The Controversial Ending of Lost

Much was made of the Breaking Bad series finale a couple of weeks ago. Personally, I thought it was terrific and fitting for the show, but it was somewhat safe and won’t go down as the best episode in the show’s history.

This has sparked a number of debates about the best, worst and most controversial series finales of all time. General consensus has it that the series cappers for M.A.S.H. and Newhart rank among the best, while those for Seinfeld and Dexter are universally reviled.

But one series finale remains very controversial: Lost.

This argument creeps up on me and annoys from time to time. Not because I didn’t like the ending of Lost – I loved it, in fact. But I’m tired of hearing about how the show failed because it didn’t wrap up every single thread and mystery. I like the ambiguous; it makes you think. And those of us who are prone to write about these things are still talking about Lost years later.

Didn’t understand it? Okay, here’s a quick run-down of how I saw things in Lost (and some thoughts I’ve picked up over the years):

The island was the Garden of Eden, the source of tremendous power created by both the innocence of the world and the original temptation. Jacob was the man who was set to protect it and ensure the world remained in the same balance. He recognized that he needed to recruit a replacement because the Man in Black would eventually wear him down and beat him.

So Jacob fated our “Losties” to the island by touching them at various points in their lives and setting them on paths that would all put them on Oceanic Flight 815. Throughout each of their histories, Jacob met up with each of our primary characters (Jack, Locke, Kate, Sawyer, etc) and made some small “tweak” to their lives…some for their good, some not so much…that made sure that they would be on that flight on that day.

Once on the island, each reacted to the island in various different ways, but all were eventually brought back together in the end because, subconsciously, they understood that their mission wasn’t yet complete. Many were lost along the way, but in the end, Jacob found his replacement…but it wasn’t who you think it was. The two who were anointed on the show were just caretakers until the true choice was ready to accept the responsibility. And yes…Hurley was just one of the caretakers (see my third-to-last paragraph).

Everything else was really a side note, but here’s a few other tidbits:

The Dharma Initiative and The Others were really two sides of the same coin: two groups who discovered the island and were focused on harnessing and exploiting its energy.

The smoke monster was The Man in Black and was a manifestation of evil accidentally created by Jacob and his brother when they fought early on.

The Season Six Lost narrative was split between the primary narrative which had continued throughout the previous five seasons and purgatory, where all the Losties met one last time after each of their lives had come to an end, and this was created as a result of their interaction with Jacob and the island. They all needed to accept who they were, what they had done and be happy and grateful for their lives before they were allowed to move on.

Oh, and one more thing: most of you probably haven’t seen the ACTUAL end of Lost. The very end where Jack dies, watching Kate’s plane escape with Vincent nuzzling him? Yeah…that’s not it. There’s a few minutes after that that never aired: the Lost Epilogue, if you will. It runs about 10 minutes and can only be found in the special features of the final six of the Season Six DVDs. In addition to making a point to reveal a lot more mysteries per minute than any other episode of the television show, it also shows you the REAL ending: Who is the new Jacob? Believe me, you’ll smack yourself in the forehead for having missed it.

There’s a ton of other theories and thoughts on this show. But what remains is this: it wasn’t perfect. Many portions of it make no sense in comparison to others. But this is the danger of having seriously complicated television shows and stories in general…we are human and sometimes we screw up. But Lost, with all its flaws, is a terrific television show and well worth it at the end of the day.

Even if the finale isn’t one of the best episodes of the series.