A perfect end to a beautiful episode. Lost is complete. I’m relatively certain many will not share my sentiments, as that wasn’t a Matrix Revolutions-style Architect explanation of an episode that’s going to answer every little facet of every question we’ve ever had on the show. There are significant questions that were not answered explicitly, and more still that weren’t really answered at all. As much as my recaps have dwelt on the “little stuff” that constitutes much of the show’s mythology, the majority of Lost’s best moments–the truly great ones–have been about the characters. Electromagnetic energy, Egyptian hieroglyphs, polar bears, food drops, names scrawled on a wall, lighthouses, mirrors and giant smoke monsters aren’t trifling elements to be cast aside, but dwelling on them can make it easy to lose sight of the bedrock thematic elements that have truly sustained the show. Faith, destiny, choice. What gives your life meaning?
Let’s talk about the ending. My take: the entire flash-sideways storyline was not a flash-sideways at all but ultimately a flash-forward-of-sorts to a time/place where everyone’s already died. A “pre-Heaven,” if you will, within which our castaways can come to terms with the lives they led and the decisions they made before ultimately moving on to the Great Hereafter. To call it a flash-forward wouldn’t be quite appropriate either, since that applies a connotation that includes the concept of time. Let’s call them “flash-afters.” The flashes this season are independent of time and don’t have a conventional temporal flow. Think of a river as the linear flow of time. Above that river lies a place overlooking its entire length and breadth. Out of that flow of time, it exists neither in the past, present or future. It just “is.” It’s the place we all go after death but before moving on. Once you arrive there, time has no meaning. If you die in the year 2000 and your friend dies in 2100, you don’t wait 100 years in limbo for them to join you. Time in that sense has no context there. The proverbial light at the end of the tunnel, or beyond the church doors Christian Shephard (a name we can take quite literally) opens, is heaven; the afterlife; a higher plane; nirvana–it’s whatever your choice of spirituality and faith deems “moving on.”
To try and analyze it any more deeply than that is to rob the final episode of its ultimate gift: self-defined meaning for the viewer. Yes, you can call that a cop-out in terms of writing, but it works for me. And now, I will go ahead and analyze it more deeply. Christian tells Jack this season’s flashes were a creation of the castaways to ensure they all met up again before moving on. From day one, we’ve seen the castaways pop up in each other’s flashbacks. The further along we got, those moments became less easter egg-y, less happenstance and more significant — these people were bonded together in some way. Sure, Jacob had identified many of them as his candidates, but they all fit together in a broader mosaic that allowed them to ultimately save mankind (more on that later). That inter-dependency in life held true after life as well. “Nobody does it alone.”
I found it to be a beautiful moment — one that made everything that’d come before it in six seasons all matter. The fear with Lost has always been whether or not what we’re seeing onscreen was actually happening, that perhaps the castaways were all in purgatory or even hell. Either that, or one of our characters wakes up in bed, and utters something about having just had “the craziest dream.” No, whatever happened, happened. Everything that took place before, during and after the Island happened and had significance. While this season’s flashes did not occur in a reality any of us can truly define or experience (yet), they weren’t a dream or a figment of imagination; they were all important moments that allowed the dead castaways to come to terms with their lives and the decisions they made before “moving on.” In order to do so, they had to “let go” of idealized attachments they created in their minds, the son Jack never had, for example. All of them died at different times after the events on the Island in the finale. Everyone dies, after all. No matter your religion–Christian, Islam, Hindu, Buddhist–once they did die, they left that river and joined each other in the afterlife.
If you’re still struggling, maybe applying some semblance of time to the flash-after world will help. In the very first scene of this season, we see Jack aboard Oceanic 815, flying over the submerged Island. All of the flash-afters occurred, well, after the castaways died. Don’t try to think of it in terms of years and who joined the flash-afters at what time — it doesn’t matter; they all ended up there AFTER they died. The first moment of this season took place AFTER Jack died, which, of course, is the season and series’ final scene. Jack’s eye closes on the Island and he arrives in the flash-after world. Everything that took place in the flash-afters took place after the Island’s events.
30 thoughts on “Happily Ever After”
Tremendous as always Jeff. It’s been a pleasure to read your recaps over the past 5 years and I’m sad that it is at and end.
Thanks for all the recaps.
Thank you for the years of explanations and analyzing. Your blog has been amazing and something I’ve looked forward to reading every week.
I have a tad bit different theory on why Ben didn’t enter the church at the end of the episode. Do you think it’s possible that Hurley eventually made Ben the protector of the Island? And thus allowing Hurley to be in the church at the end while Ben (still living on the Island) did not enter because he is now suspended in time like Jacob was when he was the protector of the Island. I don’t know, just one of my ideas about a possible ending.
Nolan, I’d tend to say no b/c only the dead appear in the flash-afters, and Hurley referred to Ben as his number 2 before heading back inside the church.
Jeff – Thanks for the years of fantastic recaps. My wife and I love waking up the morning after LOST and reading your page. Great stuff! Thanks! Now what the heck are we going to look forward to???
Part 1 of Doc Jensen’s recap has posted: http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,20313460_20387946,00.html
Jeff, absolutely fantastic recap! There are no words! Thank you for your dedication to all of us true LOSTIES…..I would feel dead inside, except that I know that there are many rehashes and thoughts to work out in my head!! And, I can’t wait to go back and re see all of the past episodes now that we know “the end”. Put me down for that August date….I think my birthday is around that time……:)
btw, I am no longer a skater, because I penned that name before I knew about Juliette and Sawyer! That, truly was my most favorite scene – the Sawette reunion after their dramatic separation in last season’s finale! And, yes, the “jaters” got what they wanted, too!
Just got done reading this, and your LOST recap finale was at least if not better than the actual finale. Thanks for your dedication and analysis over the years – it is truly the end of an era. “See you in another life, Brotha!”
So sad it is over. Thanks for your recaps, Jeff. My Wednesday mornings will never be the same.
I suppose I could recap Two and a Half Men each week.
ESPN’s Bill Simmons chats with Alan Sepinwall, Chuck Klosterman and a buddy about the finale: click here.
To celebrate “The End” Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse have answered Lostpedia user’s fan-submitted questions about their careers and their futures. Read our Q&A with the men behind Lost.
Jeff – echoing what others have said: Thanks for the thougt and insight you put into the recaps each week. It’s been a pleasure. Thanks from Kentucky. – les
I would love to know if the writers truly had an answer for everything or toyed with the viewers! I stopped watching a year ago but enjoyed the ending more than I expected. The scene on the ocean bluff was great TV and the kiss was possibly “a record breaker” for open mouth lol! Love EL! Thanks Jeff for your interesting and intense comments!
Jeff, this was a great recap. I only wish I would have found you 6 seasons ago. Would have been great to hear your thoughts along the way. Maybe I’ll buy the box set dvd’s and read your recaps after every episode. alas, I’ll need to let go of this great show. For those who still want answers and everything spelled out, did you manage to understand any of the underlining theme here. Just Let Go.
Can’t thank you enough for your efforts. I’ve absolutely enjoyed your perspective every week and always looked forward to it. You’re a class act House.
Great recap as always meng, thanks for helping me make sense of this awesome show over the years.
Can I suggest you do in depth recaps just like these for each bills game?
Haha — if I do them immediately after the game, I imagine they’d go something like this:
I’m a HUGE lost fan and I love the show. But I could have sworn that years ago there was a special lost recap (after season 3?) with the producers where they said that the characters were NOT dead caught between heaven and hell or living in an after life. Were they lying to us? Beacuse clearly that was the case all along. I’m a bit confused and had a really hard time following the last 2 seasons. Another question: how dud the Darma inishitive know that this island ever existed before they came to the island?
The only time they were dead on the show was during the flash-sideways(/afters) during season 6. Everything on the Island DID happen and they were alive.
I don’t think we ever found out how Dharma discovered the Island, but recall they had the ability to calculate its location via The Lamp Post station in L.A. (under a church).
In the end we discovered Ben and Charles Widmore were both on team Jacob, even though Charles had been banished from the island by Darma. So why were Ben and Charles against each other all of season 5?
Widmore (vis a vis Keamy) killed Alex.
That is definitely my favorite video of all-time.
The flash sideways wasn’t real life. It was somewhere between death and the after life, but everything else was real life. So…. What was with that last scene?!? Where we see the plane on the beach and no people? That suggests that they all died in the crash, but that’s not the message the producers were giving.
The shots of the plane were added by the network and not the writers/showrunners. So the shots are meaningless. I thought it was cool, but there’s no extra meaning to assign to them.