Wow. Just ... oof. The series finale of Lost left me emotionally drained, and with 14 pages of notes, so I'm giving my initial thoughts in bulleted, somewhat coherent, form:
• With most of the remaining mythology unpacked, to mixed results, over the past handful of episodes, the writers wisely focused here on the characters, resolving some key arcs that began in some cases six years ago.
• Those tuning in to learn the Secret of the Island were undoubtedly disappointed. The finale may have offered a few answers -- if only a few -- but in the end it raised even more questions. I'm fine with that. I never kept a tally of the show's unsolved mysteries, and I never expected the finale to deliver the solutions in a nice, neat bow. Lost ended as it began ... literally.
• Of course, at this very moment at a Lost viewing party, someone is jumping up and down, shouting: "See? I told you they were all dead!"
• Longtime fans were rewarded with one incredible character moment after another. "The End" was both a farewell and a homecoming, allowing us to see faces we haven't encountered in a long while, even if it was only long enough to say goodbye. I was shocked to realize I was happy to see Shannon, whom I never liked.
• I teared up several times throughout the episode, and very nearly cried outright in the closing moments.
• My lord, how many commercials were there?
• As nice as it was to see that Richard Alpert hadn't been killed by the smoke monster and Lapidus hadn't died on the submarine -- we didn't really think they were gone, did we? -- it felt like a bit of a cheat to see them both alive. Of course, Frank still had an important part to play; there was a plane to fly.
• We got the answer to at least one persistent question: "Where are Rose, Bernard and Vincent?" Rose just wasn't sure when they were.
• The finale, if not the entire series, was about the redemption of Jack Shephard. I've mocked him endlessly for his self-absorption and his crying and his ability to screw up everything, but here he was the hero, sacrificing himself for the Island and for his friends. This ending has me reevaluating Jack, and feeling a little bad for thinking so poorly of him.
• But Jack wasn't the only one who was redeemed in the end. The final scenes between Ben and Locke and Ben and Hurley outside the church were unbelievably moving.
Ben: "I'm very sorry for what I did to you, John. I was selfish and jealous. I wanted everything that you had."
Locke: "What did I have?"
Ben: "You were special, John, and I ... wasn't."
Locke: "If it helps, I forgive you."
• As anticipated, much of the action on the Island centered on the long-building battle between Jack and Locke, or rather between Jack as the new guardian of the Island and the Man in Black inhabiting Locke's body. I just didn't expect the fight to be so physical and so brutal. The shot of Jack and Locke charging at each other on the cliff as the storm raged around them was just amazing. The ensuing fight, which left Jack mortally wounded and Locke dead on the rocks below, was somewhat shocking.
• I loved seeing Hurley in the flash sideways as the man with all the answers, rather than the guy with all the questions, as he brought together Sayid and Shannon, and delivered a tranquilized Charlie to the benefit concert. (As an aside: I never bought the Sayid-Shannon relationship, and I still don't.)
• The idea of Hurley as the Island's guardian and a grateful Ben as his assistant/advisor pleases me to no end.
Hurley: "You were a real good No. 2"
Ben: "And you were a great No. 1, Hugo."
• So ... the ending. I'm still processing it, but it's clear that they're all dead -- "Everyone dies sometime, kiddo," Jack's father tells him -- with Eloise Hawking's church serving a gathering place or clearing house. "There is no now here," Christian Shephard says. "This is a place you all made together so you could find one another." So the flash sideways was some kind of purgatory where all, or most, of them led existences somewhat different from their earlier lives. (Michael, Walt, Daniel and Miles, for instance, don't appear in the church. And Ben tells Hurley that he'll remain outside.) It was only when they came in contact with each other that they remembered their time on the Island.
But when did Jack die? Hell, when did any of them die? It's complicated, naturally. If, as Christian says, there is no "now," then, say, Kate could've died years after leaving the Island but still interact in the flash sideways and in the church with Jack, who (presumably) passed away as shown, with Vincent at his side. Maybe? I don't know, I'm still digesting.
• Is it weird that despite the warm, fuzzy feeling of seeing so many beloved characters together -- I almost wrote "alive" -- in the church, I was upset that the whole purgatory-flash sideways thing meant that Jack's son David never existed? Hearing Locke say, "You don't have a son, Jack," was a punch in the gut.
Hopefully, I'll have more after I've slept on things ...