Thursday, May 27, 2010

LOST in Translation: The Finale

Okay guys. I'm guilty.

I should have probably written my LOST recap the minute the finale ended, or at least the next day. Definitely not half a week later. But I think you can excuse my absence; I am still digesting.

I have truly spent time driving in the car, going to sleep, at work pondering what I really believe happened. I thought I knew, but then after talking to others, I'm no longer positive.

Here's what I am positive of: I was satisfied by the ending. I know many, many people were not. I walked into it expecting little to no new answers. I thought we might see the Man in Black get killed. I thought we might see the island get saved. I hoped I would see Juliet and Sawyer reunited. Done, done and done. But I have no idea what it all means.

So, settle in, because I couldn't pick just one theory. I'm going to put pen to paper...ahem...fingertips to keys, and work this out.

Initial Theory
So the show ended and here was what I thought: The island was real and the sideways world was, too. The Sideways world was the reality they created when they set off Jughead and, as Juliet said, "It worked." The sideways world imagined what their lives would be like if the plane hadn't crashed, but curiously, gave them slightly different pasts.

Now this is where it gets tricky. Christian was pretty explicit that the folks in the church were dead, but noted they didn't all die at the same moment. He also noted there is no "now, here." A lot of people took that to mean "There is no now, here in purgatory" or "There is no now, here in Heaven." Maybe it's where my head is at, but I thought, "There is no now, here, because time is fluid and does not exist." As my faithful readers will know, I thought one of the show's themes was that there is no past or present, that time is not fixed, but fluid.

In my initial theory, it didn't even for a moment cross my mind that the LOSTies all died in the initial crash. That just complicates things too much...not a single moment of the series would make sense if that were the case. That shot of the wreckage at the end meant nothing; it was added post-production by ABC. Frankly, that's what I assumed, so I was shocked when I heard fans theorizing those shots meant everyone died in the crash.

So let's say my first theory was correct (which seems super implausible since 99.9 percent of viewers agreed the sideways world was purgatory) — what was the point and what did it mean? Well I've posed the theory before that perhaps the show was about reincarnation, hence the heavy leaning on ideas of redemption, predestination, and bodies taking new forms or getting stuck.

Reincarnation is, by definition, the transmigration of the soul to a new body after the body dies ( a certain smoke monster). It returns to Earth in a new form. Maybe the LOSTies were reincarnated, or existing in L.A, in different forms and then their souls were awakened with remembrance of things past. So how would the LOSTies have been reincarnated? That's the part I can't work out. But it does fit well with the idea of the LOSTies remembering their past lives. And it certainly sounds nicer than purgatory!

What would be the point of the show, then? That relationships matter, above all else. That the desire to change matters more than actions. In this supernatural realm, the LOSTies were able to unite their souls on a journey; it seems to me the ones who didn't quite make it to the church (Walt, Michael, Ana Lucia, Mr. Eko, etc.) were people whose lives were not defined by the time they spent on the island. They didn't forge the long-lasting or life-changing relationships that the others did.

My theory doesn't work 100 percent (or even really 50 percent!). And also, no one brought it up and I don't think that's because I'm brilliant and no one else is. Which leads me to Theory 2.

Theory 2
My second theory evolved after reading some Internet theories and talking to Sean, which led me to think the Sideways World was a purgatory/in-between/afterlife type of place where, for whatever reason, nonexistent children were introduced and lessons were learned and through magic touching and mind-melding (wow, they really ripped from Spock on that one), the LOSTies were able to reconnect and move on toward the Big Pearly Gates.

The white light was a big old hint. And Christian was pretty explicit. But this one left a bad taste in my mouth. I didn't like the idea that the Sideways world featured arbitrary new characters, better lives and in some cases, worse ones, different pasts, etc. and it was just a holding cell. I can't seem to wrap my brain around that concept, either.

Theory 3
I sat down to read the recap and theories of Entertainment Weekly's Doc Jensen last night, and if you haven't read it, it is so, SO worth it. Doc Jensen is not only a wonderful writer, but has a firm grasp of the mythology of LOST and is able to sift through the tangential information to the important stuff.

His theory, which I really, really think makes sense, goes basically like this: Jughead did not work. The Sideways world was not a simultaneous alternate universe, but a spiritual place where their souls went to live after death, kind of like the interpretation of heaven in "Our Town." The Sideways world, with its new characters and relationships, was a reflection of each character's yearning, which can explain why some of them had similar back stories but were on slightly new paths, treading a little closer to redemption.

For example, Jack craved a healthy father/son relationship, and so his unconscious or his soul invented a son with whom he could make amends. He craved a relationship with Claire, his sister, and he got that. He craved a healthy relationship with his ex, and he got that, too. The same goes for Hurley, who was the luckiest man in the world, a man who was able to use his money for good. Or even Miles, who had a close relationship with his father, and the same for Faraday.

The Sideways world was a kind of psychic connection, and when Christian said, "You created this place," it meant they took the ones with whom they shared the most on the journey with them. Is it literal? Could this all be a kind of dreamy near-death vision? Would it be the same for each character, or is this just Jack's group on the plane ride to an afterlife? I don't know, but it has made me think a little deeper about the afterlife, and that was probably the point.

I think Doc Jensen's theory is so beautiful and it's one I want to believe in. I'm still having a hard time with the mechanics of it, but it works better than any others I've read. That light at the end? It reminded him of the plane crash, with the back half of the plane being ripped off. But this time they were saved by the light.

Final Thoughts
For the haters, I say what I wrote last week: This was about the journey. The end was as close to great as I think it could have come. Was it perfect? No. Is anything? I know some people were looking for more answers, and I think many of them wanted the anomalies and scientific elements explained.

Since I noticed this summer while I was rewatching the show that the religious themes were more overt with every season, I had come to expect the show to explore the themes of faith, religion, science, belief in oneself and belief in others. And that's what it ends up being. Yes, I am satisfied.

Things I would have done differently: maybe not kill the Man in Black so hastily, with a simple gun shot. I felt like he never got a fair shake. Also, parts of the finale were SO corny, especially the Sayid/Shannon reunion. But that's just my opinion.

Tomorrow, I will post my very last LOST entry. I thought it would be fun to look back at some of my theories from my LOST entries and tally up my score as a LOST predictor. I'm pretty proud of some of the things I accurately guessed, but I don't know whether that says more about me or the writers.

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