Here we go–my slightly belated thoughts on the Lost finale. I haven’t yet read other people’s responses, having just come out of the end-of-the-semester grading chasm, but here’s my immediate post-episode response:
I loved parts of it–significant parts. I loved how the series opens and closes with Jack’s perception, and how we leave the story as Jack leaves consciousness. I loved that we finally get the much-delayed recognition of past relationships that I’d been waiting for all season. I loved that Claire and Kate were each other’s triggers. I adored seeing the doubling of Claire’s delivery. And when Sun and Jin remembered… that felt like satisfying retribution for what to me seemed to be their needless sacrifice earlier.
I wish there had been a way they could have spread out those moments of revelation and recognition over the course of the season (as Damages might have done), because all that delayed gratification left for a frustrating mid season experience. But the pay off was monumental, I’ll admit that much. I was more than teary-eyed for each long-awaited reunion.
BUT… and here is the but. Look, I’m a sucker for Christian mythology integrated into serial television. I mean, I didn’t fully get on board with Supernatural until they introduced the angel storyline in season 4. But, when it came to the Lost finale, I was frustrated by the way all that heavy-handed religious imagery combined with the fact that, for the most part, it seemed characters had to be tied to hetero-romantic relationships in order to gain entrance to the ascension church (be that Jack’s fantasy or everyone’s final ascension ground). I wish the closing scene could have been about a community, not a community of hetero-romantic pairs plus Locke and Boone. (Apparently it’s OK to be a renegade masculine figure, but I couldn’t help but note that all the women were paired up.)
And it wasn’t just that they sat in pairs, but also how the camera shifted lovingly from one heteronormative pairing to the next, as Christian walked by, giving his benediction to each. It looked a bit like a mass cult wedding service. I like my Christian mythology more angsty and less certain, and I like my communities a bit less heteronormative.
I very much like the framing idea that, as Christian said, this was the place that the Lost survivors built together to find each other. I can live with the idea that out of a multitude of realities and times, they have built a link, forged by the island, to each other. That aspect of the closure was extremely satisfying.
But the merger of hetero-romantic unions with the show’s origin, to the extent that Sayid ends up with Shannon (and not Nadia?)–where the island plus hetero-romance trumps all–this bothered me. Perhaps it was meant as the ultimate, meta fan-service: these are the characters you either started with or care about most. But if that were the case, Faraday would have broken free of his mother and joined the others. I can’t fully unpack the logic of who got access to the salvation scene, I only know that the final imagery felt so constrained by romanticized religiosity, or religious heteronormativity.
I think it was the salvational tone that got to me most; I felt like in its final use of religious imagery, Lost was setting up a cultish (and not in the fannish sense) request for pure belief. Compare it to Supernatural, where the seasonal closure indicates that God does care enough to resurrect an angel, but other than that God’s role in human existence is highly in question. Or, at the very most, God is an unshaven alcoholic genre novel writer.
Actually, I find the comparison between Lost and Supernatural quite profound–these two shows encapsulate two (vastly different) ways in which serial narratives of god and faith and humanity are playing out, simultaneously, on our television screen. I find myself pulled toward Lost‘s epic art of questioning, with the endless sense that answers are just around the corner. I’ve always loved that about Lost; but when push comes to shove, I prefer ambiguity to closure. And part of this may be because closure tends to fix characters within normative relational codes–and hence we have this strange, closing scene that feels too closed and regressive in terms of gender politics for such a rich and complex show.
Hmm. Having said all of this, and gotten it off my back, I actually feel quite at peace with the show as a whole. This was a show that always hooked me in fits and starts, and that I loved unevenly. But what it did well, it did fully. It committed. I hope we can get that level of sustained commitment in future TV.