Considering that I have been quite vocal in my love of the series LOST for the past few years I figure some might be curious about my thoughts regarding the much discussed series finale this past Sunday. In short: I loved it.
In long: It was the most satisfying conclusion to LOST possible and I could not have imagined a more beautiful, fulfilling, and emotional ending. The episode hit the right notes and mixed the right amount of intrigue, action, suspense, and drama to keep me on the edge of my seat. From here on I will start mentioning SPOILERS regarding the episode, so if you haven’t seen it or are debating about watching the series and don’t want the ending revealed, leave now.
Now before I start allow me to say that the reason I loved LOST was the characters. Of course I loved the Smoke Monster, the strange healing properties, and all the other mysteries of the island, but as much as I loved the mythos they never compared our wonderfully flawed cast. The island itself helped augment and bring out the best in the cast, and never was there an episode that simply focused on just a piece of intrigue on the island. Rather each and every episode focused on a character’s relation to said intrigue, and for people who understood and appreciated this, the ending of LOST should have satisfied you at least on an emotional scale. People expecting to find out “what’s the island” or “why is there a massive amount of electro-magnetism in the island” will be understandable be disappointed.
So in a quick recap we return from last week where Jacob has recently passed on the position of Island Protector to Jack whose group quickly confronts Flocke, Ben, and Desmond (who was rescued by Rose & Bernard of all people!). With only ten minutes of the show passed it seemed strange to have the final confrontation now, but instead Jack says he’s going to help Flocke destroy the island—or at least he’s going to help Flocke carry out what he believes will destroy the island. So Flocke, Jack, and Desmond head to the heart of the island while Miles finds Richard and they restart their plan to destroy the Ajira plane to trap the Smoke Monster. A touching moment (the first of many) occurs when Miles points out that Richard has his first grey hair. It’s a small tender moment that gives Richard the drive to continue living. Either way, the two set sail but manage to run into Frank of all people, and he tells them instead of destroying the plane, they should fly it off the island.
A message gets to Ben (double crossed Flocke surprise), Hurley, Kate, and Sawyer to get on the plane. They head off, but a train pins Ben to the ground. As they try to free him, Flocke and Jack lower Desmond into the cavern at the heart of the island. The cinematography resembled the same scene from Season 2 regarding The Hatch, and Flocke comments how they only needed a button to push for the scene to be the same, and finally we get the moment we’ve really wanted for a while. Jack tells Flocke flat out that he isn’t John Locke, and that wearing his face is dishonoring his memory. The saddest part about Locke was that he never got a happy ending. He died, miserable and alone, and he never was “special” in the way he believed, but after his death he truly changed Jack, and seeing Jack really stick up for him was incredibly touching, and perhaps the highlight of the episode.
Anyway Desmond arrived at the heart of the island and removes this… cork thing… I don’t know, just go with it. It drains the island’s light and sudden the island begins to collapse. Flocke prepares to leave but Jack punches him beforehand. To Flocke’s surprise, he’s bleeding, and he realizes that when the light disappeared so did his special powers. In short: he was now mortal, though in same respect, now Jack is too. Jack and Flocke have a final epic confrontation in the rain by the cliffs where Desmond’s boat is. This is an intense battle, and Flocke has the upperhand once he stabs Jack, but Kate arrives to shoot Flocke in the back and letting Jack hurl him off the cliff. Flocke, the Smoke Monster, is dead. With the island now crumbling, decisions have to be made. Jack says he’ll return to get Desmond who is still trapped in the cave. Ben will come with him, as will Hurley. Kate and Sawyer go to grab Claire and get on the plane, and thus, for the last time, Jack says good-bye to Kate and Sawyer, and we get another fantastic scene, and more importantly, closure.
So Kate and Sawyer find Claire and head to the plane but Frank has to get the plane in the air soon if they want a chance to escape. Jack leads Hurley and Ben to the cave and says that he’s going in, but that, when he does, he knows he can’t be the Protector anymore. His last decision as guardian is to hand the job off to someone else, and that someone is Hurley. Yes, Hurley the overweight, bad luck ridden, Star Wars quoting dude is given the title of Island Protector, and it is awesome. It’s absolutely tragic to see Hurley have to say good-bye to Jack because at this point we all know Jack is done for, yet at the same time it’s beautiful. Anyway, Jack heads into the cavern and finds Desmond. Jack helps pull Desmond back to the rope, explaining that he has to do it. Afterall, Desmond has Penny and Charlie waiting at home. His final line of dialog is to tell Desmond that he’ll “See him in another life, brother”. You can start crying here now people. So Jack manages to put the plug back into the island, and the light returns. Hurley and Ben start pulling up who they think is Jack, but it turns out to be Desmond. The light returns, but the shaking is still occurring and it seems the Ajira flight might not make it. However Sawyer and the team make it just in time and the flight takes off just before the ground around them crumbles. A few moments later the island stops shaking, and it appears everything is over. We’re taken to a scene with Hurley and Ben discussing the situation. Hurley realizes that now he’s the Protector of the Island, and doubts that he can do it. Ben reassures him that if anyone can do it, Hurley can, and Hurley asks if Ben could be his #2. Again, it’s a very touching moment and puts the final chapter on Ben’s story. We’re left to the idea that Hurley and Ben become the new protector’s of the island, but unlike Jacob or other guardians of the past, Hurley won’t force people to stay and be judged. The island is still a test, but we’re left with the optimistic feeling that Hurley will do things different.
Our final scene is on Jack, now outside in a stream. He wakes up, and staggers into the bamboo forest where he started the series, He lays down and notices Vincent the dog coming by. Vincent lays down next to Jack and Jack watches as the Ajira flight passes by safely over head. Our final shot is on Jack’s eye slowly closing followed by the silent ending. So in the end the Smoke Monster dies, Hurley becomes the new Jacob with Ben as his second in command, Sawyer, Kate, Miles, Claire, Richard, and Lapidus escape the island, Rose & Bernard live out their days in peace, Desmond will return safely home to his wife & child, and Jack dies having finally found his peace. End of the show right? Well that was just half of the episode. The other half was dedicated to this “Flash Sideways” world where Oceanic 815 never crashed.
In this sideways it seemed imperative that everyone “wake up” and remember their time on the island, and these scenes were the ones that sold me on the episode. This episode allowed us closure on all the characters that had died. Seeing Sun & Jin wake up at the sight of their daughter was a great start. Having Hurley see Charlie was nice, and Shannon meeting Sayid was a very pleasant surprise (I think a lot of people forgot they were an item in the first two seasons). After this though, the water works start fucking pouring. Juliet meeting Sawyer might be the most impressive because again I’m stunned how well these two work in a relationship with each other. They have such great chemistry and it was a great scene to help recall the first episode of the season. “We can go Dutch…”
After that it’s Locke noticing his foot having feeling. The smile he gave Jack after “waking up” broke my heart. I loved Locke as a character, and behind Hurley, he was my favorite. It hurt so much to know that he died a depressing loser, all alone. I’ll get to the ramifications of this “Flash Sideways” world later, but seeing Locke so happy was fantastic. I can’t stress enough how much I enjoyed it, and in particular his line to Jack “I hope someone does for you, what you did for me.” A great parallel to our Original Timeline. Also, this scene benefitted greatly from a very optimistic remix of “Locke’d Out Again”. Michael Giacchino is our John Williams everybody.
Finally we get the moment I’ve been waiting for since the end of Season 3. In one of our last moments Claire wakes up when she holds Aaron, and she asks Charlie to hold him. This causes Charlie to wake up, and for the first time since Season 3 Charlie, Claire, and Aaron are together again. It was near impossible to hold back the tears at this point. Charlie finally gets the chance to see Claire again, and as emotional as Locke, Sun & Jin, and the others were, Charlie & Claire was just more emotional for me.
Eventually all of the ones who have “woken up” arrive at a Church. The second to last to arrive is Locke who rolls up in a wheel chair to see Ben sitting outside. Ben reminds Locke that he probably doesn’t need the chair, and Locke smiles before standing up. Ben apologizes to Locke for what he did, and Locke calmly forgives him before entering the church. Hurley pops out to see Ben and ask if he’s coming in, but Ben refuses. Before going back inside Hurley tells Ben that he made an awesome #2, and Ben replies that Hurley was an amazing #1, referencing their roles as Protectors of the Island. Jack arrives with Kate and finds his father’s coffin, but to his surprise, it’s empty. Instead Christian appears behind Jack, and the two Shephards come face to face.
Jack demands to know what Christian is doing here, and Christian demands to know the same. Jack talks about the island and the plane, but then comes to the realization that he’s dead. He asks if everyone else is dead and Christian replies “everyone dies sometime kiddo”. He asks where are they now, and Christian replies “there is no now”, and leads his son into the Church where the other Oceanic passengers are. Charlie, Claire, Sawyer, Locke, Hurley, Sayid, Sun, Jin, Desmond, Penny, Shannon, Boone, Rose, Bernard… Everybody (except Mr. Eko, Michael, Walt & Ben) They all hug, reunite, sit down, and then let Christian open the doors, presumably to Heaven.
So, essentially the Flash Sideways, by my interpretation, was a form of Purgatory, but less like a spiritual place of judgment, and more like a space in between the afterlife for these people to give conclusions to the other people who mattered most in their life. No, the island wasn’t Purgatory or anything of the sort. Let me repeat, the people on the island weren’t dead or anything of the sort. The Flash Sideways wasn’t alternate reality, but basically a spiritual plane that happened likely very long after the series ended (consider Hurley and Ben were likely blessed with immortality). This was important for two big reasons.
First was it gave us a chance to get our conclusions. It gave us a chance to see Claire & Charlie together. It gave a chance for Sun & Jin to see their baby, Sawyer & Juliet to reunite, and Locke to walk once again. It put a nice end to storylines like Sayid’s struggle with his own morality, Ben & Locke’s series long feud, and Ben & Hurley’s relationship. I put a nice end to all of these simply amazing storylines, and as a fan of the series seeing these filled me with a lot of emotions. Yeah, I know, gay. Blah blah blah.
Secondly, this wasn’t an alternate time line. One thing I feared was that this alternate timeline would somewhat cheapen that decisions made in the straight timeline. For example, Charlie dying doesn’t mean as much if in the alternate timeline he’s happy with Claire. No, instead every decision made by the Survivors had a real impact. There is no second live or extra chances. Charlie drowned in the Looking Glass. Sayid blew up in the submarine. Juliet died from The Incident. These all happened, and didn’t change, and yet we still get to see the “happy ending” to these storylines in the Flash Sideways. I loved it all. As a fan, I couldn’t have asked for anything more considering what they could do.
All in all the finale told us two things. The first is that humanity can be weak, but that if we try to tackle our problems with others, we can negate our flaws. Community VS Isolation if you will. The second is that we all have to learn when to let go. I suppose that last one may indirectly be about the audience. This is it. LOST is over, and we’re all going to need to move on. For some the ending was a slap in the face, and they felt betrayed. And for others, life myself, I got confirmation that the last four years of my life weren’t for nothing. I was immensely satisfied by the episode which can best be described as an emotional rollercoaster. As much as I’d like to say I didn’t cry, I will admit I got a tad teary eyed when Jack laid down in the bamboo forest and Vincent laid down beside him. Yeah I know, real men can’t cry… Well don’t tell me what I can’t do.