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Lost Finale Explanation: Lost Explained

I’ve seen a whole bunch of witty headlines since 11:31 p.m. last night for various media outlets’ Lost finale wrap-ups: “Found!” “The Constant is Over,” “It’s ‘The End’ for Lost.” But I’ll spare the insults to your intelligence (bonus: our headline is good for search engines!) and cut to the chase: Lost is over.

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The two-and-a-half hour series finale last night answered some big questions and put closure on the story of the Oceanic 815 passengers, but—and this shouldn’t surprise anyone who’s followed it in the slightest—not every question was answered. “Why were there polar bears on the beach?” Umm…Dharma Initiative…time travel…who knows?!


The big reveal: everyone is dead. All your favorite characters—Jack, Sawyer, Hurley—dead. The series finale pulls the curtain all the way back to explain season six’s sideways flashes—where the Oceanic flight lands at LAX and everyone goes about their merry way—is some sort of in-between, where people waiting to cross over to the afterlife hang out until they are “ready to let go.” (Remember the beginning of season six, when the flight hits turbulence and Rose says to Jack, “You can let go now.” Aha!) The other half of that coin is equally important, as it silences plenty of critics who thought they had the show figured out from day one: the island is not purgatory, and everything connected to it very much exists in the real world and actually happened. Dharma, the island’s bizarre electromagnetic properties,  Jacob and his black-is-the-new-black brother—all of that stuff was legit.

It seems like all the entertainment journalists of the world are offering their take on what went down, so here’s mine, expanded slightly: Lost is a show not about time travel and donkey wheels; it’s a show about relationships, about love and fate, about morality, religion, science and other hefty, large ideas. The island was real. Everything on it was real, and everything that happened on it had real-world consequences. These people on the island were brought there as a part of Jacob’s battle with his brother, but their time there came to define them. As Jacob explains when he’s offering his position to Jack, Kate, Sawyer and Hurley, they had nothing off the island. Their lives were unfulfilled; they were alone. The island gives them relationships and purpose.

Then, they die. Everyone. Not necessarily on the island—we see the Ajira plane with Lapidus, Richard, Miles, Sawyer and Kate take off while Jack is getting the last suntan of his existence—but at some point, they all do. As Jack’s dad explains when the big reveal in the church is spelled out, some people died when Jack died, and some died later. But the idea in many religions before we move on we have to come to peace with our lives is the linchpin for the show’s end. And throughout the sideways flashes, as Desmond goes along his merry way waking people up, they remember their lives. What do they remember? Everything that happened on the island, and the one person, or constant, who mattered most to them is the one to wake them up. For Hurley it’s Libby; for Sawyer and Juliette, it’s each other, for Jack, it’s Kate.

The reunion in the church I found to be immensely satisfying and moving. After spending six years with this bunch and caring about their outcomes and their paths, to see them all in one place not covered in palm trees and sand felt great. Who cares if they were all dead? Their lives on the island were their lives, and the smiles abound as the massive doors opened and light bled through put on one my face too.

There was a pretty good partial cast reunion—no Evangeline Lilly, sadly—on Jimmy Kimmel Live! following the finale, and Jimmy’s one-on-one with Matthew Fox was a good little discussion. Fox has gone on record since the end of season one as saying he’s known the ending of the show forever. Last night, he told Kimmel he knew the finale image would be Jack lying, dying, in the same bamboo patch he woke up in when the plane crashed, closing his eye. That came true, but I found it interesting to know that’s all he knew. He didn’t know he’d become the new Jacob for a quick second, didn’t know he was dead for half of season six, didn’t know there was a gigantic bathtub stopper made of stone sitting in the center of the island. Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse, the show’s creators and writers, allege they had this planned from the beginning, and the reveal Fox only knew the closing image makes the whole “they made it up as they went along” argument slightly more plausible (I still say they had the plan).

I’ll stroke my own ego here and say I saw the big purgatory-esque reveal coming. For some reason, seeing Juliette as a doctor and the mother of Jack’s son (also something I saw coming, but purely because I figured she had to show up at some point) sealed it for me. But Lost is all about discussion, so if you’ve got a take on it, think I’m right or a total idiot (you wouldn’t be the first), speak up in the comments!

UPDATE: The DVD release of the sixth season on August 24 will come with an extra 20 minutes tacked onto the finale that aims to answer more questions. Great for two reasons: more answers, and with the 45 minutes of commercials subtracted the bolstered finale will come in at just over two hours of solid answering. If only the Blu-ray box set wasn’t $200…

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