'Lost': It only ends once...but how will it end?
Two weeks from today, "Lost" ends. It will end with a two and a half hour finale, which makes it the "Lord of the Rings" of television finales. I was exhausted after "The Candidate," and that was only an hour long. My wife might have to call out EMTs to paddle me back to life after a two and a half hour swan song. But as we look at the sad conclusion to the show's run, it's time to start thinking about how the show's narrative might end. Jacob said, "It only ends once. Everything else is just progress." But what will the "end" of "Lost" look like?
There are two basic ways in which Darlton can finish the show's onscreen saga. Firstly, they could give us a definitive ending to everything that's come before. We'll understand that the lives of these characters will go on, but whatever happens isn't really related to what we've just witnessed. Think of "Return of the Jedi": I'm sure that Luke Skywalker went on to have many adventures, but the thrust of the "Star Wars" saga centered around Anakin Skywalker's relationship to his children and ultimate redemption through them. With that story finished, so too was "Star Wars."
Secondly, Darlton could offer the end of one story and then introduce/tease the start of a second one. The most popular conception of this theory via readers and other blogs: the show will end with a recapitulation of the opening scene of "The Incident," in which two of our characters become the new Jacob/Man in Black and the whole story of the Island continues offscreen in our imagination. And fanfic. And authorized novels. And so forth and so on. Think "Return of the Jedi" if the story closed not on dancing Ewoks, but the reveal of a new Sith Lord ready to burn the galaxy down rather than listen to that stupid song close out the original trilogy. (And honestly, we would have sided with Darth Redonkulous had Lucas attempted to pull this off.)
I'm not sure there's a "right" and "wrong" way to go here, but each variation comes with its own pitfalls. A lot of this comes down to what Jacob means about things ending on the Island. I've taken this to mean that one of the candidates has to make a choice that catapults humanity as a whole past what they are and onto the next stage of what they are supposed to be. That does NOT mean that humanity is perfected when one of the remaining candidates zigs where the others have zagged. But the "end" is in fact the "beginning" of everything else. To use another "Lord of the Rings" analogy: that story is about the end of the Age of Elves and the dawn of the Age of Man. The world evolved, but one age gave way to another.
The question then becomes: is the Island needed in that next age? If you don't think it's needed, then its place at the bottom of the ocean in the sideways world is fine and dandy. If you don't think the sideways world is where the story should end, you might be happy with the idea of it still sinking to the bottom of the ocean in the Island timeline. Or, you might be happy with the Island itself simply "appearing" in a heretofore location, somehow uncharted but now able to visited as a place of fauna, not fantasy. There are plenty of ways in which this can play out.
However, maybe you DO think it's still a necessary component, that the "end" Jacob talked about isn't something other than a minuscule move forward, with the Jacob/Man in Black cycle finally over and a new age of the Island beginning. In that case, the idea of Jack/Locke, Locke/Ben, Jack/Sawyer, or a host of other combos hanging out by the foot of the statue as the show fades to black could be massively appealing. The show still would have a definitive ending, in that the story of why Jacob brought these people to the Island would be answered. But the implication would arise that the end of "Lost" wasn't the end of the total journey so much as the reaching of a milestone along an impossibly long road.
I am fine with that idea, in that it speaks to the state of human condition rather than the state of certain plot points. But let's try another scenario. Let's say The Man in Black is defeated. Let's not bother saying how, since his defeat could play out in a dozen different configurations irrespective to the scenario I'm about to lay out. Let's say there were losses on all sides, that the victory was hard-earned, and that those remaining understand that the Island no longer needs them/is no longer needed at all for humanity to move on. So we're happy, as fans. We're not ready to say goodbye, but we've seen what we think is the end of an era, both in terms of the narrative and the show itself.
And then the "Lost" equivalent of Darth Redonkulous rears its head and smacks us on the face.
The ways in which this could play out are limitless. Say a 35-year old Ji Yeon gets a visit from the man we know as Jacob. Say we end on a shot of The Degroots high-fiving each other on a job well done. Say we double back ALL the way to the beginning, with everything that happened over the course of six seasons downloaded into the brain of Jack Shephard, who wakes up once again in 2004 in an Armani suit with Vincent barking at him to help the other survivors. Say a spaceship flies off the Island to report back to its home planet. Say one of those or a hundred other things play out in the final act of the show. How would you react?
Where I worry is that something will happen in the final few moments that won't make me question what MIGHT happen after the screen goes dark so much as something will happen that will retroactively affect what happened before said screen went dark. In other words, I don't want to learn that the show I was watching was in fact another kind of show, that I was watching the wrong people/actions/events, that there's still work to be done to complete the story that I thought just ended. THAT will annoy me.
But enough of what I think about the impending finale. What kind of ending are YOU looking for? Take the poll, and leave your comments below!
Photo credit: ABC