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+.


What I took away from this, is if I ever get into a fight with a creature made of spirit possessing no body; it isn't neccessary to have silver bullets (even though them are usually used against undead creatures who do have bodies), it isn't neccessary to have blessed holy water, it isn't neccessary to have a magic weapon to pierce his spiritual envelope and release his energy into the ether, it isn't neccessary to talk him into the light or banish him into the darkness, it isn't neccessary to put some wrong that is keeping him tied to a place right or to burn his body/remains/ashes; All I really need to do is punch the heck out of him, shoot him with regular bullets and push him off a cliff so that he can break his back and or skull. I'll be sure and try that the next time the opportunity arrises and let ya'll know if it works.


Oh and I just want to say Jeremy Sommer that is exactly what it was all about and I agree a little bit more about the 'mysteries'of the island would have madethings a bit more satisfying for everyone.


I have just checked in to see what everyone is saying now and I can honestly say it's giving me a headache. There were a lot of unanswered questions and those they gave us are open to many interprtations. I am sure the writers don't agree on everything either.
I agree that life cannot be wraped up in a nice little bow and so we should not expect it from a TV show. It was good TV for me, could it have been better? Well yes, but it was a nice conclusion and they would never be able to satisfy everyone would they?


I don't understand how people are upset with ending. We (the viewers) really got two endings; an island ending where Jack sacrifices himself for the island, passes the torch to Hurley/Ben, kills the MIB and Kate, Claire, Sawyer, Miles, Lapedis and Richard flew away, presumably, to safety. Then for all those people who really appreciated the relationships that were made on the island saw them re-established in the very unique flash-sideways (purgatory/heaven). It is a bit confusing initially because the flash sideways is being shown as happening simultaneously with life on the island. However, once you realize that there is no "NOW" in the flash-sideways, which Christian says, it all makes sense. Some people died as you saw them die (Juliet, Sun, Jin, John Locke, Jack) throughout the series and some people died years or decades after (Hurley, Ben, Kate, Claire, Miles, Richard, Lapedis). For those of you who thought they died when the plane originally crashed need to re-watch. As for the mysteries of the island not being answered; I think it’s a valid criticism. However, once the light went out Richard started aging, john locke/MIB was no longer immortal and the island started to fall apart. I think it’s clear that that light/natural energy source was what gave the island its unique powers. It's the same powers that allowed John Locke to walk and made Rose's cancer go into remission. John Locke/MIB didn’t even truly understand what the light really was. He was right that by extinguishing the light he would destroy the island but he didn’t know that he would lose his immortality which allowed him to be killed. In my opinion the writers could have explained a bit more about the origin of the island and the light while still ending the show the way they did (purgatory/island ending)


Well I say a definite conclusion. I still don't get what these answers are that people desperately wish were given. I think they covered enough for the closure that was given to be just.


An alternate version of the fight scene: Jack leaps at Locke. But as they tangle; they are morhed into the original Jacob and MIB. They tussle and dialogue at the same time; about things that might have answered some questions regarding the theme of heaven and hell, good and evil,,,,choices made. Kate does not shoot Locke, the two settle it between themselves, once and for all, and when its done, Jack is seen standing over Locke. more dialogue, flashes of past present and future...perhaps glimpses of the effects of the result of the death of MIB..all scenes designed to put closure on these two who were central to season 6........
.....much of the finale was weak, but I did enjoy the last 15 mins. I was ok with it - as in life and death questions go unanswered - open to interpretation by design. Perfect clean ending - no, but entertaining it was.
gonna miss it!


For me this was the worst possible ending, it feels rushed, the way the man in black was killed so easily and of course him spending the entire season still on the island we all knew he wouldnt escape and wreak havoc on the mainland so there wasnt actually time, the purgotary thing is something I try to erase from my mind, come on, they felt like they needed a hollywood happy ending, is that it?
I cant believe that happened, I dont mind having not all that many answers but the puyrgotory thing brought the series to a place it never should have gone, I did not watch this show just to see everyone getting a good end by the hand of (god?) because it is just way too out there even for Lost, to me the writers made it easy for themeselves and I hope at some point ABC will develop a spinoff so I can at least enjoy some of the characters again and maybe get even some more answers, I for example would have loved to see (even if it was in short) how the people that made it off the island lived their lives, so the sideways reality to me is the stupidest idea ever and I am very unfortunate to have to see I dont think I can be a true Lostie anymore.


To those of you who didn't get the whole "was it purgatory" thing at the end - you simply haven't thought about it clearly. This is what (in my mind) the ending was trying to say, maybe you will agree: 1) The island was/is real. Oceanic 815 really did crash there (yes, caused by Desmond not pushing the button/set up by Jacob, etc), Jacob really brought people there and Scientists really went there to study electromagnetic anomolies, etc etc. The island was in no way "made up". 2) Everyone (ie all the main "losties") died in the explosion at the end of series 5, caused by Juliet eventually detonating the bomb thrown down the well. 3) Although many/all of the characters were dead at this point, just as Jack could see his dead father at the beginning of the first series, all of the losties were still apparently physical beings whilst on the island after the explosion due to the fact that the island conveniently served another purpose (as explained by Jacob to Ricardo/Richard in "Ab Aeterno"). 4) The flash-sideways was created by the subconscious of the dead - but still "living" (on the island) losties (including Ben et al who were also likely killed on the island, either by the explosion or some other event). Like Christian Shephard said to his son at the Church, "it's the place you invented to find eachother" (or along those lines!) - their collective subconscious fully aware that they were dead, but like MiB/Smokey - not able to leave of their own accord. So don't worry - it wasn't all a dream - the lost writers just didn't want us to know about all the mysteries of the island in the finale and concentraded on the characters - and you know what? I'm cool with that.
There is of course lots that didn't seem to make sense (maybe someone can fill me in?) - why was Penny in the church? Why wasn't Ben or Annalucia ready?


wow, that last episode was amazing, i loved the way the black fog saved dasmondes from john and the way Sower stole some chocalate froma a vending machine, it was almost as good as jar jar binks in star war 'the menace of the phantons', 'joe locked' was my favourite charecter, he was the black bloke with the beard right? or am i thinking of 'joseph'? yeah, 'LOSTS' is brilliant, cant wait for the next series....its definately the best ever program made, well, that and the video where paris hilton sucks that blokes cock...


I loved the first season of Lost, in fact, I thought that the first season was a unique show quite worth watching. To me, Lost was about a group of people stranded on an island, not a game show like Survivor, but a modern, adult version of The Lord of the Flies.
However, what I did not expect was there to be a half dozen seasons of this show, honestly, I think that was too much, the plot line had to change, and it soon became phantasmal to a point of ridiculousness. I will admit there were some deeper overarching themes of philosophy, but I also must admit that i quit watching the series around the third season, and as I understand the plot line became even more obscure after that point.
The finale to me was just as disappointing as the series, and before anyone bashes me for not watching the whole series, please understand that I have been keeping up with the plot online. I am not satisfied with the finale, it is very obscure, and the plot simply ends by killing everyone off, there is no plot resolution, because everyone fails to realize the beginning plot, and that is a group of adults stranded on an island. I find it sad that the show has variated from this theme to such a large extent, for the plot of the show now is no longer unique, and I compare it to the more extreme soap operas (their names escape me, either Days of Our Lives, or The Young and the Restless or something) in which a major plot point is that someones lover is demoniacally possessed.
I just wish the show could be as good now as it was in the beginning, thank you Lost for joining the innumerable groups of shows that started well and ended terribly, right alongside Prison Break.

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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.