A month after we were married, Noah and I sat down on our crappy Walmart futon in our tiny Nashville apartment to watch a new TV show because Merry from Lord of the Rings starred in it. I thought the previews looked dumb—"Who needs another Jurassic Park?" I thought—but being a newlywed I still pretended to care about the geeky things Noah cared about.
The pilot episode of Lost blew me away. To Noah I happily confessed my uninformed initial opinion, as well as my Road-to-Damascus conversion, and instantly became a Lostie.
I don't know if you've heard, but for the past six years there's been an ongoing debate about...well, actually, pretty much everything about Lost. With almost every piece of art or literature, people will read different meanings into them and prepare to charge into battle to defend those very personal interpretations. With Lost, an incredibly confusing yet fascinating sci-fi overlay mythology competed with outstanding character development for the crowning achievement: The Real Meaning of Lost.
For me, the relationships and the characters were the point, much like in the movie Signs. Whether or not the sci-fi aspects of both dramas were MacGuffins? I don't think so. If anything, the backlash about unanswered questions relating to Lost's mythology proves more about our collective expectations for science fiction than for the show.
The creators of Lost took a risk combining the oil and water of believable human drama and unbelievable elements of the extraordinary. These characters were like us: Struggling in marriages and painful parent–child relationships, battling addictions, trying to figure out careers, but all seeking some sort of atonement or at the very least, escape. And then there was a smoke monster and the Others and evil ne'er-do-wells and outlandish coincidences. Um, what?
I'm not trying to downplay the importance of the willing suspension of disbelief required by the show; it's an essential quality that made Lost what it was. However, the uncanny created a crucible for the characters to believe things about themselves that they didn't think possible.
SPOILER ALERT: I'm about to talk specifically about the finale.
Some fans were angered by the relative lack of answers to the burning mythology questions: What was the light at the center of the island? What are the island's origins? What the heck was The Man in Black's name? How exactly did he turn into the smoke monster? Etc. Etc. Etc.
I saw it as a test, a crucible for me as the viewer. Am I willing to become like the show's characters and not know all the answers? Can I accept the lack of omniscience? Will I find meaning despite my limitations?
The way I saw the ending, Jack and the other passengers of Oceanic Flight 815, who formed a special bond on the island, were reunited in the afterlife. The sideways flashes in the final season were not an alternate reality, but an afterlife reality that the characters created for themselves to be together again the only way they were able—in death. They all returned to the moment when they began their shared journey, on Flight 815. Charlie was the first to realize the truth: That he was already dead, and it was only a matter of awakening everyone else to that truth so they could remember and "move on" together. Desmond served as The Great Awakener.
Jack's father, Christian, explained it by confirming that everyone meeting in the church was dead, although they all obviously died at different times. Some of them died on the island not long after the first crash (Boone, Shannon, Libby, Charlie), some on the island years later (Jin, Sun, Jack), some died sometime in the future after the second departure from the island (Kate, Sawyer, Claire), and some died much, much later (Hurley, the "new Jacob," and Ben Linus, the "new Richard"). Point being, by the time Desmond brought them all to the church, they were all finally dead, and so able to reunite.
Christian also said that everything that happened on the island was real, and that Jack's time there with all those people was the most important time of his life. But that begs another question: Why?
I think I know why. Because the island gave them all a second chance: John walked, Sawyer reformed, Kate repented, Claire found courage, Charlie recovered, Rose was cured, Bernard let go of fear, Boone let go of Shannon, Shannon learned how not to be a mega beyotch, Sayid was redeemed, Jack found faith, Jin and Sun rediscovered love, Hurley found purpose.
Lost's finale didn't disappoint me. Curiosity keeps me wondering about the mythology questions, but those weren't the bigger questions of the show. The important questions—the questions that were there from the very first episode—were addressed.
Can we be better than we are?
Will we believe in something?
Is it possible to overcome weakness?
Are we capable of loving more fully?
Can we be forgiven?
These are the important questions of life, and just as in life, it took many years for the characters on lost to find the answers. They were challenged and tested and battled their own demons, but in the end, we found out the truth: We can be better. Faith is a choice. Weakness is conquerable. We are all capable of love and being loved. Forgiveness is possible.
I can't imagine a better conclusion.