Warning: Big “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” and “Lost” Spoilers Ahead!
Of all the major revelations and backstory changes made over the course of “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” perhaps nothing was more startling than this: Michelangelo is a “Lost” fan, but he did not understand the show’s ending.
The nunchuck-wielding ninja makes the shocking revelation as he’s plummeting to his death at the end of the movie; it’s the last thing he wants to express before he hits the ground and becomes turtle soup. Luckily, he (and his brothers) survive the fall, but the fact remains: Michelangelo does not know what happened at the end of “Lost.”
Well, Mikey, you’re in luck, because I’m a big “Lost” nerd. And I like you, dude. You’re funny. You like pizza. I also like pizza. And if you’re still having such an existential crisis about one of my all-time favorite shows, I’m more than happy to help you through it.
Grab a slice and grab a seat, Michelangelo — because this is how “Lost” ended.
In the season six episode “Ab Aeterno,” mystic man Jacob explains to ageless Spaniard Richard Alpert that the Island is like a cork in a wine bottle. It keeps the wine — Hell, malevolence, evil, darkness — from spilling out of the bottle and staining the world.
I don’t think you’re much of a wine guy, Mikey, so instead, think of the Island as the tape on a pizza box. With sturdy tape in place, the pizza won’t fall out if you turn the box over. Without the tape, the pizza will tumble onto the floor and become inedible — basically the worst thing that could possibly happen. (Though knowing you, you would probably still eat whatever dropped; five second rule and all.)
In other words, the Island exists to keep a malevolent monster from breaking free and corrupting the world. But what is the monster? Honestly, it’s up for interpretation. The better question is, who is the Smoke Monster?
We learn in the season six episode “Across the Sea” that the Monster and Jacob are brothers. Long ago, the two got into a big fight, and Jacob hurled the Monster into a glowing light on the Island known as “the Source.” When he emerged from the Source, the Monster was angry, and no longer had a corporeal form; he was a roaring, murdering cloud of black smoke that could take on the likeness of his former self and any dead bodies he encountered on the Island.
I’m sure you understand what it’s like when things get tense between brothers, Mikey. You’ve seen your fair share of tension between Leo and Raph in your day. Now imagine that Leo embarrassed Raph so badly that all Raph wants to do is destroy Leo, leave the sewers, and eat all of the pizza New York City has to offer. That means there would be no more pizza for you. No good, right? Right.
So, Jacob, who knows that he messed up by turning his brother into the Smoke Monster, spends the next several years (like, a lot of years) summoning people to the Island to prove to his brother that there’s good in the world, and to see if one day, there will be someone strong enough to take on the difficult job of protecting the Island and keeping the Monster at bay.
That’s where the survivors of Oceanic 815 come in. Their plane crashed on the Island because it was destiny for folks like Jack, Sawyer, Hurley and Locke — destiny, because Jacob made it that way. I’m sure you can relate, Michelangelo. It’s like how you and your bros reunited with April O’Neil all those years after she named you, rescued you from a lab fire, and set you loose into the sewers. (Actually, you might have to explain that one to me.)
Anyway, long story short, Monster kills Jacob, Monster threatens to leave the Island, Jack becomes new Jacob, Monster mortally wounds Jack, Jack kills Monster, Jack saves the Island, Jack dies. It’s a heroic cycle of sacrifice that you and your brothers know all too well, Michelangelo. After all, you were willing to die to stop that spire from crushing all those innocent civilians gathered around in Times Square. Same deal with Jack; he sacrifices his life to protect the Island, and therefore the world at large, from succumbing to the malevolent forces the Island keeps at bay.
But, good news! That’s not the end for Jack, or for any of our heroes for that matter. As it turns out, there’s some sort of afterlife in the universe of “Lost.” When our heroes die, they arrive in a “Sideways” reality, a spiritual place that exists outside of time. Here, the survivors of Oceanic must make peace with the emotional baggage from their past lives, reunite with each other, and move on to a higher level of existence. It’s very emotional.
Now, I’m guessing that this is where you got confused, Mikey. You, and many other fans of “Lost,” took the ending to mean that the survivors of Oceanic 815 were dead the entire time. That notion was only reinforced further by ABC’s decision to air images of Oceanic’s abandoned wreckage on the beach of the Island while the closing credits rolled, seemingly indicating that the plight of the survivors never actually happened.
But it did happen. Everything that happened on the Island, absolutely happened to these characters. They were not dead the whole time. They lived, they laughed, they loved — and eventually, they died. When they died, they arrived in the Sideways, and they moved on. End of story.
It’s a weird, existential, sappy ending that some people really didn’t like, and some people really loved. Your mileage may vary. But the ending of “Lost” is not the most far-fetched thing in the universe, Michelangelo. After all, you are a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle.
“Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” is in theaters now; “Lost” ended four years ago but still exists and remains super awesome, weird ending and all.