Previously on Lost: "The End"

The Sideways world turned out to be some sort of intermediary afterlife created by the Losties to connect with each other before moving on to the final afterlife/death/heaven/whatever you believe. After getting over the complete shock of it on Sunday (I didn't cry so much as stare at the TV with my brow furrowed and mouth gaping), I think it was a beautiful way for the show to resolve these characters on their own terms. My only complaint: I wish there had been more instances of strange, telling signs that this world wasn't real. (Like Jack's bleeding neck, which was cool.) I know they were trying to throw us off and keep us guessing as to what the Sideways world was, but it'd be neat to be able to think back to things that were just a bit off (kinda like The Sixth Sense, how so many unnoticed things had greater meaning after we found out the ending). Also some important conclusions I drew:

  • Near-death experiences weren't an important part of waking up to anyone's real-world lives; personal connections with those characters were. Desmond beat up Ben because that's what he did when they were alive; Charlie drove his car into the water because him and Desmond had a connection with him drowning. Hurley just had to kiss Libby to see something, and Locke just had to wiggle his toes.

  • Jughead had nothing to do with the Sideways. It was in fact the "incident," caused by the time-traveling Losties.

  • Time isn't linear in the Sideways, nor does it matter how old the people in it were when they died. It was a point of connection created by all of them and there for all of them when each of them died. It wasn't created at a certain point in time that can be related chronologically to the Island events.

Overall, I appreciate the gamble the writers took with the Sideways. I don't have a problem with the general concept of it — in fact I think it's sweet — and though certain things seemed sloppy or a waste of time, it drove home the show's unyielding message: The most important things in life are the connections we make with other people. As Christian Shephard stated, nobody does it alone.

[image-1]On the Island, Jack ends up sacrificing himself in order to protect the Island. A key conversation occurred between Jack and Desmond, who ended up at the light source of the Island at the hand of both Jack and Smokey, who brought him there for each of their own objectives. My theory on Desmond's knowledge of the Sideways: When Widmore placed him in that electromagnetic chamber and performed a test on him, Desmond died for a second or two, or was somewhere between life and death. This is when he glimpsed the Sideways, but he wasn't sure just what he saw. He went into the light source eager to do something to it because he thought it would bring him to this very pleasant, reassuring world. I don't think he knew it was his (everyone's) afterlife. When killing the light source failed to bring him to that place, he knew something was wrong.

Enter Jack. The absence of the light presumably turned Jack, Smokey and Richard Alpert mortal, and Jack soon realizes this was his chance to kill the Smoke Monster. They duel in a Matrix-esque fight on the side of a cliff, and Jack ends up with a fatal wound and Smokey is shot by Kate. (Really? It had to be Kate who shot him?) Jack goes down into the cave to turn the light back on, leaving everyone with what he knows will be his last goodbyes. He succeeds, and is able to save not only the Island but the people he has been so deeply connected with since their fateful crash years earlier. That scene with Matthew Fox reaching out his hand to feel the water in the cave was absolutely brilliant. Hurley is appointed the new Island protector by Jack, and Ben takes on the role of Hurley's No. 2. A great final moment for Ben, who at the end chose to stay with the Island, the one thing he had loved above most everything else in his life. Jack stumbles back to the bamboo field that he ended up in after Oceanic 815 crashed, and Lost came full circle. The overwhelming implications of that scene were staggering: Jack, initially the most rigid man of science had transformed into a full-fledged believer, in the vein of John Locke himself.

Bu[image-2]t a plot summary of the finale can't possibly reflect Lost's true groundbreaking place in television history. Most fans who watched the show had never seen a show like it, and probably never will again. Grounding the show in a reality recognizable to viewers brought it closer to home, and in watching these characters overcome their ultimate flaws, I think we learned something about ourselves. The show's emphasis on ambiguity is also an important part of its legacy. For the most part, the issues brought up on the show (good vs. evil, faith vs. science, nature vs. nurture) have no definitive answer, and choosing a side depends exclusively on a person's own beliefs. On forums, in the workplace, and in the news media, these questions have provided the base for countless conversations about fictional Island mythology that tapped into real facets of the human experience. My whole family sat around the dinner table and talked in depth about Lost tonight, something we have never done for any other fictional television series. Lost's series finale was all about letting go. The characters (one of them being the Island, I think) helped each other to discover within themselves the strength to get through life. Six years after this journey began, I think I'm finally ready to let go with them.

Favorite Line(s): "There are no shortcuts, no do-overs. Whatever happened, happened. Trust me, I know. All of this matters." —Jack

"This is the place that you all made together so that you could find one another. The most important part of your life was the time you spent with these people." —Christian

[Editor's Note: For more on Lost, check out the CL Lost podcast.]

Ah, the end. The tears weren't flowing as freely as I thought they would during Sunday night's hours-long extravaganza. But I feel truly saddened that such an entertaining piece of culture has come to an end (and truly saddened about how geeky that makes me sound). I mean, really, how is Lost not one of the coolest shows ever? I think fans who were interested enough to devote themselves to watching episodes and staying in touch with the pop culture surrounding the show have been rewarded. For six years we have loved it, hated it, been completely repulsed by certain characters, been upset that others had to go, and yearned for more as we waited months for new seasons to start. Sunday night's final episode, aptly named "The End," provided a true ending for me, and one that I like the more I think about it.


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