May 24, 2010
As most Geminis tend towards, I’m of two minds regarding the LOST finale. After 6 years and 100+hrs of direct viewing investment – not including discussion forums, fan films, ARGs, and more than a few diluted attempts at transmedia extension of the property – we the audience craved Resolution. And now, on the DAL (Day After LOST), a lot of the show’s Followers (Christian Shepherd, indeed) are of similar mind:
“Intellectually disappointing…yet emotionally fulfilling.”
And I agree with this to a certain extent. It nagged at me throughout the broadcast, this ever-present specter of Unanswered Questions. The canyon-sized plot holes of tail-eating logic. The long-dangling threads of era-splintering Mythology. Big Moments – imbued with seeming importance for many seasons – now dissolved like so much dirt in the glowing heart of the Island Washing Machine. My rational mind – my scientist – kept pursing his lips and shaking his head and scoffing at cracks in the Design.
But then came the Sum of all things…
The little moments, heartfelt, tallied backwards to the bamboo forest Alpha and resounding like thunder in my chest. For nearly an hour after we saw Jack’s eye in extreme close-up for the last time, I was wracked with uncontrollable fits of sobbing. And I didn’t understand why. Whatever port I turned my mind towards – my fears, my failures, my friends and foes, my feline – another wave would strike my heart’s bow.
It wasn’t until 4AM – the mythical magic hour of spiritual devotion and awareness in Hinduism – that I could take a breath and step outside of myself with a clear and engaged Mind. It was only a moment before the Knowledge came flooding in. That’s when I understood that, in ‘The End’, LOST turned out to be everything I had hoped it would be at its core. This was a tale of wayward Souls (dead, alive, and somewhere in between) working together to resolve each other’s spiritual burdens. This was a story about Karma, and the quest to attain Self-Realization through the mirror of Others.
This was a narrative gateway to the ultimate Resolution: Life itself.
Did I want to know more about Walt, and the Dharma psych experiments, and Jacob’s cabin, and the pregnancy conundrum, and time-cop Eloise Hawking, and the goddamn frozen Donkey Wheel? Of course! But looking back, it’s undeniable that throughout the series we were given a steady stream of hints concerning the themes of Underworld/Afterlife/Bardo/etc from the beginning. (I wonder how much the show’s creators flinched when the season one nerd wave proclaimed “The island is Purgatory!!!”) And the truth is that this mystical chunk of time-skipping rock in uncharted waters encouraged our castaways – thanks to ramping stakes of Struggle, Discovery, Escape, Return, Destruction, and Transformation – to manifest the exact reflections and conflicts required for them to resolve their issues. It began by facing their pasts (Flash-backs). Then yearning for the future (Flash-forwards). Losing touch with Reality (lethal time-shifts). Creating an Alternate one. (Sideways World) And then…letting it all go.
Whether your personal beliefs or metaphysical stance gels with this or not, I’m here to say from personal experience: this is what LIFE is. And if it’s also true that the Universe will only encumber us with burdens that we are able to bear, then we should applaud fortitude in those whose imaginary lives touched our own so deeply. Locke’s bittersweet journey of faith and empowerment. Ben’s tragic longings for worth and redemption. Desmond’s undying love – his Constant – etching a winding road to Enlightenment.
And Jack. Oh Jack. I have always related to him. Too much. And it’s not a flattering thing to admit. But you have to salute his titanium backbone (spinal surgeon, of course) and planetary testes. You have to respect the weight of his journey, the soul-numbing pain and spiritual impotence he endured, and the fact that his After-Self wanted nothing more than to nurture a son and sew shut the paternal wound in his own heart. Jack only wanted LOVE. So when Purgatory Kate touched his face and whispered, ‘I missed You so much’, and the flashes of Consciousness hit? Well, that’s when tears really began to flow. And when they pulled into the parking lot at the multi-denominational Church of Everything, I knew what was coming. And when Jack stepped inside and touched the casket – his emotional totem from that water-filled cave of lifetimes gone by – I lost my breath. And when his Father held him and told him the Truth, I gently fell to pieces…
And then he saw his friends. Our friends.
Those whose island adventures had taken their broken souls to the Fire, and forged them Whole again.
Those who had lost themselves for a time, but were united in Love on the shores of Nirvana, and in the Halls of Heaven.
Live Together. Die…as One.
It was not what I expected…but somehow everything I needed it to be.
At the end of my story, I just hope I can say the same.