Lost Finale: Why I Loved It

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It feels like the days after Deathly Hallows all over again. A great story which sparked a pop culture phenomenon has come to its conclusion: some people loved it, and some loathed it. I’m in the former camp, and for much the same reasons I was in the pro-Deathly Hallows camp: the story accomplished the imaginative satisfaction of ancient human desires. Spoilers below!

The biggest mystery of this season has been the Flash Sideways. Is it a parallel universe? Will the two universes cross? It turns out everyone was wrong. The Flash Sideways is a postmodern Graytown (from C.S. Lewis’s The Great Divorce.) It’s like Lewis’s Graytown, because the people there can stay or leave as they feel ready. Consider that AnaLucia wasn’t ready, that Eloise was not prepared for Daniel to leave, etc. But also consider that Christian told Jack that all the castaways “made” the place, because they needed it.

And in that case, it’s like King’s Cross. Harry perceives his meeting place with Dumbledore as King’s Cross, because it’s his own perception. What he believes actually shapes the place. In Lewis’s Graytown, the place is what it is and looks like what it looks like. Graytown’s citizens disagree on the meaning of the place, but not its makeup. At King’s Cross, and in this Sideways world, the place looks like what its inhabitants make it in their own imaginations. But all are able to proceed to love eternal when they are ready.

As the story ended, the people sitting with me immediately began discussing: So is the Sideways real? I just smiled to myself, being too exhausted to formulate an answer. I wanted to say with Dumbledore, “It was in their heads, but why on earth should that make it not real?” What LOST did was make the statement: what is in your head is real. Imagination vindicated. Faith vindicated. Spiritual reality vindicated.

In other words, this was logos epistemology, as I had hoped when watching “Across the Sea.” The light of the world is in every person. We recognize it in each other. We recognize the spiritual reality within and behind the physical world, and it’s in our minds – in our imaginations – that we perceive the truth. Just note the way the show opened and closed: Jack’s eye. And then remember your eye symbolism from Harry Potter.

People who wanted mysteries “solved” would have hated the answers. Why? Because these are mysteries unfathomable to the human mind. The imagination is the best hope of perceiving them. The Sideways was more real than what happened on the island, not some fancy or dream that fails to give answers. The Sideways gives all the answers that really mattered. Who cares what the stupid numbers were? The mysteries of eternity find their way into the world in manifestations we just don’t get. Who cares what the numbers are? In the end, there is peace. There is love.

To me, this is exactly the kind of bold ending that was needed. LOST was never going for a spooky/creepy ending. This isn’t a Gothic story. It’s not The Twilight Zone. It’s myth.

More than that: It’s the best television can possibly come to creating a eucatrastrophe, a “sudden joyous turn.” The reason the LOST finale was bold is because in these days, happy endings are bold. Ken Tucker nails it:

“Lost went out in a manner that was refreshingly not like that of so many dramas, which tend to become more dramatic, serious, and bleak in an effort to prove their ultimate profundity. Instead, the longLost last night was a combination of a greatest-hits album and a lively Sunday-school lesson. Everyone was forgiven; everyone smiled.”

Other things I loved:

-Jack and Kate: It was always supposed to be Jack and Kate. Sawyer/Kate always annoyed me.

-Sawyer and Juliet: Kate could never settle Sawyer into the kind of loving person Juliet did. As Evangeline Lilly astutely said, Kate and Sawyer were “good at stumbling together.” Juliet and Sawyer flew together.

-Jack, then Hurley: I was skeptical of Arabella’s position that Hurley would be the new Jacob, because I knew it had to be Jack. The way they made it Jack, then Hurley was fantastic.

-The symbolism of the church at the end. Deliberate pans to Jesus twice.

-Watching them realize their paths and recognize each other in Graytown: Simply amazing. I’ve never smiled or teared up so much watching TV. And it never got old, even after I realized it was coming for every single character. And as I write this, I’m watching it again, and it’s still not old.

-No answer for fate vs. free will: the mystery was left fully intact, and both fate and free will worked together as they mysteriously do. I was so afraid they’d end this will a clear and decisive nod in favor of free will trumping fate. They did not. Jack was “supposed” to be the new Jacob, and Jack made the choice to be the new Jacob. It was both a “predictable” choice by Jacob, and an authentic choice by Jack.

-Jack and Christian at “King’s Cross”: Because that’s exactly what that conversation was.

-John and Ben: “I forgive you.”

(Only one thing I hated: Sayid and Shannon. Never believed it, never will.)

I’ll have more to say, I think, but I don’t want to say it all here and not leave room for a robust and insightful discussion, so I’ll turn it over to you after one last thought, and then see you in the comments.

Here’s the crazy thing LOST did to me. A friend of mine convinced me to watch it by saying that it was all about character studies, and that there were characters named John Locke and C.S. Lewis. A couple seasons in, I told him, “I love it, but not because of the characters. I love the mysteries.” But by last night, it was exactly the other way around. I love these characters. I love that they made their way, flawed and failing, through a messy, mysterious world, and the answer they needed was Love.

And in the end,
The end is oceans and oceans of love, and love again
We’ll see how the tears that had fallen were caught in the palms
Of the Giver of love, and the Lover of all
And we’ll look back on these tears as old tales.

~ Andrew Peterson, “After the Last Tear Falls”


80 Comments

  1. Profile photo of Pete Peterson

    Pete Peterson

    @pete

    I’ll agree that it was emotionally satisfying. The stained glass window in the church depicting six different religions was an eye-roller, though.

    My complaint is that for six years (?) now we’ve been assured that there’s an explanation for everything and the writers know exactly what they are doing. And yet clearly that wasn’t true. I’d have been okay with the mystery being left mysterious if that had been their tack all along. Instead, I felt somewhat betrayed. They gave up.

    That said, though, I was moved and it ended with a LOT more resolution than I thought it would (even if some of it was cheesy).

  2. Travis Prinzi

    The good SD Smith made a similar comment at The Hog’s Head, and I can certainly understand. Perhaps part of the reason it didn’t bother me as much is that I just got into LOST last summer, so I basically watched all six seasons in a row. That’s a lot less time for thinking about and speculating on the answers to the mysteries.

    That said, I’m glad so much mythic mystery went unanswered, because it’s a lot like we all feel every day: so much mystery to the world, so much unexplained, but at the end, not having answers for all the “Why, God? How long, O Lord?” prayers, we find redemption in love, and love is all that remains. That’s why I think LOST works as a good piece of imaginative fiction. It deals seriously with the Fall and believes wholeheartedly in redemption.

  3. Profile photo of S. D. Smith

    S. D. Smith

    @sdsmith

    Oh, the conversation goes on here as well. Cool.

    Nice post, Travis. I just think Pete is right about the clear (to me) breaking of the contract with the audience that mysteries would be resolved and that the Island and the things done on the Island would matter. (Matter in more than a post-modern “nothing matters” kind of way.)

    Here’s my comments Travis referred to from his website.

    Travis, you are way smarter than me. Some of your comments do bring me around.

    But here is my central beef. Shoot me down here if I’m wrong.

    As storytellers, we present dilemmas, problems, obstacles and they constitute a contract with the audience.

    The writers emphasized the big questions/mysteries so much that it WAS that kind of a story, as well as a character story.

    The character story ended somewhat satisfactorily. But the mystery/event story was, in my view, a totally insufficient delivery on the very clear promise made to the audience.

    That’s why I think the finale was not satisfying, by and large.

  4. Profile photo of S. D. Smith

    S. D. Smith

    @sdsmith

    Oh, and the way overexposed “all religions are one” theme was indeed an eye-roller, Pete. They couldn’t have been less subtle with that. Why not scroll a disclaimer on the bottom of the screen:

    “We know there’s a lot of Christian symbolism here, and the name Christian Shepherd and the Jesus statue are prominent, but no way are we saying that Christianity it exclusively true. We are totally Life of Pi-ing it here. It’s all the same and…like…whatever you think, man. Please notice the stained glass, we’re leaving it in frame for six hours straight.”

  5. rachel

    i’ll just nod along with pete. because i agree on every point. i missed the “intentional” camera pans to Jesus because i was still gagging from that stained glass window.

    my biggest beef: don’t depict heaven without Jesus. i never assumed a Christian worldview from the writers, so the ending felt like having the floor drop out from under me. were they trying to establish their own theology? that’s what it seemed like to me ….

    i was really, really disappointed. and i was one of those invested-from-the-beginning suckers.

  6. JJ

    I was completely satisfied. Yes the island stuff was made to be important, but ultimately I don’t think it mattered. Did the writers “give up” in not giving us answers? Who knows? But would it really have helped make the end more satisfying if we knew who made the island or where it came from? Or even just who made the little room in the cave with the stone cork? Or maybe just who made the statue that Jacob lived in? They could have gone deeper and deeper and deeper into the mysteries which would have made some people happy, but “for every answer there would be more questions”, and eventually the answers would have started to get more and more ridiculous. The light in the cave was pretty cheesy for example.

    I mean, we know that Jacob’s faux mother was likely the protector before she handed it over to an unwilling Jacob. And we know from the rerun of the pilot on Saturday that Jacob was born 2000 years before Oceanic 815 crashed on the island so he was it’s protector for a long time. And we know that, after Jack fulfilled his brief stint as the New Jacob, that Hurley was the island’s protector for an unspecified amount of time with Ben as his #2 (the new Richard Alpert). So Jacob wasn’t the first, or the last, guardian of this special and mystical place.

    That being said, the island and it’s mysteries, many of which I think Ben summed up perfectly by telling Hurley, ‘That’s just what Jacob did’, were just a snapshot in the long life of this mysterious place. The show basically focused on this one group that was brought to the island during Jacob’s “reign”. Did Jacob’s faux Mom have the island in some weird time wormhole thing that prevented people from coming and going unless she expressly permitted it? Did Hurley continue Jacob’s tradition of doing that? Who knows? But it wasn’t about Hurley or Jacob’s crazy murderer of a faux mom. I’m still hopeful for the buddy comedy spinoff “Hugo Reyes: Island Protector”, with Ben Linus as the wacky sidekick.

    Sure it would have been cool to know some of that stuff. But in the end it wasn’t necessary for me to enjoy the finale. Ben’s comment to Hurley honestly answered most of my questions. “It’s just what Jacob did”. Was that a cop-out? To some people I’m sure. But it made me smile.

    I was 100% satisfied.

  7. rachel

    that being said: the show still, and always will hold value for me for having amazing character development and for building the most insane television story arc i’ve yet seen.

  8. Shauna

    I agree with the previous commenters. In a way it was a long con for CC and DL to build the mysteries and the mythology for 6 years and then essentially claim at the end that none of that mattered–it was only about the characters. It was emotionally satisfying but intellectually dishonest IMHO. It’s still my favorite show ever, and I’m really melancholy today, so maybe I’ll feel differently later.

  9. Travis Prinzi

    I wasn’t bothered at all by the 6 religions thing. I figured if they were going somewhere religious, they were going there. Still, if we want to press that point: Jesus was obviously pre-eminent there. No other religion got a statue. And the entire finale was framed by the two pans to the Jesus statue. The first one was at the very beginning, the last one at the end.

    One of Tash’s servants did get saved, after all.

    I don’t think they were trying to establish their own theology, but I do think they were trying to say something theological that could be grabbed onto by any human. It’s not explicitly Christian, no, but we didn’t need it to be or want it to be. Anything like LOST which gives spiritual knowledge as the *real* reality, in the fact of scientific attempts to control, explain and harness it for fallen human advantage, is a good starting place.

  10. Chris

    We all hated when Lucas explained the “force” in Episode 1…how it works (midiclorians and whatnot)…something that can be measured. I think we think we wanna know how magic works but we really don’t. I like the mysteries remaining for Lost. How exactly does the wardrobe lead to Narnia? It doesn’t matter.

    Also, on the alter were several small religious statues…the crucifix was central, tallest and pre-eminent. Awesome.

  11. Nathaniel Miller

    I was very satisfied. For one, I gave up hoping for all the answers and instead trusted the writers to take me where they wanted to go. Second, they proved to the very end that no one would be able to predict how it would all turn out. Third, Jack’s death was so well done. For 6 seasons, he has tried to fix things. And at the very end, he saves the island, he saves his friends, and lays his life down to fix it. To see his death mixed with the reunion was so rewarding. The show ended with grace and beauty and to me, that’s worth more than a 1,000 answers that they could have given. There has never been a show quite like Lost and no finale as moving as that ending.

  12. Joshua Derck

    This is the blog closest to my “world view” to use an old phrase. I find many things I read here enlightening and inspiring. I am therefor not surprised to read this post and feel as it I could not have said it better my self. Way back when Charlotte was introduced the writers/producers said Lewis’ work was going to guide the rest of the show. I always wondered when I was going to see it, tonight I did. I am happy I smiled through the whole episode. Thanks for posting things I was thinking so well. Just remember though we find what we are looking for so maybe I saw what I wanted to see

  13. PaulH

    I still have a LOST hangover.
    I cried, laughed, and said goodbye to one of the most creative shows in tv history.
    So much has been said and the deep thoughts of what means what.
    I would like to think the writer’s LOST themselves in some cases and have avoided answering alot of mysteries;
    Walt’s powers?,
    What does the polar bear mean?,
    What did the Statue mean? etc.
    See, it sort of doesn’t matter anymore. Those things were dead end rabbit trails.
    All that mattered was for them to find redemtion, love and see their true selves in a mirror. A cracked mirror at that

  14. Alyssa

    I enjoyed reading your analysis, Travis, and I totally agree about Sayid and Shannon. In the words of Charlie Brown, “Good grief.”

    I was happy with the finale. I have to say that I was a bit surprised at how quickly they resolved the Jack/Locke conflict. It reminded me of when I read LOTR: The Return of the King. I trudged along miserably with Frodo through the entire book, only for the final showdown between Frodo and Gollum to be settled in one piddly little paragraph. But that left room for the journey home and laying all the characters to rest. I was glad that Lost gave us so much time to say goodbye to the characters.

    I see what everyone means about the writers abandoning their promise to answer questions, but for me it ultimately wasn’t as important as I thought it would be. I’ve marveled since Season 2 or 3 that I could walk away from some episodes so angry at the writers and yet not be able to resist the urge to turn on the TV the next week. I think they are masterful story weavers, and they deserve a lot of credit for being able to generate such a following.

  15. JJ

    Travis, your first sentence sums it up perfectly for me for those who were disappointed and wanted answers. “It feels like the days after Deathly Hallows all over again.” People that wanted answers and didn’t get them (or not to their satisfaction), I’ve noticed are accusing the writers of not knowing where they were going and not having the answers. One blog review mentioned the actor who played Charles Widmore, when asked by Jimmy Kimmel during his Aloha to Lost show, if he was good or evil. The actor responded that he didn’t know. He never figured it out himself. Does that mean the writers didn’t know? Did it even matter? The same question could be asked about Snape. I wouldn’t be surprised if Alan Rickman would answer the same way. Snape and Widmore are not very different. I don’t think there is a cut and dry answer for characters with motivations that complex.

    My point is, the “haters” (not all of them) want to accuse the writers of being lazy, and even of not even having the answers that they, the viewers, so desperately crave. Harry Potter fans accused J.K. of the same things. But she knew her world and her characters so intimately that she was able to answer Q&As with such ease. Were we happy with all the answers? No. Were some of them cool to know? Absolutely. Did they effect our enjoyment of the overall story of Harry Potter? Nope.

    I guess the question people should be asking themselves is do they want the mystery completely spelled out for them to be able to enjoy this story? Would it make them happy to hear the writers say, “The island was made by _____ and served the purpose of _____.” Would that make the story more enjoyable? What if the answer sucked? What if it was aliens? Personally I’d think that was lame.

    Some answers ruin the experience. But just because they don’t give some answers doesn’t mean they don’t have them (they’re doing a Q&A for the DVD for those who didn’t hear). I heard that they had a name for the Man in Black in the script (Samuel) but chose not to use it. Was that a cop-out? I don’t think so. I rather enjoyed having this mysterious, nameless antagonist on the island.

    It all comes down to expectations. I lowered mine this season. Not because I was disappointed, but because I had started watching the series over again (I just started Season 5 before the finale came on), and they really give more answers early on that we realize. But then I realized, as hard as it is to believe, that it really is about the characters and their journey to find reconciliation (with themselves and others), redemption, love and peace. They all found it.

  16. Rich

    I like your assesment. I actually thought the writers did a good job preparing us this season for an ending “without answers”. They did this by establishing new mysteries, ie the light cave, Jacob and the Man in Black’s backstory, etc. They also did this by answering a few questions in relatively unspectacular ways, and in doing so, I believe imitating life.

    Since season one we have been speculating who the “Adam and Eve” skeletons were…theories abounded and we made it more than what it really was… Just like in life there are some mysteries unsolved as well as things that have been hyped and created and claimed as “mystery” when in reality it’s not really that special…

    I think the writers were pretty smart to leave some things open ended. It gives Lost the flavor and character it has had since the first episode. The writers always refer to going ‘deeper into the rabbit hole’…leaving things open ended allows us to continue going deeper even though the show is over.

    I love talking, debating and developing theories about LOST with other people and now I can continue to do so. The real question I want answered is how did that walkie talkie not frizz out when Sawyer and Kate made the swim to and from the boat…

    I am happy with the ending.

  17. Jeff M

    Since this is a place to discuss a bunch of stuff, but primarily art and theology, I’m not sure that I agree with the comments here that the writers, having a “contract” with the audience, were obligated to answer your questions (or as we all feel – the questions that the THEY created – even though, in the end, WE are asking the questions). For example – in The Shawshank Redemption (top 10 movie for me!), I wasn’t a fan of the ending. I wanted it to end with him on the bus – fade to black. You don’t NEED to show him walking on the beach. You don’t NEED to show him walking up to Andy. Why not let people make up their own minds as to where Red was going?

    My wife knew exactly where the LOST finally “lost” me. Cheesy staind-glass window aside, Jack touches the coffin and has his realization…open the coffin and it’s empty…fade to black. All that being said – I loved the way they ended the story – just could have done without the Jack/Dad explanation and cheesy, smiley reception in the church.

    I like the mysteries being un-answered. It leaves them open for interpretation and discussion (i.e. this thread). I think if we knew all the answers it wouldn’t be nearly as compelling a ride – kind of like faith.

    JM

  18. Tad Caldwell

    The Lost Finale bothered me. Most of those characters did not deserve happiness, which is of course is true of everyone. They all deserved hell, but seemed to have gotten heaven. The question is why? Its a story of redemption, but its missing how they were redeemed. It the story of sin, without consequences. Its a story of redemption with the cross.
    Because of that it felt empty, I was thinking the whole time that these lying, fighting, bad people were getting access to heaven as if their sin was nothing. Why did they even need pergatory.
    (Also it is quite clear that the authors did not know where they were going at the begining, and didnt start having a plan until season 3)

  19. Tad Caldwell

    that was supposed to read “The story of redemption without the cross” Meaning no one paid for their crimes.

  20. Cory

    Some thoughts
    1) “Chalk on a wall”
    I think one of my favorite lines of this season wasn’t in the finale: “It’s just chalk on a wall, Kate. The job is yours if you want it.”
    Mystery has the tendency to sanctify, but not all that is mysterious is holy. This was about not making trivial things too important.
    It reminded me of Jesus talking about the Sabbath. (not that the Sabbath is trivial, just not as important as “Love thy neighbor” etc).
    The candidate list was made for the candidates, not the other way around.

    2) Sovereignty
    I feel like the anger that viewers have toward CC and DL is a nice metaphor for what actually happened on the show.Not sure if this was their purpose, but it seemed like the finale was telling us, “the people are what’s important, not the answers.”

    3) Mysteries
    If CC and DL had said 2 years ago, “no, we’re not going to tell you where that big statue came from or what’s going on with the numbers or why high-energy causes time-travel” – I probably would have stopped watching.
    I’m so glad I didn’t.

    I liked Lost, finale and all.

  21. Cindy Swanson

    Beautifully put, Travis.

    Your thoughts are very similar to mine, which I had posted on my own blog before I read this.

    I’ve never read Harry Potter or “The Great Divorce,” but I definitely did think of C. S. Lewis. I’ve never been able to read the closing scenes of “The Last Battle” without tearing up as I think of the reality of heaven.

    Remember, at the end of the book it’s revealed that the Pevensie children have been killed in a train wreck in the “Shadowlands.” But their lives go on: “… “or them, it was only the beginning of the true story, which goes on forever, and in which every chapter is better than the one before.”

  22. Aaron D. Wolf

    “This was logos epistemology.” That, in a nutshell, is my problem with the final season of Lost, and it came to a head when the Mother made her speech about a little bit of this light being in every person. This is almost pure Gnosticism. One of the hallmarks of Gnosticism is to confuse the metaphysical with the moral, and Lost’s writers have done this to the extreme. All traditional (Biblical) morality goes out the window if you are protecting “the light.” You can kill, burn, purge, whatever, so long as you are serving “the light.” And it is not the incarnate Light but an impersonal light-force whose protection belongs to a select few with gnosis (Mother, Jacob, whomever). And what qualifies them as protectors of the light is nothing moral. In fact, the possessors of gnosis create their own morality. Bash in that mother’s head with a rock. Smack your brother on the head and turn your head while pushing him into a current that will take him to a fate worse than death. The Island corks “malevolence,” in Jacob’s words. What motivated him to kill his brother (“indirectly”)?

    The Gnostics themselves could have written the line “The light of the world is in every person.” This is not what (St.) John meant when he wrote that Christ is “The true light, which enlightens everyone.” Christ is the light of the world, and Christians reflect the light of the world, but it is moral/Gospel and not metaphysical light. It is the light that reveals the truth of sin and the coming judgment, and that is why men hate it, because their “deeds are evil.” CSL’s Great Divorce understands this point; CSL and JRRT made the metaphysical aspects of their stories serve the moral and, in CSL’s case, the one Reality itself.

    When you attempt to create a cosmic moral drama whose “heart” is an impersonal force and not the personal God Whom Paul proclaimed to Stoics at the Areopagus (they believed in a light-force, too), everything falls apart. The similarities between Lost/Gnosticism and Christianity are particularly dangerous, because they make us as fans want to gloss over the dissimilarities, which are profound enough to endanger souls.

    On the other hand, it is amusing to think that redemption/gnosis comes when you finally recognize your long-Lost girlfriend in Sideways-gatory.

  23. Jeff M

    Aaron – are you saying that Lost was “dangerous” for folks (Christians or non-Christians) to watch? Are our souls “endangered” having seen it? I think the very lack of answers and some of the “cheesiness” (my quote there) that was used in the finale are there so that these discussions and questions can be had/asked. Who cares what the writers motives were and if they didn’t realize it until season 3?

    A TV show that I think most of us would agree was well above par with most everything else on TV that generates these types of questions and discussions is a good thing in my mind. Maybe it’s a little off-base or not deep enough for those of us that are Christians seeking to understand more about the great mystery…but not nearly as dangerous as Entertainment Weekly.

  24. Profile photo of Travis Prinzi

    Travis Prinzi

    @travis

    I’m not sure we’re given enough information about the light to know whether or not it’s a gnostic, impersonal force, but there is definitely a blend of gnostic spirituality in the series. I hardly think that it merits the term “dangerous,” however. Anyone who’s looking for heresy on TV is going to find it, including in LOST. This is why I’m not bothered by the interfaith symbolism or the lack of a specific Jesus figure. I wasn’t looking for those things, and I never expected them to be there.

    But I think the broader story and overarching themes fit an anti-materialist message. This is sort of postmodern Romanticism. Think about the set-up: the spiritual light of the world exists outside human beings. There is a spiritual reality. It also exists inside human beings. The Light of the World holds back the darkness and prevents Hell from breaking loose all over the world, and humans play a gigantic role in this. While the majority of the world has forgotten this light, it’s not entirely extinguished, and it is still reality. When human beings, after long neglect, stumble upon it, they don’t appreciate it for what it is, but try to scientifically manipulate it. Even the peaceful hippies get it wrong. But the light was all along pointing to the reality of another world for which the castaways (and all humans) were made.

    It’s the fairy tale protest against Enlightenment rationalism on 21st century postmodern television.

    I think you raise some very, very good points re: morality and the light, but I also think the story’s resolution counters all of that. Jack ignores the rules that have been set up by Fake-Mother and Jacob. He shows that much of the belief system built up around the light has been faulty, and it’s an act of self-sacrifice that ends the whole game.

  25. Profile photo of Travis Prinzi

    Travis Prinzi

    @travis

    but not nearly as dangerous as Entertainment Weekly.

    And funnily enough, Doc Jensen has been exploring Christian and spiritual themes in LOST for Entertainment Weekly for 3 or 4 years now. LOST even brought a little Jesus to Entertainment Weekly 😉

  26. rachel

    i agree so wholly with aaron and tad that i wish i could’ve said it as well as they have. so, in terms of falling on a “side,” it comes down to what each of us believes is the acceptable role of television in our world, and even more specifically, what is the good and acceptable spiritual impact of television on our world.

    it’s a television show. i want it to be creative, well-scripted, entertaining, well-scored, well-produced, well-acted. LOST most certainly fulfilled all of those requirements for me.

    but it’s a television show. i DON’T want it to be a platform for spiritual and metaphysical questions to be answered. exploring those questions is toeing the line for me — it’s not for my personal preference, either. it’s for my intense concern for the lost. i enjoy having my own worldview challenged and i enjoy having those questions posed to me. but it’s a television show — the number one aim is to make money. the writers may love their craft, they may love their audience for earning them huge amounts of advertising profits, but there is a bottom line, and it doesn’t end with love, compassion, and concern for the souls of the audience. their highest good is not to genuinely seek out and share TRUTH, it’s to make a buck and have some fun.

    so what bothers me, perhaps most of all, is that this loosey-goosey, inCREDibly cheesy and nostalgic and feel-good ending, which, incidentally, is blatantly contradictory to the truth of Scripture and the true path of redemption, is going to be celebrated as “right”: this was the right way to end it. it makes a very, very REAL LIE become GOOD, all in the name of fiction.

    a prominent statue of Jesus does not a solid redemption theology make. which wouldn’t bother me, except that there was a very, very clear redemption theology presented, and it was man-centered and man-created, and just like any good lie of satan, it paraded around in religious clothing.

    i hate lies, especially lies about Jesus and why we do or don’t need him. so often, it’s not what is said, it’s what is NOT said. these characters went to heaven (apparently, or something like it) apart from Jesus, by their own design. that’s a lie, and people will perish believing it. that’s very, very, very sad.

    i don’t have to hate lost, or the ending, or the writers. but i can’t in very good conscience support it or the worldview it celebrates.

  27. Travis Prinzi

    Almost everything you just said could apply to books or music. Must we then only listen to or read books and music that are explicitly Christian? Must we completely avoid books and music espousing different beliefs than straight-up Christianity (whichever particular expression you happen to believe in)?

    Were Lewis and Tolkien wrong to conclude, “Myths are not lies”?

  28. rachel

    let me quote myself:

    “a prominent statue of Jesus does not a solid redemption theology make. which wouldn’t bother me, ***except that there was a very, very clear redemption theology presented,*** and it was man-centered and man-created, and just like any good lie of satan, it paraded around in religious clothing. “

  29. rachel

    it was a television show, and i wanted it to stay a television show. instead, it became a theology lesson. and so the standards by which i judge it have changed.

    i could see why people might think that it never turned into a theology lesson, that it was and is a television show, that i’m taking it all too seriously. but it’s a very fine line, and it’s not a line that i like to play with. picking out christian symbolism as if from a religious buffet line will not get many, if any, into a reconciled relationship with God. and no allegiance to any television show that i might have could ever trump the importance of upholding the Truth.

  30. Profile photo of Travis Prinzi

    Travis Prinzi

    @travis

    Again, you can say the exact same things about books or music. Why single out television?

    The point I’m making is that Lewis and Tolkien (and many others) find Myths that have nothing to do with Jesus, but with pagan gods, edifying and pointers to the truth. Others see them as dangerous lies. I’m in the Tolkien/Lewis camp on this, and I think this applies to LOST, which carries some kind of mythic/spiritual message that hints at and points at the truth, even, perhaps, in places it’s writers didn’t know they were doing so.

    I don’t think anyone is suggesting we abandon the Truth for the “theology” of LOST, or that anyone is so committed to LOST, they’re about to give up the gospel and search for Jacob.

  31. Alyssa

    I see your point, Rachel, and you argue persuasively. Whether the writers were attempting to present a real redemption theology, I don’t know. But I think you give them a bit too much credit.

    I do not believe that people will determine their own belief systems based on this show. For one thing, nothing else about the show was very believable: the # of people who survived the plane crash, an electromagnetic pocket that had to have its pressure relieved every 108 minutes by the push of a button, time travel, the smoke monster, whispers in the jungle, etc. I think that, like every other TV show, movie, book, or album that is not explicitly Christian, people will take it for what it is, discuss it for a while, come to their own conclusions, and then go back to real life where they realize they have to come to their own conclusions about all things moral, existential, spiritual, etc. And in the meantime, as you point out, the creators of Lost will never have to shine their own shoes again.

    I’m glad the show has generated so much discussion, because if nothing else, it’s a chance for us as Christians to address the wrong theologies of our culture with anyone who will listen. I welcome the conversation.

  32. Jeff M

    How can you say that “picking out christian symbolism as if from a religious buffet line will not get many, if any, into a reconciled relationship with God”? What spurs someone to start asking the tough questions we ask here? I agree that it is just a TV show, just as Andrew Peterson’s CD’s and Books are just CD’s and Books…if an AP song can bring someone to Christ, why can’t LOST?

    Would the ending of LOST been more satisfying if it answered tough theological questions more directly and accurately? Maybe. You could argue that because it is just a TV show however, ending it that way would have alienated anyone who was coming at it from a non-Christian viewpoint. In my mind, this is kind of why I was OK with the unresolved questions. It will appeal to more people. It might get them in the door, so to speak. I don’t think it’s goal, or the writer’s intent/”contract” was ever to answer it all.

    I guess I feel that to condemn a TV show because it presented themes of redemption or religion that is not in line with your own does not necessarily make it “dangerous” (to borrow a previous term).

  33. Aaron D. Wolf

    I’m just saying that it is dangerous to equate a Gnostic expression of Christianity with Christianity. Or to say that it’s close enough that it teaches us something good. The most dangerous heresies are the ones that come close to Christian theology but are themselves not Christian and instead lead the lost (or the found) away from the Gospel.

    I guess I’d ask “for whom could Lost (say, from Beyond the Sea on) be dangerous?” In this regard I don’t think it’s any more misleading spiritually (let alone original in a creative sense) than other cosmic dramas that attempt to say something about ultimate reality. I doubt that most unbelievers will take Jack walking into the light more seriously than they do Melinda Gordon crossing people over into the light each Friday night. Everything works out in the end for everyone we like, the couples are back together, and Martin Keamy can just . . . who cares? All of the non-main-cast members in Sideways-gatory weren’t really anyway, so they could just be shot or loved or betrayed—whatever led the main cast members to their enlightenment.

    I’m not looking for heresy on TV, but its presence was sort of obvious when Jacob said, in essence, that MIB’s problem was that he believed in Original Sin. (For a fleeting moment then, I hoped that this meant Jacob was the “bad guy.”)

    Travis, you say that you’re not sure we’re given enough information about the light to know whether or not it’s an impersonal force, but you then go on to describe “it” as just that. It is something that can be manipulated scientifically, etc. Going back to the Areopagus reference, it is the personal God Who created everything Who demands our obedience. The light He shines is the truth which reveals sin (against Him) and also salvation. That salvation comes not through gnosis (mere knowledge or enlightenment) or making good choices or even acts of self-sacrifice. It only comes through the Light Himself doing, dying, rising (the part that always gets left out) and saving.

    I of all people would not be the one to say that we should only listen to or read books, music, etc. that are explicitly Christian. My problem with Lost came when its writers started trying explicitly to address questions of sin, death, and redemption in ways that are anti-Christian. The myths created by Lewis and Tolkien did not do that. The worlds they created were mythically consistent with the Christian one. They trained the imagination to entertain the invisible realities of the real world. Lost wants to say something about human nature (that it possesses a tiny part of an impersonal and physical light-force, that it is not fundamentally corrupted), death (“dead is dead,” there is no resurrection), hell/malevolence (it too is a physical force that can be restrained by physical means—a “cork”), redemption (it’s “letting go”). Adding Jesus statues to all of this only makes it worse.

    This point about going into the light, a higher spiritual existence, no resurrection, etc., is precisely Gnostic. Yes, Lost did tell us that “the light was all along pointing to the reality of another world for which the castaways (and all humans) were made.” But God made us for this physical world and we corrupted it. Heaven isn’t the world for which we were made or the one for which we are being remade. “We look for the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come.” Souls in Heaven is a temporary thing—except for Gnostics, who think that “corruption” means a soul encased in a physical body and doomed to a physical existence.

    I enjoyed the show a great deal when it was a character-driven sci-fi show. Time-travel, whether it is wrong to manipulate nature for personal gain, polar bears—good stuff. I forgave the writers for Mr. Eko’s bizarre statement about Jesus “wash[ing] away his sins,” but I don’t know if I can do the same for the final season.

  34. Luke Taylor

    I have an idea. They should release a DVD where when you watch it, a pop up comes on the screen everytime something that never got explained or revisited happens:

    Bloop – This isn’t important.
    Bloop – Don’t worry about this.
    Bloop – Stop wondering, you’ll never know.
    Bloop – Just pretend that didn’t happen.

    It would be like a third of the series.

  35. Profile photo of S. D. Smith

    S. D. Smith

    @sdsmith

    I like what you say, Travis, about it being being anti-materialist. Hooray for that. We need that real bad.

    But Aaron makes a good point about the Gnostic heresy, which is actually very seductive in the church today as well.

    Heaven is not my home, I’m just a passing through. We were made for more thorough physicality (as is demonstrated well in the oft-referenced The Great Divorce) and a revealed, open truth.

    On the Inclusivist emphasis: I also wasn’t expecting the writers to abandon our culture’s All Paths Equally Lead to God nonsense, but it doesn’t mean it’s off limits for evaluation. It should all be evaluated. (And in this case laughed at.)

    Also, I’m sure you would agree that just because all myths are not all lies does not mean that they equally tell the truth. This mythology was very low on the truth scale, in my view. Of course that’s not the only way to evaluate a show (or book, music etc), as you so rightly point out. But it matters to thoughtful Christians. This show’s mythology wasn’t very truthful on many levels.

    But that still isn’t the main thing that bothered me as a receiver of this show (which I really enjoyed). Even if the mythology was “wrong,” that’s one thing, but it also didn’t end up being that interesting. That’s the bummer for me. It wasn’t biblical, sure. Obviously. But also, it wasn’t ultimately very meaningful, or imaginative. At least that’s how it rang with me. The ending, for me, was bad storytelling –because of the contract thing I mentioned above. Good grief I am writing way too much here. I really don’t care this much.

    So many are saying, “I didn’t care, because I gave up on the answers long ago.” This strikes me as a very peculiar trend, one that I have to wonder what Lewis and Tolkien would have to say about it. Abolition of Man, anyone?

    But you, Master Prinzi, rightly nail it as a postmodern thing. Which, to me, goes to your earlier point about it being a tract against Enlightenment materialism. But it demonstrates, like much of postmodern offering, that the questioning of modernism is sound but the answer provided by postmodernism is even worse.

    But, all in all, I liked the show. Also didn’t need to know all the answers, just wanted a coherent ending to the kind of story they promised (in so many ways) to tell from the beginning.

    Also, I love rugby.

  36. Profile photo of S. D. Smith

    S. D. Smith

    @sdsmith

    Wow, Pete. That is very revealing. Could anyone get away with that kind of thing in any storytelling venture and not get creamed? Shows how great the show otherwise was.

  37. Amy @ My Friend Amy

    I wasn’t sure when it ended, but after laying awake the whole night afterwards, I am satisfied with the ending. I think you can make many reasonable assumptions about the answers to the mysteries and I’m kind of glad they aren’t all explained. LOST is still a huge achievement in storytelling to me, even though there were many missteps.

    I think the finale that we got was about a million times better than the times the writers tried to provide answers this season, i.e. Across the Sea, Ab Aeterno, so I’m glad they went this route, rather than the other. The more I think about it, the more I’m glad they did.

    And I also loved Deathly Hallows.

  38. Travis Prinzi

    I saw that College Humor video earlier today, and laughed as well, just for the record. Yes, lots was unanswered. Yes, they opened up several plotlines along the way that they never returned to. I’m still not really bugged by it, and when I have time, I’m going to comb through the unanswered questions and see which ones do have possible answers.

    Anyway, onto the “Gnostic heresy” issue. First, I want to reiterate and re-emphasize the “myths are not lies” point, because I think it’s being glossed over. At the end of Prince Caspian, Aslan parties with the god of wine and drunkenness. I think we could learn some lessons from Lewis, who lived in the world of comparative religions (see Abolition of Man). Recognizing the truth as humans grope toward the light is not to negate that there is falsehood or to give up on Jesus as the only way.

    Like you noted, this show had heresy when Eko said Jesus had to be baptized to have his sins forgiven. This show flew headlong into heresy 3 seasons ago. Perhaps my expectations about the “theology” of it all were just lower? I’m a little baffled that people were able to accept a line about Jesus having sin and are upset because of a Thomas Kincaid-looking light, which is probably no more than a mythic symbol of the overall mythology behind the story.

    Here’s the interesting thing about the Jacob/MiB conversation about sin: the entire show proved Jacob was wrong. “Across the Sea” showed us that everyone – including Jacob – does wrong. Some quick responses:

    but you then go on to describe “it” as just that. It is something that can be manipulated scientifically

    I only used “it” because that’s all the information we have. But it actually couldn’t be manipulated scientifically. That’s the point. The attempts at scientifically manipulating spiritual reality didn’t work.

    The myths created by Lewis and Tolkien did not do that. The worlds they created were mythically consistent with the Christian one.

    Agreed! But they didn’t think the non-Christian ones were “lies.” They were human beings, subcreators, fallen but not wholly gone, still having the golden scepter of dominion and the right and privilege to subcreate. Read “On Fairy Stories.” Read “Mythopoeia.”

    I’d also point out that the show most definitely doesn’t portray the kind of Gnostic dualism that you’re mentioning. There’s only one – just one – soul in the entire series that is “freed” from its physical body, and that is the story’s very incarnation of evil. So it’s hard for me to see the show as espousing an outright gnosticism.

    I can also see that we’re talking about entirely different things when we use the phrase “logos epistemology.” I’m not referring to gnosticism. I’m referring Romanticism’s fantastical/Faerie response to Enlightenment materialism. I’m talking about four levels of meaning, a sacramental worldview, the spiritual reality being found in the physical. This comment’s long enough already, but I’ll point you to Stratford Caldecott’s Landscapes with Dragons and Angels for an excellent short piece on the subject.

    I’ll close with two quick things:

    (1) My statement that this is as close as TV can come to a true fairy tale eucatrastrophe was made precisely because I think TV as a cultural phenomenon is limited in what it’s willing or able to do. I don’t think LOST accomplishes entirely what Caldecott is writing about, but it’s closer than TV usually comes, and much of the same message is embedded about spiritual reality.

    (2) You are all great. Thanks for the challenging and gracious dialogue so far.

  39. JJ

    Pete: That video was awesome. I can understand why people would be upset by the finale after seeing that, although it made me laugh. A lot. I’m curious how many of those questions a person would actually remember and which ones they would want answered.

  40. Lynx

    oh, wow- look! there IS a community out there! Looks like this topic is a winner!

    I didn’t roll my eyes at the Stained Glass Window of Universalism because I saw it coming long, long ago, maybe even back when they first visited that church building. I think that window is the ultimate key to the show, the ultimate light that reveals the truth of the LOST world. Did anyone else notice the Hindu elephant god sitting next to the brass cross in the SGWoU room? Deliberate pans to the Jesus, emphasis on the cross (which was the one symbol on the window that was least obscured by the actors), and the Christian church building all suggest that Christianity was the closest to the truth, but ultimately Christianity, especially the Thou-shalt-have-no-other-gods-before-me and I-AM-the-Way…no-one-comes-to-the-Father-but-through-Me sort of Christianity, falls short of the truth. But hey, everyone earned their salvation by loving others- even total bastards like Christian Shepherd- so who cares? Yay, big party in that place where that impersonal, transcendent light hangs out.
    My ultimate conclusion, LOST has great symbols as fragments, but the symbols are inconsistent with any one worldview, making it necessary for the writers to close off the show with a SGWoU of the Gaps solution. Disappointing- yes. Surprising- nope.

  41. Brad Griffith

    Does anyone else think that DL and DW were separated at birth?

    I’m going to pull a Rose here and opt out of the drama. However, I did love the finale. And I love LOST. For me… it worked.

  42. Michael Crosswhite

    I COMPLETELY agree!!!! I’ve been telling people this since the finale, and I’m just relieved that someone finally agrees with me! LOL! After a while, I started to doubt my own interpretations, but now I at least have some people in my corner. -Great post Travis!

    Further, I definitely feel like a lot of the mysteries of the show that were unanswered (namely those mentioned in the YouTube video) were intentionally left unanswered. From a business standpoint, it increases interest (or viewership) in the show. Compelling drama + mystery = me on the couch every Tuesday night and talking about it at the water cooler for the next week. As far as many of the questions raised in the youtube video posted above, I think many (though probably not all) of them have implied answers, or conclusions that the audience can/will draw on their own. I thought one of the most brilliant 2 hours of Lost was the 2 hours before the finale. One thing that the writers said is that they wanted to make a “smart show.” One that didn’t feel the need to dumb things down for the audience. They wanted to let the audience make up their own minds with some conclusions. Honestly, I think it’s more fun that way. I mean, how many forum discussions would there be if they gave all the answers?

    The bottom line is that it is about entertainment. For 6 years, I sat on my tookus in front of the TV, and I was thoroughly entertained. Lost was the best tv show ever, not because of answers, or the lack thereof, but because it was sheer brilliance on the small screen, and I was thoroughly entertained through every season.

  43. Tony Heringer

    A lot to chew on but I’m hungry and must leave the keyboard for a while. But a few quick thoughts…

    Thanks for the clip Pete that is probably just a partial list of “Wait a minute!” questions for me. However, to Travis’ point the writers were clear they would not resolve the questions. They said it a lot over the life of the show. That sort of thing happens in many stories some better than others and this is TV, expensive TV, but TV with deadlines, sponsors, etc. They can’t pour over it as much as they would a movie or music. I don’t think that’s bad and in fact it actually fuels our desire to know more.

    The assumption here is they are really done. After 6 years of being conned, do you really believe this show is over? 🙂

    When I saw the window, because of the more prominent Jesus statue shots, the first thing to come to my mind was The Shack. If this has been noted, my apologies for not reading all posts, but there are sure to be lots more between now and the next time I read this one. In that book, the point made by the author was all roads don’t lead to Jesus but Jesus is on all roads.

    Look forward to reading the many comments above and the many more that will follow as I’m sure the folks that frequent this place are just getting warmed up.

  44. Pete Peterson

    “They said it a lot over the life of the show.”

    Until this past season they said over and over again for five years that they had answers to all the questions, it was all leading to a known conclusion, and all would be revealed in the end. A long con indeed. And by con, I mean lie.

  45. Michael Crosswhite

    “they said over and over again for five years that they had answers to all the questions”

    Pete, who’s to say that they don’t have all the answers? It doesn’t mean that they are going to reveal them. The beauty is in the development of the characters over the 6 year journey. Giving all the answers spoils the fun for the audience… IMHO.

  46. Pete Peterson

    Michael, I agree. Lost is and, always was, great because of its characters, and that’s the reason I didn’t hate the finale, it served the characters well. And I don’t have an issue with things being left unanswered, I love books and films that don’t give easy answers. But the LOST team strung us along by letting us think they knew something we didn’t, when in the end that wasn’t the case, they were just making things up to cloud the air and seem mysterious. That’s called bad storytelling.

    They betrayed the trust of the audience by lying to them. So many plot points of the first few seasons were abandoned completely without explanation and in direct contradiction to the conclusion of the story. The writers had no more idea what was going on than we did.

    It bothers me intensely because I’m a writer, I’m very aware of how stories are built and created and there are so many holes in the now-complete LOST storyline that I think it’s unfair to let the writing team get away with sloppiness even though they got the character arcs right.

    If I had to choose between the finale we got and one that gave a lot of explanation, or a sense that the writers were in control, but without a solid emotional impact, I’d choose the one we got any day.

    The problem is that we shouldn’t have to choose. A great story needs both.

  47. Tony Heringer

    Good thing you aren’t a T.V. writer Pete as I think you would be very frustrated. These guys definitely knew where they were headed but in some cases, characters quit (Mr Eko) or worked better than planned (Ben). T.V. is a fluid medium with definite timeframes for delivery and little to no margin for error once a season starts — unlike a movie or a book. Its not a fair comparison.

    Watch this four part intro to Season 5 on “Totally Lost” and you will get a sense of this process:

    http://www.ew.com/ew/video/0,,20313460_20313475,00.html

    LOST was extremely ambitious project and on the whole it really worked out well. Remember they negoiated the ending — I bet those were fun meetings. Hey ABC guys, this really big hit show, we want to end it. Guys? Hello? 🙂

  48. Pete Peterson

    Oh, and by comparison, I should point out that other T.V. shows like Battlestar Galactica and Babylon 5 faced the same television difficulties, but because they had a definite goal in mind from the beginning their 5-6 year story arcs felt complete even though they also had a few dropped plot lines and holes. I’ll bet you $50 that you’ll never hear an interview in which a LOST team member admits that during the first 2-3 seasons they knew the endgame of the series.

    (Interesting that Babylon 5 shares a cast member with LOST now that I think about it. Boy, she’s good at picking quality television roles!)

  49. Travis Prinzi

    I’ve got a friend in the TV/film industry who has some inside info on some Lost issues. This might be interesting, especially that Cuse and Lindelof wrote the final church scene right after the pilot. Janet’s comment there indicates that the writers have already said they knew the end game from the beginning.

    I’d like to go back and see just how many of these “unanswered mysteries” were mysteries created by the false assumptions of characters, rather than by the writers hinting at something that they planned to answer but didn’t. I think we can see the Others (deceived by MiB), the Dharma Initiative (naturalists trying to harness spiritual reality), and the castaways all as people who didn’t get the island or its purpose in the least. As such, lots of assumptions were made, which resulted in a lot of actions and decisions, none of which had any actual basis in reality. The “answer” of the final season points at many of the mysteries and says, “Those things were mysterious only because those people were confused and jumped to the wrong conclusion.”

    We see this in Danielle’s assumption about the smoke rising and baby-stealing, in many of the Dharma experiments, etc.

  50. Michael Crosswhite

    Pete, I hear ya. I mean, there are some questions that were left unanswered. However, I think Tony raises a great point. I mean, story lines like Michael and Walt, Libby and Anna Lucia, were all great in theory, but other things came into play like Harold Perrineau’s contract, or Malcom David Kelley’s adolescent encounter with mother nature. So what do we get? We get Michael and Walt sailing off into the sunset without ever learning what was so special about Walt. Let’s not forget that treacherous writer’s strike that left us with a 6 episode season. Ultimately, I think the writers, according to all the things I had read about the show, knew the beginning, middle, and end of the show. However, many of the small details couldn’t have been known and predicted. I really think that this article/interview:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ed-martin/lost-what-damon-lindelof_b_586484.html

    provides some great insight into what exactly these authors knew before beginning the series. I agree with you Pete, there are some gaps. I think I disagree with “major” gaps, but gaps none-the-less. Cheers!

  51. Michael Crosswhite

    Pete, if you look at that huffington post article that I posted in my comment, I think you will see that they did in fact admit to knowing the end game. After you read it I’ll give you instructions for the $50! 😀 JK.

  52. Pete Peterson

    Interesting, Travis. But all that info was pretty easily inferred from just watching the show. All except the final scene note. What would be really interesting is to hear Abrams original pitch and storyline. I’d bet my bottom dollar that that would reveal a lot about how much the show strayed and wandered around aimlessly on its way to his original ending.

    I still call B.S. on the whole thing. And still, despite its flaws, I freakin’ loved LOST. It’s a good thing that TV of that quality doesn’t come around often or I’d get nothing done.

  53. Tony Heringer

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tz6p_Z1OsYI What they say here in 2010, they said once the pilot took off. I’ve not heard them say much else and there certainly seems to be a great deal of thought put into the story based on the Doc Jensen videos, but like I said, this is T.V. so there are many variables in play. They definitely set the bar high and ABC keeps try to recreate it – I really tried to watch V if only to root for Julitte. 🙂

  54. JJ

    Travis: “I’d like to go back and see just how many of these “unanswered mysteries” were mysteries created by the false assumptions of characters, rather than by the writers hinting at something that they planned to answer but didn’t.”

    I started watching the show again (Seasons 1-5 are streamable on Netflix) and I was amazed at how much they really did answer. I’m still convinced that a lot of the questions we still have were answered but simply not to our liking or satisfaction. And if someone hasn’t watched the show again since it started, then they aren’t going to remember the little answers from season 2 or 3 or 4. That’s what I love about the show. I’ve watched it since the pilot. And spread out over 6 years I had a certain expectation of it. But when I started to watch the series again when season 6 started, I found my expectations changing. I was discovering more from the early seasons because they were in context of answers I received in seasons 5 and 6. It’s interesting watching the pilot and realizing that the monster is actually Jacob’s brother investigating this new batch of candidates that were brought to the island. Things just make sense and it add a new level of enjoyment to watching the show.

    Now, should you HAVE to watch 100+ episodes again to get the answers you want? Probably not. And some answers obviously weren’t given. But I think people would be surprised how much they would discover upon another viewing of the show if they’re only viewing has been as it aired over 6 years.

  55. Profile photo of S. D. Smith

    S. D. Smith

    @sdsmith

    This post articulates quite well much of why I think the finale was so very unsatisfying.

    http://hotair.com/greenroom/archives/2010/05/25/the-betrayal-of-mystery/
    (ganked from Travis’ website posted by a commentor there)

    Here’s a little sample:

    “The most common defense of the finale, along with the formless mass of random events and dead-end plotlines the series became, is the assertion that only the characters truly mattered. The plot was a bit of intellectual stage lighting, designed to illuminate them from various angles. Personally, I think both plot and characters are essential components of drama. Does anyone seriously think Lost would have been nearly as popular if it had followed the exact same characters, living humdrum lives in suburbia?

    To excuse the empty “secrets” and arbitrary plot points of the show is tantamount to saying it only matters who the characters are, not what theydo. This is a profound contradiction of the philosophy expressed during the show. Much was said about the importance of making choices. The wizard Jacob explicitly states, in one of the last episodes, that his millennia-long existence has been shaped by his desire to give others a choice in determining their fates… but the characters, and the audience, are completely in the dark about the rules and consequences governing these choices. Powerful forces, like the Smoke Monster, operate by utterly arbitrary rules, revealed very late in the game. In other words, the choice being offered to our heroes is a blind choice… and how is that really a “choice” at all?”

  56. Michael Crosswhite

    But isn’t the the point of the whole “free will vs. fate” thing. Jacob wants to give the people on the island the choice, yet Jack makes the choice to take Jacobs role because he tried to leave the island and he was miserable. He accepts it because he says it’s what he was meant to do. I think this is the authors intentionally leaving free will/fate in tension.

  57. Profile photo of Pete Peterson

    Pete Peterson

    @pete

    Well, you can ‘like’ the finale all you want (I did), but it’s a fact that the overall construction of the story was a wandering mess. You cannot excuse faulty storytelling just because it’s on T.V. or just because it’s spread out over enough time that some people forget what was going on. It’s the equivalent of reading a Sherlock Holmes story and discovering at the end that the killer was never caught, the murder never explained, and all the ‘investigation’ was merely a sly cover for dissecting Holmes personality.

    Call that whatever you want, I call it a writer who wrote himself into a corner and couldn’t find a way out. (Which I’d have accepted given the nature of the show had they admitted that was the case rather than insisting it wasn’t…because it very clearly was.)

    A story requires that both the intellect and the emotion be satisfied if it wishes to be called ‘good’ in any critical sense. You can enjoy it in spite of the glaring flaws but unless we shine a light on the faults, there’s no reason for the next LOSTish thing to try any harder.

  58. Travis Prinzi

    Someone did my job for me. I would have answered several of these differently than he did, and I think his “unanswered question #5” has the very obvious answer of, “The rest of the candidates were in the 70s.” He got halfway there.

    Many will think some of his answers cop-outs, but I think it goes to show how silly a majority of the questions in that College Humor video actually are. Since he didn’t address the Christian-on-the-freighter question at all, I’ll keep the unanswered questions, at least from the video, hovering somewhere around 5.

  59. Profile photo of Pete Peterson

    Pete Peterson

    @pete

    Ok, so that link perfectly illustrates my complaint, Travis. Almost all of those answers are just B.S. that don’t make any narrative sense.

    Suppose we’re arguing in circles at this point.

  60. Travis Prinzi

    Yeah, we’re down to opinions, and not much more. I think most of the answers are to questions that are just B.S.

    Lots of good conversation before we got to the circles, though.

  61. JM

    “The symbolism of the church at the end. Deliberate pans to Jesus twice.”

    And yet there were symbols for Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, Islam. The scene in the church was an “all religions lead to the same path” message that’s everywhere today. This makes the Jesus imagery blasphemous.

    Couple this with the fact that the show had no God-figure. It dethroned Jacob during the last season, leaving a big void. Who or what is the providential agent leading the characters to their destiny? It seems necessary to have that in a show whose major question is, “Why have we been taken here?” Importantly to the last scenes, who or what is saving these characters? At least Lewis had Aslan, but in Lost we are stuck with a generic golden light.

    “Who cares what the stupid numbers were?”

    Perhaps because the numbers were ubiquitous. Most mysteries do not need to be answered, but there is a difference between a mystery and a plothole, which has to be plugged. The logic the show creates actually necessitates the answers to certain plot questions. You cannot have some the passengers on a plane timetravel to the 1970s, while other passengers do not, in a show that offers explanation for the 815 plane crash and for other means of timetravel (the donkey wheel). You can’t for years play up the mystery of why conceived babies can’t come to term on the island, and then drop the subject completely (radiation from the nuke doesn’t explain it).

    Lost to me is not the syrupy afterlife coda of a sideways world in which Jack has a non-existent son and Sayid gets to kill more people. It is John Locke pounding on the hatch door, crying out “Why are you doing this to me?” and then Desmond turns on the light, which pours through the hatch door window. That’s the real golden light scene.

  62. Profile photo of Travis Prinzi

    Travis Prinzi

    @travis

    JM, like I said, no one’s going to have any problem finding heresy in LOST. I think Bryan Allain’s view, linked above in the comments, is a better approach: Can we not take the story and focus on the good aspects of the spiritual message in it, rather than the bad? Like I mentioned before, and in relation to your point: yes, Lewis had Aslan, but Tash’s servant got saved, too.

    I like your last paragraph, though, and I understand those who are disappointed for that reason. I do think both of the mysteries you mention actually have good answers, but they were never answered explicitly. No one said, “This is why they got zapped to the 70s” or “This is why women can’t have babies.” But I think the idea of candidates (which wasn’t introduced when the 70s-zapping happened) and the island’s mythic electromagnetism (not yet introduced at the time of the motherhood mystery) answer those things.

  63. JM

    Sorry, didn’t read the comments, only the original post, which is what my reply was directed to.

    “Can we not take the story and focus on the good aspects of the spiritual message in it, rather than the bad?”

    This sounds like what Lost might want me to do with Islam or Hinduism. Yes, we can look at the “good” in something, but at the same time we have to acknowledge what it is a whole. Systematic criticism considers everything–the story as a whole and all of its parts–which is the way I’m thinking about the show. I have a hard time ignoring the heavy-handed religious symbols scene in the church while feeling good about the Jesus statues. It was not necessary, I suppose, but they put it in anyway. Blake’s “All Religions are one” is a universal message today and “God” is a nebulous concept. The last impressions that Lost leaves any viewer with are these very ideas, which only perpetuates muddy, false thinking about who Christ actually is.

    “But I think the idea of candidates (which wasn’t introduced when the 70s-zapping happened) and the island’s mythic electromagnetism (not yet introduced at the time of the motherhood mystery) answer those things.”

    But the question of agency still exists. What caused certain people to timetravel? Either events are random or they are caused by something, but the writers chose time and again to provide causes for similar events and problems. It seems to me that the only solution is that the island is some kind of living entity.

  64. Travis Prinzi

    Systematic criticism considers everything–the story as a whole and all of its parts–which is the way I’m thinking about the show. I have a hard time ignoring the heavy-handed religious symbols scene in the church while feeling good about the Jesus statues

    I think we just have different levels of difficulty with this. It doesn’t bug or surprise me that the setting was an interfaith church. I wouldn’t have expected anything different for network TV. I wasn’t surprised by that, but I was surprised by the show’s being framed by, “Look, here’s a big Jesus statue,” especially when at the end, they could have just given us the window, which already had a sufficient Christian symbol in it.

    The last impressions that Lost leaves any viewer with are these very ideas, which only perpetuates muddy, false thinking about who Christ actually is.

    If this is true, good thing we’re around to talk about who he really is. 🙂

    It seems to me that the only solution is that the island is some kind of living entity.

    Yes, and I think that’s as far as the writers wanted to go in explaining mythical mystery. I’m ok with that, and others are not. Matter of opinion/taste at that point. I actually don’t want them to tell me why the time travel happens.

  65. Jeremy

    Gotta say I’m kind of in between disappointed and satisfied. Mostly disappointed, though. I hated the second season of lost. I loved the first. The rest were pretty great. I miss the feeling of the first season and I really wanted it to come back for the finale, and I didn’t get it. I feel like they went away from actual ‘good mysteries’ to trying to create the illusion of good mysteries by trying to confuse everyone later on the show’s life.

    As for the religious stuff, I’m inclined to go with Aaron’s posts above. As soon as they pointed out that Jack’s dad name was “Christian Shepherd” i knew that’s where the show would end.

    My instant response? “Awesome!”
    My response after it sunk in? “What Christians?”

  66. Last | S.D. Smith

    […] Note: The powers that be posted this at the Rabbit Room yesterday. For a little context, you can go here for the brilliant Travis Prinzi’s post on why he loved the finale of Lost, and the comment thread of his post where fists fly and jaws rattle arguing over the super-important […]

  67. Jazz

    I personally have not seen Lost, but one of my friends loved it. She was sooooo upset when it ended. I feel sorry for her.

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