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+.


OK, now... I guess I can tell that for all the duration of the show it was intellectually stimulating, while the last 10 minutes were just plain disappointment. It looked like people from Disney and Co. wrote the script. Disgusting stuff, if you know what I mean. So I decided to believe that the ending was all different, and so was the story and it's... er... message. And the hell with authors if they have no guts to go and do something great to the end, for a change.
Pre-history was as follows: a couple of beings from some alien race, specializing on seeding, nurturing and growing new civilisations, landed up on the earth (killing all the dinosaurs in the process - to clear the way for less primitive creatures). They hid their flying sauser in the desert of Egypt and ultimately the new, young race (of people) was born there, and the aliens teached them how to cultivate the earth and to build the pyramids etc. After human race became more or less advanced, they were forced to move their ship elsewhere, say - on the island - it was quite easy, knowing how to manipulate time and space and all those 11 dimensions the theory of strings teaches us about. Thus, The Island was created. With statue of Taweret for the good old day's sake (or maybe it's some creature in vogue on whatever place the aliens had come from).
Considering the nature of alien creatures, we can say that they are somewhat similar in appearance to the black smoke, and they like to play games - which is not surprising, because the job of theirs is quite boring. So boring in fact, that one of the creatures decided to quit it earlier and return home - or, as he liked to say about it: to "leave the damned island" (ie fly away to an unknown part of the galaxy and do some whoring and drinking around). But his companion - he was of an old school, so he protected the ship with sort of the field, inpenetrable for the Black Smokes of the world. No way out, man, no way out. Pity, really. Thus, insidious second Black Smoke decided that people should do a dirty job of switching the field off. And the game began. Sort of a chess, with many moves thought ahead for centuries.
Meanwhile a group of hippie scientists in the 1960-s had found out about a strange place where the laws of physics didn't apply to anything. The Dharma initiative was created, and a man named Widmore (or something) was their rival (or something). Aliens weren't thriled, of course - the human race wasn't ready yet for the space-faring technologies. So they moved the island from time to time and generally did they job well enough for the reports and promotions aftewards.
Now, the ending. Desmond switches off the field, Black Smoke 2 got into the sauser and flied avay, happy as hell, while the island blew up and everybody died there. But he appreciated the swithing off very much, and to thank the people who were really just a chess game figures, he moved time back a bit for them - their plain did not crash, it landed in LA... Everybody goes and live their lives untill some sort of genetic memory kicks in and they start to remember... curtains drop. Lots of good feelings, and sweet melancholy rises in hearts of die-hard fans of the show... Everybody's happy.
Pretty ridiculous, I know - but way better than the original ending IMHO. :-)


i dont care anymore.. this show is stupid


Why did I feel cheated and greatly disappointed with the ending? In some occasions you come across some novel movie or show, that you find particularly attracting for some reason. Then as the story moves forward you tune your expectations based on your previous experience from previous things you read/watched.
And then at the end you feel more or less satisfied depending on the expectations set. If you are lucky you probably have already read/watched some novel/movie/tv show/comic which has attracted you a lot for some reason, for which you have set high expectations and for which the ending has completely satisfied you in all the possible ways the story was being developed. From my previous experiences when I started to watch Lost I thought it had the potential to become one of the best sci-fi/fantasy/mystery tv-shows ever but in the end, looking at the overall picture it wasn't worth watching past the 3rd season (but just to know where the polar bears where coming from). As reader/watcher I expect not to be lied by the author, it's a sign of respect for the me and all the audience. And I think they lied to me. The way I've always been told stories is the following, if you make me look in some direction and for an extended period of time I expect that in that direction there is something worth watching or else you to tell me why you made me look in that direction. Lost made me look to many many directions but in the end it told me that only one of them was important, when while looking the show you could have never guessed that they would just forget about everything else in the end. If I read a book and the author creates many plots lines that are very convoluted but at the end not all the plot lines can be resolved I feel disappointed but it's alright, since I only lost four or five nights reading the book. But if I was reading a book that took me forty days to read and at the end I could just have skipped most of it, I'd feel outraged. This said I've never found any story where the plot lines set don't conclude in some way or another (unless in those books where the less important part is the ending like, e.g. the castle by Kafka). What happened with Lost? very nice emotional ending where all the characters you've been following remember each other, but after all it's an "it was all a dream" we don't care if we set a show where the people was attracted by all the mystery and infinite possibilities set, we won't tell you why everything happened, or where it led to (talking about all the plot lines that where not you (*)live and then you don't die alone), and also you could have skipped 4/5 of it and you wouldn't have missed the point we wanted to make (*). Even though after season 3 I could see that they were making new mysteries and plot lines that they would never explain you, I was following the story to at least now the basics why's of the show. None of that was given. I feel betrayed and lied by the authors. You make a tv-show where you spend most of your time focusing on something and then you end it without telling me why you focused on that (since there was nothing interesting on its own there). Overall I'd rate the show with a 3/10 for it's disrespect of the viewers, too lengthy, poor story development, and too many lies. It can't be a good ride if at the end the car crashes because they sold it to you without brakes nor anything that works, even though if you tell me that you enjoyed the trip I'll always be angry with the seller for selling me such a scam (lost) with which I also had an accident (really really bad story development towards the end), which I also had to pay (time).


I waited until 5/29 to see the ending because of the botched finale broadcast in the Cleveland area.
I agree that while the flash-sideways was an emotional ride at the end, it ultimately wasn't a good way to tell the story. But I give them points for at least making it emotional.
I think that I've enjoyed the journey much more than the destination, but because I've enjoyed the journey so much I'm willing to just shrug at the finale and still say that I had fun watching the series. Lost will always be one of my favorite television shows even if the finale wasn't perfect.
The ending with Jack's eye closing was fitting even if it was expected. Thank you, Lost, for a fun ride even if that ride came to an abrupt and disorienting stop. I might just get back in line and watch it all again.


I never missed an episode, I watched many of them several times. I wanted answers as per the article (even Dharma and Walt). I wanted the science explained, the statue, the island - those were the parts that fascinated me. The writers said that it wasn't purgatory, it wasn't limbo - the 'special waiting room' was a cheesy easy ending to give 'closure'. I'd like to know to whom because, apart from the reviewers, no one I know liked it. I feel cheated - my only hope is a spinoff with Hurley and Ben where the mysteries will be explained (including the destinations of Jacob and the MIB).


Did anyone consider that perhaps we are all in a "sideways world" right now, and the TV show is an attempt to open our eyes so we can "move on"??


So I finished Dan Browns - The Lost Symbol last night...
To an amazing discovery a paragraph in the book stated the importance and relevance of the ISLAND.
Quote: "Like Jacobs Ladder, the Winding Staircase was a symbol of the pathway to heaven..the journey of man toward God..the connection between the earthly and spiritual realms. Its steps represented the virtues of the mind"
I'll let you make the connection between the two..


I had been watching the first season again during season six. I just feel that the plan at first was to have the Island be purgatory.The flashbacks showing more and more connections between the characters until Christin tells them it is "the place they created and blah blah"...Jacks eye closes... white light.
They even could have worked in Jacob, and D.I. or the others being there(think of the purge),the reason no babies could be born, Walt being so special (maybe he was in a coma or something),Hurley and Libby knowing each other from "real life",and so many other mysteries.... but to tell us it wasn't purgatory because everybody figured it out and then create a last minute "flash sideways purgatory" is a real letdown. Hell, they even could have gone the do-over ending of the crappy LOST video game and I would have been more pleased than last minute sideways purgatory.
It was a good ride, but that sideways ending feels like an insult.


At the end of the day, it was a total cop out...Damon Lindelof is one of the most arrogant people i've ever had to listen to...the two of them got really annoyed when people's reaction to this season was negative...I'm sorry, but when you refuse to divulge half the mysteries that you created to keep everyone intrigued all this time, some are going to be pi55ed off!! Having said that, I did enjoy the finale for the most part...I thought the ending was very touching...however, it's easy to be touched by such an ending because most Lost fans have been emotionally attached to all of our characters...that's why the ending is a cop out even though i enjoyed it...because Cuse and Lindelof know the majority of their fans are obsessive about Lost, and such an ending - the teary farewells, hugs, "letting go" - caters for those who prefer the emotional aspects of the show...I personally wasn't too bothered by mysteries not all getting answered...because, some of the answers they gave us this season were atrocious...the whispers, Dogen's cryptic rubbish about good and evil was as embarrassing as the show ever got, that smokey was once human etc...the stuff with Smokey doesn't all add up either...the producers said after "The Candidate" that there was no ambiguity...smokey is evil incarnate and must be stopped...then, in the following episode, they frame the episode in a way that makes us feel sorry for MIB!! Was the MIB Smokey or not? Was 'Mother' always the smoke monster? I'm fine with that being left open to interpretation but they seem to be saying that is where Smokey was created...it was lame...the thing that has annoyed me most is the misuse of certain characters...think of Ben, Desmond, Sayid being criminally underused or, in Sayid's case, reduced to a walking Zombie!! Shocking way to treat such a great character...the producers taking the line of "That's just the nature of the show" when they don't want to answer the mysteries is the biggest cop out for me.


This horribly, unimaginative ending has left a bitter taste in my mouth after watching a series that started off so strong and has had some very entertaining moments through the years. Really? There was a literal cork? MIB is not really horribly evil in a Hitler-kind-of-way but just pissed about being trapped on the island? The whole flash sideways thing is inane: dead souls trying to reconnect with each other? Please. Next time, I hope Cuse and Lindeloff get their story together--that means an coherent ending as well as a thrilling beginning--before they launch a new show. But, after this debacle, I probably won't be watching anything they do.

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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.