Wednesday, May 26, 2010

What Just Happened? (Part 2)

Let's continue our discussion (here is part 1) focusing in on one thing: Jack as the main character.

Old Jackie Boy

It should surprise no one that Jack is the main character of this show: his is the first flashback, he becomes the Protector that destroys The Man in Black (which ensures the safety of the island and allows Kate, Sawyer, et al to finally get off of said island--we assume), the show begins and ends with his eye opening and closing. The fact is that Jack is our guy.

Why does this matter? Jack's story arch is the most important, because it dictates the show's direction. The other characters have interesting story lines, they may be more enjoyable to us than Jack, but the only reason they are important ultimately is that these characters influence and change Jack through their interaction and relationships. They influence Jack's decisions and help shape who he becomes.

Jack's Hang Ups

So what are Jack's issues? These are the two most important:

1. Faith vs. Science - Jack is a man of science; he can't believe unless he has proof or he fully understands something (you may remember the question "Why?" being a common utterance of Jack's throughout the show's 6 seasons). He and Locke spend so much time pitted against each other for this very reason; Jack is not a man of belief.
2. Jack can't let things go - This stems from his relationship with his father; Jack feels like he doesn't measure up, like he doesn't have what it takes. So he is always trying to "fix things" and prove himself...to himself (because he believes his father's assessment that he "doesn't have what it takes").

By the end of the show we see Jack confront and resolve these issues: Jack accepts what he does not fully understand--he believes Jacob and he acts according to that belief--and he and his father embrace and express their love for each other at the chapel. All of Jack's experiences lead up to him being able to finally, truly let go of his resentment and feelings of inadequacy with his father and his being able to believe and act on that faith. Jack's issues epitomize the show's theme of letting go perfectly.

Jack's Eye

Jack's new-earned faith allows him to act without knowing exactly the hows or the whys. It allows him to accept that some things just simply are. As this happens, certain questions stop being asked (like the 3 I listed earlier, which I still want to know), because Jack now sees that they are no longer important. In the end, does it really matter what the island is or where it gets its power from? No. For Jack it is enough to know that the island is special, it has power, and that power needs protecting. He accepts it and moves on--he lets go. We as the audience are forced into doing the same (which has been and will be difficult for so many of).

Any lack of explanation is due to Jack's not having received it himself; we are limited to Jack's understanding in the end. Just as Jack is forced to accept a few things on faith, we as viewers are as well. Jack is our eyes, our window into understanding this show and this is shown to us rather beautifully through the opening and closing shots of the series; the show opens as Jack's eye opens, and closes and his eye closes. We realize that we have been watching the entire show through Jack's perspective, through his eyes.

Fantastic Finale

This is why I am at peace with the show's finale. As much as I am still curious about things and still have questions, I realize that the questions that mattered were all answered. Besides, why is it bad for there to still be questions when a show ends? I almost wonder if I'd feel less fulfilled if there was no reason to still be thinking and writing about this show. The show's ending leaves me satisfied yet still curious and excited--the same feelings that made this show so wonderful during the 6 seasons I spent loving it.

Still To Come

I do intend to go over the actual events of the final episode, but my guess is that by the time I get there, it won't be so necessary. Until tomorrow (or sometime very soon), namaste.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

What Just Happened?

Much of my yesterday was spent discussing Lost with those who loved the finale, those who hated it, and those who just ended up feeling like they didn't get what had happened. Let me put myself firmly in the camp of those who loved it. Yes, there were still unanswered questions, but as Jimmy Kimmel so eloquently said, "If you care about the answers, you missed the point."

Let me do my best to explain what happened and why I am satisfied with the ending despite not getting my three questions answered.

Context

We have to approach understanding Lost from the correct context. Thus, a few things are important to remember as we look at what was going on.

First, this show has always been, is, and will always be--at its core--about characters and their emotional baggage or "hang ups." The first few seasons showed us what those hang ups were and how characters reacted poorly to life's little hiccups because of that baggage. The middle to later seasons showed us growth on the part of the characters with some progressing further or faster than others. The final season showed us the characters finally letting go and moving on (at least most of the characters).

Second, the medium of flashes--Flashbacks, Flashforwards, and Flashsideways--is how we learn about the characters baggage and growth. This functions through both parallels in characters' past or future lives to what was going on in the island and through contrasting behaviors that were different from what we were seeing on the island.

Third, while Flashbacks were in the past and Flashforwards were in the future, Flashsideways existed outside of time; the characters were dead already and in a state of purgatory during the Flashsideways. Obviously this means that the Flashsideways were occurring after each character had died in reality, so it could be correct to call them Flashsuperforwards, but the events of the island still seemed to have an effect on characters during the Flashsideways (i.e. Jack's neck bleeding after fighting Locke) so somehow they were both far in the future and yet connected to the now.

The Island

Being about character growth and ultimately learning how to let go, The Island, whatever it was, served as the catalyst to understanding the characters. It prodded, pushed, poked, and provoked them and the characters reacted. The Island thus provided the scenario where the characters were forced to face up to their issues, confront them, and either move on or succumb to them.

So What Happened?

The final season of Lost took us to that place where all of the characters were ready to let go of their emotional baggage: purgatory. Characters continued to live in an "empty" existence--all were dissatisfied in one way or another--but they had no memory of their previous life (or "real" life as I shall call it. Purgatory will be called "side" life). Remembering real life was triggered by coming into contact with someone important from real life and sharing in a deja-vu-style moment with them. Once that remembering occurred, then it seems like most characters were ready to accept what was and cannot be changed and move forward with the person/people most important to them. The obvious exception was Ben who had begun a relationship with Alex and Rousseau but whose relationship with them was not yet fully developed to a point where they could all move on together. There is something important in that notion of moving on together that should not be overlooked in understanding what happened in Lost.

The Point

"John," you say, "that is all fine and good, but I still don't understand what happened. Desmond was pulling stone corks out of light holes and Jack and Locke were killing each other. What was all this Protector stuff and why did The Island need it?" These are great questions, but unfortunately I don't have time to get to them today. I will do my best to get to those tomorrow, but the truth is, I believe it is pointless to try and understand all of that stuff unless we first have a clear understanding of what drove the show and what was at its core: characters letting go and moving on. The Island, its powers, its protectors, etc. were NEVER as important as the Characters that learned to overcome the weight that held them back. So the first answer to the question of what happened is: Jack & Kate, Sawyer & Juliet, Locke, Desmond & Penny, Charlie & Claire, Hugo & Libby, etc. etc. learned how to let go of their issues and be at peace.

The point is: the characters found resolution. Their experience on the island helped them to do so.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Lost

Well, it's over.

I am satisfied with this ending. I liked it a lot. If I refrain from shouting out my undying love for the ending it is simply because some of my main questions still were never answered (I'll get to those questions in a minute). I am ok with that fact, though. As Matt pointed out to me (although perhaps not in the same exact words), this was a supernatural, sci-fi, what-the-crap-just-happened? kind of show, but it was always the characters that drove it. It was a character show spiced with intriguing elements. To have the series finale focus in on what mattered most--the characters--is a great way to end things. I applaud Abrams, Lindeloff, and Cuse for putting together the most amazing show I've ever witnessed. It has been a delight. I applaud the writers who kept it interesting and flowing and didn't temper my enjoyment of the show with lame dialogue. To the actors (with the exception of Anna Lucia--oh how I cannot stand Michelle Rodriguez): well played. Special shout out to Locke, Richard Alpert, and Ben: you three had some of the most electrifying performances I have ever seen on TV.

Now, to my short list of gripes (SPOILER ALERT!!!!). I feel slightly cheated not knowing the following things. To be fair they are HUGE things that would have possibly required another two season to fully explain. Then again, maybe just another hour would have done it... who knows? They are:

1. WHAT IS THE FREAKING ISLAND? We just spent 6 years there, talking about it as though it had a mind or at least will of its own. It was "the island" that was bringing people to itself and I don't feel any closure as to how this can be. I don't need a scientific answer--I am fine with the supernatural--but I would like to know more of the mythology behind this islandic entity.

2. What is the light? It is the source of the island's power and the heart of the island--fine. What IS that power? How does it stop The Man in Black from leaving? They have rules, but Ben tells Hurley that he doesn't have to run things the way that Jacob did. So the rules seem to be made by the one protecting the island, but how is that Protector able to enforce them?

3. Where does Jacob's (then Jack's, then Hurley's) power come from? The island? Where does THAT come from? The show ends with the ever-so-easy "all religions work just fine" state of purgatory--fine--so does that signify a God's involvement in this islandic program?

To close, I love Lost. I will miss you.

Also, I made up the word "islandic." Feel free to use it. I give it to the world.

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Cover Game: Part Deux

After last week's rather difficult jam, I thought we'd reign it in a little bit and throw some of you a bone. This may still be difficult for many, but I'll be shocked if nobody gets it.

So, if you need a refresher on the rules, go here. Otherwise... Who is the original artist of this song?

The Deftones - "No Ordinary Love"


DING DING DING! We have our winner! Well done, Sir Matthew, on correctly answering Sade as the original artist of this song. Here is a video of her performing it live.


As for your prize... EASY. I actually--and rather coincidentally really--finished developing a pill that will do just that for you. Text me or Tweet me or blog comment me or Facebook me or call me about it anytime.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Harry Potter And The Muggle Struggle Part Eight: Imagination And Technology

The greatest opposition towards the series still lies in its theme of magic; parents feel that it promotes witchcraft. The series undoubtedly deals with magic, wizards, and witches, but does that mean it is about or promoting witchcraft? Might there be more to it than just that? Many critics in the field argue that the series isn't about "magic" at all, but that its deeper meaning is conveyed through the symbolism of magic. McVeigh speaks of Rowling's own declaration "that her books are not about 'magick' in the sense of Wiccan practice, but about imagination" (198). Imagination is a very suiting subject for a children's story, and what better way to get those imaginative juices flowing in a young child's head than by creating a world for him/her full of mystery and surprises. Imagination isn't the only theme proposed, though.
The magic of Harry Potter may also be symbolic of our own technology. In his article entitled "Harry Potter and the Disenchantment of the World," Michael Ostling critiques Rowling's novels as "no cause for concern for Christians, because it is not 'real', occult magic. It is instrumental rather than religious or mystical and parallels technology" (6). That may seem a stretch, but a closer look confirms that most of the magic in the stories mirrors current technologies or near-future technologies. A self-shuffling deck of cards is no more magical than the self-shuffling programming found in almost every household computer (Ostling 10). It is important to see that difference. Mystic, traditional magic is found in the stories, but on rare occasions. Generally, the magic we encounter is completely explainable in our own world. A flying car is a novel idea, but hardly worth noting compared to the jets and rockets we launch every year.

Previous: Part Seven
Next: Part Nine