Jen Chaney and Liz Kelly
Monday, May 24, 2010; 12:00 PM
Share your thoughts, feelings, reflections (and frustrations) with Liz Kelly and Jen Chaney as they take your questions about "The End," the final episode of "Lost."
Liz and Jen, both obsessive "Lost" fans, have been writing their weekly dueling analysis of the show since 2006. When not debating the merits of Sawyer's hotness, Liz Kelly writes the Celebritology blog and Jen Chaney acts as movies editrix and DVD columnist for washingtonpost.com.
For episode analysis, discussion transcripts and more, visit washingtonpost.com's Lost Central.
washingtonpost.com: Liz and Jen will be starting in just a moment.
Liz Kelly: Namaste and welcome to what is potentially, but not definitely, the final "Lost" Hour chat of our four-year run. We have got so much to talk about it, we plan on being here until around 2 p.m. -- so settle in and make yourself at home.
A couple of quick points I want to make before we get started. Several astute readers -- and our video producer Anna Uhls -- have pointed out that just because our main characters end up at the church together to "move on," it doesn't mean they all died at a specific time -- meaning in the Oceanic crash or clustered around the events that unfolded when Jack saved the island from MIB. Christian Shephard was careful to point out that "there is no now," so that Ajira flight may have made it home and Kate, Claire, Sawyer, Aaron and the rest may have lived long lives and died old and grey before convening in sideways to move to the other side together.
Also, as one commenter pointed out, we missed a line for the best quote poll: Miles's "I don't believe in much, but I do believe in duct tape."
Apologies to Miles.
Jen, anything to add before we jump into questions?
Jen Chaney: Plenty to add, actually. But I'll make it brief.
As Liz just suggested, I think that the Ajira Airlines flight actually did make it back. Post-analysis, after reconsidering that further, that makes more sense. Part of my rationale there is that I looked at the wreckage at the end of the episode and didn't see an Oceanic logo anywhere, but nevertheless, I think that other explanation makes more sense.
Second, I know we'll be going back and forth quite a bit about when our Losties started their purgatory stint. Many say it happened as soon as 815 crashed. I'm still standing by the notion that only the sideways was purgatory, and the two key reasons are: Christian's comments last night to Jack, and the fact that LindeCuse and J.J. Abrams repeatedly denied that theory. Now, maybe they were lying. Or maybe this is a Bill Clinton situation that's going to come down to an "it depends on what your definition of 'is' is" situation."
But that's my thinking about things right now. Let's chat, people.
Another reason why they could not have been dead all along: If the Oceanic passengers were dead all along and the island was some sort of purgatory, what was the sideways world? Purgatory part deux? The explanation for why the sideways world existed - that they created as a place to find each other by remembering the bonds they formed during the most important part of their lives - would make no sense. Why would the most important bonds these characters formed have been made in purgatory?
Jen Chaney: Now I'm going to play devil's advocate for the "whole thing was purgatory" argument. You know, just for kicks.
Purgatory may be too strict a word for what the island was to them. It may have been more of a pause-button place, where they had the opportunity to start over and repent and, as was said many times during season one, get to start over.
And that's why Jack had to come back to the island, and to keep trying to fix people -- he needed multiple do-overs to get it right.
Of course, that could still be true even if he wasn't dead after the 815 crash, mind you. I think that's the real issue here: was this an M. Night Shyamalan situation here or not?
And I keep getting stuck on Christian's words that some died after Jack and some died before him. If they all died in the crash, that would be false.
Thank you so much for your excellent analyses and discussions across the years. Maybe as part of our process of "letting go" of LOST, you can continue weekly discussions in the form of "LOST Withdrawal Support Groups."
As you said in your dueling analysis, the finale left me very emotionally satisfied. However, intellectually, only partly so. Damon and Carlton always spoke of the Island as a character, and as LOST as a character-driven story, so I still feel un-resolved as to Island, what it is, and does.
That said, I think there is still enough loose threads that this is not the end of LOST. Perhaps there will be a movie showing us what happens to the Lapidus-piloted Ajira plane when it returns safely with its Losties, and what happens on the Hurley-led/Ben-assisted Island.
I think the idea of the Sideways World as a gathering place before letting go of the past life and moving to the afterlife is spot on, but as we have been shown in the show, time is maleable, so even though all the people we see are in their sideways-world beings, they didn't all die in that state. Jack died at the end of the show, as he closed his eye on the Island, but perhaps Hurley and Ben lived for centuries on the Island, and Aaron, Clare and Kate and Sawyer, et al, had full lives as well. Hopefully we will get to see that and learn more about the Island's full nature in a 2-hour movie form, sometime in the next couple of years.
Thanks again for all of your insights, and for providing this incredible forum for thought-provoking discussions and ponderings!
You've moved my Island for the last 4 years!
Liz Kelly: I don't think we'll be able to sustain a weekly chat now that the show has officially come to an end, but trust me, we're thinking hard about a way to keep our "Lost" community alive -- at least in some small way. That may mean a yearly season rewatch or a finale anniversary chat and happy hour, but we'll keep some outlet open for continued discussion.
One thing that's clear: The finale left many of us conflicted about where the show ended up, so it doesn't look like the debate will die down today, tomorrow or even by the end of this week. And it's certain to flare up again if and when LindeCuse come out of radio silence.
Centreville, VA: My wife and I think they've been dead, especially Jack, all along. The whole thing was in Jack's head. In the Church, Aaron was a baby, not 3-5 years old. And there is no Jacob (The actor was available.) As Jack is stumbling to his death, a shoe was hanging from a bamboo tree as in the 1st episode. As Jack is staring up, a plane passes with no (electro-magnetic) trouble. After the LOST credit, the scene is of the crashed plane. No tents, no signs of life. All 6 seasons is about Jack facing the fact he is dead as in The Sixth Sense. No remissions. No Dharma. No freighter. No time travel. No Jacob vs. MIB. Sorry, but what a letdown.
Liz Kelly: So are you in Hank's "Island as purgatory" camp? If you haven't yet checked it out, you may want to read his take, which was posted to the blog a short while ago.
And I agree that many puzzle pieces would fall into place if we could accept that they were dead all along stumbling around the island in some kind of limbo. The reason I continue to resist is because LindeCuse -- repeatedly -- denied that fact. Here's an excerpt, quoting Damon Lindelof, from a piece that ran on E! in 2007:
The following two facts are true. I swear it.
A. They're not in purgatory.
B. They're not dead.
If we did such a thing after repeatedly stating otherwise, we'd be tarred and feathered!
So does that mean we should get the tar and feathers ready?
Jen Chaney: Exactly. Obviously people can lie to throw us off course. (Please say Jeff Fahey's "Lapidus is dead" fake-out.)
But I have no idea why the producers would want to do that, given their relationship with the fans. They could just as easily say "no comment" or "that could be it, but it might not be" and leave it open for everyone to debate.
I think every Lost fan thought purgatory was the answer at one point, but then dismissed it. And this was part of the reason why. I refer you to Lostpedia's purgatory page.
Alexandria, VA: So how disappointed should Hurley feel about his initiation ceremony?
Jacob got a chalice filled with wine and Latin prayers, Jack got a cup of stream water and at words spoken over it, but Hurley gets a used plastic bottle filled in a mud puddle and instructions to drink up?
Liz Kelly: I hate to think what the communion rite deteriorated to if Hurley then passed along the mantle of island protector to someone else.
But I think that the water was ultimately more symbolic than actually possessed of any special properties. It was a rite designed to get the designee to buy into the fact that he was now special. When, like Dorothy Gale, he was probably special all along anyhow. Hence Jack's assertion to Sawyer after his (Jack's) own communion rite that he didn't feel any different.
Jack wasn't dead: At least not during the season. He died in the finale, lying in the bamboo field, just like we saw last night. That was all real. The plane really took off, like he saw. That was real too. Shannon died when she was shot, Boone died after he fell, Charlie died when he drowned. It was all real. Just like Christian said at the end: "Everything that's ever happened to you is real."
Everyone lived their lives in the "real" world. Some died early on on the island (Boone/Shannon/etc). Some died later on on the island (Sun/Jin/Sayid/Jack). Some got off the island and went about living their lives (Kate/Claire/Sawyer). They eventually died too. Maybe a week after they got off. Maybe 70 years. It doesn't matter. Christian again: "Everyone dies sometime, kiddo. Some died before you. Some died long after you."
The timing of that doesn't matter. Not in sideways world. This is where I think you guys got off track in your analysis this week. (Please don't take that the wrong way, because I LOVE reading your analysis.) But, anyway, I think you guys both got off track on this one because you're trying to make a temporal link between what happened in sideways world last night in with what happened in the island world. But you can't do that. Time doesn't exist in the sideways world. Again, remember Christian: "There is no NOW here."
Its just where they all went to wait for one another and find one another. And they found one another exactly like they were when they were with one another in the real world. That's why Locke was able to walk. That's why Kate/Sawyer/Claire all looked 35, even though they were likely much older when they died. And that's why Aaron was a baby, even though he very well could have led a full life.
I loved it. I thought it was just perfect. I knew we weren't getting a ton of answers, so I was prepared for that. And then when we're seeing scenes in the first hour that you would have anticipated being the penultimate scenes (i.e. all the stuff with Flocke), you quickly realized that this wasn't really going to be about the island at all. It was about the people. It was always about the people.
Anyway, like I said, I loved reading you guys over the years. Great job.
Jen Chaney: I hear you. And I think we're on that page, although maybe we didn't articulate that well enough in the analysis. (Rephrase: I probably didn't.)
When I talked about the editing between MIB's fall and Locke's toes starting to wiggle, for example, I didn't mean to suggest that one was having a real-time impact on the other, just that it was edited in a way that allowed us to connect all the dots and make us feel the power of Locke getting his body back after MIB inhabiting it on the island.
Anyhoo, all this is well said on your part. And thanks for the kind words. We've loved having you read us.
Centreville, VA: Dream, limbo, purgatory, whatever. Let's get the tar and feathers ready for Lindelof and Cuse.
Liz Kelly: I have a feeling that is going to be the first question they're going to address when they do finally resurface. Maybe they need this time to figure out how to square what happened with their previous purgatory denials.
Rockville, MD: An actual answer! Thanks to the people who transcribe all the episodes and post them on Lostpedia, I found that Michael tells Hurley that the Whispers are those that are stuck on the island and can't move on. Both a veiled hint and a reason that Michael (and therefore Walt) weren't in the church last night.
Jen Chaney: Yes, I think others have pointed that out. Michael is stuck on the island. I suppose one could argue that Eko is, too, although apparently the real issue there was that Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje refused to return for a cameo.
Liz Kelly: That does raise the notion again, though, that the island is a purgatory. I mean, Michael as much as states it. But whether it was a purgatory for some and not others, I suppose, becomes the question now.
Jen Chaney: Right, good point. That also doesn't mean Michael died in the plane crash. He didn't get stuck until he died later, at least that's my interpretation.
Pretty Straightforward: The island was not limbo. The sideways world was limbo, where the Losties waited for their comrades before heading into the light.
(1) Jack: died on the island after MIB stabbed him.
(2) Kate, Sawyer, Claire, Miles, Lapidus, Richard: survived the island and died in their own time.
(3) Hurley and Ben: died on the island in their own time.
(4) Desmond: unknown if he died on the island or if Hurley found another way to return Desmond to the real world.
Jen Chaney: I think that's pretty much where Liz and I are. Question to ponder: if we assume the island still exists and is not underwater, who took over Hurley duties after he left or died?
Liz Kelly: What she said.
And, since we're wondering... was Ben a good enough no. 2 to watch "Xanadu" with Hurley?
Unanswered Questions: One question that I think was answered, albeit obliquely, in last night's finale was the reason for fertility problems on the island. When Hurley and Ben are talking at the end, Hurley bemoans how Desmond is now stuck on the island, and Ben says something to the effect of: "That was how Jacob ran things - you can run them your own way." Well, if Jacob had power over who could leave the island, couldn't he also possibly have controlled fertility on the island? He comes from a messed up mother, and he may have felt that he could save both potential mothers and children unnecessary pain by not allowing them to BE mothers and children. It's certainly an incomplete view of the wonders of parenthood, but, as we've seen Jacob was a flawed, if well-meaning human being, and he was operating from within his own experience. At any rate, that's an answer I'm satisfied with.
Jen Chaney: I think that's a plausible explanation and something we tried to kinda, sorta get at when we talked about "Across the Sea." Liz and I noted that Claudia, mother of Jacob and MIB, was killed after giving birth and that, while it may not have been the first time it happened on the island, that event may have shaped the mythology from that point forward.
And the Jacob explanation is as good as any. That's one issue I wish we had gotten a few more mini-hints about.
Mahwah, NJ: Jen, Liz, Perhaps not the right forum for this question, but I've never had the chance to watch Lost because I had an activity the night it aired. Given how it ended - and I don't know how it did, but I assume I'll hear about it today or tomorrow; this is more a question of how you liked the ending - is it worth Netflixing the entire series? Or is it too late for me? It seemed like the kind of thing I would have liked had it been on, say, on Thursdays.
Liz Kelly: I think it's worth watching from episode 1 even if you do hear details about the finale. We rewatched seasons 1 - 4 last year and it was every bit as entertaining and gripping even though I knew what was going to happen. And, nerd that I am, I plan to rewatch again. Probably more than once. And definitely when my soon-to-be-born son is old enough to get hooked.
Jen Chaney: I think it's worth at least trying, yes. Despite all the cries of foul today, I do think it still stands as one of the most fantastic series in recent TV memory, at least. And even if the purgatory theory *is* true, I don't think I wasted my time watching, re-watching, analyzing, etc.
No harm in Netflixing and giving it a shot.
Rockville, MD: Why do I feel like everyone is over-analyzing what was a fairly straight-forward ending? Christian says some died before, and some after (hence those who left on the plane). Yet, everyone in the end makes it to "heaven" or whatever you want to call it to have their rationalization and memory of otherwise real life, including season 6 on the island.
Jen Chaney: I don't think it was that straight-forward. I think strong arguments can be made, as Hank did, for the "whole thing was purgatory side," and that strong arguments can be made for "sideways was purgatory" side.
Even stronger arguments can be made for the "Jen and Liz need more sleep" theory, which is enormously popular on all the "Lost" messageboards right now.
philadelphia pa: Can you give any explanation as to what Jack and Desmond did in the cave?
Liz Kelly: In a sentence. Or three: Des uncorked the forces of darkness, which quickly vanquished the island's life giving light. After using that window of opportunity to kill MIB, Jack then replaces the cork, restoring the flow of life force. And, as Jen said in the analysis, it was all very Indiana Jones-y.
Question: Any thoughts about those skeletons Des saw down in the cave? Did they belong to others who had tried unsuccessfully to pull the plug?
I know they're in Heaven: Cuz I got to see Boone.
Liz Kelly: Jen, you're not allowed to host the show and submit anonymous comments.
Jen Chaney: Ha.
I noticed that poor Boone didn't have a date in Heaven. I mean, *that* doesn't seem right.
San Francisco, CA: Personally, I could have done without Season 6. I'm one of those who came to Lost late (Season 3) and even after finale, Season 6 seems to be a stand alone show that doesn't seem to resemble any of the other seasons of the show -- specifically sideways timeline, Jacob vs Flocke, temple, etc.
I'm curious what was your favorite season (or even episode) of Lost.
Thanks for the chats!!! Will definitely miss it.
Liz Kelly: I'm not the biggest fan of season 6, but I stand by my initial reaction to the finale as awe-inspiring. Sure there were lots of logic holes, mysteries left unsolved, but the character development was up there with the best of the season one and two episodes and seeing each main player find his or her closure really affected me. Maybe I'm a sap.
As for favorite seasons, I really enjoyed season 5 when our Losties were boomeranging through time and working toward the incident. My favorite scene, painful as it was, was Juliet and Sawyer's goodbye in the season 5 finale. It was just so well-written and acted by Elizabeth Mitchell and Josh Holloway. I think the fact that that season 5 ended so strongly made it difficult, in a way, for season 6 to impress me right off the bat. Dogen and Lennon and that ridiculous temple were just no match for how we'd left off the previous season.
Jen Chaney: I would agree that season six is probably my least favorite of the seasons, for the reasons stated previously. It was tonally inconsistent at times, and took its time with characters (yes, like Dogen) who didn't seem terribly crucial to me.
I am not sure what my favorite season is, but my favorite moment -- which they showed during the pre-hash last night -- was the raft sailing off into the water. It was one of those "major motion picture moments," and it captured a sense of joy, awe and poignancy all at once. Thought that was really beautifully done.
And to then knock down that hope by several pegs in the S1 finale -- "We're going to have to take the boy" -- was pretty stunning.
Most Humanizing Moment: One of my favorite moments was Eloise Hawkings' line, "But, you won't take my son?" In that moment, the iron lady of omniscience became a concerned mother who just wanted more time with her son before she too moved on.
Jen Chaney: Absolutely, agreed. I felt bad for Ms Hawking in that moment, and usually I just want to tell her to stop being so melodramatic.
Liz Kelly: Agreed. We finally got the sense that this woman was so controlling and kind of evil because she loved her son so much and was, in some way, atoning for having killed him. She was able to keep him close and somewhat to herself in sideways world, but she did realize, I think that he would inevitably move on at some point. He just wasn't destined to join this grouping.
Interestingly, we know that Daniel was probably pretty much aware of what was up. He had already had his awakening/flash when he glimpsed Charlotte at the museum. He told Desmond as much in "Happily Ever After." So the question becomes what was he doing? Giving Charlotte time and space to come to her own awakening? Or, like his mother, trying to spend as much time with Charlotte as possible in sideways world before moving on?
Jen Chaney: I feel like there must be some significance to the freighter people -- Faraday, Miles, Charlotte and Lapidus -- not being in the church. I didn't see a single one of them.
So maybe they weren't ready to move on either. Daniel was the only one who became aware of what was going on. Miles and Charlotte did not and poor Frank didn't even materialize in sideways, unless I'm forgetting something.
Austin Texas: I would like to point out something the gentleman from VA referred to, the shoe in the bamboo. "As Jack is stumbling to his death, a shoe was hanging from a bamboo tree as in the 1st episode". Did you notice that the shoe was very weathered? In the first epi, the shoe is brand new. Time had passed.
Jen Chaney: That was Christian's shoe. I'll have to look again to see how weathered it was, but if that's true, then another strong argument that they indeed survived 815.
Just curious: how many people are having this argumen t with people today about "they died in the plane crash" vs.
"they died at various times and moved on together"? It's like the Losties vs. The Others all over again with this argument, which is maybe what LindeCuse had in mind all along.
Liz Kelly: A little more background on that shoe from Lostpedia.
Lancaster, PA: Oh, thank God, now I have evidence I'm not being overly emotional! I started wailing around 11:15 and kept going for an hour. As I was reading your dueling comments, the waterworks started again. Initially I chalked it up to losing my mother recently -- but for some reason that last 30 minutes really got to me. Who knew Matthew Fox had that level of acting ability in him!
Liz Kelly: Oh I think Foxy is a fine actor. For most of the six years of the show his character was not meant to be emotionally self-aware and plugged in to his feelings. He finally had a chance to show off that more spiritual side in the finale, though, and pulled it off smashingly.
And good on you for holding out until 11:15 before crying. I didn't check a clock, but I'm pretty sure my tear ducts started working when we got our first glimpse Charlie, shorlty followed by Bernard, Rose and Vincent. After that I gave in and parked a box of Kleenex next to me on the couch.
Jen Chaney: I started crying during the promos.
Re: the loss of your mother issue -- I think there often is bleed-through between how we feel about our real lives and how we feel about the fictional TV lives to which we've become attached. Obviously we know there's a difference, but sometimes TV/film/books/whatever helps us tap into emotions in a way we might not be able to otherwise.
Arlington, VA: What a disappointment! I know they wanted to focus on the emotional aspect for the finale, but that doesn't mean they HAD to ignore the mystery aspect of the story altogether! Considering that they had two years to map out where this was going, it feels like they just gave up. They had two years to write a good story, and we got nothing! Just a bunch of sappy reunions! I don't care if they didn't know where this was going from the beginning, but they had two years to bring it together -- it feels like they just gave up!
Liz Kelly: I think we share some of your frustration about the unanswered questions. But I don't think that jamming all of the answers into a finale -- no matter how long it was -- would have made for good TV. The time to provide the bulk of the answers would have been earlier in the season. It would have made better use of those early episodes than the utterly wasted time we spent with Dogen, Lennon and the temple. So hate the season if you must, but at least give the finale props for elegantly capping off the story arc for these characters.
Washington, DC: Why was it necessary for Sideways Desmond to be the catalyst for the final get-together at the church?
Jen Chaney: Spitballing here, but I think because he's the Constant. So he was able to pay a crucial role on the island and in sideways at the same time.
These Aren't The Droids You're Looking For: As much as I appreciated the closure for the characters and their reunions, I feel that LindCuse completely took the legs out from the other half of the show. In the end the island and all it stood for and all the events on it and it's mysteries were pointless. It was basically Gilligan's Island on acid. The story could have taken place in some city with all the characters sharing an event that came to define their relationships to one another. Adding the mystery only kept them on the air and gave the show a buzz. What a downer. I'm glad I didn't start watching til just before season 6 started. For me the debate will be when the show jumped the shark.
Liz Kelly: Your take definitely makes sense when I think about some of the more random elements from the show's earlier seasons. Like the polar bears. A neat unsolved mystery until you get to the final season and realize they were probably utterly pointless.
Rockville, MD: My wife and I were very disappointed in the finale but I should preface that we have been fairly disappointed since the development of the Oceanic Six. Regarding last night I have to disagree with your assessment of the sideways world. You feel that the writers "were telling the audience that it is possible to find what you need to be at peace right here on Earth even if things aren't perfect." My wife immediately saw just the opposite. Jacob indicated that they were brought to the island because they were flawed, leading unsatisfactory lives. It was only after they got to the island that their lives were somehow complete and only after death were they entitled to happiness. While we could get into a very deep theological debate, this concept of real, joyous life will be found only after death is a very conservative Christian idea. This is not my understanding/hope of what Christ promised us. And it is very depressing to think that for Kate, Sawyer and Claire that the island was the best life ever got for them. Sorry for being a downer but its what I got out of these six years.
Jen Chaney: Let me try to explain my life on Earth statement a little bit better. That thought came to me earlier in the episode, before I fully understood that they were all dead. I was thinking that the sideways world was a legitimate reality, and now I don't think so.
But during the time I was watching the episode, I was thinking a lot about how we don't appreciate the connections that are right in front of us, and how much they matter, because we simply "don't see that," "don't feel that." S
Liz Kelly: And as several other folk have pointed out, the church was chock full of imagery from several different religions -- not just Christianity. So although it felt to me, too, as if we were being fed some pretty Christian-based ideas about spiritual life and death, it would seem the writers did try to expand their notions of the afterlife to be an all-inclusive deal.
Gainesville, VA: I caught the full 2-hr recap and 2.5 hr finale, but the reunion on JKL was an hour too late for me with work beckoning this morning. Anything significant that I missed?
Liz Kelly: I taped it, too, since Jen and I were busy analyzing and I was worried it would disract me a bit too much. I think Jen watched a bit, tho...
Jen Chaney: The alternate endings were kind of funny. And I liked hearing Matthew Fox's take on the ending, who agrees with Kimmel that Jack's life on the island was his real life. You can watch here:
Kate: I thought she rocked that little black dress (sorry, Liz).
But didn't she change from the time she and Jack got to the church in his truck and when we saw her in the church? Random observation...
Liz Kelly: She did. In the church she was wearing a teal top and skirt. Maybe she didn't think a strapless mini-dress was appropriate wear for going to one's eternal rest?
A nice touch (of gray): One small detail I liked: Richard has become mortal again, which seems to pretty much coincide with the final vanishing of Jacob.
Liz Kelly: Agreed. That was a nice moment. I like to think that his character did make it off the island on the Ajira plane and was able to live out his days in peace.
Anonymous: Jen, I'm absolutely with you that only the sideways world was purgatory/pass-through, and that, when it comes to the events we saw on every incarnation of the island (post-crash 2004, 1970s, the return of the Oceanic Six, and this season) "what happened, happened."
If the purgatory was a result of everyone crashing in the original Oceanic crash, then why would the church, this special place they created so they could reconnect with one another, as Christian said, and couple up and have long-lost reconnections even exist? For most of the characters, those connections didn't occur until post-crash, throughout the series. The interactions & relationships and everything so touching in the church wouldn't make sense if they all died basically as strangers.
Jen Chaney: Nice way of putting it.
Here's a question, though (here I go again, playing Smoke Monster's advocate): why do we see that fuselage at the end? Didn't the Losties burn it all up post-crash? Too much being read into that?
Liz Kelly: Two things:
First to the commenter -- you're assuming they all died in the crash. What many are saying is that they did not. What happened on the island was real and many of the Losties were able to later leave the island and live separate lives, only reconvening in timeless sideways once they were ready to move on.
Re: the fuselage. Could Jack's restoration of the island light -- much like the turning of the donkey wheel -- have reset time in some way. Even if just for him? Jack as a character needed to come full circle and accept what he was not capable of accepting when Oceanic 815 first crashed. But now that he has, his own personal timeline is reset -- and so we see his father's shoe and the fuselage. A fuselage that didn't appear to be surrounded by anyone -- living or dead.
Washington, DC: Where was Sun and Jin's baby (Ji Yeon) in sideways "purgatory"? Or was Ji Yeon not present because Sun was still pregnant in sideways world?
Liz Kelly: That's a tough one to wrap one's head around. We saw Ji-Yeon on the ultrasound so I guess there are two potential answers, depending on which camp you fall into:
1. The island as purgatory camp: Sun was already pregnant when the plane crashed so Ji-Yeon was never really born.
2. The island was not purgatory, and everything that happened happened: Sun and Jin died on the sub and Ji-Yeon is, we hope, alive and well somewhere living out her life. We are able to see her in the ultrasound, though, because Sun returns to sideways as she was at the most important time in her life -- on the island. And when they see her on the ultrasound, both Jin and Sun react as if they know their daughter is thriving somewhere.
End Credits Fuselage: I thought the final shot of the fuselage was in keeping with the Battlestar Galactica borrowed theme of all this has happened before, and all this will happen again. Could that not just be a plane that crashes during Hurley's time as Jacob?
Liz Kelly: Sure, why not?
New Orleans, LA: Doesn't Juliette being brought to the island another way, instead of being on Oceanic 815, refute the whole "everyone died in the crash/they were dead all along" argument?
washingtonpost.com: What if the plane landed on her?
Liz Kelly: In case it wsn't abundantly clear, Paul wasn't a big fan of last night's finale.
Providence, RI: Here's an interesting one for you. Who do you think 'won' the battle between Jacob and MIB? Did Jack's sacrifice ultimately prove MIB wrong?
BTW, very upset we didn't learn MIB's name
washingtonpost.com: It didn't matter because eventually we all die anyway.
Liz Kelly: Despite Paul's flippant response, I think you ask two good questions.
If MIB's goal was to destroy the island and leave and Jacob's goal was to protect the island and keep MIB there, well then I think we have no choice but to hand the victory to Jacob. Even though he wasn't able to accomplish either of those goals himself, he made it possible for his successors to do so.
As for your second question about proving MIB wrong, that might bear a bit more thinking. You're referring, of course, to MIB's refusal to believe that man is/was incapable of acts of selfless do-goodery. Or, put more plainly, of making the right choice for the greater good.
Here's the thing -- I'm not so sure MIB really gave a fig about humanity's capacity for good or evil. Noodling that question was Jacob's thing and he may have projected a bit of his own doubts on to his brother. MIB was too self-involved and too keen to get off the island to worry about what was ultimately motivating those standing in his way.
Or that's what I think. But I'm going on two hours of sleep.
The fusilage: I think was just a tribute, much like the endpapers in a book, to the very first set of Season 1. I recall several interviews with the producers that focused on the challenges of creating, moving around and storing that set.
I also suspect that Miles' wonderful "duct tape" line was a shout-out to the show's crew. I can imagine the cartons and cartons of the stuff they went through over the years to create the sets on Lost.
Jen Chaney: The sets were indeed amazing. And you could be right, could have simply been a way to remind us of that iconic image. But let's just say that a lot of people are not interpreting it that way.
Washington, DC: Polar bears - they explained that mystery during Season 5, remember? Miles's dad of the Dharma Initiative videos said something about how they were doing experiments with various types of animals on the island, including polar bears. That also explains the existence of the bear cages where Sawyer and Kate were once held.
Liz Kelly: Yep, we know the bears were there courtesy of the Dharma Initiative, but what sense do the bears -- or Dharma even -- make in service of a story that was ultimately about an acceptance of death and the efforts of a small group of flawed people to become whole?
I guess the point I, and some of the other commenters are making, is that the bears -- like many of the other aspects of island life -- are starting to look like so much filler in light of the finale.
Jen Chaney: Well, first of all, just because the finale came down to issues related to death, redemption, spirituality, etc., that doesn't mean that every other storyline explored is rendered moot. This was a massive narrative told over 100-plus episodes, which gave them the latitude to address all kinds of things, one of which was the science vs. faith argument.
The Dharma people were experimenting on the polar bears to see if they could survive on the island. Their focus was science. So maybe the point there is that they had the wrong idea about the island, that the properties that made it possible for polar bears to live there had more to with that spiritual element -- the Dharma people, presumably, were never aware of ye olde golden pool -- that remained hidden to them.
Scottsdale AZ: Didn't the producers also say the whole story was ultimately the love story of Desmond and Penny? It felt like short shrift in the universal church in the final scene.
Liz Kelly: Agreed. Jen and I were both surprised to see Penny there. It isn't so much the fact that she was there as that we didn't really get to find out what happened to her character once Desmond returned to the island or see her awakening. We know she was in sideways because Des made contact with her in "Happily Ever After," but it did feel like the end of their story was left on the cutting room floor.
Jen Chaney: Perhaps it will show up on those DVD extras in August. Surely you noticed all the ads for those during Kimmel, for those of you who stayed up late.
Dallas,TX: I keep reading that Jack killed MIB, um, it was Kate that shot and killed Flocke, not Jack. And if Jack's neck was bleeding in sideways world, why not the more serious wound in his side??
Liz Kelly: Well, technically, I think Kate's gunshot slowed him down, but it was Jack's kicking MIB off the cliff that really did him in.
Jen Chaney: Re: Jack's serious wound -- it wasn't bleeding, but it was there. Remember earlier this season: he asked his mother if he's ever had his appendix out? Which, actually, he had. On the island. So I think we all assumed that's what it was, and maybe it indeed was. But it also could have been that wound.
Oregon: The island was purgatory. There was this constant battle between good and evil with people either ending up in the Church or going south by way of Smokey and so were not there. The candidates had to show some redemption to pass into the light. Richard was there to guide them, Myles could talk to dead people and so could talk to them. The Oceanic 6 were allowed back to the real world to do good but all knew they had to return to "the island" to pass through. The last season was letting go of the hope of returning to the real world.
washingtonpost.com: If the Island was Purgatory, and Sideways was Purgatory+, can we even be sure the flashbacks were real? Think of all the bizarre coincidences and activities we saw in them.
Jen Chaney: And if the last season was about letting go of returning to the real world, why did Sawyer, Kate, Claire, Miles and Lapidus get on that plane and, as far as we know, fly away?
Sawyer/Kate/Claire post-island: One of the commentators thought it depressing that the island was the best Sawyer, Kate and Claire's life ever was. But I took it to mean that it wasn't that it was the best time in their lives, but that they were the best they ever were. Much like people who served in the military -- it might have been hellish, but it was formative, and acts of incredible bravery and sacrifice were performed. The people who stormed Normandy probably had much better days after the war, but they likely were never better versions of themselves.
Jen Chaney: Well said. In some ways, they found their best selves. Not always, but on several occasions.
Liz Kelly: Right. Which is why they were -- for the most part -- better people in sideways world.
Though that certainly doesn't seem to have been the case for poor Charlie who was as strung out as ever.
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada: I've noticed that most people who were disappointed by the finale are the ones who started watching the show LATE. Everyone I've spoken to who loves the final (like me) have been watching since day 1 and have grown to love and appreciate the characters of LOST
washingtonpost.com: Seen every episode since Day 1.
Liz Kelly: Paul is not pleased. He's controlling himself here, but he's been busy sending links to Jen and I all morning backing up his assertion that the finale was a bust.
I don't know that it's so much how long one's been a fan of the show so much as whether one watched primarily for a love of the characters or a love of the mystery/mythology/smarts. I think Jen and I fall somewhere on the middle of that continuum, which is why we're coming off as a bit wishy-washy on our reactions.
We cried! We laughed! We loved it, but yet we're chock full of criticism.
Jen Chaney: I will say, though, that the people who never watched an episode but watched the finale and think they get the whole series now are kind of funny to me.
Speaking of red herrings...: Agree that polar bears were neatly explained, but otherwise a red herring in relation to the overall story. But what about TIME TRAVEL? It played no role in the story's resolution at all.
Jen Chaney: The notion of time did, though. As has been said here several times today, there is "no now," as Christian says, in sideways. "Lost" played with time in a narrative sense -- flash forward, flash back, island moving, etc. -- as a device, I think, to make us let go of putting traditional labels on where (or when) these people were. If it hadn't done that all along, I think Christian's speech would have been really hard to swallow. Not that this makes time travel correlate super-directly to the final moments, but something to think about.
Pocatello, Idaho: I'm wondering why Ben didn't join the others in the church. Does that mean he wasn't dead or since he was so evil in most episodes - was he going to hell?
Liz Kelly: He said he still had some things he needed to do. I'm guessing he meant that he still had some spiritual growth to attend to before he felt ready to move on. Alex was also still in sideways, as was Rousseau. Maybe he wanted to get them to the point of being ready to join him in moving on?
Alexandria, VA: I think Mikey said it best in Goonies, when he was down the well...
"Don't you realize? The next time you see sky, it'll be over another town. The next time you take a test, it'll be in some other school. Our parents, they want the best of stuff for us. But right now, they got to do what's right for them. Because it's their time. Their time! Up there! Down here, it's our time. It's our time down here. That's all over the second we ride up Troy's bucket. "
Liz Kelly: Well, umm, thanks for that. I think.
Disappointment in the show is not the same as disappointment...: ...in the finale.
Last night's finale had me, in your words, "bawling". Everyone (mostly) got back together with their love (Sayid? Boone?), which is satisfying.
But man, I am disappointed in the last two seasons. The writers knew when the show was going to end, and instead of enriching their mythology, they made it more complicated.
You guys talked to Lindelof and Cuse - did they address the reasons behind that at all? Do you think they're hiding out today?
Jen Chaney: I didn't specifically ask Damon and Carlton why they made their mythology more complicated, but I suspect they wouldn't see it that way.
I made a passing comment during our meeting in New York about not getting Dogen's purpose, for example, and Damon insisted he was key to the story, although we didn't have time to go into too much detail as to why.
And as for hiding out, they have said for a while that they will go into radio silence post-finale, which is what they always do at the end of a season. They usually emerge again at Comic-Con, but since there won't be a Lost panel this year, they said they may come out of hiding in some other way -- with a podcast or magazine article or something.
My guess is that it will be at least a month before they peek their heads outside the door.
Coto, ATL: If you think about the context of the show in the post 9/11 world. Then the show could be a metaphor for life and the interdependent relationships we have with everyone in the world no matter their religious affiliation or cultural background. It started with a plane crash and there was lots of fighting, arguing and accusing. Could LOST be making a plea that we are all in this together and we should all fight evil (kill the smoke monster) and protect life (protect the Island source) and love each other while doing it. If we do maybe we will create the same kind of peace and togetherness that the Losties had in the end. If people in the world live together rather than war and kill and argue then we will create that same "church" and move on together...
Jen Chaney: I think that's a perfectly valid argument. Lost: the ultimate argument for a thoroughly integrated, globalized world.
Some people will find that theory too sappy and "I'd like to buy the world a Coke"-esque. But I like where you're going with it.
Jonas B.- Milpitas, CA: The best LOST transmission from the LOST retrospective.
"Roses are red violets are blue/ 4,8,15,16,23,42."
And thank you guys for giving me something to read on washington post! I will miss you guys talking about Lost!
Liz Kelly: Love it. I may need to keep that little poem handy.
And thank you for the kind words. We're going to miss this, too.
Jen Chaney: Maybe it was just me, but I thought the transmissions were cute. I mean, some of the comments were silly. But I liked the way they were integrated into mini-vignettes from the show.
A little over the top? Yeah, probably. But for those who adore the show, a proper goodbye, I think.
dying in purgatory: The AU is purgatory, and sorry, but it IS obvious, and no, no one I know is having that debate today. Maybe everyone was crying too much at the end, but go back and re-watch - Christian lays it all out.
Anyway, my lingering questions about that:
1. They all made this place together so they could meet and move on together - WHEN did they make this decision?
2. How and why is Sayid murdering people in purgatory?
3. For that matter, why is Sun getting shot and almost killed - in her after life? Why were Jack and Juliet married, and divorced, in purgatory? Where is their son? If he doesn't exist, why was he made up in the first place?
Btw, I loved the finale and have loved these chats - thank you!
Liz Kelly: I think the answer to most of your questions -- or the one I'll put forward -- is that until their Desmond-facilitated awakenings, the Losties in sideways world didn't know they were dead and didn't know that the lives they were living were just illusions -- waking dreams, their conscious minds keeping themselves occupied until they were able to accept their deaths.
So, as a result, bad things can happen to them in sideways -- Sun getting shot, Sayid giving in to his darker side and Jack and Juliet having an ultimately unsatisfying marriage.
Jen Chaney: From a narrative standpoint, "regular" stuff also had to happen in sideways before the Desmond intervention, to lull us into the idea that what we were seeing was a legit reality.
And it's obvious to me, but definitely not to everyone. I thought Christian's speech was significant, and that was made clear from the beautifully shot opening sequence of the finale, when we see Oceanic's cargo plane open and Christian's coffin begin to emerge. His role in the finale was very important, and what he said was important, too.
Questioning Desmond's Specialness: I knew going into this finale that we weren't going to get everything answered, and in general, I think setting a low bar was a good thing. I'm still kind of bothered, though, by the way Desmond was set up to be the key to everything, and then all he did was move a phallic-shaped rock? Really?! I ended up feeling like he was just an Average Joe after all...
Liz Kelly: Well, but don't forget the work Des did in sideways world to bring all of our Losties to the point of readiness for moving on.
Washington, DC: For me, one of the most profound (and inspiring) ideas that came out of the finale was that you do not have to face death alone (I forgot who said that death is the one thing humans MUST face alone) if you have cultivated meaningful relationships during your lifetime. What do you both think?
Jen Chaney: Jack said humans die alone, for starters. I appreciated that idea, too. I am not sure if I necessarily believe it in real life, but I would like it to be true, and I like the sense of hope that gave our final moments.
Because if Jack had just died without that church moment, it would have been too much.
Liz Kelly: I'm not sure our characters didn't die alone.
But what they learned about the afterlife is the key idea: That though one may die alone, we can "live together" in the great beyond.
Dogsville: OK, everyone, what happened to the dog?
Liz Kelly: Well, Vincent sat with Jack as he died. I like to think he then loped back to Hurley and Ben and the three lived happily ever after in Dharma-ville for a time.
My cubicle, minimizing the screen as people walk by: A previous commenter said something to the effect of "If this story was all about characters, why not have it in a city? Why this island". To tie this into the whole "Dharma was a red herring" argument, why can't we accept that it had to be this island because this island was special (besides, the whole, you know, housing the golden light of the Universe). Dharma was there as men/women of Science. They could grasp that something special was here, but not fully comprehend it because the island is a place where Faith ultimately prevails. Hurley birds, sharks with Dharma tattoos, even trips back in time are all ways of trying to come to terms with what makes this island special.
Jen Chaney: I tried to get at this earlier. But I think you said it better. So thank you.
HotLanta, GA: Perhaps we're all looking at the whole differently than intended. Perhaps the writers knew everyone would go off on their particular tangent of the show and only a few days, weeks, month, ever realize the show was always just character driven/centered. The mysteries really involved how the characters dealt with the mysteries and how they responded. Fear, faith, disbelief, distrust, good, evil: it's all how these flawed/lost people reacted to it. As such, maybe we (and the show's characters) aren't supposed to know/learn of all the answers to the mysteries. Also, Hurley could have uncovered this during his reign and this was simply how this group dealt with and overcame the problem of the MIB. Thoughts? Or am I just crazy?
Liz Kelly: That is a valid take on the mysteries and reminds me of something our pal, Post videographer Anna Uhls wrote to us this morning. She has a similar take on those unsolved mysteries and why they ultimately don't matter so much. I hope she doesn't mind me sharing it here:
Lots of the events on the island were tests of the characters insecurities and flaws. Chances for them to make themselves better. And a lot of the questions we have can be simply answered that way. The numbers, for example, do make sense because they were there to test Hurley's fear of them. That's it. They didn't have a larger meaning, which proves to the point to Hurley: They weren't bad luck, they were simply numbers. And possibly... the whole light thing was simply a test for Jack to get over his issues, to be able to prove to himself that he was a leader and had a purpose? I think that if these characters don't end up believing in the good of humanity, then it goes dark and the evil can come, not something physical, it's all about the belief in the humanity and themselves.
So, if we take the Anna Uhls view, the mysteries were more like personal challenges for the characters -- like, ahem, pressing a certain button every 108 minutes -- rather than valid riddles that we, the audience, need to solve before moving on.
DEsmond caused the plane crash...: I don't get one big thing. Desmond caused the plane crash but Jacob says that he summoned people to the island...yet no one explained a possible connection between Desmond's action and Jacob's plan.
Jen Chaney: Good question. I am not sure if Desmond was ever summoned by Jacob -- was Hume on the cave wall? Mind is a little fuzzy.
In any event, Des was certainly fated to go to the island. Even though Jacob had touched the candidates, they still needed to get sucked into the island's vortex. And that's why Widmore manipulated Desmond to make sure he got there, and would take the action to bring that plane down and bring all of them to the island.
Which is not unlike the role Desmond plays in the sideways narrative -- bringing people together, even if it means causing a few accidents.
I'm with Paul: I never questioned the shows ability to develop characters, display personal/spiritual growth etc. and tell the story of the human condition well which is great. But that's not why I watched every episode for 6 years. I would find it hard to believe anyone who says it is. I, and I feel like most Lost fans were drawn in and stayed with the story because of all the mysteries of the island and unknowns that we desperately wanted some clarity on. I seriously think that the producers were a little over-zealous in ending the show after six seasons. Hashing out some of the details of the island's backstory some of the unkowns over a couple more seasons would have given the entire series a more complete narrative. It just seemed so forced and abrupt the way it was ended this season. But yet, they still decided to include gobs of unimportant filler.
washingtonpost.com: I didn't expect answers to every question. I just feel like the end invalidated everything that came before -- If Jack and freakin' Shannon end up in the same place, I don't understand the consequences of anything anyone did in the previous episodes.
At the very least, I could have used an explicit "if the MiB gets off the island, there will be no ability for you or anyone else to have a happy afterlife" and would have been gladly spoiled that Sideways world was the afterlife as a consequence. They put too much importance on keeping that a secret at the expense of the drama they spent 5-plus seasons developing.
Liz Kelly: That's right, Paul -- let it all out...
validate me, please!: So, my (entirely reasonable, I think) complaint, is not that they didn't try to stuff all the answers into the finale. It would have felt wrong, and we wouldn't have gotten the great reunion moments, and you can't expect everything in 2 hours (or even 2 1/2). But I do think it's a valid complaint that they didn't at least TRY to put any of those same answers in the 15 or so episodes prior to last night's. So, ladies, you can stick up for the showmakers (I prefer to give credit to all the writers, etc., as opposed to just the same two, call me equal-opprotunity!), but how can you justify their spending so much time at the temple/lighthouse, or, my personal least favorite tangent, kate changing in public at the questionable mechanic's shop? I have the feeling that they will keep pushing the "it wouldn't fit in an hour or two" and ignore the actual question, re: an entire season. Tell me I'm not a brat for feeling this way...?
Jen Chaney: Liz said this earlier, but I think we agree that the temple stuff could have been condensed in favor of developing answers to more pressing matters. Of course, it's easy for us to quarterback the writers -- "You should tell your story MY way!" -- but at some point, I would be curious to know why they felt it was so important to spend so much time at the temple early this season.
I think we agreed that we could have gotten a few more answers without comprimising the finale we got last night. So that's definitely a disappointment, even if we're happy overall.
Liz Kelly: Thank you all for joining us today and over the past four years that we've been covering "Lost" for washingtonpost.com. I have thoroughly enjoyed every second of this give and take, even the (numberous) instances when I was so so wrong. For me, it's all been about the journey, not the destination.
The show may be over, but our "Lost" door is always open. Catch us in the blog, in our regular weekly Celebritology chat or e-mail Jen and I at email@example.com.
Jen Chaney: As we said in the analysis this morning, it has been more of a pleasure than I can even say. Stay in touch with us.
I have a feeling this conversation is going to continue for a long while.
P.S. We'll have a couple more "Lost"-related posts in the blog this week to look forward to.
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