Lost Monday: The End

May 24, 2010
By | 71 Comments

[Antenna Editors’ Note: As this is our last weekly Lost post, it’s now time for us to graciously thank Jason Mittell for this wonderful addition to Antenna. And now, back to your regular scheduled programming …]

My short take on the finale (before a supersize post) is that it was outstanding, both subverting and fulfilling my expectations. In the still emerging storytelling mode of complex primetime serials, the finale is almost bound to disappoint, by being too ambiguous, too forced, or too atypical of an episode. Lost‘s “The End” – a name more apt than we realized – finds the sweet spot for me, concluding on its own terms in ways that seemed surprising while watching, but completely organic and earned in retrospect.

In my blog about the different type of answers that Lost might – or might not – deliver, I discussed a number of plot mysteries that I felt needed to be answered to prove satisfying: in addition to resolving the reality status of the sideways narrative,

an explanation of Widmore and Eloise’s roles in the island and time travel narrative, what Jacob and MiB were doing with their duel lists of candidates on the cave and lighthouse, what really happened in the incident, and what Desmond is up to. If these aren’t explained, I’ll be pissed, because the narrative has framed them as key enigmas that need answering to piece together the action.

Based on this list, I should be pissed – while we got a clear(ish) answer about the sideways and Desmond’s actions, there were few answers about Eloise, the incident, and the lists (as well as many other enigmas). But I’m oddly content with these questions being left open, as Lost pulled off what might be its greatest trick in a long history of narrative subterfuge: it made me not care about what I thought I’d cared about, refocusing my attention on the narrative future of these characters rather than the island past. “The End” is all about moving forward and letting go of what you thought was important, and it amazingly succeeded in making that theme manifest in my own viewing experience.

Lost has always been a hodgepodge genre mixture, with elements of sci-fi, fantasy, mystery, and puzzle narrative draped on its core of adventure melodrama. The finale let go of most of the puzzle storytelling and pulled back to the emotional core that hooked in its fanbase long before we knew about DHARMA or frozen donkey wheels. “The End” serves as an argument for what Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse have been saying all along: we ultimately care about the characters and their fates way more than the island’s mysteries. Ultimately, I think whether you like the finale (and thus the entire sixth season) or not will come down to how convincing you found that argument – personally, I was sold.

Looking back, it becomes clear that the entirety of season six was about making this argument, refocusing our attention on the characters and away from the mythology. The sideways world functions this way for both the characters themselves and for viewers, providing the wish fulfillment of a happy ending and the joy of returning departed friends and reunited relationships without the baggage of the island mysteries. As Christian says to Jack in backroom of the church, “This is a place that you all made together so that you could find one another. The most important part of your life was the time that you spent with these people. That’s why all of you are here.” On one level, the “you” is Jack and his friends, but it is also us – we are here because we care about these people. And in the sideways realm, “there is no now,” just as we’ll have the show to rewatch in an eternal present tense.

And it is also all about letting go. In the first scene of “LA X,” Rose tells Jack “you can let go now,” ostensibly referring to the armrest he was clutching during the in-flight turbulence on sideways Oceanic 815, but now we know that he wasn’t ready to let go in either timeline. Season 6 was about Jack’s journey toward peace of mind and clarity of purpose, both to save the island and come to terms about his troubled relationships and sense of self. Most of the characters went on parallel journeys, and the show invited us to mirror their process as long-time fans learn to let go of our preconceptions of what we want and expect from the show.

Clearly not everybody was ready – Ana-Lucia and Ben are left to work through their issues in the sideways realm, while Michael is still trapped whispering on the island (making him a notable absence from the finale). And judging by the mixed reactions from fans and critics this morning, many of us are also not ready to accept the terms of the final journey – the fact that it doesn’t bother me how much was left unsolved is just a testament to the effectiveness of the finale’s character arcs and emotional storytelling. I do hope that fans disappointed with the final season will rewatch it with an open mind, as I’m convinced that it will work in retrospect quite well, save for a few annoying missteps (like Sun’s aphasia and the mostly dead-end temple story) – but I’m certainly braced for many commenters condemning the lack of mythological closure and loose ends, ready to blame the producers for failing on their obligations. Season six’s greatest flaw was that it was all set-up – but “The End” provides one of the biggest payoffs imaginable.

One critique I’ve seen flash across Twitter is that in the end, the show boiled down to religious (specifically Christian) propaganda, as the afterlife awaits sinners who come to terms with their deeds and repent in church. As a proselytizing atheist, I have little patience for religious parables, but I found Lost‘s take on the afterlife to be pretty non-religious, despite culminating in church and being led by Christian Shepherd (and kudo’s to Kate for calling foul on that name!). Sure, you can read it as overtly religious, but I see it as more humanist, emphasizing that what’s most important is each other and the life that we live, not the promise of an afterlife.

Compared to the much-decried Battlestar Galactica finale, there is no God (or Gods) here, as divinity is found solely in the human. Given the opportunity this season to frame the whole story as a the tale of dueling island gods, Lost chose to make the powers that be flawed humans, resisting the theistic at every turn. The mystical force of the island is a light that shines in every person, a humanist ethos if ever there was one. And fate is what we make of life, not what life makes of us. The show’s long-standing debate between science and faith ended up a draw – Jack’s redemption was in finding his own peace and sense of self, not in faith of anything grander. But clearly science per se was trumped by larger abstractions like glowing caves and purgatorial realms. In the end, it’s the people that matter.

Diving more directly into the episode – which should be noted was directed by Jack Bender and scored by Michael Giacchino as well as anything I’ve ever seen on television – one place that Lost has always excelled is building tension for some rip-roaring action sequences in its season finales, and the on-island story of “The End” featured some of its best builds and climaxes. The fight between Jack and Locke was everything that it should have been, as preceded by six seasons of head-butting – and Kate riding in to the rescue certainly fulfilled much of her often-untapped role in the ensemble. We also got excellent moments of cross-cut deadline-driven narrative tension, with the second bananas at the plane (with not-dead-yet Richard and Lapidus) frantically trying to make repairs while Jack puts the cork back in and Kate and Sawyer go for their last swim. Nearly nothing happened on the island that helped me understand the mythology – but it was a rollicking fun ride, and that’s what Lost does better than any other show out there.

If the island scratched the action itch, the sideways realm provided many moments of melodramatic release. Nearly every character’s moment of realization worked for me, with particular joy in Sun and Jin’s awakening over the ultrasound, and Juliet and Sawyer sharing an epiphany over an Apollo Bar. Ben and Locke’s final conversation confirmed how utterly original and compelling they were as a pairing, and Hurley’s assurance that Ben was an excellent number 2 reminded me that Ben rightly told us years ago that he was one of “the good guys.” These were moments for the fans, reminding us of how far we’ve come with these characters to reconnect with the relationships and journeys. There were tears, cheers, and gasps – and that’s really all I could ask for after six years of commitment. But the most emotionally affecting moment for me was the final one, with Vincent lying next to dying Jack – the producers have long joked about Vincent’s centrality, but making sure that Jack didn’t “die alone” was the greatest function that could be served.

It’s too soon to rank “The End” on the spectrum of series finales, but I am having a hard time coming up with many that worked any better. Six Feet Under is my gold standard, concluding with an emotionally-devastating device that feels both surprisingly original and completely true to the series. I’m not sure that Lost quite reached that peak, but it certainly came close. For a show all about misdirection and mystification, the finale was surprisingly direct and clear, even if it wasn’t about what we thought it would be. I’m looking forward to rewatching season 6 to see it all come together once again.

Random favorite fanboy moment: too many to mention in the episode, so I’ll point to my own pleasure in writing these weekly posts and launching some great conversations. I’ve come to appreciate how hard it is to write coherent criticism on a deadline – and gained much respect for the gaggle of TV critics who do it every day. (And see Chris Becker’s list of reviews for more great Lost reading.) I’ll surely be posting further thoughts in coming days on my blog [updated: as promised, I wrote another long finale commentary], and I hope those of you who came to Antenna just for the Lost discussion stick around for daily doses of smart media commentary and discussion.

Thanks for reading, and Namaste.



71 Responses to “ Lost Monday: The End ”

  1. Sean C. Duncan on May 24, 2010 at 10:34 AM

    Thanks for all of your reviews, Jason, they’ve been illuminating and fun the last few months.

    I’m with you on pretty much every point here. The episode made me simply not care about what I thought I cared about, and found myself much more emotionally invested in the characters than I thought I was. The only missteps were the Sayid/Shannon pairing in the afterlife (seems like they could get Maggie Grace back, so they did, and poor Nadia had to be ignored) and it was strange to me that Smokey/Locke/Samuel was only ever seen in Locke’s form, never in the smoke form in the entire episode.

    As I said on Twitter last night, I have no idea how the flash sideways timeline works, if it was at all created by the detonation of the Jughead core or if that was a huge red herring, etc. It ultimately doesn’t matter, and I was pleased both by the journey and by where it ended up depositing me.

    Now, please, will someone start writing the “Season 7 relaunch” novels starring Hugo and Ben?

    • LostnLost on May 24, 2010 at 9:46 PM

      Couldn’t have said it better on Sayid not being with Nadia. My first reaction was that “Man Sayid gets screwed in his Real Life, Then gets Screwed in the Sideways world life and finally when he gets conciousness and makes it to the promise land he gets screwed there too.

      Talk about a tortured soul character arc. Hurley was right, he is a good man but boy does Fate Continually serve him a dish of Raw Deal.

    • may on May 25, 2010 at 7:34 AM

      I was irked about the Sayid/Shannon pairing at first, but then i read a comment on another blog where someone gave his interpretation of why that happened:

      Nadia was Sayid’s true love, but as long as he was with her, they would not be free from the memory of his past wrongdoings and the terrible things he did in order to be with her. On the other hand, his time with Shannon was “pure” in that his past did not matter to her; it was the only time in his life that Sayid was not a torturer or a bad man but simply a man in love. That was why Sayid needed the memory of Shannon to let go and move on. I thought that was a very nice idea.

      • Elizabeth Rose on May 27, 2010 at 1:52 PM

        Yes, and it was the Sayid that loved Shannon in spite of her bad behavior that helped us care more for him, too. I was not disappointed in this at all. In fact, one could argue that a torturer and his victim (even though he loved and freed her) are an unnatural coupling, perhaps underscored by that horrible hit-and-run.

    • Jason Mittell on May 25, 2010 at 8:42 AM

      On Shannon vs. Nadia: the sideways universe was a meta-fictional narrative that the key players in the island drama created for themselves to work through what they’d done and resolve their issues before moving on. It was about reuniting and rediscovering each other, getting a do-over on their lives, with a focus on the “most important time in their lives.” So Shannon was Sayid’s key connection on the island, and it was that stage in the characters’ lives that mattered most.

      And, not unimportantly, that was the connection that we experienced as viewers – the sideways were also about giving us that do-over.

      • Sean C. Duncan on May 26, 2010 at 4:25 PM

        Enh, none of these answers fully work for me as they weren’t ever even remotely hinted at after Shannon’s death — she dies, he begins to turn back into a torturer, then an assassin, then a zombie, then inexplicably dies. If his feelings for Shannon were part of the plan (which it certainly wasn’t), then this would have been mentioned earlier. It can be rationalized, sure, but there hasn’t been even a mention of Shannon by Sayid for over three years…

        Rather, it was pretty widely reported that they got Maggie Grace back at the last second, and came up with a “clever” way to put her back into the show. I suspect the original idea was for Sayid to end up with Nadia, but they couldn’t pass up the opportunity to bring back everyone (other than Walt) from season 1. They did the best they could with it, but this casting choice trumped the narrative.

        • Elizabeth Rose on May 27, 2010 at 2:01 PM

          I’ve read in numerous pop culture outlets that Team Darlton wanted Maggie Grace back for the final season all along. They even commmented after “LA X” that Boone’s appearance on the plane alone was deliberate, that they could’ve had Shannon with him. It was a creative choice. We’re certainly free to dislike it, but it was not, from what I can tell, based on casting.

          As for Sayid, do you remember his eulogy for Shannon? He did not turn into a zombie until this season. (Foreshadowing.) He did mention Shannon from time to time until he and Nadia re-united. Now, he did go on that rampage for Ben, because Ben manipulated Nadia’s death (perhaps even orchestrated it) and Sayid’s dark impulses to his advantage, which to me, makes Shannon the more appropriate choice. Sayid never went on a rampage for her, he grieved her. IMHO.

          • Elizabeth Rose on May 27, 2010 at 2:04 PM

            Oh, and if one accepts the conceit that Sideways characters who had not been on the island were reflections of the inner Lostaways, then Sayid seeing Nadia as his brother’s wife is also significant.

          • Sean C. Duncan on June 23, 2010 at 9:17 AM

            How could Ben manipulate Nadia’s death? Ben appeared in Tunisia after turning the donkey wheel immediately subsequent to Nadia’s death — a year or so after the Oceanic Six got off the island. No, it seems implausible that this was orchestrated by Ben, but very plausible that Ben manipulated Sayid to do his dirty work because he saw an opportunity to do so.

  2. Derek Kompare on May 24, 2010 at 10:51 AM

    I agree about how this episode wisely focused on the emotional core of our relationship with the show, rather than engaging in pedantic explanations. In the end, while the labyrinthine history of the Island was certainly engrossing for six years, it was all ultimately just the background for the real human dramas. The genius of this finale is that it insures that we look back at the entire run through that lens, reconsidering every decision and character beat as part of a journey of purpose and redemption. And really, in the end, what more could you ask for?

    All the questions we still have can still be answered through speculation and our own storytelling, which is also very satisfying. How many other tales “end” with so many delicious open ends for us to ponder and fill in? The details of the Incident/Jughead aftermath are a massive mystery, and that’s way more satisfying than any direct answer could ever be. Similarly, I was particularly happy that the “light” at the core of the Island was never explained. I’m sure there are some folks who wanted it to be explicitly explained as some alien creature or some such, but frankly they’re sad and wrong. It doesn’t matter what it is, it really doesn’t.

    Finally, just an observation, but in the scene between Jack and Christian in the church backroom, they went out of their way to blast open any particular religious dogma by peppering the room (and most prominently the stained-glass window) with all sorts of religious artifacts, including several I didn’t recognize (and perhaps they even invented). To me, it indicated that these symbols are ultimately arbitrary, and, like the light, they only mean anything to people who invest in them, and that none of them mean anything on their own.

    And that is as beautiful a metaphor of love (including fandom) as I think we’ll ever encounter.

    • Jonathan Gray on May 24, 2010 at 1:34 PM

      yes. what he said. thanks for voicing what I’d like to say, yet more eloquently than I could have managed

    • LostnLost on May 24, 2010 at 7:53 PM

      Derek I couldn’t disagree with you more over: “…How many other tales “end” with so many delicious open ends for us to ponder and fill in? The details of the Incident/Jughead aftermath are a massive mystery, and that’s way more satisfying than any direct answer could ever be. …” NOT!!! :–)

      Before I rant for a few minutes, I must say, I loved this finale! And certainly not because it answered ANY of the questions I wish the writers would have but if I may say, I thought it was an epic piece of Old School straight forward (ok not the end) pull at your emotional heart strings and illuminate in very selective 6 year storyline flashbacks, all the reasons we came to like and care for this group of castaway.

      I think Jason said it best when he mentioned this particular finale was so Character Engrossing that it made me no longer care if they answered the mythology or timeline which happened first the detonation or the sideways world type questions.

      I resigned myself to knowing I would not get the type of answers to a few key questions and themes weeks ago. I was just hoping the finale didn’t suck and based on my initial reaction last night, when viewed solely as a Character Piece and not an ending that attempts to explain, provide a writers point of view or otherwise discuss what we really have been looking at for the past six years, it was a Very Good Ending.

      Ok, now to my Rants. For those of us who are more anal and expect a story to have meaning and fit together within it’s own (i.e. the writers) story telling construct(s), some important themes and Points of views explaining why they are presenting the story as they are, IMHO, would have provided a better appreciation and richness for what creators intended the story to be.

      And I am not advocating answer every question infinitum. But Geez… Really… Not Knowing Whether The detonation Had anything to do with the Sideways world or the storyline period, is somehow more delicious than showing there was a plan from day one and this intricate plan with twist and turns, now that we are at the end, here is the Key to unlock some of those mysteries??? …(as Kate would say Seriously???)

      I would prefer to have the key and be able to look back at the old episodes smarter and wiser and see the old episodes in a new light of whatever that key was/is. Not sure we will be able to do this with Lost. Which is not to say going back and looking at the show knowing what we know now would be a waste of time, but it is unlikely we are going to learn or see anything new or substantially different etc.

      And please don’t focus on the detonation as THE KEY event or anything because even as I type I am not up in arms in not knowing. That was just an already mentioned example of a handful of large things that could have been answered to give us “We need more answers” people better context to judge and enjoy the show.

      I am not saying Ambiguity is not a GREAT thing. I’m also not saying they need or have to answer all the questions. I am just suggesting, that even during this final season they could have answered many more questions that would have made some of us love the show even more.

      Imagine if the Sixth Sense would have ended without you ever knowing that Bruce Willis was really dead. For the people who love Ambiguity and being able to answer critical aspects of a story with whatever logic that works for you, they might have liked that ending for the movie. For those of us who want a few key answers that help us unlock the code we need a little more. I loved the ring falling to the floor and my brain getting that instant…”No way…he can’t be the one that is dead…” hint of awareness in my brain that made going back and watching the show again a MUST SEE MOVIE.

      I’m not sure going back and watching Lost again is going to reveal much that we in the blogosphere have not written about, speculated on or complained about. This is yet another reason why I wish the Writers in this last season would have stamped their point of view and perspective on the show more.

      I think it is a bit of a Cop out to say at it’s heart this show was really about a core group of castaways. And while that is a Great line and has a lot of truth to it. There is NO POSSIBLE WAY to say that the LOST MYTHOLOGY and ISLAND Itself were any less CRITICAL to understanding and caring about the show than the Castsways.

      I won’t do it here as I’ve already went on far too long ranting but I’m fairly certain I can make and equally compelling argument that the Magical Properties of the Island and the Unseen but Always FELT Mythology of the story is/was as critical to the story as the characters and as critical to keeping our interest as the character interactions.

      As for explaining the Source or that thing that potentially gives everything life, I’m not sure even the anal people cared to know that level of detail. The details I would have liked are more about the framing of the story and concept and over riding mythology of even how did crazy Mom get their? What is the Island? Is the Sideways world way in the future when all our beloved characters are Dead and Hurley is no longer the Island Protector? What did Locke mean after surgery when he told Jack “You don’t have a son”? What was it about Desmond that he had consciousness in both whenever the sideways world is and the Island world.

      I hope Jason takes a stab at what Christian Sheppard meant when he said “in here there is NO NOW?” I have some guesses what the Sideways world represented but it would have been nice to get a clue from the story itself instead of everything being up for interpretations. But that is me :–)

      And let me be clear, I respect those that like the mysteries and the open-endness of things. I like the logical forethought that surprises me with their cleverness and the big things have answers…not questions leading to more questions.

      Ok, RANT OVER!

      With all that said and me being a HUGE Sawyer & Juliet Fan I think I almost had tears in my eyes when they finally got Consciousness of where they were and who they were and where they had been.

      Now Derek that moment in the show was most DELICIOUS for me and it did not answer any of my top ten questions :–).

      • Elizabeth Rose on May 24, 2010 at 8:35 PM

        I think you make a valid point, especially considering how often we had to hear from the creative folk about how the island was a “character.” And I hear you about Jughead. What WAS that? Simply a cheap way to kill Juliet so she could save everyone on “V” and get the 77 Lostaways back to 07? If so, I find that a low point on an otherwise amazing show. That said, one could argue that Jughead was the narrative device that finally made Jack accept that no matter what he did – even try to blow up a freaking H-Bomb – he could not control outcomes. (Isn’t that credo for all of us recovering codependents?) Likewise, Sawyer had to blow up the sub. All season we’ve been talking about “Island Enlightenment” as if it had to happen Sideways, but in the end it really had to happen on the island. So, setting aside the unnecessarily long “Jack in the Pit of Doom awaiting the Light” moments, I think I felt satisfied that Jack’s redemption came when he risked the island just long enough to mortalize FLocke (and Richard) and then went back and saved it – consciously. (Although I would still like to know how Ben was freed from under that tree. I think the editors goofed a bit there.) It was the dural sac all over again. (And again.) Jack did what Jacob wasn’t “wired” to do, he did surgery on the island so that it could function better (under the guidance of Hurley) allowing Kate to kill FLocke, and mirroring his saving of S-Locke. My thoughts, FWIW.

        • LostnLost on May 24, 2010 at 9:43 PM

          LOL!!! I think I agree with everying you said. And too funny on cheap way for Juliet to save everyone on V. Hilarious!!!

          As always, you have interesting insights and Points of View.

          Ben and the magic Bean stalks? Maybe that is how he got out…:–)

          • Will on May 25, 2010 at 7:28 AM

            Interesting how (as Matt Hills has noted on Facebook) response to the finale seems so divided into emotional satisfaction vs intellectual frustration — a continuation of the “science” vs “faith” debate that was central to the series (and remained central through the focus on Jack and Locke as key antagonists).

            Though I found the finale surprisingly moving and yet annoyingly incomplete in its answers, I actually think these questions were resolved fairly clearly:

            >Is the Sideways world way in the future when all our beloved characters are Dead and Hurley is no longer the Island Protector?


            >What did Locke mean after surgery when he told Jack “You don’t have a son”?

            Jack’s son was a symbolic figure within the limbo universe. Jack was, of course, dead within the real world.

            >What was it about Desmond that he had consciousness in both whenever the sideways world is and the Island world.

            There is, I’m sure, a pseudo-science explanation within the show, something to do with resistance to electromagnetism, but to be fair, Desmond has always been marked out as a figure outside time, with extraordinary abilities.

            >I hope Jason takes a stab at what Christian Sheppard meant when he said “in here there is NO NOW?”

            Surely the answer is just that the world was a limbo, outside time and space?

            • Lostnlost on May 25, 2010 at 9:32 AM

              Will, Faith versus science is a great dividing line for we Satisfied vs Still Frustrated fans.

              I agree with You entirely about the off the top of my head questions. However as this is Lost *grinning* you could be entirely wrong about what & when in time the Sideways world ACTUALLY is etc.

              That is sorta my frustration, the anal part of me needs more concrete revelation/explination. Is the sideways world triggered when the last of this group dies? Does each person have their own sideways world? Were we looking at each characters version of their own specific Sideways world during season 6 yet we know/accept that they had to interconnect and help each other move to the next phase of their respective existances?

              So for me, Is it Clear? Only if I/we accept the view that the Sideways world is the Meta-physical place without time/space bounds, which again I think is likely.

              And perhaps I am nitpicking as if I accept the above I can manipulate the details to fit this story view.

              I would have preferred the writers more explicitly provide indicators that say, as a writing group, this is what we think and intended. However, for those with different experiences you can view this in whatever context fits your world view.

          • Jason Mittell on May 25, 2010 at 8:48 AM

            I took the “no now” line to suggest that the forward march of time is a condition of our living world, but not the afterlife. (Read Slaughterhouse Five.) Everyone dies at some point in time, and once they do, the idea of “some point in time” disappears, and thus they can be together as they once were.

  3. enrique garcía on May 24, 2010 at 11:19 AM

    Dear Jason:

    Great points about the spirituality of the show. I agree with what you said and I actually think it is one of the better representations I have seen. Like you said, I would not say it is a Christian thing. You could see many icons from different religions in Eloise’s chutch.

    I liked this ending, because the final chapter enhances the final season and when I rewatch it in Bluray it will be very interesting. The revelations in the final episode of Galactica destroyed the show because even the good Galactica seasons are now ruined by the ending’ revelations. Imaginary Six as an angel? WTF

    My favorite moments in no particular order:

    1)Ben was redeemed. I thought he would betray them in the cave like a silly Gollum thing in LOTR. I am glad to be wrong.
    2)Jin and Sun’s awakening showed how great they are as characters. Kudos to great Asian characters and other ethnicities in the show.
    3)I am a Kate hater but she was redeemed by shooting Locke and helping to save Claire. I like her now.
    4)Hurley as guardian!
    5)All the awakenings were great melodrama.
    6)The scene with the plane escaping had me on my toes. Well shot.
    7)I was a Jack hater but the last two seasons redeemed him. I like him a lot now.
    8)I like the spiritual/emotional conclusion of the show in which our physical obsessions are only a path to enlightenment. I am not a religious guy but I feel that the show established that our human life is about the clashes between rationalism, spirituality, and just corny human love. Wow. Not even works of great literature have been able to achieve this.

    Bravo, Lost Bravo.

    • Derek Johnson on May 24, 2010 at 4:32 PM

      Sorry in advance for this rant. I’ve tried to all day to resist talking about the Lost finale: sadly, despite there not being a single “mystery” I felt I needed to be addressed to satisfy me, I found the finale to be a train wreck (but hey, I’m that weird guy who doesn’t like Desmond or “The Constant”). However, I’m glad others enjoyed it. What’s pulling me into the fray though is the idea that this finale somehow dodged the over-plotted bullet that got BSG–I had issues with that finale too, but by no way is the idea of Head Six as an Angel a finale plot “revelation” (Six: “I’m an angel of god sent here to protect you, to guide you, to love you.” Season 2, Episode 7.) Further, the finale left a lot of ambiguity (much derided by fans, actually) in terms of what characters like Starbuck “revealed” to be angels actually were. To suggest such plot “revelations” “destroyed” the show in a retroactive way seems a bit much to me.

      And if we were making those kinds of retroactive arguments, wouldn’t the supposed strength of last night’s character drama have retroactive implications for Lost’s preoccupation with plot and setting over character for the past six seasons (the hatch, the blast door, Dharma, “we need to get to X part of the island”, etc?). For me, the focus on character last night pointed out exactly how shallow, neglected, and one-note Lost’s characterization has felt to me. How many of the heavily plotted flashback, flash forwards, and flash sideways told us what we already knew about these characters compared to those that actually propelled the character in a dynamic way (Jack can’t let go, Locke doesn’t want to be told what to do, Kate wants to run, Sayid thinks he’s a bad guy, etc). I compare that to the character ARCS of Adama, Roslin, Baltar (the changes to the fundamental natures and beliefs of the characters, not their plotted movement through time and space), and I just can’t understand how BSG comes out “destroyed” when we celebrate the character drama of last night’s lost.

      • Sean C. Duncan on May 24, 2010 at 7:39 PM

        “but hey, I’m that weird guy who doesn’t like Desmond or “The Constant””

        I stopped reading your comment right there, as you have just flagged yourself as having nothing of value to impart on Lost.

        (Only half-kidding. I probably owe you a beer for being mean, but c’mon, you crazy.)

        • Derek Johnson on May 24, 2010 at 9:54 PM

          I know, I must be defective. You should have seen my disappointment when Ben’s attack at the harbor didn’t pan out.

          Seriously, though, I’m just not sure why Desmond was perceived as such an interesting character–I would have loved to see what would have happened to that character if Penny had been killed. Or had they tested their all-too-perfect relationship in some way beyond pining for one another through absence. Oh well. I guess both of them died eventually!

          • Sean C. Duncan on May 27, 2010 at 8:53 AM

            We got exactly that with Sayid and Nadia, didn’t we?

          • Elizabeth Rose on May 27, 2010 at 2:13 PM

            “Or had they tested their all-too-perfect relationship in some way beyond pining for one another through absence.”

            Bite your tongue about killing Penny! Her role as the Penelope of the story was hugely important. (Even if she wasn’t the weaver, she obviously fended off suitors.)

            Seriously, every character had imperfect relationships including Desmond and Penny (until their reunion). Eloise’s meddling and the whole backdrop of The Constant established that.

            Also, there were the other relationslips that had to be repaired through the action on the island. The heartbreaking breakup between Kate and Jack after Jack told Kate that Aaron “isn’t even related to YOU.” And if it makes you feel better, Desmond’s misconception of Sideways almost killed him, and we were left never knowing if he and Penny reunited again. I hope they did, but those who weren’t moved by them can assume they didn’t.

      • Jason Mittell on May 24, 2010 at 10:17 PM

        I agree with Sean – not liking “The Constant” immediately brackets off your whole critique! This episode was certainly for the romantic & sentimental viewers, and even though that was never LOST’s dominant note, it was often its strongest tone. For me, the finale hit the tone so well that the missing aspects weren’t missed. But obviously, there’s a lot of folks who disagree…

        (As for your comment below about character & complexity, that’ll be the topic for a longer post on my blog soon I hope!)

        • Derek Johnson on May 25, 2010 at 12:33 AM

          Are you buying me a drink too?

          I think that the romantic angle might be just the thing in my case, in that I didn’t personally get much out of the previous romance notes on Lost, and this finale really laid it on thick. My preference for stuff a little less sentimental is obviously my own personal taste/flawed reasoning 🙂

          I look forward to that upcoming blog post!

  4. Amber Watts on May 24, 2010 at 11:24 AM

    I feel better about the finale this morning than I did immediately afterward. You’re exactly right: what drew us into the series at the start, before the hatch and Dharma and the donkey wheel, is the fact that these are complex characters, forced to work/live together under incredibly bizarre and inexplicable circumstances. They’re characters that we’ve developed deep relationships with over the past six years, and the island was only the catalyst for that development. To see them all, ultimately, redeem themselves and *not* die alone as the final moment overrides a lot of the islandy narrative inconsistencies over the past six years. If this was the true narrative thread, then it wrapped up beautifully.

    At the same time, though, I’m with Noel Murray at the AV Club–the Island itself didn’t really get the sendoff it deserved. If you consider how much of the energy we’ve devoted to the show has involved speculating about the island, I felt a little let down. It’s not necessarily that the island was a giant red herring (…or was it?), but it would have been nice to say goodbye to the joy of speculation, in addition to saying goodbye to the characters. We don’t really need to know who built the statue, blah, but to reflect more on the six years we spent trying to figure it all out would have brought the two threads together a bit more.

    I will say, though, that making Hurley, the voice of the viewer, the ultimate island protector was a nice touch. Saying that the island is ours to figure out now, however we choose to?

    Jason, thanks so much for these posts! They’ve made this season extra fun!

    • Jason Mittell on May 24, 2010 at 12:04 PM

      Amber – do you think the season 6 strategy of touring key spots on the island (the caves! the barracks! the well!) works as that sendoff that you & Noel reference? If so, then “The End” adds the bamboo forest as our final return to where we started.

      • Sean C. Duncan on May 24, 2010 at 1:19 PM

        I agree, this works well as that — they did a good job of not introducing too many new places on the island never mentioned before this season (with the except of the Lighthouse and the Magic Hole). The added touch of that shoe still hanging on the bamboo was really great.

        • Amber Watts on May 24, 2010 at 1:45 PM

          I think the bamboo forest as bookends was gorgeous, but as a true sendoff, it does and doesn’t work for me. To be honest, I don’t know what I would have actually wanted (hence why I write about TV and not for it). But while it did a fantastic job reminding us of our emotional journey with the characters–which is what the final scene did so wonderfully–our journey with the island wasn’t tied up as well for me.

          Maybe it’s just me, but I think I just want more recognition of how we were all encouraged to stare at the blast door map until our eyes bled…

          • Elizabeth Rose on May 24, 2010 at 6:22 PM

            Amen, brutha, er, sista.

          • LostnLost on May 24, 2010 at 8:07 PM

            Amber for Blog Board President!!! I agree whole heartedly.

          • Derek Kompare on May 25, 2010 at 9:28 AM

            It’s all about the process and the passion; the content (of the blast door map, or anything else, really) is only what we make of it. Locke’s last living thought was that he didn’t understand; his first realization on the afterlife was that all that he obsessed about didn’t matter.

            Again, we can fill in those details however we wish. It’s not what they are, but that we engage with them, and each other, at all, that matters.

            • Amber Watts on May 25, 2010 at 1:11 PM

              Exactly–the content ultimately matters less than the characters. But what frustrates me is that the narrative pleasure for us *was* largely figuring out the island, not, like, “why is Kate so horrible.” Even if it was just another (very important) “character” in the story, it never got the same reflective moment as the other main characters. Even a flyover at the end, a shot from the Ajira plane–something.

  5. Lori Landay on May 24, 2010 at 12:11 PM

    I have really appreciated your posts, Jason, so thanks.

    The finale makes me think about endings, and television narrative in general, which is all about the middle. We all know the series finale is a recent invention, etc, and suffering through the barrage of commercials last night drives the whole “television event” concept home. If the resolution we got was in a film or novel, it would not hold up, I think, but of course it is not either of those, but a television series, full of the middle, with little tiny blips of resolution doled out along the way. By refusing to give definitive answers about the island, the middle stays murky, in the terrain of characters and situation, not plot, almost like the generations of television shows before it that had no finale.

    But we did have a finale, an end, which focused on the “light” in a symbolic and non-plot specific way. Mythic or vague? Hard to say, for me, so soon after. I can live with ambiguity, but I there at the end, I yearned for a resolution that was more all-encompassing for the terms the show has set up over the years. Yet isn’t that what television seeks to do: leave us wanting more?

  6. […] Lost Mondays: The End [Antenna] These were moments for the fans, reminding us of how far we’ve come with these characters to reconnect with the relationships and journeys. There were tears, cheers, and gasps – and that’s really all I could ask for after six years of commitment. But the most emotionally affecting moment for me was the final one, with Vincent lying next to dying Jack – the producers have long joked about Vincent’s centrality, but making sure that Jack didn’t “die alone” was the greatest function that could be served. […]

  7. josh on May 24, 2010 at 12:52 PM

    i was very happy with the finale. originally i was drawn to lost for the sci-fi aspects (i started watching during season 4) and was slightly put off by season 6 for those reasons. the finale reminded me how much i love the characters and can’t wait to go back and take season 6 in over a weekend.

    such a fitting end to the show.

    one thing i haven’t read people talk about are the shots of the wreckage as the credits rolled. i loved that! it’s funny because as i watched the pilot rebroadcast on saturday i was wondering what happened to the wreckage.

    gorgeous, cluttered, empty shots. loved it.

    • Sean C. Duncan on May 24, 2010 at 2:23 PM

      Yeah, I didn’t understand that, to be honest. The wreckage actually shouldn’t still be there — it was washed out to sea sometime mid-season 1 when the tides drastically shifted on their part of the island. So, not sure what they were trying to say with those final images…

      • Mike Harrell on May 24, 2010 at 2:42 PM

        I thought the significance of the wreckage at the end was simply to demonstrate that what we had seen over the past six seasons was “real” and in fact did “happen” to the characters–that what we saw wasn’t purgatory, or a dream state that Jack was in after he died, etc. etc. Jack dies on the island, Hurley took over as protector, Kate/Sawyer/etc. flew off on the jet–all real.

        • Sean C. Duncan on May 24, 2010 at 3:08 PM

          Yeah, that makes sense. And given how many people seem to be under the weird impression that the finale confirmed “the island is purgatory,” I’m not sure it did a good job of that.

        • Elizabeth Rose on May 24, 2010 at 6:29 PM

          Interesting. My first reaction to the shot was the opposite: OMG, how could anyone survive THAT? Thus assuming they were telling us that everyone died in the original crash. (Especially knowing that in the story the crash debris did float out to sea, i.e., IRL the set was dismantled and this was a shot taken from that first year.) But after reflecting and reading, I see the shot as saying, we’re leaving this up to you to interpret, which is of course, exactly what Team Darlton has “warned” us about for weeks now.

          • Sean C. Duncan on May 25, 2010 at 9:55 PM

            Turns out the wreckage was added to the credits by ABC, not a choice made by Cuse/Lindelof. Those of us trying to find meaning in it are misguided — it was something thrown by the network in to ease the transition to the local news.

            Here’s the link

            • Derek Johnson on May 26, 2010 at 7:36 AM

              Just because the network added it does that not make it meaningful as a paratext?

            • Derek Johnson on May 26, 2010 at 8:16 AM

              sorry for the double post, but looking at the comments from the ABC executives in your link, I am fascinated by the fact that ABC is trying to delegitimize their own potential meaning-generating ability by going on record that these images were “not part of the final story.” This campaign to so carefully police what can and cannot be meaningful, and what is and isn’t authored–it’s like a little microcosm of Lost, where they throw viewers a bunch of stuff beg us to ruminate on their meanings, and then they tell us that stuff doesn’t matter. I’d just really like to see fans decide what is and isn’t meaningful to them, rather than networks or showrunners.

            • Jason Mittell on May 26, 2010 at 2:48 PM

              But Derek, fans ascribe intentionality to the authors, regularly citing what Damon & Carlton say as canon. If you’re trying to claim that in the story nobody survived the crash, can you really use evidence that had no intention to communicate that message over actual narrative content? I’m not saying that authors can delimit meaning in full – and I think my review makes it clear that I appreciate the open-endedness of much of the finale – but you can’t claim that an image proves anything when it was put there more or less by accident.

            • Derek Johnson on May 26, 2010 at 3:34 PM

              I do think viewers can make that claim, yes. They might not get very far with it, given the discursive dominance of authorial intention. But some viewers did make the claim for a couple days until ABC came in and basically told them to stop making that meaning (which to me is the whole point of ABC offering quotes in the article Sean posted–someone with power over what meanings are OK to make from Lost decided they needed to make a statement to try to shut down those meanings). And what of the viewer who doesn’t see ABC’s clarification? I just think appeals to authorial intentionality seem a little old fashioned. To retreat to my BSG safehaven for a moment–does the fact that Ronald Moore says the New Caprica arc is not really about the Iraq occupation make it any less of a means of reflecting upon and making sense of that very occupation? Not me.

              Maybe the end credits are a promotional paratext, and not a text, but that’s exactly why they’re still meaningful.

            • Elizabeth Rose on May 27, 2010 at 1:30 PM

              Good to know, thank you. This, IMHO, ranks (in all its meanings) with V countdown clock and the timing of the Nicorette shark commercial after Sayid, Jin & Sun’s deaths. (I didn’t make the Nicorette connection until two weeks later when I happened to flip past it. So there, you stupid sponsor with your stupid ad.) I sincerely think they hire the suits at the nets for their absolute cluelessness and stupidity. Here’s a show all about symbolism and the last image we’re given is such a powerful symbol, it takes the breath away (however one might interpret it)? It’s almost like someone there is having a joke at our expense and the expense of the people who made the show. If it were up to me, whoever placed that there (in lieu of a MILLION other innocuous images that could’ve made the transition to the news) should be fired. Especially as we’re inured now to the in-house promo stuff they show over the credits, which made the image all the more powerful. And Derek, I disagree that this is paratext. The zeitgeist of this show is too diverse for this image to be anything but polarizing. If fans wanted to re-imagine the plane after the crash, that’s fine, but it wasn’t up to the suits to do for us. So they should recant, IMHO.

            • Jason Mittell on May 29, 2010 at 11:12 PM

              Derek – we’re talking about different levels of meaning here. Moore is saying (I believe somewhat coyly) that he didn’t intend New Caprica as an Iraq allegory – but we are surely open to making that interpretation. What we cannot do is claim that New Caprica is actually Iraq within the storyworld, as there’s no evidence or rationale to support that.

              People claiming that nobody survived Oceanic 815 – I’ve heard them called “crashers,” comparable to evidence-denying, conspiracy-minded “birthers” – are not making an interpretation of theme or allegory. They are claiming that something happened in the storyworld that clearly did not, an act of comprehension not interpretation. There is no ambiguity that holds up on this question, and the one piece of evidence that is being offered was an unintentional action not endorsed by the storytellers.

              It’s like if a promo for BSG said “Next week, the Battlestar lands in Iraq” and Moore disowned the promo as the work of the network that he had no input into. Would that paratext make New Caprica equal to Iraq in the storyworld (not in allegory, but literal action)?

            • Derek Johnson on May 30, 2010 at 9:11 AM

              Thanks for tackling this point with me, Jason. I think you make an excellent distinction: we are talking about different kinds of meanings, interpretation vs. comprehension. But at the end of the day I’m still not willing to give up my position.

              Ultimately, I think the idea of singular comprehension of authorial intent is being trotted out to close down an otherwise more open meaning making process. “Comprehension” allows us to talk about the meanings viewers SHOULD have made, as if some are somehow deficient (conspiracy theorists?) for the way they comprehended the text in negotiation of intervening paratexts. I say give these people a break–the crash images were a far more proximate paratext to the text than the later paratextual clarifications of authorial intent (so proximate it had to be clarified that it wasn’t part of a text). I don’t think that what “happened” in the story world is as textually clear as you insist, and it it took another paratext stating intent to combat the power the first images had to inflect another comprehension of text (especially on a show where what you think you once comprehended was always subject to revision and new comprehensions later on).

              Plus, while I understand the conceptual differences between comprehension and interpretation, I’m wary of how the idea of “comprehension” could be used to give some claims about textual experience the status of common sense universal truth, despite the existence of other claims and experiences that become policed as “wrong” in this binary. No matter how much you think they’ve just misread, the “crashers” exist, and discussion of their lack of “comprehension” delegitimate and dismiss their empirical experiences with the text. (I guess I’d be curious to know what the stakes are here–why does it matter that crasher readings are debunked as poor comprehension? Who is served by this?) Perhaps because I found Lost wanting in the end, I’m more interested in that messy process of meaning making than adjudicating any one “correct” comprehension.

              Thanks for keeping this discussion going!

            • Elizabeth Rose on May 30, 2010 at 2:28 PM

              Always love being chopped liver. 🙂 Seriously, I think both Derek and Jason have valuable perspectives. Perhaps it boils down to the fact that someone at ABC thought this would be a fitting image, and one could see this as paratext, just plain inappropriate, or an avatar of a subset of fan/viewer interpretation. Now that a few days have passed, I can actually think about this without steam leaving my ears. BTW, did anyone catch the encore last night on ABC? I didn’t, but I did find it interesting that without all those extra ads, it only ran an extra five minutes. (Not that I’m surprised.) It would interesting to know how they handled that last shot in the encore. (Perhaps they went straight to the Jimmy Kimmel encore?) If anyone knows, please share. Thanks!

    • LostnLost on May 24, 2010 at 8:11 PM

      I caught myself wondering “ok, what are these here for…?”. Then I thought ummm maybe there are some series ending easter eggs in the pictures somewhere.

      I was initially a little freaked out by the pictures. However with a day to think about it. I think it creates a great frame and point of view to remind us how far indeed we have come since the crash.

      A startk reminder of season 1

    • Jason Mittell on May 24, 2010 at 10:21 PM

      My take was that the wreckage was a bit of calm imagery to reflect on where we came from, not anything of narrative significance. But if any freeze-framers find anything…

  8. Tess Wilson on May 24, 2010 at 1:37 PM

    Thanks for bringing attention to the importance of Vincent’s presence by Jack as he died. At that moment, I too was reminded of Jack’s “live together, die alone” speech and found it incredibly heart-warming. I would guess many others saw it as cheesy. But I thought it symbolized the overriding message of the series nicely.

    And I agree with your take on the spiritual aspects of the ending. I am an agnostic and was a little worried things would end in a decidedly Judeo-Christian way. But I felt it was handled well – there were allusions to many different belief systems, religious and humanist.

  9. […] with the entire 2.5-hour finale (“The End”) — with gusto, labeling it “the most emotionally affecting moment” of the episode, “bittersweet […], a rush of nostalgia coupled with the sense of […]

  10. Derek Johnson on May 24, 2010 at 4:45 PM

    Now that I’ve broken my Lost radio silence, I have a question for you, Jason, in that I’m intrigued by your mention of the “still emerging storytelling mode of complex primetime serials.” With Lost being the arguable bellwether of narrative complexity, does this last minute emphasis on character via the marginalization of plot demand a re-working of how we understand N.C.? For example, your characterization of N.C. in your VLT piece seems to be defined as a subordination of character and relationships to plot: “narratively complex programs tell stories serially while rejecting or downplaying the melodramatic style and primary focus on relationships over plots of soap opera” and “narratively complex programming typically foregrounds plot developments far more centrally than soaps, allowing relationship and character drama to emerge from plot development in an emphasis reversed from soap operas.” In veering away from this at the last moment, and setting character and relationships above and beyond plot development and operational reflexivity, does Lost become less narratively complex? More soap-like? Or is this rebalance part of what is still emerging about the N.C. model?

  11. Barbara Gianquitto-Imerti on May 24, 2010 at 5:11 PM

    Hi everybody,
    What I didn’t understand at all – and I hope somebody can explain it to me is: if it was all real like Mike Harrell says, then does it mean that the sideways stories were also real i.e. Sawyer and Juliet, Locke having the operation etc? And then they all met again once they died (although in no particular order as there is no “here” and “now”)? If that’s the case then when Kate/Sawyer and co. left were did they go back to? If the alternate reality was true, and the experiment “worked’ as Juliet said before dying, wouldn’t they have found their “doubles”? Or did they go back to yet another alternate reality?

    • Elizabeth Rose on May 24, 2010 at 7:12 PM

      Several commentors on EW.com’s various posts suggested that Sideways was for them a more elaborate version of the last scene of Titanic, and I can definitely see that too, especially in the Christian-Jack connection followed by Jack walking into the nave to be greeted by his friends, who, as Christian pointed out, may have died before or after Jack, because there is “no ‘now’ here.” My own issue with that is in Titanic we see young Rose being greeted by her Jack and the others who died on the ship, not others who may have affected her life after her rescue. (That was in the credit-photo-montage.) Bottom line for me (at least for now): The End was about Jack’s death, Jack brought us into the story of these people and he took us out of it. (Well, Jack & Vincent.) I’ve also read the suggestion that Sideways was a rule created by Island Protector Hurley to give his dead friends some wish fulfillment before “moving on.” If so, then it certainly seems possible that there was more to Sideways, and I think it’s up to each of us to interpret that and fill it in for ourselves. Either way, if one interprets that the Ajira takeoff was real (as I increasingly am, especially given Kate’s comment, “I missed you SO much”) it still happens in a different dimension from Sideways. For all we know Hurley was the one who actually sunk the island, not Jughead, and not to put out the light, but to protect it without requiring another human protector who might screw up again and release another Smokey. Let alone the whole concept of trapping people into a particular destiny, as Jacob did in spite of insisting he wasn’t. I’d like to think Jacob was right about one thing: It all ends once. FWIW.

      • Elizabeth Rose on May 30, 2010 at 2:34 PM

        Since I wrote this, I’ve noticed a fan consensus that Jughead created Sideways. Whether this was the storyteller intent or not, I find it interesting that everyone felt impelled to return to Jughead to give The Incident meaning. I think I also like it as one of several interpretations. Now if we could just find out who Juliet shot in that outrigger chase! 🙂

    • Elizabeth Rose on May 24, 2010 at 7:20 PM

      P.S. There has been a lot of debate today about whether the island was part of our reality or another reality, given what we learned about Sideways. I’m leaning toward the idea that it was a little of both, but in The End, it didn’t really matter, it was stories of the characters that mattered, and why would stories that might occur in the afterlife have to be any less important than stories that occur in “our” reality? After all, it’s not as if I ever expect to meet these people, either here or in the Great Beyond. 😉

    • LostnLost on May 24, 2010 at 9:23 PM

      Barbara, what a great question and my every attempt to put the ending into a difinitive explination or context is left with more wholes in my logic than swiss cheese.

      My overall belief is that the Sideways world is not real in the sense of the Island world or the characters lives before they get to the sideways world.

      I tend to agree with Jason and others who view the Sideways world as a staging ground where I believe dead people in the traditional your body is no longer alive sense find their way to the next phase of live after physical death.

      Jack had to resolve daddy issues and the need to fix and control things in order to LET GO. In his sideways world, he is a dad is learning to break the cycle of father-son animosity and it takes all of the (dead) lost people, who helped him through the best times of his life to break out of sideways world and LET GO to the posibility of different conciousness without beginning or end.

      Now I know there are tons of wholes in that logic. But to answer your question No I don’t think the Sideways world was a physical place. I think it was a world inside your mind or spirit that had all the trapping of the real world and when you are in it you think you are in the real world but you ar not.

      Not that the Matrix remotely applies but the concept of people living entire lives beliving everything they say and do is real even though in fact the matrix people were in a pod is sorta how I see the sideways world minus the matrix or pods. But people in this existance see and live and beleive everything they are doing is real, even as locke told him near the end “Jack you don’t have a child”. In the sideways world until his mind is open he believes and appears to have a son and ex-wife. Even if that world is not real in the traditional sense.

      I think Charlie was the first one to articulate what happens in the sideways world really doesn’t matter and I believe he was right as the sideways world seems to be a construct for lost souls to redeem them self, get help in trying to redeem them self or be stuck in a Matrix type loop living an existance that you believe is real but it really isn’t.

      I thought it was very appropraite that Desmond again was the Constant that could cross over and have conciousness in both whatever the sideways world is/was and the Island. He was also another person who said the Sideways world doesn’t matter and isn’t real. His Goal was to get people to Know Themself even if his methods at times were cruel (running over locke). Yet he knew he had to find a way to get each of the castaways to see that what they were doing in the Sideways world was not Real.

      Now unfortunately, this pot holes full of logic only works if we throw out a linear timeline as I think the key requirement to getting into the Sideways world is you have to be dead. And we know all of the Island Characters did not die at the same time.

      So if Christian Sheppard is right in that “there is no now”, here. Then I’m assuming the Sideways world is way in the future after all of the castaways died and are reunited in this staging sideways world to help each other move on.

      As we see near the end, Hurley is no longer the Island Protector and even compliments Ben (past tense) for being a good #2 which would mean this sideways episode could be 1000’s of year in the future if Hurley lasted as long as Jacob did protecting the island.

      And even though Linus fully seem to understand why they were there and what the significance of Jack Letting go ment, he seemed to still be carrying guilt and was not ready to move on to the next step.

      His heartful apology to Locke and he letting locke know that in this Sideways reality Locke really did not need to be in the wheel chair also led me to believe the sideways world is not a real place but more of a staging ground reality type purgatory where people can get to the next step. Ben does not feel worthy to enter the church and join the losties in Jack “letting Go and Gainning new Awareness” celebration.

      Eloise Hawkings is another person who seems to be aware that the Sideways world really is not REAL. Yet she apparently never got over guilt of Killing her Son (twice I think) and even though she knows it is not real she likes seeing her boy. In the Sideways world it seems she even steers him away from Physics and he is a Musician. That is until he begins to get conciousness that the sideways world is not Real in the sense that we would call it real.

      To your other question when Sawyer, Kate, Claire, Miles and Lapidus flew off the island on Ajra flight 316 in terms of the Island and Off Island time and Jack looked up just before dying to see the plane flying away, I think that was real. When they get back to the mainland they will be in the REAL world where they left and Not the Sideways world which I think they only enter upon physical death.

      I know the lost writers were intrigued with the Fans early thoughts that the story was somehow purgatory and everyone was dead. They went out of their way to let people know this was not purgatory but lindoff/Curse loved the Purgatory idea and the sideways world might be thier attempt to pay tribute to fandom while keeping with their orginal words that life on the island is?was not purgatory.

      Plus the sideway writing device was yet another ground breaking tool this team used to teall a TV story. Rather incredible if you think about just the way they redefined how you tell a story with more than just simple and complext flashforwards and flash backs. At the end of the day this was creative story telling whether we got all the answers we wanted or not. This had been an Impressive journey that began 6 years ago. Who would have thought wer are wherever it is that we are today.

      On the other hand, this whole line of Sideways world = not real potential staging gound/purgatory-ish construct thinking could be complete crap :–).

      Ok, my brain is fried!

  12. Elizabeth Rose on May 24, 2010 at 6:45 PM

    Did anyone else find the whole “faith in duct tape” sequence sci-fi-tastic? On the 30th Anniversary weekend of “The Empire Strikes Back” I was immediately thinking of the constant tinkering on the Millenium Falcon, and also thinking of Dr. Who and his constant tinkering on the Tardis. (And Red Green of course, although he’s not technically sci-fi.) One could even argue that the Trek/Roddenberry conceit of finding the solution to the life-threatening situation in the very last second was also being recalled. Kudos to Darlton for the homage, and probably intended specifically for a special SW anniversary.

    • Will on May 25, 2010 at 7:35 AM

      Also, Jacob is “worse than Yoda” and Hurley has “a bad feeling about this”. Though these weren’t, of course, the first references to Star Wars in Lost.

  13. Elizabeth Rose on May 24, 2010 at 7:52 PM

    Jason, excellent post, thank you. I haven’t spent much time here with the LOST crowd, but you’ve pointed me to some other great places (including your blog and Antenna), and I appreciate that. You said what I’d like to say, only oh so much better! And thank you for the Vincent discussion, which has been quoted (from what I can see) all over LOST fandom. My beloved Chesapeake passed away on Saturday after 12 years of love and friendship, and I hadn’t really let it hit me (others at home with feelings I wanted to be sensitive about) until that penultimate scene. That did me in personally for both the show and for how well this show has mirrored the experience of this fan (and all of us, I’m sure). For those who don’t believe in synchronicity, consider this exhibit one.

  14. CG on May 24, 2010 at 10:28 PM

    you fucking NAILED it! I’ve been meditating about the show with my friends since it ended. I think the finale definitely delivered a lot of mental peace to its biggest fans. And in terms of it being a “television phenomena,” people have argued that it’s ratings and narrative influence are nothing new or special, but the conversations it’s stirring and posts like the ones above prove it is something very unique and profound for those who started watching with Jack opening his eye. And I don’t think a blanket “cult following” label can be applied to the show’s fans. This ain’t no Star Trek. Great post, Jason!

  15. […] We are huge Lost fans. As such, we have no problem with mysteries not being explained. The point of the series was to deal with unknowns as they happened – and we loved it. Polar bears on tropical islands? Why not. So, we expected not to receive answers to some pressing mysteries including: an explanation of Widmore and Eloise’s roles in the island and time travel narrative, what Jacob and (Man in Black) MiB were doing with their duel lists of candidates on the cave and lighthouse, what really happened in the incident, and what Desmond is up to. If these aren’t explained, I’ll be pissed, because the narrative has framed them as key enigmas that need answering to piece together the action. Jason Mittell – Antenna […]

  16. amanda klein on May 25, 2010 at 11:50 AM

    I like that you compared this finale to SIX FEET UNDER’s (which I also put in my top 5 TV finales). The SIX FEET UNDER finale was satisfying because it allowed the viewer to say goodbye to each character from the series and to indulge the viewer’s desire to really mourn these characters. I cried through that entire finale and when it was all over, it really felt like it was OVER. LOST fulfilled a similar function, bringing together all of the characters that I had come to know and love these last 6 years (Boone! Shannon!), and then letting me really cry over their demise (both within the diegesis and outside of it).

    However, like you, I don’t feel LOST was as successful as SIX FEET UNDER–the latter’s use of death and mourning makes perfect sense int he context of a series about death and mourning. In LOST it did feel a little manipulative, as a way to possibly avoid answering some of the bigger questions of the series.

    Nevertheless, I cried as I watched and therefore emotionally satisfied (though not narratively satisfied).

    And yes, the moment when Vincent goes to lie down with Jack, so that he wouldn’t die alone, was perfect and beautiful. Loved loved loved it.

    • Elizabeth Rose on May 27, 2010 at 1:46 PM

      Indeed, one of my favorites as well. I would suggest, however, that with the role death played in LOST, it isn’t entirely out of context to have a parallel story that prepares us for Jack’s death and the reunion of others we “loved and lost.” (Remember Jack’s death was planned from the beginning, although originally for the Pilot itself.) We can only assume with assurance that Kate, Sawyer, Claire, Lapidus, Miles, and Richard escaped the island alive. Hurley and Ben were going to try to get Desmond home, but we have no idea if they did. (I hope they did and the sanctuary scene validated that.) Given Vincent’s last scene, one assumes that Rose and Bernard survived in “retirement.” (Perhaps as friends to Hurley, offering an example of “detachment” that may have helped him.) And there may have been a few Others who survived the Widmore attack, but they will remain a mystery to us.

  17. Jason Mittell on May 26, 2010 at 2:43 PM

    Anyone following along the comments, just a pointer to my further thoughts on the finale and unanswered questions.

  18. Elizabeth Rose on May 27, 2010 at 2:21 PM

    Here’s a thought about Sideways David. We’ve all talked about him as if he was simply a vehicle to help Jack repair his own relationship with his father. What if Jack and Kate became pregnant on that night before Ajira 316? (Remember they had to “recreate the conditions” of 815, including the pregnant unmarried Claire. Perhaps island magic helped them do this, even if they didn’t realize or consciously plan it. I do think it was pretty clear they had a “reunion” that could’ve helped this to happen.) I always expected Kate to reveal this, but of course Season six took place only over the course of a week or so, so she may not have known. (Jacob’s comments could have referred to this as well, as Aaron was not her son, and she did come back to the island to retrieve Aaron’s real mother, which Jacob conveniently failed to mention. Plus she was not crossed off in the Lighthouse yet.) So what if Sideways David is a manifestation of their child after Jack’s death? Perhaps still alive and well after Kate’s death, but being “reflected” for the purpose of helping Jack repair the relationship with his father as well as experience the relationship with a son he never knew?

  19. Elizabeth Rose on May 27, 2010 at 2:36 PM

    Last post for now: A minor semantic point. The “back room” everyone refers to is actually called a “sacristy.” Although Kate telling Jack to go to the back entrance is undoubtedly significant. Given her change of clothing in the interim, I think the Kate we saw inside was the “after death” Kate as opposed to the sideways Kate. One could argue that they are the same, both are after her death, but I think Kate before the church was there to be enlightened and to enlighten Jack. The one in the church was there to reunite with him. I apologize if I sound a little dense, I’m still sorting this out myself.

  20. Neil on May 27, 2010 at 7:13 PM

    What annoys me about the end was Hurley. One one hand I was really rooting for him. He’s easily my favorite character and his character centric episodes are some of my all time favorite lost episodes… BUT I can’t help but feel like he is Lost’s Tommy Westphall. Him taking the role of island protector just dovetails too nicely into ‘Dave,’ the season 2 episode where we are led to believe the entire show is the delusion of a mentally unbalanced Hurley. By becoming the reluctant defender of the realm, the writers set us up with a strong suggestion that despite several conversations over the course of the show where that concept was walked back, this was perhaps still a strong possibility.

    I am thus torn. I loved the episode. I love the character of Hurley. I hate the feeling I was left with when Hurley ascended to protector.

  21. Elliot on May 31, 2010 at 10:40 PM

    I loved reading this, as I’ve loved reading and hearing so many different reactions. I knew that the end of the show would provide insight into how and why people take pleasure in watching a show like Lost.

    One thing that stuck out to me (in my own reaction and a few others I’ve encountered) is the immediate desire to make comparisons, not as a way of ranking the ending but as a way to try to understand it. After I had a chance to think about it for awhile, the ending reminded me of Donny Darko (plane-related disaster + possible time-travel divergent timeline + acceptance of death) and Abre Los Ojos/Vanilla Sky (the explanation about the people who matter most to you + acceptance of death). I did this not to suggest that the ending was unoriginal (I think a lot of people made comparisons of Avatar to Fern Gully, Dance with Wolves, and Pocahontas for just that reason). There are only so many endings so it is bound to resemble SOME existing narrative. To be honest, I’m still not quite sure why seeing the similarities amongst other narratives and this one added pleasure to the experience for me. Maybe I needed to somehow justify liking it by seeing it as similar to narratives I knew I liked.

    On an unrelated note, I thought Chuck Klosterman (on a Sports Guy podcast) had an interesting observation about the tone of the ending. The show could’ve retained the same plot elements (everybody dies, eventually) but instead of depicting this with poignant music and a bright light, it could’ve just cut to black. Saying that this would’ve radically altered many people’s reaction to the conclusion is a fairly obvious point, and yet many people I’ve talked to/read concentrate on whether or not the events in the plot were emotionally satisfying and don’t really talk about formal/tonal elements.