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 have been a massive fan of Lost ever since the first episode. However, it seemed clear that the show was losing it's way from season 4 onwards, with way to many twists and turns and fantastic unanswered and even ananswerable questions showing up on almost every show. But I kept watching in the hope that the writers were actually much cleverer than us all and had come up with some way to explain what this was all about that us mere mortals (the viewers) could not have thought up for ourselves. I agree that the end of the show was just an after thought, a rushed decision hiding behind the cheap facade of a tear jerker character based story line. But this wasn't what Lost was about. In my opinion none of my questions were answered. The invented new characters and new places on the island and new storylines just as a means to an end, none of them linked to the past seasons. My questions
Where did the statue Jacob lived in come from?
Who was Jacobs step mother? Where did she come from?
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?
What happened to Walt and his dad? Is Walt living in the real world? We last saw him there?
Why is Penny with them? She was never on the island? How did she die?
Who the heck were Widmore and Elouise?
If everyone is dead, who is the new Jacob on the island?
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?
And many many more? .... It's just a cheap cop out. I actually feel offended by this ending. It's like the writers think we will swallow anything. This show had such a loyal fan base, constantly trying to work out what was going on, trying to find the answers. I think we all deserved better than this.


lost is a show about questions! if none of you realized that by now, then sucks to be you!!


I can appreciate that the finale could be too abstract for some. For me, the finale was the perfect ending to the perfect show. Maybe the point was to leave us with questions, it has been weeks since the finale and I still am coming to new realizations about the show. The writers might have intended on leaving us with so many questions since what is beyond death is a question no human can answer. I recommend enjoying the beauty of your own interpretation.
I wasn't raised in a church but by my Buddhist parents, it could have ended on a landfill and the ending would be just as beautiful. Yes, the show did touch on not only christian beliefs but Buddhist as well and overall it touch on the theme of loving regardless. Regardless of what you have done, what a person has done, or what a smoke monster has done. We are a species that requires the help of one another to survive, so why wouldn't it make sense in the afterlife?


I can appreciate that the finale could be too abstract for some. For me, the finale was the perfect ending to the perfect show. Maybe the point was to leave us with questions, it has been weeks since the finale and I still am coming to new realizations about the show. The writer might have intended on leaving us with so many questions since what is beyond death is a question no human can answer. I recommend enjoying the beauty of your own interpretation.
I wasn't raised in a church but by my Buddhist parents, it could have ended on a landfill and the ending would be just as beautiful. Yes, the show did touch on not only christian beliefs but Buddhist as well and overall it touch on the theme of loving regardless. Regardless of what you have done, a person has done, or what a smoke monster has done. We are a species that requires the help of one another to survive, so why wouldn't make sense in the afterlife?


A Church Ending movie !!! Just remember some stupid wondered character such as John Lock's Father saying :" we are all dead, can't you see?" or maybe in a world between life and death !!!
This was the worst Ending possible for the show satisfying for some ultra relegious people who were telling us the same all the way long. I just can't undrestand why !? were they so sick of it that they just had to finish it somehow?
and maybe thats why we got a 2.5 hours nonestop ending with too many holes in the story.
- Becomming Jacobe was as easy as drinking some water and after that the new jacobe wouldn't feel anything different !!!
so what was all those miracelouse things Jacobe did? giving Richard
ethernal life, inviting people to the iceland, having too many freaky tools, ...
- what was really the black smoke? why it didn't happened to jack when he went down there?
- Was Jacobe's Mother a Sick Mental delusional Bi** who killed their mother just to keep them out of regular people?
and what made this crazy woman Aware of all those magic powers, rules and ... so she could pass it to someone else? some people who believe the holes are not important, please look that the story was so logical that i.e: needing water made they camp beside the spring ! needing first aid on different times, ... so what'sup now making you follow this out of order parts?
if they wanted to give us some delusional after death thing they could have done that much better free of all the logical problems.
I just wish I could known this is gonna endup in a church and I would never watch a single episode of it.


well, the past 5 seasons were really fantastic with mystery everywhere but the final episode of the final season ruined evrything... Yes, I know it's about the characters... but guess what, those characters asked tons of questions during the show and found really few answers... we deserve more than that ? honestly the ending was like a bad joke. Let me know please if anyone share my opignion. I'm extremely disappointed !!


My husband and I finally watched the last Lost last nite. The past two years I have been disgusted with the show and only watched in because of my husband. I finally had to watch the end because I had watched from the beginning and it sucked with a capital S !!! They were dead? They were alive? They were sideways? THEY didn't really answer anything or tie up loose ends. Now I would like to have a "THANK GOD THE SHOW HAS ENDED" party. The writers in the beginning were onto something which intrigued us but I guess they got "lost" through the seasons because it was awful. They should be ashamed of what they did to us viewers and we should be ashamed for sticking around. Just my opinion and you are all welcome to comment.


I fall in the middle of satisfaction with the Lost finale. As many have said, it had deep emotional impact, but it lacked the scope of climatic battle with the power of light versus dark, Jack versus the 'Smoke Monster/Flocke/Man in Black" ~ not just middle age man fights nearly senior citizen. As others have noted, the show could end a number of ways, and not everybody would be happy with the one way chosen. I could accept most of the unanswered questions of past seasons, but I expected something more epic of the battle and seeing in the whole world some effect of what smokey leaving would do, to give weight to the consequences. Having made smokey more 'sympathetic' with Across the Sea just made his human life seem less evil and maybe less a danger than 'ever so clever' Jacob made it out to be. Overall, I enjoyed the series, and yes, the last season and finale take it down a small notch for me. I have my legitimate reservations about when or if I'll rewatch the show, but if it ended the way I wanted, you'd have your own reservations. Guess we have to produce our own shows to get our own stories.


Also I think that because they had done flash -backs, and flash-forwards, the felt that they needed to have a flash something else and this was the best they thought of as a fan I think that they could have come up with something more filling and they didn't even show what happened to the rest of the world when the light on the island was extinguished. I believe we all thought that this light had some significance to the world as a whole and the island had some significants but as we see at the end it doesn't and the writer made everything before the last season meaningless.
If the were going to do this ending they should have done three seasons or four and ended it with everyone dyeing and meeting up. I believe this would have made more sense and would have felt better to the viewers.


I would just like to say that I think the ending of Lost was an add on. There was no real thought put into it and there where no questions answered i.e.
1) Why did Hurly, Desmond, Walt, and Miles, (and maybe some other characters) have power?
2) What the heck was the island.
3) Why did the man in black change into the black smoke.
4) When Juliet say's that what they had done had "Worked" she was wrong I guess because they are still on and it never changed a thing.
5) What happened to the Kate, sawyer and the rest when they left the island? And what did Hugo and and ben accomplish together? I think that the writers were on a deadline to close the show and they took the easy way out because they had nowhere else to go with the story at the time.
The ending would have even mad more sense if they had let everyone die on the island and then they all met up in their so called purgatory and then they all went to an afterlife together. Or they could have simply explained that the island was purgatory and those who died on the island are those who had to move on. or some crap like that would have made more sense.
But no they gave a fruity ending taking away from the great show which they had made before. In closing Lost from 1-5 season and even some of the 6th season was a grate show the last 30 minuets ruined the whole thing. Oh well

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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.