*Warning: Spoilers ahead from the last ever fresh episode of Lost.*
Live together, die alone.
I was a puddle while watching that scene, as I was every time a torn-apart couple was reunited in the sideways-flashing world “remembering” the powerful feelings they had for one another, sparked by their experiences on The Island (except for Desmond and Penny). Charlie and Claire. Sun and Jin. Sawyer and Juliet. Jack and Kate. Sayid and Shannon. They embraced. They kissed. They glowed. And it was good. All of the “remembering” moments prompted tears because that’s what I would’ve wanted for the characters: Peace, love and being together after the hell that was The Island.
Those scenes got to me every time because, over the past six seasons, I’ve come to love these flawed characters. I’ve rooted for them, even for the sinister Ben Linus whose great love was his adopted daughter Alex. I loved seeing dead Jack being hugged by his dead father – in a conspicuously multi-denominational room bearing symbols of various religions and cultures – and mutually redeemed as they expressed their love for one another. And that’s how many people hope that things will turn out when we all meet our own demise: That in the end we’re surrounded with people whom we loved.
But as Jack closed his eyes for the last time, as much as I was happy that the characters in the sideways-flash found solace, the nagging questions made me angry. I felt as though the writers had punted, opted to not to try to make it make sense. They went for emotion. In the wake of this, I spent an embarrassingly, frustratingly long time in the hours after the finale ended trying to find an overarching logic to this but fell short.
Every time I thought I figured out the full meaning and implications of the finale I’d have a question like: So when Juliet detonated Jughead and we suddenly saw Jack on Oceanic 815 . . . and then watched it land, was everything truly a re-set?
The sideways-flashing world was . . . a way station between heaven and earth? When you decided you’d made your peace and were ready to go, you could step into the light and into the warm embrace of your loved ones who’ve already died?
Or wait, is that what The Island was, a kind of way station for our characters to be tested and ultimately redeemed? (I lean toward the test theory.)
Did Ben not enter the church with the rest of the Losties because he’d done too many bad things to go to heaven, or was he just not ready to go?
Do I have this right: Christian said what happened on the island really happened, so when the characters died on the island they died in real life and then, I don’t know, their souls or something went to the sideways-flashing world? But wait, then why was Penny there in the church afterward? Oh, yeah, Christian said that, where they were, there was no concept of time. They weren’t in a time. Some people inside the church had died a long time ago, or some had died recently, it was all over the place, really . . . (Does this explain the time travel, or was that unrelated?)
It shouldn’t be this hard. I shouldn’t feel as though I’m trying to intellectually pound a square peg into a round hole to make this make sense. Several weeks ago I thought I’d made peace with the fact that many mysteries were going to be left unaddressed (killer pregnancies, Walt appearing as a ghost when he was alive, the healing island, how Locke’s father made it into that magic box after he said he'd died, who dropped the Dharma food?). I was relatively okay with this. But given that the writers had ample of advance notice of how many episodes they had remaining, they had time to plan it out all in spectacular fashion to tackle some the series’ major mysteries, mysteries they themselves set in motion. And in this respect, they let me down. They seemed to be saying, “Too much. Too complicated. We’re going another way.” On that front, “The End” series finale was a disappointment as the writers embraced the new shiny penny of a creative device, the sideways-flash, and pitched everything else overboard and then seemed irritated when fans kept asking questions.
I originally fell in love with Lost because of the characters. I wanted to find out what made them tick, what motivated them, what scared them and what their histories were. Watching disparate characters interact and form a make-shift society under such dire circumstances where they felt as though they were fighting for their lives was riveting. I could’ve been happy without the complicating issues such as the polar bear, the Hatch, the Dharma/Widmore stuff and the Jacob/Man in Black thread. But the writers are the ones who introduced all of those sticky wickets and ultimately dispatched then with insufficient explanation after intentionally going to the trouble of doing things such as planting Easter eggs throughout the episodes, encouraging fans to delve more deeply into the series, creating an appetite for answers. And they left us starving. Okay, maybe they tossed us a blanket in the form of cozy emotions and romantic reunions, but we were still hungry.
It cannot come as a surprise that my feelings about “The End” -- like many fans whose feeds I follow on Twitter -- are extremely mixed. I loved the emotional salve provided by the reunions and plotlines like Jack finally fulfilling his island destiny, the drive for which had ended up destroying his relationship with Kate after they’d gotten off The Island. As a whole though, I feel let down because the complex story they created was obviously too unwieldy and weighty to resolve.
One of my favorite series cappers was the Six Feet Under finale, where we saw a beautiful, incredibly emotional montage of every character dying at the end of their lives. It was hauntingly powerful and stuck with me for quite some time. It was fitting for the dark drama. Lost too concluded its saga by showing most of its characters after they’d died, having found peace, surrounded by a warm, bright light and love. But it just didn’t feel the same.
Image credits: Mario Perez/ABC.