Lost Explained…for real

SPOILER WARNING :: This is your warning.  I will hold nothing back in this post.  If you haven’t seen the finale yet and want to keep it secret- then don’t read this till after you’ve seen it.  If you don’t care or have seen it- but you’re still questioning some stuff, here is the answer…for real

For the record :: I loved the ending of Lost.  It left me a little confused, but when I stopped and thought about it, it made a shi*-ton of sense.  I’m pretty sure I know what the writers were trying to say and the answers they were trying to give us.  Go back and watch it and see if I’m not right- but I really think I am, ok- here we go…

First, Carlton and Damon (Lost’s producers) told us weeks ago that not every question would be answered.  They weren’t trying to answer all of our questions.  Matthew Fox (Jack Sheppard) said in an interview weeks ago that a lot of people were going to be pissed because the show wouldn’t end they way they thought it should or answer the questions they thought it should answer.  But never-the-less, there would be answers given.   I guess what remains then is what questions are important enough to answer, which ones do they let go?

Here’s a clue…

Second, just before the finale aired, Team Darlton gave us a two-hour series recap complete with cast interviews where they kept pounding us with the idea of this show was always about the people, it was never about the island.  It was about the people.  The people are what the show is about.  It’s the people…the show- about the people…get it!  And at the end, just before the finale started, they said that they were pleased with what they wrote and the messages that they wanted to get across are what people will take away from the show.

OK, so we know from those two things that we really won’t get answers about the island, but we will get answers about the people.  And there’s a message in the midst of all that.  But what was it? Before I get there, let me say…

I think that we have to be ok with some big questions NOT being answered, namely that the show was not about the island, so they probably aren’t going to answer a ton about the the island, but instead, the answers would focus on what happened to the characters.  And it was all wrapped up for us in the last few minutes of the finale with Christian Sheppard talking to Jack.

And here is what I believe the show’s producers were telling us happened :: the island was real.  What happened to the people on the island, was real.   They didn’t die in the plane crash and all go to purgatory.  It wasn’t a parallel universe or time line, even the Flash Sideways were NOT that.  It was real.  Jacob was real, the smoke monster was real.  All of it.

Jack became the new protector just long enough to kill the smoke monster.  That happened by Desmond literally pulling the plug and letting the light go out.  We don’t know what the smoke monster and the light really had to do with each other, and it doesn’t matter, cause the show wasn’t about that.  Then Jack put the plug back in, left the cave, and died.

Hurley became the new protector and Ben was his assistant- and that lasted for however long it lasted- presumably thousands of years and they passed it off to someone else eventually (we know that Jacob was the protector for only about 2000 years, yet the island was much older than Jacob, so it makes sense that the island goes on and Hurley and Ben could’ve been on that island for quite a while doing who knows what).  But eventually they die too.

Sawyer, Kate, Claire, Lippidus, Miles, and Richard Alpert all got off the island, and probably made it back to society, lived out the rest of their natural lives, and then died.   Three year old Aaron was still living with Claire’s mom, presumably grew up, had a life, and eventually died.  Hopefully Claire got back to Aaron and he wasn’t too messed up from calling Kate “Mommy” and then having to switch it over to Claire. Imagine Christmas at their house.

Jin, Sun, Sayid, Charlie, Boone, and Shannon all really died on or around the island.  Rose and Bernard lived out the rest of their days on the island and died there too (at least as far as we know).

I would assume Desmond got off the island by taking his boat, though we don’t know.  But we do know that he too eventually died

The point is it all really happened…and maybe they didn’t die on the island, but they all eventually died, as Christian said, “some before [Jack] died, some long after.”  He also said that time was irrelevant.  But for each of them, the time on the island and being with each other was the most important thing that ever happened in each of their lives.  So when they did die- they collectively created this Sideways timeline that was just a way for them to all get back together.

So, if I’m understanding it right, the Flash Sideways was NOT reality at all, but a spiritual realm where they all found their way back to each other.  Desmond, being the constant, was the first understand this, and made it his mission to show everyone that.  And as they did, they understood they were dead- not from the plane crash, just from when they died.  Which is why in the Flash Sideways- Christian wasn’t in the casket- because he, like everyone else, was already dead, and he was part of the island experience like everyone else.  And because they were so important to each other- they got to spend eternity together.

And THAT is the message Damon and Carlton were trying to send :: Lost is not about the island, it’s about the people- who are each lost in their own regard.  And they found something, they found each other.  And when it was all said and done, when they were all dead, when time didn’t matter any more, they would get to spend eternity together.

It wasn’t about the island- so they didn’t answer those questions.  It was all real- the Black Rock, the Dharma Initiative, all of it- except for the flash sideways- which was their collective consciousness creating a reality whereby they would all intersect and come back together so that they could all “move on” together.

There you have it- Lost explained.  Hopefully that answers your questions about why it ended the way it did.  I think I’m right about all this.

So.. exactly what was the island and where did it come from…still have questions…don’t expect them to be answered anytime soon.  The show’s producers are going into hiding for the next bunch of months and aren’t answering anything…because they want the show to end like Lost always has- being about the people and not the island.  But I hear tale that there will be real answers on the DVD release of Season 6 coming in August.

Thoughts :: Am I right?  Am I completely wrong?  What do you think?

  1. I think you’re right.

    The most telling quote came from Jack’s dad with these 5 words: “There is no now here.”

    At first, I was wondering why all the castaways were in the church and apparently dead.

    But if there is no time there, that’s irrelevant. Some of them led full lives.

    Agreed. Lovely ending, on reflection.

    • Right- I love that idea that the ones who are most important to us are the ones who mark us and make us better and in the end, no matter what in this world has separated us, we will be together again.

  2. I think that you have a really great interpretation, but I disagree with it a bit.

    Let me offer my view, that is based on some limited processing.


    However, if you assume the purgatory (or something like it) is real in the context of the show, then anything that happens in purgatory would be real too. (Just like anything that happens in Heaven or Hell is real.) So when Christian said that all of that really happened, it would be true, even though it happened in purgatory.

    This ending made me VERY SAD though, because I think that it perpetrated the belief that an individual can make his/her own way to heaven through good works. In this case it appears that Jack is able to atone for his own sins in the context of an in between place. Did you notice that as the end credits rolled, they showed the island with all the plane wreckage on the beach, and NO PEOPLE. This cemented it for me, that everyone died on the plane crash. I’m not quite sure if the island was just Jack’s purgatory, or everyone’s… I’ll have to watch it again and process that some more.

    This is so sad though. Even though good works are wonderful things that we as Christians can be called to do, they don’t buy us a ticket to heaven. I think the enemy scored a major win last night, ‘affirming’ in so many people’s minds that we can save ourselves, which we know to be a lie.

    • jennifer
    • May 24th, 2010

    Thank you for that interpretation. I was unhappy with the ending and pondered over and over any way it could all make sense. I feel very happy with your explanation. I’m passing this on to my friends that watched it with me last night. We were all disappointed. I totally agree with you now, though.

    • Rachel P.
    • May 24th, 2010

    I like it Brent, have always trusted your insight…kind of felt this way last night, but reading your thoughts this morning made it seemed more solidified. Great insight on your part my friend..LOVED it being about the people, LOVED seeing Sawyer and Juliette back together, Charlie & Claire, etc…..one question I’d love to hear your take on, why was Ben outside, not going in yet. Was he not dead? Not part of them? Would love your take on that….So, it’s over, feel like I’ve LOST a good friend, but the memories are still warm and fuzzy. It’s been great!

    • I think Ben was definitely part of them. Even though he was mostly a bad guy, he was still very much part of them. He figured into their story very much. Which is why I wasn’t surprised to see Charlie or Juliet or even Boone and Shannon. He was outside just cause he wasn’t ready to go in yet. He was part of collective conscious and he was a very real presence on the island. Which is why I wasn’t surprised to see Christian there. He, although dead, was for sure a presence on the island. The one that surprised me the most was penny being there. Sure, she was great for Desmond, but she wasn’t really part of the island experience. So ben was hanging outside, maybe weighing if e’d really be accepted, maybe just not quite ready to love on just yet- but I think it’s safe to assume he joined them as they moved on.

      • Shannon
      • May 24th, 2010

      I read a review somewhere where someone explained this by saying that Ben didn’t feel like he deserved to go into the church because (even though he assumably redeemed himself by helping Hurley on the island for years after all the happening) he had done so much bad…

      • Yeah, that’s a real possibility. I think that’s one of those things of the writers left open just for fans to debate and talk about. As I see it, I think he eventually goes in and joins them.

  3. I actually agree with mostly all of what you’ve said. After the show last night, I was talking through it with my family and what you typed out is what I, also, took from the finale. The only point I’m not sure about is if the flash sideways was a collective conscience afterlife or if it was just Jack’s ushering into the afterlife? Either way, it wouldn’t change the meaning of the show that much and I’d still be very impressed about how it was wrapped up. It reminded me a ton of the end of the movie Big Fish, have you ever seen it? If not, I recommend it. Thanks for taking the time to write this out.


    • I do think it was a collective conscious only because there lots of stuff that happened that didn’t involve Jack at all. With time being irrelevant at this point, it didn’t matter much when they died, they all still shared it. But site way- it doesn’t change the ending at all.

  4. I think you are right as well. And hearing you explain it makes me accept it a little bit more. For some reason I have a hard time feeling the sideway flashes weren’t real, I don’t know why that bothered me so much. I wanted them to end happy so badly, but it does in a way, just not in a Disney fashion. It’ll leave me pondering life in general and our relationships with others for years to come.

    • Thanks for your comments. It was a happy ending in that they all go to “move on” together. And I think that’s what they were saying with that stained glass window that depicted all the major faiths of the world and then a wheel right next to it- that no matter what faith you are- we all hope that when all is said and done, we will be reunited with those that impacted us and mattered most to us so that we could “move on”

    • From USA Today today:

      As it turns out, those now-beloved characters weren’t just lost in the real world of the island. They were also lost in what many had assumed was an alternate “sideways” universe triggered by last season’s atom bomb but was actually a gathering place for the dead as they wait to move on.


      Thus, the sideways flashes were not an illusion or an alternative universe but a transitory state.

      As for the final scene of the show, showing the plane wreckage and no people:

      The writers definitely made that ambiguous and open to letting us interpret any way we’d like, just as with the final blackout scene in The Sopranos. Brilliant.

    • Shannon
    • May 24th, 2010

    I watched the finale having never watched an episode of LOST. So all I saw was the finale and the 2 hour recap before it so I don’t really know all the big questions people had I really only know about what was happening in the now but it seems like this ending was fitting. The description you gave here is exactly what I got out of it. It doesn’t seem to be up to much interpretation as Christian Shepard pretty much explains that they are all dead and were living in a form of purgatory so that they could find each other and move on to heaven together.

    I would also like to say that generally having all your characters dead at the end is like the biggest cop-out of storytelling but I really thought it worked here because the flash sideways is kind of more like an epilogue. People are immortal that’s just the way it is so yes obviously they were going to all die eventually and so the flash sideways is just showing you what happens to them when this eventuality happens and it give you the peace that all the characters will be happy in the end so it is sort of bittersweet “they died but they are together” kind of thing.

    • nonprofitorgs
    • May 24th, 2010

    Agreed. They all died on the first crash. The Island was purgatory. They met and loved on purgatory… and then went to Sideways to try and find one another there so they could all enter the light together… to move on together… since they could not go into the light together on the Island.

    They found each other in the Sideways… only after they “died” (left the Island)… and from there in the church (which had hundreds of different gods, goddesses, deities… they made is clear is universal, not just Christian, Jewish, Islam) they were waiting for Jack to come/die… so they could all go into the light together… and even still we do not know what happens after we go through the light. Hence the whole speech by Jack’s dad… and him walking into the light at the church.

    I loved the religious ideas behind the story. We’re all a little lost… looking for love… facing our fear of death (Jack volunteering to die in the end)… and even then no one knows what happens after you go into the light. That’s the point. We’re no supposed to know. No one has ever come back from the light. Ever. I saw the light as a child during a near death experience. It was clear that once you went through, this world was left behind forever.

    Ben… wanted to stay behind because he found love (the woman and teenage daughter) in the Sideways. They only place he ever found love.

    Great story. And of course there could be a purgatory, or not. Or a heaven, or not. Or a hell, or not. Or an island, or not. Either way, in the end there was no death, they all found one another… we’re just on one, long continuous journey… if you believe there is life after the passing through light. I like to hope there is… otherwise what’s the point? Where I think it starts getting dangerous is when people claim to know. Pretty arrogant, don’t you think?

    • See, here’s the thing- I don’t think it was purgatory. I don’t think they died in the crash. I think that island was real. Mostly I think this because they got off the island and went home. Also, the Dharma Initiative came to island. Miles and Charlotte were born on the island and left the island as kids. Now, I suppose that could have been part of the whole “purgatory” thing, but I don’t think so. I think the island was real, they crashed, some lived, some died, but everyone eventually died. That’s the thing- I don’t know how much everyone was really “waiting” for one another to die. Once your dead, time ceases to be a factor. So while by our standards, Hurley and Ben could have gone on for 2000 years protecting the island, once they died, they simply joined up with the others at their time of death. The only “waiting” they did was just waiting for everyone in the group to understand what was really going on and come together before moving on.
      That’s my take anyway.

    • Amy
    • May 24th, 2010

    Correction: Desmond was not in fact the first to realize that they were all connected. That was Charlie & Charlie showed it to Desmond.

    Also, I think it’s a major copout to just say “well the show was never about the island. It was about the people.” We could watch ANY prime time drama if all we wanted was the interaction between the characters. The island and the QUESTIONS were what made the show so compelling. Then they just couldn’t figure out how to properly answer all the questions that they spent 5 years asking, so they just didn’t bother & decided to say “well, it was always about the people anyway.”

    Nonsense. How many times did they establish the island itself as a character?? “The island brought us here. ” “The island needs us.” “The island isn’t through with you.” Now all of a sudden the island doesn’t matter? You can’t establish the arc of a narrative based on questions and intrigue and then just drop that arc on the floor because you can’t figure out what the answers to the questions are.

    I’m perfectly satisfied with wrapping up the characters in their happily ever after little packages and bows. I’m not satisfied with the road the writers took to get us there. I feel a bit like Atrayu in “Neverending Story”. “My horse died! I nearly drowned! I just barely got away from The Nothing! And for what? To find out what you already knew?!” They established in the first season that the characters were important and integral to each other by having them all pop in & out of each other’s flashbacks. We knew from the Pilot that the characters were obviously intertwined with one another. What kept us watching was the “Myst”-like intrigue that they established about this bizarre place they all landed on. And we went through Hell and back with all of them. For what? To find out what they’d already told us in the first season. That Jack was the protagonist, and they are all important to each other.

    • Ahhh- go back and watch it again- Charlie had a flash, but didn’t understand it. He didn’t remember it. That didn’t happen till he was at Aaron’s birth.

      Then again you could be right- I could have misinterpreted it.

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