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+.


"From the people who brought you 'Lost'" will have the same sales impact as "from the makers of salmonella". We knew the series would end badly when the writers admitted they had no idea where they were going with the plot into season 3, and when they also claimed that they would surprise everybody. Well, there were such great theories posted in so many places and with so many ideas that the writers had to end it . . . by not really ending it. The whole thing was garbage and followed the pattern of the Battlestar Gallactica remake: writers creating plot twists and corners with no intention and no idea on how to resolve the story. As marketers, they should be proud; as writers they are utter failures and should be humiliated. Why anyone would buy the DVD or BluRay is unfathomable; it's like eating a great meal knowing you'll have horrible explosive diarrhea for week- no matter how good the food is, would you eat it again?


@Richard September 8th, 2010 11:44 AM WORD


The simply truth is that this was a series of unending puzzles to enhance the viewers, anticipating some eventual explanations. It was in realty a show with great acting but no real storyline or plot. The intriguing questions and puzzles that created the interest were clearly just for that purpose, by authors without a clue of how to justify any explanation. The "ending" was a cop-out by authors without a comprehensive story, leaving more questions than answers. Were this a book or movie, none would be sold after the first critic revealed that there was no complete story, answers or ending. This was a commercial "series" rip off of public time and undeserved interest.


Lost was just a awesome series wch nevr be made again...its all the chracter touches the heart of everyone....and its emotional and meaningful finale also maks crazy to lots of viewrs..who enjoy the 100 haours of aventre, action,drama mystry... Just hats off to them who mks such a briliant series


As a "Lostie" I was a massssssssive fan of the show. Seasons 1-3 were just amazing pieces of ground-breaking television filled with some outstanding performances. However from season 4 onwards it seems to me that Lost has simply become "Lost". The writers have always claimed to know what their intentions were for the show and I really wonder if they knew what they were doing. The most intriguing aspect of Season 6 was the flash-sideways which we now know as the afterlife. The storyline on the island was weak. What really was going on? Yes, TMIB wanted to destory the island and leave but what was with the back-and-forth tug-of-war. One moment they were on the main island, the next they were on the hydra island it really left me wondering what was going on and felt as though they were stretching out elements of the Island storyline for the home run, ie The End. Lost was born on the mythical and mysteries elements and if I remember correctly a certain Mr J.J Abrams was adamant that this be the case. Thus leads me to to the Final season, we were lead to believe that we would get the answers we wanted and that everything would be resolved. As a huge fan I have to ask what exactly was solved? In the end they chose to give us answers to small meaningless thingssuch as the numbers, really? C'mon the show deserved better! Dont get me wrong if you were looking for emotion it was delivered in some style as each character went out in style, apart from TMIB, Terry O'Quinn's outstanding performances to date surely earned him the right to a fitting send off rather than being shot? After all he was supposed to be immortal.


i know you all wrote answers and stuff, but can annyone tell me what happened in the end? i mean what i didnt get is that the characters in the other life, are they real? that is they're themselves after they got of the island many years later, or was it an illusion..........btw i hated that Jack died, and how did he get off the hole when he was dying?


It was a great series and I really enjoyed the last episode. Was I the only one to see the meaning of why Vincent the dog (who has been absent the past 3-4 season) lays down with Jack as he's dying in the final scene? Vincent is a Dog, Dog spelled backward is God. Just a thought and wouldn't put it past JJ Abrams to have thought that symbolism through.


People need to remember it's just a tv show. I absolutely love LOST and just thought the ending was brillant. I felt it was an emotional roller coaster and I cried my eyes out. I just loved the way the characters all remembered with all of those flashing memories. I felt the show had built these amazing characters that we have all watched over the years and had grown to love. No matter how they ended it people were going to pull it apart. I have been re watching the show from the beginning just because I love it so much. There will never be a show quite like it. I miss you LOST!!! Especially Jack and Sawyer, fit!!!


I know these questions were posted awhile ago but.... Where did the statue Jacob lived in come from? Civilizations who were on the island prior to the events of the story. Remember how Jacob’s mother mentioned how she was the only one left? Who was Jacobs step mother? Where did she come from? She was the guardian of the island before Jacob. An answer to this question falls into the, “chicken-or-the-egg�, scenario. There were always people being called to the island in an endless cycle. When they left the island the first time, was that real? Did they supposedly die when they returned? If so are there two baby Aarons now? The one Kate left with it's grandmother and the one in the sideways world? What about the Kwons' baby? Why isn't she with her parents like Aaron? Yes, it was real. No, they did not die when they returned. No, there are not two Aarons – it’s ultimately debatable if the one in the sideways world even exists. Aaron was an infant in the sideways world because that’s how Claire remembered him in the most important moment of her life (on the island). The sideways world was a place where they could all remember eachother because they all shared the journey of redeeming themselves as people on the island. The Kwons baby was ultimately not central to their lives seeing how they never got to raise it and died shortly after it was born. Seeing their daughter’s picture on the monitor at the hospital was enough because it gave them the feeling that she was safe. Aaron, meanwhile, was the opposite – he was essentially what drove Claire’s life. What happened to Walt and his dad? Is Walt living in the real world? We last saw him there? Walt got off the island and lived elsewhere. The most important time of his life was not on the island and he probably got his own sideways world when he died. Michael’s stuck on the island as a ghost and can’t move on. Why is Penny with them? She was never on the island? How did she die? Penny was an integral part of Desmond’s life. Everyone dies someday – the same question can be asked about Kate, Sawyer, and everyone else who got away. Who the heck were Widmore and Elouise? I don’t understand the question. Widmore is Penny’s father and Eloise is Daniel’s mother. If everyone is dead, who is the new Jacob on the island? Someone else that Hurley called there. It’s not essential to the plot. Why does the island have so many mystical powers? Did they end up on the island after they died? Did they dies in the original crash? Was everything imagined from the first episode onwards? The island is a place that maintains the balance between good and evil in humanity. One of the main themes of Lost is, “are you a good person, or are you a bad person?� The island keeps all the evil inside and acts as a place for the characters to redeem themselves for the sins they’ve made in their lives. It’s a special place – asking why it has mystical powers is like asking where the magic in Harry Potter came from. No, they were to the sideways world when they died and they did NOT die in the plane crash. Everything happened. Listen to Christian Shepherd talk at the end of the episode.


Thanks to everyone for their comments as the last show was confusing. I fell in love with the show when the polar bears came on. As a dedicated sci fi/fantasy reader, I find it hard to watch TV and movies, because they are about 40 years behind the print material. This show was good! It gave me a lot of pleasure. The ending was sappy. The characters were so complex, with both good and evil in their souls, and the ending was so simplistic. Oh well, Stephen King's Gunslinger series and The Prisoner had unsatisfactory endings, too. And so did Tess of the D'ubervilles. I have always believed that author(s) had the right to end their own stories, but I think I'll change my mind and create my own.

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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.