In the end, Lost was not about being found

(Note: This post contains spoilers about the TV series Lost and was posted on the morning after the show’s finale first aired on broadcast TV in the U.S.)

 

I loved the “the end” of Lost. Well, it wasn’t exactly “love.” Come to think of it, it wasn’t anything close to love. But whatever it was, I felt that way intensely. Or maybe not, now that I’ve thought about it over night. And come to think of it, it wasn’t really the end.

In other words, I think the creators of the show did precisely what they should have done with its finale: They gave the series a conclusion, but did not make it conclusive. In the same way any great work (and I’m not ready to place Lost in this category) of literature, mythology, philosophy or faith, there is still room for interpretation existing that offers those who want fundamental, simplistic answers to have one: “they all died;” as can those who want ambiguity that can provide the foundation for a lifetime of debate: “where was that plane flying to”?

Last night after I viewed a slightly time-shifted episode, I tweeted this: “Lost finale tweets are sure a Rorschach test. The haters seem disappointed it was more about romance than science fiction.”

Of course, science fiction can often include lots of romance. More precisely, I was trying to say this: In the end, the series was more about metaphysics than quantum physics. It was, in the end, more mythopoeia than fantasy. And I think that’s why there was a lot of negative reaction to the finale among the heavily geekish corner of Twitter I follow.

The writers of the show had conflicting and contradictory challenges to overcome in ending the series; the least of which was how to give the show a hard-stop, but still not kill the future market for series DVDs if potential viewers had heard, “in the end, they all are dead.”

So the series ends with everyone dead, or maybe just flying off on a jet (except for Jack).

So everyone is happy — and no one is.

Actually, there should be a small group of people who are satisfied with the ending of Lost: those who, like me, took lots of courses in college and graduate school that covered a wide swath of literature, philosophy and theology yet who, upon graduation, had more questions than answers…and who decided that is the natural order of things.

  • I'm reasonably satisfied with the end of LOST, more so than Battlestar Galactica. Actually, going through the ups and downs of the BSG finale probably prepared me for this much more than if I hadn't.

    In the end, I think the best way to try to enjoy LOST is to not nitpick the details and instead try to look at the larger story. I'm coming to the conclusion that the whole process of making television makes it impossible for creators to get it 100% right, especially over six years.

  • bradblackman

    “…had more questions than answers…and who decided that is the natural order of things.”

    Well said.

  • Great post – quite reminiscent of the reaction to the end of Battlestar Galactica. I think there is a hard core of scifi fans out there who love the “Planet of the Apes” type ending where everything is neatly and elegantly explained by a COMPLETELY PHONY AND MADE-UP scientific-sounding explanation like time travel. I also agree, as a fair weather Lost fan, that the final episode may have been more disappointing for deep fans of the show who had followed the many twists and turns over the six seasons. The finale seemed more about giving closure to the various personal relationships than to the loose threads of the plot.

  • Great post – quite reminiscent of the reaction to the end of Battlestar Galactica. I think there is a hard core of scifi fans out there who love the “Planet of the Apes” type ending where everything is neatly and elegantly explained by a COMPLETELY PHONY AND MADE-UP scientific-sounding explanation like time travel. I also agree, as a fair weather Lost fan, that the final episode may have been more disappointing for deep fans of the show who had followed the many twists and turns over the six seasons. The finale seemed more about giving closure to the various personal relationships than to the loose threads of the plot.