Lost: A Bittersweet End

By Tim Surette

May 24, 2010

Are you angry? Feeling cheated? Quickly realizing that all the effort and attention you put into Lost in the past six years was for naught? I don't blame you.

But I also understand if you feel entirely satisfied with how the series wrapped things up.

"The End" will go down as both one of the greatest disappointments AND joyous series enders in television history, and which side of the line you stand on will largely depend on what Lost meant to you. Those of you who were caught up in the mysteries and stories of the show probably picked up the shattered remnants of your television this morning after destroying it last night in a fit of rage and a cloud of unanswered questions. Those of you who really focused on the characters likely called your mothers and close friends and told them how much you love them and that you'll see them in another life, brutha.

In the end, we never really learned what the island was, never found out what made Walt special, never got the whole Egyptology thing, [I could go on and on for a few hours with more questions that will remain questions, but you get the picture], and I thought that would be okay with me. But I'm not so sure it was.

Instead we got a series finale that spun things around so fast and felt a wee bit tacked on. Let's face it, the whole Limbo/Purgatory ending could have happened at any point in the series—it was that sharp of an ending.

Don't get me wrong, I didn't hate the ending. In terms of a spiritual, character-centric finale, it definitely did the trick, albeit in a fairly easy way. We're all lost souls waiting for the next step in the overall timeless and spaceless sense of things. Next stop, eternal happiness. And I'm very grateful for the nonsecular, non-preachy way the producers went about things.

Seeing Jack in the final moments speak with his father was, for me, probably the second-most emotional point in an incredibly emotional series (nothing will ever top Charlie's death). And when Jack finally "let go" it hit hard. Here was a character I've loved and hated and loved again finally getting what he deserved most, and I felt it big time. This was the ending Cuse and Lindelof crafted when they repeatedly said "Lost is all about the characters."

But the problem for Cuse and Lindelof is, despite downplaying so many of the mysteries of the island and this universe they created, they accidentally created a scenario where we cared about the mythology just as much—and in most cases even more—than the characters.

Lost has always been a two-headed monster for me. I'll always relate to Jack wanting to fix everyone he sees. I'll remember the heroic sacrifices that Charlie made to save his friends. I think Sawyer is one of the best, most wonderfully complicated characters I've ever had the joy to watch on TV. And I'm glad that all of them got what theoretically and spiritually is one of the happiest endings of all-time. Eternal bliss sure beats just defeating the bad guy or riding into the sunset.

But dammit, the other head of the Lost monster just feels like it got lopped off. And that's what makes "The End" such a bittersweet final chapter for such an engrossing show. So much of what we grew to love about the series was glossed over and simply faded out.

If Lost was, as Lindelof and Cuse state, all about the characters, then why were we always asking "what do the numbers mean?" and "what is the black smoke?" As I've said before, a disappointing finale doesn't ruin the series as a whole, but don't Cuse and Lindelof have a little responsibility to satisfy the fans that stuck with the show for the sci-fi? Just sayin'.

Next: Okay Tim, but what does it all mean? >>

So that was my review and initial reaction after watching the finale. But what about what actually happened? Everyone's going to have a different opinion on the sideways-universe, and because it was still pretty vague at the end, you can say just about anything and you wouldn't be entirely wrong.

The most popular theories this morning will involve the side-flash being a version of Purgatory or Limbo, a large waiting room for souls after our hearts stop pumping blood, our lungs deflate, and our brains are just oatmeal. This timeless universe exists so that we can check all our baggage at the door and prepare for eternity with those that made our lives special in the first place.

Everything that happened on the island did indeed happen (what happened, happened!), with Jack's final journey and death coinciding on-screen with the moment he was able to let go and finally give Daddy a big old hug and ship off to that big bright light in the sky. Or maybe everything that happened on the island didn't happen at all because they were all dead when the plane, you know, crashed.

Of course, if all the stuff on the island did happen, then there are legitimate questions dealing with black smoke, carved rocks that act as sink-stoppers, and a bright, golden light. But then we'd just be running in circles.

Another interesting take comes from Jimmy Kimmel, who led off his Aloha to Lost special with this thought (paraphrasing from memory): The turbulence on Oceanic 815 was the moment when Jack died, and all the events on the island were a "test" for Jack, who passed with flying colors and earned his ticket to long-lasting happiness with his friends.

But if the events on the island were simply a test, then why would his church-room bus from Purgatory to the White Light be filled with strangers that flew on the same plane with him?

We'll never really know a definitive answer for what it all means, and that's 100-percent intentional by Cuse and Lindelof. But we can at least sit around with our closest friends and talk about it for... oh, eternity.

Stray Thoughts

... Another great production from television's most impressive crew. They churned out a two-and-a-half-hour show that looked like that on a regular television schedule? These guys are super human. Great work from director Jack Bender orchestrating the entire thing.

... Emmy time is going to be rough for the Lost crew this time, but I think it's time for Matthew Fox to get his first Emmy nomination for Lost. I'm not sure Michael Emerson would make my shortlist, but Terry O'Quinn certainly would. Fox and O'Quinn have had tremendous scenes together this season; I think O'Quinn makes everyone around him better. The debate is moot though, as Bryan Cranston deserves a three-peat for Breaking Bad.

... Another superb performance by Michael Giaccino, whose score is as integral to the show as the acting and directing.

... Shannon and Sayid... DO NOT WANT! Sayid and Nadia... DO WANT!

... Also do not want: Charlie with guy-liner.

... Hurley, please try and conceal your disappointment for pulling up Desmond instead of Jack from the Glow Hole* next time. *=trademarked by commenter MichaelFC.

Who were the bones down in the magic light pit? The people before Jacob's adopted mom?

... The Man in Black's demise was a tad anti-climactic, taken down by a single shot from Kate's rifle. A villain like that deserves a much more dastardly exit.

... The "Final Transmissions" segments were equally entertaining and scary. Who are these people? Someone got married on a certain date to coordinate it with the show? Here's a suggestion: a life... get one.

... The Target ads, on the other hand, weren't so bad.

... The worst part of the Lost celebration was the blatant lie that was the alternate endings on the Jimmy Kimmel special. They weren't even that funny. There was no excuse for that deception, ABC. You have been warned.

... I'm converting back to wanting finales that have solid, concrete endings. The open-ended discussions are nice, but for once, a high-profile finale that wraps things up without doubt would be a refreshing change. Besides, making things vague is starting to seem more like a cop-out than any work of genius.

User Contribution News

I asked for predictions from you guys for the finale, and while no one hit the nail on the head, little details were correctly predicted. My favorites from Cassandra_Elise, who said Rose and Bernard would appear for about two seconds and that Juliet would ask Sawyer to go dutch for some coffee. True that.

Juwanh said, "I never understand why we rate episodes against each other. They are all an important piece of the entire body of the show. Would you rate your arm against your foot?" Easy. Arm hands down. No pun intended.

slerman12 asks, "Do you read every comment? That must be a really boring part of your day." You have no idea!

Those of you looking for Breaking Bad write-ups, apologies for last week. It was upfronts, and I had no time to do anything but update schedules! But I'll write up last night's article tomorrow (a day late, but better than nothing).

Finally, I really want to thank all of you for helping to make Wednesdays so much fun. Writing these articles has been as much fun as watching the show, and I loved how much I feared and enjoyed reading through the comments that agreed and blasted me. I learned a lot from you guys, and I hope some of you got a sliver of entertainment from reading these things. I sure had fun writing them.

Now all we need is a new TV show to watch together.


The Lost Season 6 Episode Power Rankings

(I'll be keeping tabs on each episode, ranking them in terms of quality each week, right here. Your opinions will differ from mine.)

"The End": There are enough reasons to put "The End" at the top or bottom of my list, and trust me, I want to put it way up top but I can't because of the reasons mentioned on the previous page. I don't feel ripped off, yet I don't feel completely satisfied. I'm struggling internally with Cuse and Lindelof's decision, and a large part of me feels they have a responsibility that they didn't own up to. I especially feel horrible for all the fans that got bogged down with the island's riddles and didn't get the answers they needed. There have been way worst series finales, but there also have been plenty of better ones. I wish I could create some new number and place "The End" there, but that would be cheating. So let's throw it right in the middle. (I know "The End" is technically a two-parter, but I'm keeping it as one.)

1. "The Substitute" Ep. 4
2. "Ab Aeterno" Ep. 9
3. "The Candidate" Ep. 14
4. "Across the Sea" Ep. 15
5. "Happily Ever After" Ep. 11
6. "What They Died For" Ep. 16
7. "Everybody Loves Hugo" Ep. 12
8. "Recon" Ep. 8
9. "The End" Ep. 17
10. "LA X (2)" Ep. 2
11. "The Lighthouse" Ep. 5
12. "The Last Recruit" Ep. 13
13. "Sundown" Ep. 6
14. "LA X (1)" Ep. 1
15. "Dr. Linus Ep. 7
16. "The Package" Ep. 10
17. "What Kate Does" Ep. 3

Your Homework:

School's out for summer, guys. But I may have an extra credit assignment in the form of a post-mortem sometime this week.

Follow TV.com writer Tim Surette on Twitter: @TimAtTVDotCom

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  • greysonflax Jul 03, 2014

    I would watch the finale again and see if you enjoy it more!

  • Full_Bleed Jun 13, 2010

    This is one of the best articles you've written here, Tim. It seemed honest and not just an attempt at provocation (which is what I see too many articles on this site playing at lately.) But, honestly, if it had truly ended with the *collective* leap of faith they all took at the end of season 5 to avoid the crash, and season 6 had done nothing but explain the island I'd have been more fulfilled. I don't need a show like Lost to tell me that, "Good people go to Heaven." That's a conclusion I could have come to without their assistance.

  • AdeleTeras Jun 13, 2010

    I liked that they did not answer all the questions, it would have felt artificial. The mystery of the series was the thing that made me it special. I would not have wanted all the answers spelled out. I liked it.

  • frostdude Jun 13, 2010

    well said, CHARLIE had the most tragic and yet touching sacrifice !!!

  • paulo5557 Jun 12, 2010

    Loved it! it was so amazing....funny that everyone who says they hated it can't spell of write complete sentences :) The finale was one of the best episodes of the show ever. The series barely lives up to the emotional punch of those last 10-20 minutes...it takes some life lived and some loved ones lost to appreciate it. The young kids on here will find out someday..."everyone dies sometime" as Christian said...achingly beautiful~deep~mature writing...

  • inlovewithalion Jun 10, 2010

    dont get me wrong i do love the show!! But the finale worst episode ever!! Jeffrey Lieber, J. J. Abrams, Damon Lindelof you ended one fabulous show on one big giant flop!! Curse you, curse you all!!

  • retroman77 Jun 09, 2010

    far most stupid finale ever,they think that we are all stupid

  • retroman77 Jun 09, 2010

    far most stupid finale ever,they think that we are all stupid

  • chkaiban Jun 08, 2010

    Lost, specially last episode, was a complete waste of time. I just cannot imagine how can people watch it again or even threw their money to own it. I wouldn't add it to my DVDs collection even if It was for free.

  • AmeerSedAl Jun 06, 2010

    Amen to that Muderboy...

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