Overthinking Lost: The End.

Overthinking Lost: The End.

Death ain’t no thang.

Whatever happened, happened.  We’ve been hearing this statement repeated in Lost for several season.  Now, finally, we know  it’s true.  As Slate’s Chadwick Matlin helpfully pointed out earlier this week, the bomb didn’t go off.  The reset didn’t work.  The Swan site was built, and Oceanic 815 crashed on the Island.  Whatever happened, happened.  Dead is dead is dead is dead.

The bomb didn’t work.  This was the most underplayed revelation of the finale, according to Matlin.  I agree, and I believe it was underplayed on purpose.  For all of Lost’s insistence in the scripts that “whatever happened, happened,” the ultimate moral of the story is “whatever happened, happened—and it doesn’t matter.”

This disappoints me.  Don’t get me wrong; I liked the finale as I was watching it.  I’m always going to love Lost as a whole, as incoherent and sentimental as it turned out to be.  I’m never going to wring my hands and say, “One-hundred and twenty-two hours of my life—wasted!”  We all know that simply isn’t true.

Nevertheless, I’m disappointed with the last ten minutes of the show, particularly the new religion it created.  Not only is this religion annoyingly conservative for my tastes, but it is so couched in fantasy that it is of no use to us, the viewers living in the real world.

The Life and Afterlife of Jeremy Bentham

I think the best way to approach the failures of the finale and the last few seasons of Lost is to focus first on one character: John Locke.  Just as we never got the chance to fully understand and mourn the fact that the reset never worked—in fact, because we were never given the chance to understand and mourn the fact that the reset never worked—we were never given the opportunity to properly mourn John Locke, the original Man of Faith.  We first learned that Locke had died at the end of season four, in “There’s No Place Like Home, Parts 2 and 3.”  We didn’t mourn him then, because the identity of Jeremy Bentham was presented to us in a flashforward; John Locke was still alive and well in the “now” of the Island world.  In other words, for all intents and purposes, John Locke was still “alive” to us at that moment.  There was no need to mourn for him—yet.

We then saw Locke’s death occur on-screen in the middle of season 5 in “The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham.”  Again, we were not given the opportunity to mourn him, because it seemed that Locke had somehow been resurrected on the Island.  How can you mourn someone when they won’t go away?

It was then revealed in “The Incident” that the real John Locke was dead all along, and that the Smoke Monster had taken his form.  Even then, we still were not given a chance to mourn the real John Locke, because we were given the hope that the bomb reset had worked and that Locke survived in some kind of parallel universe.  Lo and behold, at the beginning of season 6, we were presented with a flash-sideways that seemed to prove that, yes, John Locke was still alive and well in an alternate timeline.  It was only at the very end of “The End” that we learned John Locke had been dead all along—dead is dead; whatever happened, happened.  But even then, this huge revelation was so underplayed that it was not even mentioned by the script at all.  John Locke is definitely dead now, no way around it, and yet we’re still not allowed to mourn him.  Why should we?  He’s still walking around in Sideways Limbo, seemingly thrilled to be dead.  When he regains his memories about the awful things he experienced back in the real world (like being crippled, being shot, being strangled, remembering that his stupidity almost destroyed the Island he so loved), he (like all of the other Losties, weirdly) starts beaming like a fool.  “Hooray, I’m dead!” he seems to be thinking. “And isn’t it great that I now remember how awful my life used to be before I was murdered?”  To make matters worse, Locke even forgives his murderer.  Dead is dead, the show seems to be saying, but who cares?  Everyone will still be alive—and happier!—in Sideways Limbo.

The last ten minutes of the finale, then, do not represent a final funeral for Locke and his dead buddies but actually a kind of awards ceremony for Locke.  According to this finale, Locke, the Man of Faith, was actually right all along.  In this final scene, the entire cast, including Jack, the one who had the hardest time letting go, happily acknowledged that John Locke was always right.  This bothers me not only because I’m a Woman of Science, but because John Locke was evidently not right.  His whole life was wrong, wrong, wrong.  His misplaced faith got him killed, allowed the Smoke Monster to grab power, and almost destroyed the entire world.  The show doesn’t linger on these pesky facts, just as it doesn’t linger on the fact that the bomb didn’t work (and in fact killed loads of people), because they might undermine the major themes of faith and “letting go.”

On “Letting Go.”

Murder and torture dozens of people and you, too, will get a whiny blonde girl in Heaven.

According to the final ten minutes, the entire show was about “letting go” (and hanging out with your friends).  To get into Heaven or whatever that white light is, you need to do two things: let go of your psychological hang-ups and come in physical contact with a loved one/constant.  Notice what you don’t need to do to get into Heaven: be a good person.  Killed more than 40 people and stole a baby?  Whatever, as long as you learn to forgive yourself.  Did your insatiable ego lead to the deaths of dozens of your friends?  Fine, as long as you get over your daddy issues.  Blew up your dad?  Strangled your friend’s dad?  Buried an axe into the chest of an innocent Other?  Spent so much of your life torturing people that you actually introduce yourself as “Sayid, torturer”?  All meaningless, as long as you eventually “let go” of the fact that you used to be a terrible person.

So, why doesn’t Lost allow us to mourn John Locke’s tragic, epic f***-up of a life?  Because, according to Lost, it doesn’t matter that Locke screwed up.  It doesn’t matter that Locke’s actions got himself and many others killed.  Ultimately, actions on Earth don’t matter.  All that matters is faith and that happy white light and true love and puppies and babies.  In short, Lost presents us with the nicey-nice wish-fulfillment parts of a bunch of different religions and ignores a major fact of life for non-scripted human beings: that, in real life, whatever happened, happened.  Actions have consequences.  Dead is dead.

I’m not a big fan of the Christian conceptions of heaven and hell, but at least they somewhat focus on the consequences of your actions.  If you do wrong, you suffer in hell for eternity.  If you’re good and faithful, you get to chill with Jesus for eternity.  I don’t believe it, but at least it allows for some kind of real-world morality.  The new pseudo-multicultural religion Lost’s finale provides is particularly crazy, because it not only allows for death-bed conversions; it allows for POST-death-bed conversions.  (At least, it does for everyone except Michael.  Don’t ask me why he’s the only one who doesn’t get a second chance in Sideways Limbo.)

Of what use is a finale like this, when it doesn’t mirror anything we actually experience in real life?  Do we just want a happy ending because we like these characters?  Yet, in most art, as in life, simply being likable does not necessary earn you a happy ending.

Or is it that we enjoy the theme of “even sinners get second chances”?  I would be fine with that theme if it seemed like most of the Losties actually made good use of their second chances and earned their way into Heaven by doing good deeds.  But most of them didn’t.  Only Jack, Sayid, Desmond, Michael (!), Charlie and, arguably, Sawyer (when he jumped out of the helicopter) sacrificed themselves for the greater good.  I’ll let Hurley come to my version of Heaven, too, because he was always a good person.  The rest of them?  I’m not sure if they’ll be allowed past my pearly gates.

If the ultimate moral of the story is, “If you live together, you get to die together, too, in Happy Shiny Sideways Purgatory,” then Lost still is kind of a failure, because these characters didn’t live together throughout most of the show.  If we look back at seasons 2-6, we’ll see that these “best of friends” spent most of their time engaged in-fighting as their groups fractured into smaller and smaller rival tribes.  Even at the very end of the show, Lapidus, Miles, and Richard decided to leave the Island without Kate, Sawyer, Ben, Jack, Desmond, and Hurley, in a “Screw them!  We’re looking out for ourselves” moment.  And it’s not like Kate, Sawyer, and Ben did anything to help Jack re-plug the Island.  No, let Jack do it himself.  If Jack doesn’t do this alone, they’d all die together.  Live alone, die together?  Wait a second.  That’s not how the saying went.

Live together, die with a dog.

So, yeah, in the end, I think Lost pulled a happy ending out of its ass.  If I had written it, the Sideways Limbo World wouldn’t have existed, and the show would have ended with the bittersweet ending of Jack dying for his friends.   Jack still would have gotten over his daddy issues, he still would have “let go,” and he’d still have faith.  The themes would remain the same, but they’d go down a lot smoother for some of us.   Better still would be an ending in which all of the living characters actually worked together to save the day instead of just letting the White Male Chosen One do it on his lonesome.  Then the “live together, die alone” theory would have actually panned out, because Jack would have died with his friends around him, happy that they could save the world as a team.

On the next page: an Overthinking Lost Bonus Feature!  Let’s look back and see if any of my predictions for this show ended up being correct.

33 Comments on “Overthinking Lost: The End.”

  1. Clark Akerman #

    Sigh… an end of era. Any ideas for other shows to Overthink mlawski?


  2. Tom P #

    At least, it does for everyone except Michael. Don’t ask me why he’s the only one who doesn’t get a second chance in Sideways Limbo.

    I said this in the other thread, I think. I think Michael eventually gets to move on. He just doesn’t get to move on with one of the nice ladies he shot and murdered.

    Obviously there’s another part of sideways world for bad guys who want to continue to be bad. Keamy, for instance, was shot to death. Maybe they continue to be players in the sideways world and dying over and over forever?


  3. Matthew #

    Anyone who’s read C.S. Lewis’ book, “The Great Divorce”, will see where the LOST writers got their ideas on the afterlife. Lewis’ book is set in an afterlife identical to the “real” world, in which the dead don’t realize that they are actually dead (or are unable to come to terms with reality, and so insist on living as they always have).

    Here’s a bit of info:

    The fact that the character Charlotte is named after Lewis strikes me as a major clue (though interestingly, she wasn’t one of the characters who moved on in the end …)


  4. Chris #

    So, in the end, the one true religion is the First Amalgamated Church, led by his holiness, Father Changstein el-Gamal?


  5. mlawski OTI Staff #

    @Chris: Don’t forget about Rabbi Chang from Community!


  6. Jeremy #

    I imagine that magical Hurley would allow Michael to eventually be released from the island, especially since Michael expressed regret for his actions. I can’t take seriously the writers’ insinuation that repenting Ben (who committed mass murder) would eventually be redeemed, while remorseful Michael (who killed two people) would not be.


  7. dock #

    I came to this site off a link for the “The Ghostbusters are terrible people” article. That article made me a fan; you and your Lost pieces made me a life long reader. I said before, this site, the comments and your articles, Mlawski, became as much a part of my Lost experience as the show itself. All the thanks are belong to you. Great stuff from start to finish!!!!! (Even if I disagree, and think the ending totally worked). Cant wait for the next series to be overthought!


  8. pFranks #

    so, can we agree now that, while the show itself was great, this last season was awful and made no sense in what was the grand scheme of the show?
    personally, i’m just going to pretend that it ended last season, with the bomb going off and Then, ABC premiered but 3 awful sci-fi shows this year trying to fill the void


  9. pFranks #

    whoops, WTF happened there?
    what i meant to write was:
    “[…] Personally, I’m just going to pretend that it ended last season, with the bomb going off and the Losties never getting to the island.
    Then, this year, ABC tried to fill the void premiering 3 new awful sci-fi shows: FlashForward, V, and Mystical Island, none of which earned a second season (in my personal universe, V got cancelled after 4 episodes and Fringe is the best rated show in the last decade)”

    see? much better


  10. mlawski OTI Staff #

    @dock: Aw, thanks, Dock! All the thanks aren’t belong to me, though. As I said in the above article, you awesome commenters set me up the bomb. (For great justice.)


  11. Marcus Tee #

    Talk about over-thinking it. The whole story went just like “An Occurrence At Owl Creek Bridge.” (a fine book and Twilight Zone episode)
    Passengers on Oceanic Flight 815 depart from Sydney. Along the way Jack Shepard notices everyone on board. The plane hits some turbulence and like James Taylor’s “Flying Machine” breaks into pieces, landing on the ground.
    Jack opens his eyes. Six years of a dreamlike world pass by as an instant. The next scene (the very last scene) Jack closes his eyes, dead. All that occurred took place in that few seconds. Jack places everyone on board in his split second fantasy as we all do when REM sleep takes over.

    And you were there, and you, and you!

    Marcus Tee


  12. Harold #

    That Walk/Micheal omission pissed me off for some reason.

    Plus, if Science would have won, this finale would have been universally praised. Or entertainment, is mostly secular, at least here in the west.


  13. Matthew Belinkie OTI Staff #

    First of all, thanks for a really amazing series, Shana. I never watched the show, but I read these, and I feel like I understand things better than a lot of the people who DID watch it.

    Secondly, here’s a question for Shana and the rest of the Losties. It seems like the general reaction to the finale is mixed, but on the positive side. I’ve glanced at a bunch of comment threads, and they seem at least 50% “loved it.” My question is: does this surprise you? I watched the finale and expected the fans to be unhappy – I just didn’t see anything there that was too exciting or unpredictable. But perhaps I underestimated how much people like seeing characters they love happy. The touchy-feely ending doesn’t seem to satisfy intellectually, BUT I could see it being a real tearjerker if you actually were rooting for these couples. Maybe a lot of the fans, by the end, were willing to accept melodrama in place of Big Ideas?

    And not to threadjack the post, but the greatest finale of all time is still The Shield. I cannot mention that enough.


  14. David #

    HAha, like the article bro, especially about the daddy issues and realization of the subversive messaging imposed upon its viewers. All Hail the Liberal Media!!!


  15. Jason #

    Hi mlawski,

    I’ve been reading your blog posts on LOST since you started them, and this is the first time I’ve actually disagreed with you and felt compelled to post. I know you are the “overthinker” here, but I feel that you misunderstood the point of the last ten minutes.

    It’s not anything to do with heaven, necessarily, or enlightenment, or reincarnation. It can be, if you believe in that, but the only thing the show explains is that it’s a place that they made “so you could find each other”.

    The point is that nobody goes through life alone. We all have these people that are most important to us, and we can’t leave this life without them. Whether it’s to leave to eternal contentment, or just complete oblivion, they all needed to do it together.

    They all went to this “limbo” until they were all able to find and awaken each other. The point was for them to let go and forgive themselves because that is what was anchoring them down to this life. It’s nothing to do with being a good person, or your actions in the past. It’s all about your own ability to let go of the life that’s holding you back from moving on.

    Jack resisted and resisted because we all know how good he is at “letting go”.


  16. dock #

    @ Belinkie- I totally and completely agree about The Shield. It had the perfect balance of finality while still leaving a small window for interpretation. The storys all end, except Mackeys, when we see him walk off into the night. We can debate what he does in the future, but as far as resolution of conflict is concerned, everything was wrapped up perfectly. What puts Lost in a category of its own, IMO, is the end itself. The major theme of the show, we seem to all agree, is Science vs Faith, and not to be corny, but after the finale, and after much thought, I realized something about myself that I would have disagreed with before. The split between the fanbase, I am willing to bet, falls along those same lines- People of Science (disappointed) vs People of Faith (completely satisfied). I never realized it before, but as it turns out I am a Man of Faith. To have a television show literally teach you something about yourself is practically unfathomable (and probably a little sad, lol). I guess thats why I feel so strongly that the ending worked, even if there are clearly better examples of how to wrap up story lines and resolve outstanding plot gaps. The impact wasnt so much in the story itself, but what we as individuals take from said story. Pretty epic.


  17. Jason #

    @dock See, I kind of agree with you, but I’m definitely a
    Man of Science and I absolutely loved the ending. But then I guess it would be foolish to group everyone into Science and Faith. The world just isn’t that simple.


  18. mlawski OTI Staff #

    This is a really interesting point. Those of you who are “People of Faith” and liked the ending, what did you like about it, exactly? What did you learn from this ending? And why was having faith necessary for the audience?

    I’m a Woman of Science through and through, but I love fantasy literature and have enjoyed other pieces of art that require the audience to have some kind of faith in the supernatural. (I think the original Miracle on 34th Street is a great film, for example.)

    The reason I disliked Lost’s ending was less because I’m areligious and more because it seemed to contradict a lot of what the earlier seasons of the show had to say. In the first 4 seasons, actions had consequences, and happy endings weren’t assured. This limbo ending seemed to say to me that the actions taken by all of the characters over the course of the show were irrelevant; only their (mostly romantic) relationships mattered. “Letting go” seems to be a ridiculous theme to me, because that’s what psychopaths do. The show literally seems to be preaching that it’s okay to spend six seasons (or more) killing and torturing others, as long as you eventually forgive yourself and find someone nice so you can bang each other in purgatory.

    This theme seems to contradict Lost’s other huge moral, which is, “if we don’t live together, we’re going to die alone.” Apparently that statement isn’t true in Lost’s universe anymore, because all of the characters get to “die together” even though they spent the majority of the seasons bickering, splitting up into factions, beating each other up in sexy mud wrestling battles, torturing each other, and sometimes killing each other.

    Likewise, in the last two seasons, Rose and Bernard are set up as the wisest characters, because they have “let go” of their issues and all of the drama and learned to relax and enjoy each other’s company. So Rose and Bernard get their happy ending of dying together by NOT living together–they completely isolate themselves from society and don’t seem to give a damn whether or not the Smoke Monster destroys the entire world. The Sideways Limbo ending emphasizes that this was the right decision. We get the impression that, had the Smoke Monster destroyed the world, everyone still would have gotten their happy endings in Limbo/Heaven. Once again, actions don’t matter; “letting go” does. So much for “live together, die alone.”


  19. dock #

    Its hard for me to put into words what I liked about the ending. The entire sum of its parts to me was satisfying. Now, there are certainly inconsistencies that arise because of that one episode, but who ever said that the characters beliefs were right? Jack was wrong about almost everything. Desmond was wrong when he thought he would go back to the alt-world. Locke was wrong when he thought he was special. They were all wrong, really.

    One thing I took out of the finale was the phrase “nothing is irreversible” being used repeatedly. THAT is the key to understanding the series. No matter what you’ve done, how bad you are etc…nothing is irreversible.

    Assuming the traditional christian sentiment is correct, and God forgives us all who repent, then the message IS just that, mlawksi. It doesn’t matter what you do in life, so long as you are legit sorry for the things you have done to hurt others, and if that’s the case you will get to join your loved ones in the afterlife. Pretty simple, kinda corny, but powerful nonetheless.

    Yes, Sayyid tortured a lot of people, but he also killed himself so that those that he loved would survive. Ben indeed was a mass murderer, kidnapper and all around bad dude, but he repented, several times, and asked for forgiveness (we see him do this w/ Locke and can assume he will move forward and do so w/ Alex and her mom). Kate killed a man but also reunited a family. Sawyer lied and cheated his whole life, but changed who he was fundamentally during his time on the island. So they don’t necessarily get a free pass. Keamy sure didn’t. Neither did Patchy.

    Actions do have consequences, as do lack of actions. Those who did not redeem themselves (and apparently part of that is forgiving yourself, something I do not believe Michael has done, which could be why hes still on the island) were not ready to pass on yet. Those who were ready were allowed to join the departing group, and apparently they are allowed to bring someone with them (I’m thinking specifically of Boone, Penny etc who did not have any serious interactions with Jack but were allowed to come with, anyway).

    Now, stepping aside from the analytical aspect for a moment…I also happen to be a total sap. The tear jerking scenes got me. The acting was superb (with the exception of the one line by Kate when she first sees Locke and screams “you killed them!”…that was a poorly delivered line) and the score was brilliant. All around I thought it was well done, and for me the message was “Have faith.” Something that, despite distancing myself from religion more and more as I grow older, I can still relate to in a non-institutionalized-religion kind of way.


  20. mlawski OTI Staff #

    @dock: Yeah, I get what you’re saying. Don’t get me wrong; I love the idea of second chances. I just don’t think the theme of “letting go” meshes all that well with the “live together, die alone” theme.

    Two more questions, though: If the theme is “have faith,” what kind of faith are we supposed to have? Faith in ourselves? Faith in humanity in general? Religious faith? Faith that everything’s going to turn out OK? Faith is a tricky word.

    Also, are we sure that the souls of Keamy and Patchy aren’t in their own versions of Happy Sideways Purgatory, learning to forgive themselves for their actions? (Related sub-question: If you die in Sideways Purgatory, what happens to your soul?)


  21. Babacamanchild #

    @Mlawski: I’m genuinely surprised at the level of misunderstanding and misplaced scorn that has been heaped on this last episode of ‘Lost’. Not that I’m accusing you of either but it is a shame that you seem to be allowing your personal Overthought disappointment to lead you to the same erroneous conclusions that have clouded other reviewers’ closing comments. While there is no denying that people are more than entitled to a portion of frustration with the final season’s disdain for addressing past puzzles it seems that this is seen as proof that Lost’s ending contradicted all that had been set up in previous seasons. This is puzzling to me because the surprise of the finale was how it revealed the ethos of Lost to be quite consistent.

    Actions did have consequences, and these were irreversible, right up to the end. Whatever happened happened. Faith alone was not enough to save the situation, as John Locke found to his cost. Performing positive actions together with others was the key to making things right – I never once got the sense that the message of the finale, or any of the series, was ‘Have Faith’. The message was overwhelmingly that Reality is a vast, confusing and sprawling with a mystery at its core, so having some degree of humility and being able to let go of the ego is the best way of achieving contentment in a brutal world.

    ‘Brutal’ might be the key word here: far from being mawkish or sentimental as many have attested it was, I thought that the Sideways story’s conclusion, asserting that love and community worked for in life were strong enough to pay off in (clearly allegorical) eternity, was a much-needed metaphysical aspirin so that the viewer’s could be sedated from the brutality of the Island World’s (ie Reality’s) intractable Rules, which were maintained to the end. Time was not alterable, the dead stayed dead and death happened unexpectedly, often as a result of people’s poorly-thought-out decisions. Jack’s Jughead idea was horribly misconceived and succeeded only in killing Juliet. Remember it was suggested to him by a Man of Science – Faraday – who hastily revised his solid understanding of time with some guff about people being the variables just before getting shot by his own mother who would eventually have to send him back to the Island knowing full well she would have to shoot him!

    In fact, you could say the Science – or, at least, Lost’s version of it – won outright at the end of Season Five and Season Six was an attempt to show that sprituality had to have some place in this saga if only to counterbalance the pain of not knowing what the consequences of one’s actions will be that characterised the show, its viewers, and the participants of life itself. Yes, it’s true to say that the castaways spent very little time “living together” in the final four seasons but Jack most emphatically died alone – a hard pill to swallow without the knowledge that his final actions were the result of a team effort. Locke’s death was horrible but it did provide the catalyst for the castaways to return to the island (and for Smokey to almost destroy it!) Desmond was needed to remove the “cork”, allowing for Fake Locke to be killed – by Kate. The others, especially Hurley, were instrumental in helping Jack finally recognise his limitations and thus perform his one important action as shortest-lived Island Guardian ever before passing the mantle on to Hurley, who most likely concocted the Sideways world himself using his newfound powers as a gift to his friends.

    It is all too simplistic to say that “everyone got a happy ending because they had faith”. We don’t really know what everyone got or why they got it. But as a cathartic ending that provided a metaphorical reward for those people who had suffered together and frequently died alone or confused it worked for me as well as poetry.


  22. Tom P #

    @Belinkie: My question is: does this surprise you? I watched the finale and expected the fans to be unhappy – I just didn’t see anything there that was too exciting or unpredictable.

    It doesn’t surprise me. It came down to them picking Faith over Science. The people on the other side were probably mad. Ultimately, They wanted to find out what Dharma was doing that created all these crazy things on the Island. Instead, they discovered that the science experiments were meant to figure out why crazy things happened on the Island. It was a chicken and egg scenario and the writers, validly if not lazily, took the easier route. These folks probably feel robbed and, really, they’re not wrong. The problem is that they were expecting a logical, pseudosciency explanation for a monster made of smoke and seeing dead people and black horses and forest whispers. The Science people’s stand-in on the show WAS the Dharma Initiative… they all wanted answers they couldn’t find and they came to a sad end.

    @mlawski: Also, are we sure that the souls of Keamy and Patchy aren’t in their own versions of Happy Sideways Purgatory, learning to forgive themselves for their actions? (Related sub-question: If you die in Sideways Purgatory, what happens to your soul?)

    You start over. Dying over and over again until you figure out how to be a decent person. That’s my guess.

    As for why I liked the ending: Like I commented way back in your first season posts, I’ve thought there was some kind of spiritual connotation to the Island since the first season. That was why all of the characters were given something they desperately wanted in the first season or were given something to test them. I’m fine with it being an Island where weird stuff happens and people were there trying to figure out why. I don’t feel wronged by them not explaining the weird events because, really, I can accept things happening that can’t be explained.


  23. Carlos #

    Promoting an unfalsifiable hypothesis (religion, spirituality, etc.) makes a work of art less legitimate than promoting a theme that can at least be referenced empirically.

    I think I had a difficult time with the last ten minutes of the episode for this reason.

    I would like to hear Others’ thoughts on this.


  24. Jason #

    I think that ultimately, despite their actions, Ben, Sayid, Sawyer etc are good people
    at heart. I’d be surprised if anyone could disagree with that. I think you are seeing it as too much of a reward system. There’s not necessarily a God that put them there, maybe the Light is the source of it, maybe if Smokey had destroyed the Light then no-one would ever be able to move on.

    I’m a hardcore atheist, but I loved the ending. I don’t think the ending was necessarily theistic. You seem to be assuming that everyone should be answering to a higher power, but the only real judge is yourself (mirrors in the alt).

    I suppose a psychopath would easily be able to let go, but that doesn’t mean anyone would be there in their alt because maybe no one cared for them. And even if there are, perhaps all they are doing is letting go of life and embracing oblivion.


  25. Gab #

    @Mlawski: Can’t a person have faith in both something more “traditional,” like a form of an afterlife, *and* science at the same time? I believe in empirical evidence, yes, absolutely- but the lack of evidence *disproving* the existence of life beyond the atoms and molecules is enough for me to have faith that particular existence occurs.

    The trouble is, having faith is a deeply personal thing and reasons for it can and often do vary from person-to-person. Some people take things like religious texts as empirical evidence (and whether they’re “right” or not doesn’t matter to them, where it matters most) and thus have faith in whatever doctrine they are referencing (which may, indeed, require some faith in itself, but I would like to restate something that has been said by many other people in so many words: some of the biggest “science” people were also deeply “faithful” ones, too); some people need it as a crutch to get them through the day and feel as though there’s “a reason” for all of the sh*tstorms they face; still others may just want to come up with some sort of answer or reason for things (good and bad alike) and decide something metaphysical is what will get the job done for them; etc., there are myriad other reasons, I’m sure. So “having faith” may be “necessary” for one person (of faith) watching the show in an entirely *different* way than another. From the ending, I personally learned nothing *new*, but previous feelings, notions, moralities, etc., were reaffirmed for me. That is enough for “The End” to make me feel good and thus have it be satisfying- it’s like how conservatives listen to/watch Fox News and liberals lean more toward MSNBC, for it’s about having your preconceived notions bolstered by hearing them as legitimate and sound, or at least seeing them presented as “right” by “authority.” If Bill-O or Olbermann (take your pick) says what I believe, then gosh darnit, I *must* be right, right? No, _Lost_ may indeed be understood as a work of fiction, but sometimes fiction and art serve as a means of positive reinforcement for personal ideals when viewed from the audience’s perspective.

    Which leads me to you, Carlos. Why exactly is “a work of art less legitimate” when it’s “promoting” “an unfalsifiable hypothesis”? If it’s *art*, what does it matter? Why would a picture of Christ ascending or the original Buddha reaching Nirvana be less legitimate than a painting of a fossil or the evolution of a species (man, dog, bird, whatever)? If something that can’t be proven is automatically less legitimate as a form of art than something that can, a *lot* of art is illegitimate, or at least less.

    And what about art that doesn’t necessarily even promote a hypothesis at all? What if it’s just a painting of a flower and the only agenda or hypothesis being promoted is beauty? Can beauty be proven OR disproven?


  26. Jason #

    “but the lack of evidence *disproving* the existence of life beyond the atoms and molecules is enough for me to have faith that particular existence occurs.”

    Come on. This is a huge fallacy.

    There are an infinite number of things that you can’t disprove. There’s no evidence disproving the existence of dragons, but you don’t believe in those.


  27. Gab #

    @Jason: “There are an infinite number of things you can’t disprove. There’s no evidence disproving the existence of dragons, but you don’t believe in those.”

    This is true, but again, faith is a deeply personal thing. The lack of evidence isn’t the *only* reason, but having a measure of spiritual/metaphysical/whatever faith while still acknowledging and having faith in the legitimacy of science doesn’t make me or anybody else a clinically crazy person. It’s when I start thinking I’m hearing voices telling me to drown my babies or let that spiritual/etcc. belief get in the *way* of the science that there is a problem.

    I’d only agree anything I have expressed is “fallacious” if we’re going by the definition that it’s “logically unsound,” and only because there is no scientific forming its basis- and I’m still giving that up with a grain of salt, since I’d prefer, in this context, for it to be “scientifically.” But having genuine faith, and especially when not forced upon others as “right” (and that’s not what I’m trying to do at all) is not “deceptive” or “misleading,” both of which have malicious undertones; and it’s not “disappointing” or “delusive,” at least to *me,* and since it’s my personal faith in question, I’d say it’s more important I’m the one not disappointed than anybody else, INCLUDING any beings I may or may not believe exist.

    But have you *seen* _How to Train Your Dragon_ yet? C’mon, who wouldn’t want one of those guys to cuddle with?


  28. Gab #

    *no scientific evidence


  29. mlawski OTI Staff #

    @Gab: Oh, certainly you can have religious faith and also believe in science. I hope it didn’t come across that I thought these things were mutually-exclusive.

    I also have no problem with art that talks about religious or spiritual themes, as long as those themes speak to the way real people live. My main problem with the Lost finale (which I did mostly enjoy, by the way) is that it seemed to float off into a happy fantasy-land that has little to do with the way real people live (again, because, in real life, actions have real consequences; not everyone gets a happy ending just cuz; and “letting go” of your psychological hangups by itself doesn’t necessarily solve your problems). And, as I said above, I still think this theme of letting go somewhat contradicts the “live together, die alone” theme, which I thought was a far more worthwhile and realistic moral.

    I apologize for the rather snarky tone of the above article. I probably should have taken another day to soften it instead of hastily pushing it to publication.


  30. Jason #

    Yeah, I definitely wouldn’t say science and faith are mutually exclusive, because they definitely aren’t.

    I see what you are saying mlawski, but I think you have to consider that there were consequences to actions. They came very close to a very bad ending for everyone. If Smokey succeeded, who knows how bad it truly could have been?

    I don’t think “letting go” necessarily solved their problems, but it allowed them to “move on”. Whatever you want to believe moving on means, that’s up to you.


  31. Gab #

    @Mlawski: Oh, I definitely agree that a faith promoting a philosophy allowing a person to do whatever they want in life because “it doesn’t matter” is dangerous, but I suppose I still am having trouble interpreting the end of “The End” that way, myself. My feeling is that their lives and actions *did* matter, for if you take the two realms of existence as two different ones, Sayid (for example), never really felt all that good about himself in the real world- or at least didn’t get the chance to (you know, what with esploding and all). Another example of it mattering *there* is Ben: he suffered a lot of consequences, including losing Alex. And then there’s the connection to that next realm or whatever one wished to call it. It *did* matter that Sayid went to the Island in the real world, if only because he found companions (not just Shannon, either, but all the rest) to move on with and genuinely care about. Had he not genuinely cared, he would have ended up (cue dramatic music) somewhere else (dun dun DUUUUN) and with other people (or so we can assume)- so it mattered because it took him further. Same with Ben: he paid a lot in the real world, and eventually repented, setting himself up for the next world. Now, he’s unique in that he chose not to go further, but he at least had that choice, something he seemed to have earned.

    I realize that probably makes hardly any sense, so I can try again if you need me to.


  32. Marmaduke #

    mlawski you put into words every problem I had with the last fifteen minutes of the finale. Especially their handling of locke and michael. Michael didn’t have to be in the church but like ben, he should have been in that universe. I truly did enjoy the episode, mostly for the gushy adorable reunions. I’m a sucker for those. But I felt that the conclusion was just too rushed and, like you said, really didn’t correspond with the series as a whole. While it gave me the happy ending of everyone getting back together, it was delivered in the worst way: they all died. so there.

    So because they all loved each other, when they died they reconnected in their own form of puragtory? In the lost world does this happen to everyone that dies or just the losties? Because I have a feeling that those who lost their parents might also want them back the way Jack got his dad or, you know, Juliet’s sister. She was pretty important in her life. Or did I miss any reference towards her? Did this supernatural world have anything at all to do with Jacob and MIB and the island or were those two seperate incidents? I think my main issue was that the show up until that point had been pretty ballsy. Apart from the main three, you knew anyone or anything was game and it just really kept me on the edge of my seat.

    But the simplest way I can put the ending is that it was just…really corny. For a show full of so many complexities, the “love brought us back together” bit was just illogical. At what other point in the series did love overpower adversity? Or is faith demonstrated in that it was only once they were all dead that love could truly thrive? I feel like the writer’s took us for granted because they gave us a happy ending and assumed it would be enough. Which, truth be told, it was for most people it seems. But I think they got too comfortable with the hugging and making out montages to realize that when you look at the whole story, it’s ends on a very dark note that just didn’t resonate with me. Just because purgatory wasn’t the explanation for lost’s real world doesn’t make it any less of a cop out for the alternate world. They came up with such interesting ideas and explanations for so many things on the island. I just wish they could have done the same with the sideways universe.

    And I’m still not understanding the faith thing. I was never expecting a scientific explanation for all of it. Come on, there’s a four-toed giant foot involved. The ending could have been as mystical as it wanted to be as long as it made sense. It could have involved Jacob at the church saying he’d called them all together to apologize for screwing up their lives and had repaid them in magical alternate universe wish-fulfillment. Ok don’t take that seriously, well too seriously. But that would have been a tad more entertaining. At best, a vague ending open to many interpretations would have sufficed.

    @Babacamanchild I will say yours is the best explanation for what happened so maybe I can’t come to terms with it because I wish they’d picked a better metaphor because meeting up in limbo is lame. But that’s just my personal emotional-driven response.

    Also, I would really have appreciated a dramatic montage involving Hurley and Charlie because apart from Sawyer and Jack’s will-they-won’t-they saga, theirs was the best bromance.


  33. Mathieu #

    I did not know, Deads could give birth between life and death. And people who now understand they are dead and ready to go to the light could enjoy the newborn-but-actually-dead baby.


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