If you've read my full recap of tonight's Lost series finale, you'll know I loved pretty much everything it had to offer. Diehard fans will probably spend weeks dissecting all the hidden meanings, references and callbacks to previous episodes, while haters will bitch for years about how Lost wasted six years of their life.
As for me, I can kind of see both sides. There were things to love and things to be annoyed by, just as in pretty much every other episode of Lost-- but overall there was way more good than bad. Below is a list of the 10 best things about the Lost finale, along with the five worst.
The Best Parts
The love montages. You can look at it cynically and say it was just a way to replay the show's greatest hits without acknowledging that they were turning the finale into a clip show. But each time two couples recognized one another for what they were, every time we saw their moments of bliss on the island, it was a pure emotional sucker punch. Even Shannon and Sayid, a couple that never made all that much sense of the island and spent only minimal time together, felt perfect at last.
The Locke montage. Locke was one of the few characters to flash back to his island self without the aid of a true love, and it happened thanks to Jack, the man who was beating the hell out of him on the island around the same time. Locke wiggled his toes and remembered, and we remembered all the heartbreak and elation we suffered alongside Locke for the sake of the Island, the same island his avatar was trying to destroy. As heartbreaking as it was to have to acknowledge that Locke really did die so horribly, this last moment with him was well worth it.
Vincent! The paw print at the well was one spectacular moment, but Vincent's final appearance on the show, lying down beside Jack like a good dog to escort him into death, was perfection. Vincent was the first creature Jack saw after the crash, and was the last he saw before dying.
Ben and Hurley's island reign. Jack would have been a good protector of the island, but he doesn't play well with others, and we all know lonely stewardship of the island can make you a little crazy. Not only is Hurley at his best when looking after everyone else, he knows how to ask the right person for help, and thus the unlikeliest pair of friends will be the one running the island for the foreseeable future. Hurley gets a job he didn't know he was perfect for, and Ben gets the one thing he always wanted-- the chance to care for the island for the rest of his life.
"I'll see you in another life, brother." Desmond didn't play quite the pivotal role in the final island events that anyone really expected, but Jack's line to him was an acknowledgement that, if it weren't for Des, none of this would be happening.
The constant references to the show itself. There were snarky lines that acknowledged the show's bombastic tendencies-- Kate asks, "Christian Shephard? Really?" There were throwbacks to old episode titles-- "What happened happened," Jack promises, while Sawyer comments on Jacob's "long con." And there were even camera shots that deliberately echoed the iconic images of the past, like Jack and Locke staring down the hatch/the well, or Locke wiggling his toe. Lost has always rewarded its diehard fans with constant Easter Eggs, and bless them for doing it in double time for the finale.
Lapidus lives! I didn't think the show had time to pull one more surprise about the characters, but really, I was totally convinced that Lapidus had died, uncelebrated, on the sub. It felt great to see that extra from a Burt Reynolds movie one more time.
Jack and Locke's fight on the rocks. Seeing the two of them fight has always kind of broken my heart, knowing how much the two men could really rely on each other if they'd just set aside their difference. But as Jack pointed out, "You're not John Locke. You disrespect his memory by wearing his face." This was a fight to the death with only one side to root for, and not only was it shot brilliantly, but the stakes were real-- that cut on Jack's neck sure looked like it hurt.
Ben gets a happy ending, but a complicated one. I love knowing that Ben eventually gets rewarded for years of loyal service to the island with the chance to keep protecting it, and that he even recognizes enough of Jacob's flaws to suggest a better way to run things. But I love even more that Ben doesn't get the peaceful finale that everyone else does, and before he walks off into the light, he has some more thinking to do. Ben Linus was a wonderful character, but he did horrible, horrible things, and clearly hasn't forgotten them. I'm glad he gets more time to spend with Alex, and also time to contemplate things on that bench.
Jack's final realization in the church. For one horrible moment I thought Lost was turning out to be what they had always sworn it wasn't-- the island was purgatory, and they were all dead. Instead they pulled a switcheroo, pulling an entire season of an alternate universe that was basically an extended way for us to say goodbye to the characters, meeting them as their best selves but also reinforcing that the time they spent together-- the time we spent with them-- was what mattered most. We shared that revelation with Jack as his father explained it to him, and all around the country, viewers cried with Jack when we all understood had gathered to see it end.
The Worst Parts
The cork, the water, the red and gold lights--huh? It was great that Jacob's metaphor about the island being a cork was so damn literal-- there really was a cork, made of stone, that kept the island from self-destructing. But Jacob had told us that if the light went out, the Smoke Monster would escape, when what really happened was that he became fallible. And if sending the Man in Black down there turned him into the Smoke Monster, why did it just pop Jack back out for a peaceful death? The finale rightly avoided over-explaining mythology in favor of giving closure to the characters, but it made all of the discussion about light and dark, Jacob and his brother, even the entire Smoke Monster feel like poorly explained footnotes.
Christian Shephard explains all. Clearly someone needed to step behind the curtain and help Jack, and the audience, see the light about what the flash sideways all meant. But did it really have to be Christian? We thought we had left Jack's Bad Dad behind, but with just 5 minutes left to go, we sit through an entire lecture from him about what it all means. Why couldn't the job have gone to Desmond instead?
Richard has been trapped on the island for hundreds of years-- this should be a bigger deal. He was able to leave the island from time to time over the years, but Richard has been tormented by his island home for so long he was considering suicide recently, and now he gets to leave. Yeah, he looked awestruck as the plane took off, right alongside all the other 815 survivors. But we just got our first Richard flashback a few episodes ago-- the writers understand how much he matters. Couldn't we have gotten a few more beats of Richard processing how much this all means?
Walt, Michael, Mr. Eko, Ana Lucia and the other survivors are left out of the church reunion. Sure, it was probably a matter of negotiating actor contracts. But it's a bummer that, when it came time for the wide shot of the church, the crowd was so small. And what about Vincent?
Locke really is just dead. Fixing this would have required ditching the entire concept of the finale, which I loved overall, so I understand it was impossible. Still, it seems ridiculously cruel for John Locke's death to have happened the way it did, at the hands of a petty and jealous man who feared him, to be used as a puppet by a force of pure evil. I wanted a way for Locke, the real Locke, to meet the Island and embrace its power on his own terms. I wanted Locke to be the hero he always knew he could be. Instead, he became the show's most tragic figure by far-- and, through proxy, the final villain.
For our complete coverage of the Lost finale go here.