Here’s the one thing I know about LOST, specifically the finale:
How you felt about it had EVERYTHING to do with expectations.
+ If you went into it expecting to be entertained and moved, you loved it.
+ If you went into it expecting answers and aha! moments, you hated it.
+ If you went into it hoping for closure for our favorite characters, you loved it.
+ If you went into it hoping for closure to all the plot twists and mysteries, you hated it.
If you’ve read my weekly posts this season, you know that the closer we came to the end, the more and more I abandoned my expectations for the mythology to focus on the characters. The writers had been preparing us for this for years now. They told us some mysteries would be answered, but only the ones that were necessary to the narrative. They told us that their primary concern was telling the story of these characters. It really shouldn’t have been a surprise that so many loose ends felt untied, but I know for some it was.
So, in order to sort through my thoughts, and because some of you have asked me for it, here’s my Way Too Long Q&A on the finale of LOST:
Dude, What Just Happened?
Some of you still feel like you don’t know what happened. So here is my interpretation, as briefly as I can state it.
When the bomb went off at the end of Season 5, it sent the LOSTies from 1977 back to “present time”. Juliet was dead, they were still on the island, and Faraday’s plan didn’t work. It DID NOT create a new timeline where the plane never crashed and the island was sunk. THIS SHOULD NOT HAVE SURPRISED US. How many times did they tell us, “whatever happened, happened”?
From the beginning of Season 6, what we have been seeing in the sideways flashes is a version of purgatory (Which we’ll talk about in a minute). The writers were clever though (some may call it deceitful). They made purgatory seem a whole lot like what an alternate timeline would look like. Claire pregnant, Kate a fugitive, etc. They also put the island on the bottom of the ocean in purgatory, which led us to believe that the MIB or Desmond was eventually going to make that happen in the Original Timeline.
The brilliance of it all was that we never wondered if we were witnessing some version of the afterlife in the side flashes because the writers had framed Season 6 around the question, “Did the bomb create a new reality in which the plane doesn’t crash?”
So wait, was the island real or not?
Yes it was real. They really crashed there in 2004. The Oceanic 6 really left, came back on Ajira flight 316, traveled through time, and eventually came back to 2007. It was all real. No one ever “rewrote history”. Whatever happened, happened.
What about that scene as the credits rolled of the plane crash remains on the beach?
Some have postulated that it was a sign that everyone died when the plane crash and that this was all a dream. I say, no way.
I believe that was just to show us that we now have one more set of artifacts on the island that represent a group of people that were there. Just like the statue of Tawaret, the temple, the DHARMA hatches, the well, and the Black Rock. Now there’s the wreckage of Flight 815 sitting there, with a story to tell.
(we found out weeks later that ABC didn’t want promos for another show running during the closing credits, so they threw this footage in to ensure that didn’t happen.)
So did the Ajira flight leaving the island crash? Is that why they were all in purgatory together at the same time?
No. Like Christian said to Jack, the purgatory world existed outside of time. Jack died in 2007, we saw that when he closed his eyes in the last moments of the show. Who knows when Kate, Sawyer, and the rest of them died? Maybe in 2034? Maybe in 2014? As for Hurley, maybe he protected the island for 500 years before giving up the post. The point is, eventually when they all died, they went to this place, a temporary place in the Afterlife they created to meet up with each other, let go, and move on.
Are you sure Kate didn’t die in the Ajira plane?
Pretty sure. When she talks to Jack in purgatory world she says something to the effect of “I’ve really missed you.” The insinuation is that she really missed him while she lived out the rest of her life without him.
How could Jack have a son in purgatory that didn’t exist in real life? How could people die in purgatory?
All good questions I don’t have answers to. Much is left open to interpretation. Some people think the writers created a scenario where everyone gets their own purgatory, and this was Jack Shephard’s version. That would explain why in his purgatory Aaron was a baby and Kate was the same age as when he knew her. Others think that there is only 1 purgatory, and that everyone is in it until they are ready to move on. This would explain why Eloise didn’t want Desmond to take Daniel away, she had screwed up his life so badly, she wanted to enjoy time with him in purgatory before they moved on.
But if this purgatory the writers created was a place for people to deal with their issues, let go, and move on, then it might explain why Jack had a son there. It was all a part of him resolving his daddy issues from his life.
Wait, you don’t believe in all this purgatory stuff do you?
Honestly, this doesn’t really have anything to do with what I believe. We’re talking about a fictional show written by writers who probably don’t believe the same things you believe. I don’t believe in smoke monsters, time travel, or people staying pretty on a deserted island, but I still loved the show anyway.
If you’re bent out of shape because the vision of the afterlife created by the writers goes against what you believe, you need to take a deep breath and remind yourself that this is a fictional television show created to entertain you. It’s not a referendum on who has the correct theology on what happens after we die.
Well, aren’t you upset at some of the plot holes and unanswered questions?
I’m not upset, but there are definitely things about the show I was disappointed by. Here’s a few:
+ Charles Widmore and Eloise Hawking were characters that seemed vital to the story they were telling, and in the end it seemed they didn’t matter much. Heck, Widmore died in a closet (although it was cool that it was Ben who shot him.)
+ It felt like there were too many dead ends in Season 6. Dogen and the Temple seems kind of pointless in retrospect. I mean, it kept the story going by providing more mystery…but other than that it didn’t add much to the overall narrative for me.
+ To have Sayid “moving on” with Shannon and not with Nadia felt kinda dumb. I don’t know if they did that because they had written that final scene back in Season 1 (which I’ll mention in a minute) and thought it would be cool to leave it unchanged or if Nadia was busy and couldn’t show up for filming. Either way, that didn’t seem right.
I’m sure there’s more I have, but there’s no point in listing them out.
What about the glowing light in the cave as the source or heart of the island? How can you consider that an answer?
Some of you wanted more of an explanation than that as to why the island was special, but I didn’t. Let me explain.
Many of you believe in angels, right? Do you just believe that they exist, or do you need to know what they are made out of, how they are able to be invisible, and what type of reasoning capabilities they have, and how tall they are? I’m guessing you don’t really care about the details, you believe they exist and you’re okay with the rest being a mystery.
Same goes for the glowing light for me (as well as some of the other mysteries of the show). I don’t need to know what it’s made of, and how the stopper in the bottom of the cave works, and how the drinking of the cup turns one into the protector. I don’t want to know that the Force is a direct result of midi-chlorians and I don’t want to know any more about Jacob’s rules, the glowing light, or the physics of the donkey wheel. Just like in real life, I’m okay with some things remaining shrouded in mystery.
Are you satisfied with the big question of “Why did this happen to these people”?
Yes, I am. Jacob created this evil force when he threw his brother into the island source. He needed someone to take his place to protect the island AND do the one thing he couldn’t do: kill his brother. He marked candidates and brought the people on Oceanic 815 to the island because they were flawed and alone in life. In the end he found his replacement(s), and it was the story of one of those replacements, Jack, that was the story that we’ve seen unfold over the last 6 years.
Did Jacob know that in the end it would be Jack and Hurley that took his place? I think that’s left up to us to decide. Maybe he brought the DHARMA initiative to the island because he thought one of them could be a candidate, only the MIB corrupted Ben and tricked him into killing them all in the purge. Or maybe the DHARMA initiative was only there to play a role in Jack’s story because he knew it would be Jack in the end? We’ll never know and I’m okay with that.
How did you feel about the closing scene?
I loved it, and you probably did too right? How could you not? Jack finally fixed it. He helped kill the MIB and restore the island’s light, and in doing so he was able to see Kate (and others) fly away on the Ajira plane. And to have Vincent show up so Jack didn’t die alone? I’m not really a dog person, but man that was awesome.
I feel like it was a story about a bunch of folks, but ultimately Jack was our protagonist. So in that sense I felt real closure with his story.
But don’t the writers owe us more answers!
Honestly, the writers don’t owe us anything. We chose to turn on the TV week after week to tune into the story they were telling. No one forced us to.
Most of us assumed that every time a mystery or question was introduced, it meant we’d get an answer to it. I assumed that too for a while, but like i said earlier, I eventually realized that wasn’t going to happen and had no problem coming to grips with it. For some people, it was the mysteries that kept the show moving and kept them engaged, but for others it was the character stories that did that.
And I like what my friend Travis said in his review, “People who wanted mysteries “solved” would have hated the answers. Why? Because these are mysteries unfathomable to the human mind. The imagination is the best hope of perceiving them…Who cares what the stupid numbers were? The mysteries of eternity find their way into the world in manifestations we just don’t get. Who cares what the numbers are? In the end, there is peace. There is love.”
Yeah but how dumb was the church in purgatory with symbols from every religion. What was that about?
Yeah, I thought that was kinda cheesy, but it shouldn’t have been too surprising. They drew from elements of all the faiths over the entire series, so I felt like they didn’t need to hit us over the head with that imagery at the end. But whatever…I mean, if you were expecting them to point to one religion over another, you were kind of missing the point.
And while we’re here, let me say something specifically to other Christians who might be reading this. Can I ask you to please not make this show’s finale a soapbox about how you don’t believe in purgatory, or about how there’s no way a church could be inclusive of all religions. Most people probably already know where you stand on this.
Instead, if you’re going to focus on the spirituality, what about focusing on the positives? Focus on the fact that how we treat each other DOES matter because we can’t do life alone. Focus on the fact that the story didn’t end when everyone died because our souls are eternal and there is more than just this life. Focus on the power of forgiveness and how powerful it is. If you’re going to use the show to talk about spirituality, can you please not be a whiner or a negative nancy?
Maybe I’m being a little too harsh with this, but no one cares that you hated a television show because it didn’t match up with your spiritual beliefs.
Have you read any other interesting thoughts online about the show worth sharing?
+ Even though it may seem like some characters weren’t important in the end, they all played a role in some way. Take Richard Alpert. Part of what made his character special was that he wasn’t aging, so that added another layer of mystery to the show. In the end we found out that Jacob had given that to him as a gift, but maybe Richard helped Jacob too. Before Richard came, Jacob never interfered with people’s lives, believing that they would do the right thing. But then we saw Jacob appearing in the lives of our LOSTies, literally touching them. So maybe Richard helped Jacob realized that he needed to get involved because sometimes people need a little push.
+ Why didn’t Ben go into the church at the end of the show? I think he just wasn’t ready to move on yet. Maybe he had so more “letting go” to do, after all, he did some pretty awful things in life. Or maybe he was waiting for the people he needed to “move on” with, like Alex or Rousseau or Ethan.
+Was Michael not in the Sideways world because his soul was trapped on the island? Yeah, I think that’s what we were supposed to think.
+ I read online where someone claiming to have insider knowledge said that it’s true that the writers had the last scenes of the show planned out since the pilot, including the scene in the church with everyone getting ready to move on and the scene on the island with Jack closing his eye. I really don’t care whether that’s true or not, but worth mentioning.
What do you have to say to people who are upset because they feel cheated by all the unanswered questions?
I’m sorry that the finale didn’t live up to the rest of the show for a lot of people. That kinda sucks.
But you know what, if the writers had said at the beginning of the show,
“We are going to make Mystery a core element of this show, and we are going to introduce A LOT of questions to keep you intrigued and on the edge of your seat. In the end we’ll probably only answer 3 questions for every 10 we introduce, but you can trust us that we’ll answer the ones we feel are important to bringing closure to the story.”
Would you still have watched knowing that many of the questions would go unanswered? Would you have preferred that, so your expectations wouldn’t have been that everything would be answered in the end?
I think that would have sucked, because it would have taken the edge off all the mysteries. One of the reasons this show was so riveting, was because each question held so much weight when it was introduced. Why is there a polar bear? What’s in the hatch? Why are they building a runway?
Having all these questions made the show what it was, and looking back I’m glad they told the story that way. It kept it riveting. The downside was that they introduced more questions than they could answer. I’m totally okay with that, but I do understand why some people feel unsatisfied.
So you loved the finale?
The scenes where the sideways characters experienced their awakenings worked so well because they also served as a great way for us to look back on their journeys as characters in the show. Most people said they loved Juliet and Sawyer’s the best, but my favorite was probably when Charlie got his memories when Claire gave birth. I wouldn’t have expected that one to move me the most, but it did.
Also loved how Juliet said “It worked” to Sawyer when unplugging the vending machine got his candy bar unstuck. Remember, that was the same thing she said to him as she was dying, only at the time we thought she was talking about the bomb creating a new reality where the plane landed. More brilliant misdirection from the writers.
Not that the show should be graded, but if I was grading the show on a scale of 1 to 10, my grades would look like this:
The finale – 9 out of 10 (riveting up to the end, maybe a little too sappy…but I’d rather have too much emotion than not enough)
Season 6 – 7.5 out of 10 (the sideways world stories seemed slow at times not knowing what they were, and the Temple stuff seems a bit pointless now.)
The whole series – 9.5 out of 10 (and there will never be a 10)
Alright Bryan, put a bow on this.
Think for a second about the effort it took for this show to be made. From conception to writing to casting to acting to filming to editing to scoring to broadcasting. How amazing is it that this show got through that entire process and turned out as amazing as it did? Hard to believe there will ever be another show like this one.
I loved everything about LOST. I had an extra skip in my step on days it aired. I loved talking to my friends about it. I loved talking to strangers about it. I loved talking to my brother Jordan about it. I loved the stories and the storytelling. I loved the mythology, the literary references, and the easter eggs. I loved the season opening sequences and the season ending cliffhangers. I loved the characters and the journeys they took us on. I loved the producers and the writers and the gorgeous scenery in Hawaii. I loved how it made me think and I loved how it made me feel. And now that it’s over, I love that they ended the story on their terms, even if it wasn’t exactly what I expected.
And for those of you who didn’t like the ending and feel like it tainted the show for you, I hope some of my thoughts helped make sense of it a little more for you. And if not, I hope the disappointment of the destination doesn’t erase the fact that it was an enjoyable journey.
Thanks to all of you for reading our thoughts on LOST over the years, and thanks to everyone involved in making the show for 120 hours of amazing television. namaste.