'Lost': 'What They Died For', and what we watch for
To me, that title's a gauntlet, thrown down by the writers as a statement of purpose to the viewers. It states, "This show has stakes, and these stakes matter, and what's transpired over the course of six seasons has weight that can't be thrown off in the final few hours." It doesn't tell you the "what" in question, but at least it indicates that the increasing body count on the show will not be meaningless. This is a touchy topic, one that obviously transcends the show and reaches into the hearts of its audience. Can death have meaning, and if so, what meaning can it impart upon those left behind?
Trying to answer this question has been at the heart of the sideways world, and if nothing else the creation of this parallel plane of existence has forced the audience to overtly question what they want the events of the show to ultimately mean. Those on the side of Team Island Timeline have advocated an application of Jacob's Theory that things only end once, corporeally speaking. You might have The Whispers hanging around with memories of what they were and what they did, but the end game of the show won't materialize them to their previous state. Those on the side of Time Sideways Timeline have advocated that what we've seen all along is the end result of the pain and suffering in the Island Timeline, a reward of sorts for sacrifice and moral righteousness without expectation of a second chance.
Team Island thinks that the gradual awakening of the people in the sideways world is a call to arms that something is wrong, that even though these people are in nominally or overtly better situations these situations are "wrong" in that they are unnatural. They believe that people dead in the Island should not be alive in the sideways one, not because they are bloodthirsty hooligans but because they believe that cheapens the actions that we've watched over the past five years. Team Sideways looks at that world as an opportunity for people to live the lives they were supposed to live, that these lives were not ever meant to be without pain but simply be life without interference. Charlie and Hurley and the myriad of others now once again alive have a chance at the happiness the Island denied due to the defeat of, not victory by, The Man in Black.
I hope I've represented both sides fairly accurately, but most of all with respect. The two sides don't agree. How could they? But while I've been Team Island all the way, I get the appeal (if not always the logic) of Team Sideways. The most common complaint about my POV is, "Why do you want Charlie to stay dead?" To me, that's asking the wrong question. I'd point instead to this week's title, and if Charlie's alive in the sideways universe, and that universe "wins" (for lack of a better term), then the answer to this week's title is, "Nothing." Because if the show ends with those that have died now alive, than all deaths in the show's history retroactively are meaningless.
Let's take the most recent schism in applying these two viewpoints to the show: the massive death toll in
Unfortunately, merely surviving or actually living means inevitably that you die. I'm insanely unhappy that Sayid, Sun, and Jin are now dead, which makes the sideways universe incredibly appealing to me. But I think that's PRECISELY what that episode was trying to achieve: putting the audience in the same perspective that has driven people like Sayid to team up with The Man in Black to recapture that which can never truly come back in the way we once had it. Team Sideways rejoices in the fact that Hurley and Libby had their beach picnic. Team Island sees it as bittersweet, a lovely moment checkered with grief. Team Sideways sees it as a second chance. Team Island sees it as a taste of what could never be.
All this boils down to the title of this week's episode. One side would answer, "So they and others can live in the sideways world, in the way they were they were meant to live." The other side would answer, "So the remaining few could makes this world slightly better, in the way that they have to live." I'm not here to say which one is right, because I don't know what the final three and a half hours will bring. I know to which one I subscribe, which has caused no small amount of distress and anger amongst Team Island's participants. I have nothing but love for you, "Lost" fans, no matter on which side of the fence you currently reside. The fact that we've been able to have passionate arguments about this insanely interesting topic for months now only speaks to how powerful the themes of this final season of "Lost" truly are. Even if the show itself has occasionally stumbled over these final episodes, the ideas at the heart of it never have.
Can't ask for more than that, can we?
Photo credit: ABC