Tuesday, May 25, 2010
Let me begin by saying the only television shows I have ever watched in their entirety are Freaks and Geeks and The Wire, and now LOST. I like T.V., but I am also very aware of the dangers it presents (time wasting, brain rotting, Fox News, weight gain, etc.), so I don't have cable and only watch television shows on the internet or on DVD. I try to limit the amount of television I watch so that I can avoid the previously listed dangers, but also so that I never feel like a slave to a show. My free time is really important to me and I don't want the way I spend my free time dictated by the T.V. Guide. Then LOST happened and all my high-minded personal philosophies went out the window. I was hooked on LOST from the beginning, like crack, or cake, or late night trips to the CVS (I really love going to CVS, a lot.)
Oh LOST, you were so intriguing and mysterious in your infancy. In the early days LOST was a perfect mix of science and mysticism with really interesting characters that you cared about. There was a potentially science (?) based cult/subculture (The Dharma Initiative), characters named after philosphers (Hume, Locke, Rousseau), polar bears, a smoke monster and flashbacks! The flashbacks to the characters lives pre-crash were always super interesting making this viewer get really invested in what was to become of these castaways.
Granted, it got really weird into the later seasons. Time travel, dead people coming back to life, shifting allegiances that made no sense, the island disappearing! I, much like other folks, got the sense that the writers did not have a grand mythology that they had planned out and would conclude in a way that--for the viewers would be revelatory, but instead they were making it all up as they went along. Many people quit watching for just this reason, but not me---oh no, this sucker was (as I mentioned earlier) hooked, and I was not ready to quit--I had not yet hit my bottom. If I had known what the LOST finale had in store for me I think I would have been able to quit LOST cold turkey. Cold turkey people.
When I was in the 4th grade I read all of the books in C.S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia series and when I got about halfway through the series I had a sneaking suspicion that the stories were allegorical but I wasn't certain. At this moment you may be thinking "It was so obvious that those books were about God and C.S. Lewis was a theologian, duh." Well, 4th grade me did not know about Mr. Lewis and his other writings and their theological significance. Anyway---when I finished those books and had a very in depth conversation about their deeper meaning with my 4th grade teacher, Mr. Olmstead, my suspicions were confirmed and I felt tricked and manipulated. The conclusion of LOST makes me feel the exact same way!
(Spoiler alert--if you have not seen the final episode of LOST and you still want to be suprised stop reading now)
They are all dead. Dead, dead, dead. The final scene takes place in a church with all of the Oceanic "survivors" we came to know over the course of the series reunited and hugging and smiling and blah blah blah. Jack is the last to arrive, as it was hardest for him to "let go". This whole "letting go" theme was very prevalent in the episode's lead up to this final scene. The room which Jack uses to enter the church is decorated with stained glass and objects that are meant to represent the symbology of many of the world's religions which I found to be such a pandering move on the writers' part. I know that there are a lot of viewers and pop culture journalists that really liked this ending, but this viewer had hoped for more. I don't think that the writers were purposefully trying to put forth a religious agenda, but while I was watching it unfold---it felt that way for a moment, and I was thrust back to 4th grade and the indignation I felt at being tricked by Mr. Lewis and realizing that Aslan was not just a talking lion, but a representation of Christ. I hope that the writers just got in over their heads and maybe got lazy or maybe they could not in good conscious assign a scientific explanation to polar bears in the tropics and smoke monsters. Regardless, tying the conclusion to the afterlife with some nods to religion just feels cheap and easy to me.
In conclusion I will contradict my post title and say- thanks LOST for the good stuff and for helping me hit bottom.