What Lost's Ending Really Means, According To One Star

lost finale jack kate

Many TV shows have seen audience reactions change in the time between the series premiere and the series finale, but few achieved the critical overhaul that Lost did during a final season that capped off with one of the most discussed and ill-received finales of all time, with many fans lamenting the ambiguous and hard to understand conclusion. Though it's been some years since Lost took its final time-jump, the subject is still a popular one, and former cast member Michael Emerson has shared his own brainy take on the show's religion-tinged resolution.

The one thing I'm sure of on the show is that everything you saw happen on the island really happened. So let's call that the first five seasons. All of that is real. The ending is way in the future; years, centuries, millennia have passed. We're in an anti-chamber to the hereafter, to eternity, if you will. All the characters on the show have come here to celebrate the end of life, and they're all gonna pass through to a happy afterlife. Just as in a Shakespeare play, everybody goes two by two. It's couples. That's because, I think, by the rules of Lost, you can only pass into 'heaven,' if you want to call it that, with a mirror redeemer. With someone who has loved you without reservation.

I don't have any concrete numbers on this, but I can't imagine that many explanations for TV shows involve the words "anti-chamber" or "mirror redeemer." (Especially not Josh Holloway's explanations for the episode.) Such is the complicated set-up of Lost. As the often villainous but occasionally virtuous Ben Linus, Michael Emerson was more in tune with the dark side of the Island and its various machinations and offshoots, which offered him a different ending than everyone else, though not necessarily a better or more satisfying one.

Michael Emerson's theories on Lost's ending came from a video taken at this year's Walker Stalker Convention in Atlanta, where the actor joined the usual lineup of stars from The Walking Dead, a show that has had its own share of viewer backlashes. And while his explanation isn't a game-changer that will win everyone over, he adds some further abstraction to the events of the flash-sideways that definitely helps. Given how TV pacing works, the episode wasn't really able to convey a sense that thousands of years had passed by on Earthly time between Jack's on-land death and his arrival at the church, with everyone inside existing independently from universal dimensions like time and space. Especially with all the stories overlapping as the episode goes on.

I mean, really, considering the plethora of weird and implausible duties these people did on the Island, I don't see why it took millennia for them all to bring the church into existence as a meeting place where they can "let go." I'm pretty sure John Locke and Hurley could have tackled that project during a boring day in the Hatch. It's possible there are things that exist outside logic involved.

lost finale ben linus

Michael Emerson, whose most recent series Person of Interest was also a fan-favorite that inspired rampant speculation, thankfully also shed some light on why he thinks Ben Linus sat in wait outside of the church, rather than joining everyone inside, and it all came down to being coupled with a loved one.

Everybody had that, I think, except for Benjamin Linus. That's why he can't go. That's why he has to wait. He needs to find his mirror redeemer.

Poor evil and unloved Ben Linus, who hopefully wasn't somehow sitting outside that church as the centuries ticked by, since it's hard to find a mirror redeemer when you're planted in a courtyard. While Michael Emerson's explanation doesn't completely diffuse the religious aspects of the ending that the show's sci-fi fanbase decried, it extends the possibility that the passengers of Oceanic flight 815 are tied together by a connecting force that transcends religions and beliefs, making their posthumous experience one that only the Island's visitors receive.

You won't be able to catch new episodes of Lost at any point - at least assuming it doesn't get a reboot or revival of some form - but you can relive all six existing seasons on Netflix. And to see what actually is coming to the small screen, check out our fall TV schedule.

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.