Series finale: Lost

Now we'll never get any answers

Lost

In the US: Sunday 23rd May, ABC, 7/6c
In the UK: Monday 24th May, Sky 1/Sky 1 HD, 5am

So that’s it. Six years. It’s all over now. The final episode of Lost has finally aired. All the mysteries have finally been answered. Woo hoo!

Where is the island? What is the island? Who is Jacob? What is the smoke monster? How did Jacob arrange for everyone to end up on the island? What’s happening in the flashes sideways? What is the source of Jacob’s power? What are the rules of the game? Why was Charles Widmore expelled from the island? What did he and Ben have to fight about? What happened when the nuclear bomb went off at the end of season five? How did Faraday’s mum know so much about time travel, etc?

Yep. All answered in the series finale.

Oh wait…

Spoilers and more after the jump.

Plot

On the island: Locke’s group:

  • Finds Desmond with Rose and Bernard; threatens to kill them if Desmond doesn’t go with him
  • Meets Jack’s group and treks to the bamboo forest together
  • Lowers Desmond into the cavern to the heart of the island
  • Desmond moves the stone from the pool in the cavern
  • Jack discovers Locke is mortal now and he can be hurt
  • Earthquakes rip the island apart and it starts to heat up inside the cavern
  • Locke knocks Jack unconscious and runs away
  • Jack and Locke fight on the cliff
  • Kate kills Locke, and Jack kicks him over the cliff

On the island: Jack’s group:

  • Sawyer discovers Desmond is missing from the well
  • Treks to the bamboo forest
  • Meets Locke’s group and continues with them
  • Kate and Sawyer take the Elizabeth sailboat to Hydra island
  • Jack, Hurley and Ben return to the heart of the island
  • Jack sacrifices himself to return the stone to the center of the pool and stop the island’s destruction
  • Jack’s body washes out of the cavern, and he stumbles to the bamboo forest
  • Jack dies as he watches the Ajira plane fly away off the island

On the island: Alpert’s group:

  • Miles finds Alpert in the jungle and he’s okay
  • They paddle over to Hydra island to blow up the Ajira plane
  • Discovers Lapidus alive in the ocean clinging to life preservers
  • They decide to fly the plane off the island since Lapidus is a pilot
  • Lapidus makes the necessary repairs and starts the plane
  • Kate promises to help Claire raise Aaron, and Claire joins Kate and Sawyer
  • Sawyer, Kate, Claire, Alpert, Miles and Lapidus take off in the plane

Flash sideways:

  • Oceanic delivers Jack’s father’s coffin to the church
  • Hurley shoots Charlie with tranquilizer and drops him off backstage
  • Miles sees Sayid and warns Sawyer; tells him to check on Sun at the hospital
  • Sun and Jin meet Juliet; Sun and Jin experience flashes of their lives on the island
  • Hurley arranges for Sayid to meet Shannon; they experience flashes of their lives on the island
  • Drive Shaft performs at the concert; Charlie sees Claire in the audience
  • Claire goes into labor, and Kate helps her deliver baby Aaron
  • Kate, Claire and Charlie experience flashes of their life on the island
  • Juliet meets Sawyer at the hospital, experience flashes of their island life
  • Locke wakes up from surgery and sees flashes of his life on the island
  • Jack arrives late to the concert and talks to Kate
  • Kate takes Jack to the church
  • Jack speaks to Christian and experiences flashes of his life on the island
  • Everyone meets inside the church and moves on together

Was it any good?
Kind of.

Obviously, the series finale was never going to answer all the questions that had been raised over the previous six seasons. More importantly, neither should it have. Just as exec producers Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse have always held up the midichlorians of Star Wars: The Phantom Menace as an example of what you should never do – never answer questions no one was even asking – so there were plenty of questions that never should have been answered in the series.

Thankfully, Lindelof and Cuse manfully avoided those pitfalls – I’m sure we could have had an epic “Why can Walt mess with birds?” explanation midway through the finale if they’d wanted.

But they went too far the other way. They also avoided a whole load of questions that we really did need answering. It’s really not enough to have everyone land on a mysterious desert island capable of time travel, that’s got immortal beings living on it, a pool that can bring people back from the dead and a smoke monster, then make us sit through six years of TV about it and still not tell you really what the source of all that is, except in the most abstruse ways possible: there’s a glowing light at the centre of the island.

No. Not good enough. We need a little more than that. Something that might possibly explain all of this, beyond a simple handwave of Love. For that, presumably, is what the glowing light is.

I’d have been happy with gods. Egyptian gods. Greek gods. Any gods. An island that’s the island of the dead – perfect, even if ‘gods did it’ is just as much handwaving as Love. But it would have been an explanation, and one with implications for the world. “Glowing light in a cave” – not so important. Might just as well have said there were a bunch of Care Bears down there, keeping the world alive with nice thoughts for all it was worth.

Flashes sideways
Then we have the flashes sideways. We have, since the start of the season, been led to think that the flashes sideway are an alternative version of the world, a kind of Sliding Doors “what if?” to do with the explosion of the nuclear bomb at the end of the fifth season – what if the 815 had never crashed on Lost island, because there was no island?

I’d been enjoying them. It was nice to see old characters again, nice to have another new mystery to ponder, nice to see most people as the happier versions of themselves.

Except now we know it’s heaven. Or purgatory. It’s where everyone who knew Jack while he was on the island ends up to help him – and presumably themselves – to move along to the next life. It’s not clear whether this was in some parallel timeline or during Jack’s dying moments, whether it was Jack or Jack’s dad or someone else arranging it all. Certainly, although we’re in some kind of heaven where nice things happen, by the end, Sayid’s been going around killing people, Claire’s given birth again, Ben and Charlotte aren’t leaving any time soon, and Mrs Widmore is planning on staying for the duration. Without Desmond, supercharged by Widmore in real life, wandering around in Heaven pulling levers, presumably nothing would have happened in purgatory at all.

If it’s Jack’s personal purgatory, it has a life of its own, and the people who come to it when they die (now, in the past or in the future) get to move on when they’re ready.

So, it’s clear that while there’s certainly been a series arc with a lot of pragmatic detail going on, it’s not been the most intellectually rigorous or well thought through of arcs. It’s as though Cuse and Lindelof assume that a magic wave of the “heaven” wand is enough and faith will get us through.

In short, explanations, shmexplanations.

Emotions
But Lost‘s real concern has always been with people, relationships and emotions, and here the finale scored a definite 11 out of 10. It would have been a hard-hearted person not to tear up a little bit to see Sawyer reunited with Juliet, Shannon with Sayid, Charlie with Claire, Kate with Jack and Desmond with Penny (insert additional couples here). Even seeing the likes of Boone (single in Heaven and willing to help Sayid pair up with Shannon, apparently, despite fancying the pants off her) and Charlotte (might be interested in Faraday if they could only shake hands long enough) was enough to melt the heart a little. And don’t get me started on Vincent lying down by Jack while he’s dying.

That part was lovely. Absolutely lovely.

Obviously, that’s only in Heaven though. In the real world, with a few exceptions, everyone’s dead already. Hurley is the new Jacob, with Ben finally getting to be the big boss as Hurley’s number 2 (not that there’s anyone left to be big boss of); mental Claire is leaving on a jet plane with Kate, Sawyer, Miles and Lawnmower Man (unless they crash during the end credits) so she can be a mummy in the real world. Other than that, everyone’s a big squelchy mess. Everyone. The body count is probably nudging the 1,000-mark if we figure in passengers on two planes, the Others, the other Others, Widmore’s helpers, etc.

Quite what that says about Jacob (how did he pick all those people? How did he know? How did he get to them in time? How was he watching? Never going to know now), I don’t know.

This body count with only a few surviving regulars whose safe escape we never see leaves us with the slightly religious message that it doesn’t really matter what we do in the real world (that’s the b-plot), it’s the a-plot (heaven) that counts (you might argue that to get to Jack’s heaven, you need to do nice things, but given all the heinous thing Sayid does not just in the real world but in heaven, I don’t think that holds up).

How odd.

Conclusion
But we are indeed at the conclusion. It’s been six seasons of some of the most challenging, clever, fun, frustrating, beautiful television in history. Although there’s been huge numbers of false turns (the tailies, Nicky and Paolo), wasted episodes (Jack’s tattoos) and wandering characters (Walt and Michael), it’s raised the bar for TV around the world and shown people how large ensemble, serial dramas can be made to work.

Even though the finale doesn’t do everything we might have hoped for – like explain anything useful – it’s better than 75% of other shows’ finales, still managed to wow us and a gave us satisfying emotional endings (at least in Jack heaven) for all the characters. I just wish it could have answered just some of the important questions satisfactorily.

Rating: 6.5/10




  • I thought that between the Richard flashback episode and the Jacob one, it was pretty clear what the Island was if not the exact mechanics and theological implications?
    SPOILERS, obviously…
    It’s an intersection between our life and the afterlife, hence the ghosts in the trees, the water giving immortality, etc. Some people think its heaven, others hell, but its pretty clear that’s what it is.
    The special nature of the island causes a lot of weird shit, most of which isn’t specifically explained beyond ‘strange powers + ancient technology = reality fiddling madness’… but I like that ambiguity, that use of Clarke’s Law.
    YMMV, obv.

  • Even if that’s true, what exactly is this overlap though? How much overlap is there? Hurley and Miles can both see the ghosts off the island so are they an overlap as well? Does the water explicitly give immortality – isn’t it “the glowing light” in conjunction with the water? If so, what’s the glowing light? God? Can you put a cap on God to stop his power getting out?
    I’m not petitioning for massive details, but saying it’s an overlap doesn’t actually mean anything. It doesn’t explain why the island can be moved with a donkey wheel. It doesn’t explain the time travel. It doesn’t explain why Jacob was invisible most of the time.
    The most you can really argue from what’s depicted is that the island is special in some way. But I don’t think you can even go as far as saying that it’s a life/afterlife overlap, only that some elements of the afterlife may appear on the island sometimes.

  • As I said, YMMV. To me those are all questions of detail. It’s a big powerful thing. TBH I’m surprised how far those two extensive flashback episodes actually pinned things down compared to how oblique ‘Alias’ was about this stuff.

  • MediumRob

    I think if you’re comparing with Alias, that’s an incredibly low bar to beat. As I said, I don’t need that much detail, just something approaching an explanation and we really didn’t get anything beyond a glowing light. But YM obviously Vs.

  • It seems as if the finale has really split fans into two groups – You’ve got one group who love it because the show “has always been about the characters”, and then you’ve got another group who hated it because a lot of the big questions were left answered.
    Admittedly, I speak as someone who jumped ship after S2, but I can’t help agreeing with the second group. If the show was only ever really about “community”, as a number of people have been claiming, then why bother setting it on a mysterious island and bringing in stuff like the Numbers?

  • Alex Baker

    Wow google loves sending me to this site, here’s hoping another war of words doesn’t start
    That out of the way, I loved the Lost finale, was it the best ever, NO (Newhart holds that spot for me) but it did everything I wanted. I believe that if you were looking for answers, you hated it, if you went looking for a wrap up on a good show, you liked it. And my opinion on what the flash sideways universe was, weird and I wasn’t into this season, but I “THE END” and by the way, my fav. episode was on last night “Walkabout” the fourth episode of season 1. It is the episode you need to see if you want to get into lost, or if you just want to see one of the best episodes in tv history (along with “One “Minute” from Breaking Bad and 2007’s Dr. Who episode “Blink”)

  • Alex Baker

    Wow, well my computer screwed that comment up, sorry for the overkill of bad spellings and bad grammer, all I was saying was it was a good episode 7/10 and it was better then most finales

  • DOPEaddict

    Thank you for Lawnmower Man!
    I stopped caring a long time ago but watched as my wife enjoys it. Due to my personal experience of adoption & reunion, the reunion/remember scenes made me cry, as did Jack’s death, which was a hammer a hammer blow to my heart.
    However, the show as a whole was a giant tease with a copout ending that shows, as I and many others suspected, that the writers knew f**k all about where they were going with this and instead ended up with an ungainly mess.
    When Lost began it was the first show I watched on my then new HD TV, and if nothing else it was always beautiful to watch. However for me, far more often than not, there was nothing else.

  • MediumRob

    @Alex: Clearly your being here is meant to be. We have Google juice. And yes, Walkabout was the episode that made me think there was a point to watching Lost, too.
    @DOPEaddict: I get the feeling that the writers (at least once Carlton Cuse turned up) did know where they were going. They just erred in the wrong direction in terms of explanations and spend too much time this season on things we didn’t care about and which weren’t relevant. And the purgatory ending, while clearly planned, just wasn’t the ending the show needed.

  • I think the basics of the back story – the island is on top of the gate to hell (or whatever), there’s a guy who protects it and the lead characters are in the running to replace him – probably were fixed from quite an early stage, but that many of the elaborations thrown in during the first three seasons when they don’t know how long the show is going to run for – the exact relationship between the Others and the Dharma Initiative, all those weird psychic things with Walt, the different mysterious facilities on the Island – were thrown in along the way.
    Most of the callbacks they made in this last season to the first half of season one – the bodies in the cave, the whispering in the trees – fit neatly, but a lot of the stuff that arose before they dropped into the three year plan of seasons four-six eh, don’t (see the College Humor video where the guy has ‘just a few questions’ about Lost for a rundown).
    I’m glad they got their pre-commission for those last three seasons. It really does feel from that moment onwards like they were working towards the end and bringing in finite, self-contained story loops (the time travel thing, Daniel’s life story, the con with Locke’s prophesised leadership of the Others) to get them there. It’s mainly in seasons two and three that the story just kind of drifts in odd directions.

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  • TemplarJ

    Bit late to this particular party, but I thought the ending was great. Well, I eventually thought that, it was one to let brew in the back of the head for a day or so, initially it left me a little angry, a little betrayed and very deja-vued. But it’s stayed with me, and made me appreciate how much I enjoyed the cast of Lost and how much I’m going to miss the series, more than I realised, I think. It wasn’t a show that really demanded firm answers, it lived in mystery and obscurity and retaining that aura is the best way for it’s legacy to begin.
    I struggled with Lost at times, I nearly left it at points in the fifth series, but in it’s entireity I add it to my personal pantheon of greatness.

  • Once I’d seen an explanation online (supposedly from a Bad Robot employee) that just about explained enough – whether accurately or not – to feel that the important questions were answered, I felt a whole lot better about the finale. Weirdly, even though they may be wrong, I still feel better for having something approaching answers and enjoy the finale more.

  • ALipschitz

    What really upsets me is that they didn’t explain stuff that I think a lot of people really needed explained.
    For example, the psychics daughter coming back to life a day and a half after she died. I want to know the details of how that happened. We found this out in a Mr. Eko story when he, as a priest, goes to check it out to see if it is a miracle. They were probably going to use this story to explain why the psychic suddenly changed his mind to have Claire get on the plane. Jacob might have went to the psychic to ask him for a favor and in return he will bring his daughter back to life. However, we don’t know this to be true. I think that would have been a good episode to be made.
    Another example, why give Walt powers and let the audience know this when we don’t see them do anything useful. “He sometimes appears where he is not supposed to be.” And why did he appear in the jungle dripping wet and talking backwards. All not explained!
    What was the cabin about? Who circled the cabin with the magic ashes? When did smokey get trapped? Who’s ashes were they that could hold smokey at the cabin? Not explained!.
    Was Ben doing the work of Smokey or Jacob? I thought Richard was Jacob’s proxy and so Ben got all of Jacob’s info from Richard. So all this time Jacob wanted Ben to do all of these bad things?
    I got more questions. I just can’t think of them right now. I’ll post them.