How Lost Should Have Ended

Breaking Bad wasn’t the greatest ending of all time, but it was the best ending of any show in the long serial format now prevalent on TV. Part of why this is is that it knew what it was about, knew what it looked like it was about, reconciled those, and when the story was done it ended.

Here’s how Lost should have worked out:

The Island is a probably alien or unexplained natural phenomenon that exists in a kind of timespace bubble. Ancient civilizations discovered it and, of course, didn’t know anything about it and treated it as some kind of supernatural entity all its own in part because it cured disease and provided some people with exceedingly long life.

In modern times, like the Atlantis myth, people began to discover mythological references to this place and a few scientists in particular began to think the place might be real. There are miniature wormholes that permit entry that are somehow arranged by the energy there, and it can be modulated. The scientists found a way in and began to bring their utopian modernism and technology to the place, much to the dislike of the anti-modern inhabitants. The only thing they don’t manage is to allow a population to perpetuate itself there, which would completely pervert the place in the eyes of its ancient guardians. They finally elect Ben to kill and remove the Dharma people.

After the bomb goes off, the original primeval timespace regulation becomes flawed and the hatch is used to keep it regulated, but any time it isn’t reset, new wormholes open and the disturbance is detectable from the outside. The best the ancients could do was a wheel that was very imprecise and rough and moved the islands wormhole gates about the earth; the dharma scientists were able to be a little more precise before the bomb went off. After that, it took everything they could do just to regulate the anomalies.

Lost is a largely Western Buddhist story about how the passengers are reincarnated on the island with a chance to annul some of their negative karma from the past through solidarity with the group. It should not have been the case that they were considered dead or on their way to another life. The “reincarnation” should have been metaphorical, not literal, just as it was at the beginning of the show when no one thought they were in a syncretistic purgatory.

The ending when the characters receive sufficient enlightenment to link with their former lives, Buddha-style, only to have them end up in heaven’s antechamber was a mistake. Their moments of enlightenment should have allowed them to leave the island. The injudicious mixture of metaphor and reality is what screwed up this aspect of the ending.

The Walt story should have played out as we expected with Walt and John replacing Jacob and the Man In Black, the yin/yang of the island. John, who failed a Dalai-Lama-like identification procedure with the compass, should have been compared with a scene where Walt succeeds and becomes the new guardian.

Taking an Eastern yin/yang balance and having it resolved by a Messianic good prevails over evil story is as big of a mixing problem as mixing the cycle of reincarnation with the finality of the Western afterworld.

If Lost was supposed to be a show set in the philosophical world of the Tao and Buddha, I’m not sure Jack as Jesus fits in. His self-sacrifice to destroy the man in black with the dog lying down next to him to sew together the opening scene with the closing one disconnected both scenes from the entire story.  The ending should have been John and Walt restoring balance and hiding the island from everyone for a very long time until something else tries to disturb it (a spinoff?)

Removing Walt and not having him be part of the ending was a big problem.

Now after having all of that clear (and making it clear should have been done)—everyone should have had their ending according to their karma and then been restored to the world, alive (or dead if that was appropriate).