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+.


Im sorry. I don't usually post on these forums...in fact this is probaly my first.
After reading the comments left by this blrrsp idiot.....i had to say something.
blrrsp says:
"I think it's pretty clear that the people who loved this episode aren't smart enough...." "...simply makes common sense that those people who like the finale the most had the least invested in it intellectually"
What because people didnt see the show as you did you call them stupid??? By reading your posts it is evidently clear you lack any creativity or imagination. A giant mess to you could be a beautifully intricate web of mystery and thought provoking to someone else. You seem like a person who likes things either black or white...no gray...because that would mean using your head and obviously you lack the means of this. Loved the show and i definetly loved the finale. i interpretted it MY way as many others did through out the whole 6 seasons. Doesn't make it wrong..just different...thats it. As for this blrrsp... stop watching shows that actually require the use of your imagination with and stick to your Day time Soaps...Young and the Restless seems to be something up your alley!! Thanks for the memories Lost.


In one of the previous seasons, someone mentioned the smoke being a sort of security system. Well, this alone proves, that the whole story was in fact very flexible (influenced by misbehaving actors that had to written out, writers strike etc) and lost its continouity, cohesion and logic far back around S3. And since there had been dozens of viable fan theories about the island, all those confused and lost writers had to do, is read them, analyze them and pick the one with the simpliest setting and present it as an ending.


I was really frustrated by this ending. It's not that I didn't appreciate the explanation of the Sideways world but I thought it was a cop out way to explain away the gaping holes in the plot. I expect holes, especially on Lost... but I thought that at least some of the huge, nagging, annoying elephants in the room might have been addressed. The finale felt forced and very convenient (in regards to the Smoke Monster's demise and the logic behind the "light cork")but, then again, the entire 6th season felt very lackluster and didn't boast the quality of writing and storytelling that previous seasons had.


I've been fortunate enough to experience two ground breaking tv shows. The first was the original Star Trek. The second was Lost. Totally unique and awesome. There will never be another like Lost. Via con dios, my friends.


@ Great but no Cigar like I said, I understood what the island represented: a magical place that housed a source of the positive/negative energy of the universe. Why does it need to have an origin story?


Good suggestion, Stephen, it was probably related to the closing on Jack's eye. That part gripped me pretty hard emotionally- Beautifully done.


I didn't think the plane wreckage at the end credits was intended to mean anything beyond being a nod to the pilot episode.


"However, whose plane wrecks were those at the end of the episode?" I would like to know this too! I guess it's speculation no matter what.


It is somewhat amusing reading these comments from people that have watched the show and thought the ending was terrible, yet they go on about this and that and completly misunderstood it. The island is not purgatory!!! They survived the crash!!! Sideways world is the only purgatory!!! WOW if you can't understand what's going on don't comment.


Unlike other posters here, I did not find the ending to be consistent with Orthodox Christianity, but much more like a final plea for universal fluff...much like the mind-sickening COEXIST bumper stickers you see around. Don't misunderstand me: I didn't want it to take on a Christian slant, or any other religious slant for that matter - I just wanted an ending that paid tribute to a good story told about a weird island, and the characters'/inhabitants' interaction with it. Unfortunately, the writers did what most writers in our culture do in the end: they abandon good story telling because they feel the need to bring the story to an end in a way that portrays their own beliefs about this life. Problem is, they are unsure about what they believe. Therefore, the viewers get vague answers, white lights, and feel-goodism.

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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.