This was the one where we found out what happened to the castaways once they returned home to civilization. And apparently Jack wasn’t the only one whose post-island life was completely messed up. The flash-forwards, instead of flashbacks (which we’d all gotten tired of at this point) brought back a level of intrigue to the show that we hadn’t seen since Season 1, as we saw the fates of the Oceanic 6 (Jack, Kate, Sayid, Hurley, Sun, and Aaron) unfold. In addition we got the introduction of Charles Widmore, a man who infamously staged the wreckage of Oceanic Flight 815 and then sent a team of mercenaries to exterminate every living survivor. The team also included newcomer characters Charlotte, Daniel, Miles, and Frank. And finally we saw a split between the survivors of Oceanic 815: those who decided to follow Jack, Lost’s proverbial “man of science,” and those who followed Locke, it’s proverbial “man of faith.” Season 4 was a welcome new addition, recovering some of the errors from Season 3, even though it didn’t quite live up to Seasons 1 or 2. Among other things we got to see the return of Michael as he stepped in for one last call for redemption, the ostensible death of Jin-Soo Kwon, a truly riveting cameo by the infamous smoke monster, and an ending so shocking that it kept us on the edge of our seats as we waited for next season.
Probably the closest thing we got to pre-season 3 levels of Lost quality. It was also pretty confusing at times, towards the end, introducing plot thread after plot thread. We got to see the long awaited return of the survivors of Flight 815 to the island, which they had just left in Season 4. There were time jumps, from episode to episode, allowing us to get small and frequent glimpses of the island’s history. We found out Charles Widmore was really an “Other” who had been exiled by Ben for “breaking the rules.” We found out that half the new characters were conveniently connected to the past by having parents in the Dharma Initiative. And we got to see the Dharma Initiative, pre-extinction (see Season 3’s “The Man Behind the Curtain). They were a group of scientists conducting risky experiments on the island, pitting them in a war with the “Others,” who were trying to protect it. Unfortunately, as it was shown, they drilled too deep and opened a pocket of electromagnetic energy that later had to be contained by sealing it up (aka, the Hatch, from season 2). But it was fun going back in time and seeing old characters and a few slightly new ones, including young Ben, who would later go on to participate in the extermination of the Dharma population. It was a real Back to the Future moment, complete with weird character mash-ups and strange reunions. Tragically we also witnessed the death of John Locke, one of Lost’s greatest characters. But towards the end we saw him reborn as something else, not quite human. And we finally got to meet Jacob, the island’s God, so to speak, who was seen to appear throughout the season finale at various points in the survivors’ lives. After being killed by Ben, under the influence of not-really-John Locke, we were left with another cryptic message leading into Lost’s sixth and final season: They’re coming.
This should have been the best season of Lost. It really should have been. Every time I go back to it, my mind runs in a constant loop. I’m left saying: well, I guess I’m kind of satisfied, but still not really. Lost could have ended better. Much better. But, then again, they did what they could to wrap things up. And they had quite a lot to wrap up. As the timelines converged we had the fates of all the survivors of Oceanic 815 (6 of which were revealed to be “candidates,” Jacob’s replacements as “protector of the island”) to deal with, in addition to the other characters Lost had relentlessly added over its six-season run. The opening was a blast: we found out that the false John Locke was really the smoke monster all along, and the man in black shown at the beginning of the Season 5 finale.
Lost finally got back to its mystical roots as it played out the escalating battle of good and evil, light and dark, throughout the final season. But other stuff was completely unnecessary. Like all the “flash-sideways” stories that showed us what it would have been like if the plane hadn’t crashed. It was entertaining for the season premiere, but it really didn’t need to be taken much farther, especially to the point where they turned it into some kind of mysterious purgatory where all the dead survivors had to remember who they really were, so they could move on to heaven. And what started out to be a really engrossing story of the island’s protector, Jacob, turned out to be a really rushed, really confusing explanation of the island’s greatest mystery. The same electromagnetic pocket that the Dharma initiative drilled into was really this big, holy light that, without any further explanation, gave the island its true powers. (Anyone asks you the secret to Lost, it’s a big, bright light with mythical powers). We can only assume God put it there at some point. Even stranger we learned that the man in black, aka smoke monster, was really Jacob’s brother. Basically what happened was they got in a sibling brawl and Jacob threw him into the light. Then he popped out as a giant smoke cloud, no questions asked. Personally I preferred Jacob’s analogy of the wine bottle. Speaking of which, Season 6, for all its faults, did bring us what was probably the greatest episode of all time: Ab Aeterno. It told the tragic story of Richard Alpert, the island’s immortal inhabitant, and gave us insight into the longstanding rivalry between Jacob and the Man in Black. This story was later confounded (at least, in my opinion) by the episode “Across the Sea.”
But otherwise, on the island, you could say that things were brought to a decent close. Smoke Locke’s battle with the candidates came full circle as he tactfully wound them into a death trap, taking the lives of Sayid, Jin, and Sun. The last of the candidates (Jack, Sawyer and Hurley) met with Jacob’s ghost in a campfire scene that helped at least somewhat to wrap up some of Lost’s more perplexing questions. Jack became protector and, after dying to save the island from Locke, passed the role onto Hurley. Lost ended with a close-up shot of Jack’s eye shutting, resembling the iconic opening shot of the show’s first episode. And, even if the conclusion wasn’t quite so fulfilling, we were still touched by it.