One week ago, I said the following:
“Part of me thinks that we shouldn't jump right into our normal over-analyzing of the episode, nit-picking details and trying to reconcile what we just saw with the previous 119 hours of the show. On a strictly emotional level, the Lost finale was fully satisfying, emotional, epic, sweeping, and felt more important than any television finale I've ever seen. The wife was in tears. I was confused as I tried to work it all out in my mind. In short, it was everything you would want from the final episode of Lost. If you didn't tear up a little when Vincent laid down next to Jack, you do not have a heart. The final ten minutes were about as perfect as anything I could have imagined for the last Lost - and the episode as a whole had everything I wanted - action, closure, callbacks to the major moments from the previous five seasons, and plenty of perfect "character moments" that are really going to make us all miss these characters.”
I still stand by that statement 100%.
However, the time has come to turn our critical eye to “The End” and do a full-blown traditional analysis. Let’s leave our emotions at the door and get down to business. What really happened in “The End”?
The End. One of my biggest complaints about the final season of Lost is the writers’ inability to frame the real “danger” on the
- Anti-Jacob just wanted to leave the
Island. However, as long as Jacob was alive, he could not do so.
- Even once Anti-Jacob found his loophole and killed Jacob (something that took him thousands of years to accomplish), he still couldn’t leave the
Islandas long as Jacob’s candidates were alive.
- One Anti-Jacob found out about Desmond last episode, suddenly he decided that destroying the
Islandwas a crucial part of his plan… or perhaps just an added bonus.
- However, once Desmond removed the
Corkfrom the Heart of the Island, Anti-Jacob immediately left for his boat to escape before the Islandsank, even though a number of Jacob’s candidates were still alive and well.
It seems a little illogical that after spending thousands of years working towards one goal, Anti-Jacob would abandon it and focus on something else… and that magically, the rules surrounding the candidates tying him to the
Yes, it’s possible to come up with some explanations for this – which we’ll touch on in a moment – but the audience shouldn’t have to make these logical stretches to understand the major conflict of the season. In the end, the battle between SmokeLocke and Jack was important to us because SmokeLocke killed Jack’s friends – but it lacked any sort of additional stakes where we cared if SmokeLocke left the
Jack. The best explanation for SmokeLocke’s actions is that once Jacob “knighted” Jack as the new Protector of the
As for Jack himself, he finally fulfilled the destiny that brought him back to the
The only thing that Jack knows is that he’s confident in his plan, even if he doesn’t know exactly what it is. He knows that he is somehow going to use Desmond to stop and kill SmokeLocke, and that he, and John Locke, were right about the
Desmond. From Desmond’s perspective, ever since he was blasted by Widmore’s electromagnetic experiment on the
That’s exactly why Desmond basically “gave up” on life at this point. He was back on the
It brings up an interesting, super deep philosophical question – if you knew that you had a perfect, happy afterlife waiting for you after you died, what’s the point in living through all the crap in life? Would you just look for the quickest and easiest way to kill yourself to get to that “happily ever after”, or would you continue to soldier on through the trials and hardships of life?
For Desmond, he picks the first option. He adopts the opinion that “none of this matters” on the Island, and thinks that he needs to carry out one final mission to “save the world” (again), and once he’s done, he will die and return to his “happily ever after life”.
He was wrong.
As for Widmore and Jacob, Desmond was basically another “failsafe” switch – a last ditch effort. Their original intention was to use Desmond to pull the
Remember my original complaint about the writers not framing the danger of this season very well? This is exhibit B in support of that argument. The spent a season telling us how important it was to protect the Island, or else “all hell will break loose”, but then we find out that Jacob’s backup plan is to allow the Island to crumble as long as it renders SmokeLocke mortal.
Disappointing. But I digress.
Two weeks ago, I settled on “power” as being the thing at the heart of the
The existence of the
He was back trapped on the
Smokey. After the epic battle with SmokeLocke (where Jack gains not only the bleeding cut on his neck that we saw throughout his Flash Sideways, but also the fatal cut in his side that we all interpreted to be a scar from his appendectomy – but now I guess it could be either), Jack realizes that his rule as king of the Island will be short-lived, since it’s up to him to replace the Cork and restore balance to the Island now that SmokeLocke had been killed. He passes the torch to Hurley (fittingly using the Oceanic 815 water bottle), re-corks the Island, but somehow is not killed by the exposure to the electromagnetic power that again begins flowing from the Heart of the
All of this brings up one big question – what happened to Smokey with all these transitions?
My best theory from “Across the Sea” was that The Woman was both Protector and Smokey rolled into one, and she split those powers among Jacob and Anti-Jacob to create a balance and limit the chance for man to abuse those powers. Jack became the new Jacob, but SmokeLocke still had the Smokey powers (since Kate’s bullets this episode had no effect on him). Once SmokeLocke died, what happened to those Smokey powers? Did they return to the Heart of the
In the grand scheme of things, I’m not losing any sleep over these questions – but based on the Egyptian hieroglyphics we’ve seen over the years, as long as the
I think that wraps up the “main storyline” on the
Rose and Bernard and Vincent. It turns out that Sayid didn’t save Desmond from the Well, but Rose or Bernard or Vincent did. So even though Sayid did end up saving our Survivors from the bomb on the Sub, he wasn’t suddenly “100% good” again after his encounter with Desmond. As for Rose, Bernard, and Vincent, their existence on the
Of course, Vincent never dies. The
Benjamin Linus. The flip-flopping of Benjamin Linus was a little far-fetched during the final few episodes of the series. I suppose we can justify it as being a “long con” that he was trying to pull on SmokeLocke – one that conveniently allowed him to kill Widmore in the process (talk about two birds with one stone), but even at the beginning of “The End” he was putting a gun in Sawyer’s back and leading him to SmokeLocke. Then at the end, he was helping our Survivors kill SmokeLocke. But the most confusing thing of all is the way that he magically escaped from being pinned underneath that tree. I was sure that was going to be Ben’s redemption. He saves Hurley from being crushed, but ends up dying in the process. Instead, he gets what he wanted all along – a true role of importance on the
Richard Alpert and Frank. Thank God that both of these characters ended up being alive and well on the
Claire. I’m sorry, but Claire really didn’t add anything to this season. The scenes with her were always awkward, the storyline with her being “claimed” by SmokeLocke never really panned out to anything, and she did little besides throw out empty threats to our Survivors and provide a purpose for Kate being back on the
Okay – I think that wraps up my thought about the
Flash Sideways. First of all, should we continue to call them the Flash Sideways? Per Christian Shephard, there is no such thing as linear time in the Flash Sideways, but they are all taking place after each character dies in life – making them Flash Forwards, right? Oh well, we’ve called them Flash Sideways for this long, might as well stick with it for “The End”.
After a season of waiting, we finally got our explanation for what the Flash Sideways represented – a place created by the Survivors so that they could meet up before moving on to the next stage of their afterlife (heaven?). I loved this explanation because it made everything that happened on the
Having said that, I definitely have some problems with how these Flash Sideways were handled this season.
The biggest complaint that I have is that for the first time in Lost history, the writers were intentionally trying to trick the audience with red herrings that make no sense now that we know the truth. Why would Jack be married to Juliet, instead of Kate – who was much more of his “true love” in life? Why would characters like Charlie and Faraday say things like “we aren’t supposed to be here” and “none of this is real” – when in fact, even if it wasn’t the final stop in the afterlife, it was apparently a necessary stop along the way? I understand that the Flash Sideways could be viewed as a sort of “dream world”, where things are based in reality, but slightly different – but some of it still feels cheap. We’re going to tackle some explanations for these differences in a moment, but it still doesn’t seem right that we’re making these stretches to explain something that should make total sense at face value.
In short, I think we could have spent a lot less time in the Flash Sideways and achieved the same end result.
The other thing that was weird was the collection of characters who “created” this reality. With the exception of Boone and Locke, who were kinda BFFs on the
Let’s look at each character who “let go”, and what caused each to do so:
Boone – we never learned what led to Boone’s epiphany, but I’m guessing it had something to do with getting over
Rose and Bernard – not shown, but it seems like both of them understood what the Flash Sideways were from the start. Rose made a comment to Jack about “letting go” on Oceanic 815, Bernard was weird and cryptic when Jack talked to him, and both seemed to have found a peace in life that might have carried over into the after-life.
Claire – giving birth to Aaron, causing her to “let go” of the guilt she felt for abandoning him in the first place?
Kate – helping Claire give birth to Aaron, which only happened because she stopped running and helped a very pregnant Claire in the Flash Sideways world… so I guess it was really about no longer running away? It’s a stretch…
Charlie – touching Claire, which showed him that he could be a good person and loving pseudo-father, instead of a junkie rock and roller? This makes no sense either, since Flash Sideways Charlie didn’t really do anything to prove that he could make the right decision and sober up – he was just in the right place at the right time… thanks to Hurley’s intervention.
Sun and Jin – seeing Ji-Yeon’s ultrasound, which helped them “let go” of abandoning their child in life so that they could die together? That doesn’t make much sense either, but it’s the best I’ve got.
Sayid and Shannon – touching each other, which apparently means that even though Sayid spent his entire life searching for Nadia, two weeks on the
Locke – regaining his ability to walk reminded him of all his time on the
Libby and Hurley – kissing, which let them finally have the relationship that they were robbed from on the
Desmond and Penny – touching, which might have helped Desmond get over his abandonment of Penny twice in life thanks to that damned Island (who knows if he ever returned back a second time or not). But Penny? She’s definitely the oddball inclusion in the final scene, having never set foot on the
Sawyer and Juliet – perhaps the best part of any Flash Sideways epiphany, we finally realize that there was no greater meeting in Juliet’s “it worked” comment from “LA X” – she was simply experiencing the moment in the Flash Sideways where Sawyer got his candy bar. Although if you think about it, this means that she must have been living through the Flash Sideways for quite some time before she actually died – and in dying, she jumped to the place in the Flash Sideways where she had her moment with Sawyer… unless I’m thinking too linearly about the Flash Sideways and time doesn’t really work the same way there. I also loved that she summed up all the weird stuff with the Island and the
But again, what did either of them actually “let go” to earn this epiphany? They just touched. Neither did anything to overcome the issues they had in life or prove that they learned some lesson, did they?
Jack – finally we have Jack. You could make the argument that Jack was the one who created the Flash Sideways, and it would make a lot of sense. In it, he learned to get over his daddy issues by being a good father to David (PS – sucks to be you David, you don’t actually exist or get to “move on” with your parents), accepted his own father’s death, and performed the ultimate “fix” of John Locke. If it was all about Jack, the Flash Sideways would have made perfect sense.
You can see the issues, right? Aside from a few characters, the Flash Sideways weren’t really about “letting go”, they were about connecting with your loved ones in the afterlife so that you didn’t have to go on alone. It’s like “live together or die alone” taken to the extreme. I’m fine with this explanation – but again, if this is the case, then a lot of the stuff that we saw in the Flash Sideways was unnecessary filler… it really didn’t matter what fake lives these characters were living in the Flash Sideways because they were all fake – all that mattered is that they found their loved ones, regardless of what it took to find them.
Wrap Up. Originally, I was going to post my “what I would have done differently” thoughts here – but I think I’ll wait and do that for my next post. For now, let’s just focus on what actually happened in “The End”. In the end, I think that “The End” was a great episode – and I think that most of my issues with the episode actually had nothing to do with the episode, but rather the ones that led up to it. As you can see, looking back on the final season as a whole, there was a lot that didn’t make a lot of sense and seemed a little sloppy. But we’ll get to that later as well.
I feel like everyone is all burned out on discussion of “The End”, but if there are any outstanding items you’d like my take on, feel free to post them in the comments. Otherwise, I’ll be back in the next few days with my overall thoughts on the series and what I would have done differently.