Everything Happens in the Blink of an Eye
Oh my goodness, where to start?! I’m sure the inter-tubes will be exploding today with love and hate for this episode, so let me begin by saying – I loved it! LOVED IT! I was totally satisfied…and not just satisfied, but it actually showed me what it would even mean to be satisfied and then fulfilled that. There’s no way to cover everything, so I’m going to focus on what I loved best – the flashes of memory!
Jin and Sun: man, I love these two! And I love that Juliet facilitated their reunion. This was the first flashback, and the one that showed us something immediately new. Jin and Sun didn’t just flash to things that had originally happened on this island (seasons 1-5), as has happened so far for others this season. They actually flashed all the way to their deaths. They felt it all, and they learned the language. And we got the core theme of the episode – that finitude is what gives meaning to life. Life matters because it’s short. And we had a wonderful clue that this was going to become important minutes after with Richard’s first gray hair…for him too, the possibility of death is what made him want to live. The heaven we would eventually reach in the episode is a Heaven made up by the events of life – a heaven made up by our relationships and loves and even hopes.
Sayid and Shannon (and Boone): I AM SO VINDICATED!! You heard it first here Moth Chase friends…I don’t want to gloat, but I have to. All season long I’ve been saying that Sayid’s one true love is going to be Shannon, not Nadya…because when he made the deal with Locke, the women’s name remained unsaid. I have had friend after friend after random person tell me how wrong I am. Eat it y’all. I was right.
And that’s what I got out of that scene.
Also, Boone forgot how to play Boone and showed up as Damon from the Vampire Diaries instead. I’m not complaining. I like Damon better.
(Daniel and Charlotte – it’s not so intense because they’re not going to make it to Heaven? I don’t fully understand this yet…so Desmond isn’t taking Daniel from Eloise – ok, does that mean they – like as in Daniel and Charlotte, and Miles and Lapides, and a few others – are all shadows or something, playing bit parts in someone else’s Heaven as a memory, but not actually living there? That’s my take on it – what do you think, K?)
Island Interlude #1 – Jack can make Flocke bleed coz that thing got taken out of that hole (PS-I love it later when Jack picks up that giant penis and puts it back in the hole…most phallic thing ever – awesome!). This is getting really good! Flocke’s look of shock and fear is awesome!
Claire and Kate (and Charlie) – I love that the memory return in this story doesn’t happen over the romantic love but over the connection between two women who have come to care for each other deeply through the shared raising of a child. I guess that’s as close to a same-sex parenting couple we’re going to get on Lost. For all the ways Kate has annoyed me over these 6 seasons, I thought her acting was superb in this scene. Apparently once everyone gets reconciled in Lost to each other, I feel reconciled to them too!
What I loved about this scene is that even though Kate and Jack are going to end up together, her memory doesn’t come from him…and when they kiss good-bye on the cliff, I’m convinced he loves her to his core, but not that she loves him the same way. There’s a more complicated understanding of love going on here, and I like it. Kate has always had more complicated relationships – she ends up with Jack in Heaven because that’s where her history plays out, not necessarily because of some spiritual connection. I think this rings true to life – we all experience love differently and I’m glad that Lost is willing to show us that.
Island Interlude #2 – holy shit Kate shoots Flock! F*cking awesome! Jack’s throat getting cut gives an amazing explanation of why Jack’s neck keeps bleeding in Alterna-world – I love it!
Jack and Locke – I love that Locke gets it right away and Jack continues to resist. They’ve returned to their original positions of man of faith and man of reason/doubt. But what does it mean that Jack doesn’t have a son (at least according to Locke)? In fact, this is one of the places where my resolution is not complete (but that’s fine) – Aaron seems to be a baby in Heaven? And Jin and Sun’s kid was never born? But the mythology seems to state that everything that happened happened – so we should have those kids…unless they’re not dead yet? I’m confused about this. Yeah, maybe they’re just not there yet.
I loved watching those who were in the know encounter those who weren’t yet there – like Jin and Sun looking at Sawyer so lovingly in the hospital room and then saying they’d see him later, and Hurley coming upon Charlie and pretty much everyone else he came upon…lovely!
Also love that Miles fixes the plane with duct tape!
And love that this time Kate and Sawyer jump in the water together!
Sawyer and Juliet – this was my favourite!! These two are the real deal. I’ve been waiting to hear Juliet say her lines about coffee and going dutch, and she did not disappoint! There’s was the first flashback moment that really integrated the island memories and the Heaven-world into a seamless narrative reunion. Everyone else had flashbacks. Juliet and Sawyer incorporated their flashbacks into their conversation. That’s a deep connection – the deepest love connection of the show. It’s funny – I read in the New York times last week that the two unintended plot lines were the development of Ben’s character and the Juliet/Sawyer love – and these were easily two of my favourite parts of the show. Perhaps an unintentional theme of Lost is that you can’t plan everything and most often it’s the stuff you don’t intend that is most magical.
Jack and Kate – Poor Jack continues to resist…but Kate waits patiently till he’s ready. Funny how I’m warming to Kate in the final episode…perhaps I’ll enjoy her even more when the box set comes out.
Um, the target commercials – awesome!
Island Interlude #3: Ok, the theologian in me can’t resist this one – Hurley wants to stop Jack from giving his life up for the island. Jack tells him he has to fulfill his purpose and entrusts the island to Hurley. This was so very much the Gospel story of Peter trying to stop Jesus from going to the cross and Jesus saying he has to go, then giving Peter the keys to the Kingdom…this was allegory at its best! The Christological imagery was so rampant, it almost needn’t be mentioned – pierced side, death and resurrection, Shepherd, etc… – but this was my favourite version of it. Then you add in Hurley sharing the keys with Ben and you’ve got Peter and Paul coming together to lead the church. Ben is Saul turned Paul (I gotta thank my husband for pointing that one out), persecuting the righteous only to become righteous once he quite literally sees the light. I love that Hurley and Ben end up guarding the island together, and then reconnecting in Heaven…what a beautiful picture of hope. I love that everyone is reconciled in this world – even Locke and Ben have a sweet moment…lovely!
Yeah, so that church has the most multi-faith stained glass window I’ve ever seen; not just Christianity, Judaism and Islam and Buddhism, but also, I think, the donkey wheel from the island. That kind of made me giggle, but I love it. Thanks Lost – we have all religions in Heaven, it seems…just no gay people, no unattractive people and only one black person. But at least we’ve got all the religions. Or at least 4 of them.
Jack and Christian – Jack finally gives in and lets the memories flow, seeing everyone he helped, everyone he loved, and a whole lotta Kate. We have a father/son reconciliation – finally, and Jack gets to know he’s dead.
So here’s what I find interesting – the series answers what Alterna-World is, but it doesn’t really answer what the island is. By placing the Heaven in LA, not on the island, the show makes the island a real place. As far as whatever happens happens goes, the lives of everyone on the island – their original crash and their return – are all a part of their real lives. Some stay on the island. Some return home again. Some die. And then they all die – but at very different times. Some folks might be annoyed today that Lost ended up with a Heaven. But it didn’t end with just a Heaven. It maintained the mystery of the island as a place that exists in our world – a gateway to all things good and evil, and a mythical place that is neither Heaven, nor Hell, nor the real world, nor a spiritual world. It’s science and myth and religion and something more. It’s real mystery beyond all those things.
And that’s why in the end – I’m totally satisfied by this ending. Because in the end, the only thing I think can truly satisfy us is the mystery of unknowing…the mystery of unknowing paired with the joy of pondering that unknowable.
Thanks for sharing this journey with me, K – I can’t wait to hear what you thought!
Wow. I am right there with you. I loved this finale. Was it perfect? No. Did it answer so many of the questions that linger? Not by a long shot. Did it provide the emotional resolution I craved? Oh so very much. Like you, I find it hard this close to my first viewing of the finale to speak about it in a unified or sustained way, so let me also just offer some initial observations and responses.
Heaven, hell and in between: I read the Alterna-world as the purgatory that we once suspected the island might have been, a kind of holding ground for our characters to work through remaining character issues and to eventually find the relationships that meant the most in their real-life formation. This notion of purgatory, not as a place of punishment, but of soul-refinement seemed to be reinforced when Ben says to Locke that he has a few more things to work out and won’t be going with the rest of the crew. I also loved that in the end what seemed to matter most was character – not fate or mysticism – and that character was determined by relationship. Sure, we are mostly talking about heterosexual pairings, but as you point out, there are plenty of other relationships that matter – Kate and Claire, Jack and Locke, Jack and Christian, Charlie and Hurley.
Reality: I also loved that the island and all that happened on it was real. Perhaps the hardest thing for me to get my head around at first was the idea that Kate, Claire, Lapides, Miles, Richard and Sawyer actually left the island on the plane rigged together with duct tape. Wouldn’t you absolutely have loved to know what happened to them? What kind of lives did they led? How long they lived? What the hell Richard did? One huge question for me is whether or not Jack really did save the island. In which case, what was up with the island under the sea that we saw during the season premiere? My overall interpretation was that the atomic bomb did not destroy things, nor did it kill our characters. Rather, it reset time and set in motion the island action we’ve been watching all season. The Alterna-world which seemed like a parallel track somehow triggered by the bomb, was in fact a non-time, non-place purgatory where our characters “went” after they died (all at different times and after different stories). But I thought that meant that the island under water was really under water – the result of the actions of Locke and Jack. Or was that just supposed to be a teaser – a “what could have happened but didn’t”. Or maybe it is just a lose end that isn’t going to be neatly tied together… If the island isn’t destroyed, that means Hurley and Ben stayed behind protecting the island for an unspecified amount of time (which seems to be the case since they allude to this joint work together outside the church). Were they eventually killed and replaced by others? I would love to watch that series too!
Revelations: I loved watching our characters come to revelations of their past lives and like you, I especially loved that not all these revelations were triggered by romantic love. Perhaps the most moving revelation was the one shared by Jin and Sun – maybe because they remembered their lives all the way through their deaths. At least, it was the moment when I realized something stranger than I thought was going on. Up until then I still thought Alterna-world was “real” somehow, but watching Jin and Sun remember dying together totally knocked my socks off and clued me in to something much bigger going on. The most satisfying and profound reunion for me was, like for you, the one between Juliet and Sawyer. I was a little worried that Sawyer and Kate were making goo-goo eyes at each other again, and I so wanted Sawyer’s soul mate to be Juliet, so that was deeply, deeply satisfying (high five and tons of props, by the way, for calling it on Sayid and Shannon!).
Theological allegory: I don’t have much to add to your fantastic reading of the Peter/Paul allegory, except to reinforce it. Instead of bearing wounds on his hands and feet or dying in a cruciform position, we see Jack with a pierced side. A definite allusion to Christ, but also the wound that traditionally is depicted as birthing the church – the blood and water that rush from Christ’s side are symbols both of literal birth (Christ as mother of the Church) and of baptism and eucharist, the sacraments that birth and sustain the church. I thought it was pretty theologically savvy to give us this image instead of any other Christ-like allusions. And yes, I do think that was the donkey wheel on the universalist stained glass window!
I suppose the only other thing to say for the moment is to try and express the strange sadness I felt watching Christian open the door into the blinding light. I gather that we are supposed to imagine all our characters walking into the light and “moving on” to whatever is next – heaven perhaps. I am glad that didn’t show this and I am glad we don’t see whatever is supposed to be next. But at the same time I am dying to know whether they are all still together and if so, what makes whatever is next different from the holding pattern they’ve been in? I think I have this lingering fear that somehow whatever is next is not going to be like real life, and therefore the poignancy of their finding each other and reuniting will be dissipated. I already feel an inexplicable sadness for their various losses – imagining them all continuing on various lives we don’t see, bereft of each other, and then dying. There is something traumatic about this vision: all these people suffering so much together, undergoing so much, and having to live with all these holes and gaps and losses. There is something so satisfying about seeing them given back the things that matter most, the relationships that most define them. I just want to know that they get to stay together in a world where relationships continue to be the defining feature. Perhaps this sadness is only a reflection of my own desire not to want to say goodbye to these characters, but to imagine a place where I keep getting to know what happens to their lives and loves.
A final digressive question: if Alterna-world is a kind of purgatory, are the lives they are given the expression of their deepest desires or their deepest selves, or a kind of challenge, or both? For instance, is Sawyer a cop now because that is most in line with his character when he died, or a challenge for him as a former con man to work out his trust and responsibility issues? Why do some people seem to repeat their lives (Kate still on the run) and others are given relatively new starts (Jack with a son)? I know there is not a definite answer, just something I am puzzling through.
I think I will be puzzling through many more things for a lot of time to come. Perhaps we can both re-watch the whole series at some point and do a reunion post. I’ll meet you in a church and we’ll go from there…