Need Something to Do Before Tonight's Finale? Read This!
- Sunday, May 23, 2010
Damon Lindelof, one of the co-executive producers of LOST, used to read Enyclopedia Brown mysteries as a boy. One day, his father ripped out the answers section in the back of the book, telling him, "The answers are there in the story. You can figure it out."
So I learned from this interview, in which Christianity Today chats with Entertainment Weekly's LOST recapper Jeff "Doc" Jensen (yes, Doc's a believer). I highly recommend reading this 3-page piece if you have even been a casual follower of my blog or the show this season, whether you read it before tonight's finale or over the next week as you process what you just saw, whether you believe, don't, or aren't sure (Jensen is very fair and makes mention of how LOST is a conversation starter for folks of all views).
It's highly probable that much of the show, once it's done, will be left for you to debate, discuss, rewatch, figure out. That is not to say we won't get any answers, but I can pretty much guarantee what we won't be seeing is the equivalent of an orangutan in glasses and a labcoat using a pointer and a chalkboard to absolutely illustrate every mystery LOST has ever posed.
CT put one of the questions we've covered quite often in this space - one which I have discussed with many of my Christian friends who are (rightly) staunch defenders of Absolute Truth - to Jensen like this, and I simply love his answer:
If we get to the end of the show and we don't know exactly who is good, who is evil, won't that be disappointing?
Lost begins that conversation by saying, "Who gets to decide who is good and evil?" Here on earth, who gets to decide who is right and who is wrong? What Lost wants to say is, We're not going to decide that. What we're going to say is that you decide that for yourself. This is the ultimate expression of free will. All these being equal, pursue a life of self-awareness so that you know yourself well; then, you decide moment to moment whether you are good or evil and then be that, hopefully choose the good.
What we may see from the sideways world is that some of these characters are going to have to think, "Wow, is that who I was, or is that who I am?" I think they're going to have to make a choice. They might be put in a place where they get to step outside themselves and see that life and make a decision. Like Sayid, I lived a horrible life, but I made a movement toward the good. The ultimate message Lost wants to leave us is not passing judgment on people but asking us to look within ourselves, and ask, Do you know yourself well enough to answer that question? If you don't, what do you need to be doing to get to that place? You're going to be held accountable at some point, because it's going to have ramifications for eternity.
Jensen also talks about why, in my view, LOST succeeds: it's equally compelling in the ways it's about character / relationships / community and about mystery / revelation / metaphor. It all comes down to this tonight:
[Finishing with some things open-ended is] a really romantic notion if you're an artist or writer, but if you're a... consumer of entertainment, you might find that extremely frustrating. If you want the detective to enter the room and explain it all, you'll probably be dissatisfied. If you love the mysterious puzzle and coming up with your own conclusion, it could be very satisfying.
I think where Lost can win is if it's emotionally compelling, if they tell us a story that reminds us why we love these characters and bring them to a powerful, incredible, emotional conclusion, which they can do independent of giving us answers to the island. We'll be crying, and we'll be laughing at the end, and then an hour will pass and we'll realize, "Wait a minute, they never told us the answer to this."
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