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+.


Oh ffs Stephen are you for real !! we shouldnt have expected any kind of explanation of what the Island was, even though that was the vehicle for the almost every event in the show. So a murder mystery should have no explanation of who the murderer was? or how they did it? A monster film where you never see or found out what the monster was? Thats what we have just seen, sorry but its lazy script writing, to suggest its the viewers fault as we expected the main plot device to be explained is nonsense.


What was the island? This seems to be a big question that a lot of people are upset didn't get answered. I understood the gist of it and that's all I needed. It would have been silly for them to try and give any more specifics then they did. So um, on the eighth day God created the island to cover up the spot where the universal nexus of good and evil sat. I mean seriously, some things are best left unexplained. What were you looking for on that one exactly?


CAPORTATO I see we share most of the same thoughts.
Just a couple of things that made me doubtful, though: 1) Desmond is special. Ok. How come he was having these visions about a future in which Jack was supposedely happy (he was obvious seeing his own purgatory/waiting-for-reunion-room future. And in there, he seemed sure that he needed to reunite everybody and make them remember - or should I say REALISE they were already dead? Did he know, then, that he was also dead? 2) I understood Kate's words to Jack ("I missed you so much") just as you did: she lived on and etc. However, whose plane wrecks were those at the end of the episode? I'd say Ajira's, since Oceanic 15's were at the other island, and as we have seen before, it was impossible to fly off of the island... so, WHAT THE HECK happened to them? I guess we'll never know...


HIGHWIRE - thank you so much for your review - it helped me tremendously undertstand where in the heck the writers might have been coming from. Even though I still am unhappy with the ending, this clears things up and makes much more sense.


Yes it was a cop out, I have posted lots today about my disappointment to the point where I got quite depressed about it, but we did deserve more. At the very least an explanation of what the Island was, it was all just skipped over to jump to some unknown point in the future where they were all dead, wtf, what a rip off. Give me my ending !!! Until today this was a great series.


I thought Eloise had the best explanation ever. In real life she killed her son so she was happy living in the "alt" or purgatory, she got her son back even though she knew it wasn't real or wouldn't last. She was aware of both existences all along very much like Desmond, but she wasn't ready to let go. If the MIB got off the island, EVERYTHING would end- the real world, the "alt" or purgatory world, the heaven world, everything. She was fighting to stay with her son for however long possible.


So it is finally over. Very disappointing. After a few seasons I started to wonder what kind of narcotics the writers were using. It all got too weird and all the flash forwards, backs, 30 yrs ago, future ENOUGH!!! We deserve to have been made fools of for having continued to watch after it all got so CRAZY! The only thing that kept me hooked was Mathew Fox (Jack Shephard). He is truly the coolest thing on that show. I put up with all of it, even the season´s finale, just because he is so ADORABLE!!!


Yes, I liked The End.
Yes, I disliked The End. OK-- I'm religious and spiritual and loved many of the elements in last night's finale. But I've also invested 6 years of time and passionate interest in details such as:
Time Travel;
Detonating Jughead" ("It worked" said Juliet-- Did it? How?)
"Everyone needs a Constant"; (Did they?)
Charles Widmore's decision to buy, crash, and bury an Oceanic clone plane to throw serachers off track and keep them away from the island; (Huh?)
The fertility dilemma-- real or contrived?;
Baby Aaron: alive in LA until the Purgatory scene? Why a baby then? (So Jack could remember him that way? Jack and Kate were RAISING Aaron before they returned!)
The amazing arbitrary travel on/ off the island by the Others-- their TV monitors following people's activities (Juliet seeing her sister and children);
The choice of "candidates" by Jacob-- even to seeking them out as children and touching them at an early age to "mark" them;
The mysterious "box" that could allegedly make anything you wanted appear in it on the island;
The hatch and its numbers; (just random?)
Hurley's connection to the numbers;
Jacob and his brother and their mother: Who WERE these people and from whence came their powers?
How could Jacob grant immortality to Richard Alpert? Who gave him THAT power? Mom never mentioned it...
Whose rules did not allow Jacob & his brother to kill each other? (Mom's??)
Eloise Hawking and her crazy map and swinging pendulum and getting everybody back on the Ajira flight;
Did the island really sink or didn't it? If it did, how did it come back?
WTF happened when Ben turned the Donkey Wheel?
Kate ended up killing Smokey?
And-- we could fly out and find this island somewhere if we looked hard enough-- if it's really real? Yes, I loved the warm, spiritual emotional ending and was happy to see that the movements toward grace and redemption happened by way of reconciliation, forgiveness, courage, trust, and gentleness. We are all flawed and move toward the light as we become more human. But PLEASE-- the writers and producers set us up with amazing puzzles and mysteries that kept us captivated for 6 years and then just "left the building." That's why I am feeling ripped off. As a storyteller, you are in some way responsible for the plot lines you create... deal with them SOMEHOW! This was NOT just a spiritual story-- if according to the producers' comments, the island was real and what happened to the characters was also real, many of us want to know HOW these events came to be. The team spent way too much time this season on the sideways episodes while completely ignoring their responsibilty to deliver us some meaningful commentary on the carrots held out to us at the end of the stick. Yes, I know it's their carrot and stick, but they pulled us in and in the end, turned the carrots into candles as if that were enough. I wanted both.


I was saddened to learn that everyone was dead. Just didn't want that. However, I was glad to see Charlie find Claire and Sayid find Shannon. Charlie and Sayid were two of my favorite characters along with Sawyer and Hurley.


I found the ending very satisfying. Basically all the events on the island were real. The plane did crash. The mysteries of the island are all very real and exist in our world, assuming Lost world is real world. Some of the characters died on the island and some escaped the island on the plane, to continue their lives off the island. But as we were told, everyone eventually dies. The sideways world made perfect sense as did the "church" reunion as these events occured outside of time and space. They were extra dimensional. This was quite interesting as it is consistent with orthodox Christian teaching - that the the transcendant realm exists outside of time and space. Basically when you die you leave this physical dimension which is limited by time and space. You don't necessarily meat up only with those that have died before but also potentially with those that hadn't even been born yet when you lived. Its a realm that is truly beyond our comprehension as we live in this dimension in which time progresses in a linear fashion. But the message of Lost seems to be very Christian in that what matters most in life is our relationships- how we treat others, as opposed to how much knowledge we can gain about the physical universe or how much we can achieve professionally or how money we can make during our finite time. The message seems to be that we can never truly know all the answers,(hence the de-empahsis on providing answers to all the mysteries of the island) at least not in this life, and any power or wealth we accumulate is temporal as ultimately we die and it stays behind, but what we can all achieve is love and kindness vis a vis our fellow man.
I don't mean to get all meaning of life profound but that seemed to be what was coming through. I can't help but think though that the writers gave up on explaining the mysteries of the island and decided instead to finish up with a final season that focused on the importance of human relationships, love and kindness, redemption, etc as the key to moving into the light (heaven?).
So it seems that when the characters all eventually died, that they turned up in this sideways world that they created, which again is in a dimension where there is no, "now" or conventional sense of time. In this world, they play out how they would have liked their lives to have been, if they had not crashed on the island, but in reality, because of the profound effect that life on the island had on their mortal lives, they are seeking to reconnect with those that matter to them, based on the events involving the island experience. We also have to assume that spiritual forces (angels maybe) are at play in the sideways world, directing the characters, helping them create their sideways world and ultimately, guiding this purification process, that eventually prepares them to enter the afterlife light (heaven?) together. Very profound. In fact I applaud the Lost writers for even tackling such an after life dimension. I have always figured such dimensions as exist outside of time and space are completely beyond our comphrehension. Even Christianity only allows that the transcendental realm is real but that we are not able to understand it. But if we are to experience heaven, or the light we saw at the end of Lost, we need only lead "good lives." Do unto others etc. I shouldn't say "only" though. As the Lost characters demonstrated, life if about free will, and the business of making the right and moral decisions which ultimately bring one to the light can be a real process.
But enough of the characters and their journey to the light. Back to the mysteries of the island which is what has dominated the show for 5 seasons and parts of this last season.
I think we are meant to believe that the island is real. It is governed by supernatural forces that we don't understand. The light is some source for good or truth that must be guarded so that the world doesn't fall under the domain of darkness or evil. Jacob although human had been imbued with supernatural powers and insights as a result of the light. His mother passed them on and he later passed them on to Jack and then they went to Hurley.It doesn't matter that there wasn't a chant. Jack had the power to pass the power on in his own mundane way. What is confusing is the nature of the light. It seemed to have corrupted Jacobs mother. It certainly corrupted MIB when he was exposed to it. But again, Mother, MIB, and Jacob are all humans on a life journey who came in contact with the light and were all impacted in differnt ways. MIB, most profoundly it seems, as he became Smoke Monster, bent on getting off the island and unleashing horrible evil upon the world. Jacob knew he had to keep MIB on the island and he also knew he woulde eventually need a successor. Jack was fortunate enough to be the one that managed to kill MIB and end that threat to the world.
Any of us might find ourselves stranded on that island and have to confront such supernatural dilemmas, but maybe not as scary as the MIB. Presumably the supernaturally charged Hurley and his mortal assistant Ben are protecting the Light in the present time and bringing others to the island, who need to be brought there for their own ultimate redemption. Its understood that somewhere in the future, Hurley passes the job onto his successor and dies himself and on it goes until the end of the earth or whenever. We don't know. Which is one of the main themes of Lost. We can't unravel all of the earthly mysteries. It's not within our grasp, at least not in this life, but love of fellow man is.
A very profound show even if it does seem like the writers made it up as they went along.

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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.