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‘Lost’ Series Finale Review: Initial Thoughts

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

lost-finalseason.jpgWhen you look forward to a story’s resolution, you look for character redemptions, loves fulfilled, relatives reunited, and some kind of closure for the people and situations that held your attention for the story’s duration. But satisfying, realistic, uncliched endings are difficult to write: inevitably, just as some characters will succumb to mortality, some ardent fans will be disappointed as their hopes for certain characters go unfulfilled. (Remember the debate over the final episode of The Sopranos?) Such was the case with last night’s series finale of Lost. (And here is where all of you who haven’t seen it yet should visit another post somewhere that won’t ruin things for you.)
Last night’s episode was well on its way to doing what fans hoped it would do – explaining things, helping characters grow into something bigger than they had been in their respective pasts, reuniting lost loves. (Seriously, people. Last chance to avert your eyes: spoilers ahead.) The Sideways storyline allowed for known and loved characters to return in a plausible storyline: Charlie was able to both live again and reunite with Claire, Juliet and Sawyer could have their emotional reconnect, Jack and Kate could resume a life together that had been interrupted by Jack’s bearded insistence of “We have to go back, Kate!” Jin and Sun were alive, expecting a baby, and had hope for the future. Fans who wanted to see these reunions and resurrections cheered.


But in the last ten or fifteen minutes, something changed. First came the sudden weird appearance of Shannon and Boone, and then something about the cultish, blissed-out, otherworldly smiles – not to mention suddenly remembered English – of the Kwans seemed to shatter the reality of those moments, although I couldn’t put my finger on why. By the time Sideways Jack ended up at the church, while Island Jack put a cork back in the light well of the Island (and yes, now I sound like a crazy person), it hit me almost like it did for “The Sixth Sense.” So while the writers did avoid the “it was all a dream” conceit, what they ended up with was basically a “clip show” with interstitial action that was new, in either the Island world or the Sideways world. Except that now the Sideways world wasn’t a world at all – it was a post-mortem spiritual journey for Jack. This fact essentially negated everything – including all of the most satisfying poetic justice, redemption or reunion moments – that had happened in the last season. And that was tremendously disappointing, in addition to engendering unanswerable questions about how Jack knew so much about all the individual Sideways stories.
While early theories of the Island as Purgatory were dispelled by the showrunners, this last episode explored the space between death and afterlife, a journey of self that Jack had to take before voluntarily letting go of his ties and moving on to whatever comes next. Essentially, his Purgatory. Ultimately, that post-Purgatory “whatever comes next” is basically the problem – the writers essentially saying “we don’t know what comes after Jack’s death, because we can’t know.” So, after delving through philosophy, literature and religions of the world through numerous references and throwaway visuals, and inventively breaking TV rules right and left in dramatic storytelling, in its final moments Lost returned to a traditional one-character-centered story, and a traditional ideation of what Heaven is: the place where you feel safe, with the people you love.
Jack’s eyes fluttered open, and the series began. Jack’s eyes fluttered closed, and the series ended. This poetic visual bookending was something I thought might happen and prayed it wouldn’t – not because I didn’t think it would be effective, but because I hoped for extended duration for the show, that Jack and the others would hold on, do more great things apart or together, be redeemed in a way that was more supernaturally weird in the traditional Lost mode. But at the end, characters die because people die. And what happens after? That’s anyone’s guess, and having a pack of writers at your creative disposal apparently doesn’t make that answer any clearer. We can hope for resolution and reunion and redemption. But the human experience, no matter how outstanding, always ends the same way. Lost’s ending has roots in truth and reality, as well as in some religious beliefs. But that doesn’t mean we have to like it.
Goodbye, Lost. Whatever our level of satisfaction or dissatisfaction in your final moments, we appreciate the hours of entertainment and discussion that you provoked for people of all faiths.
For more reviews of the finale and features on the show, check out Beliefnet’s “Lost” page.



  • M- Lyons

    I totally disagree with you! I dont think it was all about Jack and his journey alone! I dont think the other people on the island were part of Jack’s world. In the end, it was Jack who was the one who needed to “let go” and move on….he was the last… but i do think that all the other people were real. I think the side-flashes were their own temporary life after death before they could all move on together.

  • Lane Romero-Reiss

    I would like to correct you on one point, before making an observation of my own. You mentioned that the ‘Sideways’ storyline turned out to be a spiritual journey for Jack, thus negating the reunions for the other characters. It was actually a collective spiritual journey for the group. Jack’s father told him that they had created that world together, in order to let go.
    For me, that was all fine. The problem I had was that this side story was basically a cleverly put together diversion from the main storyline. So, while we got to have some closer for the characters, we were still left with some unanswered questions about the island itself.

  • RpTheHotrod

    To avoid any confusion, the island was real, along with the people. The flash-sideways were actually a huge flash-forward to a point where they all eventually died. It could have been thousands of years, seeing that Hugo and Ben were there too, and the protector tends to live a long while. Hugo tells Ben he was a great second, and Ben told Hugo said that he was a great first. That shows that they lived out their lives being the duo team in protecting the island. Eventually, as Christian says, everyone dies…and the flash-sideways was showing the time when they all finally died (not necessarily all at once) and were stuck in limbo until they all remembered who they were and could “move on” into what was next.
    In a nutshell, the series events of the island actually happened. Jack died on the island. Others died there, or died after they successfully got off of the island. Hugo and Ben eventually dies after being a good protector team. In the end, they all come together in the afterlife in order to move on. Hugo, being the new protector, got to change the rules and allow those he felt were good to go to purgatory in a fantasy life instead of being stuck as whispers on the island until they were ready to move on.

  • John Jack

    You are totally wrong. At least if you have a blog, don’t state things in the affirmative like they are fact. Piss poor job on your part.

  • jestrfyl

    I believe the show has always been about Hugo/Hurley. The other characters and even the plot always came back to him. They were the outliers and dangling threads whom he continued to weave into a whole cloth. It was Hgo who drove them to the church. Hos smile when he saw Charlie again was absolutely perfect and hemed the piece nicely. Many times the plot devices and conceits were “red-herings” that diverted attention from Hugo’s story. It was a satisfying non-surprise that he was the Final Guardian of the Light.
    Hurley is the Sam Gamgee and Ron Weasley of Lost. Hooray for Hugo!

  • lostalum

    Ben didn’t move on. He is still the protector of the Island; that’s why he didn’t go into the Church. The story and lives of all the people could have just been a result of Ben giving himself entertainment and the desire to help ‘people’ in their lives when he is ‘stuck’ FOREVER on the Island.

  • Kauko

    I was going to point out that you were wrong about the Sideways world just being Jack’s world, but other people have already pointed out that it was actually all of the characters’ collective world getting them ready to move on. Not to sound insulting, but I don’t know how you missed that point.
    I am very mixed about the finale. The Sideways world resoved in a very poignant and satisfying way, but, for me, the Island story was very unsatisfying and didn’t seem deliver anything that the story was promoising for it. The whole season was a build up to this epic conflict between fake Locke/ Man in Black and Jacob’s replacement and the resolution to that was very rushed and didn’t do justice to its build up. We got no real answers to anything there (and no, I’m not one of the people who wanted every thing answered. I like that so many mysteries remain which will make it fun to go back and watch the show again and again over the years. But I did expect some significant answers). I don’t like that last week’s episode (What They Died For) left us wondering over Ben’s motivations on seeming to go over to fake Locke and then the finale seemed to just forget that even happened. I was glad that we got to see Rose and Bernard again and know that they’re still around. I liked that we got the implication that Richard is aging again and that he is happy about it.

  • Lostie

    While I think that the Church was the collection of everyone’s consciousness, it is not necessarily wrong to think it was only Jack’s. I cannot understand why Jack’s dad would have any role at all unless it was focused on Jack. (In fact, the show became a story about Jack not a story about characters in the last episode.) On the other hand, Penny would not be there if it were only Jack’s purgatory/limbo. Yet if it were everybody, then at the least Miles had to be there.
    It seems that the creators wanted to create two possible endings. First, that it was limbo with everyone. Second, it was all Jack’s dream. Unfortunately, neither fit.
    I wish the Church scene never happened. Then we could have seen the flash-sideways as either an alt-reality from the nuke (where our connections are so strong they stretch between realities) or a purgatory/heaven/hell.

  • Kauko

    Except, Lostie, that Jack’s father specifically said that everyone in the church was real and that the Sideways world was a place they ‘all made together so you could find one another’. As to why not everyone was present in the church, I think that that was made clear by the previous episode where Ana Lucia shows up and Desmond comments that not everyone is ‘ready’. Not everyone was ready to gather in that church and move on or ‘let go’ as Desmond told Ben he was trying to get Locke to do. The scene focused on Jack, I think, because he was the last one to have his epiphany, and gain back all memories of his life, since all the others in the church already had. Also, well Jack has always stood out as the closest thing to a single main character the show has had, so its not surprising that we should experience the church scene through his eyes.

  • http://uberdox.blogspot.com Neil

    After giving it some thought, I come back to something that Jacob said. He told Jack, Hurley, Kate and Sawyer that they were brought to the Island because they were searching for something, that the Island needed them as much as they needed it.
    They were brought to the island to work out their personal issues and conflicts, sort of like the Jewish view of “gilgul”, where your soul is reborn into another person after you die to correct or repair things. In this case the island, it was just the arena to work on themselves throughout the series, instead of their souls going being reborn into different bodies. On the island they each I believe that’s why in the sideways storyline the live an “ideal” life, the life they wanted to lead. Examples of this would be:
    Sawyer is on the good side of the law
    Kate believes she is innocent
    Jack has a son (thus correcting the bad relationship with his own dad)
    Locke regains the ability to walk
    Desmond have a good relationship with Charles Widmore
    Had those on the island not taken advantage of the opportunity to “repair” (the Jewish term would be “tikun”) and work out the flaws in their souls, then the sideways storyline would have been very different. We would not have seen them living the life they had wanted, but instead the would have landed at LAX and continued their lives of conflict and hopelessness.
    Just my two cents.

  • David Schmidt

    I love the concept of a sideways world where the characters work out their issues and meet up again, but…
    Does anyone find it strange that Jack, upon realizing the son he has known and loved for 16 years is suddenly gone (never existed) isn’t more upset, or that his wife and the mother of this son (Juliet) isn’t his wife, but rather is with Sawyer when he sees her in the church after an experience of many years believing they were married a little strange? It’s taken me longer to let go of my upset that something isn’t real in a dream I’ve had in my real life that that!

  • J. Queen

    I have been reading the blogs discussing LOST and the finale…and I hate to say I think everyone is missing the point. This show ended as it began on miracles and faith. These people where lost. Lost on an island, lost in life, and lost spiritually. The light on the island, just like the button that Desmond press was a test in faith. No explanation would matter, we needed to have faith. Why else would restoring the light work? Because Jack had faith that it would, and that all could be saved in the end. Not all the people on the island but humanity, life, the world as we know it. LOST showed that with faith even people label “bad” can do good things. And if there is faith, in the end the people that have meant so much to us will be with us there after. Whatever, the after life holds faith dictates that it will be a place in the light….

  • http://xsenergyshop.com Ryan

    I was all caught up on the show and looking forward to a 2 hour finale. It was good right up until the last 19 minutes or so. I can’t believe it was all a big lie. It’s 2 hours wasted in one night to see the final episode. Plus all the other hours spent watching the previous ones and trying to figure out what was really going on.

  • Josh

    I feel like the last six years of watching lost was a complete waste. I hated the sideways universe and thought the show should stay away from theology of any kind. It left so many questions unanswered, after claiming to answer all questions in the advertisements at the begining of the season. What was the importance of the numbers and why were they so unlucky? Why was there so many eqyptian buildings and why was there a statue of Anubis? I also thought the reason Jacob gave to the candidates that they were candidates was lame. Isn’t it obvious that the show isn’t deep at all and it is just a really successfull money making scheme. We all just need to come to grips that were scammed and move on….

  • http://www.888limos.net/ limos to rent

    I really anticipated something else from the final episode. It left people with more questions.

  • http://www.westlatowncar.com/ lax car service

    I didn’t understand the final episode… nothing was really explained. It’s all speculation. I wish they had taken a little more time to explain it, but maybe they wanted this reaction.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment DCA Car Service

    Me too I did not get the final episode. oh well

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