Months ago, a friend of mine suggested I write a spec script for Lost as part of my screenwriting portfolio. I got Michael Emerson wide-eyes on him and, when I realized he wasn't joking, laughed out loud. "Me? Write an episode of Lost?" I asked incredulously. He only nodded. I responded, "Dude! That show is epic. I'm not ready to write a show like that. I'm not even sure the writers of the show were ready to write a show like that." That's when my friend looked at me strangely and asked, "Then why have you been a fan for over five years?" Although this question was posed to me before the final season of Lost premiered, the answer I gave sums up which side of the finale critiquing fence I fall on.
"Because it's not about the loopholes or the unanswered questions. It's about the characters, their journeys and their redemption... I care about them."
Back then I didn't realize to what degree I would have to defend my stance come 11:31pET on May 23, 2010. Although my immediate friends were all with me on believing the finale had been one of the finest we'd ever seen, more than half of the reviews and blogs I read the following day leaned in the opposite direction. What divided us?
Answers vs. Characters.
I can honestly say as a lover of all stories driven by the super natural, I originally tuned in to Lost once I heard it was Bermuda-Triangle-with-a-smoke-monster-esque. After being reeled in by a movie-like pilot, I stuck around for what quickly became a tale of many back stories. Why? Because they were interesting! Because they were entwined! Because they were good! If it weren't for the fantastic stories written for these characters I wouldn't have come to like who they were. And knowing and liking them was the key to keeping me around when the rest of the story got trippy. Nordic polar bears on a tropical island (and in Tanzania.) "Special" Walt. Donkey Wheel (with no donkeys in sight.) Others. Dharma. Dharma others? If it weren't for my belief in the characters my head might have spun off my shoulders.
But it didn't.
And along the same lines, I wasn't upset when, in the end, we didn't get the answers to every question. I was okay with the room for interpretation because I could be sure of one thing: the characters were going to be alright and it's because they saved the island. "But what was the island, Lauren?"
Now I'm no Doc Jensen, I may not have studied all the clues that Lost presented but I did walk away with my own belief about the moral of the story. (Deep breath, here we go...) The island is home to the heart of our existence, of our earth. It has been hidden and protected since its creation (long before Jacob and MIB.) The light is the product of our hope and our belief that once our bodies die our souls have somewhere else to go. Very much the basis of many religions like those showcased throughout the show. The "plug" keeps the light centralized, to release it is to release the souls of our earth into nothingness. In other words, to destroy the afterlife.
Those anointed to protect the light are (at first) human, and by being human, are defaulted to have a margin of error (i.e. Jacob blindly following his mother's obnoxious rule of keeping people on the island against their will, which is what caused the creation of MIB's hatred.) With each new Jacob, the protector evolves: Jack ridding the island of MIB, and Hurley doing away with the island's restraints so Desmond could go home. And, in my mind, it goes on forever just as the island must continue to exist.
End of theory one.
During the last half of this season I posed two other questions: why couldn't MIB just leave, and why did Desmond have to come back to the island? Here are my thoughts on the former: MIB isn't human. He has some portion of the afterlife within him; maybe it's the negative afterlife, maybe it's hell's fury. With those prospects, I'll just accept that he should stay put for all our sakes. "But Lauren, why couldn't he leave when he became mortal?" My theory on that is he may still harbor hatred of the island, and maybe after he becomes bored in Hawaii, decides he wants to come back and find another way to destroy it. So in the end: MIB must die (which sucks because I really liked Titus Welliver and Terry O'Quinn's portrayal of him. But anyway!)
As for the latter part of my earlier question, I believe Desmond removing the plug and the events that followed were all part of Jacob's plan. MIB had figured out the loophole to kill Jacob at the end of season 5. Likewise, Jacob may have already deduced a loophole to kill MIB. Jacob knew Desmond was the only one that could withstand the power of the light long enough (because he survived the fail-safe) to release the plug, temporarily removing MIB's immortality, giving Jack (or whoever had accepted the role of the protector) enough time to kill him before returning the plug to its rightful place.
Are these theories a little far-fetched? Maybe, but the best thing about them is that I have the room to make them. And that's why I'm not red in the face over the finale (except for the redness caused by buckets of tears.)
The point of having the sideways characters connect to their island selves was to motivate them to remember their lives and their deaths. And I remembered with them. With each reintroduction I remembered why I came to love them all. And likewise I knew I was also saying goodbye. Because, as Christian Shephard put it, it's time to move on.
So with that I close my book of involvement with Lost. Not for a moment do I think I will find a replacement for such an amazing show, but I won't harp on what it didn't get to tell me. I'll walk away with what I think it did.