Coyote Mercury

words, birds and whatever else by James Brush

LOST – Reflections on “The End”

Seeing Jack dying alone in the jungle in the same spot where he awakened in the pilot was heartbreaking, but in one of the best moments I’ve ever seen on TV or in movies, out of the thicket comes Vincent (does Man have any better friend than Dog?) to lie down near him so Jack wouldn’t die alone. I couldn’t help but think of the Lost writers’ love for anagrams and remember that the mirror spelling of dog is God. The man of science found faith. Or perhaps, faith found him.

I was wrong in the details of my predictions for the end of Lost. I’m glad to be wrong. I was too cynical. I was right that the LAX/flash-sideways reality was an illusion to be transcended, but it played out better than I thought. It wasn’t the real world; rather, it was a mirror world beyond time and space in which characters could meet up, let go and move on. A little bit Limbo, a little bit Purgatory, a little bit death/rebirth/transcendence cycle.

That’s the genius of Lost and what makes it so different from most of what I see on TV: it is open to interpretation. Lost wrestles with the mysteries of life and in the end, does not explain those mysteries. We are left to work those out for ourselves so it is quite fitting that Lost ended in a sort of Universalist church.

I’m reminded of a metaphor for Universalism I read in A Chosen Faith by John Buehrens and Forrest Church that describes a “Cathedral of the World” in which people in a church gather around stained glass windows. There are windows for every religion and windows for those who subscribe to none.  People gather around these windows in an effort to make sense of the mysteries, to find the light of truth. Depending on the window, different truths are revealed, but it is still the same light shining in through all those diverse windows.

Lost‘s mirror reality is a purgatory where characters can seek final redemption, it is a cycle of death and rebirth where characters can attain enlightenment, it is beyond space and time, it is where we go when we die, it is an illusion and when we see the truth, we are free. It is Hindu and Buddhist and Christian and Jewish and Gnostic and Humanist and Muslim and Universal.

It is a world of illusion. A savior comes and reveals the illusion for what it is. Freedom from this illusion, from cycles of death and rebirth, comes when eyes open. In that mirror world, Desmond is (sort of) a Gnostic Christ who shows the way to the light and salvation. He is a Buddha, smiling that odd smile ever since he learned the truth, who will show others the way to Nirvana by helping them let go.

The mirror world is always happening. “There is no Now, here.”  It lies beyond time and space and even though all the characters in the mirror world are dead, they died at different times. Kate and Sawyer after a normal life in the real world. Hurley and Ben after, perhaps, thousands of years. Jack, Charlie, Sayid, Boone and the rest during their time on the island.

They come together. They let go. They are free.

Some will stay behind, lingering in the mirror world. Ben Linus sits outside the church. It is not his time to enter. Perhaps, he must finish cleansing his soul in the sideways Purgatory—a word that doesn’t exactly match what we’ve seen—but I prefer to see him as a bodhisattva, the Buddha who knows the way to Nirvana, but chooses not to enter so that he can show others the way. I suspect he will lead Rousseau, Alex, Dogen, Tom, his father and all of his people to that church one day.

Some characters weren’t there, but they’ll find their way to other churches or meeting places when their time comes, when they’re ready to let go.

I imagine the Ajira plane landing and somehow Kate, Sawyer, Miles, Richard, Frank and Claire will live out ordinary lives. I suspect Hurley and Ben will run the island in gentler manner, one worthy of Rose, Bernard and Vincent. I should have seen Hurley as the future protector considering all the Star Wars references he’s been throwing around the past 2 seasons. As I suspected, the island requires balance between forces, and Hurley was the one to do that, though from a different direction than Anakin Skywalker. I suspect even that Hurley and Ben will come and go from time to time and the island will be a good—possibly even fun—place. Good because of the real sacrifices made throughout the show, but ultimately because of Jack’s self-sacrifice, though I can’t help but wonder if Jack too will live on for a time as a benevolent smoke monster since he appeared exactly where the man in black appeared after he fell into the light cave.

I like that all of this is left open, and having the show end in that church, where many go to know the unknowable, is a perfect ending for a show that created so many questions, many of which are unanswerable. I love that Lost, left so much unanswered, so much unsaid, allowing each of us to gather at one or another of those stained glass windows or perhaps to just sit back and wonder at the beauty of the light shining in through all of them.

At the heart of the matter, though, is finding others to love and share this time, this light, with. Those who complete us. And in the end, after much thinking about (and reading of) all the books that have been on this show, I keep coming back to Of Mice and Men, first referenced in season 3 and again in season 6. Specifically, this:

George’s voice became deeper. He repeated his words rhythmically as though he had said them many times before. “Guys like us, that work on ranches, are the loneliest guys in the world. They got no family. They don’t belong no place.”

[…]

Lennie was delighted. “That’s is—that’s it. Now tell how it is with us.”

George went on. “With us it ain’t like that. We got a future. We got somebody to talk to that gives a damn about us. We don’t have to sit in no bar room blowin’ in our jack jus’ because we got no place else to go. If them other guys gets in jail, they can rot for all anybody gives a damn. But not us.”

Lennie broke in. “But not us! An’ why? Because … because I got you to look after me, and you got me to look after you, and that’s why.

More than anything, Lost reminds us that we need each other. That we can “live together or die alone,” but that if we live for others, recognize that light that shines in all of us, perhaps we never really die alone just as Jack didn’t die alone.

That’s just my interpretation, though. We all gather at different windows, don’t we?

10 Comments

  1. Beautiful essay. Thanks.

  2. This is an excellent post and a nice blog. Makes me wish I would’ve found it before the show went off.

  3. Thank you, both for reading. It was (I hate the past tense there) a great show.

  4. That was a fabulous essay. I really enjoyed reading your thoughts.

  5. I appreciate your thorough treatment of the finale. Hard to believe it’s over. I’m trying hard not to get stuck on the questions that they didn’t answer and appreciate the whole thing for its overall greatness. I was not disappointed with the ending, though. One of my favorite things leading up to the finale was when the characters would “remember” the island time, and then be so joyously happy about that remembering, and realizing that it was time for them to meet their friends – that it was their time to leave, to let go. I still wonder, though, what role Eleanor Hawking played, seeming to be in both worlds… perhaps she was a spirit guide all along, much like Christian Shepard. That last scene, with Vincent laying down with Jack, broke my heart with sweetness. And I think you’re right about the idea of Hurley and Ben making the island a better place, one worthy of Rose and Bernard and Vincent. Ben must have been so happy, to be a true number 2 to Hurley as opposed to the role he filled under Jacob. Overall, LOST was a great story of human nature, of how great we can be, of how bad we can be, how our feelings and emotions can be manipulated to make us do things we might not otherwise do, and how we are all seeking redemption and love, looking for ways to fix the things that are broken about us. I will really miss it.

    • I’ll miss it too. The more it cools in my mind, the more I appreciate the decision not to answer everything. I like that ambiguity about it, though I do wonder about Mrs. Hawking…

  6. I really enjoyed reading your finale recap; you put into words what I was thinking at the end better than I could have done. As for Eloise Hawking…I know that every interpretation I’ve read so far has argued that Jack, Kate, Claire, Hurley, Sawyer, etc. created that mirror world by their collective unconscious desire for it…but I couldn’t move past Eloise Hawking’s role in the storyline, which honestly seemed very important since she even seemed to be steering Desmond towards his destiny like some kind of time cop and she helped Ben, Jack, etc. return to the island by utilizing The Dharma Initiative’s Light House Station and pendulum…wasn’t that all in the hopes of setting things right, which viewers believed would be Oceanic 815 landing safely, which it did…only in the mirror world…which leads me to believe that jughead needed to be detonated to create that mirror world…Eloise knew it and helped Jack, etc. because she wanted to create a place where she could have more time with Daniel…that’s why she didn’t want Desmond to “awaken” Faraday at the concert, which was her main concern. I know some will disagree with me, but my theory helps to give reason for the whole jughead storyline and Eloise’s supposed important involvement in the plot…it also, again, as the show always did, adds some science to the religious focus of the final season.

  7. Absolutely beautiful interpretation of Lost. I will never “get over” that show. Absolutely loved it and all of the characters.

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