Paradise Lost - a "LOST' blog

"This is the end, beautiful friend.
This is the end, my only friend. The end
Of our elaborate plans. The end
Of everything that stands, the end.
No safety or surprise, the end.
I'll never look into your eyes again."

Jack Shephard

To get some inspiration to write this wrap up, I decided to listen this epic song from The Doors debut album.  As the first notes began to play, I thought how appropriate. Of course, if you listen to the whole song, it has an entire different  meaning.  But suffice to say, these opening lines say a great deal about a television program that a lot of people spent the better part of six seasons, as well indulged time in the forums and visiting a number of online watercoolers.  Whether it was discuss their theories, or arguing the scientific merits of the plotlines, a lot of hard core Losties, myself included, invested hours debating various ideas and reasons for much of the events of the show.  

That was where the notion first was proposed that the survivors of Oceanic 815 were in some sort of purgatory.  The shows producers Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse (known collectively as "The Powers That Be, or TPTB for short) steadfastly denied that fact.  In retrospect, they must have been doing their best Bill Belichick impersonation.  Most of you know that the Patriots coach has elevated the disguising of player injuries to an art form.
And in the end, that is what Jack Shephard's father Christian pretty much told Jack (and the audience) that they were all dead (although not at the same time) and this was his opportunity to make things right.  He also implied that the sideways flash was a place where could all be together - virtual reality if you will - and resolve some of their issues.  

So apparently, that's what the whole show was about - A cast of flawed characters that had deeply personal issues to resolve.  The entire series began with Jack awakening in the jungle after the crash.  The finale ends with Shephard's death in the same spot as his eye closes for the last time.

Jack Shephard

Much will be debated about this show.  I was not impressed with the wrap up. TPTB also said early on that things in the show could be explained.  I'm still waiting for that clarification.  I am both a man of science and a person of faith.  However, the science part of me is not satisfied with the 'faith-based' aspects of the mystery unraveling.  If the island is "purgatory" how did several Losties escape at the end?  If the island is "real," how do you explain all the time travel, Jacob/MiB, and other strange occurrences there?  Nothing I saw did it for me.  

Understandably, fan reaction was mixed as well. I felt compelled to offer some excerpts from some of the readers of my favorite forum -  Feel free to go there to read far more that I can ever print here.

[from WASTE]  The good news is that the events of the flash-sideways were kind of self-contained, and don't really affect the over-arching narrative of the show, and the stuff I actually cared about. The bad news is that they basically drive 50% of season 6, which greatly diminishes my enjoyment of it. So while my enjoyment of LOST in general hasn't been damaged by this finale, my appreciation of a good chunk of it has. If it wasn't the corniness, it was the fact that the writers thought it would be cute to trick us one last time, only the misdirection (alternate universe) was much more intriguing than the reality (elaborate but inconsistent Matrix-like limbo state).

And really, what kind of story needs to show us the characters in the afterlife? The fact that characters live out their lives off-screen (or off-page) after the story ends is a reality of most stories, and one that I'm actually kind of angry the writers robbed me of. The "present-day" resolution of the characters' stories is all that should have mattered. I don't need this religious hokum-pokum, to borrow a term.

[from Jacob's Cabin Cleaner] my understanding was...that the core Losties needed each other on the island in order to let go, redeem, find heaven, what ever u want to call it. This i believe is why the OCEANIC 6 had to go back and take Locke's body with them. So they could meet help each other later and move on. The reason the rules prevented them from being killed was cause they were already dead. Remember how everybody seemed to die when they finally found what they were looking for. Shannon, Eko, Charlie, Boone..the list goes on and on. Their island death was their graduation so to speak. Christian says the alt-time line was created so they could find each other later. In the finale they did. Jack asks where are we going? Christian says, let's go find out. He opens the door and the light comes in---presumably the light of heaven. They are all now free to move on with each other to the light. Pretty simple. Everything on the island. All the trials and tribulations were for them to let go of whatever it was the caused them to be so flawed. This means that no explanation is needed for ethan, or others, or Dharma or any of it. Pretty tidy little package....i like it.

[from JacksGirlfriend] I believe that for six years we watched our characters die from the plane crash. In that time, they all had their "life flashing before your eyes" moments and we got to watch each one as they overlapped, meshed and merged, and the characters tried to make sense of their lives in their final moments. As the episodes and the seasons progressed, we watched them relinquish life one by one as they found redemption and acceptance of their fate - the marshal, Joanna, Boone, Shannon, Charlie, and so many others...

For those who were stubborn - our primary characters - it took longer. They tried to cheat death by creating impossible situations, rescue attempts, more people, a "future", and "an alternate life". Since no one can cheat death, none of these things worked and each attempt continually led them back to the island.

Jacob and the Man in Black became symbols of illusion and reality, of faith and free will, of death and life, of the afterlife and earth. But even killing the Man in Black and trying to dim the light didn't work. They ultimately had to accept that the light was their hope and redemption, and Jacob had, all along, been simply trying to make them accept their fate.

[from edens demise]  I think the great thing about what the writers did was create an ending that we can debate. Would it have been better had it been cut and dry? I don't think so.  You can interpret it one way and I can interpret it in a completely different way that both have back up. The key difference being in my opinion whether or not we believe them to all have died after the plane crash or just to have died eventually as all people do. I accept the alt as being a time in their death and everything else as their lives. I'm fine with not getting all the answers.

So, yes, I think the island was purgatory all along - which we all believed from the first episode. It's really quite simple when you just accept fate. And so much easier.

[from Aardvark]  The show was suppose to be science fiction, not fantasy. I think the writers really cheapened the series with this end. Of course, not that I expected much considering how much of a total let down season 6 has been. I could have lived with some mysteries not being resolved, but it seems as though ALL the show's interwoven mythology meant nothing. Of course we all know people die, I certainly don't need an afterlife expose on it. The way they tied in the ALT was just stupid. So we didn't get to learn anything about Eloise Hawking and how and why she was in the know or even what she knew, Desmond's whole purpose, or why Jack had a son in limbo - WTF - even the history of what the island was. Do we even know if any of the island story was real? The end would have been far better served if they showed a future glimpse of Hurley and Ben working together with a new group of others or show some quick flashbacks to the island's origins and purpose over the millennia or a glimpse of the survivor's future lives.

Oh well, I'm looking forward to the "24" finale shortly, and TiVoGirl's reaction tomorrow.


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  • My take is that the island is not purgatory and therefore some of the characters were able to leave. The island is meant to be understood as real. A strange reality but something that actually happened to the characters. "What happened happened." Mysterious, magical and full of spiritual and scientific elements, good and evil, history and the present. It's the experience of living but on steroids. I don't think the survivors died in the plane crash. Some died on the island. Some died off the island.

    To me one of the central themes of the show is whether flawed individuals who have made terrible mistakes can move forward and find redemption. Redemption happens in the real world. Purgatory to my understanding is a place where one does time for sins committed and then is forgiven.

    For me it is the sideways reality that represented a purgatory like space where the characters are all dead and spent time until they were ready to accept the sum of their lives and their deaths and move on to whatever was to follow.

    It was also interestingly a variation on their lives where they had elements of what they thought they really wanted in life and but lacked what they needed from life to make them truly human. A "what if" world. For example Daniel gets to be the musician he dreamed of being but lacks the love he found while living the path forced on him by his mother. In my mind this space seems about reconciling oneself with ones destiny. You didn't get what you wanted you got what you were supposed to get. You let go and accept your destiny and realize the beauty/good that was always there.

    Interestingly we also have Eloise and Ben who are awake to the fact that the something is amiss in the sideways world but not willing to break with the illusion just yet, perhaps they are facing more purgatory time than the others or maybe because they unlike the others have what the love they truly wanted here, they hold on. Ben has Alex's love. Eloise has a version of life where she didn't manipulate her son. Both would have to accept destroying what they loved most if they are to leave the sideways version of events.

    I personally wasn't bothered that all of the sci-fi stuff wasn't explained. I always felt Lost was mostly a morality play of sorts. The first two time elements that were utilized flash backs and flash forwards provided background on the characters and a look into what was facing them when they got off the island. The time travel element seemed more about the fact that you can't change destiny, there are no resets. All of the characters attempts to change what was going to happen to them created what happened to them. Sayid tries to kill Ben to prevent his rise to power and creates the Ben that emerges. Daniel thinks detonating the bomb will reset everything. No resets.

    Anyway I agree it would have been fun to see Hurley and Ben run the island together. I imagine them both running off to visit Rose and Bernard sometimes to escape each other. They did at least let us know they enjoyed working together.

  • Actually, I would have loved to see a reboot where Hurley assumes the Jacob role and Ben Linus becomes the new ManInBlack so you can have that good vs evil continued. Or perhaps if Claire had chosen to remain on the island, she could have been MiB. No rule says it has to be a man. My whole issue with the island as "real" is that you just can't explain away the time travel, the donkey wheel, where did the "others" come from? If you're going sci-fi, ok. If the angle is fantasy ok, but not both. I saw a few holes left as far as the origin of the "others" since we now know about Jacob and MiB and their backstory.

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