SPOILER ALERT! If you haven’t yet seen the finale of Lost, stop reading now.
By “The End” of Lost, good had triumphed over evil, light had blasted through the dark and the beloved series had gone back, poignantly, to where it all began.
In its final moments, the series’ exhausted hero Jack — who’d managed to restore the island’s vital light source, keep hell at bay and the isle afloat in 2.5 hours flat — stumbled through the bamboo jungle he’d first awoken in at the start of the 2004 pilot. Then, fatally wounded, he lay down and, as an (island-bound?) airplane flew overhead, closed his eyes a final, fitting time.
He wasn’t the only one who didn’t make it out of Lost’s breathtakingly emotional finale alive. As the drama closed, the Sideways world — which, throughout season 6, had thrilled some fans, and frustrated others — was revealed to be a sort of purgatory for the passengers of Oceanic 815 and those they’d encountered during their island adventures. A place where they were able to work out their lingering unresolved issues, often with each other, until their recovered island memories enabled them to let go and move on, together.
Purgatory had been a popular theory among fans since the early days of Lost but said theory had supposed that the spiritual waiting room was the island, not the Sideways. Our characters’ island adventures had actually happened during their lives (and after six years of viewer investment, thank goodness). Jack tried to tell Desmond — and us — that early on when he said, “All of this matters.”
So much so that it was those post-crash experiences that allowed the show’s lost souls to ultimately find the redemption they’d so desperately been seeking (and they found it in a church, no less). A redemption born out of faith tested — and renewed — and, above everything else, love. When all was said and done, the series that had so often whooshed its characters — and fans — through time existed in a place where time mattered only in terms of what you do with the moments you have and who you share them with. “The most important part of your life was the time that you spent with these ,” Christian Shephard told son Jack, while shepherding him into the afterlife. “You needed all of them — and they needed you.”
Lost masterminds Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse had said that the labyrinthine mythology would take a backseat to wrapping up their characters’ journeys. What a gift to viewers that they were true to their word. The emotionally rewarding moments were countless. Sun, then Jin, remembering their island pasts during a Juliet-performed ultrasound. Kate bidding Jack a heartbreaking island farewell — and leaping off one last cliff with Sawyer. Jack kicking Ol’ Smokey off a ledge to his death before passing the island-protector torch to a teary Hurley. Hurley asking a touched Ben to be his right-hand man, and Ben finally apologizing to Locke for taking his life. Lapidus flying the Ajira plane off the island. The once-ageless Alpert rejoicing at his first gray hair. Claire and Charlie. Rose and Bernard. Desmond and Penny. Boone. Shannon. Faraday. Vincent!
Will it take time to really process all that we saw? Absolutely. Are there still burning questions? Of course. But would it be Lost if there weren’t? The show may be over but a new round of discussions — and debates — is just beginning.
And, like this groundbreaking series’ characters, we will need time to let go … and move on. –Shawna Malcom