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Lost Season Six: The End

on Mon, 06/28/2010 - 00:00

While previous seasons of Lost have had a wide variety of focuses—from coping with being stranded on a deserted island, to finding rescue, to the perils of changing the past—the sixth and final season of the ABC drama boiled down to a battle of good versus evil. Following the previous year’s revelation that on-island events had been orchestrated by two ancient rival entities, known as Jacob and a mysterious Man In Black, the show’s final installment finally allowed the Lostaways to choose their own fate as they once again were faced with saving the world, only this time without having to push a button every 108 minutes.

Unfortunately for many of those characters, their fate was an inevitable death. The Man In Black, who had taken the form of the dead John Locke, manipulated the remaining survivors into believing that he was not the “evil incarnate” figure that Jacob’s followers painted him as, but merely a misunderstood being that simply wanted to leave Lost Island. It turned out, however, to be yet another lie in a long con to eliminate those who stood in his way of not only escaping the island but bringing a reign of terror upon all of mankind as well. Thus by the time the final episode rolled around, it was left up to Jack Shephard, James “Sawyer” Ford, Kate Austin and Hugo “Hurley” Reyes to bring an end to the events of the series, with various degrees of assistance from Benjamin Linus, Desmond Hume, Frank Lapidus, Richard Alpert, Miles Straume and Claire Littleton.

Season six of Lost also finally saw Jack Shephard complete his evolution from a man-of-science into a man-of-faith. From the first time that viewers saw Jack—in the pilot episode, running around trying to help as many of the Oceanic Flight 815 passengers as he could—he was a man of action, a man who only believed in what he could see and rationalize. This belief obviously led to many clashes with fellow castaway John Locke, the requisite man-of-faith polar opposite. But Jack was also deeply haunted by feelings of inadequacies which resulted in both an unwillingness to fully grasp the mantle of leadership amongst the survivors as well as a habitual need to overcompensate. He may have been a man-of-science, but he was as flawed and lost as anyone.

But once Jack found a way off the island, he started to experience an internal change. Maybe it had to do with leaving a large number of other crash survivors behind, maybe it had to do with lying about what had really happened, or maybe it had to do with the pills he began to habitually pop. Regardless, by the time John Locke showed up off-island and in a coffin, Jack began to change. When the old Jack eventually resurfaced at the end of season five with a scheme to detonate a hydrogen bomb and reboot everyone’s past, the failure of the plan and resulting death of Juliet Burke only caused a further internal retreat and reflection.

Thus by the time Jack Shephard volunteered to take Jacob’s place as island protector, he was truly a man willing to “let go” of his need to fix things in a systematic fashion. “This is why I’m here, this is what I’m supposed to do,” he tells Jacob. “Is that a question?” Jacob simply asks in response. The answer is no, just Jack finally accepting his fate and choosing the destiny in front of him.

In “The End,” the appropriately named series finale of Lost, Jack Shepard again leads his rag-tag group of follows on a mission—this time to save the island, not to leave it. Even without a fully-formed plan, he has the same air of confidence and determination that he had in “Through the Looking Glass,” when he marched his fellow Lostaways to the radio tower in order to be rescued, but with a dash of humility added in. Jack doesn’t just believe, he has faith in his mission. Thus when he crosses paths with “John Locke,” there is no confrontation like Jack had with Benjamin Linus when the spinal surgeon pummeled his then-enemy’s face with his fists.

“I can’t stop you,” Jack instead tells Locke. “You’re going to the far side of the bamboo forest to the place I’ve sworn that I’ll protect. And then you think you’re going to destroy the island. That’s not what’s going to happen—I’m going to kill you.”

It turns out that both Jack and Locke had similar plans that included Desmond Hume, the only man on the planet capable of withstanding a blast of electromagnetic energy, turning off the secret life force of the island. But while Locke believed that it would result in the island’s destruction and free him from captivity, Jack gambled that it would instead destroy Locke. In the end, however, they were both right, as well as wrong. Yes, the island erupts into violent chaos but the Man In Black, trapped in the body of John Locke, is also mortal again. Thus in an epic showdown on the treacherous cliffs overlooking the ocean, with a punishing rain falling down upon them, the final battle between Island Good and Island Evil is waged in the form of Jack Shephard and John Locke.

And it was a battle long in the making. Although it was obvious that Jacob and the Man In Black had a past, as well as differing opinions about the true nature of man, it wasn’t until the third-from-last episode that their relationship to each other and the island was finally revealed. Entitled “Across the Sea,” the installment did not feature any of the main cast and was more of a fable than actual Lost episode, but it did provide the necessary backstory needed to tie the series together. The island was indeed special and apparently had been so for a very long time. One of its first guardians served as surrogate mother to two infants born there—after she had bludgeoned their actual mother to death.

When the episode aired, co-executive producers Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse commented that the history of the island had a way of repeating itself, and “Across the Sea” certainly stands as testament to that statement. From scarred childhoods to free-will-versus-destiny debates to the massacre of unwelcome inhabitants, the narrative foretold many of the same issues and events experienced by the survivors of Oceanic Flight 815. Upon their birth, Jacob and the Man In Black where even clothed in contrasting white and black, much like the Backgammon pieces that the real John Locke showed young Walt in the pilot episode.

“I chose you because you were like me,” Jacob told Jack, Kate, Sawyer and Hurley at one point, again reflecting the cyclical nature of the island. “You were all alone. You were all looking for something that you couldn’t find out there. I chose you because you needed this place as much as it needed you.”

In “The End,” however, the long-serving island god proved to be wrong. Throughout the season, Lost featured an alternative universe were Ocean Flight 815 never crashed and in which a majority of the Lostaways had found peace with the inner demons that haunted them throughout their actual timeline. Slowly these characters began to remember Lost Island, and in one of the final scenes of the series it was revealed that this alternative universe was in actuality the afterlife. More specifically, it was the place the group themselves had created in order to find each other again. “The most important part of your life was the time that you spent with these people,” Christian Shephard explained to his son Jack in the finale. “That’s why all of you are here. Nobody does it alone, Jack. You needed all of them and they needed you.”

From polar bears to smoke monsters, the Others to the Dharma Initiative, particle physics to time travel, the creators of Lost crafted a story over six seasons that was part adventure, part intellectual dissertation and part science fiction. In “The End,” however, the series turned out to simply be about humanity, the essence of man and the spirituality of the world in which we live.

In short, the story of Lost is the story of each of us as we struggle through the flawed nature of our lives and find redemption within the bonds we form with each other. And that is what life itself is ultimately all about.

Anthony Letizia

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