Monday, May 24, 2010

in which I return, and LOST departs

(NB: I haven't yet read Maggie's post about LOST -- or anybody else's on the entire Internet, for that matter. I am trying to let my thoughts settle in before they are colored by anyone else's influence. So if this is totally repetitive: I apologize; it was not my intent.)

I have some thoughts about LOST.

First, on an emotional level, dear GOD what a gut-punch last night's finale was. I was a weepy mess for easily the whole last half. Intellectually I realize that showing each character, or couple, have a moment of joyous revelation was some serious string-pulling by the writers, but on an emotional level I Just. Didn't. Care. The moment when Sun and Jin remember everything they've been through and weep with happiness over having found their way back to each other? Priceless. And for all my hating on Charlie back in the day, his look when he saw Claire in the audience at the concert just stopped me dead. Bless that little hobbit's heart. But the moment that got me most of all? When Sawyer and Juliet literally blew out the lights when they touched. I mean, holy cats. "I got you, baby." Tears everywhere.

I was also immensely satisfied to see Kate actually choose a dude. I will confess to being a little surprised that it was Jack (not least because it might have been nice to see her get shot down by a still-grieving Sawyer one more time), but I appreciate that we got a little resolution to the love triangle at the end. Also, when Kate shot Smokey on the cliff when Jack couldn't follow through, I loved that for once Kate had some agency above and beyond waffling over boys or running away from situations she couldn't control.

But possibly my favorite thing about the finale was the sense that redemption is within the reach of anyone who wants it, as long as you're willing to acknowledge your flaws and work on being a better person. Each one of these people was massively imperfect, and yet all of them (with the exception of Ben, which is a whole 'nother story) managed to find redemption in the end. For some it took death directly at the Island's hands (Shannon, Boone); for others it took sacrifice to save others' lives (Sayid, Jack); but for everyone on the Island -- or at least everyone in the final scene -- the salvation they found was reached not through faith in any one particular god or religion. It was, for lack of a better term, belief in the Church of Being a Better Person. "Christian Shepherd" and the walking-into-the-light mythology notwithstanding, I found real resonance in the suggestion that all these people, some of whom had done extravagantly terrible things, managed to salvage themselves not by buying into a pre-arranged religion but by realizing within themselves both that they could be better and that they ought to, for their own sakes and for the people closest to them.

So I will buy that the last message of LOST is to believe in your own innate worth and ability to be a little better tomorrow than you were today. As a send-off for these characters, Lindelof & Cuse did them right; as Christian pointed out to Jack in that pivotal scene before he enters the sanctuary, the people he knew on the Island were his most important, most formative connections. That the way each of them had to "remember" was by re-making those connections speaks volumes not only about those characters' importance to each other, but also to a larger point the show seems to have been making all along: No one lives in a vacuum. Even on the very paradigm of a deserted island, the relationships you build with the people around you have the power to make you a better person, to save you.

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