I loved it. Absolutely. And I believe it was the best, and really, only way, to end the show. But it just took me 24 hours after watching to understand why.
The entire show was just about Jack Shephard. Everything else, including the island and its ability to heal people and time travel, the Smoke Monster, the Dharma Initiative, the Others, Jack’s friends, Jack’s enemies, the light in the cave… All of it were the parts of Jack’s life that ultimately mattered to his existence.
In the likeness of the movie Vanilla Sky, when you’re dead, it’s all over- so why focus on the character’s earthly life after they die? But the writers of LOST took that concept to a new level by acknowledging that all the mysteries, actions, heartaches, and triumphs all boil down to one thing- the people that were involved in your life.
Even Vincent the dog’s best purpose on the island was to comfort Jack as he died.
I definitely plan to write much more in the near future answering the remaining questions about LOST: Why was The Man in Black never given a name? Who was the first protector of the island? Did it really matter that Desmond and/or Locke typed the code every 108 minutes? What was really accomplished by Juliet sacrificing her life by detonating the bomb in 1977?
But as for today, I think it’s more important to focus exactly what happened in the finale. The most begging question is what’s up with the flash-sideways?
The first time we saw the characters of LOST in the finale season, they were on the plane. Note there were never flash-forwards or flash-backs during the flash-sideways, indicating no past or future in that timeline. They weren’t reincarnated, having to live their lives all over again, in this version with the island being sunk. The alt-reality was simply an “acknowledge your dead and that your life mattered” precursor to the afterlife, often referred to as “purgatory” or “the waiting room”; it started with the plane ride.
Keeping in mind that life on the island (and “the real world”) continued after Jack died, that Hurley and Ben served as the island’s protectors for the rest of their lives, that Claire, Kate, Sawyer, Richard, Miles, and Frank all left the island and lived normal lives back in the United States or wherever they chose to re-establish their lives… they all still died at some point. Most of them of old age, living to be in their 70’s.
And once they died, before going to Heaven, they were reunited, having the blessing remembering how they mattered to each other. And since time, in essence, doesn’t exist in the afterlife, they all met at the same time, since it didn’t matter that Jack died 40 years before most of them did.
But because Jack was the main character of the show, the show stopped with his earthly death. The rest of the living characters lived their rest of their lives and eventually died, the show just didn’t continue to follow their earthly lives.
So when Jack died in 2007 (three years after originally crashing on the island), and (say, for example) that Kate died in 2051, they met at the same time in “the waiting room”. (Because time doesn’t exist after earthly life ends.) Then they went on to Heaven with the rest in the church. (And Ben went once he was ready.)
The writers were clever to utilize a nearly universal belief that there is some sort of life after death. The episode was quite saturated in Christianity (which was a smart idea since most of America identifies with some version of it), yet didn’t write off other popular international religious beliefs, thanks to the “major six religions of the world” stained glass window in the church. The point wasn’t to depict any religion’s specific teaching on the afterlife as specifically accurate, but to instead play and expound on our perceived general ideas on life after death and the importance of the people in our lifetime after we die.
I don’t see how LOST could have ended any other way. Yes, technically “all our questions” were not answered. But it involves using our imaginations and clues from the show to fill in the blanks, as we as Losties have been doing the whole time. It will bring me much joy to take matters into my own hands by filling in these blanks with many more LOST posts to come.
(They will most likely be spun off into a new post if they are interesting, insightful, or raise a good question; or instantly deleted if they are full of nerd spite: “NO! You’re wrong! What really happened was… Looks like you never thought of that while trying to make your weak point, did you?…”).