Idiot's Guide to Lost

Everything you needed to know about the series and weren't afraid to ask

By Kristin Dos Santos May 26, 2010 10:28 PMTags
Terry O'Quinn, LostABC/Mario Perez

It seems some people are having a hard time abiding by Lost's final message: Let go and move on.

And by "some people," I mean not only diehard fans—like, ahem, moi—but also casual viewers and people who tuned in for the very first time on Sunday night to see what Lost was all about. (Bat-poop crazy, but yes, they really did!)

I'm still getting bombarded by questions about the Lost finale, so if you, or any of your non-Lost-worshipping friends are still struggling to comprehend, here is a stripped-down guide to what Lost is all about (according to this here idiot)...

There is an island. It really exists, and the people on it do too.

At the heart of this island is a "Light."

This Light is the good place you go to after you die where you get to reconnect with your loved ones in the afterlife. You can call it heaven, Nirvana, or whatever you like. It's the most beautiful place you will ever see.

If the Light on the island goes out, you don't get to be with your loved ones when you die. They simply "cease to exist." And that is a very bad thing.

The Light on the island is so beautiful and powerful, that men will always try to get at it, study it and harness it--including most recently, a group of scientists called the Dharma Initiative who inhabited the island for many decades. They could never fully understand the island because they were men of science, not men of faith.

To make sure the Light isn't destroyed by men like these, the island needs a Protector. (The Egyptians tried to build a giant Protector statue on the island, but it was reduced to a four-toed foot when a giant slave ship called the Black Rock hit it.)


The first Protector we met, Jacob, was sweet but a total dumbass who did exactly what his mother told him not to, and threw his brother Samuel (also called the Man in Black) into the Light. Samuel faced a fate "worse than death" (as his mother foretold), and became what Lost fans call "the Smoke Monster." If this evil entity were to leave or destroy the island, all the evil would escape out into the world, and the Light/heaven would be no more.

Jacob needed to make sure that he had a successor, to prevent this from ever happening. There were no pure souls or babies on the island (because of  electromagnetic fallout from the "incident" in 1977 that caused fertility issues). So Jacob selected "candidates" away from the island, went out into the world to meet them, touched them (so the Monster couldn't kill them), and then brought them to the island by way of plane crash. (The Protector can also change the weather, sometimes subconciously, to make stuff like that happen--which is probably why the Dharma initiative also studied weather there--but Jacob didn't do so in this case.)

Jack Shephard was on that plane that came to the island. Oceanic 815. So were a lot of other really cool people who happened to look like TV stars: Sawyer, Kate, Sun, Jin, Sayid and Hurley. They crashed on the island, and they were alive.

They were Jacob's "candidates." It was their destiny to come to the island.

It was Jack's destiny to kill the Smoke Monster and save the island. And he spent six seasons trying to figure it out.

In the meantime, the Smoke Monster was running around terrorizing/killing everyone, taking the form of dead people (he can do that) and manipulating a longtime island dweller, Ben, into doing his bidding. The Monster ultimately tricked Ben into killing Locke (a "candidate") and Jacob. The Monster took the form of Locke.

And the island needed a new Protector.

ABC/Mario Perez

In the final season, we saw what appeared to be an alternate reality in which the passengers of Oceanic 815—including Jack Shephard—landed safely in Los Angeles, as if the plane had never crashed on the island. They basically spent the entire sixth season in this place trying to "let go" of their life's biggest regrets/issues. (Ben's guilt over killing his daughter Alex, Locke's crippling problems with his father, Jin and Sun's guilt over abandoning their daughter and not knowing if she's OK, Hurley's guilt over his money doing evil things, Sayid's desire to save Shannon/Nadia, Claire's guilt over planning to give away her baby, Jack's desire to forgive his father and break the cycle by becoming a good father himself, etc...)

In the finale, we learned that this place (in which the flight landed safely) was a passageway from death into the Light/heaven. The characters we saw there had all died in different times in different places, and they met up in this place (where time is irrelevant) to work out their remaining regrets, reconnect with their loved ones, and move on to the Light together.

After Jack sacrificed himself to save the island,  they all crossed over to the Light and lived blissfully ever after.

They lived together. And they did not die alone.


Make any sense? Maybe so, maybe not.

Do you agree? Maybe so, maybe not.

That's really, ultimately, the beauty of the story of Lost. That it is so very open to interpretation.

Whether you loved or hated the finale (it's no secret I loved it), one of the coolest things I've been hearing over the past few days is that some fans are liking it more the more they've thought about it. I think it's a finale that grows on you, if you let it. How many other finales can say the same?

So now that you've had a few days to process it all, I'd love to hear from you fans below (and you can take the poll, just for fun).

What do you think now of the Lost finale?


Go here for alll our recent Lost finale coverage—the secret wedding, why Mr. Eko didn't return, how ABC messed with the end credits. I also gave some answers here at my Lost finale party, in case you missed it:


Lost Finale

What did you think of the Lost series finale?
Loved it
Liked it
Hated it
I still don't get it!