Jack and the Man in Black face off for the main event, while Desmond undertakes the failsafe mission he was brought to the island for. In the Sideways world, Desmond puts his endgame into action, reuniting lost lovers from their former lives, and proposing a significant trip to everyone he wakes up.

Instead of a single eye opening, the final episode of Lost begins with a view of the underbelly of an Oceanic airplane at LAX. The plane opens to reveal a very large crate inside, which holds the coffin and body of Christian Shephard, Jack’s father. Interspersed with other scenes, we watch as it’s loaded onto a truck for delivery. The crate is covered with airport code stickers indicating other countries it was delivered to while lost, including Hong Kong (HKG), Guam (GUM), and the tiny island-bound nation of Brunei (BWN).

In his office, Jack looks over Locke’s x-rays as he prepares for the surgery. At his house, Ben makes himself a cup of hot tea while nursing his injured shoulder. Locke is wheeled out of his hospital room toward the surgical ward. Sawyer closes his locker at the police station while putting on his badge, and stares into the mirror there that he recently broke with his own fist.

Eventually, Christian’s coffin is delivered to a church in Los Angeles, where Desmond is expecting it, with a bored Kate waiting nearby in the car. Desmond offers to sign for the crate, lying to the Oceanic delivery man about working at the church. Desmond asks that the body be taken around to the back of the church.

When he returns to the car, Kate asks who the man in the coffin is. “A man named Christian Shephard,” Desmond replies. Kate scoffs at such an unlikely name with strong religious overtones, but he assures her it’s a real one. Desmond is ready to go to the concert, but before he can start the car, Kate demands that he explain himself and why she’s here. “No one can tell you why you’re here, Kate.” She’s confused, pointing out that he brought her to the church himself, but Desmond replies that he’s thinking more big-picture than the church. He’s talking about this place, this reality. Kate asks him who he is and what he wants. Desmond tells her his name, and that he’s her friend even though she doesn’t know it. “As for what I want,” he says, “I want to leave.” “Leave and go where?” Kate asks. Desmond smiles and starts the car. “Let me show you,” he says.

Hurley drives Sayid in his yellow Hummer to a cheap motel. Sayid, like Kate, is confused about his involvement in whatever Hurley and Desmond are up to. Hurley opens his glove compartment and produces a tranquilizer gun, which he tries to hand to Sayid to jog his memory of their adventures together in another life. But it doesn’t work. So Hurley takes the gun and exits the car.

He goes to a motel room and knocks on it; Charlie answers, very drunk and foul-tempered. Hurley can’t keep from grinning at his old friend, as he pretends to be there to pick him up for the concert that’s happening tonight. Charlie blows him off, uninterested in the concert or anything else. Hurley tries to sell him on the idea that playing this show is the most important thing Charlie will ever do. But even this is met with hostility from his old friend. So Hurley pulls out his tranq gun and shoots Charlie in the back. When Charlie collapses, Hurley throws him over his shoulder and hauls him out to the car, where Sayid watches with confusion and alarm.

Miles arrives at the concert late that afternoon, and spots Hurley’s yellow Hummer with Sayid in the passenger seat. He recognizes Sayid and calls his partner, Sawyer, asking if there’s been any report of an escape. Sawyer says he put Sayid in the county lockup van an hour ago. Miles says he just called the county lockup and they said that the van never showed up. The Hummer is long gone now, but Miles has to stay put at his dad’s big event. He asks Sawyer to go to the hospital and keep Sun and Jin safe, since they were involved in the same incident that landed Sayid in jail.

Sun wakes up in her hospital bed, Jin still at her side. He tells her that there’s a doctor coming to take a look at the baby, and that if everything checks out okay, they can leave soon. The doctor enters — and it’s Juliet. She introduces herself as “Juliet Carlson” and then sees on her chart that neither Sun nor Jin speak English. She apologizes and wheels over an ultrasound machine. The moment she touches Sun’s abdomen with the machine, Sun’s memories from the original reality flood back in. The memories are triggered by Juliet performing an ultrasound exam on her — a very familiar act. Sun remembers everything, and she’s stunned to tears, overflowing with emotion. Jin jumps up from his seat to ask if she’s okay, but when Juliet points out the baby on the monitor, the sight of the daughter he never met triggers Jin’s memories, too. Together, they quickly flash back through key moments of their lives together — everything from their reconciliation at the end of Season 1 to the explosion of the Freighter, all the way up to their deaths aboard Widmore’s submarine. Sun sobs as she asks him if he saw it too, and he nods. Juliet points out the baby’s heartbeat and asks if they’d like to know if it’s a boy or a girl. Sun turns to Jin and smiles. “It’s a girl,” she says, able to speak English now, thanks to her restored memories. Jin speaks in English as well, telling Juliet, “Her name is Ji Yeon.” Juliet tells them it’s a lovely name, and is impressed with their English. She congratulates them and leaves, as Sun and Jin tearfully embrace.

Jack checks in on Locke before the surgery, and the two men share a laugh over Jack’s attempts to make Locke feel less nervous. Before Jack takes his leave, Locke asks if Oceanic ever found his father’s body. Jack reports that it should be in L.A. by now, and Locke says he hopes that that will bring Jack some peace. Jack replies that if he can fix Locke’s back, that’s all the peace he’ll need.

Later, before Jack begins his surgery, he bumps into Juliet, who we learn is his ex-wife, and David’s mother. David appears and since Jack is unable to attend the concert benefit, he passes off the tickets to Juliet. They have an extra ticket and Jack suggests they take Claire along. As David and Juliet head off to get ready for the concert, Sawyer enters and asks the attending nurse where to find Sun and Jin.

As night falls, Hurley and Sayid sit outside a bar in Hurley’s car, waiting for something. Sayid is still confused about what all this is about, but Hurley says he’s not allowed to tell him why they’re there. Hurley asks Sayid for his trust, pointing out that he trusts Sayid. Sayid asks what he’s done to deserve Hurley’s trust. “I think you’re a good guy, Sayid. A lot of people have told you that you’re not. Maybe you’ve heard it so many times that you’ve started believing it. You can’t let other people tell you what you are, dude. You have to decide that for yourself.” Sayid says that clearly Hurley doesn’t know anything about him, but Hurley argues that he knows a lot about Sayid.

Sounds of a fight reach them from just outside the bar, and they turn to look. One man is being beaten up by another, and just when he’s knocked down, a young woman appears and demands that the attacker leave her brother alone. When the girl is thrown down as well, Sayid exits the car and races over to intervene, while Hurley watches with a sly grin. After taking out the attacker, Sayid offers to help the woman to her feet — and it’s Shannon. The moment their hands touch, their island memories come back, centered around the relationship they had. As they embrace in a passionate kiss, Boone runs over to confer with Hurley at the car, noting that he was getting beaten up while Hurley and Sayid “took their sweet time.” Hurley tells him that “it takes as long as it takes.” Boone tells him how hard it was getting Shannon to come back here with him from Australia, but Hurley gazes back at his two friends, who are still kissing, and says it was worth it. Boone asks if he should go bring them back to the car, but Hurley watches with pleasure and says to “give ’em a minute.” Boone smiles and nods in agreement.

As guests file in at the benefit concert, Juliet gets an emergency call from the hospital. Apologizing to David and Claire, she leaves aunt and nephew to enjoy the event together and promises to return as soon as she can.

Backstage, Charlotte Lewis finds Charlie unconscious on a sofa and wakes him up. She tells him she’s following instructions, and pulls a taped piece of paper off of his chest that reads, “Bass player. Wake me up for show.” Despite his indifference, he reluctantly agrees to go get ready for the show. Behind them, Daniel is preparing for his own performance. He comes face-to-face with Charlotte when she stops to ask him where the rest of the band is. He’s speechless at first, meeting her now after having only seen her once before from a distance, but introduces himself and tells her what a great pleasure it is to meet her. She’s flattered and amused at how he stumbles over his words in her presence. No memories are triggered for them yet, but the two of them share a sweet moment before he takes the stage.

Out under the event’s big tent, Desmond welcomes Claire and David to “table 23,” where Kate is also sitting. They recognize each other from their cab adventure, which Desmond observes with great interest, but the show starts before they can talk.

Pierre Chang takes the stage to welcome everyone to this concert benefiting the Golden State Natural History Museum. He introduces Daniel and DriveShaft, and as Daniel starts on the piano, Charlie half-heartedly slings his bass over his shoulder and gets ready to play. But he scans the crowd and suddenly his eyes land on Claire — the “rapturously beautiful woman” he saw during his near-death experience on Oceanic 815. She sees him staring, but doesn’t recognize him. For his part, Charlie forgets what he’s doing, forgets the concert altogether, and can do nothing but stare at her in wonder.

Claire suddenly feels a labor pain, and she excuses herself to the bathroom. Concerned, Kate follows her, and even Charlie watches with alarm as she walks out of the tent. Desmond, meanwhile, takes all of this in with a hint of a smile. After they’re gone, Eloise Hawking (er, Widmore) makes her way over to Desmond’s table, and glares at him with an extremely displeased look on her face. “I thought I made it clear that you were to stop this,” she says. “Perfectly clear,” Desmond replies, unconcerned by her severe demeanor. “I chose to ignore you.” Her displeasure suddenly turns to fear as she asks, “And once they know, what then?” “Then, we’re leaving,” Desmond replies. Eloise watches her son play on stage, and in a small voice she asks if Desmond is going to take Daniel, too, when he leaves. He takes her hand in a reassuring way, and to her relief, says, “Not with me, no.”

Claire reaches the backstage area of the show, inside the Widmore mansion, but can’t make it to the bathroom due to her labor pains. Kate runs in right behind her and helps her onto a couch. We realize that history is about to repeat itself, when Claire screams in pain and tells Kate that they don’t have time to wait for a doctor — the baby is coming “right now.” Charlie enters suddenly and Kate asks him to retrieve some water and blankets. He’s eager to help and runs off to do as she asked. Kate takes up position at Claire’s feet and tells Claire to start pushing. As the two women engage in this very familiar activity, their memories are at last unlocked, and the intensity of the moment coupled with their memories rushing back in brings both women to their breaking point. “It’s Aaron!” Claire cries at the sight of her son, and she cuddles him close while sobbing. Charlie returns with blankets, and both women now recognize the young man, and smile at him warmly. Kate allows him to get closer to Claire, and when he kneels down to give her the blankets, she takes him by the hand, and his memories rush back in, too. He and Claire share a tender kiss and then embrace around baby Aaron, overcome with joy now that they remember everything.

Kate watches through her own tears, and Desmond walks in behind her to see what’s unfolded. He smiles at the little family unit surrounding baby Aaron, and places a hand on Kate’s shoulder. “Do you understand?” he asks her. She nods and smiles, recognizing him now as her friend. “So now what?” she asks. In response, he merely offers a broad smile.

Locke’s surgery goes very well, yet while Jack is accompanying him back to his hospital room, he once again finds that his neck is bleeding. Jack wipes off the blood with a tissue while the nurse tells him that remarkably, Locke is waking up. Locke is groggy as Jack gently tells him he’s just had major surgery and he shouldn’t try to move yet. But Locke peacefully looks up at him and tells him, “It worked.” Jack’s confused at first, until Locke explains that he can feel his legs. Still Jack is skeptical that Locke could regain sensation so fast, but he’s dumbfounded as Locke wiggles his toes to prove it. When Jack pulls back the sheet from the end of the bed to examine Locke’s toes, Locke gazes down and sees them wiggling for himself, and the sight causes his memories from the island to rush in. Locke is blown away by what he sees and tears pour from his eyes. He looks up at Jack and asks if Jack saw what he saw, if he remembers. Jack doesn’t know what he’s talking about until he gets a short flash of memory from the moment he and Locke stared down into the Swan Hatch right after blowing it open. But Jack fights off the sensation, returning to the here and now. He tries to encourage Locke to rest and recover, but Locke starts unplugging himself from his monitors and says they need to go. He asks Jack to come with him, but Jack becomes emotional for reasons he doesn’t understand, and says that Locke needs to rest while he gets back to his son at the concert. “But you don’t have a son,” Locke argues. Jack won’t listen to him and tells a nurse to sedate Locke, but before Jack’s gone, Locke tells him that he hopes someone will do for Jack what Jack just did for him.

Sawyer finds Sun and Jin in their hospital room just as the two of them are about to leave the hospital. He’s surprised that she’s checking out so soon after being shot, but the two of them are happy and somewhat amused to see their old friend, who’s now a detective. Sawyer shows them Sayid’s mugshot, and says he’s going to assign an officer to watch over them for the time being, but they smile and tell him he doesn’t need to do that. He argues that it’s his job to keep them safe, but Sun assures him that she is safe. As they walk out the door, Jin says, “We’ll see you there.” But Sawyer doesn’t understand.

He wanders the hospital’s hallways looking for something to eat, and bumps into Jack, who’s now dressed in a suit and tie so he can rejoin his son at the concert. Sawyer asks if Jack knows where he can find something to eat, and Jack points him to a vending machine in the waiting room. “Thanks, Doc,” Sawyer replies casually, then catches himself for a moment, having uttered a strangely familiar phrase. As they part ways, both men seem to experience a hint of déjà vu.

Sawyer finds the waiting room, but has trouble getting the vending machine to dispense his desired Apollo Bar. While he reaches up through the delivery chute to try and reach the candy bar, Juliet enters the waiting room and asks rather pointedly if he needs help. Caught red-handed, he tells her he’s a cop and it’s okay. She jokes that maybe he should read the machine its rights. The two of them flirt with one another over the proper way to get the candy out of the machine, and finally Sawyer takes her advice of unplugging the machine and then plugging it back in. When he kneels down to unplug the machine, he accidentally kills power to the room’s lights, but Juliet retrieves his candy from the machine and tells him “it worked.” When she hands the bar to him, they’re both hit with a flash of memory, and jump backwards. “Whoa,” Sawyer says, asking if she felt the same thing he did. She steps forward and says they should get coffee sometime; he says he’d love to but the machine ate his dollar. She smiles and says, “We could go dutch,” and takes his hand again. Both of their memories return in full, including Juliet’s tragic fall into the Swan Hatch and death there. Sawyer staggers to find words, telling Juliet, “It’s me, baby.” They’re both so stunned that they’re immediately in tears, and they embrace in a desperate, refusing-to-let-go kind of way. “I’ve got you,” Sawyer tells her. Juliet bawls openly but smiles hugely at him, telling him to kiss her. “You got it, Blondie,” he replies, and they kiss as passionately as only long-lost lovers can.

Jack arrives at the concert to find most of the guests already gone, and the rest slowly making their way out. Kate approaches him and tells him the concert’s over. He tries to carry on as if they’re strangers, but he can’t shake the feeling that he knows her from somewhere. She tells him that she stole his pen on Oceanic 815, though that’s not really where she knows him from. She walks slowly up to him and places her hands on his face. His memories start to return, as she tells him how much she’s missed him. But he pulls away, and doesn’t let the memories finish. “What’s happening to me?” he says. She says that she knows he doesn’t understand yet, but if he’ll come with her, he will.

Locke hires a cab to take him to the church where everyone is gathering, and when he arrives, the cabbie helps him into his wheelchair. Smiling, Locke is thrilled to wheel himself off toward the church. But when he rounds a corner outside near the front entrance, he passes Ben, who’s sitting on a bench, lost in thought. Locke greets him warmly. Ben returns the greeting, and apologizes for killing Locke. “I was selfish, jealous. I wanted everything you had.” Locke is confused, and asks what he had. Ben says that Locke was special, while he himself was not. “Well if it helps Ben, I forgive you,” says Locke. Ben thanks him and says it matters more than he can say. Locke asks what Ben is going to do now; Ben says he still has some things he needs to work out, so he’s going to stay put for a while. Locke accepts this and starts to wheel away. “I don’t think you need to be in that chair anymore,” Ben suggests. Locke proves him right by miraculously standing up out of the chair and climbing the stairs to the main entrance under his own power. Locke bids him goodbye and heads in.

Later, Hurley comes out looking for any stragglers and spots Ben sitting there alone. He tries to get Ben to come in and join everyone else, but Ben says he’s not ready yet. Hurley nods, understanding, and turns around to go back in. But before he’s gone, he tells Ben, “You were a real good number two.” “You were a great number one, Hugo,” Ben replies.

Not far away, Jack brings his jeep to a stop outside the church, with Kate in the passenger seat. He says that this is where he was going to have his father’s funeral, and asks why she brought him here. She says that this is where they’re supposed to be, and tells him she’ll see him inside, but he should go around to the rear entrance. She promises to be waiting for him inside when he’s ready. “Ready for what?” he asks. “To leave,” she replies with a smile.

Jack does as he’s told and enters through the back of the church, finding himself in a minister’s office. In an anteroom nearby, the coffin of his father awaits, situated right in front of a large stained-glass window that appears to depict iconic symbols representing various religious faiths. Slowly, Jack approaches the coffin, and takes a long moment before finally touching it. When he does, all of his memories return at last — everything that happened to him on the island and in his life before. All of the people he saved, all of the friends he made there, the people he cared most about, right up to the events in this very episode. Once he’s got it all back, he finally opens the coffin, but just as the coffin on the island was when he found it, this one is empty. His father’s body is not there.

From behind him, someone says, “Hey, kiddo.” Jack spins to see his father standing right in front of him. “Dad?” he asks. “Hello, Jack,” replies Christian. “I don’t understand,” says Jack. “You died.” “Yes I did,” says Christian. “Then how are you here right now?” Jack asks. “How are you here?” Christian replies. Jack suddenly recalls. “I died too.” He breaks into tears, realizing what this means: if they’re both dead, then this is the afterlife, or some part of it. The two men embrace while Jack cries into his father’s shoulder. “Are you real?” Jack asks. “I sure hope so,” his father laughs. “Yeah, I’m real. You’re real. Everything that’s ever happened to you was real. All those people in the church are real, too,” says Christian. “They’re all dead?” Jack asks. Christian consoles his son, saying, “Everyone dies sometime, kiddo. Some of them before you, some long after you.” Jack asks, “But why are they all here now?” Christian explains, “There is no ‘now’, here.” Jack breaks away from his father and catches his breath, before asking, “Where are we, Dad?” Christian answers, “This is the place that you all made together, so that you could find one another. The most important part of your life was the time you spent with these people. That’s why all of you are here. Nobody does it alone, Jack. You needed all of them, and they needed you.” “For what?” Jack asks. “To remember. And to let go,” replies Christian. “Kate said we were leaving,” Jack says. “Not leaving,” Christian says. “Moving on.” “Where are we going?” Jack asks. “Let’s go find out,” Christian replies.

The two men exit the small office and enter the sanctuary, where all of Jack’s friends are waiting. Kate, Locke, Sawyer, and Juliet are there, as are so many others. Sun and Jin. Sayid and Shannon. Charlie and Claire and baby Aaron. Hurley and Libby. Desmond and Penny. Boone. Even Rose and Bernard. The first to welcome him is Locke, who shakes his hand with a smile and says they’ve all been waiting for him. Desmond meets him next and embraces him as a brother. Boone embraces him as well. Hurley is next, hugging Jack so hard he actually lifts him off the ground. Even Sawyer offers the “Doc” a hug. Finally Jack finds Kate, who gives him a warm, beautiful smile, and takes him by the hand. She leads him to a pew where the two of them sit alongside their many friends. While they sit and chat softly, Jack’s father breaks through the crowd and walks to the back of the church. There, he opens the double doors to bathe the entire room in an intense, white light. As the light slowly envelopes them, they smile in blissful serenity and rest, and move on into eternity.

At dawn, Jack washes his face in the same stream that Jacob drew water from to make him the island’s new protector. He looks briefly at his hands, pondering how he might be different now than he was before.

In the jungle, Ben loads bullets into his shotgun, steeling himself for the conflict that’s to come. Nearby, the Man in Black, still in the guise of John Locke, winds up the rope that was mysteriously lowered into the well to help Desmond escape.

Not far from the stream where Jack is, Sawyer takes a look at Kate’s shoulder wound and puts on a new bandage. Once it’s done, Kate walks to the stream to find Jack there, taking a moment to relish the sense of purpose that he’s found at long last. Kate decides to leave him be without speaking up, but Sawyer appears instead and asks Jack what really happened between him and Jacob. Jack admits that he doesn’t exactly know. Sawyer asks if he feels any different now, and Jack says that he doesn’t. Sawyer suggests that it’s time for Jack to fill the rest of them in on what they’re supposed to do next.

Back at Jacob’s meeting place — where Jacob is now gone, thanks to the ash-filled fire burning out — Jack reveals that they’re supposed to go to the source of the Light, because that’s what Jack has to protect from the Man in Black. Kate asks what this Light is, and Jack replies that Jacob said it’s “the heart of the island.” The Man in Black wants to put the Light out, and if he does, “then that’s it for all of us.” Kate asks why the Man in Black hasn’t put it out already, but Sawyer speaks up, having reasoned out that MiB needs Desmond to put out the Light. Because Desmond is the only one who can do it without it killing him. Sawyer volunteers to go fetch Desmond out of the well, while the others head for the Light. Sawyer playfully warns Kate not to follow him, and she responds in kind. Hurley sums up everyone’s feelings by stating the immortal words, “I’ve got a bad feeling about this.”

As they trek across the island, Kate asks Jack why he took Jacob’s job. Jack answers with his standard reply that he was “supposed to.” But Kate wants a better answer than that. Jack tells her he did it because the island is the only thing in his life he has left that he didn’t manage to ruin. Kate stops him in his tracks and insists that he hasn’t ruined anything at all. “Nothing is irreversible,” she tells him (the same words that Sideways Jack told to Locke when they first met there).

Sawyer comes upon MiB at the well, and spies on him from behind some foliage, but Ben finds him there and pulls his gun on him. MiB greets Sawyer warmly, and asks why he’s there. Sawyer tells him truthfully that he came to rescue Desmond. Sawyer glances down into the well and notes that somebody beat him to the punch. MiB asks if Sawyer knows why he’s here; Sawyer says that he guessed that MiB needs Desmond to destroy the island. MiB says this is exactly right, and Ben takes note of this. Sawyer says that MiB isn’t likely to “go down with the ship,” and MiB replies that he’s not, but all of Jacob’s Candidates most definitely will. Sawyer tells him that they’re not Candidates anymore, just before he turns the tables on Ben, socks him in the nose, and grabs the rifle out of his hands. He takes the rifle and Ben’s backpack and runs, promising MiB that they’ll meet again. After he’s gone, Ben can’t believe MiB isn’t chasing after Sawyer, but MiB says he doesn’t need to. Ben protests MiB’s earlier statement about destroying the island, since MiB had promised to leave Ben in charge after he’d left it. “I’m sorry if I left out the part about [the island] being on the bottom of the ocean,” MiB says casually. Instead, he offers Ben a place on his boat when he sails away from the island and watches it sink into the ocean. Just then, he notices paw prints on the ground by the well, and notes that a dog was here very recently.

Desmond is woken up by the dog in question, Vincent, just outside the jungle home of Rose and Bernard. Desmond thanks the two of them for rescuing him from the well, and Bernard goes off with Vincent to check their traps for food. Desmond asks Rose how long they’ve been living here. She says they built the place in ’75, lived there a couple of years, “and then the sky lit up again.” Rose informs Desmond that she and her husband broke their non-involvement-in-island-affairs rule by rescuing him, so they’re going to need him to move on once he’s had something to eat. “Fair enough,” Desmond smiles.

Bernard suddenly returns, and says he’s sorry. MiB and Ben draw up behind him as he rushes to Rose’s side, to protect her. MiB walks menacingly toward Desmond and draws his dagger. He demands that Desmond come with him, or he’ll kill Rose and Bernard right here and now. Rose bravely tells Desmond that he doesn’t have to go with “Locke,” but MiB holds up his knife and adds, “I’ll make it hurt.” Desmond steps forward and says he wants MiB’s word that he won’t touch Rose and Bernard, ever. MiB agrees, and so does Desmond.

As they hike through the jungle, MiB asks if Desmond knows where he’s taking him. Desmond guesses that it’s somewhere with “a very bright light,” which he says is “just a hunch.” A split-second burst of static is heard, and MiB stops cold. He turns to Ben, where the sound originated, and asks what that was. But Ben plays dumb, saying he didn’t hear anything.

At the Dharma Barracks, Miles is trying to call Ben on the radio, because he’s found Richard. He finally gives up when Ben doesn’t answer, but Richard wakes up. He’s hurt but he’ll survive, and he’s immediately intent on completing their plan to take the explosives over to Hydra Island and destroy the plane.

Sawyer runs through the jungle until he finds Jack and the gang. He reports that he found “Locke,” and that MiB is planning to destroy the island. Sawyer wants to find Desmond before MiB can, but Jack points out that finding Desmond before MiB does is irrelevant; they’re all going to the same place. “Then what?” Sawyer asks. “Then it ends,” says Jack.

Miles and Richard reach the dock, and untie one of the canoes there. Thunder cracks in the distance; a powerful storm is building. Miles notes with amusement that Richard is sporting a single gray hair. Richard can’t quite believe it. The two men realize that now that Jacob’s dead, Richard will age and grow old just like anybody else. Richard smiles and says that he just realized for the first time since Jacob died that he actually wants to live.

The two men row out to sea toward Hydra Island, but soon bump into a dead body floating on the surface that came from the sunken submarine. Someone cries for help in the distance, and they quickly row over to find Frank Lapidus, clinging to several life preservers. They bring him on board, and he’s fatigued and dehydrated, but alive. Frank asks what they’re doing out here, and Richard explains that they’re headed to the airplane to blow it up. Frank says he has a better idea: they should use the plane, not destroy it. That way, they can escape the island and prevent the smoke monster from leaving.

On the side of a steep hill, Jack and his group comes face-to-face with MiB, Ben, and Desmond. MiB attempts a casual greeting, but before anyone can react, Kate grabs the rifle Sawyer took from Ben and shoots at MiB, screaming, “You killed them!” The bullets bounce off, to Kate’s astonishment, and he tells her she might want to save her bullets. He walks up to Jack and the line is clearly drawn between the two of them. MiB realizes that Jack is the one that took Jacob’s place, but remarks that Jacob could have done something unexpected instead of picking Jack, the obvious choice. “He didn’t choose me,” Jack corrects him. “I volunteered.” MiB says that Jack is presumably there to stop him. But Jack says no, he can’t stop MiB, and Jack actually wants to accompany him to the Light. “Because you think you’re going to destroy the island,” Jack says. “But that’s not what’s going to happen.” MiB asks what is going to happen. Jack gives MiB a steely gaze and replies, “I’m going to kill you.” The jovial pretense falls away from MiB’s face as he asks how Jack is planning to accomplish the one thing that no one else has ever been able to do. With a steely sparkle in his eye, Jack replies, “That’s a surprise.”

The group trudges through the jungle, and Sawyer slips up next to Jack to whisper an inquiry about Jack’s “surprise” way of killing the Man in Black. Jack admits he’s not sure how it’s going to work yet, but his surprise centers around Desmond. Sawyer asks if that means Desmond is bait; Jack says no, he believes Desmond is some kind of weapon. They soon reach the bamboo forest, and MiB says that only he, Desmond, and Jack should continue on from here. Jack agrees and they proceed, leaving Kate, Sawyer, Ben, and Hurley to wait in the jungle, but not before Hurley whispers a final encouragement to Jack: “I believe in you, dude.”

As they approach the Light cave, MiB casually notes that the building storm is “going to be a bad one.” MiB secures his rope to a sturdy tree trunk, and Jack ties the other end around Desmond’s waist. Desmond whispers to Jack that none of what they’re doing matters; he says that once he’s lowered into the Light, he’s going to go to another place where he can be with the ones that he loves, and they won’t ever have to think about the island again. Desmond tells him about how in this other place, Oceanic 815 never crashed on the island, and that he and Jack even sat together on that plane. He remembers that Jack seemed happier there than he is here, and he promises to find a way to bring Jack with him after he goes there for good. But Jack doesn’t believe him, telling Desmond that he once tried to make happen the very thing Desmond is describing (referring to the “reset time” plan, aka detonating the hydrogen bomb), but he knows now that there is no changing the past, no do-overs. “What happened, happened,” he says. “All of this matters.”

Once the rope work is done, the three men enter the cave, and peer down over the waterfall to the Light far below.

Back in the bamboo forest, Ben’s radio squawks again with a call from Miles, who informs them that he, Richard, and Frank have just arrived on Hydra Island. Ben warns them not to blow up the plane, but Miles says they’re not going to blow it up, they’re going to fly it off the island, and he tells them they should get to the plane  as fast as they can. Before Miles ends the call, Claire walks out of the jungle onto Hydra beach, and raises her rifle at the three men. She shoots the ground at their feet, while Kate grabs the radio from Ben on the other end and asks about Claire. On Hydra Island, Claire accuses the men of being sent there by MiB to kill her. Richard tells her that they’re not with “Locke” and they just want to escape and get as far away from him as possible. He says they can go home, and that she can come with them. But she tears up and puts down her gun, allowing them to pass yet refusing to join them.

At the Cave, Jack and MiB lower Desmond down the waterfall. Jack asks Desmond if he knows what to do when he gets there; Desmond says he’s just going to go where the Light is brightest. As they slowly lower Desmond, MiB muses that this ought to remind Jack of a similar time when Jack and Locke stared down into a long hole that Desmond was at the bottom of. “If there was a button down there, we could fight about whether or not to push it,” he jokes, suggesting that this is just like old times. But Jack isn’t laughing, and angrily tells his companion that he’s “not John Locke. You disrespect his memory by wearing his face, but you’re nothing like him. Turns out, he was right about most everything. I just wish I could have told him that while he was still alive.” MiB argues that Locke wasn’t right about anything, and he says that when the island drops into the ocean, Jack will finally realize that. Jack says they’re about to find out which one of them is right.

At the bottom of the waterfall, a soaking wet Desmond unties himself from the rope and looks around at the large cave he’s now in. It’s a huge space, with both large stalagmites and stalactites dotting the ceiling and floor. A few skeletons rest near the edge of the waterfall within piles of what look like black dirt or possibly ash. Water pouring in from the waterfall as well as several other sources all flow into a central pool, which radiates with the brightest golden Light we’ve seen yet. This pool is perfectly circular, ornate with primitive carvings, and at the exact center of the pool rests a smooth, round rock with similar carvings. Though the pond radiates with tremendous electromagnetic energy and blindingly bright Light, Desmond realizes what he must do, and he descends into it. The second he touches the Light, it reacts to his presence by pulsating and sending off waves of electromagnetism. Desmond’s unique resistance to the stuff allows him to continue into the pool, though it’s an excruciatingly painful experience for him. When he reaches the center of the pool, he wraps his arms around the large rock there, and lifts it up with all his might. We see now that the rock is not a perfect sphere, but is instead cone-shaped, looking not entirely unlike a humungous plug or cork. Once this rock  is free from its moorings down at the bottom of the pool, we hear the familiar sounds of an electromagnetic blast building, and the pulsing Light becomes violently fast. Desmond sets the cork aside and braces himself, but instead of a blast, the Light slowly fades, and the water pouring into the pool stops flowing. The pool is drained dry as all of the water rushes down into the hole that’s been formed by the cork’s absence, and once it’s gone, the Light flickers out, and Desmond is bathed in darkness. Soon though, another light takes its place, as the cracks between the carefully-laid stonework in the floor of the pool starts to glow with red, geothermal light, as if volcanic lava is building beneath it. Steam pours out of the hole at the center of the pool, and the room starts to shake. Desmond is exhausted from his experience, but he still has enough energy to shout “no!” when he realizes that what he did didn’t send him to the Sideways world, as he expected.

Up at the top of the waterfall, Jack and MiB are awash in the red, volcanic light. Jack stares down the hole in disbelief, as MiB gloats that Jack was wrong about what was going to happen. MiB turns and exits the cave, bidding Jack goodbye. He walks out into the jungle, where we see that the stream running into the cave has stopped completely, and the entire island is quaking in reaction to what Desmond did far below. But before MiB takes even two steps, Jack tackles him from behind, and punches him in the face. As Jack sits on top of him, he notes with satisfaction that MiB’s lips are bleeding from the blow. As MiB tastes the blood on his lips, Jack smugly says, “Looks like you were wrong, too.” Jack leans in and tries to strangle the life out of a stunned MiB, but MiB thinks fast, grabs a rock, and knocks Jack out with it. MiB knows that the playing field has been leveled — he’s no longer impervious to harm, and can even be killed — and he makes a run for it toward the boat he intends to use to sail away from the island. Whatever removing that cork did, it’s caused all of the island’s special properties to halt, and all bets are off.

Back in the bamboo jungle, the island is shaking violently and it knocks everyone off their feet. A huge tree falls and nearly crushes Hurley, but Ben pushes him out of the way at the last second and is wedged under the tree himself. He’s not hurt thanks to some rocks nearby bearing the weight of the load, but he can’t get out. The others jump up and try to push the tree off of Ben, but it’s too heavy. The island shakes even harder than before, and Kate asks what’s happening. Sawyer says that “Locke” was right, and the island is “going down.” Miles radios from the other island (while Richard and Frank hurriedly patch up the plane’s cockpit) and Kate grabs the radio off the ground. He tells them that they’re leaving within the hour, and they need to hurry if they want to come. Sawyer asks how they’re supposed to get there, but it’s Ben who has the answer: MiB’s boat.

Meanwhile, rain starts to fall as the storm finally arrives, and Jack is woken up by the drops hitting his face. He runs back inside the cave to look for Desmond, but Desmond’s not at the other end of the rope when he tugs on it. So he races back outside and chases after the Man in Black.

Desmond’s old sailboat is moored off shore from what looks like the same rocky cliffs where MiB took Sawyer to see the names written on Jacob’s cave wall. MiB reaches the cliffs and stares at the boat below with a satisfied smile, as he prepares to descend the series of ladders that lead down to the water. But Jack shouts at him to stop from about a hundred feet up the side of the cliff. The two men stare each other down in the pouring rain for half a second, before MiB pulls out his big knife and the two men race at each other in a violent fury. At the last second, Jack jumps into the air but MiB kicks him in the abdomen and he goes down. The two men get back to their feet and engage in a ferocious battle royal amid the quaking island and the pouring rain. As their fight rages, a huge portion of the cliff face breaks free due to the island destroying itself. MiB’s knife gets lost in the struggle, but he spots it and tries to grab it before Jack can. Jack tackles him and tries again to strangle him to death, but MiB’s fingers manage to find the knife’s handle and he brings it up to stab it into Jack’s side. Jack falls, and MiB spins to gain the advantage, on top of Jack. Though Jack fights to stop him, he brings his dagger down to touch Jack’s throat — at the exact spot where Sideways Jack has repeatedly found a cut that won’t heal — and tells Jack that he’s dying for nothing. But just when MiB is ready to make his final thrust with the dagger, he’s hit by a powerful gunshot to the chest. He falls hard and up the side of the cliff, Kate still has her shotgun leveled at him, and she fumes, “I saved you a bullet!” With his dying breaths, he glances up at Jack and tells him he’s too late, he can’t stop the island from being destroyed now. Jack frowns and kicks the Man in Black over the side of the cliff so that he tumbles hundreds of feet to a rock ledge below, where he lands with a sickening crunch. Jack stands at the edge of the cliff far above, staring down and knowing that it’s done. His adversary is dead.

The storm breaks, the sun comes out, and Kate carefully helps Jack up the side of the cliffs. But Jack doesn’t make it far before collapsing from the pain in his side. He lifts up his shirt to find the deep stab wound, and Kate is stunned at the sight of it. Jack tries to assure her that he’s fine, and tells her to “just find me some thread, and I’ll count to five.” Sawyer, Hurley, and Ben run up to them just then, and Kate tells them that “Locke” is dead and it’s all over. But another earthquake reminds them that it’s not quite over yet.

At the Ajira plane, the repairs are seemingly complete and Frank is just about ready to start up the engine, but he finds that the hydraulics that retract the nose wheel aren’t functioning, and sends Miles down with a radio, a schematic, and some duct tape to take a look at it. Richard goes with him, and after they’re gone, Ben calls from the main island. He asks what Frank’s timetable is, but Frank growls back, “Don’t bother me!” and tosses his radio aside.

On the main island, the survivors realize that they have no time to spare, and have to make for the plane now. But Kate says she doesn’t understand why the island is still tearing itself apart. Jack explains that “whatever Desmond turned off, I need to turn it back on.” Kate implores him not to do this, to come with them and just let the island sink, but Jack says he can’t. He asks Sawyer if he can get the sailboat over to the other island in time, and Sawyer thinks that he can. The two men stand and shake hands for the last time; Jack bids him good luck, and Sawyer offers a sincere “thank you” for everything Jack’s done. Ben tosses his radio to Sawyer, saying that if the island goes down, he’s going down with it. Jack tries to get Hurley to leave with Sawyer, but Hurley insists on staying with Jack. Jack plays the only card he has left to get Kate to leave: Claire. Kate has to go so she can fulfill her promise to bring Claire home to Aaron. Kate knows he’s right, and though she doesn’t want to leave without him, she realizes she has to. “Tell me I’m going to see you again,” she says, a tear rolling down her face. Jack wishes he could, but can’t find the words to reassure her. The two of them embrace in perhaps the most passionate kiss they’ve ever shared, but it’s tinged with grief at the same time. They both profess their love for one another, and then it’s time for the two groups to go their separate ways.

At the plane, Miles repairs a hydraulic line with duct tape, as another quake almost brings him and Richard to their knees. Back in the cockpit, they get a call from Sawyer who says he and Kate are on their way, and asks them not to leave without them. But Frank grabs the radio and tells them that he’s getting the plane off the ground while there’s still ground to get off of, and they’d better move it if they want to leave, too.

To save time, Sawyer suggests that he and Kate jump off the side of the cliff to the water hundreds of feet below, and swim out to the boat. Kate wastes no time, and leaps off the edge. Sawyer quickly follows.

Hurley helps Jack make it back to the Light cave, which is still dark and dry. He asks how they’re going to get down there, but Jack says he’s going alone. Hurley argues that Jack will never survive, but Jack gives him a look that allows Hurley to finally understand: Jack’s already dying, and won’t survive either way. That’s why he has to go alone. Hurley tries to talk him out of it, refusing to let Jack die or kill himself, but Jack argues that he swore to protect the island, and this is what he’s always been meant to do — carry the torch this far, but no further. Hurley tells him the island needs him, but Jack struggles to his feet and puts an arm on Hurley’s shoulder as he says, “It needs you. It needs to be you, Hugo.” Hurley is afraid and doesn’t think he can do it, but Jack sends Hurley’s own words back to him, saying, “Hurley, I believe in you.” Hurley finally breaks and says he’ll do it, but only until Jack turns the Light back on, and then he’s going to pull Jack up with the rope and give the leadership role right back to him. Jack agrees.

Jack asks for something to drink out of, and Ben produces a plastic water bottle. Jack fills it with muddy water, and Hurley drinks it as instructed. “Now you’re like me,” Jack tells him with a smile.

Hurley and Ben slowly lower Jack down into the cave, but a earthquake causes him to fall some of the way to the bottom. He unties the rope and gets a look around the darkened place. He finds Desmond passed out at the edge of the dry pool, steam pouring through several cracks in the ground. Jack wakes Desmond up, and Desmond complains that when he put the Light out, he thought he would “leave this place,” but it didn’t happen. Jack takes him back to the rope and secures it around Desmond’s waist, while Desmond argues that he has to re-plug the hole. Desmond says it has to be him because he’s the only one that can survive it. But Jack says, “You’ve done enough,” and he should go home and be with his wife and son. “I’ll see you in another life, brother,” Jack concludes.

At the plane, Frank gets the engine to start. Sawyer and Kate swim to the shore from the boat and find Claire sitting there, despairing alone. Sawyer turns and sees more of the main island breaking free and sinking into the ocean. In the cockpit, Frank prepares to back the plane into takeoff position, and sends Miles to the hatch to relay what he sees. On the beach, Kate runs up to Claire, while Sawyer sees the plane starting to move. Kate begs Claire to come, but Claire cries that she can’t, that the island has made her crazy and she doesn’t want Aaron to see her this way. “I don’t even know how to be a mother anymore!” she says. Kate tells her that no one knows at first, but Claire’s not alone, and she’ll help her. Claire takes strength from her words, and finally agrees. The three of them sprint for the plane just as it backs into place at the end of the runway. Frank is checking his gages and he’s about to gun it when he sees Sawyer, Kate, and Claire appear straight ahead in the middle of the runway. He tells Richard and Miles to open the door, and they welcome the newcomers onboard with a rope ladder. Once they’re on, Frank screams for everyone to buckle up, and he punches the throttle. It’s a short runway, and the ground is cracking beneath them as the island continues to deteriorate, but just as they reach the edge of the runway and are about to hit the trees, Frank pulls up. The plane leaps into the air and they’re off! The passengers onboard celebrate each in their own way, but mostly none of them are quite able to believe that they’re really leaving the island, once and for all.

Jack fights through the pain and the endless quaking to make his way down into the pool and heft the heavy cork/plug. He can’t lift it, but he’s able to drag it back into place, and it lands with a loud click. He backs away and waits to see what will happen, but at first, nothing does. Jack descends into misery, thinking that MiB was right and it really was too late. But then, a trickle of water appears, pouring into the pool from the edge. He reaches up and touches it with his hand to make sure it’s real, and smiles at the sensation. At the center of the pool, the Light slowly returns and Jack bursts into heaving sobs because it worked and his job is done. Up above, at the mouth of the cave, Ben and Hurley realize that Jack was successful, and they begin pulling him back up with the rope. But they don’t realize they’re really pulling Desmond instead, and Jack is sitting in the pool, watching it fill with water, and celebrating with an exhausted smile through his heavy tears.

Up above, Hurley and Ben realize that they’ve pulled Desmond up instead of Jack, and Hurley tries calling down to Jack, but it’s too late. The Light is building to blinding intensity, and Jack can hardly move. The electromagnetic energy is growing with the Light, and it’s taking its toll on Jack as well.

Now that the Light has returned, Hurley and Ben find that the stream is flowing again outside. Ben reports that Desmond will be okay, while Hurley tries to come to terms with Jack being gone for good. Ben reminds him that Jack did his job, but this only makes Hurley more distraught as he remembers that it’s his job now. “What am I supposed to do?” he asks Ben. “Do what you do best,” Ben says. “Take care of people. You can start by helping Desmond get home.” Hurley asks how he’s supposed to do that, when people can’t leave the island except under special circumstances. “That’s how Jacob ran things,” Ben shrugs. “Maybe there’s another way. A better way.” Sheepish, Hurley asks Ben if he’ll stay and help him. “I could use someone with experience, for a little while.” Ben is astonished that Hurley would find him worthy of such a task, but finds his voice and says, “I’d be honored.”

Like the Man in Black before him, Jack is ejected from the Light cave and out into the same pond that MiB’s body was found in. But Jack’s still clinging to life, and he makes his way slowly out of the pond and walks into the bamboo jungle, back where his adventures on the island first began. His nose and ears bleeding from exposure to the electromagnetism, he staggers through the bamboo, searching for that spot — the place where he woke up after the crash. He finds it when he passes the old, worn tennis shoe still hanging from the stalks. As he lays down on the ground, he smiles at the sight of Vincent approaching from the same area he first saw him. Only this time, Vincent stops and lays down next to Jack, offering him silent company while his life slowly fades away. With his final breaths, he looks up into the sky beyond the bamboo and sees the underbelly of the Ajira airplane, flying away, carrying his friends to safety, and he smiles.

The final glimpse we see of Jack is an exact mirror of the pilot episode’s first shot: a close-up on his single eye, closing as he dies.

[Note that there are a number of questions that were answered in other episodes, yet for now I’m including the answers here. I was waiting to find out if we would get any further details before printing the definitive answers to these questions, but now that Lost is over, we have all of the answers we’re going to get. Eventually, I’ll go back and place these answers in the proper episodes that they correspond with. Also included in some of these answers are bits and pieces of larger explanations I’ll be writing about at a later time.]

  • No one ever arrives on the island by chance. Every person that comes there, is brought there by Jacob. So it was no accident that the Oceanic survivors escaped the crash with so little physical harm.
    Sayid’s question to Kate is perfectly legitimate: How did the survivors escape from the violent crash of Oceanic 815 with “nothing but a few scrapes”? Was it just “blind, dumb luck” as Kate suggested, or was there another reason? [1.07]
  • The smoke monster was a supernatural entity, inexplicable by science. It had the capability to learn about a person’s past, as well as determine whether or not that person was a Candidate. I believe this is what it was doing when it examined Eko and Juliet.
    How was the smoke monster able to call up images from Eko’s past? Was it reading his mind? Or is it technological in nature, accessing electronic records of some kind? [2.10] & What was the smoke monster doing when it flashed its bright lights at Juliet? Was it reviewing her past the same way it did Eko’s about a month earlier? [3.15]
  • It’s an inexplicable trait.
    Is there a scientific reason Miles Straume is able to contact the dead, or is his gift merely an inexplicable trait, like Walt’s odd abilities? [4.02]
  • It’s possible to move the island thanks to the powerful electromagnet beneath it, that gives the island any number of unique, almost supernatural properties.
    How is moving the island even possible? [4.11]
  • The wheel taps into both the electromagnetic power and water that flows out of the Light pool, harnessing that power to somehow alter the island’s position in space and time.
    How exactly does the frozen wheel make the island move? [4.14]
  • It was the Candidates on the Ajira plane that were sent through time to join their fellow Candidates in the 1970s. This can only mean that Sun was not the “Kwon” Candidate and Jin was, because Sun was left behind in the present on the plane when all the other Candidates were sent back.
    Why was Sun left behind in the present, when all of the other Oceanic 6 were transported through time to the past? [5.09] & On the cave wall, did “Kwon” refer to Sun or Jin? Jacob touched them both — could the name on the wall refer to both of them? [6.04]
  • Ben was revived from his Sayid-inflicted gunshot wounds by the Spring inside the Temple. This Spring was undoubtedly connected to the water pool at the Light source, and therefore was probably a concentrated form of the island’s healing properties. Why it erased Ben’s most recent memories and lost him his innocence has never been explained, but we’re left to assume that these are normal byproducts of the Springs healing process.
    What exactly did Richard Alpert do to young Ben inside the Temple? Why did it cause Ben’s memory to be erased and his innocence to be lost? [5.11] & What is the Spring, and how does it have healing properties? [6.01]
  • Nope. What happened, happened. There are no do-overs.
    Is it possible, as Daniel believes, to change history after all? [5.14]
  • No. The Incident was caused by the combination of the electromagnetic energy pocket being pierced, and the detonation of the hydrogen bomb. The bomb’s blast had to have been absorbed by the electromagnetic energy, since it did no discernable damage to the island, but had the side effect of sending the Oceanic castaways back to present-day 2007. If it had been detonated elsewhere on the island, it might have destroyed it, but its proximity to the energy pocket is what saved the island.
    What will happen to the island if the hydrogen bomb is detonated in 1977? Will the blast destroy the island? [5.14] & Were Jack, Juliet, and the other survivors successful in altering history by detonating the hydrogen bomb? [5.17]
  • My sense is that even though the bomb’s blast was absorbed by the electromagnetic energy pocket, there probably was some kind of visible discharge when it first went off. Maybe even a discharge big enough to create a minor mushroom cloud. This is probably what Richard was referring to; he knew they were at Ground Zero when the blast went off, and always assumed that they died there. Unbeknownst to him, they were sent back to the present at the exact moment of the detonation.
    How exactly did Richard watch Jack, Kate, Hurley, Jin, Sawyer, Juliet, and Miles die? [5.15]
  • It’s a supernatural thing. Jacob’s touch somehow steers everyone he chooses toward finding their way to the island, sooner or later.
    Jacob appears to be responsible for bringing everyone to the island that gets there. How exactly does Jacob bring people to the island? [5.16]
  • Yes, it was the Man in Black who lived for a time in the cabin. It was MiB who met Locke and Ben there, and who later instructed Locke (in the guise of Christian Shephard) to move the island.
    If Jacob hasn’t been living in the cabin, who has? The Man in Black? Is this who Ben and Locke encountered the day they visited the cabin? [5.16]
  • I believe he was referring to his elaborate manipulation of John Locke, leading to Locke’s death so that MiB could take his form. Locke’s form was crucial to achieving his goal of finding someone to kill Jacob, because Locke was one person on the island trustworthy enough to just about everyone, to talk someone into doing the deed.
    What all did the Man in Black “go through” to get to Jacob? [5.17]
  • Jacob was talking about the Candidates, returning through time from the 1970s to the present.
    Who was Jacob referring to when he warned the Man in Black that “they’re coming”? [5.17]
  • There never were two realities. The “Sideways” reality was a stage of the afterlife, where all of the castaways (and presumably everyone ever born) ended up after they died. Because the afterlife exists outside of time and space, all of the castaways appeared to be the same age there as when they knew one another on the island, even though they all died at wildly varying points in time.
    Why are there two realities? [6.01]
  • The cut on Jack’s neck was an echo from his final fight in the mortal world against the Man in Black, who cut him there. It was one of the very last things that happened to him while he was alive, and it happened during the same fight that caused Jack to die.
    Sideways Reality:
    Why did Jack have a cut on his neck? Was this significant, or did he just cut it shaving that morning? [6.01]
  • The island was removed from the memories of (almost) everyone in the Sideways world, so its depiction at the bottom of the ocean was a visual cue to the audience that the island was out of the picture in this reality.
    Sideways Reality:
    Why is the island on the bottom of the ocean? Did the hydrogen bomb destroy the entire island, or sink it? [6.01]
  • He was disappointed that they had chosen to follow Jacob, instead of himself.
    What did the Man in Black mean when he said that he was very disappointed in the Others? [6.01]
  • Undoubtedly. The infection seemed to render its victims susceptible to MiB’s suggestions, as well as lowering their inhibitions against doing things that were evil. Both traits that MiB found useful.
    What is the origin of the infection? Is the Man in Black responsible for it? [6.03]
  • My feeling is that the infection had the power to return life to those who were very recently dead. Claire died or was very near death thanks to the explosion that destroyed her house, and MiB took the opportunity to infect her, essentially reviving her but at the same time, bringing her closer to his way of seeing things. (She was later able to escape the influence of the infection thanks to Kate and Aaron.)
    How did Claire fall victim to this infection? Was it when she encountered her father Christian in the jungle? Was she, like Sayid, dead or near death when the infection took her? [6.03]
  • I think Claire was formerly dead before the infection revived her, which caused Miles’ senses to “go all wonky” around her.
    Why was Miles so interested in Claire? Did something about her set off his abilities as a medium? Could Claire possibly be dead, having not survived the explosion of her house at the Barracks after all? [4.10]
  • “Christian” was really the Man in Black, but she was with him, at least at first, because she believed he really was her father.
    Why is Claire with her father Christian in the cabin? He’s dead; is she dead too? [4.11]
  • Because MiB was planning to do his mindjob on her, so he could use her for his own purposes, and he didn’t want anybody throwing a wrench in those plans.
    Why didn’t Christian want Locke to tell anybody he saw Claire at the cabin? Why does Claire’s status need to be kept a secret? [4.11]
  • Jacob, and therefore his guardianship over the Light, was dead. The Light was vulnerable without its protector, and so the Spring’s waters — which flowed from the Light pool — became impure.
    If the Spring is usually clear, what happened to change it to a muddy color? [6.01]
  • Ethan may have escaped, or he may have simply never been born there. Ultimately, it’s unimportant, because he was only in the Sideways world because he was already dead. As for Ben, his escape is also irrelevant; what matters is that he was a better person here because these events took place after his redemption on the island, and his many years serving as Hurley’s “number two” man.
    Sideways Reality:
    How did Ethan Rom/Goodspeed presumably escape the island as an infant, before it was sunken to the bottom of the ocean, to grow up in America? Did he and his mother leave on the Dharma submarine prior to the Incident, along with all of the other women and children? Or is there another explanation? [6.03] & Sideways reality: If the island was destroyed or sunk by the detonation of the hydrogen bomb, then how did Ben escape to lead a new life on the mainland? Is this the same manipulative Ben that we know, or is he a better man who’s never been subjected to the abuse of his father? [6.04]
  • As Hurley told him, Hurley had been told that he was a bad person for so long, by so many people, that he started to believe it. This belief was reinforced by his exposure to the infection. But his goodness managed to win out in the end, as he overcame the infection and sacrificed himself to save his friends.
    What has turned Sayid to the dark side? Was he always evil at his core, or did the infection change him?
    [6.06]
  • Widmore was operating under very specific instructions from Jacob. He planned to use Desmond as a failsafe weapon against the Man in Black — a weapon that could only be used at the electromagnetic Light at the heart of the island.
    Why is Widmore searching for the electromagnetic pockets of energy under the island? [6.10]
  • Widmore assumed that using Desmond as the failsafe weapon to stop MiB might cost Desmond his life. (It didn’t.)
    What sacrifice is Widmore planning to ask Desmond to make? [6.11]
  • Since every one of them went to the Sideways world after their deaths, it should come as no surprise that pseudo-death in the Sideways world served as a means of awakening one to their past in the mortal world. So in essence, yes, death was the bridge connecting the two realities.
    Sideways reality:
    Why did almost dying give Charlie (and Desmond) a glimpse into the other reality? Is death some kind of bridge between the two realities? [6.11]
  • Eloise knew that everyone in the Sideways world was actually dead, though we have no idea when she died or how she was woken up to the truth about the Sideways world. She was pretending that her mortal life never existed because she knew only pain and grief there, having lost her son despite decades of trying to prevent it. This afterlife place allowed her a second chance to enjoy a long, happy existence with her son.
    Sideways reality:
    How much does Eloise know about what’s really going on? And why is she carrying on as if the original reality never existed, even though she knows it did/does? [6.11]
  • Like most others in the Sideways world who were asleep or delirious, she was getting subconscious sensations and memories from her mortal life.
    Sideways reality:
    Why did Sun recoil in horror at the site of John Locke, whom she’d never met? Did her near-death experience trigger latent memories of the island? Was she remembering Locke as the Man in Black, whom she feared? [6.13]
  • Since the music box played “Catch a Falling Star,” a song of great personal significance to Claire and Aaron, it would seem that Christian hoped the song might jog her memories.
    Sideways reality:
    What’s up with the wooden music box that Christian Shephard left to Claire in his will? [6.14]
  • Desmond knew the truth, that they were all dead, and wanted to help them move on to whatever waited for them in the afterlife.
    Sideways reality: Desmond is getting all of his old friends together at this concert benefit. What’s his master plan for them? [6.16]

And now we know. We know how Lost ended (even though it was wisely left open to interpretation, so that the fans’ conversations — which have so defined Lost‘s television run — would never have to end), we know what became of our main characters (they all died, sooner or later, though what was most important in their lives happened to them while on the island), and we have some final definitive answers to longstanding questions. And we know what lies at the heart of the island.

I know the haters are out there, and I know they are many. If there are questions you’re still wanting to have answered, you may just find those answers here on this website (or in that book I hope to write, which will elaborate on many of my interpretations and extrapolations on stuff like, what really happened when the hydrogen bomb went off, or how Eloise Hawking knew the things she knew). If you’re determined to hate the finale because it didn’t live up to your expectations, then I can’t change your mind. I’ve been accused of being a Lost apologist many times, and this analysis will probably only confirm that opinion, but really, I just approach the show as a writer. I accept the story as it’s given to us, take away from it whatever I can, and fill in the gaps in the story with educated guesses based on what we do know. To the haters, I will say this much: the fact that so many pieces of the puzzle were left for us to put together on our own, instead of being spelled out for us on screen, does not mean that the answers don’t exist. It just means you haven’t put enough pieces of the Lost puzzle together to see those answers.

Finally, it’s important to remember that all I can tell you is how I interpret ending. It was made in a way that requires every viewer to interpret it for themselves. So take my thoughts for what you will.

Let’s get to it, then.

Did you notice how the longtime secondary members of Lost‘s cast were included in the main “Starring” credits, instead of in the “Guest Starring” credits? Actors like Sam Anderson (Bernard), Francois Chau (Pierre Chang), Fionnula Flanagan (Eloise Hawking), and so many more, were bumped up to the same credit placement alongside the series regulars, and it was a nice, appreciative gesture from the show’s producers.

I have sung Michael Giacchino’s praises many times before, but he outdid himself with the finale. Watch closely during the scene where Richard sees his first gray hair, for example, and you’ll hear the heartbreaking strains of the Richard/Isabella love theme that we first heard in this season’s “Ab Aeterno.” Or the moment when Hurley drinks from the water that Jack offers him, passing on the island protectorship to him; a brief refrain of Jacob’s theme plays softly to underscore this historic moment.

Everybody involved with the show put 150% into this finale, and it showed. Jack Bender’s epic camera shots. The actors’ loving portrayal of what will no doubt be the most defining characters of their careers. The writers’ sweet references to so many moments from the past. (Watch the finale again — there are more of these than you might have noticed on your first pass.)

In fact, if there’s one thing I hope you take away from this analysis… if you take away nothing else, it’s that the finale deserves to be watched more than once. It benefits tremendously from repeat viewings. I’ve watched it about four or five times now, and every time I notice a number of new things, subtle references, inside jokes, emotional nuances, etc. Watch it again and I guarantee you’ll have a greater appreciation for it.

I understand why some viewers were frustrated with the finale. They wanted more definitive answers. They wanted Jacob or some other bigwig to descend from on high and provide a convenient, tidy explanation for every big mystery. (Those of us who’ve been paying close attention throughout Season 6 already know the answers to most of Lost‘s biggest mysteries.) But ultimately, Lost was a show where the characters mattered. The writers always said that the show was about these characters, and the world they inhabit only mattered inasmuch as it mattersed to those characters. Many viewers seemed to watch Lost only to find out the answers to the mysteries, but — and I know this fact will only irritate those viewers all the more — a basic tenet of everything J.J. Abrams has a hand in states that posing mysteries is always more interesting than explaining them. (See this video about the “mystery box” that he’s had since childhood and never opened to see what’s inside.) Even though his involvement with the show ended pretty quickly, Abrams’ belief in the power of mystery was clearly adopted by Damon and Carlton, who used this tactic to provide lots of ongoing puzzles for their island-based drama. (‘Cause let’s face it: getting an audience to follow a show about people trapped on an uncharted island through six seasons is a tough sell.) The question is always more interesting than the answer because when a mystery is raised, the imagination of the viewer is ignited. Endless possibilities stomp through our minds, theories are postulated, ideas are passed between friends. A whole new world of possibilities is created in this single mystery, and it’s a world that didn’t exist before. Once that mystery is explained — with an answer, which even Damon and Carlton have admitted is usually less interesting that the fans’ theories — then that world of possibilities is killed. Instead of starting something, you’re ending something. Instead of opening, you’re closing.

Understand that I’m not suggesting that mysteries should exist for mystery’s sake, or that it’s okay to lead an audience by the nose with no intention of ever explaining unanswered questions. And I’m not suggesting that Lost‘s writers and producers were never interested in providing satisfaction to their fans. But for a large segment of the audience to have based their entire fandom around the answers they wanted, at the expense of the story being told and the characters involved, I think was grossly unfair and unrealistic. We got lots of answers, sure, but neither the mysteries nor the answers were ever the point of the show. Lost was about its characters.

If you don’t get that, if you only watched the show because you were waiting for answers that you now think never came, and that’s why you hated the finale… then you were watching for the wrong reasons to begin with. I mean seriously, what were you expecting? Did you expect one of the polar bears to stand up and start talking to explain who built the island? Did you think that something as big and profound and metaphysical as the Light could possibly be explained in normal, human, everyday terms? Were you hoping to hear the Story of Walt’s Special Powers — a character who hasn’t been important to the show’s storyline for several years? Did you think the show would pull back the curtain to reveal that the island was actually a fallen alien spaceship that crashed on earth millennia ago? (Actually, that one sounds kinda cool.)

“The End” was the end of the story. It wasn’t the, “Now we’re going to explain everything you want to know” encyclopedic infodump. Lost has never been big on infodumps, always preferring to ground all of its mythology and mystery in the lives of these complicated, three-dimensional characters. “The End” was always going to be the end of their story. It was written for the fans, sure, but in a bigger sense, it was really written to honor these characters, and send them off in a way that was fitting, a way that would justify all that they’d been through.

One of the biggest answers people are craving is what the Sideways world really was. Here’s the most definitive answer I can give you.

At the end of Season 5, Jack wanted to erase history and make it so that all of the pain and suffering and death they’d endured had never happened. But by this episode he realized that there are no do-overs. There’s no changing the past. What happened, happened. And it was true: there was no second reality, no happily-ever-after-land where the bomb went off and time was reset.

The Sideways world was not an alternate reality or alternate timeline at all. It wasn’t a version of our world where the hydrogen bomb/timeline reset worked. It was a pit stop between this life and the next. The whole point of it was that in order to “move on” to eternal rest, one must first be at peace. Peace comes before rest.

The thing that defined the Sideways world is that it was a world without the island. All of our characters’ connections there occurred outside of the island. Where in the mortal world, their connections all occurred on the island. This seemed to be the fundamental tenet that the Sideways world was built upon; it was hammered home in the Season 6 premiere when we saw the island sunken to the bottom of the ocean. The pseudo-metaphysical “groupthink” that created this place in the afterlife, as Christian Shephard told Jack, was constructed based on the joint notion that all of the characters wanted to forget the island and all of the pain it caused them. Desmond strongly reinforced this notion in this episode when he told Jack that “I’m going to another place where we can be with the ones that we love, and we never have to think about this island again.” The characters seemed to equate “eternal happiness” with “the complete absence of the island” in their lives. Yet removing the island from their consciousnesses caused them to forget one another, because it was there that all of their relationships were formed. Jack and Kate once argued about whether all of their time on the island was filled with “pain and misery,” and this argument is at the heart of what the Sideways world was all about. As Kate said, it wasn’t all pain and misery, because without the island, none of them would have met and formed the relationships that they had.

The Sideways world was supposed to be their own personal idea of Heaven, but it never could be. Trying to remove the island from their “eternal happiness” caused the opposite effect: they were empty, alone, separated from each other, and… lost.

The island may have brought them all a lot of drama and pain, but it also brought them growth, maturity, redemption, and most importantly, it brought them together. Erasing the island from their own souls caused them to lose the most significant part of who each of them were. The things that they learned on the island, all the ways that they grew and matured, stayed with them, even if only subconsciously. That’s why we saw them as better persons than they originally were, before the island: Jack was a happy father and surgeon, Locke was able to come to terms with his limitations, Ben (thanks to his years of experience as Hurley’s “number two” man, following his own redemption) was a selfless mentor, and so on. Yet the one thing missing in all of their lives was each other. In remembering their past on the island, they finally were able to integrate all of the parts of their former lives into a complete whole, and only then could they move on and live in the “eternal happiness” they sought.

Christian said that it was a place for them to find one another, to remember, and ultimately the place from which they could move on to the afterlife. Following this reasoning — that the Sideways world was a place for the characters to become whole and complete — it was likewise a place for them to work out their unresolved issues from their mortal lives. This is why Jack had to become a good father there: so he could overcome his own daddy issues. It’s why Locke had to let go of his need to overcome his limitations. It’s why Ben chose to stay behind for a while: because arguably, he had more issues than anybody else, and he had some more personal stuff to sort out. And it’s why people like Daniel, Charlotte, Eloise, and Widmore didn’t yet move on. They still needed to find peace. The ones in the church were the ones who had found peace — by finding each other.

And since the characters fashioned this place to have no trace of the island in it, we now know why all of the little details of the Sideways world were the way they were. Such as Jack not remembering having his appendix taken out. He couldn’t remember it because it happened on the island, and this place was defined by the island’s absence.

The word “purgatory” will be tossed around a lot to describe the Sideways world, but I think it was instead a long-used story trope where someone who has died needs to realize the truth about their death and come to accept it, in order to be able to move on to Heaven or Shambala or whatever you want to call it. (See: The Sixth Sense, et. al.) Call it the path to enlightenment — and that enlightenment is the endgame.

The reunions in the Sideways world were the emotional core of the episode, and some of the finest work most of these actors ever did on the show. The music and editing and acting were all spot-on in these moments, bringing to mind the emotional climax of “The Constant,” and how beautifully it was done. Every reunion or awakening scene had the same impact on me. My favorite was without a doubt the Sawyer/Juliet reunion. I still hold my breath involuntarily through that whole scene. It’s epic perfection. I could watch it again and again.

I must admit I’m still struggling with the Sayid/Shannon reunion, though. As soon as it happened, I finally understood why the writers had made Nadia unattainable for Sayid in the Sideways world: they were holding him out for Shannon. But despite the unexpectedly sweet little romance we saw between Sayid and Shannon early in the show — and I’m sure there are plenty of fans happy that they wound up together in the end — I still feel that Nadia was Sayid’s truest love. I can see the resonance of having two castaways reunite after so much time apart, and I can accept it for what it was. But it didn’t feel true to Sayid’s character after all the years and endless efforts he went through to find and be with Nadia. Nadia was the one Sayid went on a years-long campaign of revenge for. Sayid sold his soul to the Man in Black in the deluded hope of getting Nadia back from the dead. With apologies to “Shayid” shippers… Nadia was his Constant.

I thought it was kind of curious that we never found out how Ben was woken up. It started when Desmond beat him up outside the school, but something had to have completed it, a familiar touch or an emotion, like with the others. My guess is that it was something about Alex that got the job done.

The whole notion that “there is no ‘now’ here” in the Sideways world meant that everyone appeared to be the same age — even though those who survived and escaped the island (Kate, Sawyer, Claire, etc.) probably lived much longer lives and looked older when they died — because time was irrelevant in that place. It’s kind of cool to think that if the Sideways world first began, as it appeared, in the Season 6 premiere, then all of the characters who have died over the years (like Charlie, Shannon, Libby, etc.) wound up there immediately after their deaths. In other words, we didn’t miss anything from their stories — they went straight from their deaths on the island to the Sideways world, where they lived alongside those who died much later than them.

In case you’re wondering why Juliet’s last name was Carlson, when it was formerly Burke… Burke was the last name of her ex-husband (you remember — the guy that got hit by a bus after she joked about that very thing to Richard?), so she must’ve kept his name. Yet in the Sideways world, she married and divorced Jack, not the Burke guy, and didn’t keep her ex’s name (for reasons unknown). So Carlson must’ve been her maiden name.

Did anybody else notice the way that the Sideways characters gradually started looking more like their island selves after their memories returned? There was the obvious stuff, like Locke being able to walk, but there was also Ben’s flattened hair springing back up, and Charlie losing his eye makeup and the like.

The thing I had the hardest time wrapping my brain around all season in the Sideways world was Desmond running down Locke with his car. I just couldn’t continue to see Desmond as the proverbial “good guy” after he’d do a thing like that. But now it makes perfect sense. He knew he wouldn’t be doing any actual damage to Locke when he struck him with the car, because everyone in the Sideways world was already dead. And it makes his wailing on Ben all the funnier.

One thing I’m still uncertain about is David, Jack’s son. Who or what was he? He never existed in the mortal world, so he couldn’t have been one of the human souls who went there after death. Was he even real? Or was he just a figment, a device created as part of this pseudo-psychological world to help Jack resolve his daddy issues? It was made clear that every secondary character in the Sideways world was truly the soul of that person, and not some fake tool of this constructed world. Ana-Lucia was real; Desmond said as much when he told Hurley that she wasn’t ready yet to move on. That means that all of the other peripheral characters — George Minkowski, Keamy, Omar, Widmore, Eloise, etc. — were real, too. So what was David? Was he an angel, or some other kind of outside being? Did he even have a real sentience or soul? I have no answer.

And what about the people who died in the Sideways world? We saw Keamy, Omar, Mikhail, and others “die” in the Sideways world, but that seems nonsensical when they were already dead. Instead of “moving on” to Heaven or whatever, did they go to Hell instead, as punishment for repeating past sins and refusing to atone for them?

Now that I’ve explained the Sideways world, let’s return to the island to examine what happened there…

Warning: minute time-travel explanation ahead. If that sort of thing makes your brain hurt, just move on to the next paragraph… In case anyone is wondering why Rose and Bernard’s jungle shack showed no signs of having decayed between the time when they originally built it in the 70s and their time jump to 2007, this is easily explained. Season 5 established that any object one of the time-jumping castaways was touching when a time-jump takes place, is taken along for the ride with them. So Rose and/or Bernard must have been touching the house — very likely they were inside it — when that final time jump brought them back to the present day. Some might suggest that if neither of them were touching the shack, it could have still been standing anyway when Rose and Bernard found themselves in 2007 again, only it would have been dilapidated. And Rose and Bernard could have refurbished. But I would counter-argue that only a week or two of story time has passed since the final time jump occurred, and that’s not really enough time for the shack to have been in the condition it was in, in this episode. It had to have traveled with them.

For one sickening moment, I thought that the Man in Black might kill Rose and Bernard even though Desmond agreed to join him, just to make a point about how serious he was with his threats. Thankfully, that didn’t happen, and we are left to believe that the two of them got to enjoy their retirement for many years until they died. That is, after the island stopped almost falling into the ocean.

So what was with the Light/cork stuff? Here’s how I read it.

We’ve seen before that the bright yellow Light emanates from the immense electromagnetic energy beneath the island. The first time we saw it was when Ben turned the donkey wheel and moved the island; a bright yellow light radiated out from behind the wheel. This energy runs all over the island (probably via water streams — the Light is somehow connected to water), and it’s essentially the key to how the island is able to do all of the fantastical things it does, such as rapidly healing people. And it’s what prevents the smoke monster from escaping the island. When Desmond descended into the cave and “popped the cork,” so to speak, he essentially turned off the Light. Aka, he turned off the island’s electromagnetism. I have no idea how pulling out the cork accomplished this, but it’s clear that this is what happened, because the Light went out, and so did all of the electromagnetism. Without the Light, the island began to tear itself apart. And without the electromagnetism, not only was the smoke monster able to leave the island, but his imperviousness to all harm was revoked as well. He essentially became mortal, killable. After Kate shot him, Jack climbed back down into the cave and put the cork back where it belonged. The island’s Light/electromagnetism returned, the island was stabilized, and all was right with the world. As for Jack, he was already dying from his stab wound, and direct exposure to the source of the electromagnetism (which remember, only Desmond is capable of withstanding) basically finished him off.

Sometime in the past, that cave with the pool and the Light and the big plug/cork was carved out and built there. I don’t think it happened in the time of MiB’s people living on the island, although that would be convenient, story-wise, since they were likely the ones responsible for the Tunnels and other hieroglyphic stuff on the island. But the cave was already there when MiB and Jacob were just boys, so it predates all other island ruins.

Another thing to consider is the way the chamber reacted after the Light was turned off. There was dramatic geothermal activity under the cave, as if a volcano was down there and the heat, steam, and red lava were all building up to eventually escape. (For a moment, I was convinced that a massive volcano was going to grow up out of that cave and tower over the island.) Now, we know from the Season 3 episode “The Man Behind the Curtain” that a volcano does indeed exist on the island — or at least, it did. Add these two clues together and what you get is an ancient, dormant volcano buried right beneath the center of the island. This isn’t really all that surprising, as many islands in the Pacific were born out of underwater volcanoes. But this volcano is unique; the mechanics we saw at work when the Light went out suggest that this volcano could be either the home of, or a byproduct of, the Light or whatever the source of the Light is. Whether the chamber keeps the geothermal energy and magma at bay, or the volcano was already dormant when the chamber was built, it seems clear that the chamber serves as a “cap” on top of the volcano. This tells us something about the origins of the island itself, giving us a certain timeline or order of the first events that happened after it was formed. Whoever first found the island and the Light must have built the cave and the Light pool on top of it, to keep both the Light and the volcano contained. If the Light is important to the survival of the world, as it’s been implied (Kate’s admonition to Jack to “let the island sink” may have sounded appealing to her, but I believe it would have been catastrophic to the world at large), then the island has to stay in one piece in order to protect it. What the island doesn’t have to do, is stay in one place — because “the island is always moving,” as Eloise once famously said. So if the island is moving, then the Light and the volcano beneath it are always moving, too. How a volcano can move, I have no idea, although it’s not uncommon for volcanoes to be “born” in new places where previously there were none. But at some point, science just can’t explain it all, so science eventually must give way to the metaphysical or spiritual aspects of the island.

We know the Light is the source of the island’s tremendous electromagnetism, so maybe this electromagnetic power is such a big deal that it’s tied into the earth’s core and magnetic poles, holding the whole world together. And speaking of that electromagnetism, in case you missed it, what we’ve learned about it is that it’s the source of all of the island’s unique properties. The island’s ability to heal. The fact that the island is difficult to find. The island’s ability to be moved. The fact that it can send inhabitants through time. And it’s the thing that kept the smoke monster from being able to leave.

How the Light/electromagnetism created the smoke monster, I have no idea. But it was apparently a one-time thing, releasing some force or entity that was held captive down there, because neither Jack nor Desmond were similarly altered when they went into the cave and touched the Light.

From a metaphysical standpoint, I can’t tell you what the magical cork thing was or what the Light was, because I don’t think we’re meant to know. The cork appeared to be a man-made construct, as evidenced by the cuneiform writing carved into it. That’s the only real clue we’re given, and I’m not even sure it was meant to be a clue. I think the idea behind the Light is that you can choose whatever spiritual connotation you want it to have. It could be the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden. Or it could be some part of another creation story. Maybe it was a rip in the fabric of reality between our world and the supernatural one where God and the Devil dwell, allowing powers and principalities from that side to spill over (which would certainly explain the smoke monster). This was never explained because there is no one explanation. It was meant to be representative of all different faiths and ideologies — an idea reinforced by the multiple faiths seen on the stained-glass window in the church/coffin scene. The Light was “the source” — the source of everything: life, death, love, and everything in between. And the world cannot exist without it. The island’s destruction would have only been the beginning; I believe that had the cork not been put back in its place, what we saw happening to the island would have eventually spread to the entire world. Thus, the island was some sort of all-important hub, perhaps the very place from which human life sprang. The beauty of the finale is that it left the island and the Light within it open to our interpretations, allowing it to mean something different for each viewer. The island really is the Garden of Eden, if that’s what you want to believe it is.

Who were those skeletons in the Light cave that Desmond saw? I counted two of them. (I could have put this in as one last “Unanswered Question,” but since it came from the series finale, it seemed silly.) My guess is that they were just put there to reinforce the fact that the cave and the pool were man-made constructions. The Light is something spiritual or other-worldly, but the cork and pool that contain the Light were made by the hands of human beings.

In the end, Jack proved that Jacob was right all along, and Jacob’s brother was wrong. Remember their conversation in the first scene we ever saw them both in, in the Season 5 finale? MiB said that “it always ends the same” when Jacob brings people to the island — they corrupt, they fight, they die. But Jacob argued that “it only ends once. Everything before that is just progress.” In essence they were arguing over human nature, and whether or not people can rise above their destructive tendencies to be better than they were. Jack went through perhaps the most dramatic change of all the survivors, overcoming his own self-destructive nature to pledge himself to something greater than himself, and he even gave his life for it. And thus, it “ended once” when someone did the ultimate good, just as Jacob predicted it would.

By all rights, had everything worked out perfectly, the new Jacob really should have been John Locke. He was the perfect Candidate for the job from the moment he set foot on the island. But evil doesn’t sit idly by and let good easily prevail, and so the Man in Black manipulated Locke to his death at Ben’s hands. (Locke may have been right for the job, but he was awfully gullible, all the way to the end.) Jack, who was Locke’s diametric opposite, went through a great deal of difficulty overcoming his own nature enough to be able to believe in the island and his destiny, and was eventually able to take the job in Locke’s place, and prevail over evil in the end. But the fight for the island ultimately cost both men their lives.

As for all the Jaters and Skaters and all that endless questioning of who Kate would end up with… the writers cleverly found a way to give hope to every kind of fan. Like Kate better with Sawyer? No problem: they both escaped the island and presumably went on to live long lives. I don’t think those two could ever have settled down and gotten serious, but maybe they continued to cross paths over the years. Or if you prefer Kate with Jack, she held out for him in the end in the Sideways world, and went on into the afterlife by his side, which has to be the ultimate “happily ever after.” And as far as Sawyer and Juliet go, it’s obvious they were soul mates meant to be together even across eternity.

One thing that didn’t feel profound enough to me was the revelation of who escaped the island. Kate, Claire, Sawyer, Miles, Frank, and Richard. This felt less like a momentous thing, and more like a random selection of survivors that were simply left over, and the writers couldn’t think of anything else for them to do. The fact that some of the survivors escaped the island all the way back in Season 4 kind of made a second escape anticlimactic; I honestly didn’t expect any of them to make it off the island in the end. The ending didn’t need to be about “who got off the island.” It had more than enough other stuff to be about.

That said, I did like that Kate got to fulfill her promise to Carole Littleton, and bring Claire back home. I like the thought of both Kate and Claire getting to be a part of Aaron’s life, as both of their fates have been inextricably linked to the boy. It was Aaron that caused both of them to wake up in the Sideways world, after all.

I also liked the idea of Desmond escaping the island (with Hurley and Ben’s help) to go back and live a long life with his wife and son.

It’s fascinating to think, as Ben suggested in his final moment with Hurley, that all of the peculiar rules surrounding the island were the way they were simply because that was “how Jacob ran things.” Such as people being unable to leave the island at will. Does Hurley have the power to change it so people can come and go as they please? And what kind of new era might that bring for the island? It boggles the mind…

Speaking of which, the fact that the island wasn’t destroyed, and lives on even now, really surprised me. The writers have said for so long that the end of the show would be a definitive end, where there would be no more story to tell. So I fully expected that they’d put an exclamation point on that ending, and destroy the island, preventing anyone else from coming along after them and trying to continue the Lost “franchise” in some kind of spinoff or in another format (like a big-screen movie or a series of novels). But their ending didn’t end the island; it only ended these characters. I’m still really stunned that they left the playing field so wide open for more Lost to exist someday. Perhaps somewhere down the road, another group of characters will find their way to the island, where there’s no more smoke monster or “ultimate evil” to be destroyed, but some entirely new dynamic/scenario will be at play over the future of the island… If done at the same level of quality and intelligence as the original show, I wouldn’t mind seeing what another wildly creative group of writers could come up with. It certainly doesn’t feel like there’s nothing of the island left to explore, or no more mysteries or history left to mine.

Ever the masters of deception, the writers threw in several lines where MiB stated his intention to sink the island to the bottom of the ocean, causing astute viewers to remember seeing that very sight at the start of Season 6, when we were first introduced to the Sideways world. Adding this up caused us to suspect that the Sideways world was really going to be the world that was created after time was somehow reset, probably when the island was destroyed and all the electromagnetic energy beneath it released in a violent explosion. But true to form, just when we expected them to zig, they zagged. The Sideways world wasn’t created by the island’s destruction at all.

It’s of great interest to me that the showrunners decided to follow Season 5 — their most science-heavy season — with a season devoted to spirituality. I wonder if this was done intentionally, to send a subtle message to viewers that the age-old conflict between science and faith doesn’t have to be a conflict at all. Instead, the two can compliment each other.

Lost has taken a definitive stand on the subject of life after death, proclaiming that we are more than flesh, or “this crude matter,” to quote from Yoda. Our bodies may die, but our souls live on, and the time and joys and loves that this harsh life robs from us can be forever redeemed in eternity. For any who think this is a new concept for Lost to latch onto, I would point back to earlier seasons when Hurley and others were encountered by their dead loved ones, who came to give them important messages at vital moments. The very concept of a ghost implies life after death, so this is definitely not a new idea for the Lost universe to embrace.

The stained-glass window in the final scene between Jack and Christian had representations of every major faith, including: the Islamic star and crescent; the Jewish Star of David; the Aum, likely used to represent Hinduism; the Christian cross; the Buddhist Dharmacakra (better known to Lost fans as the 8-spoked “donkey wheel”); and the Taoist Yin/Yang. This was a signal to us viewers that yes, the show may have been dominated by more overtly Judeo-Christian metaphors and symbols than any other belief system, but the show was never meant to be representative of any one religion.

Speaking of religion, there was tons of religious symbology in nearly every scene of the finale. Jack Shephard was the Christ figure, with his dad Christian serving as God the Father in that final scene, welcoming him home with open arms after his great task was complete. (If I had to pick a Holy Spirit, I’d have to go with Desmond, who did a solid job of stirring up the souls of those who needed enlightenment.) Did you catch that Jack was punctured in the side, in the exact same place that Jesus Christ was? The Man in Black, undoubtedly the Devil of this epic tale, even tried convincing Jack that he’d sacrificed himself for nothing — not entirely unlike Satan telling Jesus to save himself from his “pointless” forthcoming death on the Cross, in the Garden of Gethsemane.

Twice in this extra-long episode, the awakened characters in the Sideways world told their not-yet-awake friends that 1) “no one can tell you why you’re here,” and 2) “no one can tell you who you are.” These two concepts — finding your identity and finding your place in the world — are core philosophies at the heart of Lost. Both imply the one thing that Jacob placed the greatest importance on: choice. I think the show is basically saying that yeah, destiny plays its part, tugging you toward the path you’re meant to take. But you still have the choice. You must choose to follow that prescribed path, or not. Embracing destiny almost always requires a difficult, personal sacrifice, but there is great nobility in making that sacrifice, and playing the part that the world needs you to play.

The last thing I’d like to talk about is the thing I believe will be debated about the most for years to come. And that is: the characters that we saw in the church at the end… why were they there, when so many others were not?

Why didn’t we see Michael or Walt in the Sideways world? Michael can be explained by his soul being forever trapped on the island, where he goes on Whispering to those who live there. But what about Walt? He could have been there, by all rights, and maybe he should have been. (I’ll get back to him in a minute.) Why not Eko? (Well, we know the answer to that — the actor was just too difficult to work with.) Why not Frank? We never saw him in the Sideways world at all. What about Richard and Isabella? Or heck, even Jacob? Or Ilana? Why wasn’t Miles in the church with his dear old dad Pierre Chang? Was this time of remembering and letting go and moving on meant just for those who actually went to the island during their mortal lives? If that were true, then why was Penny there when she never set foot on the island? And if it was open to those who, like Penny, didn’t go to the island, then shouldn’t Helen have been there in the end with Locke? (Helen’s the one I was most disappointed not to see — she and Locke were just as perfect a couple as any of the others there.)

Going further, why wasn’t Desmond’s son Charlie there? Why not Ji Yeon? Or Walt? If this was a place of such importance, where the dead are meant to find those that were important to them in life, before they can move on, then shouldn’t those kids have been there, too? Some might argue that Aaron’s inclusion in the Sideways world implies that he was more important than any of the other kids on the show.

But here’s the thing.

I think we’re meant to interpret it as though these people that were in the church were inextricably bound to one another as a group. None of them could move on until they were all together.

Aaron was included because he was born on the island and he lived there with them, and he was important to them all. I think it would have been nice to see Walt there, since most of those facts apply to him as well, but I believe he was bound to his father, and probably is still there in the Sideways world, waiting for the time when his father can finally, somehow join him, so the both of them can then move on. Maybe Hurley will find a way to let the Whispering souls trapped on the island move on.

But this is the key point of the church in the Sideways world: the ones who moved on could only move on together. And so they had to find one another, and remember. This was what the Flash-Sideways were about all season long. We saw tons of other familiar faces in the Sideways world — Miles, Ilana, Widmore, Eloise, Daniel, Charlotte, Keamy, Omar, Mikhail, Dogen, Roger Linus, Ethan, George Minkowski, Danielle, Alex, Dr. Arzt, Ana-Lucia… And there were plenty of folks that were important to the show but were never seen in the Sideways world, such as Richard, Frank, Eko, and more. But all of these people were forever on the periphery of the core group. They were literally the supporting players. It was the core group that was eternally bound to one other through their experiences on the island, and through their love for one another. Those on the outside of that group would have been eternally bound to other people, such as Daniel bound to Charlotte, or Miles bound to his dad Pierre.

As Christian said, no one does it alone. Life, death, love — all the things that were in the Light, and all the things that Lost was about. Live together, die alone. They could only move on to the afterlife together. Alone, they would linger in this mindless purgatory for eternity. Adrift forever in the ether of existence.

The ending of Lost was a reminder of the importance of the journey, and the people you walk alongside on this journey called life. I thought the ending was brilliant because it was constructed to be a narrative illustration of the oft-quoted belief that the producers stated repeatedly: the journey matters more than the destination. This belief was literally played out before our eyes in the finale, as the writers created a scenario where the characters could only reach the destination by remembering the journey.

Put another way… the door that Christian opened at the end, leading to the white light, could only be opened once a key had unlocked it — and that key was these characters’ collective journeys. They all needed complete awareness and enlightenment about their own personal and collective journeys before they could move on. And they had to do it together.

It was lyrical, it was circular, and it was beautiful. Who cares if a few minor mysteries were never explained? We got all the answers that truly matter, and more importantly, we got to follow each one of these characters that we came to care so much about, all the way to their end.

And in the end, Lost made me think about all the things in life that are truly important: love, community, sacrifice, redemption, forgiveness… And it made me want to spend every day in deep appreciation of the people I love and the people who love me.

I know of no other television show in history to impart such a profound gift upon its viewers.