Lost and Found? My thoughts on the series finale.

I finally watched the LOST series finale. I hadn’t been an avid LOST fan. I didn’t see the show until the third season, when someone loaned me the first season DVD set for a trip I was taking. I watched that first season straight through over a few days. I was so hooked that I watched the first season finale on my laptop during the plane ride home. I was so close to the end when the pilot announced putting away all electronic devices, so (despite my compliant tendancies) I rebelled and refused to turn it off. The flight attendant came by and asked “Mr. Troublemaker” to please turn off the laptop and stow it. I pushed Pause and said, “I’m down to the last three minutes of the LOST first season finale. Can I PLEASE finish it?” (That’s how we rebels talk, in case you didn’t know.) She leaned in and told me I could finish it up. She told me it was really good, but make sure I put it away as soon as I got to the end. That was my introduction to LOST.

Deana and the kids made a trip to visit family shortly after my return from that trip, so I was able to rent or borrow the second season DVDs and watch it over a week. Since it was on Wednesday nights, a “working night” at church for me during most of the show run, I never really got to watch it regularly after viewing the first two seasons. I’d catch it on random nights, but never recorded it or made an effort to try and watch. I have regularly read some of the weekly blogs and reviews of the show to keep up with what was happening. Jack and Locke’s initial battle between science and faith was always intriguing to me. Like the diehard fans, I wanted to know the reason for the strange workings and hostilities associated with the island. I watched some of last season on demand, then decided I wanted to watch the final season and see how everything was explained.

When I’d watch an episode at home, I’d see if Deana wanted to watch. She had the initial reaction I expected. She’d ask who someone was or what something meant. Anyone who’s tried to explain LOST to someone who’s never seen it realizes they begin to sound a little deranged. “He was in a wheelchair, then could walk after the plane crash. But somewhere along the way he was killed by the bad black smoke who, I think, took over his body.”  OR  “No, they didn’t know each other before the island, but those flashbacks (in seasons prior to Sideways world) show how they crossed paths without even realizing it and how their lives intertwined with one another. No, they don’t realize it, just the audience.”  Aaauugh! Quit asking questions!  It was like asking someone who grew up in the late 80’s-early 90’s about Power Rangers. It’s just annoying when they actually tell you, and you really don’t care. Yet, Deana did decide to watch this final season of shows. A day or two after the finale aired we finally found time to watch it on demand.

Yes, I liked the finale. I thought it was good storytelling, good acting, and an interesting end to a show that introduced more questions than it answered. And I’m OK with the unanswered questions that remain. I’ve read the scathing comments of young, single guys who live with their parents and attack pretend TV life from the dark corner of a basement somewhere. Those of us who live in the real world and expect to continue the process of learning our entire lives understand not everything in live gets answered to our satisfaction. Especially not in fictional stories about fictional characters. Good grief! Get a grip Mr. “LiveWithMama214” and “BiggestLostieFan90210”. Go out in the sunlight and take a deep breath.

The finale, “The End,” had excellent action scenes, great emotional reunion scenes, and answered a good number of questions. There was even a good mix of humor throughout the entire show. I watched an interview with the writers who said they’d planned the “eye closing” thing from the minute they wrote the “eye opening” into the first episode. I’m impressed beginning to end with the writers wonderful use of literary devices (juxtaposition, irony, symbolism, etc.) and lots of obscure cultural references (philosophers, songs, quotes, names of things) to build a depth into the story uncommon for TV.

For those who still complain, executive producer Carlton Cuse has said there is a feature on the upcoming Season 6 DVD set that will address questions left unanswered in the finale. He says it’s a great feature that will answer those questions in an entertaining way. Excellent marketing ploy. I hear the online register ringing up those advance sales by devoted and disappointed fans. I suspect those rabid fans will still be disappointed, maybe even more.

My favorite line was from Miles while he was fixing the airplane hydrolic system. He told Richard he doesn’t have faith in a lot of things, but he does believe in duct tape. Classic, and really much more fitting for this show than you may realize. The conclusion of the series seems to indicate it was about the characters all along, not really about the island. We focused on the island and the mystical forces attached to it, but it was never the main character we thought it was. It was about the journey of life, and into afterlife. The characters in relationship was the key.

Sure, I’m not comfortable with the over push that all religions lead to one place. I rolled my eyes at the chapel window that included symbols from Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Taoism, Buddhism, and Hinduism. (Well, the Aum is also used as a symbol for Buddhism and Jainism in some settings, but we’ll attibute it to Hinduism for these purposes). It leads to comments like this from critic Jeff Jensen –

Excerpt, by Entertainment Weekly columnest Jeff Jenson….

I will be put on the spot to show them why it all ”made sense,” and failing that, prove them that the show really did have a ”Greater Point To It All.” But what is certain is that I will convince them of nothing. I also think it would be wrong and even disrespectful of me to try. Your experience of Lost is your experience of Lost, and it is valid. I presume you are intelligent people who are not blinded by personal bias. I am sorry you feel let down. But I do not share your perspective. Does that mean we can’t ride the same church bus to heaven together? I hope not.

The obvious problem is that most of those faith systems being represented have an absolute standard. In other words, if you don’t ascribe to their beliefs you’ll not advance to the next (heavenly) place. Some believe you’d come back to try again to get it right, others believe you just cease to exist, and others say you go someplace opposite heaven. The point is, you have to believe in something.

Christian Shepherd leads the way into heaven on the LOST finale.

The one thing I think it really misrepresents is that arrival in heaven is a group thing. I really did like Christian Shepherd’s explanation of there being no “time” observance on the other side of death. In fact, I don’t believe the break in arrival between people will be anything like the time we experience on earth after someone passes. The Bible says time isn’t relevant to God like it is to us. I can’t explain it, but like the way Jack’s dad put it. Still, our arrival in the afterlife is an individual experience. None of us can choose what someone else believes. You don’t get to ride into heaven on the coat tails of friends or family. YOU have to decide what you believe. For me that included an examination of humanity, the Bible, my own heart – and a conclusion that Jesus is the Savior I needed to deal with the stain of sin that impacts each of us. Because of that I feel completely confident I’ll enter heaven one day; not because of my own goodness, but because of the sacrifice of Christ on my behalf.

What I really love is how LOST presented the redemption of flawed people. Everyone had a chance at redemption, even those who were really flawed and messed up. (With the exception of the missing Michael. But who knows where he was?) Cons/criminals (Sawyer, Kate, Jin), addicts (Jack), unfaithful (Sun), bad guys (Ben – he was invited in by Hurley at the end)…everyone was eligible for redemption. I believe it.

Are you a real Lostie? Were you hoping for a better review than mine, with more depth? Go to the link for the Entertainment Weekly review above. Want a review by someone who thinks that multi-faith presentation is the right model? Read this column, with which I completely disagree, but she asks some good questions. Want to Christian review? Read this article at Christianity Today in which Al Hsu presents a good perspective on learning to die well.

In the end, LOST was just a TV show featuring fictional characters. My life and your life is real. How we live, how we die, what happens next…those are important questions. I hope we continue to wrestle with them in real life, and don’t ignore the call to find the answers LOST has left us searching for. We should be more concerned with…
…what happens to Clark in the next season of Smallville. That’s something we should care about!

Now, back to your regularly scheduled program…


Posted: May 26, 2010 
Filed under: Jeff, Spiritual
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