Okay, so I’ve voiced my displeasure at the ending of ABC’s ‘Lost’ on more than one occasion since Sunday. My complaints have ranged from “it didn’t tie up the loose ends” to “it defied the nature of sci-fi” to “it was sloppy writing.” In general I’ve found my gripes unsatisfying even to me.
Then, in the shower just a bit ago, the essence of my gripe against ‘Lost’ hit me: we, the audience, were tricked. We were led to believe early on that this story was ‘about’ Jack and Locke, and that somehow in the tension of their two characters something larger was afoot. An epic struggle between Good and Evil. We came to learn that the Island had a unique history, and that the embodiment of Good and Evil in Jacob and his brother carried significance not just for the Island but for the entire world. Hence, both (early) Locke’s and (later) Jack’s sense of destiny: that something COSMIC was on the line in their struggle. The Island was calling them. For a reason. And that reason held significance for the wider world. We dare not let the Smoke Monster off the Island; protect the light; save the world; etc. That is what the story was ABOUT.
And then… at the last minute… the writers decided to pull a switcheroo. They tried to convince us that the story was never REALLY ‘about’ what we all thought it was ‘about’; instead, it was about how we all go to a happy place when we die, where every wrong is righted and we can be the best version of ourselves with all the people we love. In other words… THE SHOW WAS REALLY ABOUT SOMETHING ELSE.
Now that’s sloppy story-telling to me. Imagine if Tolkien had told his entire tale of middle earth, Frodo, the Ring, the Shire, the Future of Mankind, Morder and the hordes of evil, etc., and then ended it with Saruman and Frodo sharing a beer in the clouds? We would naturally be repulsed. And not because Saruman and Frodo were reconciled, but because it violated the integrity of what Tolkien led us to believe his tale was ABOUT. I WANTED to see how the deliverance of the Island was the salvation of the world. What I got was half-arsed storytelling. A cop out. Ultimately, the Island and the fate of the world didn’t matter. What mattered was the “happy place” after death.
I hope it will be obvious that my displeasure at this ending is of one piece with my displeasure at how many Christians narrate the Christian story. Strangely, many of the Christians who also disapproved of the ending of ‘Lost’ hold a version of the Christian story that does essentially the same thing.
Curious I’d say.
The Island matters.
The words of Andrew on this matter end here.