Series finale: Lost

Now we'll never get any answers


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.


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.

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.

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


  • Rob Buckley

    I’m Rob Buckley, a journalist who writes for UK media magazines that most people have never heard of although you might have heard me on the podcast Lockdown Land or Radio 5 Live’s Saturday Edition or Afternoon Edition. I’ve edited Dreamwatch, Sprocket and Cambridge Film Festival Daily; been technical editor for TV producers magazine Televisual; reviewed films for the short-lived newspaper Cambridge Insider; written features for the even shorter-lived newspaper Soho Independent; and was regularly sarcastic about television on the blink-and-you-missed-it “web site for urban hedonists” The Tribe. Since going freelance, I've contributed to the likes of Broadcast, Total Content + Media, Action TV, Off The Telly, Action Network, TV Scoop and The Custard TV.

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