'Lost' Finale: Did It Work?


"It worked," Juliet told Sawyer as she lay dying in the Season 5 finale Season 6 premiere of Lost. She'd just detonated the bomb that set into motion the events of this last season, and this last episode, which ended Sunday night. Waking up after an evening jam-packed with six-and-a-half hours of Lost-related programming, the question all Lost fans now must answer for themselves is: did it work?

Empirically, the woman of science in me says no. I don't completely understand what happened. I'm not satisfied by the glowy magical light and the plug in a giant sink as reason enough for all of these people to have ended up on the island in the first place. Many major questions were left unanswered. Is Smokey really defeated? If Hurley is now the protector, is he immortal? Who put the island there in the first place? Are you sure everyone didn't actually die in the original Oceanic 815 plane crash? If you asked me, like a well-meaning non-fan friend did a few weeks ago, "so what exactly is the island?" I really don't think I'd be able to answer you.

But, ultimately it was satisfying. This episode was right in glossing over the sci-fi logistics and focusing on the character stories. After all, who needed any more time-skipping when you got that reunion scene between Juliet and Sawyer? Any episode that had me so consistently pumping my fists in the air had to be, on some level, good.

The action sequences provided a great counterbalance to the teary emotional "awakening" reunion scenes. Jack and Kate gave Fake Locke that ass-kicking he deserved. Kate, in killing Fake Locke, got to play a role other than "mother"—satisfying the feminist in me. And Jack and Fake Locke battling it out on the cliff, just before cutting to a commercial break? Felt like watching kung-fu. Really awesome kung-fu.

This episode continued last week's self-aware shout-outs. Sideways Kate, upon hearing the name of the body in the coffin Desmond signs for: "Christian Shepherd... seriously?" Fake Locke on hearing that Jack got tapped as Jacob's successor: "So it's you...Jacob, being who he is, it's a bit of an obvious choice. I expected to be surprised." Brilliant.

The crux of the episode was each character's sideways-world enlightenment, triggered by interactions with each other. I had expected each to have a unique "constant" but instead of happening in pairs, enlightenment happened in a web: Kate and Claire's mutual understanding during Aaron's birth, Kate triggering the beginning of understanding in Jack, Jack only fully realizing it when he touched his father's coffin, and so on. The enlightenments were executed perfectly: enough flashbacks from earlier in the season to trigger some similar feelings of remembering in viewers, with excellent acting in the "present" to convey the relief, the pure joy in each character in finding each other and, in some way, finding themselves.

Live together. In the end, our characters live on together in whatever kind of afterlife the sideways world represents, the afterlife they have built for themselves together. They have all died, as Jack learns from his father, but they all live on in each other. But, if you look at it another way, this theme points to the beginning of life more than to the end of it. These people's lives really didn't begin until their plane crashed on the island, until they met each other. As Christian Shepherd tells Jack: "Well there is no 'now', here...This is the place that you all made together so 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. Nobody does it alone, Jack."

Die alone. Jack stumbling through the bamboo forest, finding the spot where he first awoke on the island, lying down there to die. Whoa. This happening concurrently with the church cocktail party reunion in sideways world negated any dubious feelings I had about the reunion. Jack's eye closing as the final moment in the series was predictable, but still poignant and perfect. Even better was that final laugh, that smile he has, watching the Ajira plane circle overhead, knowing that he has "fixed" things. Even better than that was the arrival of Vincent, shepherding Jack into a peaceful death. In the end, Jack doesn't die alone.

So does the island even matter? Does Jacob's wine bottle and cork analogy really fit? Did the events we witnessed over six seasons stop some flood of evil into the world? Jack tells Desmond: "There are no shortcuts, no do-overs—what happened, happened. All of this matters." I can't really explain why, but I know that this is true, even with the allusions to karma and rebirth and concurrent life cycles.

What happens with the "Source" light, in some ways, doesn't matter. What really matters is what happens with the light in each of our characters. Dharma Initiative folks greet each other with the Sanskrit word "Namaste." Anyone who has ever taken a yoga class can tell you that translates into: "The light in me honors the light in you."

A more descriptive translation is this: "I honor the place in you in which the entire Universe dwells, I honor the place in you which is of Love, of Integrity, of Wisdom and of Peace. When you are in that place in you, and I am in that place in me, we are One."

Lost is not a story about an island or a plane crash or a Smoke Monster or some hippie-dippie 70s-era research crew. It's not just a story about a doctor with a God complex and daddy issues or a well-meaning fugitive or a paraplegic with conviction or a conman with great one-liners or an obese lottery winner. It's all that, but it's a also a story about a group of flawed yet lovable people experiencing life and death, pain and suffering, healing and joy in order to experience that moment of Oneness.