It's hard to even fathom that I have seen the last of characters like Jack, Locke, Hurley, and Sawyer. "The End" to Lost was epic, touching, and in some cases bittersweet. Most of the initial sourness I had was the fact that everything about the island was still ambiguous at the series' end. Ultimately, upon several more viewings (hence the delay), my distaste was eased with the understanding that this was Jack's story, not the island's.
First lets deal with the elephant in the room - the Sideways "Purgatory." With the group I watched it with, the reveal was the most polarizing aspect of the episode; either people loved it for giving us a fond farewell to all the characters and a warm and fuzzy feeling that they all got to move on together, or people hated it for taking up so much of the season that they could have used in exploring the island. In terms of where I fell on the issue, it took me another viewing to get behind the afterlife. Of course, at the time tears were streaming down my face, but that was mostly due to the brilliant intercutting with Jack's tragically heroic death.
Sideways: After Time
- We got from dead Christian's explanation to Jack that the sideways world is actually sort of like the Matrix: it is a collective dream created through the actions and interactions of the survivors of 815 and the ones they came to love.
- It is akin to an eternal waiting room outside of time where their souls could find each other again, to remember the most important time of their lives, and move on together. The opening scene to season 6, the fade in from white, can probably be taken as the instant after Jack's eye closes in death; however, it cannot be treated as chronologically linear. As Christian explains, there were those that died before him, and those that died "long after." I am sure like many of you, my initial thought was that Hurley could have lived for several millenia, with the dream finally be activated by his death (so his soul could join). At the instant of Jack's death, time ceases to be relevant.
- This dream, as I imagine it, is the idealized world for the souls of the Losties after all the experiences they had on the island. For example, Sawyer was head of security for Dharma in the 70's, so his character progression actually had him as more of a cop than con-man after leaving the island - hence, after his death in the real world, he is realized as a cop in this timeless dream (though still dealing with the baggage of his past). This also could explain how Ben becomes a teacher, a role he might have slipped into as the islands number 2, and Hurley thinking he is the luckiest man alive after becoming the new Jacob.
- Problems with the dream:
- Why were other souls trapped in the Lostie's collective dream (Ana Lucia).
- Was the dream an actual physical reality? Jack and Juliette are ex-spouses WITH a son. How are we to reconcile the creation of this new soul and the apparent history established between characters in this dream?
- Were the souls living out their lives in a state of eternal recurrence until they were activated?
- Sayid and Shannon? Seriously - not Nadia? In any state of existence, I guess I guy is still a guy. In one hand, we have a victim of war crimes in her mid 30's. In the other hand, a young, hot, rich, asthmatic white girl. Other hand wins.
- Ultimately, if this reality exists outside of time, then technically anything is possible. It was a touching way for all our characters to reunite, but there always be this nagging feeling that everything that happened in that existence was meaningless. As Christian even states, their time "ON THE ISLAND" was the most important. Sigh.
- I have to say, that everything on the island was pretty badass, though I have to admit I was pretty much content when I got my Neo-Jack vs. Locke fight (with flying fist and all).
- Neo-Jack facing Smokey on the ridge was amazing. Telling Smokey straight up that he was going with him to the golden power and killing him, and Smokey's reaction, goes down as one of my favorite scenes in the history of Lost.
- Desmond is lowered down the waterfall in a mirror of the end of season 1 when Jack and Locke look down into the hatch. Desmond walks by skeletons of those who have tried to go near and failed. As soon as Desmond enters the waters, what could be described as the final safety measure, the burst of electromagnetism, arcs through Desmond as he pulls out giant stone key/plug. As the water drains, so too does the golden power until it is snuffed out.
- From the same hole that the power was flushed, a deep flare of red anrgry-sauce starts to erupt.
- Darth Locke turns to escape now that the island seems to be sinking, but Jack catches him and rains down a few punches. As blood began to flow from Smokey, we are hit with the stark realization that the extinguishing the golden light had cost Smokey his immortality and power. It can probably be assumed that Jack lost whatever immortality he had briefly gained, and that whatever rules were in place to keep the two island powers from killing each other went down the drain with the power too.
- Jack and Locke have their final confrontation, where Jack is mortally wounded (that was no appendix scar) and Smokey takes a bullet in the back from Kate. Jack and Kate finally realize their true love, but with Jack's wound, it is fleeting.
- Jack returns to cave of wonders with Hurley and Ben. Before descending and saving Desmond, Jack entrusts the island protectorship to Hurley in a gut wrenching scene. Hurley was my odds on favorite to obtain the title, as he truly was the most equipped in personality and demeanor to do what he does best for eternity: helping people. Who knows how long Hurley and the new-Alpert, Ben, rule - but I am sure many would have loved to see.
- Jack uses his last bit of strength to reboot the the island's engine, as he slides key/plug back into place and the golden power crackles to life around him. When I first saw Jack's body transported outside the cave, akin to the MIB's, my first thought was, "Oh no, he's the new smoke monster." Thankfully, or sadly, Jack is still barely alive, and stumbles to the spot in the bamboo grove that he first fell to on the island. I completely lost it here, and that was BEFORE they had to play the damn dog card. As Vincent barks and lays beside Jack in his final moments, I was overcome by the "live together, die alone" sentiment. Jack watches his friends escape and smiles as his eye closes for the final time. It was a truly perfect scene, one that will stick with me forever (and hard to write about even now). It's been a few days, and I still feel like someone close to me died.
- Based on what we were presented, there are many ways to interpret what the island was and it may take going back and viewing a few lore-laden episodes with the the new information from season 6 to fully synthesize.
The problem, and Jacob's biggest mistake, is that the rules can create paradoxes. The MIB's rule of immortality conflicted with the malevolence that was borne in his soul from Mother's and Jacob's betrayal. Thus, instead of being able to contain the MIB's soul, his soul was transformed by the energy of the power into something physical that still existed within the rule of immortality conferred to him by Mother. Since Jack had transferred his guardianship to Hurley, and the rights to immortality, when the well of faith was reignited there was no paradox. It simply transported Jack outside, as his soul contained only goodness and faith. Who knows what would have happened if Jack had not given up the guardianship before reigniting the power? White smoke? Jack would have regained his immortality and probably not have died.
Whoever (or whatever) the first inhabitants of the island were, we might be able to assume that the golden power is the origin of all religion.. One can venture down the rabbit hole that since there was a gateway to Tunisia off the island, that cultures such as the Egyptians (who worshiped the Sun and the light) could have been adapted from stories about the island told by those who had managed to leave of an all powerful figure and his/her control over life, creation, and light.
Now for the obvious: what happens when the light of the island goes out? From what we were able to see in the final episode, there may be a couple of explanations. Jacob maintains that if the light goes out, malevolence would be released on the world - or to put it another way: if faith is extinguished, hate and suffering will ensue (a very Jedi belief). All of those evil souls trapped on the island, all of that trapped hatred would once again be loose on the world and able to corrupt. As Desmond first pulled the hyroglyphed stone cork I was reminded of that the redness that rose up in that Dun Morogh scene of "Fellowship of the Ring" where the Balrog is awakened.
However, it could also be that the first ancient civilization had created the technology present in the cave that either created or used the energy to subdue a natural catastrophe (i.e. a massive volcano or world wide earthquakes).
I will update this theory as I go back and look at some episodes. Was the smoke monster a unique creation in island history? Until then, it's been a pleasure. Thank you Lost.