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Wow – What a finale. But before I go on, if you haven’t yet seen the Lost Finale and intend on doing so, please stop reading and go and watch it as there are plenty of spoilers coming.
I will admit that while I loved the finale, I was a little confused at the end. After reading a couple of very good blogs which you can find here and here, the darkness lifted and it all now makes sense.
Essentially the plot of Lost is this: A group of people crash land on an island and it is a story about how they will get rescued. Ever since the pilot episode aired, there has been rumour and speculation about whether or not they all died in the crash and the island was some form of purgatory. I think most people assumed that this is how the show would finish when the survivors or Losties – as I’ll call them from now on – realised they were in fact dead. This is akin to how Bruce Willis finds out he is really dead in The Sixth Sense – sorry if you haven’t seen that movie!
The Sideways World
Lost has been very brilliant in telling back stories of each of the characters. Morphing into current happenings on the Island the back stories told us more about the characters we were watching. Then later in the series we saw a new back story, or what we thought was a new back story, with Jack sporting a bushy beard. That is until Jack meets up with Kate and tells her; “We have to go back”, referring to the Island. This ended up being a forward story. Then in the final season we are shown Oceanic Flight 815 landing in L.A. as scheduled after Juliet had detonated the bomb thus destroying the ‘hatch’ thus sending the 1970’s Losties back to the future. This alternate reality is now referred to as the Sideways World being played out in conjunction with the Losties still on the Island. Lost? Yep, it is rather confusing.
In the Sideway World there are differences however. Jack is still a spinal surgeon, Locke is still a paraplegic, Kate is still on the run but Sawyer is now a detective working with Miles. Benjamin Linus is a school teacher. Desmond works for Charles Widmore and Hurley is very successful in everything he does. On Oceanic Flight 815 is also Desmond who was originally stuck in the ‘hatch’ when the Losties first crashed onto the Island. So what is this alternate reality? At first, I thought that this is what would have happened if the plane never crashed. I assumed that Sawyer was always a police officer but his back stories just showed non police stuff! If that makes sense. After all Jack was still a surgeon and Kate was still on the run. Claire was still pregnant with Aaron. Charlie was still a musician. It made sense to me at the time. But as time went on the peculiarities of the Sideways World started to mount up.
Charles Widmore hated Desmond in the previous back stories because of the relationship Desmond had with Widmore’s daughter, Penny. In the sideways world however, Desmond didn’t even know who Penny was and therefore with no relationship, Widmore had no reason to hate Desmond.
Juliet was a doctor on the Island with the Dharma Initiative at the time of the plane crash, who was hired to determine why children couldn’t be born there. In the Sideways World, she was a doctor at a hospital in L.A. and was previously married to Jack and was the mother of their son, David.
I could go on. There were a tonne of differences. So what was the Sideways World? In the end the Sideways World was purgatory. I think that is easy enough to understand. But for it to be purgatory then that means everyone is dead. But at the end we saw Kate and Sawyer fly off of the Island and we saw Jack dying (presumably) in the bamboo. Hurley and Ben were still alive on the Island with Hurley now the Islands ‘protector’ having taken over the role from Jack who held that position briefly after taking over the role from Jacob, and Ben was Hurley’s number 2.
Everyone was dead. Not from the crash. That happened. Everything that happened on the Island happened. The Losties did not die in the crash – well the ones that survived the crash anyway. Boon and Shannon really died on the Island. Aaron was really born on the Island. Charlie really drowned in the sunken hatch. Claire really was kidnapped. Michael and Walt really did leave the Island in Ben’s boat and Michael really did kill Ana Lucia and Libby. The Island was not purgatory. Purgatory was the Sideways World.
During the finale most of the main characters did not recognise each other as they had no previous history with each other. Then for some reason, after Desmond has been sent to pick up Charlie who will be performing at the Widmore estate, Charlie has a recollection or a memory and has to take drastic actions to steer Desmond into remembering. He forces their car into the sea and as the car is sinking, Desmond has a flashback of the incident on the Island when Charlie dies. Of course as we all remember, Charlie has written a message on his hand “Not Penny’s Boat” and this is what Desmond sees in his flashback. This triggers slight memories but more importantly, sets Desmond on the path to reconnect all of the Losties in the Sideways World.
It’s not as simple as going up to each of the Losties and telling them who they are. He has to connect each of the Losties to their Island ‘soul mate’ for lack of a better word. This is a beautiful piece of TV as each Lostie reconnects and remembers their soul mate and what had happened on the Island. None more so than the reconnection of Sun and Jin. Even though they were together in the Sideways World, they were not aware of their life on the Island, which is where I feel they really fell in love with each other. Prior to their crashing on the Island, they existed as a couple but were not deeply in love as evidenced by Sun’s back story where she was having an affair. One of the saddest scenes in the series was when Sun and Jin die on the submarine and with the eternal image of them holding hands after they had drowned. It was powerful and captivating television. In the Sideways World they are in hospital when they finally reconnect. It was awesome.
So Desmond does his work and slowly starts to reconnect the Losties. The two keys figures though are Jack and Locke. As the two most powerful characters throughout the series, Desmond must reconnect these two people and does so in spectacular style when he drives his car at full speed at Locke who is in his wheelchair rolling across a carpark. At the time, I presumed that Desmond was trying to kill Locke, but it was his attempt for Jack, as a spinal surgeon, to reconnect with Locke who needed him to save his life. It is after the surgery that Locke begins to remember but it takes Jack a lot longer to reconnect even though he is having some images of the Island flash before him.
Jack meets up with Kate by accident and once again has a flashback to the Island. Kate convinces Jack to go with her and they arrive at a church. The church where Jack is due to bury his father who died in Sydney and was the reason Jack was on Oceanic Flight 815 in the first place. Jack enters the church at the rear and sees his father’s coffin. When Jack opens the coffin, it is empty and Jack’s father, apparently alive and well, appears behind him. This is where Jack learns the truth. He is dead as is his father and all of the people in the church, and as it turns out, everybody in the Sideways World. Jack was the key to all of these people waiting for him in the church to be able to move on. Due to the crash, these people had a bond, a connection and only once they were all dead and together would they have the chance to move on. Where do they move on to? Who knows? It’s irrelevant anyway. Depending on your religious point of view they could have been going to heaven or to paradise or somewhere totally different. It doesn’t matter. All that matters is that they were doing it together.
That doesn’t explain why Jack, Kate, Sawyer, and Hurley were in the church and Ben was sitting outside of the church. Back on the Island, they weren’t dead. I kept waiting for the plane that Lapidus was flying to crash and kill them all but that didn’t happen. So why are they all there in purgatory if they didn’t die? Simple. I think that time does not exist in purgatory. The Losties just waited until the ones who were still alive, died. For Jack, that may have been a few minutes after we saw him lying injured in the bamboo. For Kate and Sawyer it may have been 40 years later. For Hurley who was now the Islands protector and presumably, immortal, it may have been 200 years later after he has found someone else to become the Islands protector, much the same way Jacob found Jack. For Ben, it could have happened anytime from that point on.
The fact is that they all died eventually and they were not prepared to move on past purgatory until they were all together. Jack was the last to recognise that he was dead. Sun and Jin knew it as soon as they reconnected in the hospital as they saw the flashback of them dying in the submarine. Juliet knew it as she saw the flashback of her detonating the bomb. It took Jacks father to tell him for him to acknowledge it. Inside the church it was an emotional reunion.
The other question that has been speculated is why was Ben sitting outside the church and did not go in when invited. I think that Ben wasn’t worthy. He was not really liked by the Losties and had at one stage or another tried to kill them all. No, I think the reason why Ben was outside the church, still in purgatory mind you, was that he had unfinished business. He had to make amends with people like his daughter, Alex who he saw murdered before his eyes as he wouldn’t intervene. Alex’s mother, Danielle who was on the Island for many years. His father who he murdered with Richard’s assistance. It is fair to say that Ben still had a lot of work to do for redemption and before he could too, move on.
Lost was a Sci-Fi show. It had black smoke monsters and polar bears in tropical surroundings. It had hatches and experiments and countdown clocks. It had immortals and it had magic healing waters. Of course it was Sci-Fi. I loved it and I loved the finale. I get why some people feel cheated. The whole purgatory thing was too easy to explain it. That’s what I love about it. The writers and producers supposedly wrote the final episode immediately after writing the pilot episode. They then had to fill the gaps. It was always their intention that it was purgatory but whether they all died on the flight or all died after the crash I suppose they had some creative licence with.
I adored how the Losties reconnected in the last episode. The moment they remembered their special circumstances. Sawyer and Juliet. Charlie and Claire and Aaron. Jack and Kate. It couldn’t have ended on a better note for me.
I will miss it.
So what do you think? Did you see it differently to me? Did you enjoy the finale? What did you want to see happen?