Wednesday, June 2

The End (S6, eps. 17 & 18)

The column for The End has let go for your reading pleasure on

It's been an honor and a privilege, everyone. I hope it's enjoyed.


  1. Morse,

    Excerpt number 3 is a perfect summation of what the show "means", at least to me. If this show has taught me nothing else, its that things or events don't necessarily have innate meaning, but rather are assigned meaning by the choices of those involved or observing.

    For all the Christian allegory in the final episode, Lost's ultimate "theme" carries with it very Buddhist underpinnings.

  2. Greg,

    You and I are very much in agreement. For all the religious allegory throughout the show, part of the end "message" for me is that religion is a means to an end - that end being connection, communion and communication with each other and with the mysteries of the universe.

    We choose our meaning in this world. Lost affirms this idea on every level of its narrative.

  3. YAY! Bravo sir! Me likey! This is exactly what I (and I am sure EVERYONE else) have been waiting for!! I cannot wait to read the rest of it. Good stuff!

  4. And that sentiment will be Lost's legacy after the initial storm of criticism has passed.

  5. ninja- gotta disagree, like all arguments about faith- it does not just disappear.

    i can get on board anything that can quote the angel tv series- however, whedon didn't write that episode (wonder if he wrote the line...)

  6. With that I will say, I did not like the finale of Angel, but loved the series. It surprised me to find out Whedon did not write that episode. Morse, I can see taking that stance with the finale of Lost, in all aspects, because there are similarities.

    All said, the dust has settled with me, and although I was at peace as well when it was over, I am still left to wonder about all the rest. I know that was intentional. I am struggling with the overall smoke screen narrative. Pun intended.

    I see what they were trying to accomplish, and for what it is worth, they did. It's daring to create a series that was well over the heads of a society that is neck deep in reality TV. I dig the concept, and can only hope that someone else takes the torch to continue such story telling. TV viewers need to wake up and put "thought" back into their entertainment. A mighty achievemnt that most were not prepared for.

  7. Darth- the angel episode was not the series finale, which I LOVED- that's the way to end a series of that sort, but can understand how it could be just as frustrating as the Lost finale.
    The episode in question was from season 2 and was a slightly spiritual episode for the show called Epiphany written by Tim Minear- although as suggested would not surprise me to learn someone else did not come up with the line... Whedon is a self described absurdist and atheist... watch the objects in space episode of firely!

  8. I get the sense that Morse is going to join the meta-apologists and justify "The End."
    But I wait to see with bated breath

  9. Todd,

    Not sure I understand your comment. I'd stated immediately after the airing of The End that I enjoyed it. There shouldn't be any confusion over that fact. What are "meta-apologists"?

  10. @Todd - I stand corrected and thanks for setting me straight regarding the Angel episodes. Yes the finale was justified for that series, I mostly didn't want it to end.
    Firefly was a great series that left before it's time, and looking at the movie Serenity as its finale, I think it brought a great close to that series.

    Morse being an apologist for "The End"? Nah! I think he will agree to the gripes, but set it straight for all of us from a literary angle. He is great at taking a seat next to us. I have full confidence (and faith?) that he will close this column out with us feeling great about the way it all ended.

  11. Morse, I agree with you about the feeling of peace with the end of the show. I also feel sorry for the S2 "Jack's and Locke's" out there after the finale. If anything, I'm glad that since the show is done, it kind of allows me to acknowledge it's faults a little more directly and gain a well-rounded view of the show. I think "The End" was every thing that it should have been and was the best possible way to end the show. Would I have done something different throughout season 6, maybe. But that's not a question that I should be asking. It should be, was the direction that the creators went satisfying for the characters, and myself as a viewer, and the answer is unequivocally yes.

    Looking forward to reading your final recap for the series. Thank you so much for all the work that you have poured into your recaps and for creating this haven for all of us.

  12. Morse,

    Your column is fantastic as always, I'm still reading it but I wanted to comment on a few things while they were fresh in my mind. Jorge Garcia has been doing a weekly podcast for each episode this season called "Geronimo Jack's Beard" (love the name). In the entry for "The End" a couple of interesting stories come to light.

    You mention that you didn't understand the "Ben trapped under a tree" scene. There's a reason. The important part was edited out. A lot of people wondered why they bothered to save Ben. In the original shot, he was to have pushed Hurley out of the way of the falling tree, saving him. It is then Hurley who insists they return the favor. Not sure why this was edited out, couldn't have taken more than a few seconds.

    The second, more harrowing story, is how Matthew Fox almost died during the climactic fight on the cliffs with Terry O'Quinn. Before the stab scene, O'Quinn was supposed to switch from the real knife to the collapsible knife. But one one take he forgot, and he stabbed Fox full force. Now, actors usually wear pads even with collapsible knives because apparently they still hurt. They had briefly considered not having Fox wear a pad because it kept showing up under his shirt, but the props master insisted. So they chose the thinnest pad on hand... which just happened to be the only one containing a layer of Kevlar. Jorge said that Terry O'Quinn turned white as a sheet after he realized what had almost happened. Close call!

    Anyway, back to reading.

  13. Morse,

    Your passages about Limbo and the castaways judging themselves are exactly what I was thinking.

    My favorite quote period comes from the seldom-heard-of series of books The Lymond Chronicles, by Dorothy Dunnett. The titular character says, at one point "The salvation of each man's soul lies within himself, and is not a matter which concerns even his brother."

    I believe that the reason Sayid and Ben were allowed to move on when Ana Lucia "wasn't ready" are entirely based upon their own judgments of themselves. I don't believe anyone could be a harsher judge of Sayid than Sayid himself.

  14. have to chuck my thoughts:
    The commentary on the commentary: the meta view of this finale MUST rely on viewing the sideways as a whole. It is not as if you can ignore all the elements that made up this “limbo” that these people created. Over simplifying the characterization of the commentary isn't particularly fair. IT is easy because the nothing matters and it all matters are only two sides to a coin and I dare say we are playing with a D&D 100 sided die. And I dare say, you might characterize YOURSELF as mellow season six jack, but it comes off more as Locke saying his faith was “never easy.” Ill explain more below.

    It's success was FELT by you. IE you are and were willing to let your emotions control the POV by which you chose to watch and now analyze the episode on its own merit and as part of the narrative. Admittedly, I felt the sweep of the emotions of the finale probably as much as anyone and while my rational side becomes annoyed at many elements, my emotional side could still enjoy the way my strings were being pulled, but I could not just IGNORE the itching problems left by the careless creators.

    Gender issues and banality aside, the writers risked NOTHING. They were telling the ending of a madeup story that they felt they had every right to ignore that which they knew their followers wanted only because it was the end. As meta commentary itself, saying that EVERYTHING MATTERS as they state clearly in the finale, but then pat you on the back and say basically, “get over the Hurley Bird, nothing matters” was fundamentally disrespectful to many of the viewers who did not view LOST as merely characters. While it might have seemed like you got EXACTLY what you wanted out of your mystery box on Christmas morning, for everyone else who is seeing/feeling it differently its like getting a huge lump of coal and hearing those that got what they wanted telling you that you are either wrong for not enjoying your lump of coal and just be grateful there was a box to open or just get over it. And saying that you AREN'T saying it, does not take the sting off of it either.

    I got what I paid for on the ride of the show and the columns but I feel you purposefully choose to ignore the rational side- that complicated animal, just to bask in the warm glow of the emotionally satisfying ending.

    I am curious. What was the larger statement? I tend to believe that they wanted to eat their cake and have it too. IE- keep the rational mystery loving elements of their audience seduced long enough for ratings etc, this is still business, but also be able to say “the show is about characters.” Again, this is not about answering every nook and cranny question, but rather to suggest that their execution of what they presented as the sideways could have adequately addressed both concerns and seemed considerably less like pandering to the pathos at the loss of the logos.

    “This doesn’t ruin the show for me, or drive me into a rage, but it does bother me, and I can’t and won’t criticize those of you who are SO bothered by this that the show becomes retroactively less-than. Regardless of intent, it feels like the writers decided that they couldn’t be bothered to answer them, or had no answer that they wanted to share. So, y’know, Grrrrrr.”
    If any thing summarize my feeling for the finale and your commentary on it, I don't think I could have done it better.

  15. You write as if the finale was designed only to satisfy the elite. “Those that want to think” or many “emote” considering the discussion of feeling, but this is insulting to those that did also see it as a action/mystery show that wasn't just about THESE characters on this island. Your fulfilled prophecy of the second snake does little to make it palatable to those that wanted more of a connection between one half of the season and the other. Your comparison to season three might be apt, but that was just future into the story- not an epilogue that makes little sense in the context of the rest of the show. I applaud your effort to make that leap to explain it, but as an epilogue in most ways the finale failed to be a satisfying ending to the series.

    As you discuss the sideways, you brush by HOW COOL you think the ambiguity of the construction of the sideways is, but it is AT THE HEART of the ending of the show. “THEY CREATED IT???”
    If that is the case, then literally Jack NEVER learned in his real life to get over his daddy issues etc etc etc? The very ambiguity you LOVE is what people are going to hate for the most part in a resolution to a story that they have invested six years in. AND honestly, this is not about them meeting at a church at the end and Christian explaining it all. I think most people could live with the last minutes of finale if the sideways made some sense.

    You narrow down or assume that most of the sideways is about reconciling a lacking element or some issue from their real life. Hurley = love (OK, I can get behind that)
    Jack = daddy issues? (OK, makes sense)
    Kate= what issue? We wouldn't have a clue because she left the island and presumably got maybe live in a relationship with Aaron or who knows
    Sawyer- clearly not cooper, but just being with the woman he only truly ever loved? OK I can see that
    Locke- what did he have to reconcile?
    Desmond- did he REALLY need to reconcile anything? (as a sideline for unanswered questions, what was the sacrifice he would have to make per Widmore?)
    For the rest it really just seemed to be the person they loved, not the GROUP which they would seem to have you believe- because again, why would Penny be there?
    Charlie- reconciling his death? Is dying like an addict on the plane part of what HE wanted?
    Most tell- Sayid? Really? He was suppose reject his true love for the island fling? He HATED himself that much?

    You point out that in the sideways that people once woken just make it to the church without prodding... again, makes little sense, but you suggest its just choice?
    Also, what happened when Desmond takes Kate to the church and she asks what he wants “ To leave” he says and says he will show her and then that's it??

    I suggested in the blog that you are a meta-apologist because like the creators, in your commentary, you are willing to let go of the answers to the rational for pure emotional payoff. They SAID we should. Owing for the any of myriad reasons they did not choose to make more sense out of the sideways or tie it in better with the island story.

  16. ou suggest that Lost was about answering the questions for ourselves and I think I've illustrated before that a Rorschach test is no way to get to know yourself or anyone. It's all well and good to have a show that gets people to think, but there are plenty that want nothing to do with that... or, their thinking does not revolve around... should I get over my daddy issues like Jack, but rather why in the heck do they have to push the button? You not wanting to hear about those that don't want to play the game of more philosophical thinking seems to imply that you would just as soon have them leave the story alone and leaving the more high-fallutin' philosophizing to those that “get” the show.
    You even say:
    “That’s all fanwank, you say. Pure speculation. You’re doing the writers work for them.: You may love it, but again, you are the kid getting EXACTLY what he wanted out his box.

    I like the suggestion that the light is a “lighthole” as inverse of a blackhole... again, conjecture that comes well after the fact ( and as Jacob says “if you have to be told, it's meaningless.” )

    You suggest its accepting that you have to do things on faith basically. That's fine, but satisfying consumers? Not so much.

    Thank you for the enlightenment on the Sumerian connection, did not know ,but did not need to be satisfied with the ending on a rational level.

  17. You mention how the Juliet Sawyer scene is the clear tie between the beginning and end of the season, but I say it's a muddled mess. Why would she say those lines in the sideways???

    The interesting thing that occurs to me, this is not democracy in action. Most people at least want their view of how they see art/faith/anything subjective to at least be validated- today that's done by opinion polls. If enough people believe it, then it must OK right? Clearly, this ending is VERY polarizing. Commentary on the state of the union? I digress.

    If I could ignore the ending and focus on Jack at the end of the island story, I would elevate this episode to profound, but I find the execution of the sideways leaves me.

    You suggest you have problems with the execution on the ending then proceed to ignore them as if we were being nihilistic? You don't want to deal with people who felt that the ending with the sideways cheated them of a connection to the story they more or less expected?

    I love how you end, the overarching ideas were great, no doubt and not an argument from me on those... but how they chose to execute them in the final hours was disappointing. And for the many who got a lump of coal, maybe the box set has what you are REALLY looking for?

  18. Todd,

    Quick comment on your note about Sayid. What they may be trying to say with his reconciliation with Shannon was that Nadia was never Sayid's "soul-mate." Remember, he acted as her captor, tortured her of his own free will, only acting to free her when she was about to be executed.

    He pursued her until her death, true, but in many ways she was a toxic influence upon him. Even if she had forgiven him (which I believe she did), she was a constant reminder to him of a past he could never forgive himself for. She was like salt constantly being poured into a never-healing wound.

    Just because you want something desperately doesn't mean that thing is good for you.

    Though he only knew Shannon a short while, she at least represented a clean break from that past.

  19. M Morse-

    (Very long, rambling post follows. Sorry. I meant to keep this short, but it's the first time I've put anything in writing since the episode aired, so it got a bit long.)

    Once again, thanks for a wonderful - and wonderfully thought out - commentary on the episode.

    I think I mentioned here after the episode that my takeaway of The End was essentially that my heart was happy, but my brain wasn't.

    Unfortunately, though, in the week-plus since the finale aired, the more I've thought about it, the more I've been bothered by the loose ends. I'm not talking merely about the desire for Answers here; what's bothered me is the level of commitment I (and others) have made to the show, and the level to which it has inspired me over the years to read, and theorize, and think; yet, in the end, it felt that so many of these hints or clues were mere red-herrings with little actual meaning to the story. Suddenly, it felt that many of the huge, series-long stories (Widmore as bad-guy, Eloise Hawking as "time cop", infection, infertility/Aaron, etc.) were simply tossed aside as if they'd never happened.

    And, to add insult to injury, I've been bothered by some of the very matter-of-fact statements by Damon and Carlton telling people essentially to "get over it" (I'm paraphrasing) and that we shouldn't get hung up on all of these issues. That bothers me because, frankly, they're the ones who raised all these issues in the first place, and, through their use of these storytelling devices to create tension and keep people interested over 6 seasons, suggested that they were important to the overall story. So to suggest that we should all just not worry about these issues that we've thought so much about (and which attracted us to this show in the first place) is unfair at best, and infuriating at worst.

    All that being said, however, I do have to say that your commentary has started to bring me back around to where I started. More than any other commentator that I've read on The End, you've suggested some very interesting and powerful ways to look at the unanswered questions, and to reconcile the science side of the story with the very strong, and more facially obvious, faith side of the story shown in the finale.

    I still don't think the episode, or the series, was perfect. Too many storylines that the show itself built up were left dangling. And, in fact, I'm still pretty disappointed that, on its face at least, The End seemed to fall more obviously in the "faith" camp than the "science" camp. I've always been fascinated by this show for the message I'd thought it was sending -- that man can decide how to interpret the unknown in any way he/she wants, be it religion or science, but that what truly matters is who we are and how we treat each other. And to that end, I wanted to walk away from The End with an equal ability to say "it was science!" or "it was faith!" and be right either way.

    But the well-thought-out ideas you've presented (the Source as black hole twisting time and space, the Parallel world as Minkowski space, etc.), do at least give me hope that, with a little work and thought and rewatching, I'll be able to eventually take away the message that the series was sending all along. And maybe there's even an answer in there as to Eloise and Aaron.

    As for Widmore, though, I guess we're just gonna have to accept that Jacob went and talked to him and convinced him of the error of his ways.


  20. A note on discourse on this site -- it is very good that we are kind to each other, but name calling at others (!) has left me far less than interested in participating lately.

    I believe heated discourse is a good thing. In many ways, a good online discussion can function like a seminar. I am not advocating that this site is the best place to set up a comparative literature seminar on other critics' writings. But this site is unique amongst many as a safe place to discuss and speculate. If I find that I agree or disagree with something another critic wrote, I don't want to feel like some ugly moniker applies to me too. Plurality of ideas and civility!

  21. Erik,

    That's what I'd like this place (and the new place) to be - places where people can argue and debate without making it personal. 99% of the people here do an excellent job of that. You're a perfect example.

    I'm a big boy, and don't mind it when people are bizarre and angry toward me, but I don't abide that behavior toward my readers. If 'someone's attacking another commenter in the threads please let me know. Their posts will be removed.

  22. @greg- I can see your point, and in some ways see the rational for Sayid's sideways story, but it also seems annoying random how this "world" would be set up and that even if you grant Sayid's guilt that the only thing that would overcome it is his fling with Shannon? Eh... more to the point, even in the sideways he failed to reject his "killer instinct?" All it took for him to "move on" was kissy time with Shannon- pretty weak redemption or reconciliation to me...

  23. Regarding Sayid, wouldn't he have flashed into the sideways when he died? (how does that work?! I don't know.) When resurrected, would he then exit the sideways and return to the island reality? And, if he briefly visited the sideways, why didn't he remember the sideways like Desmond?

  24. Wow, great point Erik, Morse pointed out that the implications of Sayid's death and resurrection were just DROPPED this season- one more huge plot point just abandoned

  25. Well it looked like, to me, that Miles noticed something was off when Sayid died, just like he did with Claire in season 4. With Jacob's touch it was like a reboot (similiar to the Mdeusa spiderbite- seemingly dead but not). Free will is free will. The "Infection" is just the "Light" of an individual being tainted by "darkness".

    Sayid believed he was a bad man, so it was a case of self fulfilling prophecy. Claire abandoned her son like she was abandoned by her father, that tainted her "Light". The Monster- the embodiment of darkness- exploits the "infection" for his own goals, but a person has the right to not be affected by not giving in to their perspective weakness. TBC.

  26. @Todd and Erik - Since we know that time has no meaning in the sideways, and that Sayid rejected Nadia there as well makes perfect sense that Sayid did not think he was worthy of her, and let her go. This was why she was married to Sayid's brother. Like Greg was saying, she was a constant of his flawed past. Sayid knew deep down in himself that he was a good man. Shannon released him of his past, as she once accepted him on the island. You are your own judgement, your own forgiveness, and you are the most harsh on yourself.

    @Morse - Kudos! Thanks for a terrific end and putting together some serious pieces. Namely the early Sumerian language. I had come to the conclusion last week that ALL life and civilization started on this island. This is how the light is in all of us. this would explain how temples, and statues were built. We know that when teleported people end up in Tunisia. This is close to where early recorded human history started. It is feasible to say that when the first colony of people left the island, they started populating the rest of the planet? Yes!

    Proto-Swan station you say? Could there have been an ancient "incident" that was responsible for the fall of Atlantis? Or an other unexplained destruction in our planet's history?

    Science vs Faith - tipping toward faith at the end is inevitable I think. I am not a religious person by far. But I know there is no scientific explanation of the afterlife. I am not saying that there will never be, because theories like: energy cannot be destroyed, and we are all made of energy (or light?). I think, like others, that rewatching the series, knowing the endgame, may bring more to light that we had previously dismissed. We may see that science is equivocally involved with the end of this series as faith was.


  27. Darth- I can get behind the nadia vs. shannon thing- sort of. What I have problem with moreso than anything in the sideways is his reversion to being a violent thug. Yes, yes- this is after the fact nitpicking. But as I suggested above, this is a LOT of work for us to be doing for the creators.

  28. Got to thinking... the end of LOST has some creepy Heaven's Gate parallels. (I am pretty darn sure that isn't what was intended by the creators of LOST).

  29. @Todd - I hear you about Sayid's fall back into violence. I think this is a metaphor that he cannot escape his past. Although this is "limbo", the violence shaped him to the person he was just before he died.

  30. Morse: A terrific, satisfying column. This is a great way to end the run.

    I look forward to your future Chud project as well as your other writing, and I specifically can't wait to read your book.

    Here's to you, sir. Bravo.

  31. Erik- i'm with you on the comparison to Heaven's Gate... sideways = suicide pact?

  32. @Todd The sideways was just a situation that was a facsimile of their major issues they had to remember that they had to overcome before letting go so they could move on.

    Sayid always had the dichotomy of darkness (torturer) vs light (his sentimental affection for the ladies and others in general).

    His plot line in the flash sideways was to remind him that he ultimately is a lover and not a fighter. He overcame his "infection" of darkness and turned away from being "claimed" by the Monster, the very physical symbol of darkness.

    There is always a choice...

  33. Morse (and everyone else) -

    Not sure you have seen this, but you may want to wait for the Lost Encyclopedia to come out before your book. It probably would play a valuable part in your content.

    In short, this is an interview with the writers of said encyclopedia. It is going to be canon and will clarify a lot of Lost content. The interview is very informative.

  34. Great find, D. Thanks so much for posting it.

    Between this and the promised new content on the DVDs it's looking likely that I'll wait until I have a "full picture" view of things before releasing Back to the Island: The Book.

    ...I just hope that this encyclopedia doesn't render my efforts redundant.

  35. Well that was my first thought as well, but it looks to be that this encyclopedia will verify everything shown on the show. The interview mentions it will specifically be about what was noted from the individual episodes. Connecting dots, speaking about locations, characters, props, and even some mysteries will be clarified through Darlton and Gregg Nations.

    There seems to be no mention that this will cover the "philosophical, theological, literary, pop-cultural and thematic aspects of LOST". I think you are safe. If anything, this might be a great tool to use as references, clarifications and whatnot.


  36. Critical analysis of the end- I am not as angry as this dude, but he nails it:

  37. I know i am months behind schedule, but i just finished watching the finale. Morse, your analysis added so much to the show for me, helping me to pick up on references etc I would have missed otherwise. I will definitely be getting the book when it comes out.
    I have always thought of myself as someone who views rationality as my religion. All of my analysis of religiion/philosophy has always come back to that concept, so i completely understand the POV of people who were let down somewhat by this ending. The End, in so many ways, portrays the concept that there is something above and beyond rationality/reason, and as Morse has pointed out, Notes from the Underworld is referenced during the season, which speaks on that exact concept. My problem, and I believe the problem of others, is that I don't know if I agree with that. I believe that is what underlies the hostility of many with the ending... however, what I love about the finale, is that it shakes me out of my comfort zone, and forces me to attempt to wrap my head around that concept. A TV show that forces me to reexamine my philosophical views of life?...I don't think that can be viewed in any way as a failure by writers/a bad ending. The ending should serve as a launchpoint for a debate between reason and faith instead of a debate between whether the ending was a failure or success.

    Also, I would like to share my view of the off-island/flash-sideways in season 6...I view this as a drawn out version of Jacks moment leading up to his death...kind of like his life flashing before his eyes as he is dying. It is up the the viewer if we want to view this all in his head or metaphisically/religiously etc. I don't think it is meant to serve as a vision of the afterlife or purgatory per se. The show does a good job of leaving the afterlife (what is beyond the church doors that Christian opens)as abstract, since no one really know the answers to such things.