It only ends once..

Anything that happens before that is just progress.

MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD! CONSIDER YOURSELF WARNED.

I’ve been dreading writing this blog entry all season, but I knew inevitably the day would come when LOST would be over and I’d be left trying to put my thoughts into some sort of coherent writeup. No matter how they chose to end it, there was going to be questions – there was going to be ambiguity. If you thought otherwise, then you must not have been paying attention.
I guess the question now is whether you’re okay with that or not. I am. Would I have liked to have a few more things cleared up? Absolutely. But I didn’t stick around for 6 years to find out who “Adam and Eve” were (Jacob’s mom and brother) or where the Statue of Taweret came from, I stuck around because I fell in love with the characters and I wanted to see their stories unfold.. and Damon and Carlton (the executive producers) delivered on that.
I’d been watching multiple interviews in the weeks leading up to the finale and one of the many interesting things Damon and Carlton said is that they’ve always found that it’s most effective to turn in a “what” into a “who” (i.e. What’s in the hatch? Desmond.), because the one thing we can all relate to is the characters. They found that when they moved away from the characters and focused more on the mythology, they lost the fans because the relationships are the heart of the show. I think the perfect proof of that is the fact that everyone I watched the finale with wasn’t sure exactly happened at the end, but they were moved by it.  And, while we may have been confused initially, none of us were disappointed.

So, what did happened? My initial thought and the prevalent thought for most viewers, is that what we’ve watched for the past 6 years, on and off the island, really did happen. The side flashes were a form of purgatory created by either the combination of all who were there, or by Jack himself.  Either way, the side flashes provided our friends with the opportunity for redemption, and provided us as viewers the satisfaction of seeing the characters reunited and live (uhh.. sort of) happily ever after. By now, we’ve learned that our Losties needed each other to be redeemed and complete.. so much so that their spirits waited an indefinite amount of time for Jack to have his epiphany (or whatever you want to call it) so they could all move on together. Of course, this is just how I interpreted the ending and there is much more to it, which is where things get hairy.

I’ve tried writing this a dozen different ways, but the easiest format seems to be a Q&A. So, here are the most popular looming debates and how I see them:
Q1: So does this mean that out Losties have been dead all along?

  • Not at all. I think this theory is way off and I don’t even know where people are getting it, honestly. Christian clearly tells Jack that everything that happened was real. Really, if you look back and pay attention, Damon and Carlton have implied through multiple characters that everything happening on the island really happened. There is no doubt in my mind that what we saw happened – only the flash sideways were in the imagination or in the spiritual realm of our characters.

Q2: Did the Ajira plane crash?

  • It’s not likely. In the last shot, Jack sees the Ajira plane fly away and he smiles. This seals Jack as the hero and completes his cycle as a character. He saved the island (and in affect, the world) and he saved his friends. That was his goal and he accomplished it.

Q4: Well then, what was the shot of the plane wreckage at the end all about?

  • Jacob and MIB already spelt this out for us. The cycle of good vs. evil and free will played out through people crashing on the island in one way or another, has happened over and over again. It’s my theory that the wreckage we saw was the beginning of the next cycle. Jacob said, “It only ends once. Anything that happens before that is just progress.” The entire story we were just told wasn’t the end.. it was progress. With Smokey gone, I’d say our heroes made a lot of headway.
    EDIT: ABC released a statement that they added the footage at the end against the producer’s will because they thought cutting to the local news after seeing Jack’s eye close would be too jarring. Way to go ABC execs. Do you have any idea how much confusion you caused?

Q5: So, if the plane didn’t crash, why were most the people on the plane waiting around in purgatory?

  • Well, why was Aaron waiting around in purgatory? After all, he’s just a baby and he didn’t die that we know of. The truth is we have no idea how long these people have been wandering around in this purgatory place. The only indication we were given is that “some went before and some went after” Jack. How long after is unclear. Since Hurley was there and he had become the next Jacob, if the rules still apply, this could’ve been thousands of years after Jack’s death.

Q5: So why were some people at the church and others weren’t?

  • This is by far the most complicated, confusing question Damon and Carlton left us with. Inside the church we find most of our original Losties (Jack, Kate, Locke, Sawyer, Sayid, Jin and Sun, Charlie, Claire and Aaron, Boone and Shannon, Rose and Bernard and Hurley.. and Christian Shepherd – I can’t believe I never caught his name!) along with a few other key players (Juilet, Desmond and Penny). So why were so many of the originals there, but not Walt and Michael? And if we’re going to include key players, where were people like Richard and Miles?
    I have 2 theories about that: 1.) Christian told Jack that he did the most important thing in his life with these people, indicating that they were all connected in a very special way. I don’t think Walt and Michael ever really made that connection. Michael turned on the group and Walt was on the island for such a short amount of time that he probably accomplished more off the island than he did on it. My thought is that Michael and Walt have either already moved on, or they are still waiting for something to happen before they can move on.. Either way, Jack didn’t need them there in order for him to let go. This theory would apply to others like Miles, Daniel, Frank, etc. Or, perhaps some never even entered any form of purgatory. Take Richard, for instance, I feel like he had served his time. When he finally died, he met up with is wife and moved on. 2.) Redemption is necessary to move on. This may be why Ben wasn’t ready. He said that he still had some loose ends to tie up and let’s face it, even though we saw Ben on the path to redemption, he screwed A LOT of people over. This theory may also apply to people like Michael.
    Really, this question could be answered with any number of reasons but it has us talking, so kudos to you, writers. This debate is part of what made the episode so great.
    EDIT: It was brought to my attention that Michael told Hurley that he was damned to the island, which would explain his absence from the church. Duh. Just another case of me over thinking the plot when the answer is right in front of me.

Q6: But what about all the unanswered questions? Who was making the Dharma food drops? What was the deal with the hieroglyphics? And so on and so forth..

  • Does it really matter? Sure, it’s be nice to know but it’s not necessary to know. In real life there, are a lot of things that I’d like to have answers for, but I don’t. Like Jacob/MIB’s mom said, the answers to your questions would only lead to more questions. Damon and Carlton summed it up like this, “What started the universe?” “The big bang.” “What came before the big bang?” “Bigger bang?” We’ll never have all the answers and I’m fine with that.
    To those of you who would argue that we are still missing pretty vital information, like why were there rules between Widmore and Ben or why does Eloise Hawkins seem to know what’s going on within all the time frames, I say – good question. I’m wondering the same thing myself. Unlike other people out there though, I feel like the writers do know the reasons for those things, but didn’t have time to cover them. The good news is that I’ve heard that there will be a 20 minute feature on the DVD with Damon and Carlton clearing up some of the mysteries we’ve been curious about, so there’s that to look forward to.
    When it comes down to it, the writers promised to close the character arcs in a satisfying way and I think they did a brilliant job doing so.

Other notables:

  • I love the way they handled Jack’s character! There were so many psychological elements to cover while still having to keep him in a position of respect and leadership to some degree while teaching him humility..  The writers has their hands full with Jack and I think they did a fantastic job! To me, he is one of the best written characters in television history.
  • On that subject, how about Ben? While I loved evil Ben, road to redemption Ben wasn’t so bad either. Michael Emerson did a fantastic job with this character. His reaction to Jack passing the torch to Hurley right in front of him was perfect and I was very happy to see that Ben finally got satisfaction by becoming Hurley’s #2. He spent his whole life pretending to be special and in the end, he was.
  • Like I said earlier, all the character arcs were fantastic. Every reunion was emotional. I was so glad to see Sawyer and Jack reconcile. I got a little lump in my throat watching Charlie realize who Claire was. It was nice to see Locke as Locke again – It reminded me that, at some point, I really liked this guy. It had been so long, I almost forgot. For once, I actually wasn’t hoping for Kate to die every time she came on screen. Oh! And we got to see Boone.. lovely, lovely Boone.
  • Speaking of Kate, I was about to feel really ripped off if she ended up killing Smokey. Thank goodness Jack got to kick him off that cliff! That said, I guess we finally figured out what Kate’s purpose on the island was since that is pretty much literally the only thing she was useful for in the past 6 seasons. (Yep, my Kate not-so-strong-hatred was short lived.) Side note: Anyone else notice that Flocke’s body was laying like Locke’s was when his dad pushed him out of the window? Nice easter egg.
  • I thought Hurley was a strange choice for the next Jacob/Jack until I thought about it further. The island Jack left Hurley in charge of wasn’t the island that we’ve known. The main force of evil was eliminated, so who better to keep the island a place filled with good things, then Hurley? The dude loved everyone.
  • My problems with The End:
    They did a good job of creating an “Oh no! Ben is going to die trapped under a tree!” feeling only to suddenly show him walking around uninjured a few scenes later with no explanation. Something tells me that his escape scene was cut to save time (apparently for more commercials), which is unfortunate. That could’ve been a powerful moment. It was nice to see everyone working to help him out, though. It played well showing that the Losties had come to trust him despite all the times he deceived them.
    As much as I loved seeing Frank alive and well, he was almost too well. I mean, that guy got blown up in a sub and had been floating around in the ocean for a couple days with no food or water, yet he seemed pretty energetic when they rescued him.
    Umm.. so how did Jack get out of the waterfall? Did I miss something? Usually I would write it off as one of those magical island mysteries, but if he could withstand that electromagnetic force, then why was Desmond a big deal? And how’d he climb out? I guess I can live without the answers to that, but it was so illogical that it was distracting and came off  as a simple plot device just so they could end with Jack’s eye closing.. which was genius.
    EDIT: Yep, I’m kind of an idiot on this one. When MIB got thrown down the waterfall, we saw his body lying on the same rocks that we saw Jack on. Jack lived, MIB didn’t. It may have to do with the fact that MIB was knocked out and literally drowned but Jack didn’t. I really have no idea. Just a thought.
    P.S. Hey Damon and Carlton, why the heck did you lie about seeing Walt in the finale in the Time Talk interview? I was incredibly distracted looking for him at the end.

I know the finale was met with mixed reviews, but I hope that if you really loved the show, you got it. If you didn’t, read some articles, talk about it with your friends, really think about it for a little bit and maybe you’ll see that it was a poetic, beautiful and a fitting farewell to our friends.

Although it’s hard to say goodbye to a show I’ve invested so much time in, in a weird way, I feel privileged to have been “let in” on a story like this one. It’s not very often anymore that you hear stories about faith, trust and love. Coming from my religious standpoint, I understood exactly the message the writers were trying to convey and hopefully other people will see it too. We’re all flawed. We all have things that we regret, but we have the choice whether to do the right thing or not. It’s not an easy choice or an easy journey.. that’s why we need help along the way. The bottom line is that no matter what your history is, everyone can be forgiven.

Thank you, cast and crew, for 6 years of incredible television!

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6 thoughts on “It only ends once..

  1. fantastic writeup.. very well done.. especially liked what you had to say about Jack’s character arc.. the finale was so emotionally moving.. and i think you nailed the questions and answers..

    as far as your question about Jack getting out of the waterfall though: we saw him wake up on a rock just like MiB’s body came out on a rock after he went into the waterfall.. MiB was dead and in Smokey form, but Jack made it to the rock alive.. it almost seems like a flush system once that water starts cranking, like it spits things out and they land on (or float to?) those rocks.. and as far as why Desmond was special: when Desmond went in, the light was at full force and he had to pull the cork out.. remember how much resistance Desmond had getting to the middle where it was brightest? only Desmond could have withstood that.. when Jack put it back in, he did indeed get some of the light when it came back on, but he was probably flushed out before it got too insanely bright or powerful.. and Jack wanted to make sure that Desmond got out alive and considering how much the first act took out of him, he was worried Desmond couldn’t survive another go round..

    seriously though, great job on this.. i wish i had a thumbs up or fresh icon..

    1. Thanks, buddy! I’m glad you enjoyed it!
      And thanks for clearing up the whole “Jack survived the waterfall” thing. I watched the scene again and I think I was even more moved the second time since I wasn’t distracted by that.. and I didn’t have a million things going through my mind. 🙂

  2. Well put. I think the writers took a good look at what made the show so great, and realized that it was the characters and their relationships. Therefore that is what they focused on and I am grateful for that.

    The more I think about this finale, the more I like it. I love how Jack’s whole character has been centered around his need to fix things. And as it turns out, his destiny is to fix the island.

    I completely missed the plane wreckage in the credits. That doesn’t really fit in with my interpretation , which is bothersome…

      1. Well, the plane wreckage seemed to imply that they all died and the island wasn’t real, where-as I believed it was real. However, ABC just released a statement saying that the wreckage shots didn’t actually mean anything and the island was in fact real.

  3. Yeah, I just saw that ABC said that. If I were Damon and Carlton, I would’ve been ticked. That one image really threw off a bunch of fans. Grr. Network execs.

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