Lost: The Final Spoiler Warning

I’ll just go ahead and hide the entire post in case someone hasn’t seen it yet.

I won’t give a detailed recap because Lostpedia does it better.  However, I will just say that for the past year whenever a friend was behind on the show, I would give them a fake spoiler: “Everybody dies!  Huge explosions!”  Initially this was a sly joke about the season five finale with the detonation of Jughead for when they would finally get to the big explosion.  But as season six continued along, and I kept making that same bad joke, it got less ironic and more of accurate description of what happened the previous night.  And then came the series finale, and my offhand apocalyptic theory finally came true.  Everybody died.  Poetic explosions.

When Jin, Sun, and Sayid died a few episodes ago, I didn’t get that upset.  Why bother, when they’re still alive in a parallel dimension.  Well, it turns out they really did die.  There is no parallel dimension.  The Sideways world ended up being some sort of Purgatory, or Limbo, or whatever you want to call it.  Basically, all of the main characters are dead and hanging around some higher plane of existence in between the real world and whatever comes next (read: Heaven).  Uh, what?!  Then all that was for nothing?  We spend six years watching this show and they all die and go to Heaven, so nothing they did while they lived mattered if they all get to Heaven anyway, even Ben???  Well, sort of but not really.  The creators were trying to have their epilogue cake while they were baking it.

As a nonreligious person, the concept of having this awesome afterlife where you meet up with all your buddies and party forever more sounds great, but it makes our life here in Planet Earth seem insignificant.  Who cares what happens during our lifetime?  Why don’t I step in front of a bus and get rewarded with paradise?  However, I think the show was trying to say opposite: how we live our lives effects how we live our afterlives.  The idea of an afterlife in Lost is not a new concept.  They’ve had ghosts or ghost-like beings since the first season.  The idea that the consciousness of the characters continues on after they’ve died shouldn’t be that much of a surprise.  With the last episode, the creators gave us a vague idea of how the afterlife works in the world of Lost.

But here’s the thing: everything that happened in the show still happened and still mattered.  The Island existed before the events of the show and the Island will go on to exist after the show has ended.  Life goes on, but since the main conflict with Smokey has finished, this is where the show concludes.  Nothing that happens in the Sideways world invalidated that because Smokey still needed to be taken out.  The Sideways world was apparently needed for the characters to meet up again so that they can spend eternity together (or something).  The afterlife was still physical, still real, and still considered essential on the part of the creators.  Many people misinterpreted this, or they found this concept sentimental, cheesy, stupid, tacked on or what not, and thus hated it.

For the record, I liked the last episode, but only about fifteen minutes after the show ended upon some reflection while brushing my teeth.  As I said last week, I’ve always look forward to the curveballs Lost threw at us, but this one seemed too much.  The twist twisted too far.  Was “The End” too high and outside, making the episode, the season, and even the entire show a gutter ball or some other mixed metaphor?  For a show that encouraged—sometimes even demanded—rational and literary contemplation, it seems wrong to expect everything to be wrapped up in a neat little package, with everything explained in great detail, totally catalogued, and easily digestible.  Well, then it wouldn’t be Lost, would it?  For six years, every answer to every mystery has just lead to more questions.  Why should the last episode be any different?

While a large part of the audience wanted the teacher’s answer sheet (C, B, C, A, D, True, False, William Jennings Bryan), it’s obvious that the creators cared more about the characters and how they suffered, loved, failed, and triumphed.  So instead of getting our minds blown with the final scene, we get a high school reunion.  It’s all smiles and hugs before we remember, let go, and move on.

So what did it all mean?  The easy but difficult to hear answer is, we don’t know.  And that’s frustrating.  But that’s life.  It is impossible for us to know and understand everything.  Some things are spelled out, some things are unfathomable, and some things we have to put together through clues, hints, or pure speculation.  But just because we won’t ever know an answer to a question, that doesn’t mean the question isn’t important.  Or fun to ponder.

Bonus Feature: Some of the Answers Guesses You’ve Been Waiting For!

No really, WHAT DID IT ALL MEAN?  What about all that stuff they brought up, all those questions that were asked but never answered.  What a sloppily and lazily written television series!  Well, I believe that most of the lingering mysteries can be explained either by educated guesses or handwaving magic.  These answers are based on my own interpretations combined with the writings of others.  Supposedly there’s going to a DVD feature where they explain a few things they couldn’t fit into the narrative.  We’ll see how correct I am.

Here we go:

What is the Island? 

The Island is apparently just an island, but it’s located in a special place where weird stuff happens, probably because of a funky electromagnetic energy (or souls or something) that is created or trapped, probably because at the heart of the Island is a cave, and a stone is plugged into a hole that’s likely a portal to heaven or hell or something really, really bad that’s mystical and unknowing.  Because, probably.

Hold on, what’s this plug now? 

Well, remember when Jacob described the Island a cork in a bottle of evil wine?  Well that metaphor ended up being quite apt.  If the cork were taken out then all that energy would be unleashed and destroy first the Island, and tomorrow, the world.  Lucky for us, the Island has a guardian to protect it.  There’s always been a guardian and there always will be.

So who carved out the cave since there’s obvious stonework, and where did the hell did that plug come from, and whose skeleton is that??? 

Some things we will never know.  Life is a series of compromises.

But what’s the deal with energy, and if it’s evil then why is it a golden, warming light? 

Because the stone plug is magical and when it interacts with water, it changes from evil to good.  I guess.  The point is that if you know, you can use it to manipulate time and space.  That’s why the Dharma Initiative built the Swan Station to study it, but as we know, that went badly.  But luckily Jughead was detonated to temporarily dissipate it, which helped them create a temporary stop gap function that had to be released every 108 minutes.  Remember all that?  Yeah, that was the Incident as described way back in the second season.

So, wait, there is no Sideways world?  

Correct.  As explained above it’s an afterlife world that the characters created for themselves to meet up before moving on.  In a meta sense, it also allowed the creators to create a few playful what-if scenarios because they wouldn’t have been able to otherwise.  I know it feels like an outright lie, but the show has been deliberately deceitful before, with the episode about Jin and Sun’s daughter being the most egregious.

Then what did Jughead do exactly? 

Like I said, it caused the Incident just like how they described in season two.  It didn’t change time at all, but it did jump our heroes back from the seventies to the present.  So it was helpful after all.

Okay, what was the deal with Walt, since they made such a big deal out of him until he left at the end of the third season? 

He was special because he had magic powers.  They (meaning the characters, but maybe also the creators, hard to say) thought he was important to the grand scheme of things.  But no, he was just special.  There’s lots of special people.  Miles and Hurley can talk to dead people.  Desmond could tell the future for a while.  No matter what answer they had in mind at the beginning, a sufficient retrospective answer is that Walt was simply an introduction to the audience that some people had magic powers.  Look, this show lasted six years; not everything goes according to plan.

Fine, but what about the pregnancy problems?

I’m gonna say this was either caused by the Incident because of the radiation, or because Jacob said so.  Jacob wanted to bring people to the Island so that they can become better people, but if you have people breeding on the Island then it can quickly become overcrowded.  Plus, babies may be tabula rasas, but they’re not tabula reboots.  Sure, I’ll go with that.

You’re the smart guy, so explain the supply drops, huh?   

Um, if you remember the time dilation when you enter vicinity of the Island at the wrong trajectory, then the drops were actually from the seventies for the initial Dharma Initiative and it just took that long to land.  Yeah, that the ticket.

What is the point of all these mysteries and magic powers and coincidences and stuff? 

Consider it a very, very long game of chess between Jacob and Smokey.

So was the entire show God’s plan? 

Erik made a good argument in his piece last week, but I don’t believe everything happened because of God’s will.  While the existence of a creator is strongly suggested on the show, they also repeatedly argued in favor of free will.  Sure, there was a constant back and forth between fate and not fate.  And sure, there was a presence behind the scenes moving people around in response to another presence even further behind the scenes, but neither of them were gods.  Just two human brothers rudely involving a bunch of others in their family squabble.  Well, were human: one turned into an evil cloud of noisy smoke and the other stopped aging and gained magic powers but was still allergic to stabbings.  The point is that there forces beyond your control but there are still things you can decide for yourself.  It’s like playing that chess game where all the pieces are sentient and can move around and take out other pieces as they want.  And one side isn’t really telling their pieces what to do, and the other side is outright lying to his pieces and also messing around with the board when no one is looking. 

No wonder it took two thousand years for one side to win.

About Tim

Tim Bennett works for a publisher of science and technology, amongst other things.
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6 Responses to Lost: The Final Spoiler Warning

  1. Mark says:

    Okay, Tim. You make a fair case for the end not just being a bunch of garbage. But can you help me out with two lingering questions about the alternaverse?

    Jack and Juliet’s kid: Everyone else in the alternaverse was “real” in the show’s terms, right? So who was musically talented sulky teen in “real” life? This wouldn’t’ve bugged me half as much if Locke hadn’t made a big stink with all of his “You don’t have a son, Jack.”

    And so, if the alternaverse was some sort of after-life waiting room, what happens to people who get killed there, like Keamy the mad marine and ol’ one eye. Do they go to the after-after-life waiting room?

    Help!

  2. Tim says:

    Yeah, the part with Jack’s kid was weird. I still say that the afterlife world was physical/material/whatever, yet I believe that Jack created a child construct so that he could work though his daddy issues. Notice how the kid pretty much disappears once Locke reminded Jack that he didn’t have a son. You’d think he’d be wondering a litte more where his son went, but I’m guessing that once he realized what was going on, he didn’t need him anymore. It would’ve been nice for the show to acknowledge this. I’m hoping that there’ll be an extended cut of the last episode where they can put back any scenes they had to take out for time.

    As for Keamy and One Eyed Willy, I’m guessing that since they were bad people, they’re not allowed to move on to the bright light, Carolanne. Whether they’re stuck in the Sideways world forever, or if they’re sent to whatever passed for Hell in the Lostiverse, who knows. This is yet another instance where it seems that the creators would rather leave things vague than give any definate answers.

    I wish they had shown exactly what it’s like to be the Island’s guardian. Jacob seemed to have all these magic powers, yet Jack is all, “I don’t feel any different. Durr, I’m still useless.”

  3. Mark says:

    I read somewhere that the upcoming dvd release will feature something like 15 minutes of footage of Hurley and Ben guardianing the island.

    So, your questions may be answered yet.

    And yeah, I kinda figured that when the bad guys got killed, they’d just respawn somewhere else on the map, suddenly appearing in alterna-Culver City to harrass Walt and Mr. Eko.

  4. Justin says:

    I could be totally off base, but I assumed the pregnancy thing stemmed from Jacob’s First Mommy’s death at the hands of Jacob’s Second Mommy. Something like original sin.

    It’s also possible that as the source of life, the Island could “drown out” any smaller creations, like the way a whisper can’t be overheard over a Bad Religion concert.

    This is entirely fanwank, but the show as a whole was good enough to inspire me to it, which is something I promised I wouldn’t do.

  5. Tim says:

    While Lost loves doing those thematic echoes (much better than Lucas ever could), I still think that Jughead is to blame. According to Lostpedia because I couldn’t remember, Ethan was conceived and born on the Island. Some years later, Juliet finds that if you conceive on the Island, you’d have to leave or else die. But if you’ve conceived off the Island like Claire, you’ll be fine. The only major thing that happened in between then was the Incident.

    Sometimes, Lost makes us work for answers by giving us the before and after and letting us fill in the inbetween. See also, the Dharma Initiative after the Incident. And the Frozen Donkey Wheel: who finished it? That sort of thing.

  6. Tim says:

    I mean to say this is a good thing because thinking and speculating is more fun than being handed the answer sheet.

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