Ever since the series finale of “Lost” aired this past Sunday, the Internet has been all a-buzz. Fans have been in a sort of emotional whirlwind. Many loved it. Others were pissed off and demand a “recount.” Others are still, well, lost. For me, the finale was one of those things that needed to sit with me for a while as I worked out my feelings (and dreams) about it. However, by the next day I loved it.
In the end, it really was about the characters we had come to know and love. Yes, there were some questions that I would have liked to have been answered. But in truth, even if they told us, we may have felt frustrated still. Leaving some things up in the air is in some cases better. For example, what if they told you that the island was a space ship from another galaxy. Or, if it was the original Garden of Eden? What then? If you want, you could believe that about it now. But if they tell us, well, half the people would think it stupid. It had become so blown up in our minds, do you think any answer they gave about it could have truly lived up to the hype or expectation? Probably not.
For the record, he only question that kind of frustrates me is the one that was raised in the finale itself. Why didn’t Jack become a smoke monster when the fountain thingy was turned back on? How’d he get out of that hole! Other than that, I can live with the other unanswered questions. In many ways, the finale was a message to the fans too. Let go. Move on. Who cares why the polar bears were there. It’s not about the polar bears, the Others, Dharma, or even the island itself. The island is really just one giant MacGuffin. It’s about the people and how we relate to their experiences with the polar bears, Others, island, et. al. There are many other examples of classic film and television storytelling that leave big questions unanswered:
- In Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds”, we never find out why the birds start attacking or why they suddenly stop.
- In Star Trek the Motion Picture, we never find out where the giant “cloud” came from.
- In Vincenzo Natali’s 1997 hit indie film “The Cube,” we never find out who built the cube or why.
- We never find out what’s in the black suitcase in Tarantino’s “Pulp Fiction.”
- In Robert Zemeckis’ “Contact,” we never find out who built the worm hole technology or why.
- In Star Trek: The Next Generation we never find out who (or what) Guinan is.
- And in 2001:A Space Odyssey, as well as it’s sequel 2010, we never really find out where the Monoliths come from or why they were created. (Hey, wait. It’s 2010 now. Is Jupiter still there?
So you see. You can still not get the answer to the big questions and still have an amazing, long-lasting, utterly fulfilling story. In some cases you may be given an answer and wish you hadn’t. (Can someone say “midichlorians.”)
Lastly, so much of the fun of “Lost” are all the theories people dream up. All those “Lostie” websites and blogs can go on with all their fun speculating, debating, and engaging in philosophical conversations and pontification. In many ways, not answering those questions keeps a little bit of the show alive for those of us who’ve come to love it so.