Let me start by saying that Doc Jensen at ew.com has a great 2-part recap. I think most of you have read it, but if you haven’t, you should check it out. He is so thoughtful and articulate, and he’s a true fan! Also, I know that by now those of you who care to, have probably found some resolution to LOST, and have thought about it in terms of how it makes sense to you. It was cathartic for me to write this recap, and I hope that you will take from it what works for you, and leave the rest behind. Now that you have had some time to process, I’d love to hear what conclusions you have drawn, not only the finale, but from the series. (BTW, if reading yet another recap feels like overkill to you, then you can stop reading now and I won’t be offended!)
Ok, here we go… the final recap!
I was deeply moved by the statue of Jesus outside the Sideways church. We saw it both at the beginning of the finale, when Kate and Desmond arrived at the church; and also at the end, when Locke’s taxi pulled into the parking lot. It’s a statue of Jesus with his arms spread wide, and on my second watch of the show, it brought me to tears. I thought of the verses in Matthew that say, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (11:28-30) What a journey this has been for Jack and the rest of the Losties. AND what a journey for us, the fans, as we watch Jack’s gripping passage through the heart of the island and out to his final resting place (next to Vincent, the dear sweet companion dog), alternating with the Sideways reunions and Jack’s ability to finally let go and remember! “Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
Redemption comes in five forms on the island: forgiving yourself, forgiving others, making sacrifices, finding love, and asking for help. Watching our Losties find redemption through one or more of these paths is really where this entire show has led us. The finale was chock full of great reunions, but it also showed us some glorious redemption stories.
Jack and Sawyer:
The relationship between Jack and Sawyer has been rocky the entire series. The love triangle with Kate, which then became a quadrangle when Juliet entered the picture, provided a lot of tension. The conflict really came to a head, though, when Juliet died. It was Jack’s failed attempt to set off the bomb and effectively change the course of history that led to the events that caused Juliet’s death. When Sawyer brought a dead Juliet from the bottom of the Swan station, he looked straight at Jack with an intense look of anger and said, “You did this.” Sawyer was a man who had changed so much and come so far. He showed that he was willing to sacrifice his own needs for the betterment of the group when he jumped from the helicopter that took the others to rescue. He found love with Juliet. (Remember when we very first saw them as a couple, and Juliet said, “I love you,.”? Were you with me on the edge of your seat, wondering how he would respond? It was our first big glimpse of what a changed man he was, when he smiled his dimpled smile and said, “I love you too.”) Sawyer, who had become a changed man during his time in Dharmaville, was well on the path to redemption when Juliet died and he was sent back into the world of bitterness and anger. I feel, though, that becoming a well-liked head of security and finding love with Juliet wasn’t enough for Sawyer. He and Jack really needed to resolve the issues they had with each other before they could find true redemption.
I wrote in my last, non-finale, recap about the change in Sawyer this season, after the deaths of Jin, Sun and Sayid. He felt responsible for their deaths, and suddenly found himself in the same position as Jack had after Juliet’s death. This is what I wrote, “Sawyer has been so angry with Jack for his mistakes that led to Juliet’s death. Now Sawyer is in a similar position. He made mistakes that led to the deaths of Jin, Sun and Sayid. A suffering Sawyer spoke with Jack and basically said, ‘I killed them didn’t I?’ Jack responded by telling him that MIB had killed them. Redemption comes in many packages, and maybe by experiencing the cost of his own mistakes, Sawyer is able to forgive Jack for the consequences of his errors.”
I think Jack’s gracious response to Sawyer, is an indication of Jack’s own journey to wholeness and redemption. I wrote this last week also, “[Jack] agreed to protect the island, with the wonderful statement, ‘This is why I’m here. This is what I’m supposed to do.’ Jack is stepping back into his leadership position, sacrificing himself for the greater good, but this time he sounds very much like a true man of faith, and not just a man with a Savior complex.” (I’m quoting myself, because it’s a lot easier than trying to figure out a way to say basically the same stuff in a different way.) The relationship between Sawyer and Jack was healed through each man’s ability to forgive himself, to forgive each other and to make truly altruistic sacrifices. The last island scene between the two of them was beautifully heart-breaking for me. Jack: “Good luck to you, James.” Sawyer: “Thanks, Doc…. For everything.” Oh, I could cry right now.
Ben and Hurley (and a little bit of Locke):
I was talking with my parents recently about Ben’s story and his chance for true redemption through his relationship with Hurley, and I seriously got choked up. Although Ben has never been my favorite character, I have always felt deeply sorry for him. His story is such a sad one with his mother’s death at his birth and his father’s inability to get past it. Ben’s anger toward his father (who, in weak moments, would even blame Ben for his mother’s death), led Ben to be vulnerable to the influence of others. He seemed to be in calculated control, but I think he was mostly a puppet on the island stage, with others (including MIB) pulling his strings. The violence we see in him came from a place of rejection, insecurity and bitterness. (I’m not saying that violence is ever justified, but we can see where it stems from in Ben, and can recognize his stumbling blocks for finding reconciliation and peace.)
During the finale, in the scenes with Jack, Hurley and Ben at the heart of the island, we got a chance to see Ben’s true nature, and how antithetical it was to his most prominent personality on the island. When Jack was looking for a cup from which Hurley could drink to become the new protector, Ben was the one who had a water bottle and offered it to Jack. When I watched that scene the 2nd time, I was struck with the fact that Ben knew what was happening. He knew that Jack was choosing Hurley to take Jack’s place as protector, and Ben was willing to facilitate that exchange. He wasn’t angry that Jack hadn’t chosen him. Ben’s willingness to help Hurley become the protector, put Ben in the position of being asked to be Hurley’s advisor. I’m honestly crying now as I write this.
Hurley: “What the hell am I supposed to do?”
Ben: “I think you do what you do best. Take care of people.”
H: “Will you help me? I could really use someone with, like, experience…for a little while. Would you help me, man?”
B: “I’d be honored.”
(The words on paper just don’t do justice to that scene and the power of the actors’ performances and the impact of their words to each other.)
It was so beautiful, because even in leadership, Hurley was honest and vulnerable. And Ben… Ben finally received all he had ever wanted: to be respected and needed. Ben wasn’t necessarily looking to be in charge. He just wanted to be needed. Jacob’s “What about you, Ben?” was the culmination of his perceived failure on the island, and it destroyed him in a way that only Hurley’s “Will you help me?” could restore him.
My hope is that Hurley and Ben had a wonderful ride on the island, doing things Hurley’s way (Ben: “That’s how Jacob ran things. Maybe there’s another way. A better way.”) Maybe their redemption story continues through their time on the island. We know that in the end they had a great run. Hurley (to Ben outside Sideways church), "You know, you were a real good #2." Ben, "You were a great #1, Hugo."
The scene at the end of the episode between Sideways Ben and Sideways Locke was also a wonderful one. Ben apologized to Locke for what he did to him. Locke responded with, “If it helps, Ben, I forgive you.” Ben replied, “Thank you, John. That does help. It matters more than I can say.” This scene seemed as much a reflection of Locke’s redemption story as it was of Ben’s. Poor Locke died before he really had a chance to feel redeemed – to feel loved, and forgiven. What he didn’t realize, this side of Sideways World, was the fact that his death (and therefore his sacrifice) was what brought the Oceanic Six back to the island to redeem themselves and come back to meet him. Locke did not die in vain.
Kate and Claire (and a little bit of Charlie):
Kate’s redemption story started way back in Season 1 when Jack learned that she was the fugitive and didn’t care. We should’ve known then that these two were destined to be together! Their love saved them both. But I don’t think Kate’s story is nearly complete without Claire (and, actually, MIB). It was MIB, as Christian, who lured Claire away from her baby. This decision was what forced Kate into motherhood, and this motherhood is what truly saved her. Kate’s redemption came not in mothering Aaron, but rather in making the sacrifice to leave him and return to the island to get Claire. Kate found redemption in sacrifice and in positioning herself to offer help to Claire in the end. (Kate to Claire: “You’re not alone. Let me help you.”)
Claire’s story started long ago with Charlie. Their love is what saved them both also. In each other, they found love and acceptance and beautiful peace from two very rocky lives. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the Sideways revelations started with Charlie’s glimpse of Claire, because I think the redemption stories on the island started with Charlie’s and Claire’s gentle and tender love for each other, and for Aaron. (Remember when Charlie died in the Looking Glass station, and in that exact moment Aaron started crying on the island? Ok, I’m getting choked up again…)
Jin and Sun:
The story of Jin and Sun is pure brilliance, in my opinion. I think it’s the perfect example of the LOST story: we thought we understood a character, and then the more we learned about his or her story, the more we realized that nothing was really as it seemed. In the beginning, we thought that Jin was an overbearing tyrant, and Sun was his sweet, dutiful wife. Then we learned that it was Sun’s father that turned Jin into this man (against his true nature), and THEN we learned that Sun knowingly set Jin up to be treated this way by her father. Sun borrowed money to pay off Jin’s mother, who said that Jin was born of a prostitute. Sun didn’t want the truth to come out about Jin, so she willingly put Jin in her father’s service to pay off the debt. Their love changed, as Jin became a person HE didn’t even like, and Sun had an affair, learned English, planned to leave him, etc. Their story was like an onion, peeling back the layers revealed more and more story and a deeper understanding of each character.
On the island, Jin and Sun were given a chance to get back to the people they were when they first fell in love. In their pre-island existence, they had eventually gotten to a place where they took each other for granted. They found each other again on the island (figuratively), and ironically for the last two seasons, they were each on a constant search for the other (literally). Their reunion was beautiful and their deaths were tragic, but their redemption was complete.
Making Sense of Sideways World
The reunions were amazing! Didn’t you think? The enhanced version of the finale said, “People remember their island experiences when they are near death, or experience a moment of true love.”
It was great to see Juliet again, and her presence was important to the awakenings of Jin and Sun. To see their story played out in a montage of pictures was a tear-jerker for me. As I mentioned above, their reunion was beautiful and their deaths were tragic, but here they were together in Sideways world ready to move forward. (BTW, I loved it when Juliet described the baby’s heartbeat as, “perfectly perfect in every way.”)
In the Sideways world, there seemed to be a certain aspect of suspension of reality. It was hard to believe that Jack would ask Claire to move in with him after knowing each other a few days, especially when his son was living there. Also, on my first watch of the show, I had a really hard time with the fact that Kate was delivering Claire’s baby, instead of just calling 911. In retrospect, though, I realize that in this world things happen the way they need to in order to allow people the remember and let go. I think what I said earlier about the fact that Kate and Claire were crucial to each other’s redemption story is reflected in their Sideways reunion. They weren’t having a near death experience, it was a moment of true love! It was their love for Aaron, and for each other, that helped them to remember. The subsequent reunion of Claire, Charlie and Aaron was also truly beautiful to watch. (And that reminds me of Hurley’s reaction to Charlie when he first saw him at the motel. Hurley had that lovably goofy grin, and Charlie said, “Who are you and why are you grinning like a sorry idiot?” Good stuff!)
I was surprised that Sayid did not end up with Nadia. Do you remember when Sayid was talking with Flocke outside the Temple, and he said that the woman he loved had died in his arms? Maybe he was referring to Shannon? I don’t think so, but maybe. It seems like a little hiccup in the LOST story telling to me, but I think I can live with it. I loved what Hurley said to Sayid in the Sideways world. “You can’t let other people tell you what you are, dude. You have to decide that for yourself.” Sayid’s story was a sad one, in my opinion, but he was able to prove (hopefully to himself) what a good guy he truly was, when he took the bomb off the sub. It was good to see him find peace at the end (even if it was with Shannon)!
I loved the Sideways Juliet! She was the sweet Juliet from pre-island life, except this time she seemed happy and confident. Her reunion with Sawyer was every bit as wonderful as I had been anticipating (“It worked. We should get coffee sometime. We can go dutch.”) Juliet had such a pained expression on her face as she remembered her own heart-wrenching death, and I loved Sawyer’s response of, “It’s me, baby. I gotcha. I gotcha, baby.”
Jack was that last to let go. The Man of Science needed a lot of enlightening moments in order to believe (Locke, Kate, the coffin…). Through his conversation with his father, we were all given the chance to really understand. In that moment, we learned that they were all dead. After an emotional embrace, Christian explains things to Jack:
1) Everything is real.
2) Some of them died before Jack, some of them long after, and there is no “now”.
3) The Sideways world is a place that they all made together so they would be able to find one another.
4) The most important time of their lives were the times they spent together.
5) Chrisian,“Noone does it alone, Jack. You needed all of them and they needed you.” Jack, “For what?” Christian, “To remember and let go.”
6) They aren’t leaving, they are moving on.
More Sideways Stuff:
I loved that the Sideways world had a positive focus on family. Many of the parent issues were resolved. Miles, Ben and Daniel all had good relationships with their fathers (and Daniel with his mother, too). Jack found peace in the relationship with his son. I’m a little confused about Locke and Anthony Cooper, but my sense is that Anthony was such a bad guy in the real world, that he is left in a vegetative state in the Sideways world and will never be able to move on.
Some, like Daniel, were not ready, and so they didn’t move on. We don’t’ know all of Eloise’s story, but she somehow found redemption with Daniel and is living as his mother in Sideways LA. She is not ready to lose him, and I think that is why she didn’t want Desmond to find Penny and move on. At the concert, she asked Des if he was taking Daniel. I think that the characters not in the church at the end, are building a Sideways world with other people. They will move on together. The reason Ben didn’t go in, was because he now remembers Alex and must help Alex and Danielle to join him in their own process of moving on.
Other Randoms Ideas:
*I loved it when Flocke told Jack that he was, “sort of the obvious choice” for protector of the island. It was another great example the writers’ using the characters on LOST to express things that the fans have been saying. Jack did seem like the obvious choice, but the writers threw a twist when it was actually Hurley who became the protector (presumably for a long time).
*Six Losties left on the Aijira plane that left the island. We now have the Aijira 6 – Kate, Claire, Richard, Miles, Sawyer and Frank!
*I’m wondering if Flocke had gotten off the island, then maybe the evil would’ve won and the people in the Sideways world never would’ve remembered, or been able to let go and move on. Their fight to stop him was not only a fight for survival on the island, but also a fight for eternal survival and release from the in-between (sideways) world. They were able to defeat Smokey because of their connections to each other. Out of conflict grew deep love and respect. They worked together to find redemption and save themselves.
*I believe that there are many answers to be found amid all the seasons of LOST. I think if we look and try to fit some of the pieces together we’ll get some of the answers we seek. I have a few theories of my own, but they will have to wait for another note. And if you ever find yourself rewatching LOST and having an “aha” moment, please share it with me!
Lines I loved (for various reasons):
* Jack to Flocke, “You’re not John Locke. You disrespect his memory by wearing his face, but you’re nothing like him.”
*Kate to Charlie, “Thank you!” Charlie, “It’s just a blanket.”
*Sawyer, “Son of a bitch!” (about 20 times!!)
*Hurley to Jack, “I believe in you, Dude.” Jack to Hurley (later), “Hurley, I believe in you.”
*Kate to Flocke, “I saved you a bullet!”
*Jin and Sun to Sawyer, “We’ll see you there.”
*Kate to Jack, “You can come with us too, Jack. You don’t have to do this... Let the island sink, Jack.” Jack, "I can't."
*Miles, “I don’t believe in a lot of things, but I do believe in duct tape.”
*Jack to Desmond, “I’ll see you in another life, Brotha.”
Thank you, thank you, thank you for taking this journey with me. It's been a great run. I'm going to miss LOST for the characters and story, for the constant speculation into the meaning of every word, number and literary reference, and for the interaction with you. Please let me know your thoughts!!