Dominic Monaghan, Henry Ian Cusick, Sonya Walger, Michael Giacchino, JJ Abrams - Remotely Interested: A love letter (in a bottle) to LOST.
Mark Grainger 31/05/2010
*DISCLAMER* Needless to say this column features information about the series finale of LOST so if you haven't seen it yet look away now.
“It only ends once. Anything else is just progress.”
Throughout its six series run LOST has provided a plethora of jaw dropping moments. Who could forget that first glimpse of the murderous smoke monster, the discovery of a hatch door buried deep in the ground or the realisation that half of the cast had turfed up with the mysterious Dharma Initiative, the organisation responsible for the hatch and other hidden bases on the island. These were moments that set message boards and water-coolers alight but much more important in the long term were the heart-tugging moments that, thanks to the level of involvement with the characters that the show built up along with a hint of melodrama, managed to provide an emotional kick to the chest that few other TV shows or even movies manage.
Above all two episodes stand above all others for emotional impact. First is season three's finale, Through The Looking Glass, where washed up Brit-rocker Charlie Pace (Dominic Monaghan) sacrifices himself in the hope that his actions will get his friends, and the love of his life Claire, rescued from the island. Of course Charlie wasn't the first major character to die (that honour goes to Boone in the first season) and he sure as hell wasn't the last, but Charlie's death has come to be one of the most iconic moments of the show for two reasons. Firstly because Monaghan's Charlie knew he going to die through a premonition by islander Desmond Hume (the superb Henry Ian Cusick) and was able to make amends for his drug-addled misdeeds, perfectly demonstrating the show's strong vein of redemption. This was done with heart wrenching scenes of Pace making listing and reliving the best parts of his life and saying goodbye to Claire and her newborn son in full knowledge that he wouldn't be returning. Secondly, Charlie's death managed to create a show defining image in the drowning rocker scrawling a message of warning on his hand for Desmond before succumbing to a rapidly flooding room. Three little words that will bring a sad smile to any Lost fans face: "Not Penny's Boat".
LOST's second emotional peak came the next year with the Desmond-centric episode, The Constant. A truly stellar episode of television by anyone's standards, the episode showed Desmond as his consciousness fell from the present day to 1996 and back again. To stop the consciousness jumps he had to anchor himself with a 'constant' a person who he cares for in both times. The episode culminates in a truly magical third act where 1996 Des reaches out to his estranged girlfriend Penny (whose boat it isn't. Keep up) and begs her to answer a phone call he'll make to her from a freighter in 8 years time. That call is made soon after and is one of the most emotionally all thanks to the sterling work of Cusick, Flashforward's Sonya Walger and LOST's award winning composer, Michael Giacchino.
So, now that I've proved that LOST's best bits are when the show is driven by the 'who' instead of the 'what', time to turn to the finale, The End. A lot of people have been a bit pissed off by the fact that The End offered absolutely no carefully explained answers to any of the show's lingering mysteries, instead giving a vague insight into the island's electromagnetic core. The Egyptian hieroglyphics and statue were never resolved, where Jacob's mother came from wasn't mentioned and neither were the rules Jacob and the Man In Black live by. But d'you know what? I don't care. Not even slightly. Many of these can be left to the imagination (and if you've been watching a show about a mystical island for six years I'd hope you have a decent enough imagination to fill in the gaps), but where The End really delivered was in nostalgia and resolution. Throughout the season we've seen characters old and new in a bizarre alternate world (or 'Flash Sideways') with some of them experiencing memories of their island life. The finale hammered home one emotional jolt after the other with this technique by having Charlie and Claire, Sawyer and Juliet etc meet up in the flash sideways and remember their love and past through beautifully scored montage sequences of their time on the island, often including highlights of the entire show. Turns out this crazy world was the afterlife, some form of limbo that our Losties created so they could meet-up after they had all passed on (naturally or otherwise) before moving on to the next stage. It sounds corny to type but in reality it was beautifully done, what with all the cast embracing each other again despite past differences before being enveloped by light. Again a fair few have complained to this spiritual aspect but I know I'd prefer an afterlife purgatory than discovering the time on the island was a construct of the mind.
Back on the island (in the pre-death real world) Things came to a head when Locke used Desmond to destabilise the island, sparking a mad rush between the characters to A) fix the island B) escape forever aboard the downed Ajira plane and C) kill Locke. As it turned out Jack managed both A and B almost on his own (Kate lent him a helping bullet) but not before being fatally stabbed in the chest. As Hurley and Ben took over the day to day running of the island Jack staggered back through the bamboo field where he first landed and opened his eyes in Pilot Pt 1. Finally he collapses; a grin on his face as he lies on the ground and watches the plane carrying Miles, Richard, Sawyer, Claire, Lapidus, and Kate fly safely overhead off the island to a new life. All this was performed wordlessly with only the swelling orchestral score carrying the audience and was intercut with the ending of the afterlife before finally returning to the island as, in close up, Jack closes his eyes.
Although it would be naive to believe that the show's creators had this planned from the very beginning, or even from when they announced the end date a few years ago, what it did prove unequivocally was that LOST was and always has been about the characters, this disparate group of people trying to survive the trials of the present and the demons of their past. The End strengthened the sixth season as a whole and provided the show with a beautiful, redemptive and cyclical finale.