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The end of Lost in a paragraph?
May 25, 2010 1:31 AM   Subscribe

Could somebody summarise the end of Lost in a paragraph? I can't wade through the post on the green; it appears to be all reaction and not a lot of content. Assume the Wikipedia article doesn't do it for me. Take this summary of BSG (Spoiler!) as a benchmark:



Half the main characters were Cylons. We find out that this clash between man and machine and the ensuing voyage has happened again and again across the ages. BSG arrives at Earth in our prehistory. Starbuck turns out to be some sort of mysterious space angel. Head 6 and Head Gaius appear to be some higher form of supernatural being, possibly deities. All the events of the series appear to have been driven by them for some mysterious divine purpose. The Cylon-hybrid kid turns out to be mitochondrial Eve, the mother of what we know as humanity. Many viewers thought the ending was a deus ex machina cop-out.

Apologies if Lost is complicated enough for this not to be possible. Please don't take this post as some sort of disrespect for the show - I've enjoyed it when I watched it, and I will watch it all eventually.
posted by obiwanwasabi to Media & Arts (50 answers total) 31 users marked this as a favorite
 
I'll take a stab at this:

Jack makes Hurley the new Jacob, Ben stays on as his assistant. Jack kills Locke (the smoke monster) and then dies. Kate, Claire, Sawyer, Richard, Miles and the pilot repair the plane and get off the island. Rose and Bernard have built themselves a home on the island with Vincent (the dog) and have been keeping themselves out of trouble. It is implied that Desmond gets off the island but not shown. The island is real and everything that happened on it happened but really no more explanation than that is given.The flash-sideways reality turns out to actually be purgatory where they all meet up after they die so they can move on together (which is why there are inconsistencies in the alternate reality - Desmond being on the plane, Jack having a son with Juliet etc). Through various circumstances (usually by meeting someone they were in love with on the island) they all come to realise what has happened and gather together in a church where Christian Sheppard leads them into the light.
posted by missmagenta at 2:08 AM on May 25, 2010 [6 favorites]


I should also add that some people have disagreed with that ending and think that they all died in the plane crash although there are certain details in the last episode that I think contradict that explanation.
posted by missmagenta at 2:16 AM on May 25, 2010


They weren't dead all along. While they were on the island, that was their real life, so all of that really did happen. But they had been dead during the sideways flashes. The sideways flashes were kind of an afterlife for everybody. Since the time on the island had been the most important time in all of their lives, they weren't able to move on after their individual deaths until they were finally all together. This is what the sideways flashes provided: a way for them to find their way back together, so they could all finally move on to whatever is waiting for them. They did finally all meet up at the end of the episode in a church.
posted by essexjan at 3:31 AM on May 25, 2010


I don't know from your question how much of the series you've seen, so here's my best bird's-eye view. If you're familiar with most of the Season 6 plot, including the Jacob-centric backstory episode, just skip to the last section.

The Island
The Island is an axis mundi of fundamental power, old as the world, and, like most of life's mysteries, ambiguous and imperfectly understood. The well at its heart is the Source of all life, all value, perhaps the soul. Its vast, foundational energies make the Island a nexus of meaning, warping time, space, and probability. This accounts for the many coincidences and synchronicities that permeate the series.

Jacob and the Man in Black
For thousands of years, the Island has been watched over by a series of protectors, made immortal by its power until they choose to pass the baton to a successor. Jacob inherited the position long ago, but in a fit of anger threw his rebellious, doubting brother (the Man in Black) into the Source, fusing his brooding anger and resentment with the power of that place to form the Monster.

DHARMA and The Others
The Island has long been inhabited by a secretive group called The Others, hardscrabble mystics that venerate the Island. In the 1970s, a pseudoscientific outfit called the DHARMA Initiative arrives to explore the Island's mysteries. They build a hatch and tap into the electromagnetic forces surrounding the Source, but venture too far, leaving an unstable anamoly that must be safely discharged every 108 minutes. Soon after this violation The Others massacre the DHARMA folk and inhabit their village. Ben Linus is their modern-day leader, and has a psychopathic need for the Island -- and for power over it.

The Wager
Because the Man in Black is inextricably bound to the Island, he cannot leave as long as the Island exists. And because he is bound to the ancient rules of the Island, he cannot kill the protector Jacob. So he devises a plan. He develops an argument with Jacob on the nature of mankind, that we are essentially corrupt while Jacob believes we are essentially good. To prove the Monster wrong, Jacob manipulates the lives of many flawed individuals to bring them to the Island. He will select one of these Candidates to be his replacement. They crash because Desmond, shipwrecked on the Island and taught to maintain the DHARMA hatch by a lone survivor, fails to discharge the energy in time and it brings down Flight 815.

Most of the series
Once they arrive, we see the candidates and The Others clash, ally, kill, betray, love, and hopscotch through time as they use and abuse the Island's power for their own gain. A key struggle is between Jack, the rational skeptic, and Locke, the man of faith who believes the Island controls their destiny. Jack and a few others manage to escape the Island mid-series, but Locke's worldview, aided by the calculated off-Island manipulation of Ben, eats away at them all until they finally return, craving meaning.

The Bomb and the "sideways" world
Time travel shenanigans leave some of the cast trapped in the 1970s, when the Island is first being explored by the DHARMA Initiative. They get their hands on a nuke and detonate it, reasoning that if the hatch is never built, the energy will never be unleashed, and they will never crash. This seems to create two worlds: in the first, they not only never crash, but the Island never existed and Jacob's influence was never felt, so they lead radically different lives that we periodically "flash sideways" to. In the other world, they simply get booted back into the present.

The End
The Monster takes Ben, who has found himself dismissed by Jacob, and uses his anger and resentment to get him to kill the man. Jacob's ghost appears to the remaining survivors and Jack volunteers to take his place. Both sides converge on Desmond, whose immunity to the Source's electromagnetic power allows him to approach it. They agree to let him disturb the Source -- the Monster because he wants to destroy the Island and finally escape, Jack because he believes it will render the Monster mortal.

With the Source disturbed, the light is snuffed, its powers extinguished, and the Island begins to crumble, with unknown consequences for the world at large. Jack and the newly-mortal Monster face off. Jack is stabbed, the Monster is shot by Kate. Jack selects Hurley as his successor (with a repentant Ben as his second-in-command) then ventures to the Source to restore it. He does so, then stumbles into the jungle and dies. The surviving cast flies away on the plane they crash-landed on their mid-series return visit, while Hurley and Ben remain to protect the Island for many years.

All this time, the Desmond in the sideways world has been going around "waking up" the main characters and getting them to remember their Island existences. As Jack dies, we discover that this sideways world is not a parallel universe, but a form of purgatory, a timeless place he and the people he valued constructed after their respective deaths so they could (1) see what their lives could have been like had they never come together, and (2) find each other again so they could finally let go and move on. Their souls realize their true nature piecemeal, usually by contact with the one person they loved most. Once they all realize the truth and find each other, there is a joyful reunion in a pan-religious temple, and they pass on into blissful white light.

The final shot is of a dying Jack, lying in the jungle where he first awoke in the very first episode, and his eye closing, at peace.
posted by Rhaomi at 3:40 AM on May 25, 2010 [212 favorites]


Sorry - it's been over a a year so it didn't occur to me to flag a BSG spoiler. I've flagged the post; hopefully a mod will add a 'WARNING BSG SPOILER' bit to the front.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 3:43 AM on May 25, 2010


A year is well past any reasonable expectation of spoiler courtesy.
posted by DWRoelands at 4:27 AM on May 25, 2010 [7 favorites]


[I added a note on the outside that a BSG Spoiler is on the inside. I figure just a few words doesn't hurt as a courtesy to others.]
posted by vacapinta at 4:36 AM on May 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


In the parallel timeline, characters start (commercial) touching (commercial) other (commercial) characters (commercial) and start "remembering" things that occurred in the regular timeline, essentially "waking up". This makes them very happy.

Meanwhile, back on the island, Miles and Richard hook up with Pilot guy and decide to return the plane so they can all leave. Commercial. They tell everyone what they're doing, so if anyone wants to catch a ride, cool. Commercial. Desmond goes down into the energy source, since he's the only one immune to the energy. Commercial. He moves a rock from a hole. Commercial. The island starts shitting golden light, making the Man in Black, as John Locke, mortal and causing the island to begin to fall apart. Commercial. MiB has a boat and decides now would be a good time to get off the island. Commercial. Jack and the others follow. Commercial. Jack and Mib/Locke get into a fist fight on a cliff as the island continues falling apart (no one said they were smart). Commercial. Locke fatally stabs Jack, Kate shoots MiB/Locke and Jack pushes him off a cliff to finish him off. Commercial. Jack decides, since he's dying, to play hero and put the rock back on the hole, so he can save everyone. Commercial. Hurely and Ben decide to go help Jack. Commercial. Sawyer and Kate, the love of his life, decide to save themselves and make for the boat, then the plane. Commercial. Along the way they come across crazy Claire and convince her come with them off the island. Commercial. Jack, still dying, makes Hurely the island's protector, then moves the rock back over the hole. Commercial. The island calms down. Commercial. Hurely makes Ben his 2nd in command and they decide to be a different type of protector than Jacob. Commercial.

Back in parallel world, a lot but not all of the survivors meet up in a church. Commercial. Parallel Jack meets his dad, who tells him the parallel world is a place they "all created, so they'd remember and find each other when they died". Jack goes into the main church hall where the others are, they all sit down, Jack's day opens the door to the church and blinding white light pours in. Commercial.

Back on the island, Jack wakes up in the forest, wanders back to the beach where this all began and collapses. Vincent the dog shows up and licks his face, making Jack smile, then lays down beside him. Jack closes his eyes, The End. Quiet montage of the crash scene as the credits roll.

Some people like the finale's focus on the characters. Others are annoyed with the lack of answers. War ensues on forums across the internet.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:48 AM on May 25, 2010 [12 favorites]


You ask for a paragraph and you get an essay heh ;)

I think the ending of lost has been pretty much summed up several times over now so I hope you'll excuse the slight derail... but did it really have that many commercials? I was watching the Sky broadcast and we had regular ad breaks but in between those, every 10 minutes or so it would flash up 'You are watching Lost live from the US' or something along those lines, it only stayed up for a few seconds - were you guys getting really short commercials in those slots?
posted by missmagenta at 5:11 AM on May 25, 2010


I can sum it up in one sentence:
As it turns out, the entire show has been a farce, and everyone on the show has been dead since the plane crash.
posted by Grither at 5:32 AM on May 25, 2010


missmagenta: were you guys getting really short commercials in those slots?

Yes. It was unbelievably annoying.
posted by mkultra at 5:32 AM on May 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Grither: I can sum it up in one sentence:
As it turns out, the entire show has been a farce, and everyone on the show has been dead since the plane crash.


You could do that, but you'd be wrong.
posted by mkultra at 5:32 AM on May 25, 2010 [29 favorites]


There's a really good one-paragraph explanation in this comment on the Blue.
posted by AzraelBrown at 5:34 AM on May 25, 2010


'You are watching Lost live from the US' or something along those lines, it only stayed up for a few seconds - were you guys getting really short commercials in those slots?

No, there were a lot of commercials but no 10 second ones. My guess is that Sky was reducing the number of commercial breaks and put up the screen in the ones they cut out.
posted by smackfu at 5:47 AM on May 25, 2010


Apparently, Lost broadcast a show that was eleven minutes longer than a standard episode in a two-hour slot, so yeah... lotta commercials.
posted by DarlingBri at 6:06 AM on May 25, 2010


Jack and Kate and Desmond save the island from Smoke-Monster Locke. All the alternate timeline stuff that you thought was from the bomb wasn't. Most of the characters that matter start meeting each other and remembering their island-lives, and then they all meet at a church. At the church, Jack's dead dad appears and reveals that it's not an alternate timeline, it's heaven's foyer or some crap like that, and that they all came there after they died to move on to Level 2 Heaven together. There's lots of fan-service hugging and kissing. They actually open the doors and walk into the light.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:28 AM on May 25, 2010


Minor nit: They don't walk into the light, everyone was seated except for Christian SHEPARD, who opened the church doors, allowing the white light in.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:54 AM on May 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think it's important to say (and I'm brainstorming what will probably be a superlong blog post about this, so I'll keep it brief):

The show's main theme is that, when choosing between rational skepticism and faith, you should choose faith. Remember that early in the series, Jack and John Locke were at odds largely because Locke believed the island had some sort of mystical purpose for him, and Jack disagreed. That Locke was right is stated directly during the last episode. Jack tells the evil monster who is inhabiting John's body: "Locke was right about pretty much everything, and you disrespect his memory by wearing his face." A few episodes ago, a character was dissuaded from asking questions about the island's nature at all when he was told: "Every question I answer will simply lead to another question." What's important, according to the show's philosophy, are the people around you and the time you spend with them. In the last ten minutes of the show, Christian tells his son this: "The most important part of your life was the time that you spent with these people. That’s why all of you are here."

(This is hinted in other ways, too; for example, in "Purgatory," neurotic scientist Daniel Faraday is a happy musician who doesn't understand quantum physics at all.)

The producers have always said the show was about the characters, not the mysteries. In light of this, I suspect these messages were as much aimed at the audience as the characters. Your mileage may vary, though, as to whether you find this satisfying as both a theme and a resolution.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:14 AM on May 25, 2010 [6 favorites]


Wasn't there an episode in the last season where Ben is at home caring for his elderly father, and mentions having gone to the island? I didn't get from season six that the island didn't exist in the flash sideways.
posted by emelenjr at 7:18 AM on May 25, 2010


Ah. Here we go.
posted by emelenjr at 7:24 AM on May 25, 2010


Minor nit: They don't walk into the light, everyone was seated except for Christian SHEPARD

I deleted the recording but I thought they were all standing - although, like you, I don't think they actually were shown going into the light - it was merely implied.
posted by missmagenta at 7:28 AM on May 25, 2010


In the parallel timeline, characters start (commercial) touching (commercial) other (commercial) characters (commercial) and start "remembering" things that occurred in the regular timeline, essentially "waking up". This makes them very happy.

[etc.]


Actually, according to Hulu, the finale was not padded with commercials. It was 105 minutes long, or 42 minutes per hour times 2.5 hours, and 42 minutes is the normal amount of show in an hour-long episode.
posted by Tin Man at 7:32 AM on May 25, 2010 [1 favorite]



I can sum it up in one sentence:
As it turns out, the entire show has been a farce, and everyone on the show has been dead since the plane crash.


This is entirely wrong.
posted by InsanePenguin at 7:36 AM on May 25, 2010 [4 favorites]


Wasn't there an episode in the last season where Ben is at home caring for his elderly father, and mentions having gone to the island? I didn't get from season six that the island didn't exist in the flash sideways.

In the first episode of Season 6 we see the Island underwater, and are led to believe that it sank due to the bomb going off in the 70s. Even after learning that the Sidewaysverse was not an alternate reality created by the bomb, there's no reason to assume that this constructed afterlife wasn't supposed to be a world in which that was the case. That is to say, even if the main cast never went to the island in this reality/afterlife, Ben and his father could very well have still been there in the 1970s and left before it sank. All conjecture of course.
posted by Robot Johnny at 7:41 AM on May 25, 2010


Wasn't there an episode in the last season where Ben is at home caring for his elderly father, and mentions having gone to the island? I didn't get from season six that the island didn't exist in the flash sideways.

I don't think it was ever implied/said that the island didn't exist in the flash sideways. But the only character who would know about it would be Ben, since he went there before the timelines diverged. Originally we were supposed to believe that the flash sideways was an alternate reality created by exploding the nuclear bomb where the hatch would be in the future - how their lives would have turned out if the plane hadn't crashed.

Actually, according to Hulu, the finale was not padded with commercials. It was 105 minutes long, or 42 minutes per hour times 2.5 hours, and 42 minutes is the normal amount of show in an hour-long episode.

Was the broadcast actually 2.5 hours in the US? My (UK) recording went on for 2.5 hours but the show actually finished 15 minutes before that and they put in some behind the scenes filler at the end.
posted by missmagenta at 7:43 AM on May 25, 2010


Here in the US, it was 2.5 hours.
posted by Tin Man at 7:50 AM on May 25, 2010


Summarizers, there was one thing I couldn't piece together (hopefully this is not too much of a threadjack):

How does Jack get from dying in the cave to dying on a rock in a stream? Are we to believe he climbed up, then passed out, then woke up again? Was he taken up there somehow?
posted by condour75 at 8:26 AM on May 25, 2010


A wizard did it.
posted by banshee at 8:36 AM on May 25, 2010 [4 favorites]


Same way smoke monster ended up in that same spot after Jacob tossed him through. I'm assuming the water flowing through the light continued on and flowed him down another fall to that little pool he ended up in. My question is how did Ben get out from under that tree so fast??
posted by Grither at 8:40 AM on May 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Same way smoke monster ended up in that same spot after Jacob tossed him through
Didn't the smoke monster get out by being a smoke monster. IIRC after Jacob tossed him down there, the smoke monster comes billowing out of the cave... or are you saying that Jack became the smoke monster? (fwiw, I thought he should since he died in a similar way to the man in black but since the writers didn't explain the reason for or mechanics of the smoke monster's creation its hard to say for certain that the same would happen to Jack)
posted by missmagenta at 8:51 AM on May 25, 2010




If I can piggyback on this a little bit: Istopped watching bacl in season 4. Was the whole "Walt is special" thing ever tied up? Why was Walt special?
posted by 256 at 9:17 AM on May 25, 2010


If I can piggyback on this a little bit: Istopped watching bacl in season 4. Was the whole "Walt is special" thing ever tied up? Why was Walt special?

Stop looking for answers. They're not the point.

(In other words, no, it's never tied up, and we don't know why he was special.)
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:22 AM on May 25, 2010


If I can piggyback on this a little bit: Istopped watching bacl in season 4. Was the whole "Walt is special" thing ever tied up? Why was Walt special?

Not that I recall, he rarely appears after he leaves the island, for obvious reasons (the first 3 series take place over about 3 months but filming took 3 years, the actor was 11 or 12 when the filming started and iirc, the character was supposed to be 10, 3 years later the character should still be 10 or 11 while the actor would be 13 or 14. He made another appearance when the characters were supposed to be 3 years in the future but no mention was made of his specialness that I can recall
posted by missmagenta at 9:26 AM on May 25, 2010


"Didn't the smoke monster get out by being a smoke monster. IIRC after Jacob tossed him down there, the smoke monster comes billowing out of the cave... or are you saying that Jack became the smoke monster?"

The smoke monster did but the body of Jacob's brother also ended up in the river. If you recall he buried him and his fake-mother in the caves which made them Adam and Eve.

The smoke monster used the form of Man-In-Black but he was really a whole separate thing with Man-In-Black's memories just like he wasn't really Locke but a whole separate thing with Locke's memories.
posted by Bonzai at 9:44 AM on May 25, 2010


The smoke monster did but the body of Jacob's brother also ended up in the river. If you recall he buried him and his fake-mother in the caves which made them Adam and Eve.

oh yeah... so whose was the skeleton they found when they went down the well? I thought that was the Man in Black, but I forgot that he was 'adam'
posted by missmagenta at 9:56 AM on May 25, 2010


Someone posted this on reddit, and it summed it up perfectly for me. Not one paragraph, but this was the best summary I found.



LOST explanation, chronologically:

The island has been there since the beginning. It is neither fully hell, heaven, purgatory, or earth. It is a 5th kind of place, like an intersection of all these. It is a "cork" which prevents the evil (hell) from descending upon the earth.

There needs to be a protector, Jacob wasn't the first. But after Jacob is the protector, he protects the cave which has the light. The light is a part of heaven that shines through.

Jacob kills and tosses MIB into the cave, where MIB is reincarnated in evil, full of greed. He wants to kill Jacob, but can't due to "rules" (by god) protecting the protector of the island.

Hundreds of years later Jack etc. crash on the island, because Jacob brings them there. He wants to have candidates to succeed him if MIB does kill him. Jacob is allowed to make his own rules too, and one is that people he brings can't leave the island. Jack etc. are still alive, not dead, since this is a new kind of place not talked about in other stories.

Jack etc try and try to get off, and a part of the group does leave. But the rules are the rules, and they eventually come back (seemingly of their own free will). After they come back MIB really starts interacting with the Candidates. As per the rules, a candidate is allowed to kill the protector. So, MIB manipulates ben and kills Jacob.

Jacob hangs around as a ghost until a new protector is selected, and Jack is selected to be that protector.

Jack and Locke put Desmond in the cave. Desmond thinks the rock ("cork") he is removing reveals heaven, but instead it reveals a fiery red hell ("the red wine"). It is only in the absence of hell, that heaven shows itself as light. Jack and Locke become regular folks while hell is about to descend upon earth (or at least the island), and Jack kills Locke and Locke injures Jack.

Jack gives the protector power to Hurley, who makes Ben his Richard, and goes in the cave to plug up the hole. After Jack puts the cork back on the bottle, Heaven shines again and Jack dies a little later.

Kate, Sawyer, Lapidus, and Miles make it off the island and die of old age or other circumstances. Hurley and Ben die when they get succeeded by someone else.

But, they all meet in purgatory at the same time, since there is no sense of time here. They meet here and they all move on to Heaven, except notably, Ben, who stays behind, because he isn't ready yet.
posted by Sufi at 10:23 AM on May 25, 2010 [5 favorites]


so whose was the skeleton they found when they went down the well

There were several skeletons in the cave, if I remember correctly. I think it was meant to imply that people have tried this before, but Desmond is special, so he'll make it.
posted by inigo2 at 10:28 AM on May 25, 2010


Was it ever explained how the violent character named Jacob who lived in the cabin became the Jacob we meet in the last season? Looking back on those episodes where people visited "Jacob" in the cabin, it seems like that was actually Jacob's brother.
posted by emelenjr at 10:32 AM on May 25, 2010


Kate, Sawyer, Lapidus, and Miles make it off the island and die of old age or other circumstances. Hurley and Ben die when they get succeeded by someone else.
But, they all meet in purgatory at the same time, since there is no sense of time here. They meet here and they all move on to Heaven, except notably, Ben, who stays behind, because he isn't ready yet.


My impression was that Ben wasn't ready to go because Hurley had died but he (Ben) had not yet, and was still on the island acting as protector. He was in the flash sideways because he was significant to those people, but he never entered the church.
posted by komara at 11:35 AM on May 25, 2010


emelenjr: Was it ever explained how the violent character named Jacob who lived in the cabin became the Jacob we meet in the last season? Looking back on those episodes where people visited "Jacob" in the cabin, it seems like that was actually Jacob's brother.

It's implied that the Others (specifically, Ben) were being directed by the MiB, who told them he was Jacob. Remember, Ben never saw Jacob and was pretty miffed when he found out other people had.
posted by mkultra at 12:07 PM on May 25, 2010 [3 favorites]




But, they all meet in purgatory at the same time, since there is no sense of time here. They meet here and they all move on to Heaven, except notably, Ben, who stays behind, because he isn't ready yet.

Maybe Ben stays behind because he was a vicious killer. Remember when they were returning to the island on the plane, and Jack or somebody asks him, "What about all these other people? What happens to them if we crash?" and Ben's response is, "Who cares?"

I sort of thought that moment was an indictment of us as viewers, like the final episode of Seinfeld. I know I laughed every time someone was blown up by that plot-device dynamite, or when Ben had the snot beaten out of him.

I also found it weird that during the Kimmel afterparty, Michael Emerson was sort of avoided by the different cast members as they joined the group, and at the end of the show he had disappeared.
posted by mecran01 at 9:34 PM on May 25, 2010


Just to make sure, was I the only one constantly thinking of the First Amalgamated Church through the entire end of the finale?
posted by cthuljew at 12:32 AM on May 26, 2010


Thanks all - that was awesome. I didn't dare ask for more than a paragraph, and I'm grateful for your generosity.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 1:13 AM on May 26, 2010


The smoke monster used the form of Man-In-Black ...

Really? I didn't see Johnny Cash anywhere!

On another note, as Michael Emerson pointed out, his is "the most beaten character in TV history".
posted by bwg at 1:49 AM on May 26, 2010


My impression was that Ben wasn't ready to go because Hurley had died but he (Ben) had not yet, and was still on the island acting as protector. He was in the flash sideways because he was significant to those people, but he never entered the church.

I agree with the first notion that Ben just felt he didn't deserve to be in there yet. Christian says "everyone dies sometime," so in the last scene, everyone already has, even Ben. So Christian, Locke, Boone, Shannon, Charlie, and Libby died before Jack did (in the "original" island timeline) and were there in the church, and everyone else died afterwards and were there also.

Michael was stuck on the island when we last see him talking to Hurley, but it seems like Ben would've been allowed in to the church, so I wonder if Michael could've too, who probably rates lower than Ben on the atrocities-committed list.
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 3:27 AM on May 26, 2010


Take a look at this video for a pretty decent 3-minute explanation.
posted by sciencemandan at 5:51 AM on May 26, 2010


The more I think about it, the more I'm sure the flash sideways is actually an invention of Keamy's eggs.
posted by condour75 at 8:12 AM on May 26, 2010


Very good explanation Rhaomi, but you got a couple of things wrong. Here's the comment again, but with corrected and/or new bits in bold+italics, with supporting references where I feel it appropriate.

The Island

The Island is an axis mundi of fundamental power, old as the world, and, like most of life's mysteries, ambiguous and imperfectly understood. The well at its heart is the Source of all life, all value, perhaps the soul. Its vast, foundational energies make the Island a nexus of meaning, warping time, space, and probability. This accounts for the many coincidences and synchronicities that permeate the series.

Jacob and the Man in Black

For thousands of years, the Island has been watched over by a series of protectors, made virtually immortal by its power until they choose to pass the baton to a successor. It is important to say that they are not truly immortal because just as we saw MiB kill his foster-mother (a Protector) and Ben kill Jacob, it is obvious that they can be killed. But how they can be killed seems to depend on a set of undefined (at least to the viewers) rules that the current Protector imposes. Jacob's foster mother made a rule which said that Jacob and MiB could not kill one another, hence MiB had to get Ben to kill Jacob. Similarly, when Hurley took over the role, Ben said Hurley could make his own rules, and do things differently.

The Smoke Monster

When Jacob inherited the position of Protector around 2000 years ago, in a fit of anger he threw his rebellious, doubting brother (the Man in Black) into the Source. Whether or not this fused "his brooding anger and resentment with the power of that place to form the Monster" is not as clear as was suggested and indeed, the exact reason behind why the Smoke Monster was born is left for the viewer to decide. My personal theory is that the Smoke Monster already existed down in the cave, but the body of Jacob's brother flowing down into the cave resulted in the Monster being freed somehow. This is based on the following facts;
1) When Mother is asked what would happen should Jacob or his brother go into the cave, Mother says that they would be "worse than dead."
2) After we see Smokey exit the cave, Jacob later finds his dead brothers body washed up elsewhere on the island. As with Smokey taking Locke's form, this seems to suggest that the Monster takes the form of the dead. It also seems to take it's memories too, as evidenced by Smokey speaking about things Locke experienced and felt ("the ground beneath my feet"), that Eko's brother Yemi experienced and felt Christian (Jack's dad) experienced and felt.
3) Jacob's metaphor that the Island is a bottle designed to trap evil (Smokey) there suggests that this is virtually the Island's primary purpose and this in turn suggests that Smokey was there long before Jacob and his brother, and was probably trapped down in the cave for as long as the Island existed.


DHARMA and The Others

The Island has long been inhabited by a secretive group who the Survivors of Flight 815 called The Others, hardscrabble mystics that venerate the Island. In the 1970s, a pseudoscientific outfit called the DHARMA Initiative arrives after being called by Jacob in an attempt to kill the Smoke Monster, who he accidentally unleashed thousands of years ago. DHARMA proceeds to explore the Island's mysteries. They build a hatch and tap into the electromagnetic forces surrounding the Source, but venture too far, leaving an unstable anamoly that must be safely discharged every 108 minutes.

During this time on the Island (the 70s), Ben Linus, an apparently timid and otherwise kind child, is shot by a time-travelling Sayid who was determined to kill Ben before he could become the evil adult that he knew from 2004. Kate, having heard that The Others could save him, has The Others dunk young Ben into a pool of water that flows from The Source. What is unknown to The Others is that the water has been tained by The Smoke Monster, which makes Ben (and later Sayid) evil. Ben, now ostensibly working for Smokey, manipulates his way to become leader of The Others by telling Richard Alpert (Jacob's ambassador) that Jacob chose him to be their leader and that Jacob will only speak to people who he summons (thus stopping Richard from confirming this fact).

Eventually Ben convinces The Others to massacre the DHARMA folk and thus Jacob's latest attempt to kill Smokey is eliminated.


The Wager

Because the Man in Black is inextricably bound to the Island, he cannot leave as long as the Island exists. And because he is bound to the ancient rules of the Island, he cannot kill the protector Jacob. So he devises a plan. He develops an argument with Jacob on the nature of mankind, that we are essentially corrupt while Jacob believes we are essentially good. To prove the Monster wrong, Jacob manipulates the lives of many flawed individuals to bring them to the Island. He will select one of these Candidates to be his replacement. Each candidate on Jacob's list has a number... these are The Numbers that pop up throughout the series. They crash because Desmond, shipwrecked on the Island and taught to maintain the DHARMA hatch by a lone survivor, fails to discharge the energy in time and it brings down Flight 815.

Most of the series

Once they arrive, we see the candidates clash, ally, kill, betray, love, and hopscotch through time as they try to leave the Island while The Others, under the leadership of Ben, use and abuse the Island's power for their own gain. A key struggle is between Jack, the rational skeptic, and Locke, the man of faith who believes the Island controls their destiny. Jack and a few others manage to escape the Island mid-series. Jack returns because he realises his life is meaningless off the island, stemming from a sense that Locke was right, and also likely because of the subconcious knowing that he has a higher purpose, as a Protector of the Island, one that he (at that time) would refuse to accept. Others also return for other reasons, such as Kate, who returns to reunite Claire with her baby, and Hurley, who dislikes being back in the Crazy House talking to Dead People.


The Bomb and the "sideways" world

Time travel shenanigans leave some of the cast trapped in the 1970s, when the Island is first being explored by the DHARMA Initiative. They get their hands on a nuke and detonate it, reasoning that if the hatch is never built, the energy will never be unleashed, and they will never crash. This seems to create two worlds: in the first, they not only never crash, but the Island never existed and Jacob's influence was never felt, so they lead radically different lives that we periodically "flash sideways" to.

The End

The Monster takes Ben, who has found himself dismissed by Jacob, and uses his anger and resentment to get him to kill the man. Jacob's ghost appears to the remaining survivors and Jack volunteers to take his place, becoming virtually immortal, as Jacob had been. Both sides converge on Desmond, whose immunity to the Source's electromagnetic power allows him to approach it. They agree to let him disturb the Source -- the Monster because he wants to destroy the Island and finally escape, Jack because he believes it will render the Monster mortal.

With the Source disturbed, the light is snuffed, the Volcano that exists under the Island begins to rumble and the Island begins to crumble, with unknown consequences for the world at large. With the light snuffed, Jack is no longer immortal and The Smoke Monster seems to be mortal also and is stuck in the form of Locke. Jack is stabbed, the Monster is shot by Kate. Jack selects Hurley as his successor (with a repentant Ben as his second-in-command) then ventures to the Source to restore it. He does so, then stumbles into the jungle and dies. The surviving cast flies away on the plane they crash-landed on their mid-series return visit, while Hurley and Ben remain to protect the Island for many years, perhaps centuries.

All this time, the Desmond in the sideways world has been going around "waking up" the main characters and getting them to remember their Island existences. As Jack dies, we discover that this sideways world is not a parallel universe, but a form of purgatory, a timeless place he and the people he valued constructed after their respective deaths so they could (1) see what their lives could have been like had they never come together, and (2) find each other again so they could finally let go and move on. Their souls realize their true nature piecemeal, usually by contact with the one person they loved most. Once they all realize the truth and find each other, there is a joyful reunion in a pan-religious temple, and they pass on into blissful white light.

The final shot is of a dying Jack, lying in the jungle where he first awoke in the very first episode, and his eye closing, at peace.

posted by Effigy2000 at 10:59 PM on May 31, 2010 [2 favorites]


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