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+.


Bunch of deniers in this thread. Most of you hardcore fanatics have spent roughly 120 hours of your life watching "Lost" -- and probably just as much, if not more, discussing it online -- so of course you're going to say it was a "great finale" to justify the ridiculous amount of time you've logged in with the series. I think I can definitely see how it was an "emotionally fulfilling" conclusion for the characters, but that's about it. As far as a providing a satisfying wrap-up for a sci-fi or mystery aspects of the show, it dropped the ball big time. This is The X-Files all over again. It's not so much that it *didn't* solve all (any?) of the riddles it raised. It's that the show's writers -- and especially its marketing -- constantly teased that in the end, there *would* be answers to all of these questions, at least the major ones. It was still a great setup for a show, and LanceVance is correct in his diagnosis that the first season still definitely stands as a classic. But this is just a classic example of what happens when you drag a good idea out too long. Faaaaar too long. Fail. Epically.


To be fair I am using the term scifi in a very loose sense, what I would use as a better description would be a sci-fi/fantasy drama if we are going to get into semantics. Well look we're not going to agree, you are happy great I am pleased for you. I felt it was weak.


Great but no Cigar, The time travelling island covers one season. When the series began you saw all the religious elements in the show and situations dealing with faith. Even look at the titles of the episodes. No where in the titles of any of the shows makes it sound like a sci fi or a Saying that there are left over computers makes it science fiction is the same as saying that Saying that an island that cures paralysis and cancer makes it science fiction is the same as saying Romeo and Juliet is science fiction because the monk was able to concoct a potion that made it seem like Juliet died. But it seems that's what frustrates you is that they didn't answer these questions. But they did answer these questions. 1. The computers were left over by the Dharma initiative and due to the strong presence of electromagnetivity, they thought that time travel was possible. 2. The island's healing abilities are due to it's proximity to heaven, nirvana, whatever you want to call it. Redemption is about healing so the physical healing is just a representation of the ability of one to heal one's soul. 3. The flash sideways takes place on the island also. But it takes place after they are dead. They are the ghosts of the island. Michael couldn't move on because of what he did so he was stuck in one dimension of the island. The only difference was that Michael knew he was dead, while the people in the flash sideways didn't know that they were dead. It's basically if they hadn't found redemption, they would have forced Michael's fate. You realize that the flash sideways takes place on the island when Christian explained in the Church that time has no meaning there. Also, Faraday, in a previous episode, explained that their perception of time isn't correct. Other examples are Lapidus taking off at dusk and returning to the freighter midday and the killed doctor washing up on shore before it actually happened. This is the same as the Church teaches that God is all knowing because he isn't bound by the limitations of time. I don't think people realize the events taking place in the flashsideways are also taking place on the island. How do we know this? The same light at the heart of the island is also present outside the Church doors. It's just very difficult to find as explained in Across the Sea.


John Oh yes now I see it! how silly of me to describe a show about an invisible time traveling Island, that heals people of cancer & paralysis, full of computer equipment left over by scientists who has spent years on the Island carrying out scientific experiments to uncover the scientific secrets held by the invisible time travelling Island as sci-fi, clearly it was just a human drama similar to Dallas. Now I get it thanks! ps - never said Moon was a great 'who done it?', I said it was an example of good emotional scifi story telling, and the ending made sense and tugged the heart strings, it whats lost should have been.


M Great first season, rest of it was a load of money grabbing
garbage. They dragged the story line out way to long and way
to thin.


In addition, I think you wanted everything to fit nicely together. But the series is about one's life journey. Everything in life doesn't fit nicely together like many TV programs. They wanted the show to mirror life and make the point of what is important in life.


Great but no Cigar, I think you missed the point of the whole show. The show wasn't about the island. It was about the people. The island was just the background. The producers stated many times throughout the years that it wasn't a sci-fi series, but rather a story about a journey. I liked the mysterious elements of the show, but how can they be resolved when they aren't even resolved in real life? The mythical elements in the show be researched on your own. You are saying it was a sci fi series, but I don't understand how you can come to that conclusion. The only sci fi that was involved was introduced in the show was time travel and it only encompassed one season. I watched the movie Moon. I thought it was okay but not great. I thought it was very predictable and figured out the ending within the first 40 minutes of the show. The film didn't challenge your mind like the series lost did.


Damon your theory is a bit out there. I thought Jack could kill the grey smoke/lock monster becuase he became human again once the light was switched off, hence the blood on his lip when Jack punched him.


Sorry I lied, have to say one last thing. To all those that think this was good, go and watch Moon, a low budget British movie, written & directed by Duncan Jones, starring Sam Rockwell & Kevin Spacey's voice, pretty much just them through the whole movie. Won and nominated for numerous awards. You might realise how good Lost should have been on an emotional & story telling level afterwards. And what 'all the haters' as some of you have described us as are talking about.


This is my last post on this blog, I cant waste anymore of my life getting depressed about that awful ending, Morgans synopsis is spot on, a great mystery with the last page ending and replaced with a post it saying - they all went to heaven. Complere garbage and an insult to the intelligence (but not all it seem) of most of the people posting on this board. I feel insulted that after 6 years they try to end what could have been one of the greatest scifi series of all time with an ending that was nothing to do with the main plot, a story line only introduced in the last series to give them a get out it would seem. As for the people saying it was brilliant and so emotional, yes it was emotional, but clearly you've never read a decent book or watched a decent scifi film, which should challenge you then reveal the great mysteries at the end before resolving itself in some way. This didnt, it explained the flash sideways only at the end, there was no explanation for the content of the previous 5 series other than the Jacob and Smokey back story. It just wasnt good enough.

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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.