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Thoughts on Lost

May 24, 2010

It’s over.

After six seasons, Lost has taken it’s final bow and moved on.

Across the interwebs, opinions seem to be splitting right down the middle. Some people loved the finale. Others hated it.

Personally, I have to place myself in the “loved it” camp. I wouldn’t call it perfect, and I still have plenty of questions, but on whole I found it a very satisfying conclusion to one of the best scripted series of all time.

This post is a humble attempt to explain why the finale worked for me, where I would have liked to have seen improvement, and why I’m okay with the fact that so many questions remain unanswered.

NOTE: This post contains MAJOR SPOILERS about the finale. If you haven’t seen it, you’ll probably want to stay away.

Grading Finales

Before I dive in, I want to talk briefly about how I grade finales. Typically, a series finale is an extraordinarily difficult thing to do well. Think about it. History is littered with mediocre and disappointing finales. Seinfeld. The Sopranos. Battlestar Galactica. To an extent, I would even add Rome to that list, though technically it was the impending cancellation and subsequent compression of the story that did that show in.

Of all the shows I’ve followed, I can only name two that went out with finales that I would call amazing. The first, Kings, doesn’t necessarily count, because its cancellation turned what would have been a mid-season cliffhanger into the finale. The second, Babylon 5, actually pulled off a double-play with two great finales.

Most of the rest fall somewhere in between, and ultimately, that’s okay. A scripted series, especially a serial like Lost, is so much more about the journey than the destination. Even Babylon 5‘s stunning finales were more denouement than culmination. And while I don’t think “The End” quite attained the greatness reached by “The Deconstruction of Falling Stars” or “Sleeping in the Light”, it sent Lost off in a satisfying manner that wrapped up the show’s main action, did right by its characters, and most importantly didn’t drag down the entire series that preceded it. Which is ultimately what I want out of any finale.

So, What Happened?

I’ve actually seen a lot of confusion over what exactly happened in the finale, and in season 6 as a whole. Which I don’t exactly get, because the main thrust of the plot seemed pretty easy to follow. But in case you went to the fridge at the wrong time or whatever, here’s the basic gist of what went down.

On the Island:

Fake Locke and Jack – now the new Jacob – lower Desmond into the light cave. Fake Locke believes Desmond is a means to destroy and thus escape the island. Jack believes Desmond is a weapon. Turns out they’re both right. By “pulling the pin” on the island, Desmond extinguishes the mysterious light, which starts to destroy the island and also renders Fake Locke mortal.

Fake Locke and Jack fight. Fake Locke stabs Jack. Kate shoots Locke. Kate and Sawyer head off to Hydra Island to meet up with Frank, Miles and Richard, while Jack, Hurley and Ben go back to the light cave. Jack makes Hurley protector of the island, then goes down into the light cave and places the rock plug back in the hole. The light returns.

Hurley becomes the new Jacob. Ben becomes his Richard. Frank, Miles, Richard, Claire, Kate and Sawyer take off in Ajira 316. Jack gets flushed out of the light cave and stumbles back to the bamboo grove where he woke up in the pilot. As he lays dying, Vincent comes and lays beside him (if you didn’t choke up a bit at this point, you have no soul). Overhead, he sees Ajira 316 flying away. The final shot shows Jack closing his eyes, bringing the show full circle from the first shot of the pilot.

In the Alt World:

Everyone is dead. The entire alt world is a kind of limbo/waystation on the way to the afterlife, where the Losties regain their memories and meet up to remember, let go, and ultimately move on. Christian pointedly tells Jack that this place exists outside of time.

To Make Things Perfectly Clear:

Everything that happened on the island happened. Some people are going around saying the entire show was just a dream. They obviously weren’t paying attention.

Why the Alt World Worked for Me

Some people hated the sidewaysverse and the big reveal that everyone in it was already dead.

Personally, I’d been hoping the sidewaysverse was a giant fake-out, and that we’d have to see everyone somehow return to the island to defeat smokey. Which I still think would have been cool, though I have no idea how they’d have pulled it off without some totally ridiculous deus ex machina plot device.

The one thing I didn’t want…the one thing I was terrified of…was that the sidewaysverse would be some sort of happily-ever-after world. The realization that it wasn’t…that it was actually this construct in the afterlife…well, it totally redeemed it for me. And after sleeping on it, I’m honestly not sure they could have reconciled the sidewaysverse any other way.

Something else I loved about the sidewaysverse/afterlife was how decidedly meta it was. While the Losties were remembering their island lives, letting go and moving on, those of us in the audience were doing the exact same thing.

Jack and Vincent

That final on-island sequence of Vincent lying down beside Jack. Holy christ.

Unanswered Questions

Being Lost, I don’t think I’d have been happy with the finale if I hadn’t come away with still more questions. Such is the nature of the show, and I’m glad they left us with plenty to ponder. I mean, as much as I’d have loved answers, I think in the long run I’d rather have lingering questions than mystery-killing midicholrian answers.

That said, here are some of the questions still banging around in my head:

  • Why did they show the island at the bottom of the ocean in LAX? Was that just a giant head fake?
  • How was the smoke monster created? I mean, we saw Man in Black go down the light cave, and the smoke explode out, but how?
  • How did the Losties “create” their little afterlife meetup-verse?
  • How did Eloise Hawking seem to know exactly what was going on?
  • Where were Miles/Richard/Frank/Michael/Walt/etc? Why weren’t they in the church at the end? Is it because they had others more important to them than the island folks?
  • Why the hell wasn’t Vincent in the church? All dogs go to heaven, damnit.

I Want an Appendix!

If you’ve ever read Lord of the Rings, at the end there’s this fantastic appendix that recounts the lives of the fellowship after they destroy the ring and defeat Sauron. I want that for Lost, for the characters that lived. I want to know what made Hurley a great number one, and Ben a great number two. How long did they protect the island? What did Kate, Sawyer, Clair and the others who escaped on Ajira 316 do with their lives? And what about Desmond? I know he probably got off the island and lived out his days with Penny…but did he still remember the sidewaysverse?

Maybe that’s the kind of stuff that’ll be revealed a bit more in the forthcoming DVD/Blu-ray set.

All Told

After sleeping on the Lost finale, I still have to give it a 9 out of 10. It wasn’t the best finale I’ve ever seen, but it was a pretty great send off of one of the best shows in television history. And I for one will be buying the whole series on Blu-ray.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Dad permalink
    May 24, 2010 5:35 pm

    Great summarization of an awesome series! I love the unanswered question you’ve articulated & I have a few more to add to the list. I do feel a little bummed out because it’s officially over, sort of like losing a good friend. I guess the best words for me to move on are “don’t be sad because it’s over . . . be happy because it happened” . . . & boy did it ever.

  2. May 24, 2010 10:33 pm

    I really enjoyed the last episode from a watchability standpoint….but I am in the upset camp. They totally glossed over or just flat out ignored so many crucial plot twists from the first 4 seasons that it left me feeling frustrated. It almost makes me feel like they were making it all up as they went. One of my favorite things about LOST was how they seemed to tie things together in a clever way and it worked towards plot were everything was dependent on everything else. Now a lot of the first 4 seasons was rendered meaningless. You could have watched only season 6 and been totally in the loop – because a lot of very clever plot twists from early on meant nothing.
    * How did Dharma get hooked up with Jacob
    * What was the light
    * Why could they not leave the island….just because Jacob said so…but how come the others could
    * What was so special about Walt
    * Why did the Others try and kill the Losties (remember Ethan)
    * Why could you not have babies on the island
    * Why did the others kidnap the kids
    * Why did the wheel move the island and transport the island through time
    * What did pushing the button have to do with anything and why did Jacob or Smoke Monster never mention it?

    I am soooooo sad………LOL

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