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+.


Audra Says:
May 24th, 2010 5:03 PM
HIGHWIRE - thank you so much for your review -
Thanks Audra!
I am still fascinated by this show. I think ultimately it was about redemption and salvation. These characters went through a ton of stuff on the island and then even more in their sideways world before they were prepared for the light.
Back to the island though, I think the reason MIB turned out evil after he was thrown into the water by Jacob is that he was already corrupted by killing his fake mother, but do I have that right, did he kill his mother, after he emerged from the light/cave or before Jakob tossed him in? I honestly can't remember. Either way it seems the light was a powerful force for good however if such power was abused it could be a dangerous evil force as well. Jacob and successors guard the light to protect it from coming into the wrong hands and thus protect the human race. Mother had become evil though as she killed that innocent mother and took her two boys. She wearied of the work. I am assuming that the supernatural forces that installed the first guardian established the "rules" as well for succession and that if you didn't follow them, you were in big trouble so, Mother couldn't just walk off the job.
A real neat follow up series would be about Hurley's reign as guardian of the island and who he drags on to the beaches, during his decades or centuries of duty, then more of the island questions could be answered. Its also not clear how Mother achieved the "power". Maybe it doesn't matter. I guess it was passed on by her predecessor as this line of succession could go right back to the Garden of Eden or the first man.


People whine too much.. Real life doesn't explain away every plot hole, either. And even when you get explanations, you'll find it difficult to understand the motivations of various players, or the mechanisms that operate within civilization. Don't think life has plot holes? Consider the inability of everyone to even approach a place where they can agree on mere facts. You can't even have a discussion about real world phenomena with others, because not even basic knowledge can be settled upon. Hop from MSNBC to FoxNews, or vice versa, and its like visiting an alien sideways world. Who are you to visit the intentions of the creators of this show? How can you be so certain what was made up on-the-spot, or left as mystery, or is simply difficult to unravel or comprehend. Be thankful you could watch it for essentially free, or decide not to like it and stop watching. But beyond that, acting as if they OWE you for your "investment".. gimme a break


Basically, it's a question of science vs faith. If you are a spiritual person you loved the finale and if you are person of science you disliked it. Just like the question of Jack/Locke science/faith is season 1 splits the group in half, they divided the fan base the same way. I'm a person of science so I wasn't enamored with all the religious overtones but felt the characters received a very emotional sendoff into the light.... Questions were ignored of course and that seems like a cop out to me on many levels. If it was really all about the characters and not the island like Darlton said then why did we all watch? We wanted answers to questions that they left us with over 5 plus seasons. There are so many questions unanswered it's not worth posting any of them. I will always love this show but can't help feeling the writers gave us a good long con....


none of this actually happened. it was all a dream. thats the best way to explain lost. (btw what the hell happened to michael and walt? why weren't they given a mention?)


So this is the way LOST ended, Not with a bang but a whimper


Now someone will have to hire a writing team to put out a series of Movies in which LOST meets The Prisoner, meets Touched by An Angel, meets Narnia [esp "The Last Battle"] meets Babylon 5, meets Ghost Whisper, meets Gilligan's Island, meets All Good Things finale of Star Trek Next Generation meets The Twilight Zone and etc....ad nauseum :-) . To those of us who want profound and skillfully woven disparate story lines & threads in a form that is both deeply rewarding and cohesive while easily accessible to even many children we can revisit something like all 7 of the Chronicles of Narnia by the master himself, CS Lewis. That is one of several examples, where many of the best Truths and Principles of Christianity are brilliantly woven into great storytelling, time travel, alternate timelines, mythology and more with very satisfying & thought-provolking results that feel authentic and retain their wonder and mystery while not leaving you feeling betrayed and ripped off as it seems many have felt by the "make-it-up-as-you-go" storytelling in LOST. OTOH- The warm and emotional final scenes of reunion, awakening, forgiveness, acceptance, letting go and such were VERY much appreciated by this viewer and could stand alone as a great YouTube segment that touch the heart very deeply and do not need intense intellectual and scientific scrutiny. They brought tears to the eyes even the 2nd time or just when I reflect on them. Obviously on this line, the producers/writers truly touched many of us, especially when we are willing to suspend our demand for perfect cohesion and believable plotlines.


I don't see this series as too long but as too short. The last season seemed incredibly rushed. I'm sure if they'd taken another year or two there would have been more explained and resolved.


The ending for the characters was a nice touch. These people had been brought together by a horrendous event, and had formed an unbreakable bond, they had helped each other get over many of there personal defects and problems...this led to Christian Sheppard stating to Jack that they had "created this space together" and that the time they spent on the island "was the most important of their lives". If you noticed it was only passangers of flight 815 that went, Lapidus, Daniel, and the others who came on the frater...Ben too...none of them where in the church. This means that to move into heaven, and true happiness they had to be re-united as a group in purgatory and all move on together, but only when they were all ready. Some got to purgatory before others...as explained again by Sheppard Snr..."some died before you...some long after" and re-enforced by Kate saying to Jack "I have waited so long to see you". Once they were all in purgatory they could be re-united (by Desmond). This is why Eloise did not want Daniel to know, and to move on from that place...where she was happy with her husband and family. This bit is clear to me. And to be fair does not disappoint. What does is the fact the writers padded out the story line with many distractions in an effort to drag the story out longer then it needed to be. This whole series could of been done in 4 superb series in my opinion, but we have had many episodes taking us in circles, wondering about things the writers had no idea themselves how to explain. Why did Whitmore want to get back to the Island so much in the first place ? Why was it so difficult for anybody to find or leave ? Why where Dharma there in the first place and how did they find it as they certainly didn't crash or struggle to get to or from ? Where and why did time travel come into play ? What was that light that it seem's the majority of the on Island struggles preluded to but finally wasn't worthy of proper explanation ? It seems to me we could of cut much of the nonsense and pointless charachter building (Mr.Ecko ?) and got some real explanations as to the essentials...if nothing else, just to show the world that the writers actualy knew where they were going with this all along !


After the final episode, I sat for a few minutes alone in the dark. I alternated between trying to fill in the gaps and being overwhelmed by the enormity of the message. A few minutes later, I walked upstairs and kissed my kids - feeling both happy and sad. I remain troubled by the unanswered questions. I am a bit annoyed that the writers never really had a complete story - just an outline. In the end though, I am happy I invested in the show. There aren't many things that make me sit in the dark and wonder. I might feel differently though had I not had a DVR.


the ending SUCKED...Period

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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.