'Lost' in Disappointment
Editor's note: Spoilers galore ahead.
The final episode of Lost did not seem to disappoint the faithful at the Orpheum Theater in Los Angeles, where I joined 2,000 fans, journalists, and bloggers for the conclusion to one of the most discussed shows in television history. The adjectives I heard after the 2½-hour finale were glowing—"perfect," "beautiful," "amazing."
But not from me. I was less than fully pleased with the way this beautiful narrative arrived at its final destination, even if that destination was heaven itself. I wasn't expecting every question to be answered, or the ethic of this wide-reaching narrative to be fully summed up; anyone expecting such clean closure does not fully appreciate this show. But I did expect that we would be offered a coherent story that does not leave gaping holes that could sink a life raft, much less a submarine.
I still don't know how or when anyone other than Jack actually died, or how Jack has a son in purgatory that did not previously exist, or the meaning of the light. I expected that we would all have much to discuss, but it will take weeks to figure out whom we think actually died, and when it was that they met their maker.
The debate about the spiritual ethic of the show will continue; that is as it should be. What no one wanted to be arguing was whether or not Season 6 had any meaning whatsoever? Have our friends been in a form of purgatory playing out two destinies that lead to the afterlife? Michael's statement to Hurley that he was stuck on the island waiting to pass through to his next existence seems to indicate that purgatory is everywhere, even on this island.
It seems that our favorite story took a trite turn for the worse at the last minute. Both stories—on the island and in the "flash sideways"—were powerful, compelling, well-written and brilliantly acted. But for the finale to be a complete success, these two stories had to come together as one coherent narrative, and it failed to do that. It is not a cop-out on the level of a child gazing into a snow globe, but it is a cop-out nonetheless.
Those complaints aside, Lost is still primarily a story about compelling characters, and on that level the finale delivered everything we could hope for. The last 30 minutes were touching, and the focus was on a hope that is greater than death itself—and the need to forgive as we have been forgiven. Lost drove home for us one last time the great truth that we can either "Live together, or die alone." For this I am deeply grateful.
Writers Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse have entered our lives with their remarkably beautiful cast of characters. They have been more than television writers; we embraced them like college professors, priests, mystics, philosophers, and tandem sages. In the last six years we have flourished under their tutelage.
Thanks to these men—and a talented cast and crew—here are four important life lessons I've learned along the way:
1) We are all lost
Every one of us bears the marks that Jacob used to describe the candidates. We are all flawed, and we struggle to connect with others in a deep and meaningful way. The feeling that we are alone in this world haunts us, and we believe deep within that if people knew us for whom we truly are, they would reject us. The opposite is actually true: We learn to embrace one another not in spite of our broken state, but because of it.
Think of how many TV shows—or even movies—have come and gone, shows where you're never given a chance to gaze into the characters' souls and truly see them as human beings. No tears are shed at those finales, because we didn't connect with them on an emotional level. The same is true in life. You can live your entire life as a one-dimensional character, holding everyone at arm's length. But, bare your soul to me about your evil father who stole your kidney and abandoned you a second time as you recover in the hospital, and you have a friend for life.