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Monday, 25 of May of 2020

Lost – “The End” (Nick)

“There is no now here.”

Aside from Noel’s review, each of the writers for Monsters of Television will provide their takes on Lost, from their own perspectives. Below are some brief thoughts about why the ending wasn’t responsible for tying it all up in a pretty bow by Nick.

Half past eleven last night was met with a flurry of questions sent into the ether from the viewing party I attended. They weren’t directed at anyone in particular but they weren’t rhetorical either. And though they weren’t necessarily asking me specifically, I, as keeper of the Island for my small community of friends, felt obligated to come up with answers and felt a little like Jacob trying address loose ends, trying to explain the forest when people only really wanted to know about the trees.

That’s been a running theme for this season, trying to convince an eagle-eye audience, trained to pick up on small clues that have enriched its viewing of the series, to dull their visual sense because it was obfuscating the message, to look through the painting and not at the individual brush strokes. That metaphor of “the house was not built for the murder but tbe clues are in the house” was especially apt. Besides, this was the showrunners’ bus and we were just on it. How many ways am I going to figuratively explain this thing before I get to the point? Just enough for me to get to the jump.

I really, really wanted Vincent to be the center of the universe. But it was not meant to be.

My taoist approach to this season didn’t come without its share of disappointments. As the season wore on, I realized that some of the minor things I thought would be interesting if not seminal plot points (like who Juliet took out when she fired back at the people shooting at her, Sawyer, Locke, Daniel, and Miles at the beginning of season 5) would be left open. A lot of the things I thought were going to pan out didn’t, a lot of things I expected to happen didn’t. Basically, despite my deep investment in the show, my predictions were a crapshoot. A lot of overthinking, a lot of red herrings, a lot of assumptions that led nowhere. I really, really wanted Vincent to be the center of the universe. But it was not meant to be. So I had to stop speculating and let the bus driver drive.

I almost called shenanigans several times, though. At first it seemed like the point of everything was going to be true love, that it can cross dimensional boundaries and is the one thing that could keep them all together. Bo-ring. But once it came down that the people touching each other and gazing long enough to figure out they weren’t on the timeline anymore, it was natural that the people that were in love would self-realize first (since they tend to be more handsy). It also made sense that Jack, loser in love, winner against Smocke, would be the last to come to terms with his place, despite his father being the Christian Shepherd, since there is no one more desperate to hold on to things than old Doc.

So I sat satisfied with this ending, with all the characters in a place invented by their sheer force of will to be together, these people that suffered the traumatic event of being a part of the Island’s history. The Flash-Sideways World (a non-Abelardian, non-Dantean Limbo?) is a perfect way to tag an end to this series. Non-diegetic spins though time via the flashback and flash-forward turned to nosebleed-inducing trips through time in the narrative and then, by the end, there is no time. It’s like the Island was trying to tell people all along that time and place are man-made constructs, that there were things beyond that and that they, collectively, could rise above.

Where the fantasy elements of this show might have turned off the general masses early on (for instance, it’s been really hard to convince my roommate that the Smoke Monster isn’t completely hokey), it was the people that kept them hooked.

So am I hung up on why Dharma was still dropping pallets of rations onto the Island long after the initiative itself has been destroyed by Ben and boys? I assume that Ben had something to do with the food still being delivered but it’s not as important as the other stuff. What was great about Lost is that it hooked so many people and it wasn’t for the mystery and it certainly wasn’t for the sci-fi/fantasy stuff. It was because these characters are compelling and their relationships evoke emotion. Where the fantasy elements of this show might have turned off the general masses early on (for instance, it’s been really hard to convince my roommate that the Smoke Monster isn’t completely hokey), it was the people that kept them hooked: Jack desperately trying to hold it all together, Locke’s quest to live in tune with the Island, everyone searching for purpose and meaning when removed from the trajectory of their lives. It’s all stuff with which people can connect and empathize.

And one last thing about being able to wrap it all up: there are still a lot of mysteries about the Island, much of it First Cause kind of stuff: who built the statue, how did the Smoke Monster come about (before being unleashed by Jacob), who built the infrastructure for the pool of light and the cork that keeps the energy in, why did MiB choose a donkey wheel to expend the energy, why is Tunisia the “exit.” Just as the real world colored the Flash-Sideways world (not the other way around as I’d been supposing this season), the reveal about the origin of the Flash-Sideways world colors these questions as Mysteries of the Universe. Just like we can never totally understand how these survivors of the Island’s history came to create a collective consciousness as a waiting room, there are things about the Island that we can never fully understand. They are the things we will debate for years, pulling out random situations and quotes from characters that might shed some light if we bend it to our whims a bit. Maybe you can learn more by delving neck-deep into the ARG or watching every featurette and easter egg on every Blu-Ray for every season. Or maybe you can just live Lost the same way you live life: just accept that some things can be left open-ended and appreciate the beauty in that wonder.

I’m not the type of guy that is going to wax poetically about how Lost changed my life (it is kind of a relief that I get my Tuesday nights back) but I found “The End” to satisfy my emotional desire to see these characters off and my curiosity about what can be known about the Island. Sure, there are a lot of things left open at the end. But there are a lot of things about life that are unknowable. Don’t let the fact that you know the faces of the architects of a story world blind you to the truth that not everything can be explained.

Cop out? Maybe. Letting the producers off the hook by overconceptualizing a media property? Perhaps. But, sometimes, you just have to go with it and enjoy a good story well told. The journey was nice, wasn’t it?

You can also read Matt‘s discussion of the nostalgia the finale created and the love of his life, regardless of when or where, Juliet, and  Karen provides thoughts on what the show, as a whole, meant for her.


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