I know what my regular readers are thinking… “What?! Lost ENDED? I had NO IDEA.” Heehee… I have more thoughts on the Lost Finale, says Nikki. And in related news, human beings require oxygen to live.
First of all, I have to apologize for not posting anything today. I booked all of last week off to work on the book (and ended up doing a ton of media and almost NO writing, so I officially ramp up into full-on panic mode today!) Then I booked off the two days following Lost so I could totally focus on this blog and do the extra media stuff I had to do. But today it was back to work, actually thinking of things other than Lost. (Well, I should say, working on things other than Lost, but still thinking about Lost all day long.) And in the middle of the day I had the pleasure of chatting with many Lost fans about the finale again through the Globe chat, so that was fun.
But seriously, all this typing? (This one’s for Gillian Whitfield): “I’ve got blistahs on my fingahs!!!!”
So now, when I should actually be finishing up my chapter on Dostoevsky’s Notes from Underground for the Season 6 book, I’m going to write up some more thoughts for this blog instead. Yesterday I wrote up a post where I talked about that end scene and why I think the plane wreckage during the credits had absolutely nothing to do with the ending, and was instead just extra footage tacked on (and, it turns out, as we’ve been discussing in the comments, I was right: ABC has admitted to adding that into the credits, not realizing the brouhaha they would create by doing it… it actually had nothing to do with Darlton). In that post I suggested that in the final scene, everyone had gathered for Jack’s send-off, and that’s the part of my post that has caused the most resistance. The arguments against that were immense, and really caused me to turn my thinking around. At this point I’m still on the fence, but really coming around to the idea that it was a send-off for everyone (and in my book I think I’ll write both perspectives and not adhere to one over the other, just so I don’t eliminate a theory).
So, let me try to rework that idea in that context. First, as many of you have pointed out and I completely failed to so far in ANY post, even though I’ve been talking about it in the comments, let’s look at the stained-glass window that Jack passes by on his way into the room with the coffin. I loved this.
The window contains the symbols of six major world religions -- going from left to right starting at the top and going down, they are: Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Christianity, Buddhism (no, not Frozen Donkey Wheel), and the yin/yang symbol of Taoism. This church is not necessarily a Christian one, but is simply a house of worship that spans all kinds of religions and belief systems.
I focused on parts of the Christian speech – and the fact that it was, in fact, Christian opening the doors to eternity, placing it squarely in Jack’s world view – but the part that was probably most important was this: "This is a place that you’ve all made together so that you could find one another. The most important part of your life was the time that you spent with these people. That’s why all of you are here. Nobody dies alone, Jack. You needed all of them, and they needed you.” They all made this place together, and together they are going to pass over. I think that’s the strongest argument to be made about the fact that they are all doing this together. Kate had said to Jack, “We’re leaving.” And when Jack asks Christian about this, he says, “Not leaving, no. Moving on.” Notice he leaves out all pronouns in that section, but if we simply look at Kate’s comment, “WE are leaving,” then she’s including herself in this.
I think the reason my mind immediately thought this was Jack’s world only was because we’d seen it through Jack’s eyes, and in the real world of the island, we’re watching Jack’s death… it’s not an ending that runs through every person and how they died (that was Six Feet Under), just Jack's. And then we cut to the gathering here, but we only see Jack.
But here’s why that’s important: Because of all of them, Jack was the one who struggled the most to believe in something this big. In “Orientation” Locke says, “Why do you find it so hard to believe?” Jack counters, “Why do you find it so easy?” Locke yells, “It’s never BEEN easy!!” Jack just glares.
What does Jack need to let go of? He needs to let go of that determination to fix things, that believe that he and only he can save everyone, can help everyone. His moment of realization is a flash of all of the people he HAS helped, and he realizes that he’s done so much, he’s fixed so many things, but that he also helped give tools to others to help them help themselves.
But most importantly, he let go of that fierce reason of his. He allowed his mind to expand and to believe in something bigger than the questions of the island, the answers he so desperately sought, and his dire need to see empirical evidence of something before he’d believe in it. On the island, he’d already come around to that. He believed in Jacob and the smoke monster. He sent Desmond down into the cave because he believed in something that three years earlier, he would have laughed at. And now, in the sideways world, he realizes he’s died, that he’s at peace, that his father always loved him even if he couldn’t show it. And he lets go of his doubts. Doubts about himself, about the people around him… and about his father. And the moment he lets go, he is finally able to move on.
Many have asked, “So, then, what exactly WAS that sideways world? I get it in the end, but what about all that other stuff we’ve seen all season? Why the hell did he have a kid?”
Let me put it this way: I remember watching “My So-Called Life” when I was in my 20s and loving it. Loving the angst that Angela went through, yelling at the television about her parents who just don’t understand. I remember watching Buffy and rolling my eyes at Joyce and her harshness, especially that moment at the beginning of season 3 where she humiliated Buffy in front of everyone at the party after hitting the “juice” a little too hard. As a teenager, I didn’t get along with my parents particularly well. My mom and I were always at each other’s throats. In my 20s I’ll admit my father and I drifted apart and it wasn't easy.
Buffy ended in 2003. Lost started in September 2004. And in August 2004… I became a mother. So my entire lens shifted, and it was through THAT lens that I watched Lost... and rewatched other shows.
Suddenly, I wish Angela would stop rebelling and look at her poor mother and how much that mother loves her. I wish Buffy would understand the hell she put Joyce through when she disappeared to L.A. for a summer without telling her what she’d done. Or what it must be like for Joyce to see her cozying up to Giles as her father figure and not telling her a damn thing. And I understand my own parents a lot more.
And I think that was David’s purpose in the sideways world. Jack was so caught up in his own daddy issues that he never once thought, Maybe Christian was such a hard worker, trying so hard to provide for his son and fumbling through this whole dad thing because, quite simply, he’d never done it before. He was going to make mistakes -- there's no handbook when it comes to parenting, after all. He was going to screw his kid up, even if he was going to try his damnedest not to. He probably hated his own dad and thought, “Oh, I’ll do better than he will.” And then look what happened.
And when Jack fell into the same routine – not being there for David, working his fingers to the bone, all the while wondering why his kid was so morose and hating him – he suddenly saw Christian in himself. He talks to David, tells him how he feels, and David for the first time realizes his dad was a kid once, too, and Jack finally understands that his dad probably felt this way, but didn’t know how to show it.
I think the sentiments of the whole Daddy Issue subtext of Lost could best be summed up by the inimitable Philip Larkin’s “This Be the Verse”:
They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had
And add some extra, just for you.
But they were fucked up in their turn
By fools in old-style hats and coats,
Who half the time were soppy-stern
And half at one another's throats.
Man hands on misery to man.
It deepens like a coastal shelf.
Get out as early as you can,
And don't have any kids yourself.
In the real world, Jack heeds Larkin’s advice, and doesn’t have any kids himself. But it’s only through having that kid that he finds the redemption for himself, and for his own father. And he decided to break that cycle of man handing on misery to man, and he decides he’s going to be there for the kid, knowing that that’s not only going to strengthen his relationship with David, but that it’s probably the sort of relationship Christian always wanted with HIS son, but he just didn’t know how to go about getting it.
So when Locke tells him, “You don’t have a son,” it’s the first step to Jack’s realization… that David wasn’t his son, but in fact, HE was David. And only by being in Christian’s shoes was he going to actually understand what it was like to be him, and he would finally stop hating him and know that he loved him. It was a strange irony that in “316” he put Christian’s shoes on John Locke when Locke was in the coffin, but it was Jack who ultimately had to walk in them to find redemption.
So Jack was the one who held on the longest, and took the longest to let go, which is why everyone else was already waiting for him in the church. They’d worked through their crap earlier, and came to terms with their life, but it was Jack who held on, who refused to let go. And when he finally did, they were all standing there waiting for him. And they all moved on together.