Monday, May 24, 2010

LOST Thoughts: The Light at The End of the Tunnel

With LOST coming to a close last night, I thought I'd ruminate on a few "unanswered" questions. Beware, if you haven't seen the finale, or haven't watched LOST at all (but plan to), you might not want to read anything beyond this paragraph. Here there be spoilers!

While we caught a glimpse of the glowing yellow light when Ben turned the donkey wheel, we weren't properly introduced to the yellow light at the heart of the island until Across the Sea, an episode very late in the series' run. Once it was introduced, it featured very predominantly in the story. At first it seemed strange that such a new element would feature so heavily in the story's wrap-up. Yet, now in retrospect, it really was the beginning of The End.

For what else is the universal sign of "you're about to die" than a light at the end of a tunnel?

But what was the light at the end of the tunnel? At first I thought it was just a McGuffin, but the glowing light slowly revealed itself to be so much more. It was what gave Jacob and the Man in Black their conditional immortality. It was what was keeping the island together. It turned out to be a source of great (and sometimes terrible) power, allowing Jacob and Ben to "beam" off the island and transforming the Man in Black into Smokey McMonster. It was by extinguishing the light Jack was able to kill the Man in Black and it was by rekindling it, we assume, that Hurley would be able to live on as the New Jacob (or is it New Jack now?).

But what was the light at the end of the tunnel!? The maddening answer is, "you tell me." What is the light at the end of the tunnel? I get the distinct impression that LOST does not take place in a universe unto itself. While it can be classified as a fantasy, it is one that takes place completely in our world.

My take on it all is that the writers are acknowledging that there is something holding this world together -- something bigger than us. But what that is, isn't their place to say. Perhaps they're still trying to figure it out themselves. But there is something out there. Something mystical, magical, powerful, and all-together impossible to define.

I can see where people might feel this is a cop-out of an answer. They'd prefer a "it was Jesus" answer or "the island was being controlled by aliens who were running a sociological experiment on the human race." But I disagree. I believe this answer is, in itself, the same series of questions LOST has always asked its viewers:

"Is it science or faith? Is it a measure of both? What can be understood? What can't? Which (or whose) side are you on? What do you believe? Why?"

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