Lost Love Stories: Sometime over the past week or two, I saw a clip of Darlton saying that at its heart, Lost is a love story. Now, I love the love story elements of the finale, but the series as a whole often fumbled love story execution. The actors brought it. The chemistry was there. The endgame couples (with the possible exception of Shannon rather than Nadia) were all my preferred pairings: Jack/Kate; Sawyer/Juliet; Rose/Bernard; Penny/Desmond; Hurley/Libby. I had no trouble trusting their tales, but outside the finale, there wasn't a whole lotta there there for the big love-quadrangle as it played out.
Quadrangle: Let's start with Sawyer and Juliet: how pathetic were their epiphany flashbacks? Not the quality -- the quantity. They were all from the same few scenes. And Jack and Kate? Yes, they always should have been endgame and I'm glad they were endgame, but I think the show spent 3 or 4 seasons showing us why Sawyer and Kate were in love. It spent all six seasons showing Jack was in love with Kate. It seems to me though, that it spent mere episodes showing Kate in love with Jack. And I refuse to fault Evangeline Lilly for that. If this finale did nothing else, it proved to me that when and where the Kate-character and the Jack/Kate romance fell down, the blame belongs at the feet of the writers. When they wrote good Kate stuff, Lilly delivered. There should have been more from Kate towards Jack, early on, before Sawyer and Kate had the cage sex, revenge sex, fleeing the freighter sex, and all the yo-yoing. Okay, and maybe less of the yo-yoing, altogether. I see a lot of people complaining about the use of love triangle devices on various boards. I like a love triangle when it's well executed (think Gone With the Wind, Casablanca, Jezebel). The trouble with triangles, for me, is that they're so often mishandled.
The Jin/Sun, Rose/Bernard, and Penny/Des pairings were better constructed. Rose and Bernard's story is the one I find most quietly satisfying. They find each other only after she learns she has terminal cancer. There's not enough time, but they don't let that stop them from getting together for the time they have left. Their faith, particularly Bernard's, brings them (albeit accidentally) to the Island -- a place that gives them time. The Island gives them time, not because they sacrifice anyone at their own expense, but because they let go, early on, and appreciate their unexpected blessing. Desmond/Penny and Jin/Sun grew worthy of their love over the course of the series. I have no complaints at all. In fact, where Jin/Sun are concerned, I only have kudos. If you had told me during the first season that I was going to care about Jin and Sun as a couple (or Jin at all) I would have thought you crazy.
The Mystery and Mythology: For me, so-called "questions" about the Smoke Monster, the hieroglyphics, the numbers, the gestation problems, etc. were answered well enough during the course of the show. After I sleep for a week, maybe I'll pitch a Mondo Extra to editorial to rebut all the lists (including TWoP's own) of places where the series fell down. But let's talk about the biggest "question" of them all...
The Island: Remember 17,000 words ago, when I was blathering about Trust the tale, not the teller? Here's how I always trusted Lost's tale: I always read the Island as a metaphor for Purgatory, no matter what Cuse and Lindelof said about its reality. Now, granted, I didn't think of it as the literal, after-death Purgatory of Roman Catholic doctrine. I thought the Lostaways experiences on the Island served as a soul-purgative for the living. Now maybe God did it. Maybe magnets. This story wasn't about that. It wasn't about why the Island is weird. I mean even "Across the Sea" doesn't answer that -- it just reinforces that it is. Unless they're unrepentant, people on the Island eventually end up in situations which give them the opportunity to burn away their sins and, to choose better than they did, before. Even Jacob.
Now, if I think of the Island serving as an earthly Purgatory for the living, how do I see the Sideways? Well, Jezebel.com already drew comparisons to Bardos, so I don't want to go there. Since religious analogies don't work for everyone, how about some flesh and blood? Forget all that Purgatory stuff for a moment. Instead, think of the Island as surgery. It's the operating room. It's what our characters have to endure, in life, to get their soul cancer surgically removed. And the Sideways? The Sideways is the recovery room. Like life, once the Island is done with someone, that person moves on. Eventually, people wake up in eternity -- where there are no time constraints on them as they recover from the spiritual operations they've undergone in earthly life. The cancer's gone, but they may still need some additional chemo, radiation (sorry, Des), medication or therapy. Actually, this works better for me than thinking of the Sideways as Purgatory, Limbo, or Bardos. After you have an operation, you're not all better. The problem has been corrected, but you still have to heal. The epiphanies? They were the last bit of healing. Once everyone is restored to health, the doctor opens the doors and discharges the patients, who move on to a better, fuller, happier life.
I feel remiss in not mentioning giving special attention to John Locke, Ben Linus and Hugo Reyes, but I'm still wallowing in their stories, so it's difficult. I like to think that during his tenure as Island protector, Hurley found a way to make new rules that canceled out CJ and Jacob's rules. And I'd like to think Hurley's term didn't end with his murder, but that one of his new rules was that he was free to die gently, or return home, even, once he found his replacement. I'm agnostic on whether Ben succeeded him as leader. I think Ben needed to be loved and needed, a lot more than he needed to be in control. Locke's happy ending leaves me a little empty. I mean, I'm glad he's with everyone, and it would have made no sense for Helen to be there (yes, even less than newborn Aaron), but it made me sad to see him sitting in the front pew, all alone. I wish someone, even Boone, had been sitting beside him.
And now, we have to learn to move on to a life without Lost. I want to thank you all for your emails, tweets, forum comments and other notes of encouragement. I don't know what shows I'll wind up covering come fall, but I hope we cross TWoP-paths again. I have had the best time covering this show for the last two years. I'll miss you so. The Island is done with me, but I don't feel like I'm done with the Island. This is me remembering, and trying to convince myself to let go. Namaste.
Epiphanize Cindy at CynthiaMcLennan[at]gmail.com or on Twitter