Short note on the finale…for those of you saying that the entire series was purgatory, I’m sorry but you’re simply wrong. The sideways “timeline” was definitely portrayed as a purgatory, but their time on the Island was a real experience. Christian Shephard said it himself, “these people were the most significant people during your life and some of them died before you and some long after you”. When they died, they experienced this “sideways timeline” until they were ready to let go and remember the experiences that led to their ultimate death. Once they accepted death, they could move on.
Now for my final blog, which doesn’t really summarize the finale, but instead focuses on the journey a number of the characters took over the past six seasons.
I’ve mentioned many times that perspective is everything and I believe it’s one of the most critical elements to this show’s success. What better way to view yourself from a different perspective, than to literally lose yourself on an Island for six seasons? Each character was given an opportunity to start over with a Tabula Rasa (clean slate) and some had an easier time letting go of their past than others. In any event, what kind of show would LOST be if the characters hadn’t been given a chance to find themselves and feel a sense of redemption for the past struggles and choices in their lives? LOST only ends once. Anything before that is just progress.
Jack Shephard – From a man of science to a man of faith, I don’t feel that any other character on the show experienced as much of a transition as Jack Shephard. He spent most of his life seeking his father’s approval and trying to live up to his expectations. This behavior conditioned Jack to be the type of person who constantly had to prove himself and fix everything around him. Unfortunately, this behavior also created distance between himself and the people who were closest to him and he rarely took the time to sit back and observe others or take into consideration what they might be thinking or feeling. He displayed leadership qualities and his intentions were always good, but his stubbornness only hurt those around him and he could never understand why. Fortunately, his logical and scientific approach to resolving issues changed as the seasons went on. Unfortunately, the experiences he endured to learn and change were not easy ones. People died and he blamed himself as he struggled accepting their death. His plans and promises were not always what people wanted and as he pushed against acceptance and letting go, he turned to drugs and alcohol to ease his pain. When faced with no other choice, he finally started to let go and to listen while taking a back seat to others. One of the most significant moments was when he put his father’s shoes on Locke’s dead body before boarding Ajira Flight 316 back to the Island. Season 5 had him finally putting his faith in destiny, which led him to the detonation of Jughead and Juliet’s ultimate death, but this season has shown him as a much calmer person who often trusts his feelings over his logic. He was in a much better place at the time of his death. He accepted the responsibility of becoming the new Jacob without fully knowing what the job entailed and then passed the role onto Hurley when he knew he had to sacrifice himself for the Island and for his friends who he was able to see fly away on the plane above him before closing his eyes for good.
Kate Austen – A woman on the run for killing who she thought was her stepfather, but turned out to be her real dad. She could never come to terms that the evil man, who physically abused her mother, could really be her father. She constantly lied to and used everyone around her and could never stay in the same place for too long. Her time on the Island started with much of the same behavior, but because there wasn’t anywhere to really run to, she grew close to a number of the other Oceanic survivors and developed relationships. She also struggled with her romantic choices. Her wild side, and the side she believed was in her blood, craved the bad boy Sawyer, while the inner Kate longed for someone who could provide stability. In the long run, nothing changed her as much as becoming a stand-in mother for Claire’s baby, Aaron, whom she cared for when she got off the Island as one of the Oceanic 6. Her role as a mother kept her in one place and she only left when she realized that she needed to go back and rescue his real mother. It was an extremely risky and unselfish act, but she was determined to do the right thing and reunite Aaron with his real mother even if it costs her own life. In the end, she was successful and even offered to help Claire with a role she was extremely nervous about. Sure, we didn’t get to see exactly what ended up happening once she left on the Ajira flight, but it was the biggest life changing experience she ever had. I actually liked her character in the end.
James (Sawyer) Ford – In his thirst to avenge the death of his parents, he ended up becoming very much like the person he longed to kill. A con man with an almost complete disregard for the people he hurt along the way. I say almost because he struggled with doing the right thing even before he arrived on the Island. He withdrew from a con when he found out the family he was conning had a child, he conned a prisoner out of money he stole so that he could send it to his daughter, whom he never met, and he truly felt guilty after killing a man he thought was the real “Sawyer” in Australia. On the Island, he quickly made enemies amongst the other survivors with his “take care of myself” philosophy, but his forced proximity to them along with their common fight against The Others, soon had him discovering that he cared about these people and it was the first time he felt like part of a family. However, it wasn’t until he killed the real Sawyer (John Locke’s father), that we really started to see a change in his behavior. The revenge he sought for so long left a bittersweet taste in his mouth and he quickly started thinking, “what now”? He had spent his entire life with that one goal and now he didn’t know what to do. With the help of some time travel, he quickly found out that his experience as a con man came in handy as head of DHARMA security from 1974 to 1977 and he also fell in love with Juliet. He was no longer a loner and his life was renewed. Unfortunately, things went sour again when he was challenged to overcome Juliet’s death and this final season has seen him drift back and forth between self-survival and helping his fellow castaways. His inability to trust Jack led him to make a hasty move with the C-4 unLocke placed on the sub and this led to the deaths of three people he had grown very close to – Sayid, Jin, and Sun. The short conversation between him and Jack in “What They Died For” was a huge moment for both of them. Jack could have blamed him for causing the sub explosion, but instead chose to say, “I’ve been wrong before”. In the end, James was able to fully relate to the way Jack must have felt when he inadvertently caused Juliet’s demise and he has become a better man through all of his experiences. Similar to Kate, we don’t know what happened once he left the Island, but the experiences, especially his love for Juliet transformed him forever.
Hugo (Hurley) Reyes – He spent a great deal of his adult life blaming himself for the “bad luck” around him. I guess it started when he blamed his weight on the death of two people when he went to a party and walked out onto a deck built for 8 people, but actually had 23 at the time it collapsed. His guilt led him to time in a mental institution, but it wasn’t until he won the lottery while using The Numbers, that he felt he was cursed. The lottery winnings only seemed to bring more pain into his life…his grandfather’s death, the meteorite hitting Mr. Cluck’s and killing Tricia Tanaka, etc. Initially, he felt that crashing on the Island was just another occurrence in the string of bad luck and he really lacked a lot of self confidence. However, as time went on, he began to view his curse as a gift. He also began to accept that his ability to see and speak with dead people was a blessing and could actually help others. This final season has shown him becoming more confident in himself and even stepping into a leadership position or at least a position where others relied on him for his abilities and his honesty. In the end, he accepted the role of the Island’s protector from Jack and we don’t know how long he remained in that role before passing it on to someone else.
John Locke – Perhaps the saddest story of them all, John Locke spent his entire life trying to prove that he could do anything he wanted to and, like Jack, he also wanted love and acceptance from his father, but it would never come. He was always a man of faith and even though his faith was challenged numerous times before coming to the Island (father stealing his kidney, losing Helen, becoming paralyzed after his father shoved him out a window from 8-stories up), he still fought to prove that he could do anything. His faith also made him “amenable for coercion”. In other words, because he was so willing to believe in achieving the impossible, he could be easily manipulated by those who dangled opportunity before him. This is how his father was able to con him out of his kidney and, more importantly, it’s how the Man in Black (MIB) conned him once he reached the Island. I believe that, as a result of his sudden ability to walk again, he was led around by the MIB to do things that he might have otherwise questioned. His faith and belief in the beauty/magic of the Island caused distance between himself and people like Jack who thought he was crazy. No one knew that the MIB was posing as various dead relatives to eventually serve his purpose and desire to get off the Island. Whenever Locke would stop and question something, he would have trouble walking again and this led him to believe that he was there for a reason. He went so far as to leave the Island in an attempt to bring back the Oceanic Six (O6) and believed that he needed to kill himself in order to make it happen. His death off the Island, which actually happened at the hands of Ben Linus, was an act of faith, which WAS the catalyst for bringing the O6 back to the Island, but he had been duped and his death was in vain. He is the only character I feel has learned more in the flash sideways timeline and I’m grateful we’ve been given the chance to see him with Helen, letting go of his guilt for his father’s vegetative state, and having faith that Jack can “fix” him. As the finale revealed, the sideways timeline was more of an awakening (purgatory) where people learned to accept their lives for what they were and let go. In the end, Locke was able to accept his limitations, realize that he did all that he could for his fellow castaways, and move on knowing that he could accomplish anything.
Sayid Jarrah – A product of his environment, Sayid was never given much of a chance to become anything other than an Iraqi torturer, but he struggled with who he really was his entire life. His biggest flaw was listening to other people tell him what kind of man he was and that he would never amount to anything more than that. As viewers, we saw from the beginning that Sayid had a softer side. A side filled with love, compassion, loyalty and courage. However, he was repeatedly challenged with various choices and he stumbled a number of times along the way. Whether it was torturing Sawyer, losing Shannon, or working for Ben after losing Nadia, the love of his life, he fought himself and tried to choose the path of good. The turning point came when he seemingly died and was “taken” by some Island force this season. Dogen gave him a “test” to determine which side of the scale he tipped toward. When he determined that Sayid was essentially evil, Sayid became angry and resisted this, but when the MIB promised him the one thing he thought he could never have back, Nadia, he helped MIB infiltrate and kill all The Others in the temple. Fortunately, as he slipped even deeper into the dark side, he was tasked with killing Desmond. I say fortunately because Desmond’s words impacted him more than any other. He simply asked, “What are you going to tell her [Nadia] when she asks what you did to be with her again”? Sayid knew that she wouldn’t approve and deep down, he knew that he didn’t approve of his actions either. As a result, in the heat of the moment when the C-4 was about to detonate in the sub, Sayid sacrificed himself in an attempt to save everyone else around him. When given no opportunity to think or weigh his options, his scale tipped to the side of good and he made the ultimate sacrifice. He finally listened to himself and realized he was good. Hurley echoed these exact thoughts in the sideways timeline and it started to hit home for Sayid, but it wasn’t until he and Shannon saw each other that he was fully awakened and remembered that he was a good man and a great friend to so many people.
Jin-Soo Kwon and Sun-Hwa (Paik) Kwon – The Korean version of Romeo and Juliet, these star crossed lovers had two very different upbringings. Destiny provided them with the opportunity to meet and fall in love, but the other “stuff” in their lives was trying to push/pull them apart. Jin was a good man who sacrificed his moral judgments to go to work for Sun’s father, an extremely corrupt man, so that he could marry her. Unfortunately, this changed Jin considerably and even though he hated who he was becoming, he couldn’t find a way out. This put a lot of strain on their relationship and Sun turned to the comfort of another man. At the time they were boarding Oceanic 815, she was going to run away from him and his intentions were to try for a fresh start. She couldn’t bring herself to go though and they ended up on LOST Island together. This fresh start was difficult for them at first, but they eventually began to see and feel what they had initially felt for one another and found their love again. They even conceived a child on the Island, which is something that had been impossible for them beforehand because of Jin’s fertility issues. Then, they were torn apart. First, when The Others blew up the raft and then when Jin was seemingly killed when the Charles Widmore’s freighter exploded, Sun thought she had lost him forever. She got off the Island, had to lie about how he died, gave birth to their daughter, Ji Yeon, and then discovered he was still alive. In the meantime, he was stuck in the mid-1970s, but nothing was more important to either of them, then finding one another again. The reunion that was three years in the making was short lived when they died together in the sub explosion and many viewers have questioned his choice to stay with her instead of trying to save himself so he could go be with Ji Yeon. I thought the scene was beautiful and that his choice to stay with her and die together showed just how far they had come. Damn the writers for showing their hands drifting from each other after they drowned. [sniff] I guess they had to find a way to make us really hate the MIB/unLocke. Anyway, when they finally awoke in the sideways timeline, they knew that they had created a beautiful daughter together and would remain happy together in the afterlife.
Charlie Hieronymus Pace – He was an innocent and naïve kid who looked up to his older brother, became a rock star, and fell victim to the seduction of drugs. At heart, he was a good guy and just wanted to create music, but his demons, mostly in the form of heroin, got the best of him. Ironically, the Island where he eventually died also saved his life. Early on, John Locke helped him kick his drug habit, but the Island challenged him by leading him to Eko’s drug plane with the Virgin Mary statues full of the heroin he craved. He eventually overcame his addiction on his own due to his desire to be with the woman he was falling in love with, Claire. She had pushed him away once she found out about his addiction and didn’t want him anywhere near her baby, Aaron. His death became a true hero’s story and is perhaps one of the greatest deaths in television history (my opinion). Desmond foresaw him dying a total of five different ways. The first four were drowning trying to save Claire, getting struck by lightning, having his head smashed against the rocks in the ocean, and an arrow through his neck, which ended up in the neck of his guitar instead. When Desmond told him about the fifth way he foresaw him dying, the part he focused on more than anything was that Claire and Aaron would get on a helicopter and leave the Island. With this in mind, Charlie decided to accept his fate and went so far as closing himself into the Looking Glass communication’s room so that Desmond could survive and so that he would die to make Desmond’s visions come true. He could have gotten out and sealed the door from the other side, but he sacrificed himself with the belief that Claire and Aaron would be rescued, which didn’t exactly happen, but that’s another discussion. Even while the room was filling up with water, he was so calm and accepting of his fate that he thought to scribble a warning on the palm of his hand letting Desmond know that the freighter was “Not Penny’s Boat”. His death scene is still one of the most beautiful, yet saddest moments on LOST. His full awakening after Claire gave birth in the sideways timeline was one of the more emotional parts of the finale for me. Seeing their little family together again and seeing them realize that they would always be together truly made me feel good.
Claire Littleton – Claire was a young woman who didn’t get to know who her real father was until she was becoming an adult and she was the driver in a car accident that left her mother in a coma. An unexpected pregnancy frightened her and when the father of the baby left her, she turned to a psychic to help her determine what to do. The psychic scared her even more by telling her that danger surrounds the baby and after struggling to convince her to raise the baby herself, he eventually convinced her to board Flight 815 to meet with a family in Los Angeles. As we all know now, the psychic must have foreseen the plane crash and knew she’d be forced to raise Aaron herself. Little did he know how much she would change during her time on the Island? She was forced to grow up very fast and even though she was scared, she adapted to motherhood pretty quickly. We’re still not clear with what exactly happened that night she walked into the jungle with her dead father (Christian Shephard), who was actually the MIB, but there was obviously quite a bit of manipulation going on and it was all that more significant that she felt “left behind” from everyone else. Three years later, she was a crazy woman, but she started coming back around and with Kate’s help, I’m sure she learned how to be the best mother she could be once they left the Island. I already mentioned her awakening with Charlie and how beautiful that was.
Michael Dawson and Walt Lloyd – Michael’s son (Walt) moved away from him with his ex-wife and her new husband to another country when he was only a child. He barely put up a fight because of his financial situation and he regretted it every day. When Walt’s mom died and his stepdad didn’t want him anymore, they were thrust back together and faster than you can say “awkward father/son reunion”, they crash on the Island. Michael slowly learns how to be a dad while Walt slowly starts to appreciate him and come to terms with his special abilities. In any other environment, it may have taken the tow of them years to bond or they may not have grown close at all. By the time Walt was taken away on the raft, they were as close as any father/son could be and we got to be annoyed by Michael’s repeated yells for, “WAAAALT”! That put aside, they were given a chance at bonding and they embraced it, so much so that Michael made some other poor life choices that resulted in the shooting deaths of Ana Lucia and Libby as well as the decision to leave the Island without the rest of the castaways. Walt was never able to forgive his dad for what he did to save him from The Others and they grew apart again. Michael found redemption by boarding Widmore’s freighter and eventually sacrificing himself in an effort to make up for all the pain he caused. When John Locke saw an older Walt in NYC soon after, he explained how his father sacrificed himself and this made Walt proud again. Unfortunately, we never did find out anything specific with regards to why Walt was so special, but we did learn about Michael’s outcome and unfortunately he seems destined to spend his life as a ghost whisperer on the Island. I thought his redemption should have counted for a bit more, but I guess the writers saw otherwise.
Ben Linus – Born two months premature while his mother and father were hiking, Ben‘s mother died at childbirth and his alcoholic father, Roger, never let him forget it. Roger blamed his wife’s death on Ben and basically treated his son like garbage. When they joined the DHARMA Initiative, it only became worse and Ben felt secluded and unwanted. Along comes the MIB in the form of his deceased mother and the manipulation begins. I know we don’t know for sure that MIB appeared as his mother, but I’m going to safe it’s a safe bet. Although he’s has a few small moments of showing a good side on the Island, he has really been quite the evil manipulator from the start. The eventual path he chooses is to kill his father and purge all the members of the DHARMA Initiative so that The Others (Hostiles) can take over, then he leads them for years under the lie that he speaks to Jacob. Eventually, he starts to lose faith in the mysterious Jacob and when MIB disguises himself as his dead daughter, he agrees to do anything that unLocke wants…specifically he kills Jacob. This season, the Ben in the sideways timeline shows a bit more of his good side. Namely, he takes care of his elderly father, chooses to help a student (Alex) instead of bribing the principal for his position, and confronts the man (Desmond) who ran down Locke in a hit and run. When we see in the finale that he actually ends up being Hurley’s # 2 man on the Island, it seems that perhaps he had more of a chance to redeem himself as he lived out his life on the Island, but he just wasn’t quite ready to forgive himself for everything he had experienced and decided to remain outside instead of joining the others in the church. I guess he still needs more time.
Desmond David Hume – Desmond spent the majority of his life running away from challenges and was deemed a coward by many people. He left a woman named Ruth a week before their wedding day in 1994 and joined a monastery. He felt intimidated by Charles Widmore and allowed himself to be influenced by Charles’ opinion of his worth and pulled away from the love of his life, Penny. He was dishonorably discharged from the Royal Scots Regiment. Similar to the way Sayid would listen to other people’s opinions of him, Desmond listened as well and fought to prove that he was more than what everyone said. Unfortunately, this pushed Penny away even further and a boat race to prove his worth to Penny’s father found him stranded on the Island. It was during his three years in the Island that he really struggled. At his lowest point, he read a simple letter from Penny and found renewed strength and renewed desire to be with her again. They would eventually be together again and became the favorite LOST couple of many viewers. He is a different man these days and he special electromagnetic and consciousness time traveling abilities have made him a very controlled and Zen-like person. One thing is for certain…his undying love for Penny spans multiple timelines and knows no bounds. We didn’t see it, but I’m sure Hurley and Ben found a way to get him back off the Island so that he could be with Penny and his son Charlie again. We saw Penny and Desmond in the church at the end, so they eventually passed on as well.
Mr. Eko – It might seem odd that I throw him in here, but the more I think about Eko’s death, the more I realize just how significant it was. Back after his death episode aired, I wrote this, “I’m starting to think that “free will” vs. “fate” will ultimately be what makes or breaks all of the characters on the show. Think about Eko’s decision before he died. He stood up for what he believed when the “Island” (Yemi/Smoke Monster) wanted him to confess his sins. Sure, you can argue with me and say that he died, but don’t forget what he felt and experienced when he died. He was walking happily with his brother to a better place.” I still feel the same way, but now that we pretty much know that the MIB was posing as his brother, we realize that it was a test and Mr. Eko passed on the good side. When MIB realized that he could not be manipulated, he disposed of him. Eko made no excuses for his past. He stuck to his beliefs and trusted in the fact that he did what he did with ultimately good intentions in his heart. His redemption was fulfilled very early on due to his self-confidence and his attitude that he makes no excuses for what he did during his life. I don’t think he knew what the consequences would be with the smoke monster, but I do think he was willing to accept whatever came his way. I think that Eko’s death and walk into the light with his brother was an early indication of how LOST was going to end.
Richard Alpert – He’s had 140 years to repent for the sin of accidentally killing a doctor who was a complete douche bag. Not that the doctor’s personality makes killing him okay, but I think Richard can finally be forgiven and be allowed to join Isabella on “the other side”. He left the Island with the others on the Ajira flight and I’d like to theorize that he aged pretty rapidly after that and passed on. I’m not sure why we didn’t see him in the church, but he was originally from the late 1800s, so maybe it was completely different for him. I have to believe that he was eventually forgiven for his sins.
Me – LOST premiered on September 22, 2004. I didn’t start watching it until the summer of 2005, but was caught up before Season Two began and couldn’t get enough. We all have significant people and experiences that come and go in our lives at different times and the people I have met and the experiences I have shared during the past six years have changed me in ways that I find very difficult to put into words. Fortunately, as silly as it might seem, there were a lot of LOST character experiences that mirrored events and situations in my own life and this television show, along with some of my blog posts, actually helped me through some highs and lows. There have been some books that have made me feel similarly and maybe some moments in a couple of movies, but nothing has ever had as strong an impact as this silly little show has. It’s funny, I used to hate when different people would compare me to Jack when the show first started. I resisted that label and felt that I was more like a Desmond at heart. Regardless, they were probably partially right and I have been, not so secretly (read my blogs), rooting for Jack to change and he eventually did. So have I. This show is about perspective, individual change and redemption, never giving up, and knowing that nothing is irreversible and that it’s never too late. No matter what obstacles might lay in your way, you always have a choice. Free will does still exist.
I know I left quite a few characters out of the mix, but these are the ones I felt most compelled to discuss. Please feel free to add any other character analyses in the comments below.
So that’s it. I’m signing off and saying goodbye. I won’t stop writing, but it won’t be about this show any longer. It has been a privilege watching LOST and trying to make some sense of it all for myself and for those who happened to stop by and read my interpretations. It is truly the best book I have ever watched!