Time To Let Go
"You needed all of them and they needed you," says Christian Shepard with mild, glowing eyes to his son Jack. The doc looks around in the church where he was supposed to have his father's funeral, clearly confused. He looks at his father, there are nearly tears in his eyes now. "For what?" To which Christian replies: "To remember and to... let go." One of the last scenes of Lost reveals a fun metaphor in which Jack is the audience of Lost: confused, frustrated, sad. Because a few minutes later, the audience just like Jack needs to let go of the show that has caught them on a figurative island for its six year run. Though the very last hundred and five minutes of Lost may be polarizing to the series' large fan-base, I found myself completely stuck to my television screen until the moment main-character Jack closes his eye and the screen fades out. For my television that was the end, for my brains, however... not exactly; just like Jack, I had a hard time letting go. And I still have.
The finale immediately starts with emotional, nostalgic music from Micheal Giacchino as we see how Christian Shepard's coffin finally is recovered by Oceanic airlines. What follows are some nice cuts intertwined in the alternate time line to show us where every character stands on the island. Jack is now the new island protector and he and his friends set out to go to the heart of the island where Jack believes he can stop Locke. Hurley's response to the plan is, however (the series final Star Wars reference): "I have a bad feeling about this." For the last time the Lost logo that J.J. Abrams made on his laptop years ago floats by and we're dragged into a finale of non-stop suspense and tension, emotion and action. 'A storm is coming to the island' might not be the most original story device, but it works really well and it gives us a feeling that for the last time something terrible is about to happen. This storm, together with some cool aerial camera shots of director Jack Bender, works great to give the finale an epic feeling that you rarely see in a television show.
The main conflict of the plot is the final conflict between Jack and Locke. It is a delight to see that this conflict revolves around two characters that always had conflicts in the earlier seasons, though it now comes back in a completely different context. Jack is now the man of faith, while Locke (well, actually the never-named man in black wearing Locke's face) now is the man of science. Both men want to prove each other wrong about the heart of the island which reflects their conflict revolving the button in the hatch in season two. It is brilliant that the finale in fact resembles the season two finale so much without lazily copying it or without being too obvious.
After Jack and Locke lowered Desmond in the heart of the island, Desmond unplugs the mysterious cork. The light has been put out and as everything starts to tremble, Desmond screams. Was Jack wrong? Is the man in black actually going to succeed? Well, not exactly. Locke is now mortal. It is neat that this last reveal does not feel forced, but rather logical and fitting because the smoke monster, after all, was somehow created by the light. Tension now really starts to rise. As Jack goes after the man in black to confront him in a final battle, Sawyer, Kate, Hurley and Ben try to escape the island, which is slowly falling apart. Then there is also Richard, Miles and Lapidus trying to fix the Ajira plane before the island sinks to the bottom of the ocean. The raging storm and the trembling island allow a great mise en scene the lighting is dark, the storm makes it all the more looming and the island feels once more like this dangerous and unpredictable place. An epic cinematography is used when Locke and Jack confront each other for the last time. Camera's are flying above the two actors jumping into each other, ready to kill. Locke manages to stab Jack, but Kate comes to rescue and shoots him ("I saved you a bullet!" she says, because, ironically enough, Locke earlier said to her that she could better save her bullets for later). The wounded Jack kicks the man in black off a cliff, which cleverly resembles the way the man in black kicked a stabbed Jacob into a fire last season. But it is still not over yet. The earthquakes keep going on. And as Jack kisses Kate goodbye and shakes hands with Sawyer, Kate and the conman hurry to make it to the plane. Jack returns to the heart together with Hurley and Ben.
Here everything is perfectly balanced, just like the finale of season three "Through the Looking Glass", considered to be one of the best Lost episodes. The writing is great: sharp dialogue, great tension, rich metaphors the best maybe when Juliet tells Sawyer in the alternate time line that he should unplug the vending machine and then plug it back in (metaphor for unplugging the light in the heart of the island). And overall there is a perfect balance between tension (the island storyline mainly), some comic relief exactly on the places where necessary and emotion (especially in the alternate time line, where everyone 'remembers'). Furthermore, every character gets a moment to shine in the right places. Especially Hurley and Ben, after a wounded Jack plugs the plug back in and the electromagnetic light shines once more and the earthquakes stop. Hurley is left as the new protector of the island, stepping into Jacob's shoes. Hurley, who always was the comic relief of the show, is now one of the most important people in the history of the island but why him? "You do what you do best, Hugo. Taking care of people." As Ben beautifully says to him. Benjamin Linus himself finally chose to let go of his power and redeems himself by having peace with working for Hurley.
Meanwhile, in the alternate time line, Jack is the only one who has not remembered his time on the island yet. Everyone else found his or her constant and comes together in the church. It is quite ironic actually that in a show called Lost, it is about people finding each other. There are some nice moments before Jack makes it to the church. One where Ben tells Locke how sorry he is for what he did to him and tells him that he can get out of his wheelchair now. Another one where Hurley says that Ben was a great number two to which Ben replies that Hurley was a great number one, referring to Hurley's time as protector of the island.
Jack finally opens the coffin of his father and as he touches the wood of the coffin his island memories return. Suddenly his father stands behind him and he explains to him that everyone of them is dead in this place. Some before Jack, some long after Jack. Christian tells him that his friends are waiting for him in the church and as Jack joins them a montage starts where they cut from Jack on the island slowly dying because of his wounds and back to Jack in the church. This is accompanied by some of Micheal Giacchino's finest work (he already did some great musical work in the sixth season). It is brilliant how the writers complete the circle, as Jack passes by his father's old shoe hanging in a tree and slowly falls to the ground in the bamboo field. Suddenly we hear barking and Vincent the dog joins Jack and for the last time the leader of the group survivors smiles with tears in his eyes as he sees how the Ajira plane flies over the island knowing he succeeded and that his friends made it off. Then... his eye slowly closes and the screen fades out. L O S T. It is great how this scene exactly mirrors the very first scene of Lost in the pilot and this is also one of the moments in the finale that I (as I have to admit) nearly cried.
"The End", written by show-runners Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse and directed by Lost veteran-director Jack Bender, knows how to end Lost in a great way. With a brilliant pace, balanced and sharp writing, good tension, honest emotions, nostalgia, a shining moment for every important character, an intelligent plot and being technically superb, the Lost series finale is more than satisfying. And no, they did not answer every mystery, but really? Everything that was necessary for us to understand the plot and for us to understand the character's motivations was answered. In a way, the island of Lost is a metaphor for the earth: there is conflict between believers and scientists, some believe that everything on earth can be explained by logical and scientific thinking, while others believe that some things just cannot be explained and that there is a path for everyone of us to follow. And will everyone really understand life when they die? No, of course not. And as soon as we discover something new that answers one question about life, dozens of other questions will rise. Just like the island of Lost, the earth and life on it will remain a mystery box never to be fully explored.
And as this was the fourth time I watched the finale I found myself astonished that I was still thinking intensely about it for the next few days. So after this incredible experience I would like to thank Damon Lindelof, J.J. Abrams, Jeffrey Lieber, Carlton Cuse and everyone else that brought this show to life, because for me there will probably never be anything like it. And I will remember it for the rest of my life, until I have to let go.