“And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.”
— Paul McCartney
Just like that (well, maybe not quite so fast, given the extra time padded into the finale), the Lost journey is over. Far greater minds than mine will one day (including today, no doubt) provide a greater insight into the meaning behind it all, but for me, for now, I want to offer a few thoughts as I continue to process the finale, appropriately titled “The End.”
I’ll go ahead and get this out of the way up front: I loved it. It ended with an emotional resonance that far exceeded any possible scenarios I had played out in my head. It not only brought closure to the island chapter of these characters’ lives, but it provided a nice look ahead to the peace that awaits beyond the bounds of this world.
The episode made it explicitly clear the island was not purgatory for the Oceanic 815 passengers, nor was it part of a fantasy. No, what happened, happened. For these characters, their actions on the island (and in flashbacks prior to crashing and flashforwards after leaving) had consequences, both real and, ultimately, spiritual. These people we’ve grown to care about over the past six seasons were flawed (deeply in some cases), yet each found themselves with chances at redemption.
Some (Jack, Sawyer, Kate, Hurley) were successful, while another (John Locke) had it within his grasp but ended a bit short. Of course, none of them would have made it back to the island to find that final redemption had it not been for Locke, so even he found it in the end, despite being dead and therefore unwilling to recognize it.
The more intriguing closure, though, came in the conclusion to the “Sideways World” that had the characters crossing each others’ paths in a world in which the island never interfered with their lives. I’ve already heard many people complaining over the show abandoning its alternate reality for one steeped in spirituality, but I found it to be brilliant.
Person by person, each had a flashback into their island selves, causing them to be flooded with the memories from that life. Once that happened, they came to terms with their fates in this world, which proved to be an afterlife. After becoming enlightened, they were able to let go of the pain that held them back, thus allowing them to gather together before moving on together into another, higher, place.
Most interestingly, take another look at the pre-enlightenment lives they’d created for themselves. Sayid, a man who struggled with his own identity as he wanted to believe he was essentially “good” but feared his past had doomed his soul, continued viewing himself as beyond redemption. As Hurley, who had already been enlightened, told him, a person does not have to be who others say he or she is. For Sayid, this meant embracing the goodness within, which led to him breaking up a fight and then being reunited with Shannon, the woman he fell in love with on the island.
John Locke, even in the afterlife, continued to view himself as a victim, leaving himself in a wheelchair, paralyzed from the waist down, as a penance for the accident that all but killed his father. John refused to accept that anyone could love him, which is understandable given the life he lived both on the island and, for a short time, off before being murdered. In the Island World, John died for his faith, and it wasn’t until Jack accepted the mantle of the island’s guardian (aka, the New Jacob) the he realized and admitted that John had been right about almost everything regarding the island. Jack wished he could tell John that, to tell him he’d been right all along.
He didn’t have the chance, though, because John Locke was dead.
So, Jack did something even better – he fixed Locke. John took the figurative steps to leave his wheelchair by telling Jack he was ready to be free, and Jack helped guide him along the way by performing the surgery, thus allowing Locke to take those literal steps at the church.
In doing so, Jack helped further free himself, eventually aided by Kate (his love) and his dad (his biggest influence, both positive and negative). At the end, as the Lost crew (minus a few exceptions which we’ll get to in a bit) celebrated their full enlightenment, they all, collectively and individually, found the peace they’d always longed for before, during and after their time on the island.
And why did they do it together? Because the bonds they had made on the island allowed them to change their lives. Using the two earlier examples, Sayid and John both realized the impact they’d had on their island cohorts, allowing them to accept the love being offered and the love they each had to give in return.
A few other thoughts:
• I’ve seen people asking why certain characters, particularly Michael and Walt, were not in the church at the end. For Michael, this season previously addressed that his spirit remained in limbo on the island, making him part of the mysterious whispers that crop up from time to time. As for Walt, nothing was explicitly said, but my interpretation for him and others like Farraday and Charlotte, is one of two possibilities: a) they have not yet come to peace with themselves and are therefore not enlightened and able to let go in the afterlife; or b) they were never intended to be part of the afterlife the castaways built for themselves upon their death. The idea of the church was not to include everyone who had ever been on the island, but instead was meant to reflect those who had important interpersonal connections with the islanders.
• Another common question is: “Penny and Juliet didn’t die on the plane crash. Why were they in the church?” As Christian Shepard explained to his son Jack, the people didn’t die in the crash, nor did they all die on the island. Some did, while others died at other locations at other times. The church had no “when,” he said, which means that some of the people in there could have died in 2004, some in 2007, some in 2045.
• I think Ben opted not to join the group in the church for two reasons. First, he still didn’t feel like he was fully a part of that group, particularly since he was responsible for more than few of the characters’ deaths. However, some, like Locke, expressly forgave Ben, which helped him deal with his new lot in (after)life. The second reason, and the one I think carries the most weight, is that Ben wanted more time to spend with Alex, serving her as a father figure. For a man who was often deprived of any love and loyalty, he no doubt wanted to embrace that feeling as much as possible before moving on in the afterlife.
• Three moments of enlightenment floored me emotionally: Charlie and Claire, Sawyer and Juliet and Locke and, well, I guess his own body. The finale boasted some amazing action sequences, primarily Jack and Locke’s fight on the cliff in the storm, but the emotional heft of those spiritual reunions were the show’s high points.
Lost provided a more-than-satisfying conclusion for the lives of these characters. After everything they’ve been through, it felt amazing to see them happy as everything drew to a close. Forget “live together, die alone.” In the end (and in “The End”), it was live together, die together.
It was a beautiful reflection on spirituality, redemption, hope and love. It was pretty much perfect.