LOST Season Six: The End

I’ll just work up a “brief” recap of the episode tonight (and by “brief”, I mean 1500 words); I’ll probably create a more comprehensive “what it all means” post in another day or so. Actually, it’ll probably be a multi-part series! Too much to write about! Anyway, here goes my recap:

I loved the way the episode began; it was actually a companion piece to the episode’s concluding shot. We began with scenes of Jack, Ben, Locke, Sawyer, Kate in the two different realities (set beautifully to Giacchino’s score) while Christian’s “body” was being transported to the church. Outside the church, Desmond tells Kate, “No one can tell you why you’re here,” a line that brims with resonance in light of the conclusion.

Desmond is right; no one can tell you why you’re “here” when you’re in the Sideways. But it seems that the show goes out of its way in the finale to say that you can’t really be “here” all by yourself. It’s only in the context of community that we find our truest, most complete selves. “Live together, die alone.” Right? More to say about that in my “what it all means” post later in the week.

Meanwhile, the Island narrative begins with Jack standing mid-stream in the “river of life”. Its fitting, since this episode finally depicts our protagonist as a destiny-soaked hero for a change. Jack has really taken a beating by some fans over the years, but I’ve always been partial to the doc. I thought Fox played the hero well in this episode, especially in his confrontations with Locke. His “I’m going to kill you” speech will go down as one of my favorite moments in LOST history.

The Sideways scene between Jin, Sun, and Juliet was the first real tearjerker of the night. We all cried foul a few weeks ago when our Korean couple died aboard the sub, especially given that Ji Yeon would have to grow up as an orphan. But, as we learned, the Sideways story plays as a “happily ever after” for our castaways. For the Kwons, this means reunion as a fully pregnant couple awaiting the birth of their young daughter with the help of Dr. Juliet.

The series of reunions that followed were equally emotional with each one building in intensity. Personally, I found the reunions to be some of the most emotionally satisfying moments of the entire series. The flashbacks to the past, Giacchino’s score, the actors’ measured recognition of these “aha!” moments…the whole thing just worked for me. (Well, except for maybe the Sayid / Shannon thing. Actually, their whole relationship always creeped me out a little.) Taking the cake were Juliet and Sawyer, whose interaction demonstrated the great chemistry these two always had. (I loved it when she told Sawyer, “Maybe you should read the machine it’s rights.”) Jack almost had his moment of recognition with Locke and then later with Kate, but we knew better than to fall for that. This doc’s Daddy issues could only be resolved one way; through opening up his dead father’s coffin at the very end (fittingly). More on that in a later post.

Back on the Island, I loved the symmetry with Jack and Hurley and their “I believe in you” moments. Remember, it was Hurley’s speech in Season 4 that undermined Jack’s leadership and convinced a good number of the castaways to stay with Locke’s camp in New Otherton. As Jack marched headlong to meet his destiny, Hurley stepped forward and professed his belief in Jack as the new Jacob. Little did he know that Jack would reciprocate in like manner. Symmetry like this really made this episode work for me.

Desmond and Jack’s conversation outside the cave was especially important. Desmond tried to convince Jack that thwarting MIB’s plan to blow up the Island didn’t really matter; Desmond had inside information that there was something more to come, “a place where we can be with the ones that we love”. But Jack would have none of it. “All of this matters,” he said authoritatively. And both of them are right. I think this is the producers nodding to those who would criticize their message as a “pie in the sky”, blissful theology. Christians have often been criticized for being “so heavenly minded that they’re of no earthly good.” Jack and Desmond seem to be saying that it’s possible to subscribe to a robust eschatology while affirming the sanctity and value of life in the present. In fact, doesn’t eschatology properly infuse the present with even more meaning than otherwise? This is one of the great legacies of LOST.

My favorite Island scene, though, was the conversation Locke and Jack engaged in while lowering Desmond down the falls into the light. MIB channels Locke’s memories, reminiscing about Jack and Locke’s “man of science / man of faith” arguments in the Hatch. Jack fires back: “You’re not John Locke. You disrespect his memory by wearing his face, but you’re nothing like him. Turns out he was right about most everything. I just wish I could’ve told him that while he was still alive.” A final showdown in the Locke / Jack Squareoff Hall of Fame. I love how the scene ended with the camera looking upward at these two as it descended down the falls, a clear allusion to the Season 1 finale where Jack and Locke found themselves staring down the Hatch.

Desmond’s purpose on the Island was revealed: it seems that his electromagnetic exposure through turning the failsafe key uniquely qualified him to “release the cork” and continue to live. But this spelled doom for the Island and its inhabitants, prompting Locke to claim victory over Jack. However, Desmond’s actions also changed “the rules” for Smokey, as we learned that he was susceptible to injury, a new wrinkle in his constitution that opened the door for his demise.

But the releasing of the cork wreaked havoc on the Island. We see an act of heroism on Ben’s behalf; he pushes Hurley out of the way as a gigantic tree falls. The tree pins Ben and the castaways have to pry him free. But this impulsive act of humanitarianism and free will is not lost on Hurley. His first act as Island Protector is to appoint Ben as his #2, a cabinet position that Linus gladly accepts. Finally, it seems, there is peace on the Island for Benjamin Linus.

But this peace pales in comparison to the peace our castaways experience together in the closing shots at the church. Kate’s comment to Jack on the Island — “Tell me I’m going to see you again.” — they tap into our most natural human inclination when we’re faced with saying goodbye. We want to know that this is possible; we want to know that our love that we feel so strongly and tangibly in the present will somehow live on into something greater than our present reality. And that’s another enduring legacy of this show; because if the finale affirms anything, it affirms the hope that all of this is heading somewhere. What matters along the way is the people we choose to share the journey with. Live together, indeed.

Quick hits:

  • There was something fitting about the way Smokey met his demise. In keeping with the theme of the show, it took a combined effort from both Kate and Jack to kill MIB. Yet again, we see that these characters were meant to live in community with one another.
  • Based on his comments to Locke (acknowledging the presence of the Island’s bright light) and Jack (having an understanding of how good the Sideways world is / would be; remembering that he sat next to Jack on 815), Desmond has full cognizance of both realities, it seems. I guess we were right about him earlier when it was suggested that his role was to serve as some sort of “shepherd” between the Island word and the Sideways, transporting the souls of our heroes to their communal afterlife.
  • Was it just me, or did Sawyer have some of the funniest lines of the season tonight? My personal favorite was when he called MIB “Smokey”. Although Hurley as “Bigfoot” got a chuckle out of me, too.
  • Did anybody else think Claire was gonna blow Miles, Lapidus, and Richard to kingdom come, a la Rousseau? I was worried there for a minute.
  • Richard getting a gray hair. Very cool. He’s no longer ageless, I suppose.
  • How about our boy Lapidus? Looks like they were keeping him around for something heroic after all! And did you catch that little “Amen” escape his lips when he got the Ajira plane in the air?
  • Claire’s salvation is proof that yes, you can come back from the dark side.

As for answers, the finale played about like I expected: short on answers, long on character resolution. And for me, that’s absolutely fine. I would’ve liked a little more information about a few things (in particular: how Jacob’s cabin worked and how long Smokey was contained there), but coming into the finale, I was more interested in how these characters’ stories were going to resolve. And I walk away from six years of this show feeling extremely satisfied with the way the story ended.

How about you? Where does the finale rank in the canon of LOST episodes for you? Top 10? Greatest ever? A colossal flop? Were you satisfied? Or disappointed? Or a little bit of both?

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13 Responses to LOST Season Six: The End

  1. Haley says:

    I don’t think I’ve ever commented here before, but I just wanted to let you know how much I’ve enjoyed reading all of your LOST recaps. My mother and father in law go to Mayfair, and I don’t remember how I even stumbled upon your blog. Thanks for all of your insight! I feel a little empty, yet extremely satisfied, now that it’s over. 🙂
    Haley King

  2. Jenny says:

    Did anyone else think Vincent got Desmond out of the well when we saw the paw prints next to the rope and the well? I had to laugh out loud.

  3. Jenny says:

    I really liked the way this ended and I shed many a tear!! I would have liked a few more answers as well (the numbers, history of Dharma, Ben’s little girlfriend from the past) but those things are minor and take a backseat to the story of the people. That is really who I care about. I will be so sad to not have LOST anymore!! Jason, I have really really loved reading your blog about LOST!

    • Jason says:

      I couldn’t agree more, Jenny. As I reflect on how it all ended, I’m very satisfied that we were given such character-resolution. Even though every question wasn’t answered (I’d still love some clarification on that whole Jacob’s cabin thing), you have to appreciate the emotional resonance of the finale. It was pretty much pitch perfect. I’ll have more to say / write about LOST in the days to come, so stay tuned.

  4. Dylan says:

    I’ve been working all day and all night, so I haven’t gotten a chance to comment here yet. Let me just say that this was my favorite Lost episode of all time. I was worried that I was going to be sad after the finale, but as of now, I’m just really happy, and I actually wouldn’t want any more episodes because this ended so perfectly. The finale managed to pull off an impossible task of effectively wrapping up both the island timeline, the sideways timeline, the characters, the mythology, and the spiritual elements of the show. All the awakenings were unbelievably amazing. And the scene in the church was such a perfect way to bring everyone together.

    I think Christian’s line of “To remember, and to let go” was the thesis of the whole show. That’s the whole point of showing the flashbacks in seasons 1-3. To show our characters dealing with their past and then moving on from it on the island. Jacob said it in “Ab Aeterno” that people were brought to the island “To show them their pasts don’t matter.” But you don’t move on from your past by just ignoring it and pretending it didn’t happen. You have to “remember” and deal with it, and then have it redeemed. Unbelievable. Amazing. I can’t really express coherently how I feel about it yet. I need to re-watch it and then I can talk about it.

    • Jason says:

      Dylan, you’re spot on in your assessment of the show’s thesis. Remembering, in order to let go. I’m willing to bet we won’t see another show that dares to be so brazenly redemptive in its storytelling.

  5. Brandon says:

    I was happy with the way the producers ended both storylines. And the way they united for example Juliet and Sawyer. This episode had some great lines as well. Plus my two favorite characters, Jack and Richard, found peace. I think Desmond ‘pulling the plug’ was a kind of restart to the island allowing the ‘bugs’ like MIB to be erased and to allow everyone to move on. The gray hair on Richard was a nice way of helping symbolize that change. I do wonder however if or whom Hurley would have picked to take his place. But thanks Jason for a wonderful blog that truly represented the fan perspective. Excellent job.

    • Jason says:

      Brandon,
      That’s an interesting way to look at it: Desmond pulling the plug and “restarting” things on the Island. Whatever he did, it’s interesting that it allowed Smokey to assume a corporeal form once again. It’s sort of fitting, then, that Locke’s body was thrown from a great height again, this time as an act of liberating all of humanity from the evil that would’ve been unleashed had Smokey left the Island.

  6. Brandon says:

    I picked up a copy of Entertainment Weekly that has a full layout on LOST from the origins up to the finale. It was a May 14th issue but has a lot of great stuff about behind the scenes and casting. For some it may be retread but I found it very interesting. I know that Lindelof and Cuse get a lot of the credit for LOST but co-creator JJ Abrams is the true master mind and reason LOST even made it on air in 2004. The article talks about how he basically hand picked the cast of then nobodies in which many of them were struggling at the time. For example Josh Holloway (Sawyer) had received his real estate just 4 days before auditioning and was about to give up on acting. Terry O’Quinn (Locke) was cast with no audition as a favor from Abrams.

    Very amazing stuff and funny too with a section that talks about how characters found out they would die. A funny excerpt from that…
    Marsha Thomason (Naomi) “I actually found out in a kind of a funny way because I hadn’t met Terry O’Quinn, who killed me. Then Terry shows up and he’s chatting with everybody and goes, ‘Have you guys read the new script?’ Everybody says, ‘No. We’ve been here. ‘Well, I kill the new girl.’ And then everybody goes [awkwardly], This is Marsha’ And that is how I found out I was dying.” I HIGHLY recommend picking it up if you can find it.

  7. Dylan says:

    I usually try to keep track of the TV critic and pop-culture community reaction to Lost, and the general consensus I’m hearing is that it was a great episode and a good wrap-up of the show, but that the last fifteen minutes were kind of cheesy (and maybe even too unambiguous and expository, which is a rare criticism of Lost). Of course for me, I thought the last fifteen minutes were the strongest in the show’s history. But if I try to see it from other people’s perspectives I can understand why.

    I’m a spiritual person, my job is spiritual, my whole life is spiritual, so I absolutely love a spiritual ending, and I don’t mind some straight-forward expository preaching from Christian Shepherd at the end. And I definitely don’t mind a sappy-feel good ending, because I believe that the finale of MY life is going to be a sappy-feel good ending. Before the finale, Darlton was saying that some people would think that the finale was the most amazing thing ever and some would think it was the worst thing ever. Now I understand that the latter group they were referring to would most likely be agnostics. And that makes sense. If I were an agnostic, I would likely have problems with the ending, and probably have problems with all of season 6 in general (although Time.com’s James Poniewozik talks about being an agnostic and still loving the finale in a great review here: http://tunedin.blogs.time.com/2010/05/23/lostwatch-all-of-this-matters/#more-10266)

    Luckily for me, I’m a Christian. And “The End” inspired me on about 117 different emotional, intellectual, personal, spiritual, and eschatological levels. And that’s why Lost will goes down as my favorite brand of pop-culture entertainment ever. Better than Star Wars. Better than Lord of the Rings. Better than any U2 or Coldplay album. None of those things made my brain synapses fire on all these levels like Lost did/still does.

    • Jason says:

      I didn’t think the last 15 minutes were cheesy at all. And my cheese-detector is usually pretty acute. But then again, you can’t ask the kinds of questions LOST dared to ask without somebody saying you’re too cheesy. If by “cheesy” they mean thought-provoking, existential and eschatalogical theory writ narratively…then okay?

      I’m still working through the spiritual implications of the show in my own mind. (And I’m telling you, the LOST score by Michael Giacchino is the perfect soundtrack to accompany such deep reflection.) As Christians, it’s probably not surprising that you and I would feel the impact of this episode at such a visceral level. But it’s also worth pointing out that the producers went to great lengths to make the conclusion a reflection on the enterprise of faith itself, over against any one articulation or dogmatic assertion. So I think you’re seeing a lot of people — especially those outside the Christian community — who are saying that the show spoke to them in a unique way, in spite of its lack of particularity re: faith.

      If I had to say right now (which isn’t fair, because I’m still super-geeked about the finale), I’d have to agree with you that LOST is on another plane — even beyond Star Wars or the other pop culture “big ticket items” you mentioned.

      But let’s not get carried away. It was no Bulbasaur or anything!

  8. Micah says:

    Hey it’s your nephew. I’ve enjoyed reading here on your blog sense the beginning of season 5 I think. But I haven’t commented so here is my final thought:
    It did make me a little mad at first that next to no questions were answered in the finale. But it makes sense now in that it’s about the journey we had with the Lost characters, and IN the epic journey we had with them, we know as much about the mysteries of the island as they did (not much). Something tells me that if we knew all the answers we still wouldn’t be satisfied. In the end it’s the people that matter most anyway, not knowledge. Lost will only make sense to people who know that. I agree, the finally was perfect.

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