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May 24, 2010

'There Are Still a Lot of Questions'

Chris Seay found Sunday's LOST finale satisfying on some counts, but not on others

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Chris Seay, author of The Gospel According to Lost, offers his thoughts on Sunday night's finale, "The End." (SPOILERS AHEAD). Seay says he felt the success of the finale depended on the ability of the storytellers "to weave these two narratives together, and I felt like the finale fell short in that. There are still a lot of questions [including] about whether the island is purgatory. It leaves us with a lot of pieces to put together. It just wasn't what the storytelling geek in me wanted." Seay does note that he enjoyed the spiritual focus, and adds that though he wouldn't want the show to be "Christian propaganda," he was somewhat disappointed in the mishmash of religions -- "all these spiritual paths" -- that showed up at the end. "To have all these religions literally laid on top of each other felt disingenuous, even a bit offensive." Check out the rest of Seay's comments here:

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Comments

Biggest disappointment - the good vs evil battle, the dark and light game pieces, the man in black vs Jacob, Jack vs not-Locke all this suggested a cosmic battle between good and evil. For six years we are waiting for the ultimate conflict between good and evil, but what we get is something of a whimper that it doesn't really matter - everybody dies and goes to a better place of hugs and kisses, nobody ever knew really what was going on - none of the characters had a clue. The cosmic battle was what? An illusion of purgatory? We still don't know what made the smoke monster a monster, except that Jacob threw him into the cave where the light was, yet Desmond and Jack can be in the presence of the light and not be affected.

I loved the emphasis on characters and redemption throughout the six seasons, but the finale was really disappointing.

I was both satisfied and disappointed by the finale also. Mostly disappointed...
I like many have invested a lot of time into this show. Maybe too much time, but from the very first episode I was hooked. The ending seemed to make most of what happened over the last 6 years not very important. The point they indirectly may have been making was that relationship is more important than what they were actually doing, but it would have been nice to know why some of the things they were doing was important. Like, the numbers they were putting into the computer, where Jacob not real mom came from, what the source of the light was, how the man in black was made. Lots of questions that unfortunately I will spend too much time pondering. This is one of the beautiful and frustrating things about Lost that too was there from the beginning.

I agree with Seay that the ending was a disappointment. But the whole 6th season was a let down for me. I saw the "all roads lead to the light" theme coming, but I was disappointed still that it was such a blatant theme in the chapel with the stain glass of *spirituality*. The message seemed to say that it doesn't matter what you believe as long as you work out the good and bad karma of your life, you will be joined with the light. It was fun to look for Christian overtones, but in the end it felt like a mockery of the truth.

I have found your comments, Chris, very intriguing & helpful through this final season of Lost. I agree that the finale left MANY questions still up in the air, but it emphasized that relationships and faith were the two things that mattered most and would outlast all the rest.

It was an intriguing idea to me that the spirits of the people we loved in our lives could come together at our death to help us "let go" and pass into eternity. So in the end, we really DON'T "die alone."

I don't see how the window is disingenuous or offensive at all, in terms of its presence on "Lost". The show's been wearing its syncretism on its sleeve since day one, though lots of commentators have been trumpeting the parts they like and ignoring/avoiding the parts they don't like. We saw that a lot on "The Gospel According to 'Lost'" - what really stuck with me was Mr. Seay's commentary on 'Ab Aeterno', talking about how beautiful it was that Jacob said something about the man in black believing that all men are corruptible, but Jacob brings people to the island to prove him wrong...the problem is, from a biblical perspective, the man in black was the one speaking the truth, but that part was brushed aside. I imagine the writers included the window as their last chance to clearly shout "HEY! THIS IS NOT A ALLEGORY! IT'S SYNCRETIC!"...'cause a lot of people just weren't accepting that part, or willing to discuss those complications.

My relative who did his masters thesis on McLuhan made an interesting interpretation of that scene, with the light gleaming through the window, plus previous warnings of people coming to claim the light on the island: the light shines through all paths, but if any one path comes to claim the light for itself, the light will go out. Which is syncretic, and also makes sense in the show's greater narrative, with this large ensemble of characters all coming to or interpreting "redemption" in very different ways.

The Island was real. They kept saying that so many times in the episode. Christian says it in the end. Hurley thanks Ben for being his number 2, which indicates that that really happened and finally we see an aged shoe near jacks "final resting place." This was the same shoe that we saw in episode 1, only now it was aged. Lastly, I love the shots of plane wreckage during the credits. For me, it signified that all of the characters have finally left an let go of their baggage. That was always the main theme of the show. Furthermore, the show was not making a statement on heaven. Just the character of jack's "passing into death." Heaven is never mentioned and when he is in the church, they are more like waiting to go somewhere...the church not being the final destination of his and their soul. Also, Christian Sheperd commented that the church was a place that they (the characters or maybe just Jack) created. Therefore, I think that the various religious symbols basically represented each character. Despite how many Christian themes we all loved and saw in the show, Sun and Jin where always Buddhist and Sayid was a praying Muslim. We have seen them pray and celebrate their religion many times...therefore the end does not come off as shock to me. Whats interesting is how secular reviewers of the show feel that its overtly christian. Also, I can't tell you how cool it has been to have a number of conversations about the Bible, with non christians (using the use of religion in Lost as a common ground).

To me, it seems like Lost is a show about the meaning of life. Its not about mans crazy quest, thirst and obsession for knowledge and answers. Because at THE END of the day, what does all that really matter? I mean in our own real lives, we have crazy questions like, "who did Cain marry after he killed Abel? where is the Ark of the covenant? Is the Rapture pre trib or post? Did Jesus marry Mary Magdalene....????? (DaVinci Code) Where did Noah's Ark land?

But I think, when we see God...God will be more concerned about

1) What choice did you make in life?
2) How was your character tested and were you redeemed and
3) How well did you connect to and treat the people around you?

The show is titled Lost, but I feel very happy with the ending of it because, Jack, Kate, Hurley, Sun, Jin, Sawyer, Locke and etc were all "found." In the Bible, the book of Roman's tells us that all man (regardless of religion) has an internal and subconscious need to be "Found." And despite what anyone may think of the various religious symbols on the glass mirror in the church....I still applaud the writers attempt to explore and conclude this storyline and a very spiritual and not "mental" manner.

Another Lost theme I liked comes from the episode, "Across the Sea." In that episode, the Crazy Mother said all man has a light inside of them. Again, looking at the first Chapter of Romans (The Bible, NIV) it basically says all man has an internal knowledge and longing for God. Verse 20 says "His Divine nature has been clearly seen." In verse 21, it says "but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened."

I use that verse to interpret mother's words for myself. She mentioned how through the ages, man who had an internal knowledge of the light...went on crazy quest to take up too much of the light on the island for themselves (and in my opinion try to become their own gods, lord over others, ignore wisdom and intuition and exploit nature) and in an effect, miss God and destroy the Light.

Another take away about the light makes me think of how God instructed the priest to forever keep the fire burning in the Tabranacle/ and later the Temple. This can also be said for the woman who kept the light burning in the lanterns as they waited for Jesus to return.

Finally As a person who likes to create and make believe, I love the fact that the show provided some "rules" to what it was about, however gave me room to explore its content for ever and ever in my own way. After all, what answers could really substitute and be a candidate for what we all have in our heads? In a show that proved that it was really about characters and their struggle, how would you have written and concluded "THEIR" stories. I just love the fact that i can keep on coming with theories on my own :)

I agree with David, I made a list of my questions I could think of over 6 yrs of watching the show before the finale started and when it was over they writers had answered two, What happened to Vincent? and What happened to Rose and Bernard? This is the first (and probably the last) time I have invested so much time into a television series. I feel like on an entertainment level the writers somewhat failed to keep a unified story from the beginning to the end. This is most likely because they had no idea how it was going to end when they began it. I guess I should be happy it got some kind of ending instead of just canceled like so many others do. As far as 'Christian' themes go, I didn't really see it, Spiritualism yes, but nothing even close to a Savior image, a humble, meek inspiring leader who sacrificed himself for the good of all.

What happened to Vincent and Rose and Bernard? This was definitly answered in the show! Both in last years show, The Incident and in The End, Rose and Bernard clearly indicated that they wanted to live on the island and stay as far away from drama as much as possible. They also became the care takers of the dog. So in other word, they stayed on the island with Hurley and Ben. They were more like neighbors, because they probably didnt interact with them. This show definitly requires plenty of viewing and in doing that, many will discover that loads of questions have been answered. Just many people don't remember this for some reason. Its like this:

Although it seems a lot of our questions have not been answered, there were many questions and mysteries that have been either directly or indirectly answered already, yet people still do not accept them.

"What is the smoke monster?"
- Answer: Originally the MIB, then turned into the smoke monster.
"No, what exactly IS the smoke monster?"
- Answer: The Man In Black. In episode "Across the Sea", Jacob sent his brother into the light, which in turn turned him into the smoke monster.
"You're still not answer the question of what the smoke monster REALLY is!"
- Answer: The smoke monster is a manifestation, spirit, or essence of Jacob's brother turned into black smoke through supernatural means. Clearly.
"No, you don't get it. What is the blasted smoke monster! What is it made out of?"
- Answer: Um, smoke? Screw it. NANOBOTS powered by JESUS JUICE.
"NO NO NO, WHAT THE HECK IS THE SMOKE MONSTER?!"
- Answer: 46
"Oh, that makes sense..."

You get me? I have actually been keeping a list of questions that have been answered and would feel free sharing it.

We finally know what the island is: A special place, where healing and crazu unexplained stuff happens. A place that contains electromagnetic properties that scientist have been trying to exploit for ages. A place that contains a power source (light) in where if this light stoped, the world would feel the results. I'm so okay with this. Any more details would actually ruin things...i mean, the less we know about OZ, Wonderland and Narnia, the more believable it is. You know why? Because certain things just can't be explained. Its supernatural.

Now heres a big one, concerning Walt:

I feel like we got our answer to Walt, just by getting the information we did about the other so called "special" people on the island. Walt was just one of many: Hurley, Miles. I wonder if "special" is in the eye of the beholder? Crazy Mother thought young MIB was special too. Also, maybe The Others-not knowing that the 06 where the true candidates for Jacob, maybe thought that Walt was the sole candidate. However, in the web-isodes, it seems like they discover that hes nothing more then just a big problem for them. So instead of just getting rid of him they decided to use him a bait for Michael to get Ben out of captivity. That's a simple explanation based off the context clues Lost provided. I think the similar explanations can be made for other lingering mysteries. Lastly, I think they properly concluded Walt's story line in Season 5's episode, "The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham" when Locke saw him at school and decided not to bother him because he wanted him to live out his own life away from the island. This can be used to explain why he wasn't at the churches after-life scene; Walt's best years and best friends probably were not connected to the Island whatsoever. I'm cool with this explanation. But you know what I fear? I fear that the added Walt scenes in the extra 20 DVD minutes will ruin this for me and create a plot hole. All because the writers caved into the demands of the public.

Again, the list of answers go on...we know who the Adam and Eve skeletons belonged to...we that Jughead didnt work...

I cannot say that the island disappointed me. I felt that they answered quite a bit of questions, and we knew they wouldn't answer EVERYTHING. I think leaving some things ambiguous is a good thing. And I think a lot of what people think they didn't answer, they really did. We really did not have THAT much left ambiguous.

And I can't really see the ending as offensive. Heck, as a Christian, having them meet at a blatantly Christian church is a plus for me. I believe that non-Christians can be saved if they honestly never realize the necessity of following Christ, so that kind of had extra meaning to me. So I don't feel that the religions were mishmashed. I think all characters meeting in a Christian Church has some intense meaning to it.

And of course, people matter more then mystery in the end, and I am glad they made the end character-centric, instead of mystery-centric. Checklisting answers wouldn't be as memorable as what they gave us. And who can't love the parallel in the ending scene to the start? Vincent lying down next to a dying Jack is brilliant television.

I honestly don't think they could've done much better. I'd like to know what people really expected because I think the ending delivered very well. It may not be 100% theologically correct but I have to respect how good everything turned out.

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