When Lost first aired (September 2004), I was beginning tests and treatments for various medical conditions. (Though the treatments worked quickly, the tests were both painful and discouraging.) I needed escape. Lost really provided it, but in a way that made me think. And I thought all the time! What is a polar bear doing there? Who is that French woman? What are the "Others?"
Season 2 began as I was preparing to give birth to Princess. I vividly remember watching Lost while sitting on the couch feeding her. Even now, when I watch episodes, it seems that I can remember holding my babies and talking to Sven, saying, "What are they doing? How are they going to explain that?"
Last night, we got the answer: they aren't going to explain that. In fact, they aren't going to explain much of anything, if your idea of "explanation" is someone stating factual information that details why or how something exists or happens. Instead, the finale brought us intensely satisfying closure on the characters, some of whom we had not seen since Season 1, and raised the question: what's really important?
I'm reading a lot of viewer reaction this morning, and it occurs to me that the camp is pretty evenly divided between softies like me who loved the emotional roller-coaster aspect of the show, and sci-fi geeks like Sven who really liked the mystery and the science. What intrigues me about the conflict is that each side is equally passionate, and each side thinks the other is wrong. Not wrong in a "let's debate" sort of way: factually wrong.
(If it isn't obvious from the first few paragraphs, there will be spoilers, but they are about to start, so...)
I always knew the Sideways World wasn't "real" in the same sense that the island was. While character after character became "Island Enlightened," only Desmond knew that both worlds existed in both worlds. Jack's journey to Island Enlightenment mirrored his entire journey throughout the series: moving from a man of science to a man of faith. I think this is what the whole point was: the science was never as important as the characters, the love, the faith of knowing that, even if you didn't understand every detail, it will all end well.
The Sideways World was a sort of limbo/purgatory that the castaways created for themselves, I think for two reasons:
- To be reunited after death and spend eternity together, yes, but also
- To live some of the life they *might* have lived if there had been no island, but also if some of their other past mistakes had been erased.
So, in the Sideways World, Sun had never cheated on Jin. Kate was a fugitive, but she was innocent of the crime she was accused of. Jack had a family, albeit a dysfunctional one. Locke had his lovely fiancee and the love of his father, for a time. Sawyer was an honest cop. Sayid was not a hired killer. Hurley was lucky.
So, for the last time, here's MY THEORY!!! on how the Sideways World was created:
When Hurley took over guardianship of the island, Ben told him he could make his own rules, that he didn't have to do the same things Jacob did. He then said Hurley should do "what you do best: take care of people." I think Hurley spent his tenure on the island as guardian using the island's power to establish this place, where they could all be together at the point when they are the most happy. Charlie and Claire can be together and raise Aaron (though the real Aaron has lived his life his own way). Sun and Jin get to experience her pregnancy together and the birth of Ji Yeon. Jack and Kate get to live happily ever after. So, to my extreme and supreme delight, do Sawyer and Juliet. I think there was a reason Desmond "deputized" Hurley so early into assisting with enlightenment: Hurley was the one who created the Sideways Universe, so until Hurley was ready to move on, none of them could.
As far as the island reality, I don't think it is important to know what the light is, where it came from, etc. There would have been no really plausible scientific explanation for something clearly supernatural/religious. It was better not to answer it at all. The important thing is, we know Jacob was telling the truth: if the light goes out, that's very, very bad. The rest, I will admit, leaves me with some curiosity, but it's pleasant curiosity. How the heck did the Dharma initiative establish itself on the island? (My theory: Charles Widmore sold it out, that's where he got his fortune.)
My only real complaint is that I wanted Mr. Eko to be there. (I know others are bemoaning the lack of Michael/Walt, but not me.) I loved the Mr. Eko character, and I wanted to see him. I also wanted to know about the Egyptian statue. I hope there are some bonus features on the DVD to explain some of this stuff, just to satisfy my own curiosity.
I loved it. I still have questions, but for six years, that's what Lost gave me: questions to think about. I love that I'm still thinking.