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May 24, 2010

Lost: The End (And Fatherhood)

Lost_title Goddamn show. I was up until one in the morning, combing through pages of Tweets, Facebook updates, and AV Club comments, trying to figure out What It All Meant. What it meant: a bleary-eyed Monday morning routine, shuffling the kids off to school and swimming lessons, respectively. I decided to put off thinking about it until later. Maybe I'd even write a recap. I used to do that, I liked doing it, and a few people seemed to enjoy my take on the show. Or maybe I wouldn't do a recap. I'd slept on it, and in the morning I wasn't sure what to make of it. What did I just watch? Why'd it end like that?

On the drive back from Zoe's swim lesson, we cruised down the same streets, past the same houses. And Zoe asked the same question: "Where Jonah house?" Jonah is a friend of Lucas - they used to be best friends, until Jonah moved away. For some reason, Zoe continues to think that he lived and continues to live in our neighborhood. As always, I gave her the same answer: "Jonah doesn't live here, baby." "Why?" she asked. "Why" is a new addition to her vocabulary, and she goes to it early and often. She's two, and most of the world still defies her attempt to define it. It makes answering that particular question easy. I looked at her in the rear view mirror. "Why" is both the best and worst word; it's inspiring and maddening, even more than "love". And sometimes there's really only one answer to the question. Why? I looked at her in the rear view mirror. "Because."

Inspiring and maddening. I was a bit miffed as the big white L O S T appeared on the screen. I was hoping for some answers, or at the very least some kick-ass apocalyptic showdown between the forces of Good and Evil while the fate of multiple universes hung in the balance. (I'd pictured The Island as a knockoff of Stephen King's Dark Tower: the intersecting point of infinite worlds, or some such. Also, I pictured the Man In Black as being a badass destroyer of worlds - but really, was he all that bad? All I heard him say was that he wanted to get off the Island. No talk of eating souls, or raising an orc army. Dude just wanted to go to Disneyland, eat a hot dog at Pink's, and hit the outlet malls.) Instead, we got...what, exactly? Jacob's Cork metaphor was...an actual cork? The Light was a gateway to a Unitarian church in Laguna Beach? Who the hell wrote this episode - Mitch Albom? 

I won't lie to you: I didn't wake up this morning with a new appreciation for the finale. I love the show's characters - Ben Linus redefined and then re-redefined what a fictional antagonist could be - and I love that the show stayed true to them up until the end, giving them an earned peace. (And yes, I got all verklempt a few times, even as I figured out what was really going on.) What I don't like: when it came to testing their faith in the audience - the geeks who embraced this show, and the non-genre fans who quickly learned how rich, deep and exciting sci-fi and fantasy can be when done right - Mr. Lindelof and Mr. Cuse blinked. The characters were indispensable - but so were the mysteries. Without Dharma, The Others, and that time-hopping Island, without all of that mythology, there is no Lost. We had 5.98 seasons of a show that was as weird and beautiful as a Dali - and it was rubbed off to reveal a Thomas Kinkade underneath. There were some truly exciting and moving moments, but those didn't quite make up for the gaps in logic that showed in the finale.  Why didn't Desmond or Jack turn into Smoke Monsters when they fell into the Well? Uh...because. Why didn't we get all of our questions answered? Uh...because.

But I did wake up with a new appreciation for one aspect of the show, one that I never thought much about: the way the show incorporated fatherhood as a running theme. 

Well, of course it did. English Lit 101: The Hero's Journey. Jack's needing to please his father, Sawyer needing to avenge his, Michael's relationship with WAAAAAALT, Locke desperately seeking a father, Ben Linus and Charles Widmore both finding salvation in being a father, Jacob and The Man In Black acting as surrogate fathers to various Islanders looking for answers and direction...hell, even Miles had Daddy Issues. The concept of fathers and sons ran through the series, and the themes of fatherhood - giving yourself for your kids, raising them right, and letting them go when it's time - went hand in hand with the show's overarching study of free will vs. pre-destination. TV fathers, as we know, are often painted in broad strokes, usually using the Well-Intentioned But Hapless Buffoon Brush. Lost's fathers (and sons) were flawed, human, and real (even if they were really the Smoke Monster in disguise); on a show where the line between good and evil were often blurred, the relationships between these fathers and father-figures and their charges were always nuanced and often surprising. If I didn't like the way The Island's metaphysical properties were explained - or not - in the finale, I did like the closure that Lost's dads received. (The good ones, anyway - Michael kinda got screwed. Shouldn't have shot Libby, dude.) Our band of castaway fathers were rewarded and redeemed. 

So, we got half of a good series finale. "The End". I still don't quite believe it. The cynic in me is convinced that we'll all find out about The Statue and The Temple and how the whole time/space travel thing really works when we get a big-screen version of Lost in a few years. (Yeah, yeah, "they" say that they're done, but money talks - Exhibit A: Sex and The City 2


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