LOST ForeverBy Michael Karol Posted: May 24, 2010
No doubt some LOST fans — and all atheist fans — are crying in their Dharma juice about the unanswered questions from Sunday's finale. But no matter what you think of the plot or story holes — and I absolutely adored it until the final 10 minutes or so — its creators always had one thing in mind as the backbone of the show, as LOST co-creator Damon Lindelof has said: "The show is, at its heart and soul, a character study. We were fascinated as storytellers by what makes people the way they are." In that sense, the series finale was exactly what any LOSTie craved: emotional reunions and returns for most of the major characters, including those who had died in the previous six seasons.
Whether the flash-forward segments in this last season were limbo, or a waiting area, before one's soul sets off to the "white light" (heaven, I guess, or whatever you make of the afterlife); whether the island itself is purgatory or a sort of "reset button" for anyone who ended up there; whether Jack was dead or dying all along and this was his mind's way of trying to set his life right; hell, whether the island was located in the land of Oz…none of it matters but for the fact that we loved these characters for six years, and it was emotionally satisfying to see them reunited, even if after death.
Lindelof also said, in a 2007 E! interview, "The following two facts are true. I swear it. A. They're not in purgatory. B. They're not dead. If we did such a thing after repeatedly stating otherwise, we'd be tarred and feathered!" Perhaps he was being disingenuous, deliberately trying to throw off viewers; perhaps we should prepare the tar and feathers.
I'm sticking with limbo for this season's flash-sideways storyline, and the island, if not purgatory, being a special, but real, place where you might be able to fix some of your bad life choices. What else could we make of the final scenes, once Jack's (dead) father Christian appeared, but that the castaways were dead, and after this one last hurrah, were heading to the next, er, plane?
So…everything that took place on the island for the past six years (excluding the flash-sideways segments) actually happened in the "real life" of the show — the polar bear being on a tropical island, the smoke monster and all the different "bodies" it inhabited, the whispering voices, the Dharma Initiative in the 1970s, and so on. Jacob and his brother did fight for centuries the age-old battle of good versus evil. Richard (Nestor Carbonell) did live for centuries — although at the end, he seemed to have been re-mortalized, as were the Locke-monster (Terry O'Quinn) and Jack (Matthew Fox).
The big leap of faith any longtime viewer had to make was that, as Christian Shephard (yes, we get the religious allegory) explained, everyone we had grown to love had died, and before that, they had made a pact to meet again in limbo so they could ascend to heaven (or wherever it is our spirits go when we die) together. Also, since there was no concept of linear time, as we know it on Earth, in the characters' limbo, some had died before Jack and some would die after him. As in the spiritual "Amazing Grace," they were lost in the show's pilot, and at the end they found each other and themselves. This is where the atheists threw their remotes at the TV, I'm sure.
I was a bit disappointed that, in the end, Lindelof (and co-creator Carlton Cuse) seemed to have made LOST all about religious belief and repenting. And it was upsetting that a number of characters who heavily impacted the plot over the years (including Richard, Michael and Walt, Widmore, Miles and Daniel) were simply not accounted for. Miles and Richard were on the plane headed home (in "real" life) with Kate, Claire, Sawyer and pilot Lapidus — but Kate, Claire and Sawyer were in the final scene. Why not the others? Speaking of Lapidus, how the hell did he survive the submarine explosion?! And Christian was used basically as a deus ex machina, wrapping up the series a bit too neatly in its final minutes for a confused Jack (and us).
That aside, I would never have wanted to miss seeing Kate and Jack, Juliet and Sawyer, Boone and Grace and Sayid, Penelope and Desmond, Charlie and Claire, Rose and Bernard, and all the rest, get their happy ending, even if it meant they were dead. Not for a second. I teared up every time the limbo characters made contact and remembered their island past, but especially seeing Sawyer (Josh Holloway) and Juliet (Elizabeth Mitchell) reunite at the hospital.
The show's strength was always in these characters that we loved to watch interact with each other and with the island. In being very soap-like — giving us strong, but flawed characters whose problems we can identify with — the LOST finale was right on the money. It wasn't perfect…but what in our life is?