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+.


I meant troubles and intrigues me


eak3 I like your simplicity and everyones open acceptance that all these random events on the island make senese some how. One thing troubles me, I remember someone saying Jacob (or someone)deliberately crashed Oceanic to save the Island, he wanted a replacement and then it emerged he had chosen people who had no hope etc. This is kinda ingenious, great writing and sums up the Supernatural elements for me. I wasn't so invested in the series this last season so really enjoyed it for what it was a beautiful two hours of memorable TV.


I agree, nothing was answered and it was a crappy ending. I am older and I did not get it. It was a excellent show with a crappy ending. It was like they were LOST for an ending.


"it's just a line of chalk on a wall in a cave - the job is yours if you want it..." Jacob's line a couple episodes ago gave me peace about the show - perception is reality - the writers took us on a hell of a journey - that's it - enjoy it for what it is...its up to each individual to make sense of the show/life - "every answer will only lead to another question.." I've traveled around the globe - read a ton of books and my conclusion is there is a spirituality to this world - but nobody has a firm grasp of just what the heck it is - muslims, catholics, etc...every religion thinks they got the corner on the market - but everybody is just as Lost as the next one... don't worry about all the answers - surely your life could have taken a different turn but you'll never get that answer...personal connections are what make life interesting... just my perception ---- loved it last night - still love it today - might hate in a week - probably will love more in 5 years - thats probably against somebody's rules, right? Drive Shaft needs more cowbell....


so many people totally missing what happened in this amazing finale. THe island events did happen to these characters. Some died on the island others like Saywer, Kate, Lapidus, Ben and Miles got off the island. Christian's dad explained it perfectly, all the oceanic 6 and there loved ones died at some point and they couldnt move on to heavan without coming together in the afterlife first. It was a great end to a great show.


@ Alienmastermind I'm with you on the whole Tunisia thing, it makes sense that the with the Earth constantly in motion. The question remains if its always Tunisia or if there are other "spots" around the world where people have popped up after turning the wheel. As for the polar bears, it was a specific Dharma experiment involving gene therapy and manipulating the polar bears dna to be able to survive in a tropical climate. The plan was to get them to survive on the island and then re-introduce them to a polar environment to complete the process.


I saw the writers of Lost at a WGA event a couple of years ago and they admitted that they Were making it up as they went along. The Polar Bears? We'll figure it out later. Anyway, I think a movie is coming.


I must admit, I came into the finale (after reading a few of the producers interviews) and was prepared for the worst series ending show ever. I'm glad I was sooo wrong. I know this is impossible, but I would love to know the demographics of all the people answering. It appears that those of us with more "life experience" (just a nice way of saying older .. lol) seem to have generally really loved the ending as oppossed to the younger viewers, who have not had the chance yet to fully experience the ups and downs of life. The hard decisions and the regrets of choices you've both made and did not make. I have been very suprised at the mixture of reviews for the finale. Did they answer all the questions, obviously not. Did some things pop up, like Jacks son, that seemed awkward and out of place, sure. I also believe they came up with one of the most creative ends to a story that I have ever seen. Many are calling it a "cop out", but I feel that the constant twists and turns, even till the bitter end were amazing. As I said to a friend...there is still a story about the island from before Oceanic 815 crashed there, and there is a story about the island after Jack dies too (Hurley and Ben, etc.). This story was about a finite amount of time on the island. For example, after the first time you saw Star Wars, did you feel cheated just because you didn't know how Darth Vader became Darth Vader? No, it wasn't his story. You just accepted that he was who he was. It was Luke's story. I feel it's the same here. It was Jack's story, from the time he opened his eyes till the end when he closed them. And I loved every minute of it.


The Tunisia thing. My theory on this is that when you travel through time, you must also travel through space. So, say I travel ten minutes into the future. The Earth is a constantly rotating spinning and hurtling mass in space. Stillness and stability of our Earth are an illusion brought on by our own perception. In ten minutes from now, the Earth may be positioned to have me deposited from my own point of origin, somewhere on the West Coast, ten minutes in the future. Of course, the trip for me is instantaneous, but for the rest of the world, it simply took me ten minutes to travel a huge distance west. Polar Bears were on the island because they were white, and easy to paint when they were ready to be used as test subjects after they'd used the rabbits. Unfortunately, Ben killed everyone who kept these animals in check, and then allowed the bears to roam free. It seems like they only successfully sent one polar bear through time (ending up in Tunisia). Again, this is my theory. When you travel forward or back in time, the Earth has moved. Perhaps there are only a number of actual safe locations to teleport to when moving through time, or stable points in time/space that make travel safe at all. At 23:00 on July 2nd, the Earth's position will have a semi-stable land mass when leaving from the island at present time. So, you can jump, but it has to be a specific amount of time, and a specific location you're jumping to.


As I mentioned earlier, who was the man squatting/kneeling and holding his hands down in the "light" area? Desmond looked at him twice, once while pulling the stone out, and then again when he was lifting it out. Next, Jack looked at him before putting it back in and then again while he was doing it. Look at the top left of your screen when replaying it and you see him with left knee on the ground and right knee up; holding his hands looking at both of them like "it was meant to be".

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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.