LOST – “The End”: Die Together, Live Alone

The following is a piece I wrote only an hour or so after the series finale aired. Unsure of exactly how I felt, I found it easier to write my thoughts down to work through the ending.  It was my first written response I’ve done for a TV show and would later inspire the creation of this site.

LOST has ended.  It has been amazing experience, one that I feel truly blessed to be a part of.  It has been so much more than just a TV show, it has been a journey.  One that I can say wholeheartedly without a doubt was worth it.  When the episode ended I was confused.  I felt so many emotions at once that I felt emotionless.  I was unsure, in a state of confusion.  Not confused what happened on screen, but at my response to it.  Now that a few hours have passed and it has begun to sink in I must say it was brilliant.  A pitch perfect ending to what was the most well done, risk taking series I’ve ever seen.

I should began by explaining my title, a play off of the famous line Jack spoke early on in the first season.  The actual quote is “live together, die alone” although in light of the finale it turns out that the turth is we live alone, but die together.  The flash-sideways actually being an “after-flash” is a twist I didn’t expect.  I would not have imagined purgatory to actually be the answer. Though in reviewing everything about the formerly titled “sideways” world it makes sense.  Each character had exactly what they thought they wanted in life.  It was an agglomeration of everything “perfect”, and yet something was still missing.  In the attempt to build a “perfect” life each character lost the thing they cared for most.

In an ideal world Sawyer would use his con skills to be on the right side of the law, Charlie would be a well-known rockstar, Desmond would have the approval of Widmore, Hurley would have good luck Dogen would be with his son, Jack would have a son, Ben would have the admiration of Alex, Roussea would have Alex, Kate wouldn’t have actually committed the crime of killing her father, Claire would have made it to LA to meet the parents who were planning on adopting Aaron, Penny would be the child separated from Widmore, and Faraday would be the musician he always wanted to rather than the scientist his mother forced him to.

The after-flash is quite clearly a world created by the castaways themselves as Christian tells Jack.  It explains directly why we didn’t see certain characters such as Richard, who in his world would be away with Isabella rather than with our LOSTies.  At first this whole idea felt as a cheat, a waste having spent half the season there for it just be a world where everyone died.  But upon reflection it is very well done, that I actually don’t feel cheated as I found the after-flash to actually be the most interesting part of the season.  I found myself over time much more interested in how things were connecting there rather than the good vs evil fight that was stirring up on the island.

And that is where the finale does it’s best work.  The island is pushed to secondary, the way it should be.  Yes we see more of the inner workings of the island with the literal cork that kept the island together (I simply thought Jacob was just being metaphorical in “Ab Aterno”).  Yes people will be pissed we don’t more about the island, as the finale did very little actually answer questions about it.  But it’s something I’m ok with.  I would have loved to get more on the time travel aspect of the island, as I find that the one confusing part in the series.  Time travel appeared to be something that was at the heart of the series when season five occurred, yet now that everything is over it was merely a one shot storyline that didn’t account for all that much in the long run.  But I never felt the need to learn what the island is, and it’s annoying to me the people that want to know that.  No answer is going to be satisfying because there really is no answer.  What is the island?  It’s an island that has special electromagnetic powers that make it an outlier in this world.  That’s the only explanation that could be given without disappointing.  The island is an island and to me that is fine.

Though I will admit more explanation on Smokey and Jacob would have been nice as in the end we really know little to understand them.  We get them as characters, but considering one is a being of smoke and the other has the ability to make people live forever I would have enjoyed a somewhat explanation.  The way the passing of Jacob’s power has been presented has to me come off as nothing but a fake ritual.  When Jack gives Hurley the water to drink and says “now you’re like me”, it plays as if it’s merely for show.  The same feeling came off when Jacob passed it on to Jack, as if they are both just repeating the ritual they saw the previous guardian due to them.  It appears as if there are no real powers being passed, yet we know that Jacob does indeed have powers.  I wonder if Hurley really was given the powers in the ritual or not as Jack didn’t give the water a blessing as Jacob did.

I was a little disappointed to see the lack of Smokey in the episode overall, in fact we didn’t see him in smoke monster form once. He was only seen in Locke’s body.  I found his death to be a little anti-climatic in that he’d been set up as this great villian all season long and a monster throughout the whole series yet he went down pretty easy.  Yes he was in a “human” (not sure if that’s the right term) state when he died, but still I expected more from him.  He didn’t do much other than get Desmond go down into the heart of the island and remove the white stone cork, but that wasn’t much of a feat as Jack participated in that just as much. The biggest unanswered and fairly important mythology question in the finale was why exactly was Man In Black turned into a Smoke Monster when he went into the heart of the island, yet Desmond and Jack both didn’t?  Was it simply because MIB was “different”, being more of an evil nature; yet in “Across The Sea” it showed he wasn’t really all that evil to begin with.  But in the end I’ll just accept it and try to purge that question out of my head as the finale revealed for once and for all LOST is not a show about mythology or really even good verus evil as this season set up so much, but instead it is about love and relationships.

The series has always been built around it’s characters and their connections with each other, and the finale really hit that home. It’s characters were front and center, especially Jack Shephard who with the finale has been solidified as the most crucial character in LOST.  LOST is the story of many heroes and their journey to redemption, but none more so than Jack Shephard. Throughout his life Jack always tried to fix things yet it never seemed to work.  He fixed his future wife’s legs, but he couldn’t fix their marriage soon after.  He brought Charlie back from a near death experience, but he couldn’t save him eventually.  He tried to save the castaways misery with the Jughead bomb, but it failed turning out to be a dud as we know officially know and killed Juliet and many others in the process (*).  But in the end Jack was able to fix things.  He saved the island from destruction and through that saved the world if Jacob and other’s words are to be true.  Right before Jack died he was able to finally fix things, which is apart of why the finale worked so much.  Everything about Jack was poetic.  His story arch is among the best in not only television but in modern fiction.  He began arrogant and determined to save everyone out of his own selfish need, became addicted to pills and obsessed with returning to the island realizing his life had no meaning, got back and became passive refusing to partake in crucial events such as saving little Ben’s life, took action in blowing up Jughead in an attempt to end his depressions, became a willing follower after it’s failure afraid to be in charge again, all until he realizes his true destiny in life to follow in Jacob’s footsteps, to be a leader not out of arrogance but because it was his destiny.  He started as a man of science, but he died a man of faith.

And what a perfect death that was.  A beautiful and well crafted last few minutes as the series came to a close.  Jack dying, staggering across the bamboo forrest as in the after-flash he greets all his former friends, ready to pass on to the next life, only now ready to move on and let go.  Vincent appearing next to him in the forrest and it was clear the last shot was indeed something planned from the very beginning.  Jack falls down, in the same spot the series began.  He lies there, seeing the Ajira flight take off above finally rescuing his friends like he promised long ago.  Jack closes his eye, in perfect parallel to the show’s opening shot.  And then cut to black with the LOST title card, and with that television’s greatest epic ends.

*I’m gonna go ahead and say that Jughead not blowing the island up is proof that in LOST time travel you can’t change things; what’s done is done.  This means that the Jughead explosion was actually involved in creating the incident itself meaning Jack and such were the ones to help cause the event that would lead to their crash.  Thank you LOST for using the proper timeline theory.  Though we may not have learned how or why time travel occurred, at least we finally know which time travel theory the show runs on.

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