A Thrilling Grab Bag of Mixed Results- LOST Series Finale (Part 2)

4 Jun

It’s been nine days since LOST’s final curtain call, and yet the show still dominates my thoughts. Whether it’s obsessing over answers that will never come and plot holes that will never be filled, or trying to make sense of the finale, all I can seem to think about is LOST. Granted, I haven’t exactly been trying to let go. Unlike our favorite characters, I’m not searching for a metaphysical church with doors that open to reveal heavenly floodlights. No, I’m stuck in the past, specifically 2004, when LOST premiered, because I’ve officially started my re-watch of the entire series. Because my production job ended (don’t want to go into details) and I’m back to being an unemployed bum, I’ve already re-watched the first eight episodes of the first season. It’s a testament to the show that even though I know the outcome of the plot, I’m still engrossed and feel like I’m watching a story unfold for the first time. Knowing the origin of the Adam & Eve skeletons or what the Smoke Monster is actually adds an extra layer of intrigue to these early episodes, rather than detracting from them. It’s cool to watch Locke face the Monster for the first time and know that this is all part of Smokey’s plan; in fact, you get a sense watching the survivors in their first ten days on the Island that the Monster is simply toying with them. Assuming MIB was the Christian Shephard Jack saw in “White Rabbit,” then he did indeed lead Jack to water as he later claims in “The Last Recruit.” It’s little touches like this that do give the impression that the writers’ weren’t making it all up as they went along. I think many fans were turned off by the introduction of the show’s big bad so late in the game, but revealing the Smoke Monster to be the primary antagonist was exactly what I always wanted. Smokey has always been the survivors’ biggest threat, and he’s been on the show since day one. Seeing him lead Jack to the caves really does give the sense that he had a master plan, one so complex that it actually involved helping his enemies, helping shape Jack into the leader MIB secretly wanted him to become.

Last week I went off on the resolution of the final season’s flash-sideways plotline, which may have given the impression that LOST, in its eleventh hour, had finally jumped the shark for me. It didn’t- I still love it, and loved nearly everything else in the sixth season that didn’t involve confused wraiths wandering around a creepy bizarro world searching for each other so they could go to heaven and hug Jesus. Ruminating on the show’s final moments has incited a lot of internal debate for me, a debate I think I will save for Part 3 of this post. I’m still not satisfied with the flash-sideways story and there’s nothing anyone can do or say that will make me love it. But because of the beautiful way it was used in the final scene, the intercutting, the return of original Locke, etc.- makes it hard to hate outright. For now, I’d like to prove my love for “The End” by going through the things I think it did right. Even though LOST is gone forever doesn’t mean I can’t blog about it, so expect a few more posts before I move on to obsessing over something else. There’ll be Part 3 of my finale recap, which will be a reassessment of the flash-sideways plot, then an entire series retrospective after I finish re-watching it, and an accompanying Top 10 LOST Episodes.

What I Liked

HAYUUUUGEN!!!!



For me, the highlights came in three separate moments. First up: Jack facing off against the Man in Black with the Island crumbling around them. This was exactly the kind of epic final battle I was hoping for. Sure, it was mostly a fist fight, but that shot of Jack leaping into the air right before the cut to commercial- AWESOME. Some people have complained about Kate delivering the crippling blow via gunshot, but it didn’t bother me because the fact that MIB overpowered Jack added to his evil superhuman-ness, and Jack sent him to his actual death by kicking him off the cliff, same as MIB did to Jacob. Alison also pointed out that the show has always been about the castaways working together, so for Jack to take down the villain on his own would have been a disservice.

I thought the resolution of the Man in Black conflict was very well-written. I liked that Jacob’s plan simply involved Desmond removing the literal cork so that Jack could kill MIB. Once the Source went out and the “darkness” escaped, MIB just morphed into a clone of Locke- he was now a mortal man and the look in his eyes when he tasted blood was great. It was nice to see our big bad finally feel fear. Thankfully, he didn’t go out like a pussy and his final words were super badass: “You died for nothing.”

Hurley realizes he just got stuck with the WORST job on the planet.

Next up is Jack’s appointment of Hurley as Island protector and their tearful farewell. While it should have been cheesy, the line “I believe in you” was just so well delivered by Jorge Garcia and Matthew Fox, and the idea behind the line so beautiful, that I couldn’t help but love it. Hurley and Jack have always had an interesting relationship- a friendship based more on a desire to keep the team together than an actual liking for each other, one that almost vanished in season 4 but reached a satisfying and heartbreaking conclusion. You could just feel the way Hurley thinks of Jack- he’s the big lub’s hero, the awesome doctor who’s always led them and always stood up for them and protected them. And now that epic hero was facing imminent demise and it was too much for Hurley to bear.

I also enjoyed Hurley and Ben’s final on-Island scene, in which Hurley made Ben his “#2,” a.k.a. his Richard. The fact that Hurley touched Ben seems to imply to me that he bestowed him with immortality as well, and I’m more curious about their time together as the Island’s official protector team than I am about where we all go when we die. All I’m sayin’ is- STRAIGHT TO DVD MOVIE!!!! C’mon, how awesome would that be? Hurley and Ben chillin’ on the Island. I’d pay to see that. Alison actually predicted that Hurley would be the Protector, but once Jack took the job I figured he would survive the show. No dice. Speaking of Ben, I loved everything about his character in this episode, even his scenes in my now hated-flash-sideways. While it didn’t really make any sense that Ben would be given the opportunity to pass on while Michael is still trapped on the Island as a lame whispering ghost, it was a nice touch to have Ben decide to stay in purgatory for a bit. Guy’s got some issues to work out.

What really did it for me was when Hurley asked Ben to help him, which was literally the best possible resolution to Ben’s storyline other than killing him off. Ben’s whole conflict has been about feeling betrayed by Jacob, a leader he never even got to meet during his tenure, one who didn’t really seem to need him but simply used him. And now here’s Hurley, the brand new Protector, frightened by the daunting task of protecting the Island, turning to him and asking him to work together, as equals. That’s all Ben ever wanted, and it was nice to see such a tragic character get such a happy ending, especially when the show’s most tragic character, Locke, was murdered moments after being convinced not to commit suicide. Now that’s depressing.

As cheesy as it may sound, my third favorite moment was Jack and Kate’s tearful farewell. Not quite as impactful as the moment between Hurley and Jack, but still a very emotional moment and a great resolution to those characters’ sordid love story. Season 1 really had you rooting for a Sawyer/Kate romance, mostly because Jack was just such an awful douche back then, but after Skate boned and got awkward the spark died and it became apparent that Kate’s true soulmate was the ol’ spinal surgeon. Maybe it’s because they’re both brunettes- I don’t know- but something about Kate & Jack’s personalities just coalesce. And it was nice to see them share one final “I love you” before Jack sacrificed himself. Sure, Kate ended up escaping on the plane with Sawyer, but that’s because it was understood that Jack was going to die and who the hell would want to stay on that Island after all that crazy shit?

Whether you loved or hated the flash sideways, it’s hard to argue that “The End” wasn’t a brilliant two and half hours of television. Many fans were likely disappointed by the lack of mythological answers, but by that stage in the story I had lost all interest in reveals. Of course, re-watching the show from the beginning does make me annoyed that SO MANY mysteries were left unanswered, but that’s a discussion for part 3. “The End” succeeded in the same way all great LOST episodes do: by balancing high stakes drama with real emotion. I cried many a time during the episode, and loved that so much time was devoted to character resolutions, even for bit players like Richard. Personally, I would have liked a little more Richard this season. After “Ab Aeterno” he sort of just faded into the background, which didn’t really make sense because the show had implied he would be very important in the endgame. But the moment with his gray hair and realization that he wants to live was a great way to bring his story full-circle. It was also nice to see Jack and Sawyer put aside their differences once and for all, and for Sawyer to finally come to terms with the fact that Jack is just a better hero than he is. I’m also glad Claire didn’t get killed or left behind again, and that she and Kate managed to reconcile.

Obviously I wasn’t too jazzed about the reveal of the flash-sideways true origin, or the overtly Christian themes the writers appeared to have chucked in at the last minute. But for the life of me I still loved that final scene. The intercutting between Jack moving on and Jack laying down to rest was beautiful, and I couldn’t think of a better way to end the show than on a shot of his eye closing. So you see? I didn’t hate all of it! On the contrary, I loved most of it, and thought everything that went down on the Island was pitch perfect. Rose and Bernard came back… and survived!!! Woo-hoo!!! I even think the flash-sideways would have been a nice touch, but only if they had been featured solely in the premiere, finale, and Desmond-centric episode “Happily Ever After.” But that’s a discussion for another time…

The bottom line is LOST will be sorely missed. It may not be the best show ever, but it was a great one, and undoubtedly changed the face of network television forever. Some may be unable to forgive it for some of its misgivings, but I want to remember LOST for its great characters, its sweet mythology, awesome score, and emotional moments. If anything, it encouraged us to think, something very few shows ever do. For me, it did something more: it inspired me, and for that, I am forever grateful.

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