Spoiler Alert: If you have not seen the Lost finale and ever intend to, you probably don’t want to read this.
I was not sure how I felt about the Lost finale immediately after it aired. I was not sure how I felt about it this morning. Yet after hearing a lot of negative reaction and differing interpretations from friends and online theorists, I decided I like it a lot more now. At first I thought they gave us a simple answer to a complex question, but I now I think they gave us a complicated answer to a very simple statement: eventually everybody dies.
Let’s start with “eventually”. A lot of people now believe that the last scene confirms that the passengers of Oceanic 815 slammed into an island in the Pacific Ocean on September 22, 2004. That’s just not true though. Christian Shepherd tells Jack “your time on the was the most important time in your life.” While you could interpret the afterlife as part of Jack’s life (since Christian also points out that even after death they are very real), I don’t think that is what he meant. Jack Shepherd died in 2007 after restoring order to the island, collapsing in the bamboo he regained consciousness in 3 years earlier.
We’re left to believe that the “flash-sideways” world we’ve seen throughout season 6 is not part of the real world and instead part of the afterlife. Being the afterlife, its devoid of time or space so characters who live many years after Jack appear. In some ways it make sense – in the moments between life and death, the characters live out their deepest desires. Jack and Juliet become parents, Saiyd and Sawyer become heroes, and Locke and Ben get to know their fathers. In one sense they can’t move on because they need to realize these dreams and although they can’t move on because subconsciously they are searching for their friends on the island. Once they realized their friends are safe and among them again, their souls can move on together.
Something about this seems off to me. The fact that Christian Shepherd spelled it out so clearly, makes me suspicious. Nothing on Lost is ever clear, so why would this be any clearer? I can’t say for sure what the answer is though. I have a couple of thoughts. One thing that seems really interesting to me is that going from outside the church to inside the church, Kate is obviously dressed differently. In fact it seems like a number of them are dressed different. I guess once you realize you’re dead and in the afterlife, you can dress yourself however you want. It just seems like an odd detail to throw in there.
It got me thinking, what if it took Jack a long time to accept his death. Something about the last scenes gave me that idea, that they didn’t walk into a church and walk out dead. My thought is maybe reincarnation is a part of this story. Maybe the flash sideways was a life for these souls and only after they have reconnected have they achieved enough karma to move on and break the cycle of death and rebirth. As Jacob says, it only ends once and it seems in this life these souls have achieved enough grace to move into the next realm. So all these people did live together for a time in Los Angeles, became aware of their existence on the island, lived together for a while and finally reunite in death. In this scenario Jack doesn’t follow Kate into the church immediately, he might not accept death for many years later. It doesn’t change the final ending, but it does leave an opening for a lot more interpretation than half a season of life after death.
I think its great that everyone is interpreting things differently. My one friend is an atheist who thinks it was all a cheap plug for religion, where I have faith and think there’s more to the ending than they all go to Heaven. I think I want to go back and rewatch the series looking for clues about the show’s true ending. Someone posted this clip from an earlier season that just made my head spin. I guess I’m happy that I know that ultimately the characters I grew so fond of found peace in their life and death. Looking back it wouldn’t be Lost if it did not end with a few mysteries.