Though I am firmly of the opinion that nothing is a “spoiler” once an episode has aired, if you feel differently and don’t want to know how LOST ended, this is not the post for you.
I can’t say I was there at the beginning. On September 22, 2004, I didn’t watch the premiere of LOST. I caught a few minutes while flipping channels, if memory serves, but was so disturbed by the plane crash scenes that I quickly moved on. It wasn’t until part way through the second season when I got hooked, watching the 40-ish hours of the show that then existed in a four-day orgy of DVD rentals and iTunes downloads. And once I was in, I was in.
I wasn’t there at the beginning, but I was there for “The End.”
And I can say, unequivocally, that I am glad I stuck it out to the end.
I know already from a brief scanning of the Internet that not everyone shares my opinion. Like most episodes of LOST, the finale opened as many doors as it closed, leaving many of the show’s myriad questions unanswered. Unlike many fans, however, this doesn’t bother me.
Over the course of the six seasons it was on the air, LOST tried to be a lot of things: a sci-fi adventure; a high-minded, philosophical conversation about faith versus reason; a quasi-religious allegory of good and evil; a rumination on redemption; a buddy comedy; a romance; and more. It was a lot to accomplish with one show, and it didn’t always succeed — hence the frustration felt by many fans. For me, though, it was nothing so much as a character study, and that’s the part I fell in love with. I wanted to know from week to week what happened to these people, and I wanted them to be… happy?
Happiness, of course, was the thing that mostly eluded them through the six years of the series — through characters ridiculous (Nikki & Paolo) and plots sublime (“Not Penny’s boat!”); through every time-shifting, shooting-and-bombing-and-kidnapping, “live together, die alone” speechifying moment; and through every flash backwards, forwards, and sideways — their stories were of constant struggle, sadness… and yes, loss.
I was thus unprepared for the final episode of LOST. Until about the last 15 minutes I was on the edge of my seat, waiting for the other shoe to drop. I was certain that the gorgeous, joyous reunions between the couples who had lost one another along the way — Jin and Sun, James and Juliet, Claire and Charlie — were going to be negated by a final wave of sorrow.
But they were not. Instead, the sideways world was revealed to be a limbo they had created for themselves; a place for those who died first to wait for those who came later until finally they were all able move on, together. It turned that “live together, die alone” mantra of the early years of the show on its head. Death was not, in fact, alone.
I can spend the rest of forever with everyone else on the internet, contemplating the philosophy and considering plot holes, but I’m not sure I will. The finale, as it turned out, was exactly what I wanted: It was emotionally satisfying.