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Lost: A Show About Science or A Show About Faith? – Thoughts on the END of Lost’s Series Finale “The End”

Last night, I wrote a blog entry, in which I discussed some of the lighter aspects of Lost‘s generally feel-good Series Finale, “The End.”  In it, I, more or less, completely refrained from discussing the show’s controversial ending, and promised to tackle that issue exclusively in another post.  Well, I’M BAAACK . . .

One Man of Science.  One Man of Faith.  The Island wasn’t big enough for both of them . . .  or was it?

In the last season of Lost, there was much talk and broohaha about this image, and all the ideas it represents . . .

Light versus Dark.  Black versus White.  Good versus Evil.  Heaven versus Hell.  And while that dichotomy was certainly central to the battle between Jacob and the Man in Black . . .

 . . . our Losties, for the most part, resided somewhere in between.  Much like the rest of us non-television characters, their morality was covered in shades of grey.   For them (and for us), the REAL battle for control of Lost island was one that was a lot less clear cut, making it a lot less certain who we should root for.  And, ultimately,  it was this battle, that took center stage during the final half of the Season finale. (After they, you know, got rid of that pesky Black Smoke thing  . . .)

Jack v. Locke – The Man of Science versus The Man of Faith

Although Lost undoubtedly featured many characters and their respective stories of redemption, at its core were the journeys of two men.  When we first meet Jack Shepard, he is the quintessential Man of Science.  He’s a surgeon, and about as left-brained as a person can get.  There is not a creative or artistic bone in this man’s body.  So, understandably, when it comes to matters of faith or destiny, he’s a complete Doubting Thomas.  For him, if an explanation doesn’t appear in a medical reference book, it just plain doesn’t exist.

John Locke, on the other hand, is a fly-by-the-seat-of-his-pants, Man of Faith, guy.  He’s Mister “Nobody tells me what I can and can’t do.”  A guy who sees absolutely nothing wrong with signing up for a “walkabout,” despite being completely incapable of “walking about.”  Upon crashing on the island, he suddenly regains use of his legs, and, thereafter, becomes convinced that the Island is his Destiny.  He is absolutely certain that some higher power has brought him to the Island; and that he is, therefore, meant to remain and do great things there . . .

For the first Four Seasons of Lost, pretty much up until Locke’s “death,” we watched these two men battle it out with one another, arguing for the righteousness of their respective ideologies.  Neither man would budge an inch with respect to his position.  However, upon REAL Locke’s death, at the end of Season 4, things change for Jack Shepard.  During the last two seasons of the show,  Jack slowly evolved from a Man of Science into a Man of Faith. 

First, after escaping the Island as part of the Oceanic Six, he returns to it, believing he is meant to rescue the others who remained thereon.  In Season 6, when the Losties are once again ready to escape the island, this time on a boat, Jack jumps ship, convinced that the island “isn’t done with [him] yet.  Then, in the penultimate episode of the show, Jack LITERALLY drinks Jacob’s Kool Aid, and agrees to remain on the island, throwing away his promising surgical career in order to “protect” what, for all intents and purposes, was a Giant Lightbulb . . .

Scientific Answers versus Mystical Answers  – The SHOW About Science versus The SHOW About Faith

When it really came down to it, I think Lost‘s journey as a show, was similar to Jack’s journey, as a character.  Lost started out as a Show About Science (Science Fiction, perhaps, but, science, nonetheless).  In the show’s early seasons, many of the Island’s mysteries were explained through quasi-scientific means.  Flight 815 was initially thought to have been brought down, as a result of the Island’s unique electromagnetic properties, which were inherent to the Island’s location, but were also exacerbated by a Hydrogen Bomb buried beneath its surface . . .  These electromagnetic qualities also allowed the Island itself, and its inhabitants, to move freely through the time/space barrier and . . .  basically . . . time travel.

Those all important numbers, which Hurley chose in order to win the lottery, and which Desmond was forced to repeatedly punch into a computer screen to prevent the Island’s destruction . . .

Were part of the Valenzetti Equation, derived by members of the Dharma Initiative, to determine the exact point in time at which all human life would cease to exist.  The Dharma initiative itself was, more or less, a scientific research group, which took advanage of the island’s unique electromagnetic properties in order to experiment with various facets of human life, from a woman’s ability to give birth . . .

 . . . to psychology, subliminal messaging, and mind control . . .

Then, Season 6 came around, and like Jack Shepard, Lost had to go and get all “Faith-y” on us.  Island mysteries, like “why the plane crashed,” which had once been explained by science, were now explained as being part of the “Master Plan,” in a battle between the God-like Jacob . . .

 . . . and the Devil-like Man in Black . . .

 . . . for control of the Island, and, by extension, the souls of its inhabitants . . .

Supernatural, and biblical-type reasoning was now used to explain Island mysteries such as why MIB couldn’t escape the Island, why Richard Alpert wouldn’t age . . .

 . . . why Jacob and MIB couldn’t kill one another, how Locke became Flocke . . .

 . . . and who Adam and Eve were . . .

The Last Ten Minutes of the Finale Episode of Lost – Flash Sideways of Science (Time Travel) versus Flash Sideways of Faith (Purgatory)

So, I guess, it shouldn’t really have surprised me (but it DID!), that the final Lost mystery, the reason behind the Flash Sideways, ended up being a faith-based reason (preparation for the afterlife / purgatory) . . .

 . . . as opposed to a science-based reason (an alternate universe created as a result of Juliet’s detonation of the hydrogen bomb at the end of Season 5).

And, I have to say, that the fact that this promo picture, released just before Season 6 began, didn’t give the religious implications of the finale away to me, makes me more than a bit mad at myself . . .

I guess, when it really comes down to it, how you felt about Lost’s final moments (MULTITUDE of unanswered questions notwithstanding), really comes down to which side of the Man of Science / Man of Faith debate YOU fall under.  Me, personally?  I’m a bit more of a “science” girl.  So, I was a little disappointed that the Flash Sideways World did not, in fact, end up being the hydrogen bomb-created alternate universe I had initially envisioned. 

Plus, Flash Sideways World just seemed so PERFECT!   And because I’d truly grown to love these characters, having spent six years with them, I really wanted this world to exist FOR THEM!  Because, without it . . .

Ji Yeon would REALLY be an orphan . . .

David Shepard would COMPLETELY cease to exist . . . Oh, and most of the Losties would already be DEAD!

 . . . including THIS GUY!

But, putting my personal feelings aside, the fact that the Flash Sideways World ended up being purgatory makes sense, BECAUSE everything was so perfect there.  In essence, Flash Sideways World gave our main Losties the oppportunity to redeem themselves from wrongs they felt they had committed during their actual lifetimes .  . .

Jack Shepard had a bad relationship with his father, who degraded his worth constantly, and always chose his work over him, so in Flash Sideways World Purgatory he was a supportive and understanding father to his son . . .

During his lifetime, Sawyer was a con artist, who shunned justice.  So, in purgatory, he was a detective, who fought hard to protect it.

Sorry! I know technically I should have found a “cop uniform” pic of Sawyer, but I just couldn’t help myself . . .

On the island, Kate unknowingly abandoned Claire, and ended up raising her child, Aaron.  But in Purgatory, she guides Claire through the birthing process, and allows her to raise her own baby . . . And, as for Claire, she gets to keep her kid, and not become a skanky haired wackadoo.  YAY!

In the real world, Sayid’s murderous lifestyle resulted in the death of the love of his life, Nadia.

In Purgatory, he lets his brother marry Nadia instead, and, in doing so, probably spares her life.

In the real world, Desmond loved Penny Widmore, but her father’s disapproval of him kept the two of them apart.  In Purgatory, Desmond works for Charles Widmore, and has gained his utmost trust and respect . . .

In Purgatory, Hurley isn’t a loveable loser who won the lottery and STILL can’t accomplish anything.  He’s a loveable WINNER, who get’s the girl and is rich enough to employ the ENTIRE CAST OF LOST!

Purgatory Ben is a kindly history teacher who saves Alex’s future, by sacrificing his own personal success to ensure her entrance into an Ivy League college, instead of . . . you know . . . GETTING HER KILLED!  And Purgatory Locke is a pretty nice guy too, and Ben’s BFF to boot!

And, as I mentioned before, Jin and Sun, actually get to raise their kid Purgatory World.  Plus, they successfully ditch Sun’s Asshat Dad.

Matthew Fox probably explained the whole “purgatory thing”  best, in his post-finale interview with Jimmy Kimmel, when he said something to the effect of: “There’s a school of thought that, after you die, you go to a sort of ‘waiting place’ in which you encounter everyone who was important in your life.  Once you have reunited with, and reconciled with, these people, you can truly accept your own mortality and . . . move on.”  (And you just KNOW Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse fed him those words, because Matthew Fox may be smart, but not THAT smart!)

I’ll have to admit that when Christian Shepard (and if THAT’S not a “Man of Faith” name, I don’t know what is) . . .

 . . . . appeared in that Non-Denominational (or, rather, ALL Denominational) Church / Temple, OUTSIDE of his own coffin, and replied to Jack’s question of “How did you get here?  Aren’t you dead?” with . . .

 “How did YOU get here?”  . . .

I screamed at the television . . .

“YOU PROMISED THEY WEREN’T DEAD THIS WHOLE TIME, J.J. ABRAMS!  YOU LIAR!  I JUST WASTED SIX YEARS OF MY LIFE FOR YOU!”

But then, when Christian explained that, “Everything that happened on the Island was real . . . Everyone dies eventually . . . Some of these people died before you, some long after you .  . .” I calmed down a bit . . .

And in the penultimate scene of the show, when Jack stumbles out from the cave, lays down on the ground next to doggie Vincent, watches his fellow Losties successfully escape the Island on a plane, and, subsequently, CLOSES his eyes in death, just as he had opened them so many times during the LIFE of the show, I thought to myself, “What an appropriate ending . . .”

But then they HAD to show me this . . .

While the producers didn’t go as far as I feared they would, by showing me a heap of dead bodies lying amongst the wreckage, they showed me enough to make me wonder if I was being f**ked with.  And I couldn’t help but be reminded of ANOTHER intriguing, but unnerving, Open-Ended Series Finale that left me with more questions than answers . . .

(Special thanks to njean666 for this fabulous clip)

They never make it easy for us, do they?

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Lost’s “The Package,” a.k.a “That Snoozy, Filler, Jin/Sun Episode” – Cliff Notes Version

 

Congratulations Yunjin Kim!  Not only did you, apparently, get hitched a couple of days ago, you also got this week’s entire episode of Lost to yourself (well .  . . HALF of the entire episode).  You are officially having the BEST WEEK EVER!  Yay you!

Back by popular demand (or, rather, back as a result of my own recapping laziness), below please find some of the questions that were answered during this installment of Lost.

1) This episode was called “The Package.”  That’s kind of a generic name for an episode, don’t you think?  I mean, last week’s episode title was in Latin.  And the week before, the episode was about HOT SAWYER.  So who even cared what the title was?  What WAS “The Package” supposed to be, anyway?

This . . . was the package . . .

I’m serious!  The package was a PERSON!  It was Desmond Hume!  What?  You thought I was making a joke, just so I could list “Shirtless Desmond” in my tags, and get more hits on my blog?  No way, Jose.  (Not that I WOULDN’T do that . . . I just didn’t do it this time.)

2) So, that guy Charles Widmore, that girl Zoey (who everyone says looks like Tina Fey) and the rest of the people who arrived at Hydra Island on the submarine, what is THEIR DEAL?  Why are they here?

If Charles Widmore was telling the truth when he spoke to Jin tonight (which I am not entirely convinced of yet), the crack team that I lovingly refer to as “Team Subbie” is here to prevent MIB / Smokey from leaving the island.  According to Widmore, if MIB gets free, Jin’s daughter, Ji Yeon (who Jin hasn’t yet had the chance to meet), Widmore’s daughter, Penelope, and Sun will somehow cease to exist.  If true, this would mean that, in terms of goals, Team Subbie is actually aligned with . . .

What the heck Desmond Hume has to do with all this, I still have no idea . . .

3) So, is Kate one of Jacob’s “candidates,” or isn’t she?  MIB certainly seems to think she’s important . . .

Kate used to be one of the candidates.  But, for some reason, is no longer on the list.  However, MIB needs Kate to help him get all of the CURRENT candidates off of the island.  According to MIB, this is necessary in order for HIM (or IT) to leave the island.  This idea sort of jives with what we learned in Ab Aeterno.  Jacob’s original purpose, and that of whichever candidate ultimately becomes his replacement, is to keep MIB, and his evil Smokey powers from leaving the island.  No Jacob, and no Jacob’s replacement = no more island prison for MIB.

4) What about Crazy Claire?  Was she ever on Jacob’s list?

NO!  (That was an easy one . . .)

5) One of the candidates on Jacob’s List is “Kwon.”  No one seems entirely sure whether that last name refers to Jin or Sun.  Seeing as this was a JIN AND SUN episode, did we get any closer to figuring this out?

You would think so, wouldn’t you?  Unfortunately, Lost writers are still sort of playing “hide the ball” on this one.  However, there were some hints given in the episode that would seem to suggest that JIN is the candidate. 

First, there was Widmore’s extreme interest in getting Jin to the Hydra.  Second, during this episode, the writers highlighted the fact that Sun’s maiden name was “Paik,” not “Kwon.”  (Note: In flash-sideways world, Sun and Jin are lovers, but not married.)  Third, Widmore’s cryptic comments about Sun “ceasing to exist” if MIB escapes the island; coupled with the flash-sideways images of Sun, shot and bleeding from the stomach, don’t bode particularly well for her . . .

But, then again, this is Lost, so all of this may end up meaning absolutely NOTHING!

6) Speaking of Lost stuff that initially SEEMS important to the overall mythology, but ends up meaning NOTHING, what was the deal with Room 23 — that place from back in Season 3, where Ben imprisoned Carl and forced him to watch that bizarre brain washy video?

Yeah, this was a bit of a cop out on Lost’s part, if you ask me.  The Room was mentioned during this episode, seemingly, only to be explained away in a few hastily written sentences.  Widmore inexplicably decided to keep Jin in Room 23, during this episode.  When the familiar video images pop on the screen, and majorly freak out our poor Korean gangster, Zoey explains that the “Dharma Initiative” used the Room to “experiment with subliminal messaging” . . . LAME!

7) In Sayid’s episode, Sundown, his flash-sideways world featured Jin bound and gagged in a restaurant freezer.  Was that explained tonight?

“Why is everybody always picking on ME?”

Good question, Jin.  And, yes, as it turns out, in flash-sideways world, Sergeant Keamy . . .

was hired by Sun’s daddy to kill Jin, for, literally, screwing, with the boss’s daughter.  Keamy never got a chance to do this, however, because RAMBO SAYID shot his ass before he got the chance . . .

I’m still not entirely sure, why all of this had to go down in a restaurant, though.  Seems kind of random, to me  .  . .  What exactly do you have against RESTAURANTS, Lost writers?  What did they ever do to you?

8 ) Remember that awesome patch-wearing dude Mikhail, who never EVER seemed to die, no matter what anybody did to him?  Why does he have to wear an eyepatch all the time?

OK . . . OK.  This was a bit of a stretch.  Of ALL the questions posed by the show Lost during the course of six seasons, I highly doubt that THIS was the one that was keeping you awake at night.  However, you have to admit, it was pretty cool of the Lost writers to pay homage to “Patchy” again, after all this time. 

This guy is AWESOME!

If you recall, in the original timeline, Mikhail was a hard core Other who just WOULDN’T die!  The dude was blown up, beaten up, shot and/or electrocuted, in every SINGLE episode in which he appeared, but he just kept coming back for more.  In flash-sideways world, Mikhail is a multi-lingual emissary of Keamy, and by extension, Sun’s father. 

Toward the end of the episode, Mikhail is shot dead by Jin, but also sustains an eye injury.   Mere coincidence?  Or, is there, perhaps, some real and lasting connection between the flash-sideways world inhabited by the Losties, and the original timeline?

Well, that’s all I got, folks.  Tune in next week, when we will hopefully be treated to much more Shirtless Desmond Hume and his super sexy Scottish brogue . . . oh, and maybe, get some more questions answered too.

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Benjamin Linus is My New TV Boyfriend! – A Recap of Lost’s “Mr. Linus”

Just look at that come hither stare . . .  Who knew history teachers could be so sexy?

WARNING: This recap might not be particularly snarky.  After all, I am in love (with Benjamin Linus!).  And one of the side effects of falling in love is a complete loss of one’s sense of humor . . .

Who would have thought that the most uplifting, feel-good, episode of the entire Lost series, thus far, would belong to a character that will undoubtedly go down in history as one of the best television villians of all time?  For all those women out there (myself included) who have always dreamed of roping in and taming a bad boy, this episode was the ultimate fantasy come true.  If Michael Emerson does not win an Emmy for his performance in “Mr. Linus,” the entire Academy of Television Arts and Sciences deserves to suffer the wrath of Smokey!

And when it comes to the Emmys, Smokey does NOT mess around!

But in order to truly understand the full extent of Benjamin Linus’s current redemption, both in flash-sideways world, and in real time, we should probably go back and revisit the single worst moment in the character’s entire life: the death of his adoptive daughter, Alex Rousseau.

At the time, Benjamin Linus and his band of Others were living at the island Barracks.  Things were going peachy for Ben, until his nemesis, Charles Widmore, sent over his head minion, Army Drill Sergeant from Hell, Martin Keamy, to ensure Ben’s surrender and departure from the island.  By way of collateral, Keamy kidnapped Ben’s adoptive teenage daughter Alex, and brought her to Ben’s house with a gun to her head.  Keamy told Ben to either surrender immediately or watch his daughter die.  Ben thought Keamy was bluffing, and stayed put.  He wasn’t.

A Principal Without Principles . . .

Back in flash-sideways world, Ben and his father left the island, presumably before all the sh*t hit the fan down there.  Now Ben is a reluctant European History teacher at a high school, desperately seeking more excitement from his humdrum life.  In his opening scene, Ben teaches his students about Napoleon’s exhile to Elba, an obvious metaphor for Ben’s own meteoric rise and fall as “The Chosen” One on Lost island.  

I love when Lost gets all “literary” on us.  You can bet that this episode’s shout out to the above-referenced book (apparently the castaways on-Island library offers both this tome and porn), will send hard core Losties racing to their nearest bookstores in search of clues . . .

“Elba was where Napoleon faced his greatest test.  Exhile wasn’t the worst of his fate.  It was the truly devastating loss of power.  Sure, they allowed him to keep the title of emperor.  But without his power, everything was meaningless.  He might as well have been dead,”  Dr. Linus tellingly, instructs.

Flash Sideways Ben’s only joy comes from being able to run the school’s History Club, and tutor its student members, especially Alex Rousseau (who, in this timeline, is a precocious teen with aspirations to attend Yale).  That is until the school principal cancels the club, citing “budget cuts.”  (Really?  How “expensive” is some lame club where all students do is get together and talk about history?)

When Ben vents his frustrations to his colleagues, former Flight 815er Doc Arzt and new “Substitute” John Locke, the latter suggests that Ben take on the principal position for himself.    The opportunity to do this arises, when Alex admits to Ben that she saw the Principal engaged in illicit activity with one of the school nurses.  With Doc Arzt’s help, Ben hacks into the Principal’s computer and finds e-mails implicating the Principal in the aforementioned naughty conduct. 

Ben confronts the Principal with aims to blackmail him and usurp his position.  However, the Principal warns Ben that, if he does this, the former will take revenge on Alex (just as Keamy did — on a significantly smaller scale, of course) by single-handedly ruining the young girl’s chances of attending the principal’s alma mater, Yale.  This time, Ben chooses Alex.  As a result, he doesn’t get to be principal . . . but at least he gets his History Club back?

And thus, our Flash-Sideways World Ben has redeemed himself.  Something Flash-Sideways Sayid was unable to do last week . . .

Ben and Team Jacob, BFF (Best Friends Forever For Now)

If last week’s Lost episode focused on Smokey and his dastardly team of crazies, this week’s episode spotlighted the above-referenced opposing team, led by Ilana, the Candidate Bodyguard.

“And Iiiiiiiiii, eeeee iiiii, will always love Jacccob!” 

(Yeah, I’m not really a fan of Ilana’s, so far.  The character is a bit like the above song, only one-note, and a highly annoying one at that.)

When Miles “I Communicate with Dead People” (or, in this case, Dead Ash) Straum conveniently leaks to Ilana that Ben killed her “father figure” Jacob, she gets a little pissed off at our boy.  So pissed off, in fact, that she chains his leg to a stake and forces him to dig his own grave.

Speaking of death wishes, Richard Alpert, he of the guy liner and the never-aging face . . .

finds himself exhausted, from a life of serving Jacob, and always looking so damn pretty day in and day out.  His solution, therefore,  is to off himself, a la Bill Murrary in Groundhog Day.

Yeah, it didn’t work for him either . . .

Apparently, one of the rules of Lost island, is that, if you are Jacob’s candidate, you can’t end your own life.  Someone else has to do it for you.  I guess this would explain why former candidate Michael Dawson couldn’t shoot himself in the episode “Meet Kevin Johnson” but was able to die later when the submarine he was on exploded. 

Richard Alpert must have watched “Meet Kevin Johnson,” because he commandeers Jack and Hurley to light his ass on fire with a stick of dynamite.  Hurley bails on the plan, but Jack stays and sets the dynamite aflame.  Jack tells Richard that both of them are meant to be on this island . . . alive.  Therefore, he is certain that the stick of dynamite will not explode.  He is right . . .

Meet Jack Shephard – Man of Science  Man of Faith

While Jack and Richard are busy NOT blowing themselves to smithereens, Smokey is visiting Ben, offering him a means to escape Ilana’s clutches and join the Darkside.

Smokey tries to entice Ben, by offering him the opportunity to govern the island once again.  After all, just like Napoleon, Island Ben has always been a man driven by power.  Ben takes Locke’s advice and makes a break for it.  But he soon finds himself at a standoff with a Ilana. 

Instead of shooting her, as old Ben would likely have done without so much of a thought, a tearful Ben explains to Ilana how his anger over sacrificing his daughter to serve Jacob and the island, ultimately, caused him to kill Jacob, an action he deeply regrets.

When Ilana asks Ben why he has chosen Team Smokey, Ben admits that Smokey is “the only one who will have him.” 

The line is one of the most endearing of the evening, as it paints Ben as an outsider – one who, deep down, just wants to have friends.   Ilana must have agreed with me, because, instead of simply letting Ben go, she replies, “I’ll have you.” 

(Don’t you be taking Ben from me, Ilana!  He’s MINE now!  All MINE!)

At the episode’s conclusion, Jack, Hurley, and Richard, reunite with Ilana, Sun, Lapidus, Miles, and, of course, Ben.   And thus, Team Jacob is born.

Team Jacob is definitely the underdog in this matchup.  After all, there are no supernatural powers in this group (not aging is cool and all, but it doesn’t really help you in a fight, unless your opponent is one of the Golden Girls . . )

Yet, my money is still on Team Jacob.  I think they will be the Cinderella story of the season.  How about you?

Oh, and I almost forgot, in the last few seconds of the episode, something EVIL made its way through the ocean toward the Losties . . .

No, not that.  It was just Charles Widmore in a submarine.  Still, pretty scary, no?

Well, that’s all she wrote, Lost fans.  What did you think?  Are you ready to start the Michael Emerson Emmy campaign with me?  Is your money also on Team Jacob for winning the Lost ultimate showdown?  Do you think Charles Widmore will fight for Team Smokey, or does he have his own agenda to accomplish on Lost island?

Only time (travel) will tell . . .

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