It started with a man opening his eyes, discovering his place in the world for the first time. It continued on with a journey for survival through scientific means and the search for the truth. When it began, the survivors of Oceanic Flight 815 found themselves in hell on Earth.
And how did it end? With complete symmetrical opposites.
I started watching “Lost” last summer. I had heard many fantastic things about it and almost as many equally frustrating things, but I had until this point, refused to expose myself to something I knew would become an addiction until it was much closer to the end. Knowing that this Spring would be the last season, I finally convinced myself that it was time to get invested. I figured that with nearly 100 episodes to watch before Season 6 even started, I could really pace myself out, and by the time I finished, the final season would be a short time away from commencing. I started watching at the end of August… and I was finished only thirty days later. “Lost” became every bit the addiction I was afraid it would be, and I couldn’t get enough. Every cliffhanger with every jarring “BONG” at the end of each episode compelled me to watch more and more. And for an entire month I was able to continue to satisfy this need. Then I ran out of episodes. And As anyone who has ever done it knows, going cold turkey is a very difficult thing. Going cold turkey off of “Lost”, easily one of the most addictive substances known to man, is even tougher. But I just kept telling myself, “January is only four months away. January is only three months away. January is only two months away.” Indeed, my entire concept of time and how it related to everything else in my life stemmed almost completely from how far away I was from “Lost” starting up again. (Which, considering the show, is highly ironic.) And once that day finally came, time became all about how far away I was from the end. Well, the appropriately titled “The End” was last night, but I don’t really feel that sense of loss that I was expecting, because after last night’s episode, “Lost” needed to end as it began, perfectly.
WARNING: The rest of this article contains massive SPOILERS for everything that happens in the finale of “Lost”. Stop reading if you don’t want to know how it ends.
Without a doubt, the initial aspect of the show that captured the minds of everyone watching and pop culture in general was its mysterious nature. A supposedly deserted island with polar bears, century old human remains, whispers in the jungle, and a monster that kills people who venture too far into the brush; from the very fist episode, people wanted answers. But somewhere along the way for many of us, (season 2 for me) the mysteries started to mean less and less. We put faith in Damon Lindeloff and Carlton Cuse that they would answer the most pressing questions we had, and they would do so in due time, but the single most awe-inspiring element of “Lost” was no longer its mysteries, it was its characters.
It is this group of latter people who the finale of “Lost” served, a group that is arguably the true fan base of “Lost”, not those who were just looking for “the answer”. In almost every interview that they have given over the past year, Darlton has made sure to mention that they were choosing to end their show the best way they knew how, in service to their characters, not the questions. And they were absolutely right in doing so, because through this finale, their series was able to reach even newer artistic heights, not only through what they showed us, but through what they chose not to show us.
Let’s just get this out there. What we all thought was a parallel world running sideways to the main storyline was in fact a flash forward of sorts. It was purgatory. A meeting place where all of the main characters over the six years of “Lost” could rejoin one another. This means that for an entire season, the entire cast of “Lost” has been dead. I’ll admit it, when I first heard Jack say “I’m dead.” I cringed and groaned. Generic headlines flashed through my brain: “Everyone on Lost was Already Dead!” For a moment, it seemed like a horrible decision on the part of Darlton. But then after about thirty seconds of actually thinking about what had just been presented to me and watching the scene between Jack, his father, and the rest of the cast in the church unfold, it all started to make perfect sense. And once I realized where “present” timeline Jack was headed, back to the bamboo thicket where it all began, it started making more than perfect sense, it started making poetic sense.
When endings come full circle like this, it’s hard not to stand up and take notice. Some might think this ending was a cop-out, but for the life of me, I can’t see how. (Though I do still realize there will be many, many naysayers for this ending.) But as I’ve stated before, if you don’t appreciate this ending it’s because the only thing you were looking for was the answers, when the entire point of the show, driven home especially by this final spiritual episode, is that we never get the answers we want. That just isn’t life. And whether you feel that you deserve the answers or not, after putting in over 120 hours into one show (and for some of us, many more), quite frankly, it doesn’t matter. Because whether you realize it or not, you were watching a show that was trying to teach you something about your own life, while at the same time entertaining you. It was teaching you that it’s not the gods that you may or may not believe in, or the questions you never get answered that mean anything in your life, it’s the people who you meet and forge relationships with along the way. The beauty in life comes not from understanding the intentions of a being greater than us, but by helping another man learn how to walk again. Life comes not from finding the truth in every mystery, but from finding that one person who can constantly make us feel alive and happy.
And that’s why the ending to “Lost” was so perfect. Because it showed us what humanity is at its core. And it showed it to us in one of the most beautiful and touching ways imaginable. (And seriously, how awesome was that score by Michael Giacchino? That final soft piano was heartbreaking and awe-inspiring all at the same time.) Had the show not ended like this, had it chosen to answer every last lingering question we had, the end result would have been a hollow husk, and no one would be happy with that. Some of you might be angry now, but had the show ended trying to serve the questions instead of the people, you would have felt empty, something that is much, much, worse even if you do not realize it. The show ended as it began, and whether you want to argue that they didn’t know where they were going all along or not, it doesn’t matter. Because it not only took a hell of a lot of skill to get to this ending, it took a hell of a lot of heart.
And how did it end, opposed to how it began?
It finished with the survivors of Oceanic 815 in a heaven of their own creation. What was once a journey of scientific discovery had evolved into a search for faith in each other. And it ended with one man closing his eyes for the last time.