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You Gotta Have Faith

LOST was an imperfect show, as neither Lindelof nor Cuse seemed to be able to decide what it actually was. They swung between science-fiction (Time travel! Let’s move the Island! Electromagnetism!) and faith-based mythology (the Island is a cork that keeps Evil from escaping to the world and two immortal brothers embody the battle between good and evil), but never quite settled on either.

That bipolar approach to the show confused viewers and seemed to confuse both Lindelof and Cuse — hence the eleventh-hour introduction of the complicated mythos and origin of Jacob and the Man in Black in “Across the Sea.”

Religious allegories are a tough sell on TV, and shifting the whole premise of the show into one is even tougher. Much of the sixth season is spent laying the ground for this Biblical battle between Jacob and the Man in Black that apparently went on for thousands of years, only to take form in the last few episodes of LOST. The mythology feels shoehorned in and it doesn’t all quite hold together — and worst of all, it wastes Alison Janney in a single polarizing episode — but the idea of the Island as a microcosm of the world does.

It all goes back to the magical realism argument: The Island is the heightened backdrop upon which our beloved characters battle their inner demons, acting as a conductor through which they resolve their personal and philosophical conflicts. I’m not trying to say that everything the survivors faced there were all manifestations of their issues, but perhaps they were a metaphysical extension of them. Or maybe I’m reading too much into a show that stuck Jack, Kate (Evangeline Lilly) and Sawyer (Josh Holloway) in a cage for half a season. But despite its pitfalls and flaws, LOST was a show I trusted to do right by its characters.

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Final Thoughts

LOST was a show that suffered from expectations. Expectations from the magnificent and eerie pilot that still stands up as the best TV pilot of all time; expectations from the sci-fi tropes that the series played with; expectations for some answer to “what the Island is.” The problem was that people were trying to find meaning in the wrong things. Instead of placing stock in the connective tissue of the show — the characters, their journeys and the stunning emotional arcs they go through (shout-out to John Locke for being one of the most tragic characters on TV) — viewers were distracted by the mysteries and conspiracies. Those were never the point. It was about Jack finally figuring out his issues with his father, about Kate repenting for taking a life, about Sayid coming to terms with his unrequited love for Nadia. And for these adrift people to connect and bond over their mistakes, facilitated by a weird, metaphysical Island which may or may not be a metaphor for life.

The finale ultimately lived up to the title of the show: LOST. It’s not only a show about drifting, unmoored people who resolve their inner conflicts, but it’s a show about questioning the realities of life. Maybe we get those answers, maybe we don’t, but aren’t the questions fun?

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