Lost Finale Review: Let There Be Light...

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All of this matters.

Throughout season six of Lost, fans had wondered about what they were seeing. Would our beloved characters end up in a seemingly random Sideways World, thereby negating all we'd watched for five years, rendering life on the island meaningless?

In the end, as Jack's four words above to Desmond sum up nicely: no. It mattered. What happened happened. We'd been told this many times and the final 10 minutes of this series finale explained why: everything we saw on the island was real. These were the real lives of real people with seriously real problems.

At some point, they died. We witnessed many of these deaths. Others occurred at later dates. But, in the end, the castaways could only move on to a light-filled world beyond this one if they tweaked Jack's season one advice: after-live together, or die alone.

Sideways Characters Collide
Desmond Pic

See you in another life, brutha? How right Desmond has been all along.

The final message of Lost is an interesting one, a profound one and the mythology surrounding it will be debated among viewers for as long as the series ran. But let's start with events on the island during these two-and-a-half hours - because they were a major clusterf%$k!

Producers Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse have spent season six telling us the show is about characters, not jaw-dropping answers. We've been on board with this assessment. However, "The End" sacrificed logical, suspenseful storytelling in the name of delayed character development/resolution.

Every development on the island felt arbitrary, something cooked up by the writers as an after-thought just to get individuals in place for the series-concluding revelation. To wit:

Rose and Bernard pulled Desmond to safety?!? Jack and Locke met in a field, and the new Jacob had no actual plan? He was on board with simply hoisting Desmond down a cave and seeing what his actions produced?

We understand Jack is a man of faith now, but it wasn't clear what viewers were supposed to be waiting for as all this went down. In the past, each season's end game was clear: get into the hatch... get off the island... get back to the island... But this sort of focus was missing from this finale (heck, from the season) because Lost purposely kept us in the dark about the Sideways World.

MIB wanted to destroy the island, and we were told this was bad. Everyone would perish. But Sideways Desmond was around, enlightening folks left and right, causing on-island events to lack a sense of urgency.

Clearly, everyone was not going to die, no matter what MIB threatened or did. Almost as obviously, they'd all be awoken to their experiences on the island. The past few weeks were building to that. What would this mean in the battle of good vs. evil? Where would the characters go from there? Those were the questions on my mind during the finale, all of which were tackled in the final few minutes - but all of which also made the preceding two hours and twenty minutes feel anticlimactic.

I found myself almost bored, anxious to get everyone enlightened so we could get to the show's overarching resolution.

I was especially disappointed when Kate killed MIB. After creating such a mysterious, indestructible force of evil, the show made him human again with the removal of a stone by Desmond, and then killed him off via a gun shot to the back? It wasn't the ending Smokey deserved. It also served as a bait-and-switch, as previous episodes hyped a looming showdown between good and evil. We never really got that. Instead, we got a story about Jack and his tussle with a light-plugging rock.

The Jack/Smokey climax was also just hokey. The driving rainstorm. Jack's slow-motion jump/punch. Kate's line about saving one bullet for Locke. I expect such levels of cheese from bad action movies, not iconic TV shows.

Of course, these aren't the developments fans will be debating and discussing in the hours, weeks and months to come. Did everything on the island feel sloppy and arbitrary? Yes. But it was what we learned about the characters' off-island lives that will be lighting up our Comments section below (be opinionated there, but please be respectful of each other).

Operated On

The Sideways World is a form of purgatory, a place the castaways unknowingly created because they could not "move on" without one another's support and love. In order to remember and let go, they needed to be reminded of what they experienced on the island, of who they met, of how they came together.

Did Jacob help them create this world? Was that the significance of his touch? He may have been a proponent of free will, but Jacob was also fond of pushing people in a certain direction. He didn't simply bring individuals to the island to find a successor; he brought them to prove his message: It only ends once. Everything else is just progress. Viewers were led to believe he meant his struggle with his brother.

But what better way to sum up a human life? Lost concluded its ambitious run by telling us: this world is filled with mistakes and regrets, but it's all a lesson. Learn from it. Rely on other people ("I can't do it without you," Kate told Claire during the latter's labor) and strive for progress in all you do. You'll never truly know any kind of higher power, so stop focusing on it (we've seen what happens to those that do. Sorry, pals of MIB and purged Dharma folk... and, really, viewers that craved answers above all else).

Want to achieve a happy after-life? Simply love your fellow man in this life.

That was the message, but getting there required twists, turns, questions and answers. We stopped wondering a long time ago about the Dharma Initiative, or what made Walt special, or any number of issues related to mundane island facts. Instead, when faced with this new information on the Sideways World, the following inquiries, points and observations come to mind:

  • What is Eloise Hawking's role in it? She didn't want Desmond to enlighten his friends... simply because she didn't want her son to move on and move away? She was made out to be all-knowing throughout Lost, but her motives were never clear.
  • Same for Charles Widmore. What did he know about the island and what was his end game?
  • Where did Jughead fit into all this? Did its explosion create the Sideways World? Having a specific event create it would seem to run counter to the concept that the castaways themselves created this place via their formed bond/community on the island.
  • Simply amazing acting all around. Every awakening scene was played perfectly by those involved.
  • On the season premiere, Rose told Jack it was okay. He could "let go." Guess he just needed about 18 more hours to come to that same conclusion.
  • David Shepard doesn't actually exist, right? That's always a frustrating type of cop-out: when a show focuses on a character and then reveals this was just an imaginary plot device.
  • The finale was filled with self-aware winks at the audience: Sawyer described Jack's plan as a "long con," Kate laughed at the name "Christian Shepard," Hurley might as well have been channeling Lindelof and Cuse when he responded to Sayid's questions about "rules" with the response: "Trust me."
  • In the end, one could interpret the arbitrary events on the island (as outlined above) as part of a grander message about the island and/or religion itself: it's all arbitrary! Jack caught on to this when he went along with the water con for Hurley's appointment. It was a made-up ceremony, as were the rules that governed this special place. After all, who can possibly say for sure what is right and wrong when it comes to such higher powers?
  • Sayid and Shannon?!? Barf! Somewhere, Nadia lovers are outraged that Sayid's enlightenment came at the hands (and lips) of this woman, as opposed to the one most of us believed was his soulmate.
  • Absolutely loved the fact that Ben didn't believe he had earned a place inside the church, as well as Hurley's nod to him making a great number-two. Ben truly had done everything in the name of the island, in the name of what he thought was best for mankind. After learning that MIB played him, and watching Jack's sacrifice, he apparently started his road to redemption as soon as Hurley's asked for his assistance - but he still didn't believe that was enough to warrant him a spot with the other survivors.

This won't be my final say on the show or the episode. Not by a long shot. There's a lot to analyze, critique and praise. It's been a pleasure to have taken the Lost ride with you this season, and I'd love to hear from readers now.

Many characters on the finale said "it worked." So therein lies the question: Did the conclusion of Lost work for you?


Editor Rating: 4.0 / 5.0
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Rating: 3.5 / 5.0 (1359 Votes)

Matt Richenthal is the Editor in Chief of TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter and on Google+.


In the end, without each other, they were LOST. Brilliant. What did the haters expect? Seriously...think about it. Would Donnie Darko have been as good if they'd explained it all at once? No. You gotta go back and watch it again to really get it and see the connections. They're there. Even the best shows, like the Sopranos for example, leave loose ends. Even if they had tried to explain it all, we'd be disecting it and miss the point...obviously. I can honestly say, I already miss you, LOST, and you're not even really gone yet. Love it or hate, we'll be talking about it for ages. Maybe even one day Jacob will appear before the haters, and convince them of the error of their ways. That being said, I'm still not convinced all the haters are actually haters. They love it. They just want more of it; much like a certain light I recently recall hearing about...somewhere.


Having resigned myself before going into the finale that I wasn't going to get any of the answers I craved (considering they forced me to generate a bunch of stupid new ones in the craptastic "Across the Sea"), I actually enjoyed the hell out of the episode and even bought into the bloated sentimentality, BUT then the final act started and wow, could they have picked a worse ending? No. A more nonsensical ending? Doubtful. What a waste. I haven't been that disappointed by a work of fiction since The Phantom Menace.


No respect for Darlton AT ALL. I felt scammed after watching the finale yesterday. They write others, mysterious hatch on an island, polar bears, monsters...we say "WOW give us more!" They write dharma scientists, a button, mysterious numbers, large pockets of EM fields...we say "HOLY SHIT give us more!!" They write about characters all linked together in some way, time-travel, parallel universes, ancient mythology, 4 toed statue, reincarnation, immortal beings...we say "THIS IS SO AWESOME give us more!!!" So...they write...light in a cave, drink some fairy water, chuck norris fighting, they all died and went to heaven...the dumb and ignorant say "Masterpiece finale! Bravo!!"...the intelligent say "ARE YOU FUCKING SERIOUS!@#!!!!!!" Writers deserve to be embarrassed for this show, noone should ever waste their time on their bullshit anymore. None of their work ever makes any sense, its just there for the WOW factor during the ride up until the finale. Fuck you Darlton and co.


Christian Shepherd is not Smokie in the purgatory universe....u got it wrong....geeze


Just after it ended i was like, "huh"... then i thought about it and the more i think about it the more i love it as the perfect ending for the show. 1. This Island and Original Timeline is all real, the SLU is the afterlife i think most people agree on that. Therfore, Yes kate, miles, richard, sawyer & co do get off the island via plane. Yes, Desmond get's off the island since Hurley can determine the rules. In the afterlife, the experiences on the Island had bonded them together and they were waiting for Jack to come with them. It was a brilliant ending. 2. Jack saves the world and stops hell on earth. Yes that was hell trying to come through. Hurley and Ben run the island for an undetermined # of years, but much better then Jacob ever did. 3. I am glad that they didn't try to explain all the mythology in order to pacify people who didn't understand ultimately what this show was about.... the journey. I can figure out most of the unanswered questions myself. The island has always been and will be until the end of days. There has been and will be visitors to the island. Romans, Egyptians (probably build the statue and most of the ancient buildings), probabably Sumarians, Vikings and who knows what else in the future. The Darma Initiative tried and failed to understand that the island is supernatural which is why conventional methods of research did not work. 4. On the smoke monster, it was a release of evil brought on by the evil act of Jacob killing his brother. Jacob broke a rule and as a result paid for it. The Evil had his brother's thoughts and memories but at no time was it really his brother, as it took over the looks and memories of it's other host bodies. The Smoke Monster had escaped despite the "cork" being in place. 5. When the nuke went off, it was necessary to stop the incident, the burst of energy moved the people out of time back to their proper time. Why wasn't the island destroyed? Because, that blast of energy stopped the leakage of the other dimension from coming through enough that the Darma people had time to seal it so you have "The Hatch" as it was discovered. The Hatch's purpose was to safely release the energy buildup because there was still a fracture into the other dimension leaking through hence the 108 minute button push. When Desmond detonated The Hatch, that successfully sealed the fracture, saved the world from a dimensional burst of energy that would have consumed the world, and altered him as we all saw down the road. Other Minor Matters 6. On Walt being special, the Other's thought he was a candidate to "lead" the others as richard thought the real Locke would maybe he failed the test, or maybe Richard interviened because he saw that Locke had arrived. 7. The Hurley bird, it's nice to have a mystery. 8. Ben is good and has unfinished business. 9. Infertility and the sickness, are simply the after effects of "The Incident" which subsided over time. The clues are there and enough to accurately speculate on what was not specifically "answered"


You guys just don't get it. Did you even watch the show? Some of you seriously need to go back and watch it again if you did. It was clear that they didn't die when the plane crashed. The island was real, and the losties created there own after-life get-together so they could be with the ones that were most important to them. At least that's what they thought. The twist was that in the church Christian Sheppard was actually the smoke monster. He took old-man Sheppard's body as he had done many times before throughout the series. It was his way of getting even with the losties for all the trouble they put him through -- his long con. After Jack kicked Smlock off the cliff, they thought he was dead. Well, wasn't it odd that a creature that lived hundreds of years and could withstand bullets and everything else and turn into smoke was so easily beaten by Jack and Kate. He didn't really die. When the losties weren't looking, Smokey left Lock's body. When the losties all eventually died and went to their after-life gathering, little did they know that Smokey was there as well -- he had found another loop-hole. That's why Christian's body wasn't in the coffin, just like in the early episode when Jack found the coffin in the woods without the body and then saw Christian, who was actually the smoke monster. At the gathering, Smokey was misleading them into believing that they were "moving on." Nothing he said was true. Instead, Smokey was ushering them into a fate "worse than death." Didn't you see the light from the door he opened? It was the light from the cave. They never really left the island. The sideways world was not in L.A. It was something they created after they died on the island. No one ever left. It was a perfect ending. It was true to Lost being about the duality of man. Good versus Bad. Light and Dark. But with no clear winners and losers. The thing is, we never saw the losties walk into the golden light, so we don't know if they did. Perhaps they didn't fall for Smokey's trap. But then again, maybe they did. Now I know some people think the smoke monster snuck on the plane when Miles and Richard were fixing the wiring and that the plane took off before Jack corked the hole in the cave so Smokey possibly got off the island like he said he would. If he did, then maybe the world (and the island) were destroyed, which explains the island being at the bottom of the sea. I guess that's possible. It's all up to how you see it. Best show ever.


@Morgan: But Lost DID provide answers, though perhaps not the ones you were looking for. No denying that there were many holes left, including the fates of some major characters (Walt, Mr. Eko), and certain mythologies were never clarified. But the answers provided were the more important ones, like will they live together or die alone? Will they make it off the island? Will they find the peace most of them lacked in life? The ultimate story here is that of people, and it mimics real life. We have no final answers. Perhaps knowing exactly what made Smoky black or where Dharma originated from wouldn't really satisfy the deeper questions raised overall.


Thanks for the synopsis! I too, agree about the sideways world being a sort-of purgatory that was meant for the characters (focusing on Jack) to come together and remember their experiences and need for one another in order to move on. I am also unclear about how this sideways world was created, and if the H-bomb had anything to do with that. It seems so, chronologically, but then what other mechanism would allow them to "move into the light"? RE:" David Shepard doesn't actually exist, right? That's always a frustrating type of cop-out: when a show focuses on a character and then reveals this was just an imaginary plot device." I actually didn't think that was a "cop-out". I had always thought David's sudden existence seemed bizarre, and i think he was created out of Jack's daddy issues and his necessity for a resolution with his father. Finally having a son, he could now bring the experience growing up full circle. Or perhaps Jack, David and Christian were symbolic of all Jack's stages of life and progress.


Fiction, - as opposed to real life - has the benefit of being able to provide answers. Lost can be summed up as purchasing magic beans with a free copy of a Danielle Steele novel to sweeten the deal. It felt very much like borrowing a whodunnit from the library where the last page is torn out and a post-it stuck in its place reading, 'They all went to Heaven' - despite the fact the sideways flash was a temporary 'Goodbye evnue' where the reunited could meet just long enough to realize what they had lost (Sawyer and Julietee, Jack and Kate). "You were a great number 2" - the final nod to unrequited story telling and the ultimate betrayal of the promise of fiction. It was trash.


I have to disagree with some here who keep saying the writers didn't know what they were doing. For those who feel this way, I suggest that people rewatch the entire series and you'll see clues everywhere. Just like in the episode where Hurley, Locke, and Sawyer are playing Risk, Hurley states, "We are all going to die.....That's what exactly what he wants: to fight amongst ourselves" (referencing Locke). And Locke responds, that "It's his mistake to make, Hugo." You see a nice forshadowing of the finale and the forshadowing of the man in black's plan to for them to kill each other. You'll see many conversations such as this throughout the series.

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Lost Season 6 Episode 16 Quotes

Jack: Where are we?
Christian: This is a place you all made together so you could find one another...Nobody does it all alone. You needed them and they needed you.
Jack: For what?
Christian: To remember and to let go.

You're not John Locke, you disrespect his memory by wearing his face, but you are nothing like him. It turns out he was right about just about everything. I just wish I could have told him that when he was still alive.