On the Island the machinations of the mysterious 'Man in Black' are approaching their climax, as his goals are revealed to be more than just merely escaping his prison. In the 'Sideverse' Desmond continues his attempts to gather the various castaways together and reveal to them the truth of their world.
After six seasons and 120 episodes, Lost finally reaches its conclusion, a conclusion which, it is fair to say, has been more controversial than I think anyone was expecting (even moreso than the bitterly divisive Battlestar Galactica finale of a year earlier). Before the finale, however, there's the last run of episodes to get through.
The Last Recruit and The Candidate are pretty heavily serialised, 'getting all the pieces together' episodes with lots of characters moving around and talking about the plot, both in the primary universe and the Sideverse. There's some great moments, but it's the end of The Candidate that proves both shocking and powerful, with a surprising number of major character fatalities, the Man in Black's true colours fully revealed and a real sense of despair descending on the characters and the story. There's some elements of contrivance (at least one character died for no good reason when they had an excellent reason to live), but overall it works.
Then there's Beyond the Sea, the much-touted backstory of the Jacob and the Man in Black. Technically, this should have been a triumph, a revelatory episode packed with surprising reveals about the series' deepest mysteries. Unfortunately, it doesn't really do anything of the sort. The explanations given for some of the mysteries, like the origin of the frozen donkey wheel from Seasons 4 and 5, are nothing short of ludicrous, whilst the revelation that the Island harbours a cave containing magical glowy light at its heart which has to be protected or, erm, it turns people into evil black smoke is so obtuse and meaningless it might as well have been left unrevealed. The episode is wracked by hideously bad writing (the actors look distinctly uncomfortable at various points for saying it) and ends up being badly-placed in the season. Overall, very disappointing.
What They Died For is a triumphant return to form, with shocks, impressive plot twists and a genuine sense of storylines coming together satisfyingly. The Sideverse has become increasingly interesting and important over the last few episodes and this installment makes it as compelling and interesting as the main plot on the Island for the first time this season. In short, this is all great set-up for the finale.
The End is the final episode of Lost, and at almost 2 hours is its longest. It's something of a schizophrenic, flabby episode which does its best with the hand dealt it by the writers and producers, but in the end cannot help be disappointing.
On the Island, things are more interesting. The character stories all reach fairly logical resolutions and achieve satisfying destinies. The biggest disappointment here is that glowy cave thingy at the heart of the Island is now revealed to contain the Giant Plughole of Destiny, and either destroying or saving the Island and the world depends on whether the Stone Plug of Electromagnetic Power is plugged in or not. Maximum props to the actors struggling with the giant polystyrene rock and trying to sell it as the culmination of six years of dramatic storytelling but this was clearly not a good idea from the start.
If you can ignore the Plug Ex Machina, the Island story unfolds and ends reasonably well.
Now, on the Sideverse front it is blatantly clear that the producers changed their mind over what the Sideverse was going to be at some point this season. The information and data previously given about the Sideverse doesn't track with the revelation of its true nature in this episode. As that resolution comes way out of left field and was not sufficiently foreshadowed ahead of time, the Sideverse storyline's ending is extremely underwhelming, not to mention really unconvincing. From the perspective of British viewers, the resolution also suffers from comparison to Ashes to Ashes' finale (which aired literally two days earlier than Lost's), which played around with some of the same ideas but in a far more convincing, better foreshadowed and considerably more satisfying manner. Whilst Lost has never shied away from being sentimental before, it's never really gone into full-on mawkish mode, which is what happens in the culmination of the badly-judged Sideverse story.
Luckily, the Sideverse ends up being completely irrelevant to the story on the Island. If you can ignore the Sideverse story, than Lost ends on a somewhat satisfying note, at least as far as the character arcs are concerned. Some backstory and mystery elements are left unexplained (most notably where the hell the Giant Plughole of Destiny came from), but not cripplingly so, and certainly enough is left for fans to debate for years to come.
Lost falters at its last hurdle, and it is hard after the finale not to feel that the entire Sideverse storyline dominating Season 6 was a waste of time, but at the same time it doesn't destroy the integrity of the whole show going back years (as BSG's does, to some extent). Whilst the Man in Black and Jacob were elements added to the mythology of the show way too late in the day to be either convincing or compelling, their story is nevertheless resolved reasonably well, giving Lost at least some sense of achievement in its finale, even if the show has fallen short of its full potential.
613: The Last Recruit (****)
614: The Candidate (****½)
615: Across the Sea (**)
616: What They Died For (****½)
617-618: The End (***)