Monday, May 24, 2010

Thoughts on "The End"

**Spoiler Alert**
(if you have not yet seen the finale of Lost, stop reading right now)

The blogosphere is alive this morning with thoughts on the Lost finale.* I have some thoughts too. In fact, I think I likely cleared out an entire Lost party with my complaints last night. From reading around the net today, most of my complaints are already out there, and when I voiced many of them, others who are more expert at the show pointed out how there were some answers.

For instance, that near-final shot, where the dog, who has been missing for years, comes in and lays down next to Jack? Okay, I get that it creates visual closure with a scene at the very beginning of the entire series (as a friend of mine pointed out)...but at the point where we're already dealing with the slow-motion death of a major character, the swelling just felt so over-the-top and manipulative that I lost any ability to empathize with what was happening to the characters. The only thing that could have been more heavy handed would have been to show a crying child in slow motion. However, others are talking about that at length.

Most of my objections are like that--explained away, but still disappointing.

However, in the end, here is the objection that stays with me the longest: in a show that has been so self-consciously about gathering disparate people together despite their past, their religion, etc., the show ended with a visual that can only be interpreted as Christian. Some will say "no, they created the place for themselves" others will point out "in the end, it's about letting go of attachments"...these things affirm Buddhist or other views. However, all the characters gathered in a church? In the end, opening the door to that church out into a bright white light? I'm sorry, guys; though there may be other ways to interpret that, the knee-jerk interpretation of that image is deeply Christian. And I'm betting 3/4 of the viewing population would agree; if you asked them, they would say "Jack and the rest got into Heaven." All well and good if you happen to be from a religion that affirms that afterlife orientational paradigm. But what about others?

From the second the show ended, I've been screaming that the re-gathering should have been in a terminal. I mean, I get that the last thing Jack had to do before he could let go was give his father a funeral. However, they had to know that the second they involve a church, there's no way back from that interpretation scheme. If your final concept, though, is that they need to gather before moving on, and your underlying metaphor has always been flight, then why not a terminal? It makes visual sense and, more importantly to me, it allows people other than Christians to get some closure from the show into which they've invested just as much time and love.

In the end, that's what left me the most cold. I would have forgiven the stone cork thing (that basically turned the island into a mystic toilet), I could have forgiven the idea of a plane taking off on a runway that short at such a low speed, and I might have even been able to forgive the INCREDIBLY heavy handed visuals near the end...but making the ending so filled with Christian visual metaphors that a viewer has to work hard to come up with a different interpretation? I'm not sure I can bridge that. Especially when someone like me, who doesn't make a living as a television writer, could come up with an alternative that I believe works much better.

More than anything else, that demonstrates the power of an ending, because I was perfectly happy with the first hour and a half or so. Only time is going to tell whether or not I remain a fan of the show knowing the whole tapestry. However, for right now? I'm left feeling pretty unhappy with that as an ending.

*= I guess, after all, I have become the kind of person who uses that term *sigh*

1 comment:

Devon said...

I would have cleared that party with you. I went to bed still processing and the more I've thought about it, the more pissed off I get. I had an incredibly long mutual rant with Oren about this and we both, essentially, said what you've iterated here. I mean, come on, Christian Shepherd? How more heavy-handed can you get?

I think I would have preferred the entire island to sink into the ocean than what I was left with and I refuse to believe this is where they were headed all along.

And to those who would say, "it's just a TV show. It's about entertainment," I would say that as a series, LOST very much refused to be "just entertainment" both in its filmic and its plot perspectives. So, I'm left dumbfounded at why the "lowest common denominator approach" now?

Ultimately, I sum up my concerns like this:

Don't we have enough white, heteronormative, Christian texts? And because LOST had been such a great resistance to that to just cave to what was "easy" really feels like a slap in the face to its fans, well to some of us.