The Lost Finale: And these visions of Johanna are now all that remain.

May 24th, 2010 § 74 comments

Back in October, Damon Lindelof was interviewed, and was asked which song he thought best represented the mood of Lost’s sixth season. The answer he gave was Bob Dylan’s “Visions of Johanna,” a song whose meaning has been speculated about for many years. On the very surface, the song is about being stranded. However, there is a theory that Louise in the song represents the finite – your earthly body, while Johanna represents the infinite – your soul. Throughout the season, I kept this song in the back of my mind, trying to understand why of all the songs in the world to choose, Damon chose this one. Having now seen the finale, I finally understand.



Ain’t it just like the night to play tricks when you’re tryin’ to be so quiet?
We sit here stranded, though we’re all doin’ our best to deny it

Sure, the Losties were stranded on the island, but by Season 6, that was old news. What we didn’t know until that finale aired was that they were stranded in the Sideways World – in limbo – and until they each reached enlightenment, they’d never be able to move on to whatever lies beyond the light. They sat there stranded, trying to do their best to deny it – most of all Jack who, true to form, was stubborn until the very last moment, never wanting to “let go.”

Louise, she’s all right, she’s just near
She’s delicate and seems like the mirror
But she makes it all too concise and too clear
That Johanna’s not here

Think back to all those times we saw the Losties looking at themselves in mirrors this season. While they thought they were seeing themselves as they were, they were really just reflecting the earthly bodies they had once inhabited. But the more they saw themselves, and I mean really saw themselves for who they were, it made it all too concise and too clear that they were not where they belonged. Johanna’s not there in the Sideways World – Johanna is what lies beyond the light in the church. They had to let go of those old notions of who they were on earth before they could come to grips with where they were and what their next step would be.

Inside the museums, infinity goes on trial
Voices echo this is what salvation must be like after a while

I’m not going to stretch this metaphor to its breaking point by saying that the museum benefit our Losties attended was where infinity went on trial, but that was definitely when the roller coaster of a finale finally seemed to reach its climax. Once Kate, Charlie, and Claire all gained the understanding about where they were (which was one of my favorite scenes of the episode), it really felt like we were finally done climbing and now we could just throw our arms up to the sky and enjoy the free fall.

Salvation is defined as, “The saving of a person from sin or its consequences, especially in the life after death.” After watching these characters go through all their trials and tribulations on the island and the outside world, it was quite moving to see them finally understand what salvation must be like after all that time. Are we merely the sum total of our actions? Or is there more to it? The Losties’ love and loyalty to one another is what saved them in the end. Sure, they made mistakes in their lives; none of them were perfect. But instead of being judged by some kind of higher power, it wasn’t until the characters were able to forgive themselves that they could finally let go.

The peddler now speaks to the countess who’s pretending to care for him
Sayin’, “Name me someone that’s not a parasite and I’ll go out and say a prayer for him”
But like Louise always says
“Ya can’t look at much, can ya man?”

Murderers, criminals, torturers – Lost has always been chock full of unsavory types. I think ultimately the message is that there is really no such thing as good or evil. From the outside, so many of these people seemed too flawed to be fixed, but over time, we saw that even the worst of them could be capable of great things as well as terrible things. Even the Smoke Monster himself was once a decent human being. Louise is telling the peddler to look a little deeper – people are not always what they seem. Almost everyone can be saved.

We see this empty cage now corrode
Where the cape of the stage once had flowed
The fiddler, he now steps to the road
He writes ev’rything’s been returned which was owed
On the back of the fish truck that loads
While my conscience explodes

The moment in which Jack finally understands that he is actually dead, that he’s been dead all along, the invisible cage Jack had been holding himself prisoner in finally falls away, and everything makes sense to him and to us as the audience. It reminds me of the ending of The Sixth Sense in which Bruce Willis’ character can’t rest in peace until he (spoiler alert!) understands that he’s been a ghost all along. In the end, our Losties got what they each deserved, and their conscience/soul/what have you could finally go out into the ether. The Sideways World existed to help them come to grips with the choices (both good and bad) they had made in their lives, and finally let them rest in peace.

Those visions of Johanna – i.e. The Great Beyond, the Infinite – at first crept up on them, eventually conquered their minds, made their past lives all seem so cruel, but in the end, those visions of Johanna are now all that remain.

***

I loved the finale, and the more I think about it, the more I loved it. I had been afraid that they’d somehow end the show in the Sideways World – give us this Super Mega Happy Ending, which would in effect negate the first 5 years of the show. But in fact, they did the opposite. They made what happened on that island SO important that every person in that church considered it the most meaningful part of their lives – even the ones that lived to ripe old ages. Talk about an epilogue. It’s the ultimate “and they lived happily ever after.” No matter what those that survived did for the rest of their lives, they still all managed to finally rest in peace, together.

As an audience, it left it open for speculation as to what happened to the Losties that survived once Jack died. What was it like when Claire and Aaron were reunited? Did Kate and Sawyer have any kind of relationship? How did Richard adjust to modern life? Did Hurley protect the island like a tropical Santa Clause, with Ben as his Head Elf? What was Desmond and Penny’s reunion like?

Damon and Carlton gave us a definitive ending without giving it all away. Sure, not all of our questions were answered. I’m sure there are disappointed fans who will hold a grudge that we never found out why Claire had to raise Aaron, or why Walt was special, or what the light at the center of the island really was. But to dwell on that aspect of the show, in my mind, would be missing the point. Lost has always been about the characters’ journeys of self-discovery and redemption. While totally fascinating, the mind-boggling WTFs of the show were a means to an end. The puzzle pieces were all put in place to help tell the story of the people on that island, not the other way around. That finale was everything we’ve come to expect Lost to be – action-packed, moving, funny, and totally nuts. I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.

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§ 74 Responses to The Lost Finale: And these visions of Johanna are now all that remain."

  • Court says:

    I agree with what you said, the more I think about the finale the more I like it.

    It reminds me of your season 1 recap when they do that slow motion thing with all the characters and it hits you:

    I
    Freakin’
    Love
    Lost

  • Steven Kelly says:

    Thanks, Rachel

    What a wonderful review. I’m delighted to see that you serious pieces have the same level of quality — excellent — that your Ack Attack recaps do. But please tell me you will skewer the finl episode, too. I even had an Ack moment at one point, when Desmond was in the water struggling with the rock. Given the obvious similarity to Star Trek 2, the line “I cannat change the laws of physics, brutha” popped up… athough I’m sure you’ll have something far more clever.

    I thought “The End” was elegantly crafted. I was mildly disappointed in the overall premise. The idea of everyone preparing for the afterlife seems to be the easy road to take. I was hoping for something more tied to the unique properties of the island itself.

    It’s sort of like being invited to dinner at an exclusive restaurant only to find they’re serving cheeseburgers and fries. But it turns out to be the most delicious, satisfying, lovingly prepared cheeseburgers you could imagine. By the time you finish, you are so swept away in the experience that your original uncertainty is long forgotten.

    I know from experience that one of the joys of LOST is the perspective gained by multiple viewings. After I’ve seen it two or three more times, I may come to fully embrace it. What a great journey it’s been.

  • Ack says:

    @Molly Your cake analogy is a very good one, and I’m just really glad I don’t feel the same way, I’m sure that totally sucks for you guys. Luckily I love Lost blindly, so it didn’t matter what the ending was. I would have loved it regardless haha.

  • Ack says:

    @StevenKelly Thanks so much, it’s funny that I gained this big following writing my insane recaps because in real life I’m actually much more articulate than I come across haha. But of course I will be giving this finale the regular Ack treatment – the finale recap will be posted in two parts because it’s so long!

  • TheGhostOfFrankLapidus'Beard says:

    There was so SO much I loved about The End, and the more I marinate on it, the more I am feeling satisfied. I was not initially, though. I agree that Lost has never been about answering the minutae. I’m really not hating on the finale, writers, et al, but for a show that’s let the viewers draw their own conclusions and theories on so many things, it seems strange to me that they would spoon feed us the answer that the Sideways was purgatory. That being said, I so loved each moment of enlightenment or letting go or whatever you want to call it! None more so than Charlie/Claire/Kate. I was a Jearsy mess!

    And can someone (Ack??) – PLEASE, pretty please with a cherry on top – tell me why the Island was under water in the season premiere??! What does it mean? The series is over and I’m still asking questions! I guess that’s why I love this show! Thanks Lost for a great ride! And thanks Rachel for helping so many of us make sense out of it!

  • Ack says:

    @Frank’s Beard

    I think the island sunk in the ocean in the premiere meant to represent the fact that in this limbo world, the island is all over and done with and it’s the relationships they formed while they were there that mattered. I could be wrong, but that’s my take on it!

    The Charlie/Claire/Kate scene made me cry so hard my nose started bleeding hahahaha it was redonkulous.

  • Val says:

    This times a million. I agree with your thoughts as to why Damon chose the song, but more so on your thoughts on the finale itself. I don’t think it could’ve ended any other way, either. <3

  • Steven Kelly says:

    Glad to hear the review is on its way. It IS funny how you can be singled out for doing something atypical. Burgess Meredith, talking about his fame as The Penguin on the Batman TV show, once said “All my life, I’ve done Shakespeare, I’ve done Ibsen, I’ve done iambic pentameter, and what do I become famous for? Going ‘waak waak waak’”

    I didn’t mention earlier, but was anyone else wondering if Mr. Eko or his brother would show up as the priest for Christian’s funeral?

  • Tessa says:

    I read somewhere else that they offered Adewale a pretty generous sum to be in a scene in the finale, and he asked for five times as much. He sounds like such an ass.

  • LostTeaParty says:

    I loved it, I loved it all. I am reading through the Jears ;___; till my eyes bleed. Namaste, friends

  • Claire815 says:

    Rachel, as a long-time lurker, I’m finally compelled to comment. I LOVED LOVED LOVED the finale. Mostly because I believe it means something different to each person who watched. For me, it was the visceral, emotional conclusion for each of the people we have come to love, hate, then love again for six years.

    Your recaps and humor have been an “island” of joy for me. I (and I’m sure many others) hope you continue, even with another project. See you on the other side, sistah!

  • Lauren M says:

    Here Here, Well said Rachel!

    I agree that the more I keep thinking about it (which is like all the time) the more I understand it and love it.

    Yes, they didn’t answer all the questions but they admitted that they weren’t going to and that some of it was just going to be up to the fans to decide.

    I recently rewatched Season 1 and it made me realize that underneath it all, Lost is a story about characters seeking resolution and they did just that in this wonderful finale. I found the ending scene on Youtube and I was crying again, I’ll miss this amazing show but I’m glad it went out the way it did.

  • elsie says:

    This is the best review, by far, that I have read of the finale. Ack, somebody needs to start paying you money to do this. You have the pros beat this week.

    I was one of the ones who hated it last night and feel completely differently on second viewing. I am so glad I found this amazing show – and your amazing comments on it, both serious and silly.

  • MysticalChicken says:

    Quick question: Okay, you know that thing where ABC will rerun episodes of LOST, but have information about the show pop up on the bottom of the screen in a black and green banner? (Kind of like Pop Up Video*, in a way) Does anyone know if they’re going to have a version of The End like that, and if so, when it’ll air? I always keep forgetting about those Pop Up Video versions of the show, so I actually rarely watch them, but I really want to watch this one if it’s going to be aired.

    *bloop

  • Tiffany says:

    I cried a million times last night. I cried reading this just now.

    I am satisfied with the ending overall (I spent a large part of my night disagreeing with people on Facebook who said that it sucked), but I’m still afraid that some part of me will always want the answers we never got. A printed encyclopedia that spells everything out would be excellent. I love seeing things click together, sort of like a detective novel or something. I think that a lot of the show’s ARG marketing brought that part of me back out, and having to put it away for this really was the only disappointing part. I live for that “Oh, this was connected to this and this and this” adrenaline rush :) But yes. I say all of that with the understanding that I really do love how it all ended. But now I just want more, of course.

  • Antoinette says:

    Wow. I think you got it 100%. Damn and I thought I was watching a SciFi show. lol I should have realized with a character named Christian Shepard that the whole thing was about being a good Christian and salvation and sin and all that, especially with Mr. Eko’s Jesus stick, Des being a monk, the Mary statues, and everything. I guess I just wanted it to be scientific and saw what I wanted to see. I’m not a Bob Dylan fan either so when this song thing popped up I totally ignored it. When you have nothing in common with the creators of a show a lot gets past you I guess. Great work. :D

  • [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Rebecca, Sarah W, El Duderino, Heather, Cooley Horner and others. Cooley Horner said: What she said. Perfect. RT @ack_: Some thoughts on the #Lost Finale… http://bit.ly/aCCi0D [...]

  • Sorka says:

    Thank you, thank you so very much for your review. You got it right and said everything I’ve pretty much been saying. Its always been a show about the characters, the story is secondary and today…well, today all the questions people have left over are just so…meh.

    I, too,cried my eyes out during the reunion of Claire and Charlie. It was so beautiful.

    The scene with jack and his dad in the chapel…there was that window with all the various symbols of religions> I’m frustrated with people who are think it was about Christianity…it went far beyond any one religion just as their lives went far beyond ordinary time.

    Oh this story, this story, it gave me such joy. Thank you again for all your cleverness and your earnestness.
    Amen.

  • brad says:

    As for the island showing as being under the water earlier in the season… when the island was convulsing at the end since it was “uncorked”…(earthquake/volcanic)… didn’t we all see part of the island fall off into the sea? I did. That said, to me…why the “foot” and parts of otherville were in the water. A flash forward of what was going to happen.

  • [...] 2010 at 8:36 pm | In Uncategorized | Leave a Comment Tags: lost For any fans of the show, I thought this was an interesting essay about the finale. Also, I love her little recaps, so hilarious. Be sure [...]

  • Keeks says:

    Thanks so much for this essay! Loved it.

    I don’t fully understand people who hated the ending of the show, and so vehemently. I think it was honestly pretty clear a season or two ago that there were lots of little details about Others, Dharma, and many other things that the show had already moved beyond. So… I’m not sure why you are so mad that these things weren’t “answered” when you could clearly see they were moving toward the greater myth, which was: What was the nature of the island? Why were they brought there? Was there a purpose to all of it?

    I think most if not all of the other things (i.e. mysteries) DID INDEED fall in with this bigger one. Dharma found the magical magnetic energies of the island and attempted to experiment on or even exploit these. The Others were brought to the island over millenia by Jacob to help play the game of mankind’s basic nature, good or evil. Some fell in with MIB, others with Jacob. Most would fail or be corrupted, BUT our Losties played out the final iteration on this round and SAVED THE LIGHT and the world by banding together, helping each other, and loving and believing in one another.

    The ending was all about this magic/fantasy/sci-fi as much as it was “about the characters.” I mean, you can’t get any more magical than the power of life, death, and entire universe, LOL. Personally I think the fantasy was way more cheesy than the character stuff!

    And some of the “mysteries” WERE explained. Polar bears = Dharma experiments (they tested the time-travel wheel and properties using rabbits and bears and probably other people and animals). The “psychic” who told Claire her baby was superspecial and never let anyone else raise him was later shown to be a total fraud and bad guy. So, the prediction was UNTRUE (altho it did foreshadow what would happen).

    And not just the psychic, but throughout all seasons, from the beginning there were LOTS of people who lied or misrepresented themselves, or tried to manipulate (Ben, but also many, many others up to the MIB). This was one of the big themes, who do you really believe, who do you really trust? What people tell you (faith) or what you can prove by seeing with your own eyes (science). How do you reconcile these and become your own person?

    Yes, part of me thinks too many things (the “rules” etc) were explained away too quickly by saying Jacob had powers/magicks and just did whatever he wanted. Whatever he made up, was the rules, and that’s just how it was.

    But overall, the themes and patterns and motifs you see repeated and then culminated in this finale were so, so satisfying to me. I am the biggest horrible cynic this side of the Mississippi so honestly, I can’t believe I didn’t think it was cheesy. I don’t know if I believe in God, and personal circumstances of the past year or two have caused me to doubt the existence of real romantic love or trust between human beings BUT I loved this and dare I say that it maybe broke me out of this Grinch-like existence I have been living in these past several months.

    Wouldn’t we all love to believe there is some type of afterlife where we meet again the people we loved and meant so much to us? Those people were there for JACK and it showed that his dying was not in vain, they all lived and died and life went on, and they were all there for each other once again.

    I do feel bad and sorry that people disliked it so much but I think it’s like ‘shippers – people want certain things to happen and become too attached to those outcomes when they really just need to let the story happen and understand that their vision is not necessarily the same as the writers’. I am just so happy that it all fell together for me, and that I found a forum here with fellow literary appreciators. I especially appreciated that people here were never rude or ugly like they often are elsewhere online, even if we disagree we can come to terms on the parts we love together. THANK YOU and NAMASTE to Ack and to all of you!!!

  • Jay says:

    Thank you, Rachel! Thank you, thank you, thank you.

    I understand why some people were disappointed with the unanswered questions, but I found the finale entirely satisfying. Jack wasn’t my favorite character by a long shot, but he was the main character in the writers’ mind; the series opened with him and ended with him. And that’s why I’m not upset about not knowing all the answers. We know all the answers that Jack had a chance to know. Thematically, that makes sense to me.

    The one thing that I wish had been done differently in the finale: I kept waiting for Richard to upchuck when the plane took off. There’s a big difference between knowing what a plane is and FLYING in one, especially when you’ve spent a couple centuries on the ground. (I’m only half kidding about this… I really would have enjoyed it.)

    The ending reminded me in some ways of the final scenes of “Longtime Companion”… in a good, if teary, way.

  • Susan says:

    I just wanted to say that I love, love, love this article. Not only do I agree with your take on the finale, but you’ve combined two of my favorite things – Lost & Bob Dylan :)

    Thanks so much for the all the recaps. It’s been fun watching Lost with you!

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