It's Not The Destination That Matters, It's the Journey: The Finale of Lost

After six years, Lost has finally come to an end. What started out as a surprising beginning, ABC's surprise hit was a show that defied tradition, genre and storytelling to create what is possibly one of the better television shows to have ever been released. After a hundred and twenty one episodes, the show has long remained a favorite, even when it was having its off moments, because of the detailed storytelling, characters and references within the show. Lost is a novel, simply put, and no singular part really takes away from that as a whole. Because of this, the lackluster finale that finished off the show really doesn't ruin anything for me.

Since the beginning of the show, when Jack awakens in a field, it's been fairly clear that there's quite a bit more to this show than most others out there. The large ensemble cast, the strange events and discoveries and obscure references to mythology, literature, religion and free thought have grown significantly over the drama's run on television. One moment stood out for me in the first season, when John Locke, teaches Walt how to play backgammon, holding up a white and a black stone.

This has long been a cornerstone of the show, opposites, balance, good vs. evil and chaos vs. order, and it has been embodied in a number of different elements throughout the show, in the personalities of the characters, the actions that they take, and the events that have occurred on the island. Within this larger theme and storyline, the survivors of Oceanic 815 wage their own stories and struggles, which in turn fits into the story of the island, and all that it embodies. Lost is a very literary show, one that is both intelligent and well structured, only hampered in its execution.

The finale, The End, was underwhelming at best. There was no great reveal that helped to tie up storylines, and nothing that fundamentally changed the characters beyond what had happened in the show already. Essentially, the last two hours was the combined momentum from the show coming to a halt. While this was to be expected, it did so in a lackluster and uninspiring way. Throughout the show, a conflict has arisen between Jack Shepherd and John Locke, who respectively represented empirical science over emotional religion (or something similar), with an eye towards logic over chaos and presumably, good over evil. There has been some absolutely terrific storytelling, and a very cool reversal of roles between the two characters over the course of the season. While an ultimate conflict was building over the entire show, the end, with a quick fight, and with Locke being shot in the back by Kate Austen, there was little significance or even forward movement for any of the characters.

Furthermore, a big answer for one of the more pertinent questions regarding the nature of the island was discovered much earlier on, when Jacob explained that the island was essentially a cork, holding back a great evil, and his job, as a gatekeeper, helped keep the world in balance. Indeed, the visual symbolism between he and his brother is marked by the clothing that they wear, and the personalities that they have, which mirrors what Jack and Locke exhibit. In a very cool way, the characters fill roles that are much larger than themselves, fitting into fates that are beyond their control, and with plenty of literary significance to have continued discussion over for years to come.

What the finale did do was put a couple of the show’s elements at odds with one another. On one hand, it becomes clear that the story is somewhat preordained, that everybody will end up where they end up because of an afterlife or fate, or some invisible hand, while on the other hand, the show is one that is largely driven by the actions that the characters take throughout the show, which allows for one side to be disappointed – which may very well be the point – when fate wins out, or the characters beat their fates. Lost does bounce between the two, but ultimately comes down on the side of fate, which is more disappointing, because ultimately, the characters, while they might have improved themselves, they ultimately don’t affect any change on the world that makes their struggles worthwhile.

However, it is the character’s journeys that make the show worthwhile, and in the end, it’s not the end that matters, but the way in which they got there. Every character present in the show has changed somewhat – they arrived at the island broken people, and ultimately, the island healed them, allowed them to find closure, all the while providing them, and the viewer with a series of complicated, interesting stories that range from alternative history, philosophy, science fiction and quite a lot more. Lost has been quite a ride from beginning to end, and the lackluster finale to the show serves as more of an epilogue, rather than anything that is directly related to the story, and is something that provides a bit of an ambiguous, thought provoking ending, which is probably the best thing the show could have hoped for in the first place.