At 10:30 pm Sunday night, Jack Shephard let go. And as he did, we did too. Or at least we’ve been trying ever since.
LOST has ended, and has done so with a glorious finale that gave a lot of closure. Somethings remained unanswered, but that doesn’t bug me. What matters most is that the characters got their shots at redemption, and poetically at that. This show has always been about characters who were placed on the Island for a shot at redemption; a shot to fix their screwed up lives. The Island was just a backdrop for their stories of trial and tribulation (More on this will be explained in a later post about the journey as a whole, not just last night’s episode).
Things got kicked off on the Island right away, and pretty crazily at that. We see Rose, Bernard, and Vincent, still just living a life of solitude on the Island. They’re as happy as can be. They also were the ones who pulled Desmond out of the well. Flocke tracks them down and insists on taking Desmond with him. Rose, heroically as usual, tells Desmond that he doesn’t have to do anything he doesn’t want to. She’s willing to die for Desmond’s ability to make his own decision.
Nonetheless, Desmond wants to go with Flocke anyway. That’s because Desmond, seemingly all-knowing in the days following Widmore zapping him with tons of electromagnetism in “Happily Ever After”, has a different idea of what will happen if he does what Flocke asks. Flocke says that the Island will sink, and he will be free. Desmond thinks that after he gets done with what ever he’s doing, they will be transported to the Alternate Universe (AU) that has been shown in the Flash-Sideways all season long.
Flocke, Desmond, and Miles take off, and they meet up with Hurley, Sawyer, Kate, and Jack, the last of whom has recently taken up the mantle of new Island protector. This scene is a magnificent call-back to the scene at the end of Episode 1 of Season 4. There, Jack and Locke split into different camps, and went their separate ways. Here, the camps come together. Jack and Flocke share an awesome moment. Jack tells Flocke that he’s completely game for Flocke’s plan – because that’s going allow Jack to kill Flocke. Flocke smiles at Jack and says that they should just get on with it.
So the unlikely trio of Desmond, Flocke, and Jack team up and go to the Heart of the Island to complete the same mission – but all for different purposes. Desmond is helped down into the Heart by Jack and Flocke. This scene was very reminiscent of the beginning of Season two – even Flocke thinks so. He mentions the analogy between the hatch and the waterfall at the Heart to Jack. Jack cuts him short, saying one of my favorite lines of the finale -You’re not John Locke, you dis-respect his memory by wearing his face, but you are nothing like him.
Desmond, in the meantime, reaches the bottom of the waterfall. He walks into a pool of water in the center, where the light was brightest. With his abilities to withstand electromagnetism, he is able to life up a 6 or 7 foot stone object shaped like a sloping cylinder from where it was positioned and open up the hole in the center of the ground.
The light goes out at this point. What does this mean? I think that the hole being plugged was representative of keeping the bowels of hell contained. The Island serves as a literal cork to the rest of the earth… what’s below that cylinder is what’s in the bottle. So by taking out the cork, Desmond literally started the apocalypse. Evil was able to flow freely throughout the earth. Luckily, if Lucifer was Flocke, ready to escape and cause chaos (and causing humanity to cease to exist), then the necessary counter-part, the arch-angel Michael, was embodied by the protector of the Island, Jack (Note: I’m not saying that Flocke was literally Lucifer or anything. It’s just an analogy. And Supernatural fans will note how weirdly the final parts of LOST and Supernatural meshed. Uncanny).
There are two things to note here:
– Desmond was wrong. The man who seemed to know everything since “Happily Ever After”… he was wrong. This incident, in itself, did not transport everyone to the AU. This is a constant them throughout LOST. No one knows everything.
– Locke was right in thinking this would help him leave the Island – but Jack was
right too. He made Flocke bleed, proving mortality for both characters existed at this time of Armageddon.
Flocke knocks Jack out with a stone, however, and runs across the Island to the now infamous Jacob’s ladder, where a boat was waiting for him (I believe it was the Elizabeth, i.e. the boat Desmond used to crash on the Island originally. Couldn’t tell for sure though).
Jack is able to get up and follow him. As this happens, the Island is literally falling apart as the bowels of hell start to swallow it whole. Flocke said he would sink the Island, and it certainly seems like that’s exactly what’s happening, slowly but surely. Jack catches up with Flocke… and the epic fight commences.
It surely is one of the great moments that we’ve been waiting for since Jack declared at the end of season one that they were going to have a “Locke problem”. Here Jack and Flocke fight to the death. After a long, epic battle, Flocke ends up on top. First, he stabs Jack right where his appendix would have been… had he not had his appendix taken out previously (take note of that – it’s coming back later). Then he cuts Jack’s neck (call-out to Jack’s bleeding neck in the AU, right?) and seemingly is victorious. Jack is about to have his throat slit… BANG. Kate appears and shoots Flocke right in the chest. Jack gets up and kicks Flocke right over the cliff, where his body crumples and crunches at the bottom of the cliff near the ocean. He is definitely dead now.
With Kate came Hurley, Ben, and Saywer. They do some chit-chatting and after a kiss between Jack and Kate, Kate and Sawyer take off for Hydra Island so they can jump on Ajira 316, which Frank, Miles, and Richard are currently fixing to take off. Hurley and Ben go with Jack to the Heart of the Island to help him fix it.
This brings up a previous point – remember when Jack got his appendix out in Season Four? It had been previously brought up that such illnesses are brought on by the Island as punishment (Ben’s tumor, for example). But here, the Island wasn’t punishing him, but actually saving him and itself for later. If Jack has an appendix there, does he lose blood even more quickly than he did and die before putting the plug back in? Maybe. But that question is moot because the Island made sure it never got that close. Amazing stuff, really.
So Jack is helped back by Hurley and Ben. You can see he is struggling and probably wouldn’t have made it back alone. He’s still losing a lot of blood, and he can tell. As he stands outside the Heart’s cave, he tells Hurley that he’s going to have to protect the Island now.
I loved this part. Hurley has always been the most pure of heart and is the perfect person to run this Island because he’s the only one that would be able to share it properly. Hurley has always been the giver – he’s given away the food stock, leading to a massive banquet on the Island. He’s unselfish and the ever-caring friend; look no further than him being the only of the Oceanic Six to show up when Sun had her child. Being a protector actually gives him a purpose for life. Off-Island, he was rich, but didn’t care. It didn’t matter to him; he couldn’t see the people he was directly effecting. Here, he could see the effects, and he could make personal connections.
Of course, he doesn’t see this. He doesn’t see how perfect he is to share the Island with others. Even though he’s been taking on more and more of a leadership role since the beginning of the season, he’s still reluctant. But he takes the water Jack gives him and drinks it.
Something to note here – Jack doesn’t say some magic mumbo-jumbo hocus pocus over the bottle before he gives it to Hurley. There’s only two things that matter here: Jack’s words of “Now you’re just like me” and his touching Hurley. This is obviously a rule change Jack made as Protector – the rules are invariably flexible. This is made even more clear later when Ben, after being named the new #2 of the Island, was asked by Hurley about people not being able to leave the Island. Ben told him “that’s the way Jacob ran things. That’s not necessarily the case.” Hurley is free to run things the way he wants – he’s free to share the Island with people that need it.
So Ben and Hurley drop Jack down the now-dry waterfall on the rope. Jack gets down, carries Desmond over and ties him up to the rope. He then plugs back in the stone cylinder and saves the Island from sinking, as well as the world from ceasing to exist. This carries us into our beautiful final scene.
Alas, before that, let’s talk about another topic:
THE ALTERNATE UNIVERSE
All season long, we’ve been spending half of every episode flashing to this universe where things seem different for all the characters involved. This universe also showed the Island at the bottom of the ocean right at the beginning of the season. Speculation was rampant about what caused it. Was it Jughead? Did setting off the bomb in “The Incident” cause a rip in the universe, creating two different timelines? How would they play off one another? Is there one true timeline? There was a lot of speculation that the MIB created the AU after he got off the Island. It caused a lot of debate.
My biggest fear was that the AU was going to be an epilogue, and that the characters would be happily living their lives in the AU after realizing their Island lives. This created a problem for me in that what happened on the Island had no more stakes. People that died… they we’re alive in the AU, so it was OK. Death would lose meaning.
Well, the epilogue theory was almost spot on, but in a way that no one saw coming. Eventually everyone flashed, and they realized and remembered their life on the Island. They we’re reawakened and were truly happy. Before we get to Jack entering the church, it’d be a shame if I didn’t mention the last Michael Emerson/Terry O’Quinn scene we’ll ever see on LOST. Ben, having flashed on his memories, is sitting outside the church and sees Locke rolling in.
The two of them share a deep conversation. Locke asks Ben if he’s coming in, and Ben says he’s going to stay awhile. Knowing the aftermath of this universe, it’s curious to think about Ben’s decision. I wonder if he now has to play a Desmond-like role in order to get what he called “his people” (Ethan, Alex, maybe Alex’s boyfriend and Richard, etc.) to flash? As Christian told Jack later, the most important parts of Jack’s life were spent with the people on the Island. A very important part of Ben’s life was spent on the Island prior to the crash of Oceanic 815. Maybe feels the need to get more of these people. Or maybe he feels like he needs to repent for his sins for a longer period of time.
Either way, Ben then tells John how sorry he is. He says he was jealous and wanted everything John had. He wanted to be special. Locke then looks at Ben and says some magic words: “If it helps, I forgive you.” Cue me breaking down. Ben looks at John and tells him that he doesn’t know how much that helps to hear that. Then he tells Locke that he probably doesn’t need that wheelchair anymore, and Locke stands right up and walks into the church. And with that, two of most magnificent actors on this show share their final scene together.
Now let’s get to the good part. Jack walks into the church to see his father’s body. As he walks into this room, we get the idea that something’s up. This clearly was supposed to be some sort of Christian church, but in the stained glass windows behind Jack, there are printed symbols of six major religions (Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, Christianity, Judaism, and Islam). Jack touches the coffin and gets more flashes of his life… and he becomes truly awakened to his existence. He opens the coffin, but his father isn’t in there. He turns around and sees Christian standing before him.
Befuddled, he asks Christian if he is dead. Christian confirms the fact that yes, he is still dead. Jack thinks about it aloud, saying that he doesn’t understand how his father can be dead and still standing before him. Christian asks him “How are you here?” Jack begins to realize that he too is dead, and that everyone else out in the church is dead also.
The full scope of the AU may have hurt your brain at first, but realize that all the survivors did not die simultaneously. Rather, as Christian tells Jack “Everyone dies sometime, kiddo. Some before you, some long after you.” This reckons back to a moment that occurred earlier in the episode at the end of the benefit concert, where Kate tells Jack that’s she’s missed him for a very long time. After Jack’s death, Kate continued to live for years, I imagine. Once she died, she was placed in this universe, just like everyone else. But she still had to live for all those years after Jack’s death. It could have been hundreds of years for Hurley without seeing Jack before he died and entered into the AU.
But the AU is a timeless, metaphysical piece of the afterlife. Some have compared it to a purgatory of sorts. Everything that happened on the Island – it was real. There were stakes involved. Sawyer, Kate, Ben, Hurley – they all had to live with Jack’s sacrifice for years in their human existence.
Back to the scene – Jack is confused, but Christian tells him that this universe is a place that they (the survivors) all made together so they could find one another after they had all passed. What a beautiful, glorious picture of the afterlife. Christian gives him the line about the most important years of Jack’s life were spent with those gathered out there.
Jack walks out to the church’s main area, fully aware now. Everyone embraces everyone, and then they all sit down and are ready to move on. Move where? To the next level of existence. They are gathered together because now they can spend eternity with each other. So they can move to a more wholesomely, perfect place. Christian opens the back door, and a bright light engulfs the church.
The reunion scene, of course, is inter-cut with a gracious scene of Jack on the Island. He somehow had made it out of the Heart’s cave and came to passed out by a stream. He slowly got up, still bleeding to death from Flocke’s stab wound earlier. Finally, he made his way to the bamboo grove where he first awakened on the Island some three years earlier. He lay down, and as he settled into a peaceful position to finally rest in peace, Vincent came over and lay next to him. If you weren’t crying already, certainly pulling the dog card had to do the trick. As Jack lay there, he sees a plane flying overhead. This is Ajira 316 taking off from the Island, and carrying with it Claire, Kate, Sawyer, Miles, Frank, and Richard (who is aging now!) The final shot, of course, was a beautiful call back to the opening shot of the entire series. Then, we got Jack’s eye opening; here, we got Jack’s eye closing. And thus ended LOST.
All-in-all, what a tremendous, beautiful way to end the series. There were still some unanswered questions (namely, wtf was up with Walt), but that doesn’t detract. This series always has been and always will be about the characters. The Island backdrop helped us understand them and see them learn, grow, and feel redeemed. Some made it through the ordeal alive. Some didn’t. But they all found themselves. As Jacob told Jack, Kate, Hurley, and Sawyer during his fireside chat in “What They Died For” – I didn’t pluck any of you out of a happy existence. You were all flawed. I chose you because you were like me. You were all alone. You were all looking for something that you couldn’t find out there. I chose you because you needed this place as much as it needed you. They all did need the Island, and the Island became their way to redemption. This show was about life, death, and faith. Faith won. Life won. If that’s not redeeming, I can’t tell you what is.
I will miss you, LOST. Farewell, Sweet Prince