Monday, May 24, 2010

Not Lost anymore

WARNING: if you still haven't seen the series finale of Lost, this post will spoil it for you. Read on at your own risk.

The writers of Lost have my respect. They’ve done what I routinely struggle to do: weave a story that satisfies only enough to get folks riled up about how unsatisfactory the end of the story is.

I had that same knee-jerk reaction so many viewers – and some of my own friends – had when, by the end, they were all dead. All we were left with was some sugar-coated allegory based around a theme of “letting go” and “moving on,” while it was never clear what really happened. And the idea of bringing polar bears to the island, while already explained, kind of, is still a big WTF.

But then, that really seems to be one of the points of the entire series I’m seeing. The human imagination itself is something to marvel at, and whether we like the explanations behind the visions, the visions themselves really were enough, weren't they?

Working further down the theme ladder from the highest level – the idea that no matter how lonely, flawed or hopeless one might be, there are kindred spirits all around with whom you can bond and learn to prop each other up – it seems that the island and its opposing forces, Jacob and his miserable nameless brother (you’d be miserable too if the only names you ever answered to were “brother,” “The Man in Black,” “the smoke monster” or the name of whatever dead person you decided to make yourself look like) were using regular human beings as pawns in their power play. Kind of a typical good vs. evil plot line that we grew up watching as kids on cartoons, but this time, we were never really sure which side was the good side until the last season. And even at that, few of us were ready to forgive all the questionable tactics of the “good guys.” Kind of like the real world.

I’ll probably buy the complete 6-season DVD set when it comes out, and then I’ll dig deeper into the little details. But for now, since I’ve cooled down over the surface bits that disappointed me – i.e. seeing Sawyer reunited with Juliet (what a mismatch!); never really finding out what the “real” timeline (assuming there ever was one) looked like upon the return of Kate, Sawyer, Lupitas, Miles and Claire; never knowing whether Desmond did get to leave the island, and if so, how it would have happened – I realize that this was a genius way to end Lost. Just like any other storyline, it could have gone on forever. But leaving it the way it did just reminded me of all the times I’ve felt the same way upon the conclusion of a movie with multiple unresolved plot lines. At some point, you have to call it quits. And when you do, a great measure of success is how pissed off the audience is over their pet plot line not being resolved. In that regard, it appears that Lost was a huge success. We cared that much to actually get pissed off.

From a personal standpoint, however, I’m a bit shook up.

I saw a lot of myself in Jack Shepard. And it hit a little too close to home when, of all the main characters, he was the very last one to “get it.” The man of science finally understood the importance of “letting go” and “moving on” at the end of that controversial “purgatory” scene, the culmination of all the “flash sideways” scenes. And at that moment, in death, he achieved what he struggled to do in life.

It shook me up because there are some things in life for which I struggle in much the same way, and often fear that I will not overcome. But then, intellectually I've always known the answer is to “let go.” That’s why I’m reading Larry Winget. That’s why I started taking swing dance lessons. That’s why I’ve latched on so hard to the music of Ash Reiter, not to mention the vibe and friendship of her entire band, this year. And that’s why, not even knowing how this whole saga would finally end, I bought Lara De Garie’s painting “About Patterns” (pictured above) and hung it on my living room wall just 12 days before the Lost finale aired.

I think I get it now, too.

Thanks to my friend Victoria for steering me over to Screen Rant's take, my fuzzy impressions of the conclusion of Lost have been cleared up even further. This is the best take I've seen so far. Enjoy!

No comments: