May 24, 2010

[Almost] Totally Lost...and Loving It

Perhaps the best bit of dialog in last night's finale of Lost:

"Who died?" Kate asks.

"A man named Christian Shephard."

Kate laughs. "Christian Shephard? Seriously?"


Until that moment, I'd never realized the meaning behind the name of Dr. Jack Shepherd's father, but in the context of the moment, with Kate seeing the coffin and Desmond acting all beatifically, it hit me like a ton of bricks. I get it...Jack's dad has been there all along, in a religious, metaphorical sense, to shepherd his son - Christ-like himself at the end of his Hero's Journey - out of life as we know it.

But even as I write that, I'm still in a state of wonderment and awe about the two-and-one-half hours of television that held me spellbound after I got home from work around ten last night. Generally when I work both Saturday and Sunday nights, I sleep in on Monday mornings, but this morning, even though I stayed up until two or so to watch Jimmy Kimmel Live after watching the finale, I woke up early, and immediately my mind went back to Lost. It's too early to say for certain, but it feels as though my reaction to this finale is going to be as strong as it was to watching Brokeback Mountain, which is to say...profound and long-lived.

I believe this to be the case even though I'm not quite sure what the hell happened last night. And after this morning watching the two-hour pre-finale show, I'm even more confused. Questions I haven't had in years resurfaced, like why did Desmond give himself a shot every day when he woke up in the hatch? And, after having been introduced more intimately to Jacob this season: If Desmond's not pressing the button caused the electromagnetic field to surge wildly and brought the plane down, was he unknowingly re-enacting a script written by Jacob to bring the Oceanic Six to the island?

More than anything, now that I think about it, it seems that the major events on Lost have both a real and a mythological explanation. Which expands the religious component exponentially, particularly if you've ever seen The Naked Archaeologist, in which Simcha Jacobovici often attempts to provide scientific explanations for biblical events. When I view Lost through that lens, it makes more and more sense.

I'm far less interested in explanations for some of the things that seem to bother others, like how the Egyptian statue of Taweret came to be on the island. Ever since Ben turned the donkey wheel, the island disappeared, and he landed in Tunisia, the answer was obvious: At some point in time the island was located off the Mediterranean coast of Africa. This year we learned it also popped up somewhere in the Roman Empire and between the Canary Islands and the U.S.

Answers to the island's mysteries have always been less important to me than the mystery of its characters, and both take a back seat, frankly, to what I believe was the show's biggest draw: its moral ambiguity, the dark and light, and the oh-so thorough investigation of unintended consequences. That said, this season's Sideways world is the mystery that continues to confound me, even after last night (because of timeline issues). Especially after last night. Even after I:

  • Watch the online-only JKL Q&A did after his TV special
  • Read Doc Jensen's wrap-up column sometime later today and his subsequent columns throughout the week
  • As well as ten or twenty other online articles
  • And also re-visit the pre-show, finale, and JKL, all of which I plan to watch again this week...and possibly again once more before erasing it from TiVo and retaining just certain memories in my mind

I'm sure many questions will remain unanswerable for me. And that's alright.

It's not that I'm such a Lost fangirl that I think the show's producers could do no wrong. Two weeks ago, for example, Jacob was revealed as a whiny mama's boy. And last night I found some of those Sideways "ah-ha!" moments a little too sappy, including those moments in the church at the very end, even as I lay crying in my bed. But during season one of Lost, I decided to sit back, enjoy the ride, and let the show's creators take me where they wanted to go. I have none of the animosity exhibited by many fans after the Across the Sea episode, just as I wasn't at all upset that David Chase chose to end The Sopranos as he did. It's interesting because I'm a professional critic and certainly don't have that attitude toward the books I review for Publishers Weekly, but it's how I approached Lost - likely because watching television is a more passive experience than reading a book - and I'm glad I did. Because now that the show has faded to black, I am sad that it's over, but glad for its many powerful memories, and indeed, for its many mysteries, answered or not.


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