Monday, May 24, 2010

Lost “The End”: The Long Con Revealed

Photo from ABC

I rarely stay up until 11:30 PM to watch television, but made the exception for the series finale of Lost. The last episode, appropriately titled “The End” could have also been titled “The Long Con Revealed” as the last 10 minutes or so of the show finally gives away the whole secret of the Island. And the secret really was that there really was NO secret of the Island per se, it was that everyone who seemed to be trying to reconnect with others in their “sideways” life were really all dead and they were preparing themselves to “move on.” The whole “they’re all dead” theory was floated by many people very early in the first season, and if my memory serves me correctly, that theory was dismissed and denied by many people closely associated with the show. I suspect that the writers may have been making the whole thing up all along, and once they knew that it was time to end it, they decided to go back to the tried and true “they’re all dead” theory. I have to admit that I felt dissatisfied with the ending of the series as it seemed to descend into a predictable cheesiness. I also felt conned as the whole time viewers were led to believe that the Island had a deep mystery, and when it all came down to it, it may have been just another player in the "Jack Shephard goes to heaven" story.

The big question in my mind - and maybe the only mystery left for discussion long after the show ends is - exactly when did they die? Did they die when the plane first crashed on the Island? Did they survive the crash and die while on the Island, such as Jack, Juliette, Locke, Charlie, etc., and others while trying to get off the Island, such as Kate, Claire, Sawyer, Miles, Richard, and Lapius when they took off on Ajira 316? Did those people escape the Island on that plane and die sometime later? What about people like Desmond and Ben, who weren’t on the Oceanic flight to begin with (Desmond being busy pushing the button all those years, and Ben being an “Other”), or someone like Penny, who never set foot on the Island yet were at the church and crossed over (well, except for Ben who was outside the church, apparently not ready to go yet). Did Ben and Desmond still die on the Island but Penny died some other time and just waited to cross over until Desmond was dead and ready to go? It’s enough to make your head swim.

It seems that we are left with wondering what part of who's lives were real. For example, did they manage to get off the Island when Juliette died blowing up that bomb and they all seemed to go to other lives off the island, and did they die when they made their return trip when Jack convinced them they had to go back? Or was that just more of their “purgatory/limbo?” Here’s the dialog between Jack and his father, Christian, to help sort things out:

C: Hey kiddo.
J: Dad?
C: Hello Jack.
J: I don’t understand, you died.
C: Yes I did.
J: Then how are you here right now.
C: (sigh) How are YOU here?
J: I died too.
C: It’s ok. It’s ok. It’s ok, son. (They embrace as Jack sobs)
J: I love you dad
C: I love you too, son.
J: Are you real?
C: (Laughs) I sure hope so. Yeah, I’m real. You’re real. Everything that’s ever happened to you is real, all those people in the church – they’re all real too.
J: They’re all…they’re all dead?
C: Everyone dies sometime, kiddo. Some of them before you, some of them long after you.
J: But why are they all here now?
C: Well there is no now, here.
J: Where are we dad?
C: Well this is the place that you, that you all made together so that you can find one another. The most important part of your life was the time that you spent with these people. That’s why all of you are here. Nobody does it alone, Jack. You needed all of them, and they needed you.
J: For what?
C: To remember. And to let go.
J: Kate. She said we were leaving.
C: Not leaving, no. Moving on.
J: Where are we going?
C: Let’s go find out.

Jack’s father said everything that happened to Jack was real. Does that mean that Jack both crashed on the Island and also had a life where he, and the rest of them, did not crash on the Island? For example, did Jack really “cure” Locke but did Ben also kill Locke? It seems that there are many conflicting actions, depending on whose perspective one takes.

Regardless of what you believe, even though I wasn’t particularly satisfied with the ending, it was one that will have people talking about for quite some time. The ending credits will even spark discussion, as it isn’t clear which flight that plane wreckage was from (or at least I could not tell). Who knows, maybe it is another group’s arrival to make their long journey to crossing over.

Truly tragic is that is appears that dogs don’t have an afterlife, as Vincent appears next to Jack as he dies on the Island, but we don’t see him crossing over at the church. Maybe Vincent was just not ready.

No mystery with this finale is ABC’s desire to cash in, with seemingly 4 minutes of commercials for about every 6-7 minutes of storytelling. The Target commercials were the only ones that seem to put some thought into tying their ads toward elements from the series. And I don’t know if this was just a local problem or more widespread, but our ABC affiliate’s HD signal kept breaking up and pixelating, so we had to watch most of the show on out local non-HD channel.

And now that the secret has been revealed, maybe when people re-watch the series, the nitpicking and raising inconsistencies will reach a new level. For me, this ending has left me with no desire to re-watch another episode ever again. I suppose I wanted the Island to have some magical secret or mysterious powers. Maybe it still does - but for those that were "lost" and are now "found" and are crossing over to the other side, the Island has outlived its usefulness - and for me as well.

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Anonymous said...

I also have no desire to watch another episode of lost again. They could have made it just one series to do that with the ending. Just stupid afterlife stuff which the writers denied from the start? Boring as hell!

Discount coupons said...

I really enjoyed the end of lost but feel cheated by the writer's a bit.

Anonymous said...

I think you really missed the point with the last episode of Lost. I didn't think it was that hard to grasp... It's not even really a twist

Anonymous said...

Agree with the third comment. You kind of missed the point.

Whatever happened on the island happened. It doesn't matter when they died. Jack most probably died on the island when the Ajira plane left, Kate and Sawyer might've lived until old age, Charlie among others died on the island as we know, who knows if Hurley lived for another 200 years.. They died at some point but everything that happened on the island was real.

Their eventual dying is not the same thing as the "they're dead" theory.