Ever since the final episodes of LOST aired a few weeks ago I wanted to write this (or at least a similar) post and explain why this particular end of the show bothered me. It took me a quite some time to actually figure it out and even while I was typing this over the last few days my thoughts still were all over the place. LOST is such a huge and complex and complicated story after all. Always has been, always will be and that is what I loved and still love and will love about this show. But I think another reason why it that took me so long to actually write down my thoughts in a coherent manner was that the the main objection I had to this ending, was surprising for myself and I had to think about that for a while.
But first of all I have to state that LOST was an exceptional show and I don’t regret being a fan of it, because all in all I had so much fun watching it. Thinking about it, discussing events, coming up with theories, trying to solve mysteries, answering questions… watching it has been an adventure and it never (or just rarely) has been boring. And I haven’t even been a die-hard LOST fan. I didn’t really obsess about the show or the characters or wondered about the “bigger picture” or anything. I just enjoyed the unique adventure / fantasy / science-fiction plots and I loved the characters and to see them grow as human beings and to see them find their purpose in life.
It was this combination of both aspects – on the one hand the fantasy / science (-fiction) stuff and on the other hand the philosophical / spiritual stuff – that I considered the show’s biggest quality. I didn’t necessarily expect to get answers for every question and every mystery we had encountered on the island over the last few years. At some point in season 2 or 3 I learned to accept LOST as the crazy, creative, mysterious, intelligent and entertaining piece of television it plainly was. A place where the laws of physics didn’t all apply. Where a scottish conscience could travel through time. An island which was off every map and couldn’t be located.
It was fun to watch and as it was a fictional TV show I didn’t really expect a plausible scientific explanation for any of it in the end. The genre is called science-fiction for a reason! If it’s good and entertaining fiction, I don’t mind a bit, that it was all just made up. And as it was entertaining for the most part I even was able to ignore that the smokemonster looked so fake and thus not scary for most of the first few seasons. To ignore that the frozen wheel which turned the island or the plug on the well of evil looked like props from a underfunded 80s movie of the “Indiana Jones”-adventure genre. Just to mention a few of my tiny pet peeves.
I tried very much to keep the “just ignore it” attitude up with the huge inconsistencies during the last 10 – 15 minutes of the LOST finale, but I didn’t quite manage to. It all just didn’t make any sense. It was so illogical.The moments in the church and basically everything that led up to it in the flashsideways were obviously all about Jack. Who obviously had died and needed to meet the “most important people of his life” first so that they could all move on together.
If it was all about Jack, why on earth did we see all the others having their own revelations about their status (=being in limbo between heaven and earth)? This whole experience was told from Jack’s point of view in the end, so why and how could he have known about what the others were experiencing in their version of the after-life? If Kate and Claire and the others died “long after him”, why were they still the same age they were when he last met them? If the reason for that that had been, that this image was Jack’s memory of when he had last seen them, then why was Aaron still a baby, even though Jack had seem him grown into as a small child, when the Oceanic 6 first had left the island? I could name a few more of these inconsistencies in these last sequence at the church, if I’d be willing to spend the time. Which I ain’t at the moment.
From the start of the show I enjoyed how the the philosophical “Good vs Evil” idea in it’s various forms was a integral part of the whole plot and exploration of the various characters. I actually thought it would be a great idea to end the show with some kind of showdown between the Good and the Evil in this world.
But I honestly didn’t expect it to be displayed in such a simplified and graphic manner. The “Good” is a bright light in a cave and the “Evil” is another bright light, deep inside the earth, just kept in check by a large plug? Seriously? The world is so much more complicated than that. Good and Evil are not some kind of physical matter. Good and Evil in itself are neither visible nor concrete in any kind. I don’t know how to explain it more comprehensible, but this whole explanation (starting in the episode with CJ *g*) felt so wrong to me.
For six years to me the show was equally about science and faith and the contrast of these two (similar to the “Good vs Evil” question) in fact was a large part of the appeal to me. Both aspects – looking for answers to the island’s secrets or looking for the meaning of your life- always played equal parts . But in the end, the show chose to go down only one road and to offer only one answer to the big question what these six years were all about. And I felt cheated, because to me it always has been about the polarity of both. To me it never was just about the characters or just about the philosophical / spiritual issues, like some reviews now try to justify. A lot of the show was about the mysteries, like the nature of the island and the “time-travel” and all. And it really really bothers me that in the end the whole season 6 was about even more than just philosophical questions. It wasn’t just about the “How to be a good person? How to lead a good life?” question all of us in every society or religion might ask ourselves. To me the last 10-15 minutes (and with it the whole season 6) was essentially about faith in the very concrete religious meaning of the word.
It took me a while to figure out, why this bothered me so much, because I wouldn’t necessarily call myself a very religious person. I’ve been raised a Catholic with the catholic / christian set of beliefs and all. Almost all my life I still fellt something in this belief was missing and I can’t really say what that was. It’s difficult to explain, because I usually don’t talk about it and because religion and faith and beliefs are something rather personal. At least to me. My take on faith and religion and church changed a bit when my mom was so very sick 3 years ago, which probably is a very cliched thing to happen, “only turning to God in your time of need” or something. And I’m definitely not a Born-Again-Christian like George W. Bush *g* and there still are a lot of things I can’t quite grasp or explain and definitely can’t put into words. Like I said, it’s rather personal.
So, in the days after the LOST finale I actually did some research about the christian (and more specifically catholic) idea of purgartory and heaven and hell and all that and found out that my beliefs might not necessarily be 100% consistent with the core principle of the roman catholic church :-) But I do believe, maybe sometimes still vaguely, in certain core principles of this religion.
Every religion has these core principles and whether we share these beliefs or not, the fact remains that these principles are established and documented and (well-)known. Every religion – Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism – has its own concept of what happens to us after we die. In some religions it might be a very clear idea and in some it might be more vague and depending on how distinct your personal set of beliefs are, you might have a very clear or rather vague idea of the “after-life”.
The fact remains that there are basic religious concepts of “heaven” and in none of them the souls of the people who were most important to each other have to wait for each other before they can move on through the large oak door into the bright light together! Come On! With this ending LOST tried to push a very specific, very handmade, very botched fictional set of beliefs down my throat and I just didn’t like that. At all!
Yes I know, it’s just a TV show and I know I might be overreacting and trust me, I’m more than surprised myself, that this ending did provoke this reaction. Because, like stated above:. not really a very religious person and all. But it just all felt so wrong to me. Maybe because I do think religion and faith are very personal issues and not quite fit to be handled in that manner on a TV show. It just really bugged me somehow. Probably even more when I read various glowing reviews and appraisal for this ending and how it was “such a cool and moving and spiritual concept”. Seriously? It’s a simple pick’n’mix concept of various religious elements brought together by the need to create nice moving pictures for pure entertainment. Nothing spiritual about it. Not to me anyway…