It’s hard for me to even explain the emotions that I and many others experienced over the course of this final season of LOST. I did my very best to encapsulate these emotions and opinions into our discussion of the last episode ever, “The End,” but when the time came, I had no idea what to say, and have been literally thinking about it non-stop ever since that final image rolled across our eyes.
At that very moment — after those final, impactful story seeds were implanted into our fertile and eager brains — I have to admit: I wasn’t happy; I was confused and unsure of what I had witnessed. I refused to react with the vicious tenacity that most seemed to be doing (whether in praise or slander), and instead chose to wait; I chose to let those seeds rest and grow overnight and to see what things felt like today. Every second of the remainder of my evening up until my crossover into sleep was spent pondering, and when I awoke, confusion was still the dominant emotion.
But thanks to the endless web of networks that exists on Twitter, I was pointed in a few directions that promised perspective and perhaps even closure. I found myself reading a few different in-depth pieces, which took me in, sat me down with a nice cup of tea, and shared their thoughts. It is in these places where I’ve realized that I am happy with how Lost ended, and it feels really good.
Click over for much more, including a supposed explanation from someone from J.J. Abrams‘ Bad Robot. As always, be warned: spoilers are in full effect.
Instead of adding to the discussion we posted last night, I chose to write an entirely new piece sharing these same places with you. For the many that were really struggling to enjoy Lost and hated the finale, not much will likely help; but if you’re like me and loved every second of all six seasons of the show but struggled with the ending scenes and what they offered, these are for you!
As I’ve said, I did not hate the finale. I was knocked off-balance by those last few minutes, but much like the Battlestar Galactica finale (which is naturally being used in comparison), there wasn’t enough to cause me to hate something that I’ve loved so deeply. To this day, I don’t like the very last twist to BSG, and actually even pretend it never happened. This is what I feared I would have to do with Lost. But now, having read these perspectives, it all makes a lot more sense, and I can now “let go and move on.”
The first thing that jumped into my brain at the end was that everyone was dead, had been dead since the plane crash and that the feared “none of it happened; none of it mattered” ending had occurred. Then I thought this was some cruel Scooby-Doo joke and we had been shown the M. Night Shyamalan ending. This was that proverbial giant middle finger that Family Guy talked about in the virtual reality-based “Stewie Kills Louis”/”Louis Kills Stewie” episodes. The thought that the one theory that EVERYONE has had since the beginning of the show — that they’re all dead — was actually being used was too shocking to comprehend. It also made things like the Dharma Initiative and Charles Widmore and his hired guns all make no sense at all. Maybe I was too emotionally drained to understand everything at the time and to process what was being shown to me.
It took all that pondering, some chats with friends, and these words from others who obviously have much better brains than myself to guide me to the realization that they weren’t dead the whole time; that the island and everything we’ve seen over the past six seasons did in fact happen, and that I could love that which I was so unsure of.
My personal favorite coverage of the finale and what we saw came from Jezebel, where explanations of that alternate world where everyone landed safely in L.A. and all of the religious undertones are offered, as well as the significance of the final moments and why just because they were in a church doesn’t mean the show went fully Jesus on us. That coverage also included the image you can click and see above, which clearly shows a stained-glass window behind Jack in the church, and all of the various symbols of religion together as one.
This wasn’t about dying and going to heaven. This was about life, love, and death; it was about finding the moments and people in life who make yours worth living. It was about always being with them, in this life or the next life. It was all about what Jack said in the first episode: “But if we can’t live together, we’re going to die alone” — which is exactly what they were trying to symbolize, even up to Vincent the dog joining Jack’s side at the end of his efforts to save the island.
In this epiphany, it all made sense. And I took a nice, deep breath and smiled knowing that I had my closure…it just took longer than many others who saw the episode this way immediately. Sadly, many others will always hate how the show played out, and while that’s okay, it is pretty depressing to think about. Even when I was completely unsure about the ending, there was no way I could ever discount the show and how much it has meant to me. Most television today is horrid and unwatchable, and for something as consistently perfect as Lost had been, it’s truly heartbreaking to think of all the fans like me who will never watch it again because on those final few moments.
If the above link didn’t help you to make sense of everything and answer some of your remaining questions, this might help. This comes from Spoiler TV, and it is supposedly directly written by someone who works at Lost production company Bad Robot, and who has worked on the finale and many other episodes. Whether it actually IS this person or not is not confirmed, but they talk about it like they know exactly what’s going on. Nothing about this sounds like a fan trying to pretend they have the answers. It’s a must-read if you’re still lost in opinion hell. Read, and take it as you will.
Good stuff on here! I can finally throw in my two cents! I’ve had to bite my tongue for far too long. Also, hopefully I can answer some of John’s questions about Dharma and the “pointless breadcrumbs” that really, weren’t so pointless …
It was real. Everything that happened on the island that we saw throughout the 6 seasons was real. Forget the final image of the plane crash, it was put in purposely to f*&k with people’s heads and show how far the show had come. They really crashed. They really survived. They really discovered Dharma and the Others. The Island keeps the balance of good and evil in the world. It always has and always will perform that role. And the Island will always need a “Protector”. Jacob wasn’t the first, Hurley won’t be the last. However, Jacob had to deal with a malevolent force (MIB) that his mother, nor Hurley had to deal with. He created the devil and had to find a way to kill him — even though the rules prevented him from actually doing so.
Thus began Jacob’s plan to bring candidates to the Island to do the one thing he couldn’t do. Kill the MIB. He had a huge list of candidates that spanned generations. Yet everytime he brought people there, the MIB corrupted them and caused them to kill one another. That was until Richard came along and helped Jacob understand that if he didn’t take a more active role, then his plan would never work.
Enter Dharma — which I’m not sure why John is having such a hard time grasping. Dharma, like the countless scores of people that were brought to the island before, were brought there by Jacob as part of his plan to kill the MIB. However, the MIB was aware of this plan and interferred by “corrupting” Ben. Making Ben believe he was doing the work of Jacob when in reality he was doing the work of the MIB. This carried over into all of Ben’s “off-island” activities. He was the leader. He spoke for Jacob as far as they were concerned. So the “Others” killed Dharma and later were actively trying to kill Jack, Kate, Sawyer, Hurley and all the candidates because that’s what the MIB wanted. And what he couldn’t do for himself.
Dharma was originally brought in to be good. But was turned bad by MIB’s corruption and eventually destroyed by his pawn Ben. Now, was Dharma only brought there to help Jack and the other Canditates on their overall quest to kill Smokey? Or did Jacob have another list of Canidates from the Dharma group that we were never aware of? That’s a question that is purposley not answered because whatever answer the writers came up with would be worse than the one you come up with for yourself. Still … Dharma’s purpose is not “pointless” or even vague. Hell, it’s pretty blantent.
Still, despite his grand plan, Jacob wanted to give his “candidates” (our Lostaways) the one thing he, nor his brother, were ever afforded: free will. Hence him bringing a host of “candidates” through the decades and letting them “choose” which one would actually do the job in the end. Maybe he knew Jack would be the one to kill Flocke and that Hurley would be the protector in the end. Maybe he didn’t. But that was always the key question of the show: Fate vs Free-will. Science vs Faith. Personally I think Jacob knew from the beginning what was going to happen and that everyone played a part over 6 seasons in helping Jack get to the point where he needed to be to kill Smokey and make Hurley the protector — I know that’s how a lot of the writers viewed it. But again, they won’t answer that (nor should they) because that ruins the fun.
In the end, Jack got to do what he always wanted to do from the very first episode of the show: Save his fellow Lostaways. He got Kate and Sawyer off the island and he gave Hurley the purpose in life he’d always been missing. And, in Sideways world (which we’ll get to next) he in fact saved everyone by helping them all move on …
Sideways world is where it gets really cool in terms of theology and metaphysical discussion (for me at least — because I love history/religion theories and loved all the talks in the writer’s room about it). Basically what the show is proposing is that we’re all linked to certain people during our lives. Call them soulmates (though it’s not exactly the best word). But these people we’re linked to are with us duing “the most important moments of our lives” as Christian said. These are the people we move through the universe with from lifetime to lifetime. It’s loosely based in Hinduisim with large doses of western religion thrown into the mix.
The conceit that the writers created, basing it off these religious philosophies, was that as a group, the Lostaways subconsciously created this “sideways” world where they exist in purgatory until they are “awakened” and find one another. Once they all find one another, they can then move on and move forward. In essence, this is the show’s concept of the afterlife. According to the show, everyone creates their own “Sideways” purgatory with their “soulmates” throughout their lives and exist there until they all move on together. That’s a beautiful notion. Even if you aren’t religious or even spirtual, the idea that we live AND die together is deeply profound and moving.
It’s a really cool and spirtual concept that fits the whole tone and subtext the show has had from the beginning. These people were SUPPOSED to be together on that plane. They were supposed to live through these events — not JUST because of Jacob. But because that’s what the universe or God (depending on how religious you wish to get) wanted to happen. The show was always about science vs faith — and it ultimately came down on the side of faith. It answered THE core question of the series. The one question that has been at the root of every island mystery, every character backstory, every plot twist. That, by itself, is quite an accomplishment.
How much you want to extrapolate from that is up to you as the viewer. Think about season 1 when we first found the Hatch. Everyone thought that’s THE answer! Whatever is down there is the answer! Then, as we discovered it was just one station of many. One link in a very long chain that kept revealing more, and more of a larger mosiac.
But the writer’s took it even further this season by contrasting this Sideways “purgatory” with the Island itself. Remember when Michael appeared to Hurley, he said he was not allowed to leave the Island. Just like the MIB. He wasn’t allowed into this sideways world and thus, was not afforded the opportunity to move on. Why? Because he had proven himself to be unworthy with his actions on the Island. He failed the test. The others, passed. They made it into Sideways world when they died — some before Jack, some years later. In Hurley’s case, maybe centuries later. They exist in this sideways world until they are “awakened” and they can only move on TOGETHER because they are linked. They are destined to be together for eternity. That was their destiny.
They were NOT linked to Anna Lucia, Daniel, Roussou, Alex, Miles, Lupidis, (and all the rest who weren’t in the chuch — basically everyone who wasn’t in season 1). Yet those people exist in Sideways world. Why? Well again, here’s where they leave it up to you to decide. The way I like to think about it, is that those people who were left behind in Sideways world have to find their own soulmates before they can wake up. It’s possible that those links aren’t people from the island but from their other life (Anna’s parnter, the guy she shot — Roussou’s husband, etc etc).
A lot of people have been talking about Ben and why he didn’t go into the Church. And if you think of Sideways world in this way, then it gives you the answer to that very question. Ben can’t move on yet because he hasn’t connected with the people he needs to. It’s going to be his job to awaken Roussou, Alex, Anna Lucia (maybe), Ethan, Goodspeed, his father and the rest. He has to attone for his sins more than he did by being Hurley’s number two. He has to do what Hurley and Desmond did for our Lostaways with his own people. He has to help them connect. And he can only move on when all the links in his chain are ready to. Same can be said for Faraday, Charlotte, Whidmore, Hawkins etc. It’s really a neat, and cool concept. At least to me.
But, from a more “behind the scenes” note: the reason Ben’s not in the church, and the reason no one is in the church but for Season 1 people is because they wrote the ending to the show after writing the pilot. And never changed it. The writers always said (and many didn’t believe them) that they knew their ending from the very first episode. I applaud them for that. It’s pretty fantastic. Originally Ben was supposed to have a 3 episode arc and be done. But he became a big part of the show. They could have easily changed their ending and put him in the church — but instead they problem solved it. Gave him a BRILLIANT moment with Locke outside the church … and then that was it. I loved that. For those that wonder — the original ending started the moment Jack walked into the church and touches the casket to Jack closing his eyes as the other plane flies away. That was always JJ’s ending. And they kept it.
For me the ending of this show means a lot. Not only because I worked on it, but because as a writer it inspired me in a way the medium had never done before. I’ve been inspired to write by great films. Maybe too many to count. And there have been amazing TV shows that I’ve loved (X-Files, 24, Sopranos, countless 1/2 hour shows). But none did what LOST did for me. None showed me that you could take huge risks (writing a show about faith for network TV) and stick to your creative guns and STILL please the audience. I learned a lot from the show as a writer. I learned even more from being around the incredible writers, producers, PAs, interns and everyone else who slaved on the show for 6 years.
In the end, for me, LOST was a touchstone show that dealt with faith, the afterlife, and all these big, spirtual questions that most shows don’t touch. And to me, they never once waivered from their core story — even with all the sci-fi elements they mixed in. To walk that long and daunting of a creative tightrope and survive is simply astounding.
Pretty impressive stuff. And if THAT’s not enough, you can always head over to Entertainment Weekly, where fellow Lost-fanatic Jeff Jensen, whose 7-page part ONE of two leaves no stones unturned.
Those are my delayed thoughts on Lost; the feelings and emotions that I couldn’t quite locate without the much-appreciated help of others. You can still of course go and share thoughts about the episode and series at our discussion, but by all means, if you were lost like me and unsure about that ending, share with us here if these helped you out like they did for me, or if you’re stone-firm in your distaste for the closure of this amazing series.