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'm still not sure if Jacob and MIB were supposed to be Good vs Evil or just deeply disturbed demi-gods with relative morals. Jacob supposedly brought people to the Island to show Fake-Locke that people were inherently good and for sake of progress. Why then after bringing Dharma Initiative to the Island did Jacob have his special group of people led by Richard Gas them and toss their corpses in a mass grave. So much for the hands-off approach. Perhaps he believed more like his Foster-Mother who said that Man was essentially evil and would misuse the glowing light, did not want Her kids to associate with them, and then she slaughtered the whole lot of those group that MIB associated with. Maybe they discovered the Dharma Group to be 'infected' with evil like Jacob's Temple Acolytes had discovered about Sayid and Clair via inquisition type torture. Makes you wonder if this is supposed to be the Infection and Quarantine they keep talking about earlier in the series, but then what's the vaccine for, an anti-evil vaccine? I really don't seen much difference in approach between Jacob, MIB and CrazyMama. Plus, even if you ignore the direct slaughters, as long as he is bringing people to the island just to perturb the Smoke Monster who is immortal and likes to slaughter them as soon as they arrive (Just think about the greeting the people on the BlackRock got on arrival. I can imagine they wouldn't want to shake Jacob's hand) then he has to take some responsibility for their death.


even if everything was so confusing about season finale,jack & kate's kiss was soooo romantic!but it was tooo late!ii think their last kiss was on season 4 in flashforwards!oh by the way,what were those flashforwards?!what happened to them?!i think the director needs to answer so many questions about the ending!


Carpotato: Thank you for affirming that I'm not the only one who was peed off with all these answers completely unresolved. Far too many of them to say this was a good ending and that 'some questions never get answered'. Rubbish, we've just spent 6 years putting up with this to be told 'Answers are coming'. No, they aren't. Another thing I'd like to know, WTF was with the great big temple in the middle of the jungle and the people living in it that apparently no-one else on the island had run into before, yeah I mean, it's only a great massive temple, why would you notice that? Why was Penny in the church? When did she ever set foot on the island or meet anyone other than Ben and Desmond? If Jacob and Flocke's mother had made it so they couldn't hurt eachother, how come Jacob managed to kill Flocke then? I think the writers strike obviously got to these guys and they just had no idea of the answers themselves so just pulled the plug. "We have no idea what would happen if flocke leaves the island so, err, Flocke dies, they all die, the end."


I was one of the viewers who was very disappointed with the ending. I wasn't looking for all answers but it was very intellectually unfulfilling to not be given a link between the island and the characters. It was completely removed by introducing the alternative, made up universe. Sure we know what Jacob's job was and why he needed the candidates but was the 'light' significant in them letting go and moving on? There was no cohesion between the two, they could have easily been two different shows. Directing got sloppy by the end - felt rushed on the very important themes and dragged on others (I guess because they were building up for an ending that had nothing to do with what they led everyone to presume). The shooting scenes while they were in the Dharma initiatives and the way some questions were answered (Michael's revelation that he was a whisperer and MIB explaining to Jack that he got Locke's body) screamed 'lame' and were definitely not of the same quality we saw in the first few seasons, especially the first.


You know, when I first watched the series finale, I was on the edge of my seat. I had missed the actual aired version, so I had downloaded it the following day. I was so excited to finally see how this epic series would end. But, in "The End," I was severely disappointed. For a show that was so cleverly creative, chalked full of twists, turns, and plenty of irony, I felt like the writers let us all down. Instead of coming up with some massively creative idea on why the events transpired the way they had over the last six seasons, they chose a cop out, in my opinion. They just said, "Everyone is dead." What a dark ending for fans who wanted to see these people live long and healthy lives off the island. When the season started, I took the sideways storyline to portray what their lives would have been like had the bomb worked, and there had been no island for them to crash onto. The flashing back and forth between the island and the sideways world seemed like a parallel universe scenario. I would have been rather pleased had the writers chosen to finish the series in this manner rather than the dark cop out they chose.


For six seasons LOST has been my favourite television show, and at times, as with much of its audience, my appreciation has almost amounted to addiction. There are many reasons for this: brilliant writing and acting, and film quality production are just a few. Furthermore, the show seemed to always surprise me; it would never fall back to the cliché, or the “to be expected� plot choices. So to say I was anticipating watching the series finale, which I immediately downloaded after returning from a May long weekend camping trip, is a definite understatement. And while it is true that I did, sort of, kind of, expect to be somewhat, slightly disappointed… I mean how could they, in a mere two hours, live up to the legacy created by LOST’s convoluted and fascinating mythology of the past six years… I did not expect to be let down in the way that I was. The series finale was in some ways a culmination of all of the aforementioned strengths, the acting was certainly excellent and the plot choices unexpected, but ultimately it was a betrayal of what made the show truly great. Obviously one of the foremost strengths of LOST has always been its characters. Over the past six seasons the fabulously talented cast did not seem as though they were acting, but reacting, the way that real people in such difficult and hyper emotional situations would react. However in the final episode, the writers stopped thinking of the characters as people with a life context apart from the show, and started thinking of it as a television series that they needed to wrap up in the next two and a half hours. My disappointment is very sad for me to admit. In the final ten minutes, my brain was screaming at the characters: “This is not what you would do if this were real!� and: “You should not be so happy and accepting of such a far fetched and fantastical concept as an alternative universe which isn’t quite real and in which you are already dead.� Now this could have worked beautifully, had it been framed in a slightly different light and had the characters reacted in usual LOST fashion… i.e. with fear, anger and rebellion. This is not to say that I won’t be putting the dvd box set on my Christmas list, and re-watching the show from beginning to end at some point in the future. It is still brilliant, with so, so, so many fascinating and unlikely connections even betweens seasons 1 and season 6. I love this show… I just wish that the writers would have stayed true to their characters and allowed them to continue as believable people, instead of becoming simply actors in a the last ten minutes of a television series.


In terms of the final scene of Jack opening/closing his eyes. The writers said they had that scene planned out since earlier on (maybe even the beginning, like JK Rowling knowing the final sentence to Harry Potter). So they already knew that was gonna be the last scene. In some ways it's nice, cool I guess. But don't you think they just did that to be "cool" and "poetic" instead of relying on good storytelling. Why would you decide adamantly on the final scene when you don't even know how the story is going to end. It's funny actually. Jack had to run/stumble all the way from the cliff over to the bamboo forest just to fit into the writer's desires to have it be like the first scene.


@Ramsey: good observation! Notice also that Jack stumbled while injured through bamboo in both journeys past a crummy shoe, and as he was on the ground there was an interaction with the dog! Other details probably occurred too.


I've4 always said this and I'll say it agian, I believe that Lost was actually about generating a reaction and hype, i.i ratings, and thus lots of money for the creators.
Yes, I understand if this was true why would they go to such lenghs as to twists their brains inside out to make the show so damn complicated? But it kept everyone guessing and here we are bitching about its lack of well...structure, coherence...the list can go on, but despite all of this, there is one thing that I got out of the show which I thought was qiute beautiful and that was this: No matter what was thrown at the characters, the love they shared for each other always endured. So maybe it was saying if something was meant to be it's meant to be, even in the different flashes, events mirrored each other and lost lovers found each other.
So if Lost wasn't just a simple grab for ratings, I think it was about this, fate.


The Lost finale was very entertaining. A bit too cheesy, but all in all, a good finale. We all knew our questions were not going to be answered. Those questions are only meant to be thought about in your head, not to be answered, which is exactly what the creators wanted. And, The ending was TERRIFIC!
Notice, that in the first episode of Lost, it's starts with Jack opening his eyes in a bamboo pit, and Lost ends with him closing his eyes in the very same bamboo pit, which is pretty cool. Lost finale was a great. Anybody who keeps complaining about their questions not being answered, remember, those questions are not meant to be answered, but to be thought about and to be stuck in your head for ages.

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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.