There are many people who loved this finale because they cried and found it moving and it gave them closure and had spiritual resonance.
There are other people who hated this finale because it copped out on the entire sci-fi mystery setup of the show and replaced it with a big goopy spiritual group-therapy sequence, taking once-rich characters and resolving their complex emotional issues with what amounted to a mass Moonie group wedding.
And then there are those who are just happy that Shannon and Sayid got to make out.
It's a little hard to know what to make of the ending of Lost, and although I fall more in the "good Lord, that makes no sense" camp, it doesn't bother me that much, because honestly, this season had so many other problems, I'd already burned off all my hate and accepted that they wouldn't resolve anything, even with the handy bracketing deus ex machinas they'd devised to pull all the puppet strings and guard the mystery pools of golden huh?
And so I basically adopted Desmond's attitude on his way into the well, which was that nothing actually mattered: I had existential acceptance that it was all just a made-up story, so we might as well go along for the flume ride.
There were a lot of enjoyable aspects of the finale, primarily strong performances from nearly everybody in the cast, performances that made me care about their flashy moments of nostalgia enlightenment, mostly. It was well filmed. I love the actors. And, for a million and a half reasons, both snarky and non, I'm glad it's over.
And on to the recap ...
An airplane opens — and the Oceanic baggage rolls out (get it, their baggage? they're all dealing with their baggage!), with Jack's dad's coffin inside. Meanwhile, Jack gazes at an X-ray of a head. Sudden flash of Jack, on the island, sipping water.
Then Ben, teacher. Ben, with rope, with Locke (Evil.)
Locke, in surgery.
Sawyer, cop. (Looking in broken mirror.) Sawyer on island, cozying up to Kate.
A mysterious driver with a ponytail, whom I am heretofore going to consider the most important character on the show.
Kate, cozying up to Sawyer. Kate, in dress, in car.
Kate's companion, Desmond, saunters up to sign for the coffin. They just let anyone sign for coffins in Flashyland.
Enlightened Des gets back in the car with Suspicious Kate. "Who died?" asks Kate. A man named Christian Shephard, says Desmond — and Kate laughs at the name: "Seriously?" Seriously, Kate.
Kate starts asking questions, but Desmond gets Lostly on her, saying "no one can tell you why you're here" and "My name is Desmond Hume and even though you don't know it, I'm your friend." He wants to leave. Leave and go where? Let me show you, he says.
And then he punches her in the face, again and again, trying to get Kate enlightened!
(Wait, am I the only one who thought that might happen?)
Meanwhile, on the island, Kate gazes sadly at Jack's butt, as he stands by the ocean.
"So you're the new Jacob, huh?" asks Sawyer. "Feel any different?"
"Come down from the mountaintop and let's hear what the burning bush had to say for itself."
Jack waves his hands and says vague whoo-whoo stuff about the pool.
"Doesn't sound like he said anything about anything," says Sawyer.
"He's worse than Yoda," says Sawyer.
"I got a bad feeling about this," sez Hurley, the representative Lost fan, which will come to be important on this episode.
LOST INTRO FLOATING INTO THE AFTERLIFE.
Another Suspicious/Enlightened pairing: Sayid and Hurley, who says, "If you stick with me, you'll be happy." Then he knocks on Charlie's door, and Charlie stumbles out, all glam and dissolute.
"What if I told you that playing this show is the most important thing you'll ever do, would you come then?" says Hurley. Nope. So he shoots Charlie with a tranquilizer dart.
On the island, Kate gets all questiony, while Jack's all "because I had to" and "because I ruined everything."
Hurley's all "this would be so sweet if we weren't about to die."
Sawyer shows up at the well to rescue Desmond, but Ben holds a gun to his head. When Smocke snarks about "you and Jacob's little candidates," Sawyer gratuitously let slip that that's not the case anymore. Then he beats up Ben and grabs his gun.
In the exchange that follows, Smocke confirms his intent to sink the island, because in this (dreamlike? logic-averse?) universe, people announce their evil plans to the very people who wish to foil them.
Ben is shocked. "I'm sorry if I left out the part about the island being on the bottom of the ocean," Smokey clarifies, even though this once again gives Ben zero motive not to sabotage him.
Then Smocke senses Dog Vibes and the audience gets the genuinely lovable Lassie-like image of Vincent rescuing Des from the well.
And indeed, Desmond is recovering at the camp of Rose and Bernard, gone native! They built their hut in '75, then the sky lit up, and God knows when they are now.
After he eats, Des has to move on, Rose says. Their rule: They don't get involved. Rose is all about the no drama.
Which is unfortunate, because just then Locke and Ben show up, and Locke pulls a knife to create a little emotional impact with a threat to beloved characters. "Come with me, right now, or I'll kill them both in front of you. I'll make it hurt."
Des exacts a promise that Smokey won't touch them, ever, although since Smocke's plan is to destroy the island, this is all fairly moot, and also, Smokey's a proven liar.
Des assumes he's being taken to where there's a very bright light. "Just a hunch."
Smocke hears something, which Ben conceals: Miles on the walkie. Miles has found Richard, who is not in fact dead, and who is very high on the blowing-up-the-plane plan.
Meanwhile, in Flashy, Miles calls Sawyer from the concert, saying he just saw Sayid. Sawyer calls him Enos and goes to check on Sunjin in the hospital.
Sun and Jin talk quietly in Korean, interrupted by Dr. Juliet, here to check on the baby. She performs a sonogram of déjà vu — giving Sun flashes of her island history, including the couple's tragic death. "I ... remember," weeps Sun.
Goddamn, that's sad. (However, when I instant message with my husband — who is in Brooklyn — he snarks, "It was like a Hallmark card, with explosions." Cold, dude.)
"That's the baby's heartbeat. Perfectly perfect in every way!"
Hilariously, Sun and Jin can now speak to Juliet in English.
Back on the island, Sawyer and Jack consult about Desmond and the craziest possible random cowboy music plays as cameras pull up to a big aerial shot.
Jack and Locke in the hospital. He's confident the surgery will work. "See you on the other side."
On the island, Miles plucks a gray hair from Richard. He's aging! And wants to live. Okay.
Miles and Richard boat to Hydra Island. A corpse bobs up. And then Lapidus, because no death really sticks. Still, I'm glad to see him, especially given that Frank has a new, far more logical plan than blowing up the plane.
"In case you haven't noticed, I'm a pilot," says Frank.
Good and Evil meet in the field: Skate, Jack, Hurley versus Smocke and Ben. It's very The Stand.
"You're sort of the obvious choice, aren't you?" sneers Smocke meta-ishly at Jack.
Jack is calm, saying Locke's plan is not going to happen. Instead, he's going to kill him.
"How's that going to happen?"
"It's a surprise."
"Okay, then, let's get on with it."
Jack's in the hospital, next to Juliet. "Doctor," "Doctor," they say coyly, amicably flirty and therefore, yes, divorced.
They encourage their son to go to the concert with Aunt Claire.
Sawyer and Juliet pass at the elevator and my Sawliet-loving friend gasps.
On the island, the gang hikes, as Jack explains that he's using Desmond to kill Locke, he's not sure how, but he thinks Des is a weapon. That's a hell of a long con, Doc, says Sawyer.
They reach the magical pool and Jack, Locke, and Des go off alone.
"Jack, I believe in you, dude," says Hurley, ever the audience stand-in.
They stand in pretty bamboo forest. Drums beat.
They reach the Skittles pond.
As Desmond wraps a rope around this waist, he effuses, "This doesn't matter, you know. Him destroying the island! You destroying him. When you lower me, they're gonna go to someplace else, where they can be with the ones they love, and never have to see the island again. The plane never crashed."
Jack disagrees. "There are no shortcuts, no do-overs. Whatever happened, happened. All of this matters." You can lead a horse to water. Be the ball. Speak truth to power.
In Flashyland, Hurley's not allowed to tell Sayid anything, because there are rules (again with the rules). Then he delivers a speech about how Sayid's really a good person, even if people have told him otherwise. I am unmoved, because really, this is their character direction for Sayid? A hardened, complex torturer just needs someone to say "you're truly good inside, buddy"?
And then my goddamn DREAMS come true!
Sayid rescues Shannon from a street fight — she looks fabulous — and they make out like crazed weasels.
Boone is apparently enlightened, since he's brought her there from Australia.
On the island, Frank, Miles, and Richard are interrupted by Crazy Claire. Richard movingly offers her everything she wants — "He can give you your hair back!" calls someone at my party — but she is too damaged and turns it down.
Desmond gets lowered into the golden pond of WTF.
Locke and Jack banter nastily. "He was right about everything," moans Jack about Locke to the man who is "just wearing his face."
"We'll just have to see which is right," Smocke says, as they peer over the waterfall.
In Flash Timeline, the incredibly short Claire, Juliet, and kid Jack are in line, but Juliet needs to return to the hospital. Backstage at the concert, Charlotte — all slinky — wakes up waste-case Charlie. Then she meets with Daniel, who wears a terrible hipster hat and skinny tie, and they are fated to be together yada yada.
Claire and Kate freak out when they're seated at the same table.
Dr. Whatsis introduces Widmore and Drive Shaft.
As they play plinkety-plink fusion music, Charlie gazes at Claire — I assume she's thinking, "Oh, wait, isn't that that guy I used to tolerate when he stalked me in my alternate life, because he was a handy babysitter?" — and she goes into labor.
Des wanders among skeletons and finds a large walnut in the middle of the pond.
Lots of side effects and — oh Lord, is it an actual cork?
He plucks it out.
The light goes out.
There are crumbly sounds.
And something is coming out of the hole, something baaaaad.
"It looks like you were wrong," says Locke. "Good-bye, Jack."
They get out and Locke's mouth is bleeding: Hey presto, he's mortal. "Looks like you were wrong, too," says Jack. Before he can conk him with a rock, Locke knocks Jack out and runs away.
In Flashville, Claire is in labor, with Kate is her highly confident doula.
Eloise goes to Des's table and says: "I thought I made it clear that you were to STOP this — " and my friend fills in her sentence to its logical conclusion, " — this musical atrocity. This is worse than Emerson Lake & Palmer!"
They're leaving, says Desmond gently. Are you going to take my son? asks Eloise sadly. Not with me, no, says Des.
Charlie arrives at the childbirth: "I'm with the band."
Claire pushes, and she and Kate get flashbacks (because they are soul mates, like Kate and Allie?).
The baby is born.
I brought a blanket, says Charlie. And of course, it's he and Claire who get all soul matey–eyed. Which is totally confusing, because wasn't Charlie ALREADY enlightened? Wasn't that the whole point of him driving Desmond off the bridge?
Desmond shows up to smile smugly at Kate and say, "D'you understand?"
Meanwhile (in the sense of "but not simultaneously, because time and space don't matter in the end"), the island is getting rattled and rolled. Ben pushes Hurley out of the way of a falling tree — then gets crushed himself. Rain!
Jack rises from the ground.
They all try to save Ben: Hurley, Sawyer, Kate.
Miles and Kate talk over walkie-talkie.
There's a lot of yelling.
Sonofabitch, says Sawyer.
Locke has a boat, says Ben.
We see Locke by a cliff, near Desmond's boat.
There's an acrobatic fight on a black rain-slick cliff, highly comic book–esque, between Jack and Smocke.
Leaping, tumbling, punching. Removing backpacks. Rocks falling. Cameras spinning.
Cool! The cliff crumbles.
And dang, Locke stabs Jack in the side — just like Christ.
He goes for his neck, too, telling him (just as Ben had told Locke), "You died for nothing."
Then Kate saves the day, which is kind of cool, if a day late and a narrative dollar short.
You're too late, says Locke. And Jack kicks Locke over the cliff, to the cliff below.
In Flashyville, Jack and Locke are post-surgery. Locke wakes, despite anesthesia.
Close-up on the toe-wiggle cam, as Locke gets Enlightened.
Jack doesn't, though, or he gets only a tiny bit of one teeny flash.
"I need to go see my son," says Jack.
"You don't have a son," says Locke.
I find this the saddest moment in the ep, even though in retrospect, maybe it doesn't exactly make sense, or maybe it does (true believer and finale-loving Ali Martell convinced me that he needed the fake son in purgatory to deal with his dad issues, which I guess makes sense).
"I hope that somebody does for you what you just did for me."
On the island, Skate confer.
"It's over," says Kate.
But the island is a-rocking and a-shaking and it sure don't feel like it's over.
In Flashy, Detective Ford arrives to see Sun and Jin, who are grinning freaky-deaky enlightened grins. "We'll see you there," they say. "See you where?" says Sawyer.
On the island, everyone's trying to get to the plane.
"Frank, what's your timetable?" asks Ben.
"Don't bother me!" says Frank, hilariously tossing his walkie.
"Making progress," deadpans Ben.
Anyhoo, they all come up with the new plan: Whatever Des turned off, Jack has to turn it back on. And Jack will sacrifice himself so they can get on the plane.
If the island is going down, I'm going down with it, says Ben.
Hurley can't get down the cliff, 'cause he's fat.
Tell me I'm going to see you again!, says Kate to Jack. And they kisssssssssss for the Skateys, among whom I am not, but it's a nice kiss: I love you/I love you.
Miles believes in duct tape, a funny line.
Kate and Sawyer dive into the water!
In Flashyland, Sawyer and Jack cross paths at the hospital.
Jack directs him to a vending machine, and when Jack speaks, they both get incredible flashes of their secret gay love, with a montage of incidents we never witnessed on the island! (C'mon, that would have been excellent.)
Sawyer's Apollo Bar is stuck and when Juliet arrives to find him shaking the machine, he says he's a cop.
"Maybe you should read it its rights," she cracks.
She tells him to unplug the machine.
He does and the lights go off.
Then she gives him the candy bar and says, "It worked." And they both get all flashy flashy flashy. My friend the Sawliet 'shipper goes quietly crazy with happiness. It's a very well-done scene, really romantic, beautiful chemistry, moving performances.
They embrace very sweetly. "I gotcha," he says.
Kiss me James/You got it, Blondie.
Jack and Kate are outside the concert.
"Where do I remember you from?" he says.
"I stole your pen," says beaming, enlightened Kate.
That's how I know you?
No, that's not how you know me.
She gets into kissing distance and holds his face. "I missed you so much."
He gets flashes.
"What is happening to me? Who are you?"
She advises him to follow her.
On the island, Hurley's freaking over the end of Jack, i.e., Lost: "Desmond didn't make it. How are you going to survive?," says Hurley.
Jack is silent.
They argue: Jack insists he needs to do this, Hurley says the island needs him.
But Jack says no: Hurley should protect the island (you, loyal fans, will protect our legacy).
Ben brings over an Ajira water bottle and Jack scoops up some dirty water, then gives it to Hurley, who drinks it.
"Now you're like me," says Jack, completing the ancient communion of fan and show.
The plane starts up.
Jack is lowered down.
He finds Desmond, who moans that it didn't work.
"You were right, Jack."
"There's a first time for everything."
Jack thinks Des should be with his wife and son. "See you in another life, brother," he says in track 38 of the Lost Sestina of Evocative Repeated Lines.
As the plane starts up, Kate approaches Claire, who is sadly hysterical. "I don't even know how to be a mother anymore."
None of us do! Let me help you! says Kate, which is kind of lovely.
As the plane is about to take off, to manufactured but well-filmed suspense, the major characters arrive and they open the door.
Jack drags the cork to plug the hole in the bottom of the Magical Pool of Vaginal ... never mind.
As the plane gets ready to take off, Sawyer intriguingly calls Miles Enos, and the plane zips down the runway. Amen, says Frank.
The pool light goes back on.
Hurley and Ben pull the rope up — only to find Desmond, not Jack.
Jack weeps as water pours over him.
In Flashyland, Locke gets dropped off in front of a church.
"I'm very sorry for what I did to you, John. I was selfish, jealous. I wanted everything you had."
What did I have?
Locke was special and Ben wasn't. [In what way? In what way was Locke special? Because Jacob spoke to him at the cabin? Or was that Smokey? Seriously, what? I mean, Terry O'Quinn is certainly one of the best actors on the show, but I don't think that's what he means, because in that sense, Michael Emerson is special too.]
Locke forgives him. Ben is going to stay because "he has some things to work out."
Locke enters the church.
On the island, Hurley grieves Jack.
"You do what you do best," Jack tells Hurley. "Take care of people. You can start by getting Desmond back home."
Hurley says that's not possible, but Ben says that's just how Jacob ran things, and they can change that, because basically, everything in this island timeline, including the rules, many of which were never explained, are apparently changeable willy-nilly.
In a sweet touch, Hurley asks for Ben's help. Ben's the new Richard.
In Flashville, Locke and Ben call one another a "good No. 2" and a "great No. 1," and if Liz Lemon were watching this, she'd giggle.
Jack and Kate pull up. They have a creepy conversation about how the church was where Jack was going to have his father's funeral.
On the island, Jack is not dead. But he's very wounded.
In the church there's a Buddha, a menorah, various crosses, and a Ganesh — not to mention a kick-ass interfaith stained-glass window.
Jack goes to the coffin. He touches it and gets flashes of his past.
He opens the coffin. No one is inside.
"Hey, kiddo," says Christian.
"How are you here?"
"How are you?" Christian asks — a meaningful question, and Jack gets it.
"I died, too," says Jack.
I actually get chills. They embrace.
They discuss this: Everything on the island is real, everything that has happened to them is real, and everyone dies sometimes.
There is no "now/here."
The flash sideways is "the place 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." Nobody does it alone. Jack needed all of them, and they needed him.
To remember. And to let go.
Kate said we're leaving.
No, moving on.
All righty! Then Jack goes into the church where they're all embracing, à la the last scene of Titanic.
It's a big lovefest, with cameos and embraces. Everyone's here except, oddly, poor old Helen (Penny must be saying, Hey, I haven't actually met you people), not to mention Michael and Walt. Boone's there, though. As is Libby.
On the island, Jack roams through the bamboo.
In heaven's waiting room, Jack and Hurley embrace. Everyone gazes at the baby. Jack and Sawyer hug. Jack and Kate are together.
Jack collapses in the bamboo field, clutching his wound.
There are more flashes of Lost ensemble love.
And on the island, Vincent comes sniffing up to Jack.
Christian walks out of the church and they're all bathed in light.
Jack stares up through the bamboo.
The plane flies overhead, getting away.
Jack's eye closes.
The series ends.
WHAT WE KNOW NOW:
— On the island, what happened, happened. (Which is basically the Lost version of that fratboy explanation, "It is what it is.")
— As for the flash sideways, it was in the end a group-therapy-purgatory with extra amnesia, so everyone could work through their psychological blocks and go to heaven.
— As for anything else, wait for the DVD extras.
THE WHA? FACTOR:
— Cripes, where do I start? Okay: What WAS that darn island?
— There are a million significant questions left hanging, although the one that obsesses me is the most basic: In exciting season one, why were the Others kidnapping the Losties with "lists" given to them by Ben? Was Jacob deputizing them? (Makes no sense, really.) Was Smokey? (Makes even less: Why wouldn't he just tell them to kill the candidates?)
— What was Widmore up to? Why were there "rules" that he and Ben couldn't kill each other?
— Oh, why even bother but: What caused women to die in childbirth?
— I know, I know: I should just let go of my issues and move on! To heaven! Or maybe Breaking Bad.
— And wait, on this purgatory business, couldn't they have done that even if the plane had just crashed and they all died? They had most of the same issues on the plane: daddy issues, "I'm innocent" issues, et al. Maybe they DID crash? Is this all Jack's pre-dying dream? What was that shot of the plane wreck on the beach? Maybe I didn't really get the ending? But maybe you explain in the comments ...