As the last season of Lost lands on DVD, a one-sided rant from a devotee left all at sea
Inevitably, symbolically, and hopelessly, this article will contain many question marks. But, come on, The End? Really? Previously on Lost I was a happy camper, awaiting the great pay-off. And so I watched, as with much huff and puff the Island was saved. Some got off, some stayed, Jack died. And it turned out that the off-Island bit was neither an alternative timeline nor a flash-forward, but purgatory! Thats the joke, see they said the Island wasnt purgatory, but that doesnt mean the off-Island bit cant be! All of which has nothing to do with the basic premise of the show (i.e. explaining the Island) and cheats you cant lie to the viewer. If we see LA (or Hawaii pretending to be LA), we accept it as LA. How are we to know it was limbo? But none of that really bothers me. What gets my polar bear is the simple fact that after hanging in with Matthew Fox and co. right until the end, Im none the wiser...
Off they all went, clinking champers, to the big light of ambiguity, and Im left pondering too many things: essential trinkets of Island life that I might have missed and could help me be less of a bore about this. Is that magic white light the catch-all, deus ex machina gumbo to resolve everything from Walts powers and Kate seeing a horse to the healing powers, the time travel, or the childbirth issue (just a hangover from Jacobs real mother getting clubbed to death by his questions-within-questions Island other-mother, Allison Janney?)?
And thinking like this only gets me started. Did they ever explain how the numbers got put onto the Hatch? Did they ever resolve the Mr. Eko brothers plane-from-Nigeria issue? What about the mysterious cabin? The rocking chair? The infection? The mad Russian guy who kept not dying? And who built the damn statue with four toes the same guys who built that big chamber at the heart of the Island with its rather literal cork? Same guys who put the (why is it) frozen wheel in place? What about Juliet? She was just nice?
Its like a disease. The more I ponder, the less I know: if the evil red light was under the cork, where was the white light coming from (was it in the water one sip of a gammy stream and youre immortal?)? Is the white light the finger of God, or an electromagnetic surge (the Man Of Science solution)? Why was Hurley the ideal choice to be Island-keeper? The place had freaked him out for six series and there were no fried chicken joints. Oh, for it all to have been in his head. Or an alien invasion. Or an ancient civilisation that developed the first known edition of Mouse Trap. It goes on... Did Jugheads explosion do nothing apart from kill lovely, sweet, cuddly Juliet; destroy the Swan (thus meaning the Hatch could never have existed); and transport them from the 70s to present day? Faraday, Faraday, where are you? Oh, youre in purgatory a funny sort of place for a physicist to end up. And who kept up the miraculous peanut-butter-laden Dharma drops on schedule?
Wise men and women have preached that it is the journey that counts, not the destination. I say bugger off, smart alecs. I want to know who was shooting at Sawyer in the canoe; why the (why was it) frozen wheel took people to Tunisia; and whether there were just the Others or other Others.
Sane people, easy people, shiny happy people tell me I should just content myself that togetherness is all that matters, and those touched by the Island will get to go to Heaven or the Planet Theta or the kingdom of disappointing post-Lost careers. Or at least those who signed on Eko, we loved you, Eko why did you leave? And another thing was it just me, or wasnt the love of Sayids life Nadia, his childhood Iraqi sweetheart who he tortured, and not Shannon? And did it cost extra to give Maggie Grace a line?
Im sure Lost apologists out there can muddle together a formula to make sense of my meanderings, that Jacob made Hurley buy the comic that showed the polar bear to Walt and blah blah blah Sorry, Damon and Carlton (and Jack and J. J.), you took the soft option peace and goodwill, and no tricky stuff. There must be 20 survivors unaccounted for that stewardess from Cold Feet, for starters, and the two kids no-one gave a monkeys about.
And yet, for the characters I knew by name and felt by heart (Jack! Kate! Sawyer! Hurley! Frogurt!), it was a final season, and final episode, filled with lovely moments, those grace notes that defined the series. The terrific joke about the vending machine having to be switched off and on to work. The sweet reunions. And Jack finally being, well, Jack, with his beautiful demise back amongst the bamboo where he started alongside the constant of all constants Vincent. Dont get me wrong, it has emotional kick. There are fans who swear by its perfection. Its up for Emmys. American television history. But Im stuck in a metaphorical hatch, pressing the damn buttons...
If you ask me, and no-one actually has, the problem came way back, somewhere between seasons three and four. Too many good characters were killed off after we had invested so much in them Charlie was too important to die; Locke had to be Locke at the end, not an incarnation of evil as smoke cloud (clicking in a suspiciously mechanical fashion). Above all, they should never have left the Island. In that way the fundamental through-line would have stayed intact could Jack get the survivors of 815 home, and in so doing get the girl? With Charlie, Sun, Jin and Sayid alive and Claire back in charge of her hair... It might have been more predictable, but so much more satisfying.
If you havent seen it, theres a magnificent US college-made video that rollercoasters through all the unanswered questions (www.collegehumor.com/video:1936291), in its own way making light of the endless pondering. Perhaps the way the internet bought into the puzzle contributed to its downfall: the quest for answers became ravenous, with erudite Lost-loons triangulating the numbers to locate the Island, collating Sawyers reading list, or pontificating over Enlightenment philosophers Hume and Locke (by the end, Locke is a bit of a Kant). It was just too complicated to find its way out of the woods. Even J. J. Abrams, the series elusive godfather, admitted the ending didnt exactly stick to his original Lost bible, but he fully endorsed it. I dont.
I mean, where was Aaron? Did that bird really say Hurley? And what is the significance of the image of the sunken Island at the beginning of Season 6? Are we to assume millennia later it finally popped its cork and sank?
Does this mean all of Lost counts for nothing? Its another question I cant answer. The first two seasons remain mystery-making at its best, exemplary stuff. Even through the rest of the long adventure, the levels of drama, humour, characterisation and delicious befuddlement remained at a premium level. Lets be clear: only something this good could hurt this much. But hurt it does, and the feeling is one of abandonment. In fact, I feel lost. My spinning top spins on.