Are we surprised that the end to LOST answers questions we didn't have and doesn't answer all the questions we did have?
To anyone who wonders, LOST has one Big Question per season, and it's answered with a twist in the last episode of each season. For season 6, the question wasn't "what is the island?" but "what is this Sideways universe?" Despite the fact that I think other questions were bigger, the answer that it was the Sideways universe that was the afterlife was a nifty and unexpected piece of irony. After years of having to fend off the suggestion that the Island was purgatory, the writers actually wrote a Purgatory that looks like normal life and stuck it in, in CONTRAST to the Island! Honestly, did anyone see that coming? I'm happy with that in the end.
Looking back, with the help of the community of fans I was able to decipher many of the smaller plot twists before they happened. It was the deciphering that was fun, not the reveal itself. I'm convinced there's enough material already there to say what COULD have happened. Not being able to nail down whether it DID happen or not is secondary. When you have a personality like Jacob with powers, I think you can explain a lot of the mysteries as reflections of his personality. I'm kind of glad it's not all spelled out because now none of my beautiful theories are contradicted!
I knew going into the finale that it would have two elements I don't entirely agree with: syncretism and existentialism (that is, we make our own reality). So when those popped up I wasn't surprised in the least. But I was surprised, and positively so, at the literary parallel that the final episode drew out most prominently for me. I believe to understand the last episode you need to read, not Vadis by Phillip K. Dick, but The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis. (Of course, I need to READ Vadis to be sure, but I can tell you the latter parallels are there, whether intentional or not.) Can ANY other TV series draw a parallel to something that meaningful?
Sure, it was sentimental and mushy, but one danger of love is that it comes across as sentimental and mushy. Since I believe, in a phrase, that Love runs the universe, I don't mind a little mush.
Another influence has to be Stephen King. For all his reputation as a horror writer, Stephen King has spiritual beliefs (which I discussed in my review of his recent short story collection on this blog, I believe) and holds that our lives are not, cannot be, meaningless collisions of atoms. I'll celebrate that assertion whenever I find it: in C.S. Lewis, in Stephen King, or in LOST. And so I celebrate LOST.
Because it's left open-ended, I can still explore the possible faith-science connections in the show, too!
That may be my favorite thing about this all: the fact that, here it is a few days after the show, and I feel like we have as much to talk about as ever. It will fade away eventually, but I think when my boys are old enough I look forward to reliving the show again with them. How old is old enough? Well, I know for certain they're not there yet! When they can read and "get" The Great Divorce, then they'll be "ready," as Eloise Hawking puts it.
It's been said before and I'll repeat it here: LOST is dead. Long live LOST.