Over the last few months, I decided to catch up on the last two seasons of the television show LOST. Adam & I had stopped watching after the close of season 4; feeling a bit, well… lost. Ahem. The story was starting to feel contrived; the characters predictable, and it was unlikely that a real resolution was on the horizon. The key resolution, of course, being a reveal of what the island ACTUALLY was, and WHY everyone was on it.
It was frustrating. But, because I've never liked leaving a story undone (I've been known to trudge through a book that I dislike just because I started it and, well, you never know… it COULD have an amazing ending!), AND because running indoors in cold weather can be BORING, I decided I could set up my laptop on my treadmill, and slog through the last 35 episodes - multitasking for the win!
<Now, here's where you want to stop reading if you haven't watched the whole series, and you're planning on it someday.>
Now, once I got back into the story, it really wasn't slogging, as I'd feared it might be. Almost right away, I that familiar enticement of science fiction and the unknown that drew me into the series in the first place; and the emphasis on mythology and religion in the last two seasons proved particularly intriguing. Taken together those elements made for more thinking, less watch-checking in the last two seasons then the previous couple. And to top it off, the introduction of flash-sideways(es) which were some of the best moments of LOST. That said, the (unnecessary) repetition of "trust me" and "follow me" themes got a bit tiresome. I couldn't help but picture Jack Bauer of 24. Over. and Over again. Of course, when taken in the context of the finale, that particular broken record makes sense: Light, dark. Good, evil. Which path are you going to choose; who/what are going to follow or believe - in life, death, or the hereafter… trust, choice, follow, believe - or not. But still; it wore on me at times.
My assumption for several seasons was that the inhabitants of the island were dead, and perhaps in a sort of purgatory - earning their redemption or being offered a chance at another go-around in life (think, "Defending Your Life", Al Brooks/Meryl Streep --- LOVED that movie), though, with the arrival of the flash-sideways scenes, I wondered excitedly if LOST were veering back towards sci-fi (alas, this was not to be). I admit that even with the cool new plot lines, I continued through the last two seasons to be concerned that after all was said and done, all the characters, all the mysteries presented in six seasons, there'd be no WAY they'd be able to tie everything up in a nice, neat package. Nevertheless, I was anxiously awaiting the finale. Midway through the final season, I just wanted to KNOW already. Was it heaven, hell, purgatory, a dream, a futuristic planet, the next life, an ACTUAL island?
So, I reached the ending a couple weeks ago. Watched it with eyes wide open. I actually wasn't even running for the last half of the last episode. Hmmm. So.
Well… I didn't hate it. I wasn't completely disappointed; but I was… mostly disappointed. See, I realized at some point while watching, that those flash-sideways I loved so much, well, I loved them because I really WANTED them to represent redemption, a new shot at life, like a here & now reincarnation: lives they(we) ACTUALLY lived, or COULD live, if they(we) chose to. I wanted the sci-fi time-travel part to be true; I wanted to embrace the paradox of multiple timelines running at the same time (think, Back to the Future). AND, I wanted to believe that even if it WASN'T that, if it WAS, instead, as was heavily suggested in the last season, some kind of life-after-death experience, then the greater message here was: be good, be righteous, be kind, helpful, follow your heart, and you'll get it right – you’re crafting your destiny. It's not God or your religious doctrine choosing your path, nor that your path is already chosen for you, and you’re just moving along it, but that YOU choose your path, you're always choosing your path… and that you'll always have a chance to get it right, even when things don't go right.
But in the end, that isn't what happened; not exactly. All the loose ends left un-wrapped-up aside (they really DID do a shoddy job with closing up the many sci-fi aspects of the show, much to my disappointment - though I kinda knew it would be that way), my problem with the last episode was that it was a cop out. They all meet in a church and then the world ends with a bright light and lots of hugging, and none of the “bad people” are anywhere to be seen! What?
I felt betrayed, in a way, that all the suggesting they did about time travel, reincarnation, life choices, following the “good” or “evil” path… they just didn’t follow through. The good guys go to heaven, the end. Sigh, how boring. How predictable. How safe.
I know the answers to the questions of the universe: why we're here, where we're going, what happens next; won't be answered by a television show. But I had hope in LOST. I had hope that maybe what would come from the millions of viewers tuning in each week was a promise, even just an inkling of a promise, that we have CONTROL over our destiny - that if we DO the right things in the NOW, if we make choices to help, be kind, to LOVE, that regardless of all the dogma, it’s truly the here and now that counts. I think a lot of people may have left LOST still feeling lost, which is a shame. On the upside, it gave me a few moments of really engaging television, some ideas for my book, and a lot of motivation to keep running. So, there's that.
Did you watch LOST? What did you think?