to cast aspersions on those who don't like it, but to pay back the artists who gave me so much. I will never be ashamed to like what I like, whether that is the Star Wars prequels or Prometheus or the music of R. Kelly. Those who do feel shame, are not fully developed human beings. We must seek what we need, and no-one should be able to tell you what you should or should not love. I love Lost because it gives me hope. It fills me up with spiritual, creative light, and makes me believe that anything is possible.