The two and a half hour series finale of Lost was a lot to take in. In fact, it has taken me a few days to fully appreciate the way Cuse, Lindelof, and Abrams chose to wrap things up. My initial reaction to the islanders’ afterlife reunion in the church, and Jack’s death on the very spot where he first awoke on the island, was “huh?” This ending was so at odds with what I had been expecting that I couldn’t process it. Even though I tried to keep an open mind about how the show would end, I found myself expecting the two worlds (the original island timeline and the alternate world) to somehow come back together in the end, with Desmond somehow orchestrating this reconvergence with his special gift as “The Constant.” It was my expectation that Desmond would play a major role in the islanders’ final destinies that made me feel slightly disappointed initially. I wanted him to be the hero – to set the island right again and lead his friends back to their true lives. However, I’m no longer disappointed.
I think the ending to the show was beautiful, touching, and in keeping with the show’s tone for the past six seasons. Lost was always exciting to watch and dissect because of the crazy mysteries – the four-toed Egyptian statue, the polar bears, Jacob’s cabin in the woods, the light at the heart of the island, etc. But what made the show really special was the characters and their stories. I fell in love with Jin and Sun as they went through all the ups and downs of their stormy relationship. I cheered for Sawyer as he let go of his anger and learned to lead and care about other people. I marveled at how I still liked Benjamin Linus even after he lied, murdered, and manipulated just about everyone in his path. There were so many characters to get to know, and as the writers developed their stories, motivations, and personalities, I loved all of them (well, except maybe Ana Lucia!).
Since the show has ultimately always been about the characters, it was appropriate and satisfying for the finale to focus more on who they are and where they have been, than on what the island was.
The Mystery of the Alternate World Revealed
- I’ve been puzzled by the widespread misinterpretation of the finale by not only many fans, but by the media. Writers at TV Guide and L.A. Times, to name a couple, somehow gathered that the islanders were dead all along, presumably from the moment the plane crashed in the pilot episode. Did they not pay attention when Jack’s dad told him that the events on the island were very real and were the most important part of all those people’s lives? How depressing would it be if this were really the case – if all six seasons were nothing more than these people’s purgatory?
- Fortunately, that was not the case. The only place where these characters were dead was in the alternate world. It wasn’t a parallel reality, as the writers tricked us into believing. It was more of a purgatory that the characters had to live in until they were able to “find each other” and move into the afterlife together. This world represented the way these people wish their lives would have been: Jack had a son who he could be a good father to, Jin and Sun were able to escape her father’s iron fist and start their life together, Sawyer was able to be a good guy, etc.
- Desmond was the first to “remember” his real life, and then he made it his mission to help the others remember. He visited them one by one and jolted them into seeing glimpses of the most important parts of their lives. Once they understood, they were ready to reunite with those they cared about most and move on.
My Assessment of this Purgatory World: I’ve had trouble understanding how this purgatory fits into the chain of events on the show. I kept getting hung up on the moment when Juliet set off the bomb, resulting in the white light that transported the ’70s islanders back to the present. As Juliet lay dying in Sawyer’s arms, she had a glimpse of the other world (we learned in the finale that she was experiencing the moment when she and Sawyer meet at the vending machines, and she says “We should get coffee sometime… we can go dutch.” This vision led her to tell Sawyer (through Miles’ psychic ability after she had died) that “it worked.” I guess the “it” was vague. I assumed she meant that by setting off the bomb, she had changed the future, and created a new timeline where she, Sawyer, and the others could live happily off of the island. Apparently, she just meant that they had found a way to be together, even if only in death. I’m still confused about what exactly the bomb going off accomplished. I guess the simple answer is that it created an energy that flashed the island back to the 2000s so that these people could finish what they started – protecting the island, keeping evil Locke from being unleashed on the world, and fostering their relationships with each other.
Wrapping up the Island Adventure
- After a season long struggle between good (the candidates) and evil (Locke), good prevailed. This was made possible when Desmond removed the stone from the heart of the island, making the Smoke Monster mortal, which allowed Jack and Kate to finish him off with a good beating, a gunshot, and a final shove off a cliff. This was the purpose that Jack had been headed toward since the beginning: to stop the Smoke Monster and save the island.
- The side effect of Desmond removing the stone is that the light went out, and the island started to fall apart and sink into the ocean. To remedy this unfortunate turn of events, Jack chose to sacrifice himself. He put the stone back in place, which made the light come back on, and thus brought the island back to life. The energy created in this moment was too much for anyone other than Desmond to withstand, and so Jack died as a result – but not before the island deposited him back on the rocks. For a moment, I was concerned that Jack was going to be Black Smoke 2.0. That would have been a terrible ending! Apparently the island just gave him one final gift, by allowing him to stumble back to the spot where he originally awoke on the island, surrounding by bamboo, with Vincent the dog as a companion. For a moment, he thought back on all that he had been through since first coming to the island, and then he closed his eyes to this life.
- Meanwhile, Jack had turned over the responsibility of protecting the island to Hurley. We can assume that Hurley was a more personable leader than was Jacob. His first noble act was to ask Ben to be his number two. What a great moment! Finally, Ben had a real purpose on the island, and was needed and appreciated. I like to think that Hurley and Ben changed Jacob’s rules, so that people didn’t have to choose between complete island devotion or banishment. I’m guessing that they helped Desmond get back to Penny and little Charlie with his boat that was sitting out in the harbor. Rose and Bernard probably lived out the rest of their days happily on the island, too.
- In a pleasant surprise, Frank the pilot was revealed to have survived the sub explosion. I guess Locke was lying about the plane being rigged with explosives (or someone disassembled them), because after a little duct tape repair, Frank was able to safely fly the plane off the island, carrying Miles, Richard, Claire, Kate, and Sawyer with him. It’s nice to think that Richard was able to finally live a normal life and grow old, that Kate and Claire were going to raise Aaron together, and perhaps that Miles and Sawyer were able to continue their Dharma partnership (maybe as private investigators or something?). This was definitely a happy, if bittersweet ending for these islanders.
- Most of the viewers’ confusion probably stemmed from the closing scene, as the credits rolled, of plane wreckage on the beach. Cuse and Lindelof probably did this on purpose, just to stir up some doubt. But I think this was just the remnants of the original Flight 815 crash, not some sign that Jack and company had actually returned to the moment of the original crash, and that they died at that moment. The wreckage was a reminder of all they had overcome and accomplished together.
My Assessment of the Island Ending: I liked it! From Locke and Jack’s epic cliff side battle, to Jack’s changing of the guard to Hurley, to coming full circle with Jack’s eye closing amidst the bamboo, everything that happened seemed right. It’s sad that Jack died, but his actions allowed the island to continue to exist, Hurley and Ben to bring a new brand of justice to the island, Rose and Bernard to continue their retirement, and the folks on the plane to go back to civilization and continue a more normal life together.
Loved It: Here are some things I loved about the finale
- The reunions – It was so nice to see Charlie, Juliet, Shannon, Boone, etc. again – especially Charlie and Juliet. Charlie and Claire’s reunion was sweet and reminded me how much I loved his character. And it was very satistfying that the writers resolved the “we should get coffee some time” moment from the beginning of the season by giving us one final, emotional scene between Sawyer and Juliet. I loved them together, and the actors did the scene perfectly to convey the couple’s relief and happiness at being together again.
- The flashbacks – These glimpses of previous seasons ran like a “best of Lost” clip selection, and brought back lots of happy memories for me. But they worked seamlessly with the current story, as they were the characters’ visions of their lives’ most important moments. Sun and Jin’s flashes, during their sonogram, were the most touching, but I also enjoyed Claire’s and Charlie’s, Claire’s and Kate’s, and Sawyer and Juliet’s. Beautiful moments.
- Ben’s Atonement – Ben is perhaps the most complex, compelling character of all on this show. It was nice to see him ask Locke for forgiveness (as he should have – he murdered him, after all!), and for Locke to grant it. And it was also satisfying for Hurley and Ben to acknowledge their roles as island protectors. It makes me think that it was a long and fruitful partnership. I had always hoped that despite his questionable intentions and actions, Ben would ultimately fall on the side of good, so I am glad that he did.
- Jack’s “Scars” – This was one of those little details that we had been getting clues about all season – Jack’s recurring notice of the cut on his neck, and his noticing a scar on his side. It turns out they were both the result of his final battle with Locke. As he came closer to remembering his life, the wounds became more visible.
- Richard’s New Beginning – I’m sure a guy from the Old World will have a hard time adjusting to modern life, but after years of being stuck at the same age and in servitude to the island, it was nice to see Richard given a chance at a normal life. Miles pointed out Richard’s first gray hair, and in that moment Richard realized that he looked forward to living again, and to aging, and one day dying.
- Frank and Miles Survive – Since most of the later characters didn’t survive to the end of the series (Widmore, Daniel, Charlotte, Ilana, to name a few), it was nice that these two did just that. And I mentioned earlier that maybe Miles and Sawyer continued their friendship and professional relationship once they made it back to the mainland. That could almost be a spin-off! 🙂
- Sawyer finally gets off the island – Poor Sawyer – he spent so much time trying to get off the stupid island, and went through so much hardship – it is satisfying for him and viewers that he finally succeeded. I’d like to think that he and Kate didn’t get back together. Maybe he became Uncle Sawyer to little Aaron, but hopefully he and Kate didn’t try a relationship again. After all, she professed her love for Jack before leaving the island.
- Claire becomes less crazy, leaves the island with Kate – Kate achieved her purpose of bringing Claire back from the island so she could be reunited with Aaron. And since Claire said the island had messed her up and she didn’t think she could raise Aaron alone, they were going to have a tag team approach to parenting. That makes sense, since Kate had already spent years being his mom. Even though they surely had bittersweet feelings about leaving Hurley and Jack behind on the island, it was the right ending for them to return home to Aaron. Too bad Sun and Jin couldn’t do the same for their daughter. But at least now there is someone to share their story with her.
- Desmond survived! – Desmond was one of my favorite characters, so I am thrilled that he didn’t have to sacrifice himself to save the island. I am also happy that he most likely found his way back to Penny and his son. Desmond and Penny’s love story may have been the most touching of all the Lost romances.
Laughed at It: Some of the moments that amused me
- Hurley shooting Charlie with a tranquilizer gun – Oh how the tables were turned. Sayid is usually the one doing such things, so it was funny when he asked Hurley, “What was that?” as Hurley threw an unconscious Charlie into the back of his Hummer. Hurley and Desmond seemed to have a better idea of what was going on in the alternate world than everyone else, and I loved their confident, nonchalant attitudes.
- Claire’s warp speed labor and delivery – I don’t think anyone has ever had such a quick labor as Claire did – it couldn’t have been more than five minutes from the time she had her first contraction to the moment Kate put Aaron in her arms. Charlie didn’t even have time to bring blankets! I guess it didn’t need to be realistic, though, since it wasn’t happening in real life.
- Sawyer’s Nicknames – I can’t remember them right now, but he had a lot of good ones in the finale. They provided some much needed comic relief.
Letting Go and Moving On: And so, after six seasons of joy and sorrow, time travel, heroic acts, and interesting characters, it’s time for Lost fans to say farewell to the show. It’s fitting that the characters had to do the same, let go and move on, in the parallel “purgatory” world. As I mentioned earlier, I’ve been confused about why they would need to remember their other lives if they had already lived them out – since I thought the point was for them to get back to those lives. It wasn’t so much that they needed to remember their lives as they needed to find each other before they moved on into the afterlife. It was nice to see these characters back together again in the church, and nice to think of them living on together in eternity. Jack, Sawyer, Sun, Jin, Charlie and the rest are some of my favorite tv characters ever, so I am glad that the show provided closure for them. It was certainly nice knowing you, Lost! Thanks for all the hours of confusion, excitement, drama, and satisfaction.