The End. That was the actual episode name for the very final episode of the infamous television show LOST. An era finally came to a close. In the paragraphs that follow, I’m going to give my own reflection on what the final episode was really about, and why I thought it was indeed the perfect ending to this show. If you haven’t seen the finale yet, or are not a fan of LOST, you probably want to stop reading this right now because a lot of detail about the ending is revealed in this post. You have been warned.
I have been a fan of this show from the very beginning and when I find something that I really enjoy, I tend to throw a lot of attention into it. I was the same way about The X-Files and I will likely be the same way about other shows in the future. But LOST was in fact different in that it covered a lot of territory, asked a lot of questions, answered a lot of questions, and gave you a lot to think about.
Over the course of the last six years, the show has come to mean many different things to many people. From getting to know these characters, to learning about all of the mysteries of the island, and constantly wondering what was going to happen next. It kept viewers entertained and always wanting more. In the end, they continued to do exactly what they did from the very beginning.
Always wanting to know what was going to happen on this show, I followed a lot of the behind the scenes stuff at DarkUFO’s website. Known as one of the best spots for video, podcasts, spoilers, and a ton of other info, this site helped me learn far more about what was going on than I would have learned on my own. The spoilers were a big part of the site so I learned a lot of things ahead of time. But when it came to this season, I wanted to see it unfold as the creators of the show intended. Watching each episode and soaking it all in as it happened. But above all else, when it came to the show’s finale, I knew I had to do one thing: release my expectations of it.
LOST had created such a huge world both on and off of “the island” and so many questions had been posed and so much had happened, that the writers and creators had this impossible task of trying to wrap it all up in this final year. With the rabid fanbase that existed, there was no possible way they would have ever been able to make everyone happy. Many of these fans would be given flat out answers, and yet they would still continue to question those answers. As “mother” from the Jacob & Samuel (yes, that was Jacob’s brother’s name) flashback episode, said “Every question I answer will simply lead to another question”. I believe this was the writers way of telling the audience that no matter what they did, you will still have questions. No “answer” would ever be definitive enough. Knowing that, they knew they had to serve the story and the story was really about the characters of LOST.
Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse, the executive producers and showrunners of LOST, stated repeatedly in interviews, podcasts, and various other articles that they did not want to get “too definitive” in some of the answers because they felt it took away from some of the mysticism of the show. They cited George Lucas’s attempt to use midichlorians to try and explain “the force” in Star Wars. It was something that most Star Wars fans hated and felt that it took away from the mystery of what the force was. They were very adamant that this was not going to happen on LOST. In one of their final podcasts, they say that when it came to “answers” on LOST, episodes like “Across The Sea” (Jacob/Man In Black flashback) are what answers look like on that show. They explain some of it, but leave the rest of it to interpretation. Some people like this, some people don’t. If you fell on the “don’t” side, then you likely hated the ending of the show.
I read a lot of comments from people who were mad because little things didn’t get explained. Why was Walt special? Why did Dharma keep doing palette drops? What was the cause of the pregnancy problem? What were the “rules”? Where did the Egyptian writing come from? Why was Libby in a mental institution?
Seriously? You’re mad over that stuff? How does any of that matter? In the overall story of what LOST was all about, how do any of these unanswered questions really matter? How does knowing that Libby was in a mental institution because of the loss of her husband matter to the overall story? How does knowing that the “numbers” were core pieces to a math equation that predicted the end of the world, matter?
They don’t. They don’t matter. (As a side note, both of those “answers” I provide above are in fact the actual answers to those questions as obtained through information outside of the broadcast TV show and considered canon by the producers).
Those little odds and ends here and there never had any real impact on the biggest thing that mattered on this show: the characters. Jack. Kate. Sawyer, Juliet. Hurley. Charlie. Ben. These characters (and others) are what the show was really about. You went with them on this journey to this mysterious island and wondered what was going to happen to them. You were sad when they died and you were happy when they celebrated. When Hurley got the Dharma van to start when going down that hill, I cheered for him. I thought it was a fantastic moment in the show. Then I turned around and read comments online that said the episode was “pointless” and gave us “no answers”. I shook my head then and thought, “Man, you guys just don’t get it do you?”. This was a show all about the people and the finale was exactly what it should have been. The story of what happened to them.
This brings me to what transpired in the 2.5 hour finale that aired this past Sunday. I sat down and I told myself that I was not expecting anything. I wanted to enjoy the ride and see where it brought me and not “expect” anything specific other than to be entertained. By doing that, I knew I would be able to enjoy the episode for what it was going to be about: the characters. If you watched the two hour retrospective on the show, you should have been able to pick up on the fact that it was all about the characters. They kept hammering that point away throughout the entire episode so when the finale came on, you should have known what to expect.
I’ll tell you this. I laughed. I cried. I cheered. I jumped out of my chair a couple of times. I went on the roller coaster of emotions for a little over two hours as I watched all of the island castaways in the “sideways” world come to realize that they had this connection to a life on the island. They knew it was special and somehow when they were “awakened”, they knew they had to go “somewhere”. It wasn’t until the last 10 minutes that you finally realized what it was we had been watching all along this season. It is what the sideways world was all about that has people talking about this finale.
If you have not seen the ending, DO NOT READ ANY FURTHER!!!!!
When Hurley and Ben had their quick conversation about being a good #1 and #2, it confused the hell out of me. Only minutes ago did we learn that Hurley & Ben had become the new island protectors but yet here we are seeing them talk about it as if it was in the past. Huh? That’s when I knew something weird was about to happen.
Cut to Jack getting his “awakening” by the touch of what he thought was his father’s coffin. When he turned and saw his dad standing there, I knew this was about the be the big twist, and the final revelation of what had really happened. He was dead. They were all dead.
At first I was confused, and I think a lot of people were. But Christian said a few things that were intended to let people know what had really happened, what was real, and what was not real. Once you wrapped your head around it all, it made sense. Here’s what I took away from the whole thing.
The crash on the island, the time they spent there, the time they had off the island where they were miserable, getting back to the island, travelling in time, returning to 2007, all of the Jacob/MIB stuff, the light, the smoke monster, and all of that was completely and totally real. It was the biggest and most defining part of all of our castaways lives and in some way bonded them all together. The “sideways” world, or the world we believe to have been created as a result of the bomb going off, was a sort of waiting room where time had no meaning, and you existed after you died, but before you “move on”. For each person in this waiting room, you needed to become aware of your previous “life” before you were ready to move on to whatever comes next.
I read a good explanation of part of the ending this morning and I’ll quote it here:
This side-ways reality was just the place in which one goes after death, before they are able to move on. This place could last 10, 100, or even 1,000,000 years. But for the viewer, that might be hard to understand because in that place, there is no time – no “here and now” as Jack’s dad says. Being so used to a schedule and time as we are, it’s hard to fathom that time does not exist, and that what we were seeing of as ‘time’ in this “flash-sideways alt-reality” was not as we know time.
For example, the line “some died before you, some long after” tells us that even though most of our main characters have met back up with each other around the same time in this flash-sideways, some have been in this place long before others. The dialogue between Hurley and Ben outside the church prove this, when Hurley says to Ben, “You were a great number 2”, in which Ben replies, “And you were a great number 1.” Meaning, Hurley and Ben went on to protect the island, maybe even for a thousand years, before someone replaced Hurley and Ben just as they replaced Jacob and Richard.
But in the “sideways” world, all of these people came together because of their time on the island and Jack was the very last one who had to realize this. The “reunion” at the church was all of the awakened souls coming together because of their connection to one another. Their lives had all been connected in a very special way all because of the time on the island. Some were not ready to move on such as Ben. Just not ready to fully accept what has transpired and need time to move on. Others would need to live out their pseudo lives in the waiting room until a time when they are ready to go.
By Christian opening the doors and the light encompassing them, our group of characters set off on a new journey and closing the doors on the life they had together on the island. Jack laying down in the field, watching the Ajira flight leave the island, and Vincent laying down beside him served as a means to bring the story to a full circle. It started with Jack opening his eyes on September 22nd, 2004 to what would become his life’s purpose. It ended with Jack’s eyes closing and his death bringing him back to all of the people that mattered the most to him.
How could you possibly top THAT for an ending to our beloved LOST characters?
The naysayers say it was a copout. Been done before. Unoriginal. And again, we didn’t get “answers” to many things. For me, I say to those of you who say it was unoriginal that you missed the point. Ya, shows have ended where our main characters were dead. Sixth Sense comes to mind. But this wasn’t Sixth Sense and our characters weren’t dead for the whole show, despite what some retarded people seem to think. Everything was real except for the sideways world. This was a great way to showcase how our characters affected each other and how they were always meant to be together in some fashion, even in both life and death. They were all truly connected and sending them off to their next journey together only seemed natural.
In the end, I was happy with how it was wrapped up. Never in my 30+ years of watching television have I ever felt so much emotion towards I television program, particularly a single episode. It shows how truly amazing the writing on this show is and that even though you know none of it is actually real, you still feel the emotion of everything you see on screen. I cried so much throughout this episode and I’m not ashamed to admit it. I cried at watching Kate deliver Claire’s baby with Charlie beside her. I cried when Sawyer & Juliet discovered each other again and I cried at the end when they all moved on. Hell, I even re-watched the ending again to make sure I understood it all and tears poured down my face watching it a second time. Even writing this paragraph made me feel a little emotional. Ya, I’m a sap. Oh well. It only shows how powerful good writing can be and for the writers of LOST, they nailed it.
This show, and the ending, will be talked about for years to come and I think that’s another great thing about this show. It captivated and polarized it’s audience and you know they did it right when that happens. The door is open to new stories about the island so who knows what the future will bring, but for now, I’m happy and sad to say goodbye to all of the beloved characters of LOST. Thank you for six incredible years and I will be enjoying the story telling on DVD for years to come. Great job.
– Matt Klem, May 2010