As we celebrate the 10-year anniversary of Lost, we remember the controversial series finale that people still argue about today. There are 4,938 questions showrunners Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse and the writing staff brilliantly left unanswered. Without trying to address each one, I'm here to take a stand on why the series finale kicked ass, with a little help from cast members Michael Emerson (Ben Linus), Yunjim Kim (Sun-Hwa Kwon), and Ken Leung (Miles Straume). Don't agree? I dare you to rewatch that final episode and refrain from crying all over again.
I was a late bloomer hopping on the Lost train, having just finished the series in its entirety this summer. But with the show fresh on the brain, I have to admit, I couldn't have asked for a better ending. The greatest reason being, I didn't truly realize everyone was in some sort of after life until the very moment Jack (Matthew Fox) opened the coffin and saw that his father wasn't there. At that moment, it all came together for me. Many people were upset with the fact that the hero, and everyone else for that matter, didn't get their "happy ending." But in a way, it was their happy ending — just not the one fans wanted. Each person was finally able to find and be with their soul's true counterpart, redeem any sins they may have committed during their time on Earth, and accept moving forward to the next phase. Just because they weren't still alive, doesn't mean they couldn't have their happily ever after.
I still go back and forth wondering if this was really purgatory. If it was, were they in it the moment Flight 815 crashed in the pilot episode? Did any of the flash forwards actually happen? I like that the writers pulled a fast one on us by having everyone dead in the "sideways" universe, without viewers realizing what had happened until the end. It was, to me, completely unexpected. And I enjoyed being tricked. Kim says the cast felt the same way: "We had many, many discussions on set, but the mutual reaction was: 'How the hell did Damon and Carlton pull this off?!'"
What I've also come to terms with while trying to dissect every angle of the series' plot, is to oddly enough, not look too much into things. The main quest was for every character to find their true peace, redeem themselves, and move on, regardless of the Island's black smoke and DHARMA hatches. Since they were able to do this as the story closed, I felt satisfied. "Ambiguity defined our show, and if the finale was all about answering the 'big' questions, it would've been wrong in so many ways," Kim added. Emerson has a more pointed response for fans who followed the series, but disliked the final episode:
I have to say for those people who complain about the finale: Look at the job that those writers had. On a show like 24 or even Breaking Bad, you have a linear narrative. Lost was exploding in all directions. The only way to find an end point is to bring it all back to the center or beginning which is what I thought they did. I didn’t care that much whether people were especially happy with it. It would have been a hard show to wrap up to the pleasure of everyone, but I am surprised how many people who profess to be passionate followers of the show to say, "Well I like all 109 episodes except the last one." Are you kidding me? What kind of demonstration of loyalty is that?
To his point, all of the Lost "fans" who wrote off the entire show just because they weren't content with the finale need to appreciate the fact that the writers didn't give away every answer. How vanilla would that have been? Lost wasn't like any other show in the respect that nothing was ever truly answered. This gave us numerous scenarios to have strong opinions about and debate with friends until the end of time — which is why we loved it in the first place. Each episode, even up until the very last one, was like a mini-movie, keeping us on the edge of our seats. Clearly, the method behind the madness worked, because we're still talking about it to this day. And whether you want to admit it or not, deep down, I think you all liked not knowing, too.
Lost Cast Members on the Final Episode
Michael Emerson (Ben Linus)
"All problems are cleared up and the sky is blue — I think that’s a bit of the quality of the ending of Lost and I think those people that were inside the sanctuary had all found a mirror redeemer. They had found someone who loved them unconditionally, and through whose love they could find redemption or self-forgiveness... I feel bad that Damon feels that he still has to try to explain it to the world. I don’t think any explanations are required. If people are unhappy with it, so be it. Because they probably wanted something a little plainer, a little more obvious."
Yunjim Kim (Sun-Hwa Kwon)
"It was spiritual, beautiful and yet ambiguous in a way that defined Lost. [It was] both satisfying and brilliant. Personally, I would've loved to have seen Sun holding a baby girl, Ji Yeon in her arms in church. A short interaction handing the baby to Hurley (Jorge Garcia), and the viewers would know that Hurley will take Ji Yeon back to the Island where she'll be safe and alive."
Ken Leung (Miles Straume)
"My takeaway from it was the idea that we all have to touch base with certain spirits in order to move on. And that rang true for me."