Leaving the Island

NOTE: This post is about the end of LOST. It contains SPOILERS

Like any good series finale, it was polarizing. A few writer’s I read even went so far as to say it ruined the entire series.

Most of the complaints stem from the finale itself – not that ends weren’t tied up, but they were fixed in a way inconsistent with the show as a whole. We were obsessed with the trinkets in the rabbit hole: how far did Dharma and Charles Widmore and Egyptian hieroglyphics really go? What were the numbers? Was the smoke monster some sort of nano-bot guardian of the island’s secrets?

And the show answered by saying: none of that’s important. What was important were Jack, Hurley, Kate, Sawyer, Sayid, Sun and Jin, and of course Locke (nevermind that he went rogue for the last two seasons…)

It’s taken me some time to digest. But I remembered back to what hooked me on the show in the first place. It was first in season one, when Locke went out in the rain with his knives and found freedom in the mystery of the island, only to become obsessed with the hatch. That first extended metaphor of the button was for us, the viewer. Did the button really matter, or was it just an illusion to draw us along, a psychological experiment? Those science vs. faith conversations between Locke and Jack were some of the best in the show.

And then in season two, conflicts with the Others – Lost perfectly captured and demonstrated the paranoia of conflict, terrorism, torture that were unavoidable in those early years post 9/11.

That’s what these island dramas are always about – a microcosm of human society. The sci-fi elements were window dressing to attract the modern obsessive fan with high def TVs, frame capture TIVOs and internet forums. The core was always that same story in Lord of the Flies or Robinson Crusoe – man vs nature; man vs man; man vs self.

The problem with any serial drama stretched over hundreds of hours is that it’s tough to show character growth without turned off the audience. We want to see Jack Shephard work through his demons, but we don’t want him to give up his guilty-savior complex, which can be at times obnoxious, but what makes Jack…Jack. It was obvious he’d be a sacrificial lamb in the finale. It was pretty bold to show his purgatorial redemption as well. That last conversation between Jack and Locke brings the entire thing full circle, when Jack realizes his purpose.

Faith won out. Science (represented by Dharma, Widmore, even the original Man in Black) got the proverbial (and literal) gunshot to the chest.

So now that it’s over, why be disappointed? It was an hour of entertainment on a weeknight filled with adventure, mystery, and deep questions, for six years. What more could you ask for? It’s time to let go. Now I just need to wait for the DVD box set. Apparently, there’s a secret revealed at 23:42 and 15:16 on episode 8 of the 4th disc!

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