Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Lost's finale: A more detailed exploration

I intentionally avoided any details/spoilers about the Lost finale yesterday, but by now you've either seen it, or have no interest in ever taking the plunge. So I'd like to put some of my thoughts down, in part to refute some of the wilder (aka dumber) notions out there. Not that I blame the fans; for once we were treated to a more-or-less straightforward story, with clearly defined cause and effects, and I think some Lost fans just can't change gears at the last moment.

Let's start out simple. I think Desmond was put on the island by Jacob as a weapon, just as Jack said. Destroying the island was a temptation MIB couldn't pass up, and he was too busy relishing the idea to realize disconnecting the source once again made him mortal and vulnerable. It was, to paraphrase Sawyer, a long con.

What was the source? Who/what put it there? We'll never know. Neither did any of the characters, and if they're not complaining, why should we?

Was Jack destined to die? It was his choice to take the job, but there's that gray area of fate/free will again. Knowing Jack, was there any real question who would accept the duty? Was he steered towards the position because he was a better candidate (no pun intended) to physically defeat MIB? Was he sacrificed in order to preserve Hurley's eventual reign?

You tell me. None of it matters. Come to think of it, did anything?

I don't know if letting MIB free would have destroyed our world. Still, I can't imagine it's a good thing to have a cunning, ruthless and violent immortal walk the streets of Topeka. I can empathize with him, to a degree; keep me trapped for two millenia and I'd get miffed too. But oh well. Whatever his motives, whatever Mommy issues he had, he'd grown into a murdering thug. The last thing the world needed was him walking free.

Now, as to the 'flash-sideways'. Yes, it's purgatory, and if that word bothers you because of some 'Papist' connotations, deal with it. They are dead but not in heaven or hell, but rather in a 'holding cell' where they explore and move past the issues that plagued them in our world. In other words, a sort of purgatory.

It is NOT solely Jack's afterlife, where each character could be nothing more than the sum of his memory. Each character is clearly independent of the others; connected by their shared past, but dealing with a full life of their own.

No, this is a communal afterlife. Now I don't know if it's an L.A. created and occupied only by the Lost cast, or if it a larger, general 'world' that the characters borrow as their stage. My money is on the latter. When Christian talks of the cast making a world to find each other, I think he means that the force of their bonds drew each of them into proximity with one another. Their experiences - their 'world' - is fashioned by their need to reconnect.

So what about David, Jack's son? Who pops out a kid in purgatory? I go back to some references this season about how much the boy resembled Jack when he was young. I view him as a surrogate for Jack himself. I think Jack imagined/was given David to work out his issues with Christian and break the Shepard's dysfunctional father/son relationship.

Was the island (and all the events of the series) real? Yes, dangit, didn't you listen to Christian? It was real, so real that the relationships forged on the island transcended death. It was real, there were no do-overs, what happened happened.

Finally, Jack's death scene: I teared up. It was the ONLY suitable ending for the show, and I like how, thanks to Vincent, he didn't 'die alone'. Well done.

Well done indeed.

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