Let’s take a closer look at the series finale of LOST.

A normal episode of LOST that just barely nudged the master plot forward was a lot for me to wrap my mind around each week. Concluding the series with a super-sized episode that wrapped up six years of storylines takes a lot of mental digestion. It’s easy to judge the LOST finale purely as an episode of television– it was terrific. The episode was full of humor, heart, thrills, and chills – it was probably among the series’ best. From a storytelling perspective, the episode did feel a little rushed and overcrowded towards the end, but that certainly didn’t blunt the impact of anything.

Where evaluating the episode gets tricky is when you look at it as the capstone to a sprawling, digressive, and epic series that didn’t always seem to know where it was going. It was refreshing that the pre-show series recap didn’t shy away from the many mysteries that were raised and abandoned over the years. By not trying to answer every lingering question, the writers did stay true to delivering a satisfying conclusion for the characters, even though that certainly won’t be enough to satisfy every fan.

2007

 

One of my gripes with the season-long flash-sideways conceit is that it was never clear to me that anything that happened in the flash-sideways timeline mattered. At one point in the finale, Desmond tells Jack that nothing they do on the Island matters because they will all go to a better place. With the way the episode shakes out, it’s not clear whether Desmond was right or not, but that’s getting ahead of the story.

On the Island, the stakes are laid out pretty quickly: Team Jack and Team Faux-Locke are both looking for Desmond. It turns out Rose and Bernard (with an assist from Vincent) had rescued Desmond from the well, violating their rule against getting involved in the Island’s drama. Since this is LOST and breaking any rule usually ends badly, Faux-Locke promptly shows up and abducts Desmond at knife-point. Thankfully, Rose and Bernard (and Vincent, who was always the only guaranteed survivor) survive the encounter, and Faux-Locke, Desmond, and (a no longer murder-happy) Ben go off in search of adventure.

This trio promptly meets up with Jack, Sawyer, Kate, and Hurley.  Gun play ensues before an uneasy truce is called.  Jack and faux Locke both have the same plan – to take Desmond to the magic glowing cave and send him inside.  Faux Locke thinks this will destroy the Island.  Jack thinks this will allow him to kill faux Locke.  Turns out they’re both right.

Meanwhile, Miles and Richard are still determined to carry out Operation Blow Up The Ajira Plane, so they grab a boat and head out to Hydra Island to blow it up. On their way there, they find Lapidus bobbing around in the water offshore. Turns out it takes more than an exploding submarine to kill Lapidus. So now it’s Operation Fly The Plane Off The Island. After much MacGyvering, those three (as well as Sawyer, Kate, and Claire) fly off the Island. It’s a rousing moment on-screen, but as Desmond alludes to– does anything that happens on the Island matter?

So apparently the whole point of having a magic cave that only Desmond could enter was so that the LOST team could recreate the iconic Locke-and-Jack-peering-down-the-hatch moment at the end of Season 1. Once again, it’s Desmond and crazy electromagnetic energy at the bottom of a mysterious subterranean passage.

At the base of the cave we see the light and the water that the Man in Black intended to channel all those years ago. In the middle of a golden pool is a glowing rock. Desmond puts two and two together regarding his purpose here and uses his electromagnetic super powers to wade out to the rock, which he pulls loose from of a hole at the bottom of the pool. The golden light goes out, the water dries up, and the Island begins to shake apart. Feel free to draw your cork and bottle parallels here.

Faux-Locke gloats that he was right and Jack was wrong, but the first of many face punches shows that Faux-Locke is now vulnerable to attack. Lots of punching and stabbing ensues, with Jack getting the worst of it. Fortunately for Jack, Kate turns up to shoot Faux-Locke in a timely fashion, so Jack’s able to be all, “cliff kick!” killing Faux-Locke, though not yet saving the Island.

This is where the episode began to feel a little overcrowded and rushed to me, as some of the on-Island characters split up for the final time. Jack and Kate’s big romantic moment was an eye-roller for me, mainly because I feel like the writers treated it like the central romance on the show that everyone cared about, when most of us are just tired of it. What was a better moment for me was Jack now passing on the role of Island Protector to Hurley (wish I hadn’t given up on that theory so soon), followed by Hurley asking Ben to help him with the job. Ben has done some despicable things on the show, but giving him a moment where he got all he ever really wanted felt right.

Jack swaps places with Desmond at the bottom of the cave, then goes on to replace the rock in the pool, restoring the light and making the water flow again. It isn’t clear how he gets out of the cave, but he does make it back to the bamboo forest where it all began, where he collapses and dies – his eye closing in a reversal of the show’s first image.

2004

 

So did anything that happened on the Island matter? For that matter, did Juliet blowing up the Hydrogen Bomb do anything but move the characters forward in time? If the flash-sideways was just some sort of purgatory state, how long were they stuck in it? If some of the people died before Jack and some of them died afterwards, why did they all come together at this time and remember their lives so they could move on?

Okay, I’ll try and avoid just spitting out unresolved questions for awhile and just focus on what actually happened in the flash-sideways at the end. Essentially, the flash-sideways sequence was a long string of remembrances as Jin and Sun remember the Island (and English!) and separated lovers like Charlie and Claire, Juliet and Sawyer, and Sayid and… Shannon (?!) were reunited.

For the most part, these reunions served as extended fan service – who wouldn’t want to see Jack heal Locke, Hurley shoot Charlie with a tranquilizer dart, or Kate help Claire deliver Aaron again. The point was for each of them to wake up, with Jack being the final, crucial element to the climactic reunion.

There’s an interesting moment where Hurley and Ben allude to their continued history on the Island, which muddies the chronological waters considerably, but also lets the audience know that the story of the Island continued after all of these familiar characters died or left it. Can we retroactively get rid of a bunch of Kate episodes and show Hurley and Ben running the Island, please?

I was worried that it would be Kate who would jolt Jack fully back to reality, but instead it was his father’s empty coffin, followed by the appearance of Christian Shephard himself. Christian is no longer a smoke monster, now he’s an EXPOSITION MONSTER as he explains that all his friends are gathered together so they can “move on”, presumably to an even more awesome after-life together.

***

So that was LOST. There are mysteries that we’ll never have all the answers to, and in the end I’m pretty okay with that. I’ve heard people complain that the happy afterlife ending was a cop-out, but it provides closure on all the major characters, which is more important to me (and I suspect the show’s writers) than getting all Encyclopedia Brown on us at the end.

I’ll miss watching (and writing about) LOST, and will probably be frustrated when I revisit the show and am reacquainted with the numerous dead-end mysteries, but LOST ended the way most of the episodes do – the reunion scene moved from the beach to a church, all the characters exchanging hugs, not lost, but together.

***

Editor’s note: I would just like to take a moment to thank our resident LOST expert Doug on the amazing job that’s he’s done with these LOST Analysis articles. They took a lot of free time and hard work to put together and have easily become the most anticipated feature we run here at The Geek Generation. I personally couldn’t wait to read Doug’s article every week and I know that there are many fans out there who did the same. I ask that if you are one of these fans, please leave a kind word in the comments below so that Doug will know just how much we appreciate his efforts.

P.S. Since we’re not quite ready to fully let go of LOST just yet, Doug and I will be recording a special podcast looking back on the finale and series as a whole. We hope you’ll tune in.

– Rob

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13 comments

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  • I was worried that we were going to have another Battlestar Galactica on our hands – terrific seasons followed with an awful Series Finale. I was very glad that I was wrong on that note. I do like that the writers made us think through the entire show and even offered more questions that won’t be answered (Who made the cork, who were the skeletons in the cave, why wasn’t Vincent at the get together in the end?). The one thing that seemed incomplete, was that the Island, which healed so many for what seemed no reason, let Jack, its ultimate protector, die?

    Even the First Ones saved Sheridan in the end and while it might have seemed a cop out, I just didn’t feel right with Jack dying in the end.

    In my mind, Jack hung out with Hurley and Ben for awhile, ala Jacob. One can only hope that the Ben and Hurley show is picked up soon.

  • I have so many issues with the show and finale that it is hard to categorize them or list them. Every time I think of something that I forgot about – then I forget the things that I was already thinking of. I know that didn’t make sense, but that is how the majority of the Lost episodes were.

    I was immediately addicted to the show because of all the mystery and cliff hangers, but I didn’t keep watching because I wanted to feel uncertainty the rest of my life. I watched year after year in hopes that all of the things I didn’t understand would eventually make sense. That was never the case, but I watched anyway. I guess towards the end, I watched because I became attached to the characters and I just wanted to know what the big secret of the island really was.

    So, now that it is over – I have so many emotions that I feel like I definitely took the show way too serious for too long. When I say that I became attached to the characters, I maybe went too far. I just mean that the thought of the show not coming back for another season really makes me sad. I cried during the entire last episode. When I think about what made me cry – I don’t think it was the story. Sure, the acting was fantastic – but the Lost characters and story lines were such a huge part of my families entertainment, that now I feel like we will be missing something. It is like moving away from the best neighbors in the world and never seeing them again. My family would sit and talk about what was happening on Lost year after year and now it is all over. I think that is why I was crying so much. It is the idea that the Lost part of my life is totally over. And the worst part is that I have seen every episode over and over again – so I know I didn’t miss anything that I get to secretly watch later on to look for clues. Ok, enough about me. I will try to explain some of my plot issues. Although I feel like my comment is already as long as a blog!! LOL

    1. Did anyone ever explain where the numbers came from for season 1 and why they gave Hurley bad luck? Yeah, I know what happened when they didn’t punch them in, but how did the numbers get picked and Why were they bad luck for so many people?

    2. If Jack performed surgery on Locke in the final episode then went to the concert then to the church to find out he was dead — Um, how can a dead guy perform surgery on um another dead guy?

    3. If everyone in the church was dead, then why did Ben say he wasn’t ready and then stay outside? Is Ben a ghost or is he still alive?

    4. If Jack was dead in all of the sideways – was he making up his reality? I just don’t get when he “died” because if the sideways is purgatory then why would there be mystery people there i.e. Jacks son and John’s wife?

    5. Is it just me or was it like they were implying he died in the original crash – season 1 episode 1 when he opened his eye. Like he was opening his eyes to what it means to be dead and everything that happened after that was a test to see if he would go to heaven – then the final eye scene was symbolic of him passing the test and being aloud to go to heaven with a bunch of people he would have never known in real life. Because they all died on the plane and then everything else that happened was Jack’s interpretation of a test and each person passed their test already – that is why they were waiting on him in the church.

    6. Why did they leave Echo out? And never explain Walt’s super powers.

    7. What about the stupid story line about the people with the diamonds – they should have never waisted our time on that one.

    8. I was hoping that they would one day explain all of the dharma projects and bases, so we could fit some pieces together.

    9. It was very creepy how they introduced Jacobs mother/kidnapper as the protector of the island, but she was a murdering control freak. And then they never explained where she came from – that was a huge let down.

    10. Why didn’t they ever explain what made Claire so dang crazy? Or what made Whitmore enemies with everyone else?

    Ok, the list goes on but I will stop. I am sure that these questions were answered, but I never got it. Let me know if you got any of the things that I didn’t.

    TS @TS_Elliott

    • Thanks for the great comment TS and for being such a fan. I love that you included a list of questions that you still have, because I was going to ask readers for that exact kind of feedback. Doug and I will take a look at the questions that fans still have about LOST and do our very best to answer them during our very first Geek Generation podcast.

      • There’s a lot to chew on there. I know that they wanted to bring Eko back, but the actor who played him wanted FIVE TIMES as much money as he was being offered to come back, so they went on without him.

  • Thanks for the analyses Doug! They were always insightful and funny, and I looked forward to reading them. I also forgive you for passing on my Hurley-as-new-Jacob theory… I had even reluctantly abandoned it myself after you pointed out how central Jack had to be, and then they started playing it up on the show. I’m glad I was right in the end, though!

    • I talked about the Hurley-as-new-Jacob theory a lot, it just somehow never made it into one of my reviews. The next time you have a theory about a long-running-serialized-mystery-show-that’s-also-a-ridiculously-complicated-board-game that I’m reviewing on a regular basis, I’ll totally acknowledge it in print.

  • I just finished this LOST thing on netflix last night. It took me about 5 months to watch 120 episodes.

    TS- My guess on why Ben stayed outside…he was going to Hell. As for Jack, I think Jack died when he turned back on the light in the wading pool. HE could not have withstood the EMF from the electromagnetic radiation. That is why he wakes up near the waterfall and symbolically dies in the forest where he started while watching the plane fly off the island. That was his last thought. And I thought should have been the end without the white light church ending. I was curious as to why Micheal and Walt were not in the ending as well. And why didn’t Jack turn into a smoke monster when he went into the light? Why did the Faux-Locke survive the light and become a smoke monster? Good question TS, I don’t think anyone but perhaps the writers could come close to answering them.

    I knew Rose and her husband would be in the last episode. Why did Sayid get to go to “heaven” and Ben did not? Perhaps Ben became the number one on the island and was only visiting? Maybe Ben wasn’t dead. I do remember Ben telling Hurley that not leaving the island was Jacobs rules, Hurley could make up his own. Maybe Hurley and Ben were just visiting? I’m just glad its over, the best TV show I have ever seen. It would be awesome if they could spin off with just Ben and Hurley, one day finding dead Jack etc.

  • @etchuta-I just finished watching LOST on Netflix two days ago-it took me one month. Yes, sounds crazy but I never followed the show when it was on TV and I got hooked. So hooked, in fact, that I would watch episode after episode with no breaks. I can surely understand how everyone was glued to their TVs every night.

  • I just finished watching Lost for the second time, and I think maybe I have some answers for TS.

    1) in the episode where Jacob reveals the giant map with everyone’s name being marked as a degree, all of the candidates from Oceanic flight 815 were numbers 4, 8, 15, etc…

    2) Come on, it’s TV.

    3) Ben was perhaps the most conflicted character of all. More so than everyone else, his life was a complete sham. He never once gets what he wants, other than Jack saving his life. As a result, he does a lot more very bad things than anyone else. Except Chucky Widmore. Maybe he is going to hell, as satiated above me, but either way he has to spend a lot more time thinking it over and dwelling than the rest.

    4) I believe it’s a closer-to-ideal life for each of them to enjoy while they work things out.

    5) I agree completely. I always thought they were dead and that the island was purgatory. Why else all the tests of character? Why else the costant references to good and evil, balance and chaos.

    6) Eko was probably trapped on the island like Michael. As far as Walt goes, I always wondered too. I think they had too many writers with too many ideas and they followed a few too many things just far enough to make people upset.

    7) Utterly pointless.

    8) I think they tried to in the “That 70’s Show” season, but again, too many writers and it all gets lost. See what I did there?

    9) With her Latin tongue, and Egyptian style statue, I would guess that this was during the time of Alexander the Great’s conquest of Egypt, or after. Maybe they came together, maybe the statue came after. But she was definitely speaking Latin.

    10) Widmore became an enemy because he forsook the goodness of the island. He abandoned his post guarding it, and intended to use the endless light (that Jacob’s mom says every man has a little bit of) for his own gain. For someone as power hungry as Widmore, what could be better than having more of one thing than anyone else ever could? When it comes to Claire, I think she spent a little too long listening to the whispers in the jungle, and to the Man In Black posing first as her father and then as John Locke.

    I don’t to pretend to know what the writers actually meant, that is just my take on the show, and I too re-watched it in a little less than a month. It’s too good to stop once you start. I’m sure my opinion will change next time I watch through on some of these answers, but that’s the fun part about a really good tv show.

    It will be interesting to see if anyone replies to this.

    • I think the statue and symbols were there to indicate how ancient the island was. Alexander was Greek, not Roman, but others have indicated that Mother and the people on the island when the twins were born where Roman which would account for the Latin language. Then again, what about Julia and her fluency in Latin, not to mention her now and again sudden prowess in physical violence and her zen like calmness? Then again, what about the mysterious Libby and her appearance as three different personae in the series? These things which I have mentioned make me more and more convinced the more and more I watch the series, that the main theme of the whole thing is really the long con. We have all been conned. Long live Sawyer!!

  • It has been sooo long since I had all of these questions. I want to spend a couple of months rewatching the entire show with this list of questions to see if I can get any answers. Thank you guys for replying…it is so much fun to think about this show. What other shows are you all into? Since netflix, amazon prime and hulu have changed my life… I now watch anything and everything. Hit me up on twitter if you have any show recommendations. @ts_elliott

  • Just finished watching every episode on Netflix! Yep, late to the party as usual. Loved it in spite of all of the unanswered stuff…some of the ones that did kind of bother me:

    1) the thing with the pregnant women and vaccines that they and Desmond were giving themselves and each other…?

    2) why was Michael stuck on the island as a whisper person…yeah, he killed people, but didn’t everybody? By the end even Jack is running around shooting like Rambo.

    3) yeah, the point that was brought up in the analysis with the implication that Jacob is behind the mass murders……however I am actually kind of ok with that because to me the most compelling part of the show is how complex almost all of the characters are…none of the characters is purely a good guy (except maybe Jack and Hurley) or a bad guy (except maybe that creepy dude that shoots Alex)…they all have plenty of light and dark in them.

    4) I didn’t find the MIB to be THAT evil…it seemed that he sort of become de facto Satan and I am confused about how and why that happened.

    5) why was Jacob’s mom speaking Latin when first introduced, then switched to English?

    All in all, fantastic, epic show. Makes me wish I had watched it back when it was broadcast so I could talk about it with everyone else.

    …Now on to Breaking Bad. Lol

Doug Clinton

Douglas Clinton was born in rural Connecticut at the tail end of the disco era. He attended Bishop Feehan High School in Attleboro, Massachusetts, where he lettered in two sports and wrote, directed, and performed in several Spanish language films. Following high school, he spent his summers as a postal worker and studied Political Science in the Netherlands. During this time, he also wrote for the insanely popular yet tragically short-lived sketch comedy show Mass Hysteria. His first three plays, The Life and Times of Princess Sophia, The Prophecy of the Shoe, and Princess Tabasco Saves the Universe all debuted in Hardwick, Vermont between 2002 and 2004. After college, he spent three years as a full-time volunteer, for which he was inducted into the Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels. He currently resides in Charleston, South Carolina with his cats H.I. and Ed(wina).