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Lost – An emotional, character driven finale

After six seasons, 121 episodes, countless questions, slightly fewer answers, and one hell of a ride, the series finale of Lost is finally here.

- Season 6, Episode 17 & 18 - "The End"

And that’s that.

There weren’t answers to everything. Did you expect there would be? This is Lost, after all. Putting all that aside, my immediate reaction is that this was a fitting finale for the show. Will it go down as the greatest ender to a series in the history of time? I doubt it. Some will surely think so, but even I, a huge Lost fan, am not ready to say that. As with all good finales, though, I thought this was a fitting end for the series. It felt like Lost. Let’s discuss.

After wondering for most of the season how the sideways world was going to fit in to the big picture, I’m impressed that I was still managed to be surprised. I never saw this ending coming, and didn’t really see anyone predicting it. The show, along with the ending and the nature of the sideways world, is going to be open to interpretation. I know that that is really going to piss some people off, but I’m not one of those people.

As I see it, the show was about people and connections. From the first season we saw how all the characters were connected — in their pasts, on the island — they all touched each other’s lives. Late this season, we learned that the island housed the one thing that connects all people. At the end of tonight’s finale we saw Lost’s vision of the universe. We saw all the characters from seasons past (though I thought it was a little odd that there was no Michael or Walt there), coming back together and walking off into that same bright yellow light after their lives had ended. I thought there was a certain amount of beauty in that ending. It’s the relationships we create along the way that give our lives meaning.

Did I think it was perfect? No. At the end of the day, I think the sideways story could have tied in a little bit better with everything else. I really liked the church scene and what it had to say about life and death, but at the same time, it didn’t really mesh as well as it could have with the story of the smoke monster trying to leave the island. In fact, the two plots may have even marginalized each other. Desmond unplugged the island, causing Smokey and Jack to lose their island mojo. This resulted in the death of both of them. Hurley took over the island, making Ben his right hand man. Sawyer, Kate, Claire, Lapidus, Richard, and Miles all flew away. Is there really much more to say about that?

I suppose there is. I really liked how things turned out for Ben. It was a little heartbreaking seeing him look on as Hurley took over for Jack, again passed over — again reminded that he is not special. That made it all the better when Hurley asked him for his help, finally giving Ben essentially what he had always wanted. The ending makes sense for Hurley too. He was special. He had the right attitude and heart to care for the island, more so than probably any of the other candidates.

I liked a lot about how things turned out (including the extended credits in the beginning of the episode, did you notice them?). Desmond presumably got to return to his family. Kate and Claire returned to Aaron. Richard got to return to civilization and make a life for himself. This certainly wasn’t a happy ending for everyone though. It was a popular theory that people were going to be jumping ship to the sideways world and living happily ever after (and I suppose they all did in a sense), but at the end of the day there was a lot of tragedy: Jin and Sun died, Sayid died, Jack died. There was no reprieve for them, or the rest of the fallen characters. They don’t get the cheery ending. Such is life.

Regardless of how you felt about the episode, I don’t think you can deny that it was an emotional outing. I really enjoyed all the reunions in the sideways world. With the possible exception of Sayid and Shannon. I thought it was an odd choice, when so much attention had been poured into the Sayid and Nadia relationship. I think Shannon needed Sayid a lot more than Sayid needed Shannon. Aside from that, the reunions were great: Claire and Charlie, Juliet and Sawyer, Jin and Sun, even Charlotte and Daniel. Even the final scene between Locke and Ben was great. In that sense, the finale was a great success in my opinion.

If you want to criticize the show for not answering every little mystery, I suppose I can’t argue with you. It’s sloppy storytelling in my opinion to leave so many questions floating around. Certainly we can extrapolate and come up with plausible explanations for just about everything, but the writers really seemed to pick and choose what to answer and what not to answer. We get a definitive, straightforward answer about the whispers, but why women weren’t having babies remains a mystery. Doesn’t seem like there is a strong rhyme or reason to that. We can assume that it was something that Jacob was doing — how he was “running the island,” but that certainly isn’t going to satisfy everyone. It really doesn’t bother me that much, but it seemed arbitrary what they wrapped up neatly and what they left to the imagination.

In the end, this episode was about the big picture, it was about the characters. It was about all the things that Lost has been about for six seasons. I suspect that anyone who was watching for the “mysteries” was pretty disappointed with the finale. Looking around the internet, it seems like more are happy with the finale than aren’t, though it’s so hard to really have a well thought out opinion so soon (as I am realizing as I try to write this post). As for those of us who were really looking for satisfying endings for the characters — I can’t imagine there was a lot of disappointment.

Again, that’s that. It’s really over. What did you think about it? I know I’m still trying to figure out exactly how I felt about everything, but I know I’m at peace with the ending. Certainly everyone is going to have a lot to say about the episode and the series as a whole, and I know I will have more after letting things soak in. It’s been a fun ride folks. Thanks for taking it along with me these past couple years.

Photo Credit: ABC

Categories: | Episode Reviews | General | Lost | TV Shows |

37 Responses to “Lost – An emotional, character driven finale”

May 24, 2010 at 12:36 AM

Well, said, Bob. Sums up my thoughts precisely!

May 24, 2010 at 12:53 AM

Very well said. I really enjoyed the finale, bittersweet ending though it may have been. The show was primarily about Jack from the beginning, I suppose, so we didn’t get to see what happened to anyone else after he died. I wouldn’t have figured out that the flash-sideways were actually some kind of purgatory (or as Ivey preferred, “pre-heaven”) this whole time if it hadn’t been for this site’s users, so I thank you for that. It seems to be what was going on, though there is still plenty to clarify. But ultimately, at the end of the day, I think we have enough of a sense for what Lost is to marvel at the scope, the characters, the relationships, and the experience of it. Now that I’ve seen all there is, I’m willing to declare it: Lost is the best show I’ve ever seen.

May 24, 2010 at 1:01 AM

A few more thoughts:
-I can’t believe Lapidus lived through that sub explosion. Flotation devices FTW.
-It feels on the surface like a major oversight to not have Michael and Walt in the church at the end, but perhaps this is representative of the way Michael burned every relationship he had on that island in the name of pursuing his son. As for Walt, maybe he just managed to go on and live a fulfilling life, such that his time on the island (in which he really only formed a significant relationship with Locke, Shannon, and arguably Hurley) wasn’t the most important time to him. It was a shame not to see Eko there, but I guess there was nothing the producers could do to convince the actor to show.
-I’d like to hear people’s explanation of why Ben didn’t go with everyone at the end. My wife thinks he didn’t think himself worthy to go with them; I saw someone in chat say that they think it’s because he wants to reconcile with Alex in the flash-sideways. I’m not sure what I think.
-Whatever’s going on in the flashsideways, it seems the world will continue without the Losties. Hence Eloise Hawking’s concern that Desmond was going to take her son away. She pretty well seemed to be aware of the situation while still having no desire to move on. Wonder who she was waiting for?

May 24, 2010 at 2:26 AM

Maybe her husband.

May 24, 2010 at 10:15 AM

My take on Eloise is that she was still working through the guilt over killing her son (even if she didn’t know she was doing it). That was one of the more tragic stories that Lost has told over its six seasons, in my opinion. I think she was trying to stop Desmond because she didn’t want to let go of Daniel. The final moment with her and Des at the party was a little heartbreaking when put into the context of the end of the show. The was so much hurt in her voice when she asked if he would “take her son.”

Clearly she was not ready to let go, even if she knew where she was. Same goes for Ben, right? He had more things to do before he was ready to “move on.” Maybe that was just more time with Alex (another parent responsible for his parent’s death) or exploring a relationship with Rousseau, or just living a life off the island.

May 24, 2010 at 2:24 AM

No complaints. It was sublime! It did not even bother me that we did not see Walt. Don’t care about the unanswered questions. Totally blown away.

Ben perhaps could not go in because he had further expiating to do….

Really the LOST ending is like life, all that really matters is how you treat your fellow man.

Truly unexpected and beautiful.

May 24, 2010 at 10:17 AM

Considering your state of mind a couple weeks ago, I’m really, really glad you enjoyed it!

May 24, 2010 at 10:45 AM

Well for someone like me, there is no better ending.

May 24, 2010 at 11:04 AM

Had to think about you for the last five minutes of the show.

Let me say that I liked the ending. Much more than I liked the ending to BSG because here it all felt right. It didn’t feel like a “I don’t have an answer so I just take this, it tends to answer everything” but rather matching to everything that happened.

Again, I really liked it. I saw how much “answers” pissed me off on tuesday and this is so much better.


May 24, 2010 at 11:36 AM

Ha! I was hoping you’d like it!

Dare I say it? This was a better ending than BSG only because the main crew was not separated from each other. Couples ended up together, people, even enemies at peace, and no one just disappeared.

May 24, 2010 at 11:39 AM

Yup. That sold it for me. 2.5 hours and I kept getting all misty-eyed damn it ^^;

May 24, 2010 at 11:55 AM

Damn that was a great episode. I loved that it was Juliet who made Sawyer aware & that Jin/Sun started speaking English after they became aware. My man Hurley ended up becoming the keeper of the island with Ben as his #2. That’s awesome!

As someone else stated, Harold P said on the Kimmel show that his spirit is stuck on the island whispering to everyone. I do like the idea that Walt wasn’t there because he was able to finish out his life in NYC or wherever & the island wasn’t the most important part of his life.

One thing that boggles my mind though: if the alternate world takes place when they’re all dead, who much time as really passed? With Hurley as the island’s guardian & Ben taking on Richard’s role, how much time has passed for them to both be dead & the island either being gone or having new replacements? Makes you wonder. I guess time doesn’t really matter in the alternate world.

May 24, 2010 at 4:32 PM

To answer your question about time passing. Christian said something along the lines of time not existing where they are to Jack. So, there is no way to relate the sideways dead universe to the real universe.

May 24, 2010 at 2:42 AM

wow. When the characters all started to recognize each other was beautiful.

Well done Lost. We’ll miss you.

May 24, 2010 at 3:33 AM

Michael’s spirit is trapped on the island because of his misdeeds, according to Harold Perrineau. And Ana Lucia wasn’t there either.

May 24, 2010 at 8:26 AM

Yup, loved it, definitely missed Walt, Micheal, et al at the ending, but, of course, the easy explanation is that the island wasn’t the most important part of those peoples lives. I agree that the Sayid and Shannon coupling was a stretch…I thought they did a really good job of making the ending touching and poignant without making it too trite and cliche…well done…Golly all those commercials were annoying, totally disrupted the groove of the show…maybe it’s time for us to join the 21st Century and get a DVR :p

May 24, 2010 at 10:09 AM

I agree the commercials were really a distraction. I knew there were going to be a ton going in, but some of the placements and spots they chose to cut away were really distracting and took me right out of the story. Such is television.

May 24, 2010 at 11:53 AM

Said the same thing to Keith, but 18+18+9 = 45. Same amount of commercials as it should have been :)

May 24, 2010 at 8:39 AM

I think from a viewer’s perspective, we had two groups of thoughts. One, LOST was ALL about the characters, and the island was the backdrop. Two, LOST was all about the island and mythology, and the characters were instruments to tell the island’s story.

What we finally saw in the finale was the writer’s vision of LOST. It was all about the characters and their resolution of relationships and understanding.

I’m truly satisfied from a character perspective, but I would have liked more insight to the island. I was invested in the island as a major character as well.

May 24, 2010 at 10:49 AM

While I think that the character/relationship-driven ending we got was good and a worthy emotional closure for the right brain, the left brain was left out in the cold a bit.

Going into it, I believed that they definitely would not try to spell out every single un-answered element of the show and leave some (generous) room for interpretation. That being said, for a show to spend that much time engaging and challenging our collective brains with notions of science, faith, alternate realities, bending physics, etc. it really didn’t do much to justice to further or offer closure/explanation those foundational elements.

In the end, it was a buddy show. If you were emotionally attached to the characters of the show, I am sure you got your just desserts and closure. But, for me, I was more interested in the mythology and ‘science’ of the island and felt a little let down at the end of things…

May 24, 2010 at 11:47 AM

I’m still digesting everything (wait so the bomb did nothing?!) but I think the finale basically did nothing but add another part to Jack’s infamous line: Live together, die alone, and be together once again.

May 24, 2010 at 11:55 AM

It’s easier for me to separate comments about the episode from comments about the series. I thought the episode was nice, a definite tear-jerker, and i liked the ending. I was also confused by the Sayid-Shannon pairing (instead of Sayid-Nadia) and the lack of Walt and Michael in the church, but those are minor points.

Yet I also really feel that the series has some overall weak and sloppy storytelling. Storylines that we were invested in FOR YEARS because of how much time and effort the writers spent developing them (Walt’s specialness, babies on the island, etc.) were dropped, and that’s just sloppy.

May 24, 2010 at 12:05 PM

I agree – while the show was about the characters and their experiences, there was a mythology to the island and the events that was not dealt with the way the characters walked off into the sunset.

I still do have some nagging questions;

– Why did the statue have 4 toes?
– What was so special about Desmond’s being able to survive an EMP?
– What is/was the smoke monster?

I get that whoever is ‘it’ gets to make the rules of the island, but making that a little more apparent (if it is true) would answer a lot of open questions…why can’t you leave the island? why can’t babies be born, etc…

May 24, 2010 at 11:59 AM

Just a thought I had after reading the comments: maybe Jacob didn’t allow babies so that the child would never be put in a situation like him & the Man in Black: born, mother killed, raised by someone pretending to be your mother.

Oh yeah… what the hell is that guy’s name!?

May 24, 2010 at 12:38 PM

Samuel, if you believe the shooting script.

May 24, 2010 at 12:14 PM

It, like BSG, didn’t answer a damn thing, but at least it was well done unlike BSG.

Why can’t people have children on the island? What happened to the children on the plane? What is the island?! Nothing was answered!

We watched the show for 6 years and stories for the last 3+ years were never addressed after being a big deal earlier in the series. That is VERY sloppy and people think it’s the best thing ever on TV? Not a chance in hell.

However the ending was amazing and NO ONE saw it coming. That was cool.

May 24, 2010 at 12:16 PM

A fine, fine wrap-up, Mr. Degon.

And a fine, fine wrap-up for Lost, whether you agree with it or not.

It came to pass for me half way through this season there was no possible way all the mysteries could be resolved. There were not only too many, but a big chunk of them wouldn’t really make a difference in the end. Or so I thought. And, as it turns out, this seems to be the case. It’s all part of the mythology of Lost.

And – deep down – isn’t that what we really enjoyed about the show?

The biggest disappointment for me was the fact Mr. Eko (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) wasn’t in the mix in the finale. Somehow, I felt he was an integral part of Lost and didn’t get his due. But with all the relationships that were mended … with the forgiveness of Ben from Locke … with Juliet and Sawyer … with Claire and Charlie, et al, well … I’m satisfied. Satisfied The Powers That Be of Lost (Lieber, Abrams, Lindelof, Cuse and the various writers) were forward thinking enough to wrap it up in a way some of us thought might come to pass, but in their own unique form. It can truly be said it was done as no other series of such stature and with feeling and emotion fitting for the end.

But …. riddle me this: Prior to Locke going into surgery for his back, why in the world was he wearing a protective hospital cap? The dude’s bald … !!! (cure drama music) Yet another mystery left behind …..

May 24, 2010 at 3:46 PM

The first time I watched the finale, it left me feeling sad if not 100% clear as to what was going on. The second time, after reading up on it a little bit and understanding things in the scope of the overall mythology… the last ten minutes had me bawling like a little baby. Geez, what an amazing show.

May 24, 2010 at 4:27 PM

Very emotional. I cried twice. The first time was when sideways Aaron was born and Claire and Charlie remembered their lives on the island. Secondly during the church scene when most of the losties were reunited.

I didn’t feel like anything significant was left unanswered.

May 24, 2010 at 6:48 PM

Word. You said it exactly. I’m completely satisfied. I have made my own interpretation and I don’t really care about the nit-picky stuff. I cried a lot but I have to say – when Vincent lay down beside Jack I was just bawling.

May 24, 2010 at 8:59 PM

I think a good show has to connect to us on two levels – emotionally and mentally. This finale was very emotionally satisfying, but not mentally satisfying (for me, anyways). I still really enjoyed it.

So … trying to figure this out…

The island is a metaphor for life on earth, and the flash-sideways is the waiting room or limbo/purgatory?

May 24, 2010 at 9:16 PM

Yes, the flashsideways was a form of limbo, created by the people as a way for them to find each other in the afterlife and move on together.
No, the island isn’t a metaphor for anything. It’s a literal island, and everything that happened there was real. The original storyline from Seasons 1-6 is what happened, and the flashsideways is a creation of people’s minds (souls, spirits) after they died.

May 24, 2010 at 10:07 PM

I agree that it is a literal island, but it also means something. When Jack and Desmond were going into the cave, Desmond was telling him “None of this matters. We’re going somewhere else.” Then Jack says something like, “No, everything we do here matters.” it’s like they’re talking about life and death, with the Island representing Life.

May 24, 2010 at 10:17 PM

Desmond didn’t understand that the flashsideways world was the afterlife and that he needed to get back to his real wife and son; he only understood the experience he had there where everyone was alive and happy. But sure, you can definitely take that as a theme (they use “life and death” quite a bit on Lostpedia).

May 26, 2010 at 1:39 AM

Ha! I had that same thought today about the one really weird question unanswered: why couldn’t the women have babies?
There are, of course, lots of little questions & things that don’t quite add up…but overall, nothing that affects the heart of the story, which was all about relationships.
As I commented in another post here, Sometimes you just have to take things as they are. Why did the statue only have four toes? One could as well ask why Sauron in LOTR was just an eyeball of fire. In deeply mythic stories like Lost, sometimes the weird mysteries are just a way for us to understand who the characters are.
I feel like I need to go back and watch the whole finale over again without the tension of not knowing how it would all come together…but I definitely enjoyed it. What a ride Lost took us on. What a beautiful story of redemption!
The joyful reunion at the end in particular got me.

May 29, 2010 at 8:51 AM

Lost is the greatest TV show I’ve ever seen. I was extremely satisfied with the finale. Words cannot describe how incredibly profound and emotionally powerful the ending was; Jack stumbling into the bamboo clearing and collapsing in the same place he woke up in after the crash of Oceanic 815 all that time ago, and as he lays dying, he watches the Ajira plane fly overhead before Vincent runs over, licks his face and then lies down beside him.

I will never forget those images. So poignant, yet so nostalgic and peaceful. Jack knows he is about to die, but he calmly accepts it, knowing that he’s done his job to the island and finally fulfilled the promise he made to the survivors of getting them home – as well as looking back at the life-changing adventure he’s been on.

Overall, what a great conclusion to an even greater show.

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