I am a "Lost" apologist. Best to get that out of the way first. The show came to me at an important part in my life. I had just moved across the country and into my cousin's guest bedroom about 40 miles north of Los Angeles proper. I knew no one. ABC premiered the show two days after I settled in. I spent the first year of my West Coast existence logging onto every "Lost" message board on the Internet. You know those people who were obsessively dissecting the Blast Door map in season two? That was me.
Not coincidentally, it's one of the only shows I've watched from pilot to finale on a week-to-week basis. It's a lot tougher to critique something when you live with it for that much time. You learn to accept its faults. And if you don't, then you're obviously a self-sadist.
But, as a network television show that was filmed over a six-year period-as opposed to pretty much every form of media where the schedule allows for planning the complete narrative before shooting-there were bound to be a few holes left the storytellers couldn't get to. Let's try to logically fill in a few of those, shall we?
So, what the fudgesicles happened in the finale anyway?
Here's what I got: All the stuff that happened on the island actually did happen. ("Whatever happened, happened.") Meanwhile, all the stuff that took place in the "sideways" universe this season was really in a Matrix-like purgatory after each individual character died, although they all died at different times and although they all resemble each other from the period they "knew" each other, because it would be too "Six Feet Under" if Kate came to the church as an old woman. And all this despite what Christian Shephard said about everything being "real."
Let's take Jack's life for instance: He dies on the island at the end of the finale. Afterward, he wakes up in purgatory and goes on living, la-tee-da, in this fake life until he's forced to realize that he's dead. Meanwhile, everyone else who survived the island stuff (Ben, Hurley, Sawyer, Kate, etc.) live their own lives until they eventually die and are then transported to this purgatory universe via some psychic MeetUp.com until they themselves are forced to realize they're dead. Seeing as this is an ensemble show, everyone needs to realize at the same "time" (though there is no "time" here) in order to "move on."
The island wasn't purgatory?
Oh no. All that stuff was real. It's probably best to look at the show in two separate phases: (1) All of the stuff in seasons 1-5 and the island action in season 6; (2) All of the "sideways" stuff in season 6. If you wanted to make it into a timeline, take all of (1) and then, whenever a character dies, they go into a holding chamber. Once everyone dies, in their own timeline, the holding chamber opens and (2) starts. The series concludes with everyone in the church together going into The Beyond.
Can you somehow use "The Sixth Sense" to explain this?
Sure. They're all Bruce Willises and, I guess, an Emotional Experience is Haley Joel Osment. That Emotional Experience could be Sawyer and Juliet touching, Claire looking at Baby Aaron, etc. Once they're woken up, they do their best to facilitate Emotional Experiences for the others characters.
That certainly didn't help.
Let's move on then.
Why does Ben stay back?
My guess is he wants to spend time with his daughter-and maybe even bang the non-crazy Rousseau a bit-before moving on. Or perhaps since he's a stone-cold killer he has more atoning to do before some higher being allows him to move on. I'm rooting for the hot making out with Rousseau scenario. She cleans up real nice.
What about the other people who don't go?
Each one has their own reason not for leaving yet. Eloise wants to stay as long as possible with her son Faraday, since she has a bunch of guilt left over from killing him before he was born. (Don't get me started with that time-loop.) Not sure about Charlotte. Ana Lucia is "not ready yet," according to the all-powerful Desmond, for whatever reason. Michael, meanwhile, is still stuck on the island with a whole lot of other lost souls, whispering away for a long, long time.
Then what happened when the nuclear bomb went off? It didn't split reality?
Not really. It just shot them back into present-day, the island-half of season 6. As far as it starting the "sideways" universe, that was more due to the fact that if the island didn't exist-if the plane was allowed to land instead of crash-then the Most Important Part Of Their Lives would have never occurred. Meaning, the island has to not exist in this made-up purgatory so they can continue pretending they're not dead. Does this make sense at all?
Think of it like this. You're a ghost but you don't want to move on. So you create this dream world where things are different for you. Have a bad relationship with your dad? Now you can redeem yourself a bit by having a great relationship with your son? Looking for revenge because a con man indirectly killed your parents? How about, this time, you use your street-smart powers for good and be a cop?
Oh, sort of like Mulholland Drive?
Sure. Like that. Except not as blatant a "happy place." Reality seeps in a bit more often here, so much so that they find themselves living nearly the exact same lives, even ending up on that same fateful plane in this dream world. And sometimes, the world they create is not always great. Kate's still on the run from the law. Charlie's still drugged up. Desmond, instead of being in love with Penny, is globe-trotting on Charles Widmore's expense account and macking on stewardesses left and right.
That sounds alright to me.
Stop being a jerk.
So, if all of the island stuff actually happened and not purgatory, can we nit-pick it?
Can we ever!
Fill in the blank. The island was ____.
A mysterious, magical place with a bunch of healing power and a shitload of electromagnetism. It was difficult to find, maybe because Jacob was camouflaging it. Basically it was the fountain of youth, the Universal MacGuffin, that thing everyone is after once they realize it exists. It's why Widmore and Ben have been fighting with each other for its ownership for so long.
Speaking of those two, they had some "rules" that were never explained. As did other factions. What was the deal with all those rules?
There were three sets of rules that were independent of each other. Ben and Widmore couldn't kill each others' kids, a pact they apparently made off-camera at some point. When Widmore broke that rule, all bets were off. The second set of rules were that Jacob and The Man in Black couldn't kill each other, a magic rule (magic meaning it couldn't be broken) sent down by crazy Allison Janney. This is why Ben was needed as a murdering intermediary. The third set was another magic rule that The Man in Black couldn't kill any of the Candidates. He could kill people who weren't, however, which accounts for him killing Mr. Eko. I mean, other than the fact that the actor who played Mr. Eko, for whatever reason, hated working in Hawaii.
What was that Smoke Monster anyway? Am I wrong to think he was some kind of manifestation of Pure Evil who'd destroy the world if he got off the island?
I'm comfortable with that. Once The Man in Black got tossed into the Light, let's say it took the evil in him and turned it into smoke. And if he got off the island, he could fuck everyone up. That sound good?
Meanwhile, Jacob being alive kept him on the island. That whole corked bottle thing. Once Jacob was dead, he could leave. As long as the Candidates were dead. Or something.
There are plenty of inconsistencies in this.
Well, why does the island need to be sunk for him to leave? Why didn't he just do another one of his "Get The Candidates In One Place And Kill Them All" plans? If those large electromagnetic pole thingies could keep him on the island, why didn't they just put those on the island's perimeter? Why was magic ash able to keep him at bay… until it wasn't anymore?
Next: So what was the deal ages ago with that ash that surrounded Jacob's cabin? And what happened to Evil Sayid?