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Loved The 'Lost' Finale Or Hated It? Clarity Versus Ambiguity

In entertainment on May 24, 2010 at 11:40 am
P religion world

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I’m finding the split between those who loved last night’s ‘Lost’ finale  and those who hated it interesting.

I lay in bed last night pondering all its Biblical and religious symbolism: Jack’s surname (Shephard); his father’s name (Christian) and just…thinking. The Buddha atop the bookcase as Jack entered the church; the stained glass window behind Shephard as he finds an empty coffin (tomb?), a window filled with every religious symbol, not just the easy, obvious out of a cross.

Buddhists believe that after death, the soul enters a “bardo”, a period of time in which it transitions between the life that has just ended and the next. The island, the church, the entire series might not only have been Christian (Limbo, Purgatory) but a bardo.

I’m not someone obsessed with most television and had missed many of the episodes of this show.

But I loved the finale. I didn’t care what really happened to Walt or the submarine. I wanted to be moved by mystery, to feel the larger heartbeat of the eternal. Not to fuss over detail. Plenty of other television shows have tidy plots and resolutions, but could never move me to tears.

I was deeply moved by the finale’s larger point: connections matter. Our connections to one another, wherever and whenever they happen, can have profound and life-altering value.

It may not be sexy or cute or tidily-resolved. Those hungry for Big Picture conversations are today, I think, happy with what we saw. Those who insist upon Tidy Resolution — maybe on-screen and off — are not.

Life isn’t tidy.

Television, with every issue hastily resolved within a 30 or 60-minute timeframe (minus commericals) comforts us otherwise. How annoying when the one place we rely on for that illusion lets us down!

Here’s fellow True/Slant writer Japhy Grant’s take on it:

But eyes are all about what LOST is about, from the first frame to the last, and how we choose to view the world and how that view shapes our lives is a central question of the show.

Come On Everybody! It’s about the people.

To those who view the hippy-dippy faith trip that the final episode winds up being as cheesy or ludicrous, I ask, what show have you been watching for the last six years?

It’s never been the plot conceits or mystery that have made the show; it’s the human connections these strangers find that have brought us back season after season. Why are you judging the show on the mechanics of the metaphysical.

The metaphysical is the true heart of The Island.  It’s mysteries are those of the human condition. How do we forgive? How do we fall in love? What can we do to not feel so damn alone?  In this respect, LOST’s final moments deliver in every way. For it offers up a clear, definitive answer:

We find meaning in our lives by living our lives like they have meaning.

David DiSalvo, another True/Slant writer, is furious with the ending:

What the chosen ending of Lost verifies is what most of the speculators have been saying for a few seasons: there would be no way to adequately wrap up the criss-crossing plot lines, the unending questions, the bottomless allusions. They feared that the show was begging for a big cop-out, catch-all ending.  I feared they were right, but hoped that the most original show to grace network TV since ‘The Twilight Zone’ wouldn’t go out that way. Surely the writers of this unique show would prove them all wrong.

Well, they didn’t.  They couldn’t have proved them more right if they’d had Jesus and Krishna themselves make an appearance on the island and tell Jack that, “everyone will go to a warm, lovely place that they made together to be together to remember that they were together somewhere for some reason, because that’s what people have been wasting their time for six years to find out.”

I’m being harsh, I know, but I’m a little cheesed off right now.  Despite the ending, I have enjoyed the show and appreciate how it has, for the most part, shined with originality amidst a sea of formulaic crime and hospital dramas. But with that pedigree, which has drawn a loyal legion of followers few shows in the history of TV can boast, all the more reason that it should have ended with something other than a predictable “we’re all dead and happy now” cop-out.

  1. I loved it. Unlike you, I was rather attached to the show and believe I have seen every episode save one or perhaps two. Once I got beyond a certain point with the show I realized that it didn’t really matter how it ended, I simply enjoyed the intelligence behind it and the way it made me think about what I saw.

    This blend of science fiction & religion, answers and mystery, works for my type being on several different levels, but primarily I can say that as a spectator, I enjoy being allowed to decorate the world(s) an author creates with my own perspective, or my own perception. When an author insists on developing a truth in no uncertain terms, my imagination gets frustrated, and while I may enjoy that sometimes, I usually wind up thinking about my own alternative endings anyway.

    For me, the writers of Lost hit that sweet spot of not-too-little and not-too-much. My own personal beliefs fit nicely within and flesh out the mystical narrative that they created. The experience is very enjoyable and the only way I can describe it is to say that it is really a collaboration between me as a viewer, who willingly uses his imagination, and a creative team that allowed me to do so. In fact, perhaps the reason I love the show is precisely because they created rich and fertile environment for provoking my thoughts and my imagination. In that way, the entertainment they created is not static for me, it keeps generating ideas long after it ends.

  2. This is so interesting. I agree that typical television — or film, most mass entertainment — allows no room for maneuver or interpretation. It’s formulaic, normative and boring.

    I am most interested, like you, in any art form that allows me into it, not to “make it mine” in that moment per se, but resonates inside my head or heart for a long time afterward. One of my favorite films, 30 years old next year, is Harold and Maud, http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0067185/, and I remember it vividly. It, too addresses some of the same powerful themes of love and death.

  3. They ripped us off, they broke credibility, it was just more of same make it up and don’t worry about it, people are stupid and like sheep so we can do anything.

    I still liked it though (the dog broke me), but no repeats for me!

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