Sunday, May 30, 2010

IT WAS ALL JUST A DREAM

SPOILER ALERT: Skip this post if you don't want to know the ending of "Lost."

Three big series ended last week, but only one of them had a true finale. The decision to cancel "Law & Order" was made only recently, and so the series' final scene of people working at the office felt like the end of a chapter (or season) rather than the end of the book. Likewise, "24" didn't wrap with any finality, which now leaves open the possibility for a big-screen movie. Only "Lost" truly concluded, even if it left open some questions for viewers to ponder, rather than for producers to exploit in some other medium. 

The cheesiest possible way to end "Lost," with its plane crash survivors on a mysterious island, would have been for it to all have been a dream. Still, the "Lost" finale was not lacking in dreams of another sort (or in cheese, I might add). In the final season, the characters were living in two alternate realities -- one on the island after the plane crash, and one in Los Angeles after the plane lands safely at its destination -- perhaps each reality a dream of the other, seen through a glass darkly. Also, as the character of Jack learns from his dead father, the island was "the place that you all made together so you could find one another," which I take to mean some metaphysical plane of existence for inhabitants to resolve their central psychological conflicts, before moving on to the afterlife. That itself is not too far from a dream, in which the dreamer awakes from the terrestrial life into the afterlife, or heaven, or the great light, or wherever the "Lost" cast of characters goes as the series concludes. Taking it a step further (or further out), we might say that "Lost" itself -- or any other series -- is a dream in the minds of its creators, and one into which we as viewers enter. For more on the ending of the dreams that are TV series, check out this "Entertainment Weekly" slide show of the "20 Best TV Series Finales Ever." (On the list is the stellar ending of "Newhart," pictured above, in which the entire series was revealed to be a dream of the character of Bob Newhart in his previous TV series.)

Speaking of shared dreams, I once had a dream in which I saw my real-life friend Masha, and we both realized we were dreaming. So we devised a code-word or phrase -- I think it was something like "peanut butter sandwich" -- to say to each other in the morning when we woke up, to acknowledge our encounter on the floating bridge of dreams. I woke up, called Masha right away, and said, "Peanut butter sandwich!" or whatever the phrase was. Alas, she didn't have a clue what I was talking about.

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