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

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.

What We Lose With The End Of 'Lost'

From left to right: Faraday, Boone, Miles, Mic...
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I admit it. We’re planning our evening around tonight’s final episode of “Lost.” We’ll order in Thai food, the closest we’ll easily get to cooking Hawaiian.

Like many of its fans, I’ve lost interest in it at times, found the final season weird and sometimes mawkish — CJ Cregg as Jacob’s mom? Really? But one of the things I’ve really loved about “Lost” is its insistence that so many unlikely characters — the morbidly obese Hurley, the rigid and domineering husband Jin, the bitter Sawyer, the criminal Kate, the submissive Sun, the do-gooder Jack, the addict Charlie — each had a crucial role to play in this artificial universe.

I really liked that most of the key female characters — Kate (a previously unknown Canadian actress, Evangeline Lilly), Juliet, Sun, Ana-Lucia and Danielle Rousseau — were strong, wiry, no bullshit women, most fully capable of handling a firearm. (The wimpy, whiny Shannon was killed off early.)

It’s rare, outside of a show based on aliens or cops, to find so many female characters who are consistently physically powerful, emotionally resilient, able to handle everything from sewing up a stranger’s back (Kate) to surviving alone in the jungle (Rousseau.) Who will be the next Kate?

I loved seeing Koreans, an Iraqi, a fat guy and an inter-racial couple play integral roles, becoming leaders and well-loved by their community. “Lost” began six years ago, long before anyone else was casting such diversity. It never felt faux-diverse, as so many of these efforts do, just real.

I’ll miss that community. Many of us now live alone, work at home or are looking for work. We hunger for a lively, funny, quirky posse of our own. We don’t want to run from the smoke monster or shoot a polar bear or have to suffer a plane crash to find one, but the hard-won interdependence of the survivors of  Oceanic Flight 815 speaks to a powerful longing.

I’ll raise a glass of something festive — coconut milk? — and toast their farewell.