This column brings us to the end of Ian Rogers’ Lost columns, which he began writing for Biff Bam Pop in the winter of 2009. Having Ian write for this site has been a huge pleasure. Not only were his columns excessively smart and insightful, but over the course of our working together he’s gone from stranger to valued friend. While Ian will continue contributing to Biff Bam Pop, I do want to formally thank him for the stellar work he’s done covering one of fandom’s favourite show. Many thanks, dude. And with that…a final trip to the island.
The season finale of every TV show is controversial, and the “Lost” finale, simply titled “The End,” was no different. Some people liked it, some people loathed it. Some people felt it was a fitting end to the series, others have said they had wasted six years of their lives. So what did I think?
I liked it. I liked it quite a bit. Were all my questions answered? No, but then I didn’t expect them to be. Were all the dangling plot threads resolved? No, but the major ones were, and most of the ones that weren’t didn’t need to be. Ultimately I found “The End” to be a very satisfying conclusion to the show’s six-year run.
Since the beginning, the popularity of “Lost” has been based on two things — the characters and the mysteries. The mysteries have had a tendency of overshadowing the characters — especially in later seasons — to the point where I think some fans would have been happy with a finale featuring nothing but a talking head spouting answers rather than an actual episode of the show. I know that some viewers wanted deeper explanations, but personally I’m glad the writers didn’t go into what they call “midi-chlorian” territory (a Star Wars-geeky way of saying “you explained too much!”).
Looking at Season 6 as a whole, I think there’s a reason why the writers spent the last few episodes answering all of the major questions — what is the island? what is the Smoke Monster? what are the Numbers? who are Adam and Eve? what are the whispers? They did it so that they could use the final episode to focus on the thing that truly matters: the people. The mysteries are great, don’t get me wrong. I love them, and I’ve spent plenty of hours discussing them with my wife and my friends, especially during the interminable period between seasons (thank god I won’t have to go through that again), but for me the show has always been about the characters.
“The End” picks up immediately where the last episode left off. After taking on the mantle of protector of the island, Jack tells Sawyer, Kate, and Hurley that they have to go to the heart of the island and protect it from the Smoke Monster. Smokey/Locke is on his way there, after discovering that someone has freed Desmond from the well. Dog prints on the ground leads him to Rose and Bernard (and Vincent!) who, it turns out, flashed back into the present along with everyone else when the Jughead bomb was detonated in “The Incident.” They broke their one rule — “We don’t get involved” — when they saved Desmond, and it almost ends up getting them killed. Desmond says he’ll go with Locke as long as he leaves Rose and Bernard alone. He agrees, and now everyone is off to the Source.
In the sideways world, Desmond picks up a familiar casket and delivers it to a familiar church. Kate demands to know why she’s here. “No one can tell you why you’re here,” Desmond tells her. Kate asks Desmond what he wants. Desmond says, “I want to leave.”
Back on the island, Richard Alpert is still alive — and aging. He and Miles travel to Hydra Island with the C4 so they can blow up the plane. On the way they find Lapidus, also not dead, who reminds them he’s a pilot and that they don’t need to blow up the plane if they take it before the Smoke Monster shows up. The clock is ticking.
Back in the sideways world, Sun and Jin are the next to get their memories back — courtesy of an ultrasound given by… wait for it… Juliet!
Jack performs surgery on Locke — with startlingly fast results. Locke has feeling in his legs, and manages to wiggle his toes, prompting him to remember the moment when he got his legs back on the island. The rest of his memories follow.
On the island, Jack and Co. face off against Locke. Kate opens fire on him, but it has no effect. “You might want to save your bullets,” Locke tells her. Jack says he can’t stop Locke from going to the heart of the island. In fact, he’s going with him. When they get there, Jack says he’s going to kill him. Locke asks how he’s going to do that. Jack says, “It’s a surprise.”
They travel to the cave seen in “Across the Sea.” Jack and Locke lower Desmond to the bottom. Locke remarks on the similarity between this and the time they opened the hatch. Jack gets off what may be the best comeback in the episode when he tells Smokey, “You’re not John Locke. You disrespect his memory by wearing his face, but you’re nothing like him.” Put that in your pipe and smoke it… Smokey.
As for Desmond, he’s been acting coolly confident ever since Widmore’s electromagnetic experiment on Hydra Island. It turns out he caught a glimpse of the sideways world and now believes that nothing in this world matters, that if he pulls the plug on the Source, he and the others will be taken to a better place. This turns out to be a mistake, but in typical “Lost” fashion, it’s a mistake that was meant to happen. Pulling the cork causes the island to sink, but it also makes the Smoke Monster mortal.
Jack follows Smokey to the cliffs where they face off for the final time. Jack is stabbed in the stomach and the neck (hence the wound in the sideways world) when Kate shows up. There’s no love lost (lost, get it? ha-ha) between me and Kate, but I have to admit she impressed me in the finale. Shooting Smokey, for one (“I saved you a bullet”), and the fact that her memories in the sideways world come back not as a result of her remembering Jack or Sawyer, but rather helping Claire give birth to Aaron.
At the concert, Daniel performs with Driveshaft, Claire sees Charlie, and this causes her to go into labour. It’s a trifecta of returned memories as Kate delivers Aaron, Claire holds Aaron, and Charlie gazes down upon them both. Eloise talks with Desmond about what he has been doing. She asks if he is going to take her son. “Not with me, no,” Desmond says.
On the island, Jack, Hurley, and Ben race to reactivate the Source before the island sinks, while Kate and Sawyer run to catch the plane. Jack realizes his destiny is to fix one more thing — namely, the island — and passes on the job of protector to Hurley. Hurley doesn’t want it, but agrees to hold the position until Jack comes back.
At the bottom of the cave, Jack replaces the plug, but he doesn’t have Desmond’s tolerance for electromagnetism. Hurley and Ben pull Desmond to safety, while Jack is spit out of the Source in much the same fashion as the Man in Black in “Across the Sea.” Except he isn’t turned into a pillar of black smoke and he isn’t dead. Not yet.
Hurley realizes Jack isn’t coming back and feels the pressure of being the new protector of the island. He doesn’t know what to do. Ben tells him to do what he does best: take care of people. He says they can start with getting Desmond home. Hurley is still doubtful, considering that people can’t leave the island. “That’s how Jacob ran things,” Ben says. “Maybe there’s another way. A better way.” Hurley asks Ben to help him. Ben, surprised, says he would be honoured.
In the sideways world, Sawyer arrives at the hospital in time to see Sun and Jin leaving (“Hello, detective,” Jin says, amused). In search of food, he bumps into Juliet at a vending machine, and suddenly their conversation in “LA X — Part 1,” in the moments before Juliet’s death, makes sense. As their memories come flooding back, Juliet asks Sawyer for a kiss, and he obliges her in what is probably the best of the flash-sideways reunions.
Ben sits outside the church. He apologizes to Locke for killing him. “You were special, and I wasn’t.” Locke forgives him, but he’s still not ready to move on with the others. He has some stuff to work out, and he probably wants to spend a bit more time with Alex (in much the same way Eloise wants to spend time with Daniel). Hurley tells him he was a real good Number Two. Ben responds that Hurley was a great Number One. How long did they work together to protect the island? Hundreds of years? Thousands?
Jack arrives at the concert after everyone is gone. Everyone except for Kate. She tries to help Jack remember, but he continues to resist his memories. They drive to the church where Desmond had Christian Shephard’s body delivered. Kate tells Jack to go in around the back.
Jack enters a chapel and finds his father’s coffin. It’s empty… again. Christian is standing behind him. Jack asks him how he can be here, to which Christian responds, “How are you here?” It turns out the flash-sideways we’ve been seeing all season are glimpses into a world that the Losties made together. A spiritual way-station where the Losties exist in a kind of limbo state until Desmond, one part angel, one part spirit guide, starts waking them up and preparing them to move on. Jack realizes he is dead, and his father comforts him. “Everyone dies some time, kiddo. Some before you, some long after you.” When they died doesn’t matter because, as Christian says, “There is no now, here,” meaning that time is irrelevant in this place.
It seems some viewers are under the impression that when Christian told Jack that he died, he was saying that Jack died on the plane, Oceanic Flight 815, along with everyone else. That would have made for a crappy ending, indeed, but that’s not what happened. If you listen to Christian in the scene, he’s quite clear that the people on the plane, and the things that happened to them on the island, were real. The Losties weren’t ghosts or figments of Jack’s imagination, the island wasn’t hell or purgatory. They all died, yes, but some of them before Jack (Boone, Sayid), some of them long after (Hurley, Ben).
Even as far as deaths go, Jack’s wasn’t too bad. As he stumbles back to the same spot where he woke up in the opening scene of the pilot, he discovers that even though he has lived together, he doesn’t have to die alone. In the sideways world, he enters the nave of the church and reunites with his friends. Christian throws open the doors and the church is filled with a beautiful white light. In the real world, Vincent lies down next to Jack as the Ajira flight cruises by overhead. He smiles, at peace, and we get a close-up of his closing eye. The perfect coda to a truly moving and memorable finale.
I have one final theory to put forth. It has to do with the mechanics of the sideways world itself. Taking a cue from what Ben told Hurley, about using his powers to help people, I believe Hurley is the one who actually created the sideways world. Maybe with the help of Eloise Hawking, who seems to be the only other person in that world who is “aware” from the git-go. I think the Losties may have made the place together, as Christian Shephard said, but I think the force powering the place is Hugo “Hurley” Reyes.
So that’s it, folks. The show is over, the island has been saved, the Losties have moved on, and so must we. I will miss the suspense, the mystery, the literary references, Sawyer’s nicknames, the whole damn thing. It had to come to an end, and I feel this was a good one. It wasn’t going to please everyone, but then no ending could. Overall it was a very strong show, entertaining and thought-provoking. There have been some missteps along the way (*cough* *cough* Nikki and Paulo), but I don’t think any journey is made without a few stumbles. Regardless of whatever side you come down on in terms of the finale, I like to think that if the show kept you watching after six seasons, then it must have been something special. It was for me.
I want to thank Andy Burns for inviting me to write about “Lost” on his excellent website, and I want to thank all of you for stopping by to read these articles. Thanks also to those of you who watched the finale with me during the live blogging. It was a great way to celebrate the end of a truly wonderful show.