lost: the end

After just about 2 hours of contemplation, I’m going to go ahead and give my take on the LOST finale. If you want to avoid spoilers or have no interest in the show, this probably isn’t for you.

The last 10 minutes of the show no doubt threw most people for a loop. I have to admit, I was a bit annoyed because I thought they were pulling a “it was all purgatory” ending. They didn’t quite do that, however, and I think what they did accomplish was to tell a beautiful story of redemption. If these characters were lost (and there’s no doubt in my mind that they were–Jacob even says none of them had things together before he intervened) then by the end of the show, they were found.

I’m amazed at how the writers of Lost were consistently able to weave their story back into itself, tying up the overall thematic and visual elements of the show (opening and closing with Jack’s eye, Kate stitching Jack up, Kate stitching Jack up, etc.). In hindsight, I love the moments in the “sideways” events when a character would remember who they were. It was a great way to bring the cast together from the first season and wrap up the narrative all at one time.

Speaking of the “sideways”, I was initially confused by Jack’s conversation with his dad. I wasn’t sure what was going on. After some thought, I think it’s fairly clear that the “sideways” events took place in “purgatory” or a holding area of some kind.

The “sideways” events serve as a mini-narrative that tells the story about the character’s discovering that they are dead. These are separate from the Island events and they happened outside the time line of the rest of the show. This confused me at first because throughout the season I had viewed the two time lines as parallel. I assumed the island time line and the “sideways” time line would somehow merge. My thinking was that as one time line progressed, the other progressed along with it.

But these are totally separate. When someone dies on the island, they pass on to the “sideways” time line. There’s no indication given as to when on the “sideways” time line this happens. Beginning? Middle? Just before the alternative Oceanic 815? We aren’t told how much of the sideways is different that the Island history, but Jack is married to Juliet and has a son, so they enter the timeline at least several years before the “sideways” version of Oceanic 815.

“When” doesn’t really matter though, because it lies outside of the time constraints of the Island timeline. That’s why Desmond tells Hurley that it’s not time for Anna Lucia to come and why Hurley and Ben talk about being #1 and #2. Apparently Hurley and Ben took up their roles as protectors of the island, though we have no idea how long that lasted. It could have been hours, years or decades of time. At some point, they died and ended up in the “sideways” time line. Once there, they eventually realized what happened (they were dead) and they waited for (or in some cases helped) the others to see and then met at the church.

Again, it’s a pretty slick way to sum up the story. It ties things up and reunites the cast in a satisfying way.

The themes are powerful in the finale:

  • They were lost (individuals on a flight) but now they are found (together, waiting for each other before their next departure).
  • Their failures have been forgiven (Ben’s apology to Locke outside of the church).
  • Their flaws don’t define them, but are seen in light of who they are (Hurley’s conversation with Sayid–“you’re a good person”).

The more I think about it, the more I love this show. You have to dig a little here and there but there are enough clues to satisfy and give closure to the story.

I’d love for others to chime in with their thoughts. That is if any of this makes any sense at all.


Author: Erik

Erik lives in Bethalto, IL were he serves as the Executive Pastor at Cornerstone Church. He and his wife, Bethany, have two boys (Parker and Kent). He's an Apple fan and all around techie who loves Angry Birds and Words With Friends.

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  1. I have to admit…I was not really all that impressed. After years of being hooked in, I found that the finale left much to be desired. Years ago, they contended that it wasn’t purgatory, when in actuality, a large element of it was.

    I also felt like they played into the good and evil, light versus dark throughout the show, only to have it end about an hour into the finale rather than in a massive showdown to the final minutes before the credits….I expected the battle to continue on.

    If the theory is really what most people say, then how and why did they get to the island in the first place? They just crashed there on a normal flight? They were brought there by Jacob to live out an alternative life until they died? Then they died, only to live “purgatory” in real life? A lot of these questions seem unanswered and generally stepped around.

    I also thought the reunions at the end were a bit overwrought. We saw this MASSIVE reunion between Shannon and Sayid (WHO CARES!?!?), but saw virtually NOTHING about the reunification of Penny and Desmond who played INTEGRAL roles in previous seasons (Not Penny’s Boat, the significance of her father, etc.)

    For what had been a mesmerizing story of the What-Ifs in life, I felt it disappointed and really didn’t live up to they “hype” that everyone anticipated it to have. Just my thoughts…

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  2. Samantha,
    Bethany told me you weren’t crazy about it. Here’s my thoughts from each of your paragraphs:

    1) I don’t agree that a “large portion” of the show was about purgatory. It was just the “sideways” stuff from this past season. It’s actually pretty clever.

    2) I sort of see your point about Good vs. Evil, but I think there’s something to be said about the inner struggle of the characters. Some of this wasn’t resolved until the end, like Ben’s redemption with Locke.

    And the battle did continue on. Hurley and Ben continued to protect the island. We just didn’t see it. I think it’s safe to assume that someone took their roles and continues to protect the island.

    3) They were brought to the island by Jacob because he knew he needed a replacement. That was all real life. Everything was real life except the sideways. The sideways, you could say, was “real death”. It was “real” but it was their experiences after they died and were in “purgatory” or whatever you want to call the holding area.

    4) I see your point, but I’m content with how they concluded. For starters, a reunion with all of the characters would have made this much too long (the end of Return of the King anyone?). And we got the reunion with the core characters of the 815 flight. Desmond, Penny and Widmore were not a part of the plane crash. I think it was just a decision of time (and possibly fan service). Either way, Desmond and Penny were in the church at the end.

    5) I’m very satisfied with the resolution of the show. The more I think about it, the more I appreciate how everything was tied up.

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  3. A response to your points and more questions:

    1. I know what you mean about it not being a large portion. I guess, I’m just more bothered by the fact that they made that an issue at all, especially after contending that that wasn’t what the show was about.

    2. I suppose the battle continued on, but who really were they protecting it from? Evil? I thought that died with the death of “Locke” and therefore, the light was able to be restored. The smoke monster was finally defeated.

    3. I know WHY they were brought to the island, but HOW did they get there? Was it REALLY a plane crash where these certain people “survived”?! I mean, how unrealistic is that? Especially when, with the finale, we are expected to believe that the island and the lives pre-crash were all part of real life. Furthermore, when the Oceanic 6 “return” to the regular timeline, I’m assuming this is also part of the “real world” and not the purgatory existence of a sideways timeline.

    4. I suppose. I guess I just thought they’d spent some of the show giving people all this airtime and significance, but never really gave them the “reunion” at the end. Consider Ben. He ALSO wasn’t on the flight, but gets a significant portion of resolution. Furthermore, Desmond WAS on the plane next to Jack at some point, I just don’t believe that it’s simply because they were a part of the original because we saw the show treat other characters differently. Does this make sense?

    What was the significance of Walt? They always talked about how special he and Aaron were. I don’t feel like they ever really addressed those issues.

    Why don’t we ever follow the Walt/Michael storyline with any greater presence?

    I was disappointed that everything ended “feelgood” if that makes sense. Again, I have been intrigued by the show for quite a few years, but still struggle with the ending itself. Perhaps I’ll re-watch.

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  4. Nice job Erik. Great way to sum it up!

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  5. Samantha,

    2) They were protecting it from people on the outside who want to come in a steal/rob/disturb/abuse/etc the power of the island. I think you’re containing the good vs. evil to Jacob and the man in black. It’s bigger than that. In many ways the two are the products of bad parenting. For all the daddy issues on the show, the writers gave us at least one bad mom. Jacob and Smokey’s mom is really a large part of the problem. She was protecting the island from “others” when she came across the boys and realized that one of them could be her successor. She thought it would be Smokey and instead it had to be Jacob.

    3) Um…there’s a smoke monster, Locke falls out of a building several stories up and lives (because Jacob touched him), Guy-liner (Alpert) lives forever, the Island disappears, people warp to different parts of the world…how realistic is that?

    There’s a bit of suspended belief for a show like this.

    And yes, I do think the Oceanic 6’s return was real. Even going back to the Island was real. Part of the “magic” of the Island.

    4) That makes sense. Though Desmond was on the plane in the Sideways, not the original flight. My point was just that for someone who watched the show from the beginning, it’s nice fan service to see some of the people from earlier on. I like the idea of the show “folding in on itself” (my words). The end of the story mirrors or reflects back to the beginning. I can’t remember though if Ben actually went into the church though…


    As far as Walt and Aaron, I’m not sure. (Although, the Walt/Micheal storyline was probably changed because he was growing to fast. Just a guess). Walt was probably important to Jacob because of his psychic abilities (how could he help Jacob overcome Smokey) and Aaron was probably important as a candidate to take Jacob’s place (though I can’t remember if his name was on the wall). With that said, these are probably areas of the narrative that went by the wayside a bit.

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