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part of a small rebellion | by maryann johanson

question of the day: What about those last images in Lost of the crashed plane on the beach?

Yes, it’s one more Lost post, one more instance of me talking more about a show I said I was done talking about. Hey: it’s my site.

I was intrigued this morning to come across a post at the L.A. Times blog Show Tracker about those final shots of the Lost finale. You know, the ones of the wreckage of the crashed Oceanic flight 815 on the beach, with nary a soul — living, dead, or flashed sideways into purgatory — around:

Those images are part of what led me to wonder whether everyone had been killed in the crashed and none of what we saw on the show actually happened. Apparently, however, ABC is stunned that anyone could interpret these images that way:

Well, ABC wants to clear the air: Those photographs were not part of the “Lost” story at all. The network added them to soften the transition from the moving ending of the series to the 11 p.m. news and never considered that it would confuse viewers about the actual ending of the show.

“The images shown during the end credits of the ‘Lost’ finale, which included shots of Oceanic 815 on a deserted beach, were not part of the final story but were a visual aid to allow the viewer to decompress before heading into the news,” an ABC spokesperson wrote in an e-mail Tuesday.

While there still may be unanswered questions related to that religious and spiritual conclusion to the “Lost” story, the photographs were really just a nostalgic, transitional touch added by ABC executives — and not executive producers Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse.

I think I wanna call bullshit on that. Pictures of a plane crash are not generally considered a good way to decompress. (Images of a peaceful Hawaiian beach, sans horrifically burnt wreckage of a plane crash, might have done that.) And I find it hard to believe that the network would add such images without consulting the producers of the show.

But my question today isn’t so much about rehashing the finale but about whether we should or shouldn’t feel obligated to take ABC at its word. What about those last images in Lost of the crashed plane on the beach? If they add more room for speculation and/or interpretation, should we feel free to consider them even if everyone involved insists they’re not connected? The images were part of the experience of that final episode, after all, and they were not obviously disconnected from it in the same way that, say, the commercial breaks were. And it’s not like the network had no input into the show all during its run, so if we dismiss these images because it was all the network’s doing, does that mean that we can dismiss any plot developments that we know came about as a result of the insistence of the network (such as, for instance, not wanting to hire back an actor).


(If you have a suggestion for a QOTD, feel free to email me. Responses to this QOTD sent by email will be ignored; please post your responses here.)

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  • rory kerry

    i believe the shots on the final credits are just the remains off some of the plane the main parts the ones with the seats is at the bottom of the ocean as shown in previous season with all the passangers in. i believe the whole story is all about jack and the things he had to come to terms with about his realationship with his father and his fathers death before he could move into the light and cross over spirtualy and the other charaters were the best ways of him dealing with it i dont think any off the adventures they all had on the island actualy happened but thats just my opinion as i found out at work everyone else as a different interpretation of what happened

  • Keith

    I think we should take them at their word. My thoughts on seeing that beach image as the credits rolled were they wanted a rather neutral shot that symbolized the series. Can’t think of one that would work better. I didn’t for a moment think they were trying to do anything more, probably because the end of the church scene felt like a proper close to the story.

  • Keith

    Also, I didn’t spend all six seasons watching the show and looking for clues that may or may not have been there. I suspect most of the people who think the credit scene means something more either have gotten too much into looking for clues and/or are having trouble letting go of a show they’ve invested so much time and thought into.

  • JoshDM

    To me, it looks like a view of the wreckage of Oceanic 6 and the camp, probably while everyone was whisked off to the 1970’s, or post-Show. I don’t think it shows anything other than that, and I think people are reading way too much into it. No one is left on the island that needs to be at that camp; this is just a shot of the empty camp and crash site.

  • Those images are part of what led me to wonder whether everyone had been killed in the crashed and none of what we saw on the show actually happened. Apparently, however, ABC is stunned that anyone could interpret these images that way

    You could certainly interpret it that way if you wanted… one of the things I like most about the finale (and Lost in general) is how they give the audience plenty of things to interpret in a personal way.

    For instance, just because Christian says the things that happened on the Island were real, doesn’t mean they were. However, the distinct lack of bodies at the crash site lends itself to a more conservative interpretation, at least for me. I guess the Others could’ve cleared away the dead passengers and buried them, but following that road makes the show a lot more vacuous. I choose to take the final scenes at face value, what Christian says, what Jack does, and what everyone else experiences. The silent shots of the plane’s debris were just a reminder of how far we’ve come. I liked it a lot.

    As for whether they’re part of the show, it should be pretty clear they’re not, as those over-the-credits scenes didn’t even air in the Canadian broadcast (not sure about other countries).

  • Trudi

    I beleive that the final scenes of the beach show that the plane crashed and if they had shown images of the cast dead it would have not been respectful to the characters we had grown to know and love over the 6 series. They all died as Christian said but at different times. They all had issues to resolve from their lives and only once they had dealt with these could they then “move on”

  • Might as well believe them. Why would they bother to lie? They just didn’t bother to consider the nature of their audience beyond demographics. Surprise, surprise.

  • Dave

    I believe it for one reason. The network is always the one who puts something over the credits. They just decided that instead of an ad for V they would put the images they did without even thinking about what kind of show it was for.

  • Sean Riley

    I’m going to try and have my cake and eat it too.

    One: Yes, you can argue it. It did air during the episode, it was there, and screw authorial intent. Read the work as it lays, right?

    Two: But then again, this one wasn’t even included by the actual authors. I think it’s a long bow to draw, and anyone arguing against that intepretation is sure to bring that up.

    So I think it’s arguable, and if supported by better evidence, worthy. But it’s weak on its own.

  • mortadella

    I believe them. It was like the final bow at the end of a long production. They didn’t die in the crash. The was stated in the finale episode and by the writers elsewhere.

  • Lozateazer

    I never interpreted it as anything other as the wreckage and the camp, empty and alone for the rest of time now that we, just like those people on the Ajira plane, have left it, never to return again.

    Everyone who has been on that island has left their mark–be it the statue, the temple, the Dharma village, even the Black Rock. Even the wells are a marker of a group of people who have once lived on this island, and have changed it with their presence.

    To me, it was a very fitting coda.

  • Jason M.

    Lozateazer, I agree that it was only a network coda, and not part of the main story, but I could have sworn that late in season one, the castaways cleared much of the wreckage from the beach. They cannibalized much of it for the rafts and camps, and maybe dragged the rest of it into the ocean. When the Ajira people arrived, they saw the remains of the camp, not the huge jet engine. Am I imagining this?

  • Kate

    In something I read Cuse and Lindelof mention that you can see footsteps in the sand and other marks of survivor activity in these shots, further solidifying the idea that this final scene wasn’t supposed to indicate the Island experience wasn’t real.

  • CB

    It’s kinda like how all of the last season was symbolic of the characters’ need to find redemption and meaning in a life they were never able to have.

    The plane wreckage is symbolic of the audience’s need to find the explanation they were promised, but that never existed.

    It’s also another clever tie-in, a reminder that the imagery from Season 1, Episode 1, of a plane crashing, would end up being symbolic of the entire show.

  • Lozateazer


    After a few days on the Island, the bodies had begun to smell and were attracting boars. They burned the fuselage, but the wreckage remained.

    After about three weeks, the tides changed and the survivors moved down the beach. They don’t revisit the wreckage again, outside of flashbacks.

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