Hear Us Out

Hear Us Out: Lost Was Always Heading to That Finale, and It Was Great

A decade after its release, we look back at one of the most polarizing TV finales to prove why it's a fitting end to a groundbreaking series

by | May 22, 2020 | Comments

It’s been said that it’s all about the journey, not the destination — and that phrase is oftentimes used in conjunction with a lengthy discussion about the TV show Lost.

Lost was truly like nothing else on TV, but most of the conversation around the show centers solely on its final episode. Nowadays it’s generally accepted that the two-part final episode, unsubtly-titled “The End,” was divisive at best, but back when the finale aired on May 23, 2010, it earned mostly positive reviews, and was even nominated for an Emmy for both best directing and best writing.

On its 10th anniversary, we have to go back to the island and revisit all the reasons “The End” worked as an encapsulation of everything that made Lost a great series.


LOST cast

(Photo by Reisig & Taylor/© ABC/Courtesy: Everett Collection)

Though the grand mysteries involving magic corks and polar bears became the dominant narrative around Lost, what they say about the show being all about the characters remains true. Sure, we did get plenty of plot twists and surprises, but these revelations were always character-driven: from the show’s first flash-forward being revealed through a trauma-ridden and beard-having Jack, or Desmond’s time-traveling told as a love story between him and his constant, Penny. This continued all the way to the finale, which of course had the magical cork, and the flash-sideways being an allegory for the after-life, but both served to inform Jack’s journey of learning to let go. Letting go of his need to fix everything, letting go of his obsession to do everything himself and not accepting help, and letting go of his father.

This character-driven conclusion to the story was telegraphed to the audience for years. Showrunner Carton Cuse said in 2006, “You have to watch because you’re enjoying the journey, not because you are waiting for the endgame.” Lost always used its mystery as a way to dive into the characters’ psyche and advance their individual stories, not the other way around. There was never going to be a lengthy explanation about what everything meant, as showrunner and co-creator Damon Lindelof told The Verge in 2012, they were shooting for an ending that gave an explanation as to why the plane crash mattered to the characters and what they got out of it.

“The answer, as corny as it sounds, was the one that appealed to me the most: each other,” Lindelof said. “If they hadn’t spent all that time on the island, then they would never have been able to forgive themselves for their past sins and break through to some sort of level of self-awakening and forgiveness.”


Terry O'Quinn in LOST

(Photo by Mario Perez / © ABC / Courtesy: Everett Collection)

For all the times that Jack and Locke fought about science versus faith, neither able to fully convince the other, the Lost finale ultimately sided with faith being the answer, whatever form that takes. The questions regarding the origin of the polar bears or the electromagnetic properties of the island gave way to mythological tales of immortal 2,000-year-old entities and more abstract questions regarding whether there’s a purpose behind suffering and what suffering we must go through to achieve grace.

Indeed, the philosophical nature of the show has been there since the beginning. There are several characters named after known philosophers, and from early in the first season the characters discuss whether the island is purgatory and they’re being punished by some higher power. This idea of punishment and sin carried on all the way to “The End,” with the characters learning from their past sins and move on having become better people. Though it dabbled in big battles between good and evil with the fate of the world on the line, Cuse said in 2014 at PaleyFest that “Lost was metaphorically about lost people looking for meaning in their lives, so the ending had to be a spiritual one that explained these characters’ journey and destiny.”

This is why the flash-sideways are so meaningful for the show at large and especially the finale. As Jack gives his life to save both the island and his friends and the battle between good and evil comes to an end, the sideways characters remember their lives and achieve some kind of grace or bliss. They all needed each other to find themselves and some catharsis before moving on, living up to the title of the show itself: Lost.


LOST, Harold Perrineau, Malcolm David Kelley, 'Tabula Rasa', (season 1), 2004-2010. photo: Mario Perez/© ABC/Courtesy Everett Collection

(Photo by Mario Perez/© ABC/Courtesy Everett Collection)

While Jack fought to stop the Man in Black (who had taken Locke’s body) on the island, Desmond was busy gathering everyone in the sideways afterlife. Though not incredibly important to the “plot” this was a fantastic way of letting the audience say goodbye to characters they hadn’t seen in years.

Whether it’s Shannon reuniting with Sayid, Boone and Libby showing up one last time, Rose and Bernard revealing they’ve been living a nice and quiet life on the island, or Vincent the dog returning and lying next to a dying Jack, the flash-sideways allowed Lost to shine a light on side characters we’ve lost over the years for one last goodbye.


LOST, Matthew Fox

(Photo by Mario Perez / © ABC / Courtesy: Everett Collection)

The finale of Lost also makes it a point to revisit some of the show’s greatest hits to have the story come full circle and underscore the changes the characters have gone through. Sawyer calls Jack “doc” in the sideways universe, while leading Desmond down a cave to pull out the cork from the heart of the island, the evil version of Locke points out that it feels nostalgic to stare down a hole in the ground with Jack (a callback to the hatch from season 1). The Man in Black’s death is even shot to echo Jacob’s death from season 5.

Then there’s Jack’s death scene, which begins with him being stabbed in the opposite side of his abdomen as when he woke up after the crash in the pilot, before walking through the bamboo fields where Vincent the dog comes to greet him. The closing shot of the show, Jack watching the plane carrying his friends fly off as he closes his eye, the reverse of the opening shot of the show, is absolutely perfect.


Composer Michael Giacchino’s work on the show was one of Lost’s secret weapons. Each episode, Giacchino would write the show’s emotional, haunting, soaring music that accompanied the story for six seasons. In a move that was and remains rare on TV, Giacchino worked with a live orchestra instead of just with a synthesizer, which added to the gravitas and power of the show’s score. Cuse and Lindelof coined the term “The Giacchino” to signal the feelings they wanted to convey through music. As Cuse once told the LA Times, “We literally write Michael’s name into the script in various places where we want to convey a sense of emotion.”

Sawyer and Juliet’s reunion in the finale wouldn’t work half as well without Giacchino underscoring the emotion of the scene, nor would the scene where Jack’s father explains to him the nature of the sideways timeline, which becomes an instant tearjerker because of the score. If Lost is about the characters going on a journey, Giacchino’s music takes the audience on a similar emotional journey.

Lost is available to stream by subscription on Hulu and Amazon Prime Video (with ads), or rent or buy it at FandangoNOW, Vudu, and iTunes.

Lost (2004)

Synopsis: The survivors of Oceanic Flight 815 were 1,000 miles off course when they crashed on a lush, mysterious island. Each... [More]

Tag Cloud

slasher cartoon 24 frames Instagram Live nfl Cosplay superman Columbia Pictures mcc Brie Larson finale Academy Awards Comedy Central Epix international spider-man Lionsgate Alien true crime worst movies festival crime Paramount Plus japanese Marvel Studios BAFTA Martial Arts Action YA Winter TV Comic-Con@Home 2021 Hallmark scene in color TV christmas movies Writers Guild of America Superheroe Best Actor stand-up comedy remakes jurassic park prank Horror Cartoon Network science fiction Rocky disaster casting adventure suspense Trailer hidden camera Amazon Paramount Certified Fresh TNT quibi binge new york National Geographic RT History political drama Reality El Rey TCA live event lord of the rings what to watch Apple OWN reviews popular debate A24 Toys Emmys The Academy Western renewed TV shows action-comedy crossover Valentine's Day historical drama LGBTQ worst The Arrangement scorecard spain HBO Max australia harry potter 45 Infographic Interview strong female leads spanish language WGN Disney+ Disney Plus Podcast composers Black History Month gangster Vudu mob Comics on TV CNN comics Netflix Christmas movies feel good streaming streaming movies 72 Emmy Awards facebook dark TCA Winter 2020 all-time new zealand Spring TV justice league cars target 90s dogs Opinion foreign IFC Films tv talk royal family Countdown Chernobyl dc mutant cancelled summer TV preview theme song rotten award winner child's play Elton John Netflix Set visit 94th Oscars Shudder heist movie fast and furious crime thriller rotten movies we love Classic Film Disney Channel green book GLAAD scary Christmas Oscar telelvision GIFs batman cats halloween tv Lifetime Tarantino Turner Paramount Pictures basketball romantic comedy Holiday History blaxploitation Tumblr romance joker Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt SXSW Focus Features AMC Ovation comiccon Food Network Trophy Talk SundanceTV doctor who WarnerMedia 2019 high school DGA Pet Sematary Peacock Super Bowl Disney japan Apple TV+ Arrowverse trophy talk show toronto movies Cannes ABC Signature Amazon Prime docudrama zombie stoner Crackle TIFF Song of Ice and Fire Trivia MSNBC VOD video Pop blockbuster HBO zombies Rock sopranos Fargo MGM Prime Video Best and Worst comic book movies Hollywood Foreign Press Association a nightmare on elm street Mystery video on demand technology Lifetime Christmas movies psycho rt labs Sneak Peek south america FX Lucasfilm women Travel Channel President Fox Searchlight young adult free movies golden globes CMT Avengers NBC TV One elevated horror 71st Emmy Awards jamie lee curtis critics critic resources FX on Hulu Adult Swim kaiju game of thrones dceu Tomatazos football screenings book adaptation Sony Pictures Musicals monster movies Nickelodeon VICE PlayStation Shondaland IMDb TV fresh natural history Universal Pictures Awards Tour MCU Kids & Family VH1 Nominations CBS franchise spinoff 79th Golden Globes Awards Chilling Adventures of Sabrina 2021 police drama genre spy thriller BBC boxing comic book movie LGBT hispanic game show The Walt Disney Company rt labs critics edition docuseries Showtime asian-american sitcom Election Mary Tyler Moore BET Awards Pacific Islander Wes Anderson Fantasy broadcast Rom-Com Starz best Amazon Prime Video screen actors guild AMC Plus Best Director Emmy Nominations Country The Walking Dead versus miniseries TV Land Marathons new star wars movies Tubi Comedy Musical GoT 93rd Oscars live action ABC Family Crunchyroll Year in Review cinemax medical drama BBC America Grammys hollywood FXX politics obituary 2015 aliens Captain marvel Freeform anthology universal monsters TV movies Film Festival french thriller Summer dragons television Mindy Kaling Universal films CBS All Access mockumentary Bravo rt archives USA Network Apple TV Plus obi wan 20th Century Fox Fall TV Britbox king arthur nbcuniversal American Society of Cinematographers 2018 Creative Arts Emmys Ellie Kemper superhero Esquire HFPA 1990s directors New York Comic Con spider-verse chucky sports E! Television Academy San Diego Comic-Con DC Universe kong festivals king kong anime Syfy classics USA spanish Television Critics Association ratings Ghostbusters X-Men Baby Yoda Pride Month ghosts dramedy olympics ITV Hear Us Out golden globe awards laika sequel Turner Classic Movies Spectrum Originals Marvel Television social media E3 vs. Discovery Channel space Family dexter stop motion Holidays ViacomCBS archives RT21 BBC One The Witch Masterpiece 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards Premiere Dates diversity teaser Nat Geo Disney streaming service 2016 MTV indiana jones travel Tokyo Olympics zero dark thirty Mary poppins slashers See It Skip It Stephen King blockbusters Best Actress Biopics satire Hallmark Christmas movies PBS trailers based on movie comedies APB razzies 73rd Emmy Awards halloween Tags: Comedy rom-coms canceled TV shows children's TV wonder woman Exclusive Video hispanic heritage month CW Seed venice cancelled TV series Neflix period drama Logo Pirates die hard Drama cancelled television SXSW 2022 scary movies deadpool book canceled Polls and Games Endgame ID First Look biography know your critic parents indie Dark Horse Comics emmy awards Sci-Fi TCA Awards DC Comics black comedy Quiz Video Games war Schedule Rocketman NBA Anna Paquin crime drama Calendar nature TLC saw comic books Film Watching Series toy story Star Wars SDCC Oscars Sundance Photos Paramount Network james bond biopic series psychological thriller Heroines Disney Plus documentaries hist sequels Sundance Now cooking Awards PaleyFest ABC dreamworks 2020 transformers Character Guide sag awards name the review streamig documentary boxoffice Binge Guide Winners DC streaming service YouTube Red singing competition summer TV TV renewals 007 Reality Competition leaderboard The CW DirecTV Legendary Comic Book revenge 99% mission: impossible Broadway marvel cinematic universe richard e. Grant adaptation vampires First Reviews cancelled TV shows 2017 Funimation pirates of the caribbean aapi Box Office summer preview TBS OneApp Best Picture legend black concert Extras TCM serial killer unscripted NYCC HBO Go Star Trek news latino supernatural YouTube Women's History Month YouTube Premium TruTV comic cops Sundance TV adenture Fox News Spike Warner Bros. Thanksgiving Black Mirror robots 21st Century Fox animated Hulu marvel comics breaking bad italian werewolf cults movie IFC Animation The Purge TCA 2017 ESPN FOX discovery Pixar posters Pop TV Marvel witnail BET Image Comics Mary Poppins Returns Superheroes Amazon Studios Teen art house Red Carpet Mudbound independent Walt Disney Pictures godzilla reboot South by Southwest Film Festival twilight criterion kids Acorn TV 4/20 Music A&E