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Thoughts from the life of a big nerd

A Few Reasons Why I Loved the LOST Finale (and you should too)

The series finale of LOST has sparked more divisive internet and watercooler debate than any nerd topic since nerds were arguing about some other meaningless minutia hours before Sunday’s final episode.  As a long-time fan of the show, I need to clear the air and get my feelings out there since I am apparently in the minority.  I already inadvertently started a facebook comment war so why not full on blog about my thoughts.

Do not read this if you haven’t watched the finale yet!

First, if you think that what happened in the finale means that all of the characters died in the plain crash and have been dead for the whole series, please stop reading this right now, go back and watch the episode again, and actually listen during Jack’s conversation with his father at the end.  Christian Shephard speaks one crucial line that tells you that everything that happened on the island was real.  He says, “some died before you, and some long after you.”  If they had all died in the plane crash this could not be true.  The only part of the show that was a “purgatory” of sorts was the sideways universe from this season.

Now, into the meat of why I loved the finale.  I personally feel that the episode tied up all of the most important loose ends for our main characters.  First, the remaining castaways (Lapidus, Sawyer, Miles, Richard, Claire, Kate) safely escaped the island.  We know this because Jack sees the plane flying overhead as he is dying.  This is a goal the crash survivors have been working toward since the very first episode of the series. Jack has a poetic end to his character arc and Hurley and Ben take over as the new Jacob and Richard, respectively.  Plus, Desmond will be able to return to his family.  All of these are satisfying and appropriate ends for these characters.  It’s not important what happens next to the survivors on the Ajira plane because that would not add anything to the story told in the show.

Next, the mythological answers about the island that we needed to understand the main story were sufficiently addressed.  This is where most people will probably disagree with me.  I think, however, that we knew enough about the island, the Dharma Initiative, the spiritual mystery of the island, and any other hare-brained theory before the final episode even began.  Also, fans found questions in things that were never even important.  Sure, there are some things that I would like to know more about, but not having an answer to those things in no way ruined the show forever.  In fact, I’m glad that I still have something to think about.  It shows that the writers are intelligent and that they respect our intelligence.  I don’t want answers spoon-fed to me, whether it’s LOST or any other show.  Think about Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, for example.  Did you really feel better about yourself and the saga when you learned that the mysterious Force was merely a bunch of microscopic life-forms called midi-chlorians?  Probably not.  So why hold LOST to a standard that you don’t hold with other things?

Many people are arguing that the ending of the show made everything previous completely meaningless.  I have the hardest time swallowing this argument because it requires you to say that all of the events that happened in the course of 5 seasons had no bearing on how the main characters changed and grew.  Sure, there was a lot of mythology in these seasons that was engaging and intriguing on its own, but the characters’ interaction with that mythology is what made it meaningful.  Locke’s turbulent relationship with the hatch revealed his struggle between faith and cynicism, which ultimately ended in his attempt to hang himself because of his perceived failure.  Jack’s relationship with the other survivors and with the events on the island changed him from a man of science to a man of faith.  So ultimately, I don’t understand how someone can say that all of these character-defining moments, however mysterious and unexplained, become somehow meaningless when the end result shows characters who are changed and defined by their experiences and relationships on the island.

Finally, I like that the LOST finale, as with the series as a whole, mirrored reality in many ways.  There is no human being who has answers to every unexplainable event that happens in life, and many times we are left discussing and honing our thoughts and opinions about important questions for our entire lives.  LOST recognized this fact and didn’t try to give us an ending that wraps everything up in a neat little box for our neat little lives.  Wouldn’t that have felt more fake than the ending we got?  I am glad that the LOST producers and writers addressed unanswerable questions about faith, science, spirituality, death, and the supernatural and then didn’t totally answer them because we can’t answer those questions on our own.

I’ve heard more than a few people say that the finale was emotionally satisfying, but intellectually unsatisfying.  As you can probably tell by now I only half agree with this statement.  If you expected more answers than we had already gotten this season in the finale than go right ahead and be disappointed because that’s never what the show was about, and I think that you may have missed the point (or maybe I missed the point and we’re all just suckers who wasted away 15-23 hours each year for the past 6 years).

With that, feel free to defriend me on facebook, defame my name to your friends, call me unspeakable names, or just argue with me like the nerds we all are.  I welcome the onslaught.

May 25, 2010 Posted by | TV shows | 1 Comment