And in the end, they all died and went to heaven.

The series finale of Lost brought us both back to the beginning and to the threshold of eternity. In one world, Armageddon was averted. In another world, we got the Rapture. The closing moments aspired to a twist ending: Sidewaysabad, a flawed matrix of good-enough contentment, wasn't an alternate reality at all but a psycho-spiritual virtual reality, a vast active living intelligence system (to borrow a phrase from Philip K. Dick's VALIS) created by the collective yearning of the castaways, an ethereal transfer station located at an unspecified junction between life and afterlife. All along, the Sideways characters have been shells, waiting for someone to ignite their soul's pilot light. And on the Pentecost Sunday, it was total ''FLAME ON!'' I thought ''The End'' was a fantastic though not flawless fantasy that stirred more of my emotions than my mind, and I was satisfied with that. The Jin-Sun awakening. The Sawyer-Juliet reunion. The John Locke resurrection. The preservation of The Island and the promise that it lives in our imaginations under the stewardship of big-hearted Hurley and his humble Number 2, Benjamin Linus. Under their regime, a new era of the soul awaits mankind, which I think was one of the big points of it all: Let us rediscover and reinvent spirituality for a new generation that finds it's both too easy to fall for dubious ideas and too hard to believe in anything. I loved the opening montage, the crosscutting between the Island and Sideways characters as they awaited destiny. And I thought the final 10 minutes ² which toggled between Island Jack's last moments of life with Sideways Jack's launch into the afterlife aboard The Ark of the Castaway Covenant ² were pretty close to perfect. The final episode was a very personal work of its writers, Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse. I am grateful for the story they chose to give us. In a way, this really was the zombie season of Lost after all, wasn't? The Sideways world was a Bardo, a kind of Tibetan Book of the Dead intermediate state. It was... Purgatory theory come true! All pause for laughter ² and all pause to appreciate the point Lost hammered home all episode long. The Island world was real. Everything that happened on that damn rock mattered. We worried at the beginning of the season that five years of investment would be squandered by a time reboot. Nope. We worried the messy redemption struggles of each soul would be cheapened by Jughead's clean and easy atomic whiteout. Nope. ''Whatever happened, happened,'' Jack told Desmond, admonishing the idealistic Scot for his wanting cheap, painless shortcuts to salvation. Still, what did the Sideways world mean? And was it truly dramatically necessary to Lost? Some thoughts to come. I wrote the preceding paragraphs minutes after ''The End'' gave us that cryptic credits sequence of airplane wreckage scattered on the beach. (Did the Ajira 316 escapees crash and perish? Are the castaways stuck in a loop that won't stop until each and every one of the passengers is fully redeemed and totally willing to share that flight into the afterlife? Or was that mere melancholy mood imagery?) (And you caught that, right? How the castaway seating arrangement in the church evoked an airplane cabin? How Christian throwing open the doors in the rear of the sanctuary, allowing the warm white vacuum of God space suck the castaway souls out the back = Oceanic 815 ripping in half via The Island's electromagnetic tractor beam?) I was under the influence of great emotion in the immediate aftermath of Lost's ending, and I remain so now: I was affected and moved; I am mentally activated and inspired. I am uncertain if you felt/feel the same. Opinions seem to be all over the map. Opinions also seem to be changing as emotion fades and brains take over. Was the finale profound or mawkish? What was more important: the journey or the destination? Did it the Greater Point To It All effectively render all the unanswered questions of the series moot, or does an ironic allegory for ''letting go'' and ''life is filled with loose ends and dangling plot threads'' not absolve a story from, you know, actually resolving all its gosh darn storylines?

Perhaps these questions are only meaningful to people predisposed to believing in things like ''spiritual clans'' and ''eternal reckoning. and seemed to announce the whole series had been about the spiritual stuff. Your experience of Lost is your experience of Lost. what is a ''better life''? Is it doing ''good''? But what is ''good''? Lost doesn't have answers for these questions and the others that they raise ² it's just demanding that we ask them and discuss them. In that moment.. I presume you are intelligent people who are not blinded by personal bias. so I appreciate seeing a story that reflected ² and challenged ² my worldview. EW's Ken Tucker saw the finale as a Christian allegory.. a vested and invested member of a larger spiritual clan. who despite time travel flashes and the cosmic struggles of their fellow castaways had managed to live quietly by themselves in their secret retirement home in the jungle. I don't think Lost was promoting one faith over another. Lost is asking ''what if?'' What if our actions on this planet counted against some eternal reckoning? How does that possibility change things for you? If that possibility does inspire you to live a better life.'' and failing that. Like it or not.I think fans and haters ² and fans and fans-until-last-night ² will be debating this for a while. you're a member of the family of man. is that Lostclearly believes that our lives play out in a fundamentally spiritual reality. You don't get to hide away from the problems of the world or the concerns of your fellow man. far away from them. prove them that the show really did have a ''Greater Point To It All. Does that mean we can't ride the same church bus to heaven together? I hope not. wither your investment of time and interest in the show you thought Lost was but apparently wasn't? (As Ben said to Jacob last season: ''What about me?'' Maybe that's why you find it easy to angrily jab a knife into the heart of the show this morning. But Rose wanted Desmond to quickly get on his way. the world will find you. And if you didn't like them. I used to identify with John strongly. I will be asked to mount a defense of the series. Rose piped up and told Desmond not to buckle. how? And even before then. you have a responsibility to engage it and redeem it. challenged. but I think Rose was dead wrong. To her defense.'' The Rose-Bernard relationship is inspiring for its commitment. But ''The End'' seemed to be all about the spiritual stuff. But I do not share your perspective. I am sorry you feel let down. I will be put on the spot to show them why it all ''made sense. Are we? Are you? Am I? Do you even have a choice? Last night. Where this allegory becomes challenging. They had a rule: ''We don't get involved. If you never connected with the spiritual stuff. The spiritual themes of Lost have always been there. Yes. Many people are talking right now about the overt spirituality of the finale. I expect in the days to come. as I find myself in conversations with people who were disappointed.) Personally. then. I also think it would be wrong and even disrespectful of me to try. Many others saw the finale as ambiguously and cheesily mystic. she was willing to die for him and their right to self-determination. John Locke was never a man of faith ² he was a critique of a man of faith. though. and I don't think Lostwas sketching an afterlife cosmology. Together. whether you like it or not. and it is valid. when Fake Locke threatened to kill Rose and Bernard if Desmond didn't bend to his will.'' I am one of those people. they were easy to ignore because the show had so many other entertaining things going on. If you draw breath in this world. we saw that Desmond had been saved from the well by Rose and Bernard. Deal with it. NEWSFLASH! The argument will never be settled. But the final judgment on her wrong-headed isolationism was revealed by the simple fact that she was there at the end in that church. When the show challenged . I think the show was offering us an allegory for how life should be lived ² with an ongoing effort to understand each other and ourselves.'' But what is certain is that I will convince them of nothing. And even if you try. she was a hero. that such a project is best undertaken with a community of people.

the dead heart of a lame limbo. give or take some smoke and some superpowers. kids: You take the literal cork out of Jacob's metaphorical bottle of malevolence. It's funny that so many people cynically bitch about Lost not having ''a master plan'' ² theLost story is all about the folly of ''master plans. Fake Locke thought Desmond's descent would destroy The Island. Jack thought Desmond would allow him to kill Fake Locke. The real Island was saved. The Island. Ben. In that tension.. Lost was all about human beings ² really screwed-up human beings who do really screwed-up things. Sawyer asked Jack if becoming island guardian made him feel any different.'' He was right. too. there was an invitation to reflect: Am I blind to my issues? Do I see myself clearly? Do I see God clearly? Or is my belief in God a ''god delusion. May the best one win. though none of them exactly knew the how or why of it. Jack. Jack was still every bit the fixer junkie he used to be before he took holy communion from Jacob. and minimize the influence of his worst parts. It was a leap of faith. (In a twist that goes to my Everyone's Flawed/Master Plans Are Crap ruminations earlier. The Island! And it lives! The sunken tragedy that was glimpsed in the season premiere was a lie ² a clue to the unreality of the Sideways necropolis. If there was something he had gained. Even the Gods (read: Jacob) and Monsters (read: Smokey) and mythic heroes (read: Richard Alpert) revealed themselves to be just like you or me. Which isn't to say he couldn't make mistakes ² and didn't have more to learn. Charles Widmore. Jack was able to apply the best parts of him to the crisis at hand. I felt it was challenging my integrity. The Man In Black. The best we can do is live our lives with enlightened improvisation ² to be so self-aware and fearless that we can live fully in the present and redeem our every moment and every human connection. death and rebirth for the whole world. the three-way FLocke/Jack/Desmond conflict was like aLost-fan beer bet over some aspect of the show's arcane mythology. Here's how you kill the unkillable smoke monster. By Desmond Hume. Not really.his integrity. A new fragrance! Basically. One of the things I have most appreciated about the season is that for all of its spirituality and mysticism and supernatural hoo-ha.'') NEXT: Eternity. a throw-Desmond-downa-well-and-make-a-wish Hail Mary pass. Saving The Island. . But as he moved into the final conflict of his life. Desmond willingly entered into a compact with Island guardian Jack and Island devil Fake Locke and agreed to descend into the Source. though. Desmond thought his underworld ordeal would trigger his spiritual transmigration from Islandverse to Sidewaysabad. Last night. Jacob. The lesson: No one can ever be completely correct about anything ² especially when that something is ''The Meaning Of All Existence.. the one world that will always and forever be Lost for us. Jack thought about it and laughed and said.'' Anyone who has ever had a master plan on this show has failed catastrophically. They each had a crazy theory. And Dying With a Smile On Your Face We begin in the world we know best. but only after the castaways imperiled the place in order to slay Fake Locke. I am grateful for his story. Mother. Breaking Bad: How To Dismantle An Atomic John A Brief Summary Of Destroying The Monster. Each of them thought it would accomplish something different. ''No.'' to borrow from Richard Dawkins? The example of John Locke demands that I ask these questions of myself. it was this: grace for his own uniquely imperfect mess. the engine room of life. Sawyer. Lost revealed that superbuddha Island Desmond was actually somewhat wrong or at least misguided in his idealism.

the angry old man became exclusively and perilously human. The Man In Black.000 years earlier. The unsealed chasm glowed with wine-red anger. it was as if he had shut down the spiritual operating system of reality. devoid of a soul. yes? Desmond yanked The Island's chain. remained intact as an integrated spiritual/material unit. bonded to The Island since childhood and robbed of his body by his brother's coil-stripping blunder some 2.e. I see spin-off!) He found a carrot-shaped obelisk jammed into a hole at the bottom of a reflecting pool. Radiant energy emanating from below the Earth (or just existing naturally in the cave? I couldn't tell) filled the cavern and formed a cone around the plug. 5. or convert him from all spirit to all matter. which is to say. The Island suffered mightily during this cataclysm. Desmond's face went uh-oh.'' the struggle wasn't just between life and death ² it was a struggle to preserve the promise of eternity from a new modality of total annihilation..e. As a consequence. He found skeletons of the Source-seeking sojourners who had come before him ² one of several moments Lost gave us in the finale that suggested rich pockets of untold story that we will never... The same procedure required to break that spell (i. destroying The Island) is the same procedure that would convert Fake Locke and everyone into soulless zombies incapable of having a happily ever after with our loved ones (i. The light should have ripped the smokey soul out of his body. was finally unchained from his tropical ball and got his humanity back. 3. Fake Locke was all spirit ² an unnatural state of being. The warm and buttery radiance faded. 9. 6. the castaways and their loved ones would cease to exist. MIB also turned into something that Jack could murder. uniquely immune to fantasy story mystical hoo-ha. which is to say. possibly all life in the world ² lost their souls. slopes of this promised land slid into the ocean like tears down the face of that Native American guy in those old pick-up-your-litter-dammit! conservation commercials. But in the process. The rub is that to the procedure renders everyone into mechanical animals. In the Lost world. Spiritual lockout commenced. this is how I add it up: 1. In that protracted moment in which evil was allowed to hold sway. ever be told. In ''The End. We've been told for many episodes that if the Monster left The Island. because spirit is indestructible. an old curse lost its power. we cannot pass into the next life or into the afterlife without our community of redemption partners ² the people we love. your community of redemption partners) because we need our souls to move into the afterlife. This makes total sense. He yanked on the stone. It was as if Father Failsafe had turned off heaven and unleashed hell. Let's pause and do some math and come to a conclusion about a mystery/question that was not explicitly spelled out in the finale.Brother Buttonpusher was lowered into the mythic bowels (The Golden Bough-els?) of The Island. you had to either restore him to his natural state of matter and spirit. 4. But it made him invulnerable. wholly flesh and blood. Fake Locke was bonded to The Island by Island magic.Without the soul. 8. reality would go POOF! Instead.. 7. Hence: Fake Locke leaving The Island = Annihilation (when you die) for you and everyone you love. But Desmond. To kill Fake Locke. people are an inextricable blend of matter and spirit. I took this to mean that if Fake Locke got away. (Also see: The Secret Case Files Of Island Honcho Hurley And Sidekick Ben. I think everyone ² the castaways. Fake Locke wanted to leave The Island. and thus killable. a completely mechanical animal. Jack and . 2.

He clutched his bleeding. And then he saw into another world. . it's still evil. I'll cover all of the Sideways world awakenings. We saw him twitch back to life in the jungle.. sending Man-Thing to his back-cracking doom. The waterfall began to flow anew. Dammit if that crunch didn't feel cathartically good. I will try to describe them without crying. I wonder how long it will be before I can think about any of that without getting choked up? This ends Part One of my recap of ''The End. wounded side. which was actually a scar from Fake Locke's skewering. Sideways Jack's alleged appendix scar. Because you see. discuss the big picture of the Sideways world plot. and he rejoiced for them. Lost style. [Eff] yeah! Then Jack rose to his feet and gave Fake Locke the Anthony Cooper heave-ho and punted his sack of stolen-ass off a cliff. Jack told Kate he took the job of guardian because he had made a ruin of his life and that The Island ''was all [he] had. ''I saved a bullet for you. but this time. I was reminded of Jacob finding the empty shell of his brother after the Holy Wormhole burped up the black smoke of MIB's corrupted soul. As he lay dying. And so Jack the Island shepherd continued along the inevitable stages of his Passion journey. near a stream.'' He was wrong. spirit-stripping glow. Fake Locke straddled Jack. (Now we know the origin of Sideways Jack's neck nick ² and. Jack's own body had been screaming at him: Soul Sleeper. Earlier in the episode.. I think. The Island continued to convulse like a dying man in his death throes.Locke fought like beasts on the rumbling rocks near the ocean ² like Nolte and De Niro in Cape Fear. Awaken!) Jack was a goner. next to the tennis shoe dangling from a tall green stalk. He let go. This is the great lesson of our post-9/11 era ² at least. He descended. and he was lost. But this Doubting Thomas found faith and healing by humbling himself and committing himself to a community of fellow flawed and fallen souls also yearning for redemption incapable of doing it alone. What do you think happened to Jack after that? His final scenes on The Island ² the final moments of Lost ever ² were puzzlingly poetic. he couldn't have been happier. He prepared for The End. Enter the dark horse hero. He laid down. Jack sat there with his sucking wound and his joyous grin The Source enveloped him in its cozy. when you fight true evil with necessary evil. enter Kate. Then the bill came due. Call it:Breaking Bad. Jack Shephard was a man who could not believe in anyone or anything else except himself. and spiritual light returned to The Island and by extension to all mankind. per The Gospel According to Jack Bauer. Once upon a time. The fugitive rediscovered her self-righteous murdering mojo (thank you uncorked malevolence!) and put the Monster down with a shotgun blast. he saw the airplane carrying his friends home.'' she quipped. and he was gone. Fake Locke reached for his knife and jammed it into Jack's side ² a spear wound for the wouldbe Island Christ. Jack ceded guardianship of The Island to a reluctant Hurley. He found the spot where he had fallen from the sky some three years earlier. Jack's eye closed. where he was welcomed with open arms and bear hugs. Zoinks! Me To The TV: GOOD GOD JACK GET OFF UP OF YOUR GIGGLING ASS BEFORE THE HOLY WORMHOLE TURNS YOU INTO SMOKE. as he had been wrong about so many things in his life. We now see that all season long. and offer some final thoughts on the finale. It could be healed ² but it needed a sacrifice. Jack got his feet.'' Part Two will post tomorrow. Fake Locke put the knife to Jack's throat and drew blood. And evil has a cost. He put the cork back in the crack of Hell. and he rejoiced ² for himself. they shared communion in a dirty water bottle. He pushed through the bamboo forest. And then Vincent trotted up and snuggled against his side.

Did you wonder if exposure to the Source had given him the time travel brain-scramble that cooked poor Charlotte in season 5? During Jack's death rattle. especially their parents.. and we must consider that not all of the castaways went to the same ''place. personal bias that the castaways moved into the ''afterlife. [pause to stifle sob]. I'm thankful for Lost for the soul boost. It had the ability to create a world.If I had to rank my favorite scenes of the Lostfinale. the Sideways world. that he was even considered a member of this spiritual clan.'' Not me.. up this point.'' But upon reflection. Most likely. death. too much unresolved. I'm realizing this is probably not the perspective or mythology of the show. faithful. son.'' although it could be called other things. admittedly.. I loved Jack's long-awaited confrontation and reconciliation with his father.'' Or maybe the castaways had realized that without conflict with this . in which the author comes to this conclusion: Just as the castaways needed a soulmate to help them reach a happy ending. There was a lot of blood under his nose at one point. Now. and especially if they parted company with too much unsaid. his was the most. We begin with Benjamin Linus. who hopes for an afterlife where they can see their family again. father. it was all about Prodigal Son joy. and their energy was recycled back into creation. Does anything of their unique person endure and survive? Now that's a conversation! Let's go dutch on coffee one day and have it! NEXT: Walk like a man Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own An in-depth examination and evaluation of the Sideways world storyline. the Island story of Lost needed a soulmate to finish its own saga. I appreciate stories that can give me that inspiration. I have written this recap from the perspective and. he would have ended it like this: ''Of all the man-of-science souls I have ever encountered in my travels. I was surprised and moved to learn that the bug-eyed devil got a ticket to the castaways' afterlife rocket launch. I know that some people found the Jack/Christian moment to be ''mawkish'' and ''sentimental. I thought ² and felt ² that the moment was painfully honest. Jack Shephard's Island death march ² crosscut with the afterlife launch of the castaway soul cluster in the Sideways world ² would be my clear number one. I had always imagined a slightly angry encounter.. the castaways returned to the Source. How very ''love thy enemy. a ''soul cluster'' to use a phrase given to me by a reader whose name I'll credit in a later column when I can dig up the correct e-mail. yo-yoing between misery and bliss the way George Minkowski did in season 4? And didn't Jack's sacrifice in the radioactive engine room of The Island remind you of Spock's death at the end ofStar Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn? If John Locke could have been given a Shatneresque eulogy for his friend and ideological foe. This cluster was a living thing unto itself.'' which I have called ''heaven. and a thing with great power. 2 on my list. I felt and could relate to the pain and the anguish and the yearning of both the father and the son. We had been anticipating this moment since ''White Rabbit. and rebirth. Instead. the hub of life. from which they could meet anew after death and journey together into whatever comes next. And it left me energized to be a better husband. It spoke to and for any parent and child. do you think his mind was toggling between his Island head and his Sideways construct.'' A number of scenes are duking it out for No. because I need it in my life.'' when Jack went chasing after Christian's ghost and found his father's empty casket. young or old. and friend. with Jack using the opportunity to settle some old scores with his dad. We had learned from Christian that the castaways had become ² or always were ² bonded on a spiritual level. It was direct and knowing about the very real and very frightening prospect of eternal separation and loss.

''It helps.'' Ben said. you can stay and ''figure things out.'' The scene between Ben and Locke was also one of my favorite sequences of the evening. then doesn't the Sideways world effectively cheapen the Island story? If our redemption issues can be processed easily and painlessly in the cushy limbo of our own blue heaven.'' Then Ben returned the kindness by completing the circuit on Locke's selfawareness by telling him that he no longer needed his wheelchair. He stood and sent the wheelchair away from him with a flourish. Locke and Ben said good-bye. like Houdini completing a straightjacket escape. and besides. the criticism can't be fairly applied to Ben because it doesn't take into account facts that are in evidence. were. and parted company as friends. Those members could very well include all or some the following: his father. and when I stop to consider that it marked the final acting duet by Terry O'Quinn and Michael Emerson. He had nothing but grace for his old adversary. To quote the philosopher namesake of Juliet's ex-husband Edmund Burke: ''He that wrestles with us strengthens our nerves. at least as these characters. I was moved by the example of both men and their movement toward reconciliation. He said he still had some things he needed to work out for himself. too. If souls are allowed to kick around Purgatory for eternity and figure themselves out. I think the example of Ben tells us something about how Lost's version Purgatory works for all souls. and sharpens our skill. That was awesome. Rousseau. NEXT: Is Ben the new Desmond? Ben chose to stay in the Sideways world instead of joining the castaways in their communal upload into the Source. along with a smile as bright as Island light. Locke gave Ben his forgiveness. Locke gave him a cockeyed look. Locke: Liberated. if Locke doesn't feel like he needs Ben's apology. But it seemed like Locke didn't feel like Ben had anything to apologize for. I think Ben has other labors to execute in the Sideways world besides sitting on a bench and doing The Thinker thing. Yes. You don't get to craft a flattering interpretation of yourself. Charles . Still. Was his old enemy pulling one last con on him? Was Lucy pulling the football away from Charlie Brown one more time? No. He has a job: to chase after and gather his own spiritual clan and bestow upon them enlightenment. Richard. and the opportunity that the Sideways world provides is the chance to puzzle together and come to grips with the person you became while you lived it. I have enjoyed doubting the truthfulness of every single word that has ever come out of Ben's mouth over the years. Ben was blessed by it. Locke: Unlocked. Apparently.ultimate Other. This is what it looks like when we let go. I like to imagine Ben did much to change during that time. is his extension of forgiveness meaningless? Nonetheless. I can see something problematic about John's ''I'm only telling you this because it might mean something to you'' sentiment. You don't get to accumulate more experience to improve your chances at heavenly election. nothing but empathy for a fellow pilgrim on life's journey. they would have not have become the people they had become. and that perhaps the principled teacher that he was in the Sideways world was a fair representation of the man he became in The Island world. Our antagonist is our helper. I've heard that some fans didn't like the implications of Ben's decision. too. ''More than I can say. both he and Hurley enjoyed a fruitful partnership on The Island in the post-castaway era.'' but this introspection doesn't change who you are. I get choked up anew. Or rather. Roger Linus. Theory! Ben will become another Desmond. Alex. then what does it matter what manner of evil that we commit or suffering we endure in the world of matter? It's a fair point ² but it misses some points. You only get one life to live. but I completely trusted in his sincerity when he asked Locke to forgive him for the sins he committed against him. And Locke knew it.

More Prosaically: I have also seen The Island as a symbol for a world with objective meaning. Pierre Chang.. Ergo. Theory: The Lost producers always insisted that they were ''anti-paradox'' when it came to their time travel story. Did the bomb go off? My Interpretation: No. Dr. If Desmond didn't leave the Hatch to chase after Kelvin. Before moving forward. Ethan. Daniel Faraday.'' to use the show's jargon) prevented the detonation from occurring and brought the quantum leaping rule-breakers back to their proper era. The rejoinder that it was Jacob who pulled the castaways to The Island doesn't cosmically absolve Desmond of his actions. Clearly..'' Desmond created the tie that bound the castaway spiritual clan. They wanted a world where they never crashed on The Island. and I like to think they were married. the cosmic forces that regulate this soulclustering thing dig a good love story.. In light of the Sideways = Purgatory revelation. Desmond wasn't an Oceanic 815 castaway. Miles. let's talk about Jughead for a minute. It may have begun forming even before the castaways were born. It may have begun growing when Jacob began touching the Oceanic 815 subset of candidates. (Plus or a minus a few souls. and the plane wouldn't have crashed. And Desmond chose not to push the button. even if it ultimately requires individual interpretation. Eloise Hawking. Last season. or it may be a pocket universe that began to form over time as the castaway soul cluster began to connect. Theory: The Sideways world is a timeless realm that actually may be part of a larger ''Purgatory'' that has always existed. happened'' timeline.Widmore. he wouldn't have missed his button-pushing shift. if you believe they were always destined to be together. The destroyed Island in Sidewaysabad is a symbol for subjective. Or should I say soulmates? Desmond got to bring Penelope because they were married. When the castaways attempted to reboot history by producing paradox. Lostcited the book The Little Prince that includes the great line ''You become responsible.'' it can be sought and found. My theory is informed by Desmond's Lost arc. They wanted a world where The Island had no sway over their lives. Truth is ''out there. meaning-challenged world where the . if he hadn't given into his rage and killed that man on the rocks. Sawyer wanted to marry Juliet. forever.'' The word ''tame'' in this context means ''to create ties. Jacob or perhaps the self-regulating force of time itself (''course correction. for what you have tamed.) NEXT: So about that bomb. You always have a choice. even if there was never a ceremony. Why was he tasked with the work of their Sideways world enlightenment? Because Desmond was the person technically responsible for the defining experience of their lives: crashing on The Island. many of you find yourselves confused anew about the significance of the Incident. The detonation of Jughead wasn't part of the fixed ''whatever happened. and of course. Forever. Your questions: Did the bomb create the Sideways world? My Interpretation: Absolutely not.. their purgatory paradise reflects that yearning. wherever she is. So why was The Island in the Sideways world at the bottom of the ocean in the season premiere? My Theory: The Sideways world is a manifestation of the castaway soul cluster's collective yearning. The consequence: crash. So he became responsible for them. Charlotte Lewis. Annie.

'' or meaninglessness. the administrators who manage the fantastical realm give him a happy ending. I think it was asking too much of us to buy into a creatively uneven season-long storyline whose purpose only revealed itself in the last moments of the finale. Haroun decides to worry less about the origin of this windfall ² an inexplicable palette drop loaded with yummy. control freak man of science/political tyrant who wants to put a cork in the wellspring of meaning itself and then spike the Sea of Story with a toxin of ''anti-story. to the unreality of the Sideways world and one more example of its dynamic. he feels this ''happy ending'' business is terribly contrived. ''real. Empowerment. Hope. But the Sideways conceit often left me standing outside of it. the Sideways conceit of Lost does some important things for the story. Reconciliation. letting go of the past). We saw Desmond reading it on the plane ² the Desmond that was wearing a wedding ring that went mysteriously MIA when he landed in Los Angeles.'' The villain is a crazed. The Sixth Sense stretched over 18 hours? A much tougher magic trick. nourishing soul food ² and instead decides to worry more about living a life worthy of these eternal values. And yet. Lost might have been acknowledging and embracing the charge.) The book poses a question that goes to the heart of the Sideways conundrum: ''What's the use of stories that aren't even true?'' NEXT: No hope. I think. Haroun is slightly troubled by this. NEXT: The path to enlightenment . Haroun saves the day. The Sixth Sense was awesome. like. express a spiritual worldview. I wanted to get lost in Lost during its last 18 hours. I asked ''What did the Sideways world mean?'' and ''Was it truly dramatically necessary to Lost?'' We've asked these questions all season. The conflict mirrors the JackDesmond-Fake Locke conflict in the finale. Restoration. and for his trouble. Yet he accepts the gift anyway. Haroun fights a monstrous. Like the happy ending of Haroun. but they're even more pertinent now that we know that the parallel world was a long con. Haroun is a self-aware fairy tale about a young hero (whose name means ''Aaron'') who has an adventure in a realm that happens to be the source of all stories.'' (In fact. but the values themselves are truthful and real. and forge some undeniably powerful dramatic moments. trying to figure out what it was all about. even if it can't completely dodge the charge of being ''contrived. and appreciates it more and more as the benefits roll in. In the end (and this is just my interpretation). I can't say the Sideways device totally worked for me. In part one of the recap.. (Not a continuity error ² a clue.) The Sideways device allowedLost to embellish its core themes (redemption. Forgiveness. Redemption.only things that are truly real ² the Island-world souls of the castaways ² are literally submerged and lost in the murky depths of their Sideways avatars. creative interconnection with The Island world. introspection. and Lost didn't quite pull it off. let us first consult the literary reference that Lost gave us in the opening minutes of the season premiere: Haroun and the Sea of Storiesby Salman Rushdie. It was a means to an emotionally rich conclusion that felt true and organic to the series. No happy ending. It's kinda hard to emotionally connect with people when wondering if they're also. no glory. no love.. To help answer these questions.'' In the end. shape-shifting Man In Black who seeks to destroy the ''sea of stories. Love. The mechanism of the delivery may have been contrived. I might argue that by citingHaroun.

With their tragic deaths still fresh in our minds from a few episodes ago. who also met Ji Yeon for the first time in pictures ² specifically. Indeed. Let's go through them: Jin and Sun Enlightenment Moment: Seeing a sonogram of Ji Yeon. it would be interesting to revisit each of the Sideways stories and reconsider each of them as .'' Something similar could be said of Jin. they recalled their pasts. and when they touched. (Presuming that Sideways Nadia wasn't Island Nadia's Purgatory avatar but rather an element of Sayid's personally constructed reality. as if being part of a wonderful inside joke. 2. Did I Cry? Zero hankies.I Get By With A Little Help From My (Psychic Network Of) Friends A bunch of thoughts about a bunch of characters I will miss. The first time they had shared the experience was the season 3 episode ''DOC. it was the déjà vu of seeing her daughter again for the first time with the assistance Dr.'' said Hurley. Sayid and Shannon Enlightenment Moment: Sayid saved Shannon from an angry alley fight that had been staged by enlightened allies Hurley and Boone. Did I Cry? Three hankies out of four. ''You can't let anyone tell you who you are. the embodiment of Lost and Lost fandom!) Wired for justice and always ready to prove his goodness. because she fell in love with him on The Island despite his past ² a gracious. All hail Jorge Garcia. facilitated by one of the closest members of your spiritual clan if not your primary soulmate. I loved their respective ''Let's Look Back On Your Island Journey'' clip packages.'' to recover your mind. In retrospect. I was a huge Sayid fan ² and a Sayid-Nadia 'shipper. Likely Cause: For Sun. Then they started making out. Some of these moments were better than others. Ugh. (How great was the smile on his face when he knocked on Charlie's door? He could barely contain his joy over seeing his old. stirring reminder of the life you lived or the person you ultimately became when you were alive. Except Shannon. Sayid bounded to Shannon's rescue. It also seemed like each character needed a jarring experience that detached them from the Sideways world ² and then they needed to choose to remain detached to complete their spiritual self-realization. it was thrilling to see their faces light up with ''We're alive! We made it to the other side!'' realization and hear their knowing laughter.] Likely Cause: Hurley had just given Sayid a pep talk about getting over his bad self ² about deciding his character for himself instead of allowing others to shape it for him. Juliet Burke. whose resistance to awareness had been weakened through her frightful brush with Locke a few episodes ago. Can we come to some final conclusions about what it takes to become ''enlightened. memories and/or soul in the Sideways world? ''The End'' seemed to suggest that it takes a strong. Ben. No. A touch from said helper is also required. or worse. Shannon's love was a better love. dude.'' His physical proximity to Island activated Sun also probably helped. a bad dream. seeing the images on Sun's camera in ''The Package.'' to quote his old No. it reminded me of their hard-fought struggle for emotional reconciliation during the first four seasons of the show. Question: Was embryonic Ji Yeon ''real''? I say. for the chase often made him vulnerable to corrupting choices in various ways. I was never a Shannon fan. dead friend alive and semi-well. who came into awareness while [FILE FOOTAGE NOT FOUND. living up this billing of being ''the one who takes care of people. I recognize and accept that Lost was trying to tell us that Sayid's pursuit of the Iraqi beauty he once tortured was a pipe dream. forgiving love that Sayid transposed onto his ersatz Nadia in his corner of the Purga-Matrix.

Charlie Enlightenment Moment: Aaron's birth. and it felt so mean even if he was so right. we see this concept of recurring story. Sideways Locke remembered and suddenly his soul came galloping home in a rush of images. Claire. Déjà vu! The plane crash. recurring mythic motifs on The Island. the vending machine thing was also a metaphor for the mechanics of killing the Man In Black. It was a shortcut to redemption. He wanted to go immediately to what ever was next.. the confection would fall ² served as a metaphor for Jack's doomed reboot scheme that got Juliet killed. Or maybe this hour could have been the hour that Lost gave to ''Across The Sea. it had become easy for many. But she got lost along the way. and then he flashed Jack that blindingly beautiful grin and told him. Over the years.. Question: Was Baby Aaron ''real?'' I don't know. blondie... and the Emilie de Ravin played it well.. John Locke I don't think I can talk about this one yet. and the stunning epiphany that his legs had been restored to him. ''I hope someone does for you what you just did for me.manifestations of each character's yearning and self-image. Sorry. too. as potent of the show's live together.a. dating back to Mother and perhaps even earlier. and if the season could have given us one more hour. about the time Claire and MIB spent together during those missing three years. especially me.. Still working that one out. die alone idealism. Sawyer and Juliet Enlightenment Moment: Dr.. He wanted to get out of bed. An awkwardly squeezed-in thought about Claire: I thought her Island storyline was probably the weakest thread in the finale.. Likely Cause? Jughead déjà vu. the redux of an intense Island experience. A hasty.. I think said story could have found a way to address the baby-making problem. I think I get why Lost paired him with Shannon. Jack unplugged The Island. I still don't think I like it. (Of course. Did I Cry? Two-and-a-half hankies. Juliet's quip about banging on the vending machine. just as he had wanted him to take that leap of faith with him in the Hatch and push that button with him. with assist from the memory of Jack. too-compact resolution for her character. Fake Locke fell. NEXT: The miracle of life Kate. It was a cheat. He wanted Jack to come with him. the Creepy Little Kid ² but his it takes a village/circle of life birth story in ''Do No Harm'' was Classic Old School LostIncarnate. I think it should have focused largely on Claire. Again. Likely Cause: Like Sun. What was Jughead? It was a violation.) I'm happy for Sayid. universal affection for season 1. I am sitting here thinking of the moment when Sideways Locke was lying in his hospital bed and wiggling his toes. to mock Baby Aaron. and then her secret intel about how to get it to cough up a candy bar for free ² if you just unplug it.'' The episode could have been a shared Claire/Man In Black flashback story² an hour about mad mothers. Her Rousseau makeover was great. I loved the way she was reintroduced into the series.. because honestly. Burke helped Detective Ford pull a short con on a vending machine that had robbed him of a dollar. I never really liked Shannon. about how Mother's actions thousands of years earlier had forged a dark mythic legacy for The Island.'' and it was the ..k. Their candy bar collusion evoked the memory of their time crime and unleashed their enlightenment.. It was pretty remarkable how the finale could so effectively evoke long-past emotional touchstones. a. Or maybe it speaks of our investment in the wholeLost story and especially the intense. He told Jack that his son wasn't real.) Did I Cry?: Three hankies.

.'' Kinda cold. by the way. who had a pretty enmeshed. Christian. And if you recall. Island world Juliet had a pretty bad relationship with her former husband.. (Similarly. We also learned that his son David's favorite characters were the two kittens from Though The Looking-Glass. and when she shakes her nemesis. It was about a guy who got lost in a fantasy-gone-bad and needed to wake up from it. Sideways Jack's surprisingly healthy friendship with his ex-wife spoke to his lingering guilt for emotionally wounding his ex-wife Sarah. Anyway. the reconciliation of the Man of Faith and the Man of Science. as an enemy to his redemption. He had enrolled in AA and was trying to get sober. But Jack rejected his father's contrition and atonement. Now reconsider David. too ² a husband. Snowdrop (white and good) and Kitty (black and bad). either. Locke called it out: ''You don't have a son. destroyed.) In ''Lighthouse. David was akin to his Kitty ² a dark-haired tempter that needed to be exposed as fraudulent. Then Jack made a bid to atone for his crap parenting. Even when Jack realized he was dead wrong. In the past. She becomes convinced that her world is a dream. I have characterized Jack's relationship with his son David as healthy ² as an opportunity for him to work out his father issues and break the legacy of neglect that he had inherited from his old man. he still clung to his anger. so that happened. They never should have gotten married. He had come to realize he had psychically wounded his son with his crap parenting and was trying to atone for it. Locke's words jolted Jack ² but he resisted the implications. ''I have missed you so much. There's no .. Jack. and a bad dream. But I was wrong. We forget that Christian was trying to change his life before his death. Four hankies. David was a pipe dream ² a wish-fulfillment fantasy designed to assuage the guilt over derailing his father's redemption. NEXT: David in Wonderland The Last Temptation of Jack Shephard Next to John Locke. Jack's Sideways story followed that arc. at that. David became the son Jack wished he had been to his father ² the son who could forgive. no one clung more tightly to his Sideways life than Jack. the villain turns into. And so began Jack's journey to The Island. the black cat Kitty. She beckoned him to remember. guilt-streaked relationship with his mother. Literally. he hurt her terribly. and what did David do? He forgave his father and reconciled. Jack busted up his father's bid to go sober after suspecting that he was having a romantic relationship with his ex-wife Sarah. David was Jack's ''White Rabbit'' dream come true. the Red Queen. Alice's adventure in that book ends badly. and move on. When we first met him. he and Jack didn't have the greatest relationship. as he kept him tethered to the Sideways world.. his whole damn fixer identity was glued together with his daddy bitterness. Silly man. Sideways Juliet was no Jack figment made pseudoreal ² she was Island Juliet's Purgatory avatar. . Now. and now I can't see what the hell I'm writing through the tears in my eyes.'' she said. That's because the Purgatory that Jack had created for himself offered a balm for his most painful regrets. and in driving her away. not unlike Jack. But the dam was starting to break. Next came Kate. but it was true.beginning of the great movement I had hoped to see at the end of the end of the series.'' we were reminded that Jack was a big Alice In Wonderland fan. Another burst of total recall hit him ² but Jack turned away from Kate and kept enlightenment at bay. and then to his death in Australia. He couldn't let go of his anger and resentment. Bottom line: Jack and Juliet's overlapping Sideways fantasies assuaged similar regrets. and he knew it. spiraled into relapse.

Hugged by Boone.'' Jack looked. a hard life. Jack stepped out of the cloakroom and into the sanctuary where his soulmates were waiting for him. ''Hey kiddo. his father. It hurt Jack to hear that back then. Was he fully enlightened by that point? I think no. his enemy turned ally. Hugged by Sawyer. He was a hero.denying Kate. He sighed. and they all did. Hugged by Desmond.'' Christian opened the doors. But he was right. his brother in Island salvation. but that in the end. When Jack Shephard was a boy. Namaste. angry and drunk. very real. Kate had become a woman who runs after people. I think a few more things needed to happen. and she was lost. and Doubting Thomas crept back in. Our Lady of Dharma Science and Faith. told him he didn't have what it took to be a hero because he didn't know when to let go. And the time had come for Jack to embrace that truth. Jack saw. And Jack could not resist. that his whole life had been real. and he needed to accept that. a life full of mistakes and pain. He remembered his sacrifice. Light flooded into the church. He remembered he had lived a life. the good in him won out. I think he needed to be greeted by John Locke. ''I'm glad you decided to join us. Once upon a time. Doc Jensen . Redeemed. the man he couldn't save. that touch that said. and Christian never should have said it. He remembered his last moments on The Island. But by the end. And he let go. arguing with John Locke. Greeted with that smile and that handshake and be told. but it was well done in the finale. risking his life to save his friends on the beach. And then he heard his father's voice. Then he needed to be led by Kate to his seat. He opened the coffin. and she finds always them. and he needed one act of love from his father. Jack found a coffin. It was real. Jack was ready for enlightenment. The End. and it had been over for quite some time. Jack was ready to believe. chasing after his father. Did Jack believe? He asked his father if he was real.'' I think he needed to be touched by his friends. kissing Kate on the rocks and saying goodbye before beginning the last heroic journey of his mortal existence. but there was nothing inside. Jack smiled. he was real. Reconciled. Restored.. With fear and trembling. He touched it. The memory rush: crashing on The Island. ''I'm proud of you. who takes care of everyone. NEXT: One final namaste She brought him to the church ² the Sideways world version of Eloise Hawking's church. Kate Austen was a woman who ran away.. This was lamely dramatized in the second episode of season 6. but it was over. he was complete. and that he died with heart in the right place. It was all real. Bear hugged by Hurley. And in that moment. She got in Jack's grill and asked the man she loved to come with her. Inside. the place where Benjamin Linus had told Jack the story of Doubting Thomas. not like that. so many times. and they laughed at the absurdity of the question but his father said yes.

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