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”