Live Together, Die Together

Before I get to the meat of this review/analysis/rant/what have you, I need a moment to explain something which impacts my own, personal view of the series.

It is my own belief that when all is said and done, and you lie on your death bed ready to vacate this world and proceed to whatever it is you may believe happens after, what really counts is the connections you’ve made. Not how much money was in your bank account when you died, not how much your favorite team finished in that game and not what percentage of the world you’ve seen. No, what matters is the human connections you’ve made in your life, your friends and your enemies. Those are things I believe you take with you.

Having said that, I think it becomes immediately clear why I fall on the “loved it” camp of the great Lost debate, as the finale really had a similar message.

Those who hated the finale, or a vast majority of them, seem to be crying out for the lack of concrete answers to some of the show’s biggest mysteries. What was the light? Who built the statue? How does Eloise Hawking know everything?
Yes, the show never answered these questions, and you know what? It doesn’t matter. I’d like to explain why.

First, the technical side. The show had a set amount of time to tell its final episode. Granted, that set amount was longer than any other television episode I’ve ever seen and can fall well into the category of “movie”. However, the point remains that it was set. In order for there to have been a full, absolute and complete resolution the show had to address many, many things that can be neatly categorized into two elements: plot and character. Plot includes all those afore-mentioned questions and explanations whereas character deals with closure for the group of people who’s tale we’ve been following. I don’t believe they could have gotten both of those the ending they deserved in two hours, attempting to do so would have caused a compromise which hurt both resolutions. So one had to be chosen.

So why not close up the plot? Quite simply, Lost has always been, from its first moments, a show about human drama. It was about character, about people. There wasn’t a button that had to be pushed every 108 minutes, it was Jack and Locke arguing whether or not the button should be pushed. That’s why it worked, from the beginning – because you cared about the people. Heroes is the perfect example of a show which quite quickly did away with character for plot purposes. I stopped watching on the third season simply because it was getting ridiculous. The characters became cardboard cutouts, only meant to convey the necessary information to move the plot along. Battlestar Galactica is an example of a show which put character first, and that’s why it works so well – because Starbuck is made of awesome and you want to punch Gaius Baltar in the face every time he comes on screen.

Lost, as I said, is about the characters, and, at the end of the day, that’s what was important. Take a look at how many character moments were in the last episode – a good majority of it, if not the entire thing. And yet, every moment was riveting. Jack and Flocke’s interactions in particular were standout moments. The two have always shared a great chemistry, and the journey of both characters proved to be the lynch pin of the entire show.

Which, of course, brings me to the “alternate universe”. Here is my interpretation of what the flash-sideways actually are. They are a construct, created out of the collective consciences of the key Losties, This construct is a sort of way-station between life and the afterlife – I don’t like “purgatory”, because it has negative connotations, and “limbo” doesn’t imply the transitory state of the place. This construct, being outside of “normal” time and space is not bound by their rules. Which eliminates the “so those who died earlier just twiddled their thumb till Hurley died?” question so many people seem to be having a problem with. I really believe the construct began with the first scene we see taking place in it – Oceanic flight 815. Any “history” of this world is artificial and exists purely in the characters “minds” (I use quotation marks because by this point, minds are non existent – these beings have no actual corporeal form). This also explained why familiar faces kept popping up – they’re just remnants from the character’s memories. So when Claire is in a hospital and she needs a doctor to check her baby, her consciousness pulls out the image of Ethan to fill the role.

This construct exists simply because, as Jacob point-blank tells the surviving Island Losties – none of them are happy and simply refuse to let go and move on. The plethora of daddy/mommy issues and other emotional hang-ups on the show prove this. None of the characters really got a “happy ending”, as they all died or, in the case of Kate, Hurley and Sawyer, lost the most important person in their life. Their life, or what’s left of it, was without purpose, without love and each and every one of them died (or will die) with something on their mind. Throughout the episode we saw each of the characters finally letting go. For most – it was love that brought this about. Simply because love pushes you forward – it gives you purpose. Those who were not spurned by love – death seemed to be the alternative. Which makes sense, as they’re all already dead – so dying isn’t really a possibility. It also helps that those who understood through death, had significant deaths to begin with in the real world.

The exceptions, of course, are Jack and John. Once again, the central two figures in the show get the special treatment because – as Locke constantly stated and Jack refused to believe – they’re special. They’re moving on was brought about by a physical act of letting go. Locke of his guilt and self-hatred and Jack of his desire to make people better. Acknowledging Christian’s death allows him to realize that he can’t save everyone. People will die, at some point.

And while we’re nowhere near the subject and as a way of wrapping up – I’d like to mention a point about the church. I’ve read some things online decrying the church, saying that the whole thing was a big “god solves everything” stunt or a big Jesus story. To that I say – rewatch the scene with Jack and the coffin. That church is either the worst church in the history of churches, or not a church. The answer, if you didn’t figure it out, is that its not a church. The place is filled with imagery from all religions, sects and beliefs. The place is a symbol for humanity, belief, faith. It’s not a christian story just like it’s not a Buddhist story. It’s a story of human beings, struggling, suffering, but, eventually, realizing what’s truly important. It’s a people story. And that, when all is said and done, is all that matters.

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