Hear Us Out

Hear Us Out: Lost Was Always Heading to That Finale, and It Was Great

A decade after its release, we look back at one of the most polarizing TV finales to prove why it's a fitting end to a groundbreaking series

by | May 22, 2020 | Comments

It’s been said that it’s all about the journey, not the destination — and that phrase is oftentimes used in conjunction with a lengthy discussion about the TV show Lost.

Lost was truly like nothing else on TV, but most of the conversation around the show centers solely on its final episode. Nowadays it’s generally accepted that the two-part final episode, unsubtly-titled “The End,” was divisive at best, but back when the finale aired on May 23, 2010, it earned mostly positive reviews, and was even nominated for an Emmy for both best directing and best writing.

On its 10th anniversary, we have to go back to the island and revisit all the reasons “The End” worked as an encapsulation of everything that made Lost a great series.


THE SHOW WAS ALWAYS BUILDING TO THAT ENDING

LOST cast
(Photo by Reisig & Taylor/© ABC/Courtesy: Everett Collection)

Though the grand mysteries involving magic corks and polar bears became the dominant narrative around Lost, what they say about the show being all about the characters remains true. Sure, we did get plenty of plot twists and surprises, but these revelations were always character-driven: from the show’s first flash-forward being revealed through a trauma-ridden and beard-having Jack, or Desmond’s time-traveling told as a love story between him and his constant, Penny. This continued all the way to the finale, which of course had the magical cork, and the flash-sideways being an allegory for the after-life, but both served to inform Jack’s journey of learning to let go. Letting go of his need to fix everything, letting go of his obsession to do everything himself and not accepting help, and letting go of his father.

This character-driven conclusion to the story was telegraphed to the audience for years. Showrunner Carton Cuse said in 2006, “You have to watch because you’re enjoying the journey, not because you are waiting for the endgame.” Lost always used its mystery as a way to dive into the characters’ psyche and advance their individual stories, not the other way around. There was never going to be a lengthy explanation about what everything meant, as showrunner and co-creator Damon Lindelof told The Verge in 2012, they were shooting for an ending that gave an explanation as to why the plane crash mattered to the characters and what they got out of it.

“The answer, as corny as it sounds, was the one that appealed to me the most: each other,” Lindelof said. “If they hadn’t spent all that time on the island, then they would never have been able to forgive themselves for their past sins and break through to some sort of level of self-awakening and forgiveness.”


THE ENDING ENCAPSULATES THE SHOW’S BIGGER IDEAS ABOUT PHILOSOPHY

Terry O'Quinn in LOST
(Photo by Mario Perez / © ABC / Courtesy: Everett Collection)

For all the times that Jack and Locke fought about science versus faith, neither able to fully convince the other, the Lost finale ultimately sided with faith being the answer, whatever form that takes. The questions regarding the origin of the polar bears or the electromagnetic properties of the island gave way to mythological tales of immortal 2,000-year-old entities and more abstract questions regarding whether there’s a purpose behind suffering and what suffering we must go through to achieve grace.

Indeed, the philosophical nature of the show has been there since the beginning. There are several characters named after known philosophers, and from early in the first season the characters discuss whether the island is purgatory and they’re being punished by some higher power. This idea of punishment and sin carried on all the way to “The End,” with the characters learning from their past sins and move on having become better people. Though it dabbled in big battles between good and evil with the fate of the world on the line, Cuse said in 2014 at PaleyFest that “Lost was metaphorically about lost people looking for meaning in their lives, so the ending had to be a spiritual one that explained these characters’ journey and destiny.”

This is why the flash-sideways are so meaningful for the show at large and especially the finale. As Jack gives his life to save both the island and his friends and the battle between good and evil comes to an end, the sideways characters remember their lives and achieve some kind of grace or bliss. They all needed each other to find themselves and some catharsis before moving on, living up to the title of the show itself: Lost.


SIDE CHARACTERS GOT SATISFYING CURTAIN CALLS

LOST, Harold Perrineau, Malcolm David Kelley, 'Tabula Rasa', (season 1), 2004-2010. photo: Mario Perez/© ABC/Courtesy Everett Collection
(Photo by Mario Perez/© ABC/Courtesy Everett Collection)

While Jack fought to stop the Man in Black (who had taken Locke’s body) on the island, Desmond was busy gathering everyone in the sideways afterlife. Though not incredibly important to the “plot” this was a fantastic way of letting the audience say goodbye to characters they hadn’t seen in years.

Whether it’s Shannon reuniting with Sayid, Boone and Libby showing up one last time, Rose and Bernard revealing they’ve been living a nice and quiet life on the island, or Vincent the dog returning and lying next to a dying Jack, the flash-sideways allowed Lost to shine a light on side characters we’ve lost over the years for one last goodbye.


THE CALL-BACKS ARE SPOT ON, AS IS THE FINAL SHOT

LOST, Matthew Fox
(Photo by Mario Perez / © ABC / Courtesy: Everett Collection)

The finale of Lost also makes it a point to revisit some of the show’s greatest hits to have the story come full circle and underscore the changes the characters have gone through. Sawyer calls Jack “doc” in the sideways universe, while leading Desmond down a cave to pull out the cork from the heart of the island, the evil version of Locke points out that it feels nostalgic to stare down a hole in the ground with Jack (a callback to the hatch from season 1). The Man in Black’s death is even shot to echo Jacob’s death from season 5.

Then there’s Jack’s death scene, which begins with him being stabbed in the opposite side of his abdomen as when he woke up after the crash in the pilot, before walking through the bamboo fields where Vincent the dog comes to greet him. The closing shot of the show, Jack watching the plane carrying his friends fly off as he closes his eye, the reverse of the opening shot of the show, is absolutely perfect.


WE ALL FELT “THE GIACCHINO”

Composer Michael Giacchino’s work on the show was one of Lost’s secret weapons. Each episode, Giacchino would write the show’s emotional, haunting, soaring music that accompanied the story for six seasons. In a move that was and remains rare on TV, Giacchino worked with a live orchestra instead of just with a synthesizer, which added to the gravitas and power of the show’s score. Cuse and Lindelof coined the term “The Giacchino” to signal the feelings they wanted to convey through music. As Cuse once told the LA Times, “We literally write Michael’s name into the script in various places where we want to convey a sense of emotion.”

Sawyer and Juliet’s reunion in the finale wouldn’t work half as well without Giacchino underscoring the emotion of the scene, nor would the scene where Jack’s father explains to him the nature of the sideways timeline, which becomes an instant tearjerker because of the score. If Lost is about the characters going on a journey, Giacchino’s music takes the audience on a similar emotional journey.

Lost is available to stream by subscription on Hulu and Amazon Prime Video (with ads), or rent or buy it at FandangoNOW, Vudu, and iTunes.

Lost (2004)
85%

#1
Synopsis: Forty-eight passengers miraculously survive an air crash only to be stranded on a scary island. With the trauma of the... [More]

Tag Cloud

Comic Book Countdown HBO period drama stand-up comedy stoner award winner Film Ellie Kemper 2016 dragons movie spy thriller universal monsters HBO Max true crime Trivia Podcast Warner Bros. medical drama Paramount Network Opinion Black Mirror politics History adaptation game of thrones Amazon Prime Video concert MTV batman crossover American Society of Cinematographers Tumblr YouTube YA Film Festival Academy Awards Nat Geo docudrama Anna Paquin tv talk casting Sony Pictures New York Comic Con Classic Film transformers 2015 jamie lee curtis technology foreign Brie Larson screenings Emmy Nominations Comics on TV DC Comics Song of Ice and Fire Ghostbusters Valentine's Day CW Seed space AMC VH1 Winners 24 frames Writers Guild of America discovery Paramount MSNBC sequel crime Nickelodeon what to watch Star Trek Binge Guide President supernatural Teen spain Ovation 2020 cancelled latino golden globes Character Guide DC streaming service GoT Year in Review E3 Showtime El Rey singing competition directors crime thriller streaming Comedy Turner based on movie LGBT Heroines Photos a nightmare on elm street Holidays canceled TV shows Dark Horse Comics talk show hist Stephen King Funimation Certified Fresh child's play chucky FXX disaster Sci-Fi Red Carpet harry potter ITV children's TV breaking bad Extras indie DC Universe strong female leads movies comic Hulu richard e. Grant Tomatazos 45 zombie romance Crackle TCM Musicals cats DGA video Fox News Thanksgiving dogs WarnerMedia Mudbound CBS RT21 cars adventure Shondaland ghosts DirecTV Cosplay SXSW Star Wars TV Land composers Syfy cooking TV renewals Emmys Apple dceu ABC NBC Elton John reboot Interview ratings Horror doctor who BET Amazon Women's History Month TCA 2017 spider-man Infographic Epix unscripted biography 4/20 CNN sag awards Rock cinemax Esquire name the review Apple TV+ Food Network comics canceled BBC America IFC Films Hallmark Masterpiece Grammys Mary Poppins Returns Disney Plus binge CBS All Access Cannes hispanic Chernobyl Creative Arts Emmys south america teaser 007 festivals christmas movies First Reviews werewolf thriller Cartoon Network Disney+ Disney Plus Columbia Pictures serial killer Nominations vampires best zero dark thirty Rocketman Tubi The Witch Crunchyroll Disney streaming service Apple TV Plus OWN Trophy Talk IFC Bravo natural history Christmas WGN Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt free movies YouTube Premium Starz Super Bowl NYCC crime drama Vudu Pet Sematary USA Network Reality Tarantino Spectrum Originals Marvel Television SundanceTV documentary cancelled TV shows Amazon Prime Animation Britbox Shudder Video Games The Walking Dead cartoon Premiere Dates Toys Country Pixar Fall TV Amazon Studios Mindy Kaling asian-american cops Peacock joker anthology Action Lucasfilm Best and Worst Election Freeform Holiday A&E Pride Month Logo parents Sundance Now facebook Musical Lionsgate Sundance TV Netflix Christmas movies mission: impossible YouTube Red The Purge Drama sports 2018 APB book comiccon Sneak Peek Rocky Marvel Studios versus Netflix Turner Classic Movies E! Mystery 2017 reviews rotten movies we love screen actors guild Box Office Baby Yoda 20th Century Fox A24 spanish language Hear Us Out Mary poppins renewed TV shows OneApp ESPN scary movies Lifetime Western Sundance police drama dark boxoffice Disney Hallmark Christmas movies Rom-Com Arrowverse aliens Black History Month Spring TV Kids & Family mockumentary blockbuster Music elevated horror SDCC MCU Polls and Games game show series 2019 The CW VICE TV science fiction psycho die hard BBC halloween First Look criterion RT History FX on Hulu Pop Pirates franchise revenge Winter TV GLAAD Disney Channel Quiz Summer Martial Arts Awards Tour USA Watching Series psychological thriller Acorn TV historical drama mutant National Geographic Mary Tyler Moore Endgame finale Awards ABC Family slashers LGBTQ GIFs TLC political drama witnail Superheroe comedies PBS zombies San Diego Comic-Con cancelled TV series Universal FOX television Lifetime Christmas movies TCA TBS TNT Discovery Channel social media miniseries Comedy Central Calendar kids cults Chilling Adventures of Sabrina TIFF Pop TV 71st Emmy Awards Spike blaxploitation 21st Century Fox PaleyFest CMT Reality Competition Walt Disney Pictures toy story Oscars robots Avengers anime The Arrangement Captain marvel diversity justice league Biopics Television Academy sitcom independent animated romantic comedy Marvel travel TruTV Adult Swim green book war dramedy Marathons Superheroes Fantasy dc X-Men quibi theme song Schedule spinoff Trailer See It Skip It cancelled television FX nature Travel Channel TCA Winter 2020 Set visit Family