Monday, May 24, 2010

"We thought that we had the answers, it was the questions we had wrong."

(song: '11 O’Clock Tick Tock')

Well, last night’s LOST finale was enough to bring me back from my accidental blog hiatus! That show-ender will stay with me for quite a long time.

Going into the finale, we fans kind of already knew that all the questions we had weren’t going to be answered. We’d started paring down our lists, selecting the ‘major’ questions. We had to know: What was the island? What was the light? Who was good? Who was evil? What was the ultimate meaning of it all?? Why were the connections so important?

And then . . . the last 15 minutes.
I watched as Jack, the last to have his island memories return to him via a sideways-universe realization catalyzed by a connection to the people he loved, realized where he was and why . . . and walked to join the others in the church, while his island-self laid down in the same bamboo forest we saw him lying in during the opening moments of the series, and died.

At the time, I thought, ‘It’s got to be reincarnation! They keep coming back as themselves, always trying to right their wrongs!’ I remembered MIB telling Jacob, “They come. Fight. They destroy. They corrupt. It always ends the same.” I now thought, the ‘they’ MIB was talking about wasn’t ‘general humanity,’ but specifically, these Losties. THEY keep coming back!Island Jack was lying in the bamboo, while Sideways-Jack was sitting in a church, wearing a suit just as he was in the first episode of the series. I thought I was going to see Island-Jack’s eyes close, then moments later, re-open as the camera pulled away, revealing the opening moments of the series, including Vincent running past.

I waited.
But that didn’t happen.

For a few minutes, I felt deflated. This can’t be the way it all ends! What about the answers?? Who was good? Evil? What about the connections???

Later that night as I couldn’t sleep and my mind was racing, it started to wash over me. We’ve been asking the wrong questions. Focusing on the wrong points. We’d loved learning about the characters, but as the storyline became more complex, we became immersed in the questions, waiting for answers, forgetting about . . . the people. We’d lost sight of something. We’d lost sight.

The themes of the series started to swirl in my mind like pinpricks of electricity, unraveling the brilliance of what the creators and writers had done. They’d distracted us. They turned everything sideways. They made us realize that the answers didn’t matter . . . the lessons did.

Whatever happened, happened.
The island was real. Everything we saw, happened.Whatever mysteries of the island remain under lock and key aren’t what affected their lives the most. Christian’s words to Jack were the spotlight toward refocus, a brilliant unfolding of ‘the end.’

“Everything that’s ever happened to you is real.”
They were meant to live that part of their lives on the island. To seek change. To face their demons. To sacrifice, fear, suffer. To find redemption. To come together. To overcome.
And at some point in their lives . . . to die.

Christian told Jack, “Everyone dies sometime, kiddo. Some of them before you, some long after you.”
Jack may not have been the last to die . . . but he was the last to remember.
As I wondered why, I was reminded of Jack’s struggle . . . his constant need to fix things. People. Change situations. To influence and direct. Control.
His grip was still too tight.

Rose was the first to remember.
In the first few moments of the sideways-universe, we saw the plane shake and the uneasy passengers swallowing their fears. It was initially unsettling that this time around, it wasn’t Jack trying to comfort Rose, it was Rose talking to a nervous Jack. When the turbulence settled and Jack was still gripping his arm rest, Rose told him, “It’s ok . . . you can let go.”
He wasn’t ready.

Many thought the sideways-universe was what their lives would’ve been if the crash hadn’t happened, even perhaps that the two timelines were occurring at the same time. But we knew that couldn’t be right when they started remembering their island lives. “Time is irrelevant, it’s not linear.” Our focus had been wrong.

Jack asked his father, “Why are they all here, now?”
Christian replied, “There is no ‘now,’ here.”
Jack: “Where are we, dad?”
Christian: “This is a place you all made together, so you could find one another.”The sideways-universe was a ‘timeless’ holding area for them all, a place where they would all go individually until they were there collectively, and had all remembered. A place to reunite, to move forward together.

Jacob had told them they were chosen because they were flawed and because they were alone . . . they were available. But with that came a downside . . . the short-sightedness of living for themselves. Their time on the island taught them the perils of the kind of life that answers to no one . . . even in Season 1, they began to understand this idea when hopes of rescue dimmed and Jack gave an important speech that included a line that became another of the show’s themes . . . “But if we can’t live together . . . we’re gonna die alone.”
The connections. They mattered.

Christian continued, “The most important part of your life, you spent with these people. That’s why all of you are here. Nobody does it alone, Jack. You needed all of them . . and they needed you.”

When MIB told Jacob, “It always ends the same,” Jacob replied, “It only ends once. Anything that happens before that . . . it’s just progress.”
I thought about the recurring ‘opening eye’ moment that would often open a new episode, each character beginning that road to their personal awakening. The island moved each of them toward their personal road of redemption, which mattered for their lives. That road left many questions unanswered, but the finale taught me that it truly was ‘vision over visibility’ all along.

Reflecting on those closing moments, specifically for Jack, I thought of lyrics from ‘Moment of Surrender:’ “I've been in every black hole, at the altar of the dark star, my body's now a begging bowl that's begging to get back, begging to get back to my heart, to the rhythm of my soul, to the rhythm of my unconsciousness, to the rhythm that yearns, to be released from control.”
Jack hadn’t been ready. Now, he was.

When Christian told Jack that he and the others had needed each other, Jack asked, “For what?” Christian answered, “To remember. And to let go.”

For me, the full beauty of those moments was only revealed upon my second viewing of the ending. I had no idea I would have a stronger reaction to it when viewing it a second time, but it felt like a gut punch. Watching again, without needing the answers - - it's like watching for the first time all over again.
I need to add 'tissues' to my shopping list, now.

Thank you, LOST . . . for six years of thinking, wondering, and theorizing . . . for excellent conversations with friends and interesting reads from intelligent strangers who shared their thoughts online. For smart, engaging entertainment that kept its tradition even as it ended, where we will think, wonder, and theorize some more. Thank you for beauty and grace, tears and trials, comfort and closure. Thank you for helping me remember that sometimes, the answers aren't what you need.

Nothing will ever beat you. Nothing will ever come close.