The first episode of the final season of LOST begins with reminders of last season, and then from the explosion of the hydrogen bomb, we are shown clouds, and a disoriented Jack, in Oceanic 815, having the conversation with flight attendant Cindi, and then with Rose, that we saw previously. Turbulence starts, and then stops, and Rose tells him that he can let go. Jack gets up to go to the bathroom, then when he comes back, Desmond is sitting in the row there. Jack thinks he knows him from somewhere. The camera takes us out the window, through the clouds, and under the water, where the island, with the Dharma barracks and the statue foot are beneath the ocean.
Then we are taken back to the incident. After the explosion, Kate’s hearing is muffled, and she finds herself high up in a tree. She climbs down and looks around, and finds Miles. They realize they are back to their own time, at the remains of the Swan hatch after Desmond blew it up, and not in 1977. She finds Jack. Sawyer kicks Jack in the head, angry that it didn’t work and that Juliette died for nothing.
On the plane, we gather that things are different – Hurley says he is the luckiest guy alive. At this point, we should have realized that what we were seeing in the flashes sideways – or upwards – are not an alternative reality resulting from the hydrogen bomb detonation.
Sayid asks Hurley what he thinks will happen to him when he dies. He says that wherever he is going cannot be very pleasant. This poignantly connects with what we learn at the emd of the season is in fact a depiction of an afterlife. The Hurley sees Jacob. He tells Hurley that he died an hour earlier, having been killed by an old friend who grew tired of his company. He tells Hurley to take the guitar case he gave him and take Sayid to the temple.
In the statue’s base, Ben asks why Jacob didn’t fight back. John sends Ben to get Richard. Richard shows Ben Locke’s corpse. Two of Ilana’s men go in with Ben. They shoot “Locke” but he takes the form of the smoke monster and defeats them. One of them makes an ash circle around himself, but the smoke monster hits a pillar and debris knocks the man out of the circle of protection. Them he resu,es Locke’s form and says he is sorry Ben had to see him like that.
Kate hears Juliette and so they start removing metal beams trying to reach her. They use the van with a chain to clear away what is on top of her. Sawyer says that if Juliette dies, he will kill Jack. When they get to her, Juliette says she hit the bomb, hoping to get Sawyer home, and she is distraught that it didn’t work. Juliette says words that we realize are snippets of what she will say later when they are reunited in “heaven” – or the precursor to heaven. We see Sawyer’s anger towards Jack, but he doesn’t attack him again. Sawyer buries Juliette. He asks Miles what Juliette wanted to say before she died. He says that she said “it worked,” which is an attempt to get us to think the bomb worked and created a parallel universe, when in fact it is something she says in the afterlife when they find one another.
In the other reality, the coffin of Christian Shephard has gone missing.
Sayid’s friends bring him to the temple, and then they go underneath it. Hurley finds a French copy of Kierkegaard’s Fear and Trembling. The people in the temple catch them. Cindi is among them and tells who they are. They are going to be shot, but Hurley says that Jacob sent them, and gave him that guitar case. Inside is large wooden ankh, and breaking it open, there is a paper inside. When Hurley asks what the paper said, the man who read it says that the paper said that if Sayid dies, they are all in a lot of trouble. They take him to the spring and are surprised that the water isn’t clear. The temple people say that there are risks. They take Sayid into the water and hold him under, based on an hourglass. Sayid revives but they do not stop holding him under until the hourglass has run out. They declare Sayid dead. Jack tries to resuscitate him but Kate stops him. Hurley talks to them separately, and they are shocked when they learn that Jacob us dead. They send up a warning flare and make a circle of ash around the temple.
In the base of the temple, Ben asks what “Locke” is, and he says he isn’t a what, he’s a who. When Ben says he’s the monster, “Locke” says he shouldn’t resort to name-calling. Smokey says that Locke was weak, pathetic, and irreparably broken, and yet there was still something admirable about him: he was the only one who realized how pathetic the lives they left behind were. He also shares the irony that he wants the one thing Locke didn’t: to go home.
In the airport in the other reality, Locke tells Jack that they didn’t lose his father, they only lost his body. Jack asks what happened to him, explaining that he is a spinal surgeon. Locke says surgery won’t help, his condition is irreversible, but Jack says that nothing is irreversible, and offers him a consultation on the house.
Smokey tells Richard that it is good to see him out of those chains. He then knocks Richard out and carries him, while telling the Others that he is very disappointed in all of them.
At the end of the episode, Sayid comes back to life and asks, “What happened?”
While there are lots of things in the way LOST concludes that were not in view when the show was first created, there was clear effort to make the new ideas fit with what had been planned, and to craft a story which would make sense at the end while allowing us to not be told everything up front. This is very challenging, and it is unsurprising that not many shows have managed it. Doctor Who, in recent seasons, seems to me to have attempted something similar, with a good measure of success – the exploding TARDIS, the impossible girl, etc. What do you think?
There is, in essence, something very appropriate about the fact that the writers of LOST chose to make the smoke monster a person and not a thing. The show throughout challenged our tendency to “other” people and treat them as monsters. This focus in the end makes a fitting conclusion.