Where to begin? How to sum up the final episode of Lost
, the two-and-a-half hour "The End"
? I don't think I have the time to give my usual, weekly, blow-by-blow account. So I'll give a real-time impression, followed by some thoughts on its meaning. That should be more than long enough.
A short comment on the two-hour special before the finale--it was nice they gave Titus Welliver, aka the Man In Black, the narration chores. They often give the job to the "bad guy," as Michael Emerson has narrated several of theses. Poor Titus, his character so poorly treated and misunderstood, he deserves the gig.
Another thing--I recently cut my neck shaving.
Now on with the show.
Quite a finale. Like "Across The Sea," it's polarized the audience, but I suppose that was inevitable. With any show this huge, and all the diverse expectations, no ending could satisfy everyone. But unlike "Across The Sea," I think "The End" got a general thumbs up. There were some dramatic problems with where they went, but the show had such great emotional payoffs that I'll willing to give it a pass. Indeed, I think the finale got to me in ways that no other TV show ever has.
I've read some comments at websites, but not a lot. What you're about to hear are my direct thoughts after watching the show. They may be a bit confused, and I may refine them later--I may refine them considerably after hearing what others say (especially the producers).
I'm going to assume anyone who reads this has seen the finale, so I won't recount the entire plot. But here is what I thought as I watched it. (Watch along as you read if you like):
This isn't really the final episode, this is a continuation of a longer final episode starting with last week's "What They Died For."
A nice montage of characters on and off the Island--say what you want, Lost
has always been a good-looking show with top production values.
I'm usually wary of Lost
characters making fun of the odd names on the show, but when Kate mocks "Christian Shephard"--good one, Kate.
Kate and Des haven't done that much together on the show. It's always fun to see different combinations of characters.
Desmond wants "to leave." So he can't till a bunch of others come along?
Jack has drunk Jacob's water (Kool-Aid?), but doesn't seem to have any new knowledge. Does it come when it comes? Jacob seemed to have a lengthy learning curve. Maybe once you're in sync with the island you start to sense things, and can control your knowledge better as you go along. At least Jack knows enough right now about what Flocke wants.
Good Yoda crack, Hurley. (Lotta good lines. I'm not gonna note them all.)
Jack leaves a trail for Sawyer to catch up later. We've established Locke and Kate are good at tracking, but I guess they've all been on the Island so long anyone can do it.
Hurley's with Sayid, driving, like they did in LA before. Hurley is now as awake as Desmond. I might add the hotel where the bass player from Drive Shaft is holed up may bring back memories, but it's incredibly cheap considering the money the Widmore people have.
It's still odd to see a confident Hurley. He shoots Charlie--they always said he was a bit of a warrior. He says Sayid doesn't have to stick with him. Just like Jacob and the free will thing. But it seems like they're not all necessary--not all have to "leave." This isn't another Ajira flight.
They're walking across the island. How many miles has that fat-ass Hurley walked in this show?
Kate says nothing is irreversible. But I thought Dead is Dead.
Ben seems to be working with Flocke. He has before, but hasn't he learned since?
Sawyer smashes Ben once more for old time's sake.
Flocke finally explains his full plan to sink the island--nothing left for Ben to rule. Is this where Ben turns, or was he ready before? We'll never know, so I'll give him the benefit of the doubt. (I though Flocke could see into men's souls, but not always, I suppose.)
Dog tracks. Vincent is alive! And poor Bernard and Rose. Whisked along to the present during the Incident with the rest of the gang. That must have been unpleasant for them. We didn't need to see them, but ever since we discovered who Adam and Eve really were, that opened up the possibility. They don't know what time it is, but in this show, does anybody really know what time it is--does anybody really care? B & R represent the choice of making no choice, one offered by both Jacob and Flocke. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.
Des feels confident, I guess, but he goes along with Flocke and is far from sure it'll work, since he's blackmailed into it. He knows enough that they're going to a bright light, which bothers Flocke. Remember, MIB is still a man inside, with all the weaknesses and doubts.
Miles find Richard, still alive. The old rule--no body, no death--still applies. Which means Lapidus....
Richard still wants to blow up the plane. He's way behind, but so is Miles, I guess. Maybe he should go talk to Zoe and Widmore.
At the concert, Detective Miles sees Sayid, a stone cold killer. Takes it pretty well, seems to me. Doesn't run after him to arrest him, just makes a few calls then calls it a night.
The Sun/Jin scene, where they wake up. Beautiful. One of the best the show's ever done. I was disappointed in their death scene. I thought it was rushed--they died (soon after reuniting) simply because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time, not for a higher purpose. Juliet comes in, as we sort of knew she would. It's old home week at Lost
. The Kwons get the flashes and not only see everything, but can speak English. Juliet is impressed with their fluency--if she only knew.
This was the first scene of the night that probably had people welling up. It's also one of the rewards of a serial--the penty up joy or sadness you can achieve only through history.
I should add the producers must have been thrilled at all the money they saved using all those old clips.
Sawyer rejoins the gang. Jack doesn't know much, but he knows they're all going to the glowy cave, and that's where it ends.
Locke is scheduled for surgery. That was fast--the altaworld offers excellent heath care. Locke asks Jack if the surgery will work and Jack says yes. So I guess actions for malpractice are rare in altaworld or Jack would know enough not to promise anything. Jack says it's nice his dad's coffin is coming back, but fixing Locke will be enough for him. No it won't.
Miles sees Richard has a gray hair. If Richard thought eternal youth was a curse, wait till he starts aging.
They take the boat and run into a living, breathing Lapidus, stuck on the water. (Take my advice, Lapidus, and never travel on a vessel with Jin.) I'm not entirely clear on the timeline, but hasn't he been in holding on to that flotsam for quite a while? Would it be that hard to doggie paddle to shore?
He explains you can't blow up the plane because he's gonna fly it off the Island. I have to expect someone (the original Ajira people who weren't in Ilana's crew, maybe Widmore's people cleverly setting things up) must have helped fix the plane enough for it to fly. If it had been ready earlier, wouldn't they have flown it off the Island earlier? (How many days since the crash anyway?)
Flocke meets up with Jack and, oddly, they make common cause. Jack is starting to sound like Jacob, lipping off to MIB. Easy enough when you know he can't kill you. In fact, Jack says he'll
kill MIB. Wow. Even he doesn't know how, he just feels it.
Jack runs into his wife...Juliet. Yeah, we knew that. (His former wife is now on Modern Family
Jacob brought Des back (through Widmore) to defeat MIB, but MIB believes he'll defeat Jacob through Des. Which one is right? Sawyer calls it a long con, which would be a good name for Lost
They get to the bamboo and Jack, Des and Flocke will go alone from here. (Does the caretaker have to lead people to the glowy cave? MIB walked the Island as a man for thirty years and couldn't find it. But mom still blindfolded him as a kid when leading him there--just how is it hidden?)
The cave is a bit darker, but the light's still inside. All agree Des goes down and extinguish the light--only he can do it. Des believes there's another world they'll go to. Hard to believe he's wrong. Des is the only person who's capable of the difficult double-awakeness. Jack believes fate doesn't make it so easy. Maybe he's right too.
Considering Flocke and Jack want to kill each other, they work pretty well together.
Hurley brings Sayid to a dark street where they witness a fight. Hurley gives Sayid a pep talk--getting to sound more like Jacob every day. Sayid, who is a good guy down deep, has to intercede in the alteracation. He meets the gal who was involved--it's Shannon (fresh from Taken
). Nice to see her. They flash and recognize what this world is. Boone got pounded as part of the plan--he's awake, too, and still getting hurt because he listens to other people.
Miles walkies Linus--they're ready to take off. So it's a melodramatic plot--get me to the plane on time. Oh yeah, they also find Claire, who says she's too crazy to leave. Too crazy for Australia?
Flocke and Jack lower Des and we later get an obvious callback to the famous shot of Locke and Jack looking down the mysterious Hatch. Flocke even talks about those days, though Jack has nothing to say to a fake Locke. Locke was right, according to Jack, but not to the man who wears his body. We still don't know who's correct.
Des goes down into Lost
's last big, semi-mystical set.
At the concert, the ladies are looking good. Claire seems very pleased with herself, not sure why.
Charlie is awoken (he's sleeping, I mean) by Charlotte. Dan comes in and meets Charlotte, whom he loves. But no flashes. They're not ready yet. Will they ever be ready?
Claire meets Kate. Des seems surprised they know each other. Is he? Pierre Chang intros the act (Change has aged pretty well since the 70s). We hear a bit of Danny and Drive Shaft and all I can say it don't quit your day job.
Charlie sees Claire (ever notice they almost share the same letters). I'm surprised he doesn't rush to her, considering his description to Des several weeks back. Instead she rushes off to have her baby. Claire always has her baby at inconvenient times.
The other Des is in the glowy heart of the island. He sees old bones lying around. This is interesting. MIB couldn't find the place, but others did. I guess they secretly followed the caretaker, or got lucky. MIB's mom did say men would try to take the light, but wouldn't succeed. But Des is a different story--every since the hatch exploded, he's the one man who can take the Island's Excalibur, and that he does. The lights go out and the Island starts cracking up. What's the point of this plan again?
Des isn't happy. He thought he'd go elsewhere. So put it back.
Outside the cave, papier mache rocks are falling. Jack punches MIB and draws blood. Flocke forgot one thing--no glowy cave, no superpowers. He rallies enough to knock out Jack with a rock.
Claire has the baby backstage (too bad Juliet had to leave) while the crappy music continues. Eloise isn't happy with Des's machinations, but he doesn't care. They're gonna leave. But he won't take her son. Did he help prevent Dan and Charlotte flash, or were they just not ready?
Kate delivers the baby and if that won't cause flashes, nothing will. Charlie's backstage and also flashes with Claire. (In real life he actually dated Kate.) Maybe not everything's real in altaworld, but I'm guessing Aaron is.
With the island falling apart (I was hoping for a volcano, but nope), Ben is stuck under a tree. I thought he'd do something noble here, but he's just stuck.
Locke goes to the cliffs to get his boat. Haha, Smokey can't fly any more. Jack followed and we have the ultimate fight. After the commercial break.
Quite a colorful fight. Locke stabs Jack and it looks bad. If only Jack had donated a kidney. He also gets his neck wound.
Locke still believes he's right, by the way. And who knows? We sure don't. Dead-eye Kate saves the day with her last bullet. Ben, none the worse for the wear, led the gang to the boat. (I guess the island crumbling bounced the tree off him).
Let's pause for a second and say goodbye to poor, misunderstood MIB. He probably had a closer connection to the island than anyone, and all along just wanted to leave, but was prevented by his crazy mother, who knocked him unconcious, then had his body removed by his brother, who saw him as evil. He was forced to roam the island as smoke for a couple thousand years and after he finally finds his loophole, and almost makes it off, is shot and killed.
So MIB is vanquished and still an hour to go. How they gonna top that?
After Locke's surgery, Jack gets that neck wound again. And Locke is healing as fast as if he were on the Island. Seeing that toe move brings back memories, of course. Locke is waking up, but Jack, the man of science, looks like he'll be the last to let go.
On Jack's way out, Locke tells Jack he has no son. The truth hurts, but Jack figures it's the meds. Locke hopes Jack will wake up, too, but like all those still sleeping, Jack misinterprets him.
Flocke may be dead, but the island may still crater. Time to leave.
Detective Ford talks to the anglophone Kwons. They're highly amused to see how Sawyer ended up. They know they're safe, and say they'll see him "there." Where's "there"?
Miles saves the jet's hydraulics with duct tape. Is there anything duct tape can't do?
Jack has to go back to save Des and fix the dark Island. Hurley and Ben go with him, leaving behind James and Kate. Kate knows this is the final goodbye with Jack. They kiss--they were always meant for each other (even if she only slept with Sawyer). They say they love each other--that's not a good sign.
Kate and Sawyer have quite a jump off the cliff to the boat. But Kate's no Sundance Kid, and does it before you're even ready. Then in goes Sawyer. Pretty far removed from the carefree swimming in the lagoon of the first season.
In the hospital, Jack sends Ford to the vending machine. He goes for an Apollo bar. Why do they even bother stocking anything else? It's stuck, but Juliet saves him. Really saves him. They meet, touch and flash like no one's flashed before. Juliet saw this world when she was dying, and thought "it worked." I guess it did. Time to get coffee. Juliet cries because now she's stuck on V
Jack gets to the concert too late for the show. (Once more around on the park--on account of you I almost heard the opera.) He meets Kate, who's awake, and looking good enough to wake up any man. Jack's a hard case, but he sees enough that he'll go with her.
Back at The Cave Formerly Known As Glowy, Jack and the gang go in to rescue Desmond. But first, they realize Jack has to die--he's already halfway there. Which means Hurley will take over. Earlier, MIB, speaking for the audience, thought Jack's as caretaker was an obvious choice, an so it is. Let Hurley do it. All it takes is an Oceanic water bottle--Jack doesn't even need to speak any Latin.
Jack goes down and does the old switcheroo, putting the rope around Des. Then he replaces the stone to get the light going again.
Meanwhile, Sawyer and Kate do some might quick convincing that Claire's not too crazy to fly. The run to catch their flight--we all know that feeling.
They get on the plane and it taxis as the ground cracks beneath them, a la 2012
. Will there be in-flight service? The plane hits 88 mph and the flux capacitor kicks in.
Sawyer and Claire are finally getting off the island. This is old hat to Kate.
Jack does his duty and the light returns. Hurley and Ben pull up Jack and....wait a minute, that's Des. Damn you, Jack!
Everyone's arriving at the Church where we saw Christian's casket dropped off earlier. Locke wheels up, awake, and he meets an awake Ben. Boy do they have history. Ben is waiting outside, not ready to go in. He apologizes to John. Hey, all you did was murder him. John forgives him. Not bad. Ben will stick around a while, he says. It clear everyone else is going somewhere. John walks in the rest of the way.
With Jack dead, Hurley's in charge. Hugo's about to start his reign, and it's gonna be different from Jacob. Less mysterious rules, for one thing. And more Star Wars
, I'm guessing. Now people can come and go as they please. Besides, unless Bernie and Rose make a run for it, who's gonna threaten the glowy cave? Ben promises to help Hurley. This is Ben getting his wish. He gets to be "special," and gets to hang out directly with the new Jacob. We know it works out right away when Hurley peeks out of the church in altaworld and they compliment each other on how they ran (past tense) the Island.
Kate brings Jack to the church. Just in time for the funeral. Or whatever it is. Kate knows what's going on--sometimes it takes men longer to catch on.
On the Island, we see a still living Jack lying, hurt, up on ground level. What is this, has he become the smoke monster? No, he's still bleeding. Physician, heal thyself.
Jack enters the room where sits the casket. Last time he did this it took us a year to find out who was in it. Along the walls, we see numerous and diverse religious symbols. The stained glass windows have quite a few, including...is that a Donkey Wheel?
He touches the casket and flashes like crazy. He opens it and just like in the first season, it's empty. Huh? But there's his dad right behind him. Double huh? But isn't dad dead? Jack's a smart boy and soon figures out he's dead too. If that doesn't wake him up, nothing will.
Christian explains how it works. They're real. Everything that happened was real. Everyone in the church is real, if dead. They all died, if at different times--time in altaworld (aw the heck with it, I'm gonna start calling it purgatory) doesn't work the same way.
It's a place the Island people made so they could find each other. The Island experience was special, different, and they needed each other--still do. Time to let go. Time to Move On.
Jack follows Christian into the main room and there are a whole bunch of Island people--most of them series regulars--awake and at peace. The last call sheet. Sorry, no Michael. (And Bernard and Rose are there, but not Nikki and Paolo.) They've been waiting for Jack. He was their leader, but he's the last one here. Christian, who's been dead the longest--he's even dead in altaworld--is the first one to go out the door. To the next place.
In the first season, I never liked the big endings in slow motion, but they earned it here.
On the island, dying Jack stumbles back to the bamboo shoots where he first landed. He lies on the ground and Vincent joins him, like the old days. The last thing he sees is the Ajira flight, making it off the island. A close-up on his eye, as it closes for the last time. It's the obvious ending, but I didn't see it coming.
LOST (we see wreckage over the credits)
The flashes were powerful, but nothing compared to the final reunion. Part of the power was it took so long to get to this place, but part of it is that everyone's lost someone special, so this scene speaks to us.
Okay, the series overall had plenty of blind alleys and gaping holes. (They didn't even show us the other side of the outrigger chase. No doubt in one of the recent back-and-forths the Sawyer gang took one from Widmore's people. I still would have liked to see it.) As for unanswered questions, you could write a book. The most basic questions--what is the island, what happens if MIB leaves, where does the magic come from and many others--are unanswered. I wish they at least tried to answer them, rather than thrown up their hands. I bet most people would have hated the answers, but no one said writing is easy.
But they were never going for that (or did they realize they couldn't do it that way). I mean they answered a lot of things, but left us dangling so much elsewhere. They figured character comes first, and they were willing to sacrifice other considerations. That may not be the best way to go--I'll generally take answers over eschatology--but it still paid off so much it's hard to complain. And the story's still there, even if they were making a lot of it up as they went along.
But what about the story? After the show, I read a few comments on websites and was surprised to see people getting it wrong (I think). The most common mistake (perhaps helped by the final shot of the crash) was some interpreted the whole series as taking place after everyone died in the plane crash. This doesn't really make any sense for a bunch of reasons. First, of course, if they'd listened to Christian, he said it straight out--what happened was real. Ben and Hurley congratulated each other for running the Island well. For that matter, there were people in the church who weren't even on the flight. If they all died in crash, then why were they close to each other and needed to have a special place?
Another theory I heard is it all happened in Jack's mind. Really? Then why did 90% of his memories center on other characters, often leaving Jack out of the picture entirely. No, he dies, for real. But not until after doing everything he was fated to do--he finally found his destiny, even if he fought it all the way.
So the altaworld is a sort of purgatory. But what is this purgatory? (I'm not going to explain what happened on the Island since I thought that was pretty clear.)
Well, I don't think it's a conventional purgatory, where everyone can work off their sins. For one thing, it's just for the people who met on (or near) the island. It's ironic we end with a purgatory, since that was the most common explanation for the Island in the first season. In fact, while I'm pretty sure the Island being a special place and a battleground was settled right away, I wouldn't be surprised if altaworld/purgatory was a last-season invention. But does that mean the purgatory adds nothing to the overall story, or worse, renders it meaningless? I hope to explain that, the way I see it, it doesn't. If anything, it's the opposite. Perhaps my interpretation is influenced by the desire to make the whole show dramatically viable, but I think it fits the facts.
So, Q and A about the purgatory.
Is it immaterial? We can't be sure, but I choose to believe it isn't. Didn't Christian say it's real. It's not the world of the island, but it's a real place. It may not follow all the rules of the world we're used to, it may not even exist in time as we understand it, but they really are there, physically.
Can you die in this purgatory? Charlie came close, but no, you can't. Or can you? (How's that for an answer.) Christian may be a special case, but we'll get to that. Anyway, I think all you can do is be awakened to your situation (which is why the fully awakened Des was so reckless with Locke--he can't kill him). It's got all these people who have died in it (including Hurley, so it could be thousands of years in our future) except it exists out of time. Perhaps it can reset, if that concept is meaningful there.
Was Des needed to wake them up? Wouldn't they have figured it out anyway, so what's the big deal? Yes, they needed some outside agent to make the move. They needed some force to break through, and Des, living in two realities at once, was the one who could do it. Otherwise, they don't go forward (or would at least take an awfully long time). Charlie had a vision, near death, but that didn't fully awake him. Only Des was the one who could see what it was, and had the power to wake everyone. Otherwise, nothing might happen. Or, once again, maybe even a reset. Des was also needed to summon Christian, who's dead here. Des gets it, and Jack can't get the body back and have his funeral until someone knows enough to bring in Christian.
We can see some are still not awake. The freighter folk aren't yet. (Neither is Ana Lucia. She's lucky no one shot her.) Eloise seems to know what's going on (she always knows in any timeline), but she's not ready, and they're not ready. She wants to keep them there. She spent her life on the other reality rushing Daniel through his life so she could shoot him, and wants to spend more time with him now. They've still got stuff to work out (as do Dogen, and Ana Lucia, and even the awakened Ben). But eventually they'll be ready. Perhaps Eloise will be their agent.
What created the purgatory? They did it, for their own purposes, as Christian explains. But how did they do it in particular. At first I thought it wasn't related to the Incident, but the more I think about it, that was probably the moment of its creation. Reality did split in two, creating a special place for those who knew each other and were infused with the spirit of the Island (but not stuck behind, like Michael). Jack's choices did make a difference. We see in "LA X" that the island is underwater. Why would that have anything to do with this purgatory unless it was caused by adding a hydrogen bomb to the Incident. That was one split after Juliet caused the explosion. But the other was a time paradox fixing itself, because if it prevented them from crashing on the Island, then they could never have come back to effect the Incident--so the split in the other direction propelled them back to the present on the island, where they were supposed to be.
So this purgatory is to deal with them, and their needs. They may not be any other such purgatory that exists for anyone else.
What if they had not taken action, and there'd been no neo-Incident. There'd be no purgatory, and who knows, maybe they'd still be lost souls, looking for an answer. Maybe they'd never get a chance to fix themselves. Furthermore, they would have failed in their mission and the world would have been (maybe) ruled by evil.
Who is in this purgatory? There are the real people who can be awoken, and the others--let's call them shades. Maybe they have lives, and die, but it's more likely they'll cease to exist when the special people this world was created for move on. (How do they react when only a few leave?) Who are these "real" people? Only people who have been on the Island. (Though some islanders, like Keamy, may just be shades). They shared a special time, and were infused by the special life force of the island, which allowed them to live in this purgatory.
Some fans are complaining that Sayid ends up with Shannon, who was a relative fling, compared to his true love, Nadia. This is probably the toughest case to make, but 1) Nadia isn't a real person in this purgatory, she's a shade. The job of this place is for Sayid to "let go," to recognize, as he did, that he never really had her, and perhaps didn't deserve her. 2) In his real life, he spent most of his time chasing after Nadia. He finally found her after he got off the Island, and they had a happy nine months before she was killed (thanks, Jacob), but it's not like they were together always. 3) The point of this purgatory, and of the show, is the days on the Island were a special time, and the people there and the relationships they forged were special, (sort of a metaphor for the show Lost
--which makes you hope there's no sequel, or it won't be so special) so Shannon and Sayid it is. Retrofitting? Perhaps, but it stil works out. (And it's not like they're gonna necessarily move forward as a couple--we're not sure what happens next, just that they needed to meet in this purgatory to deal with things.) Look at Jack--he worked through his problem, which is the point of this place, and learned what it would have been like to have a son. But, as Locke notes, he really has no son. Once he moves on, the son is gone. All the people on the island were broken, and this is a second chance--both to work out their problems, and, as Faraday promised, to show them their lives without the negative influence of the Island (in some ways undoing what Jacob did to them). Look at Locke. He finally got Helen back, even married her. But he has to let that go. She wasn't on the Island (unlike Libby and Hurley, who hardly had a relationship), so it's not about her.
So there were dramatic problems, with the finale, and with the show. I may write about them at a later day, but for now, who cares? Lost
was still a show that went places no other ever did, and offered things no other offered.