Throughout the years, the Island came to represent a lot of things, both to the characters of LOST and to the fans of the show. It was a home, an escape, a prison, a burial ground, a heaven, a hell, but, above all, it was the destination for all of those seeking fulfillment and more out of life, and last night's finale showed us that, in the end, it worked and it was all very real. To try to sum up LOST as a whole would be a heroic task, and I will not waste precious words trying to do so. However, now that I have the entire story in front of me, I can begin to piece together what exactly happened, and it will take many years of repeat viewing to take in everything.
As for last night, the big revelation was that the "flash-sideways" stories we have seen over the last season were really scenes from an idealized version of a living death that the island castaways created themselves after they had all died. A little hard to comprehend, I know, but I thoroughly enjoyed this twist and would expect nothing less from the creators. During season six, I, like many others, believed that the sideways world was a sort of "what if" alternate reality that was showing us what would have happened if the hatch never had to be built, Desmond had never failed to push the button, and Oceanic 815 never crashed on the island. Instead, it was a life after death existing in its own space and time and only able to occur after all the characters had died. So yes, Oceanic 815 really crashed on the island with all the survivors alive and well, and everything that eventually happened, really happened, including all of the time travel and mythical occurrences. It is fiction after all.
In the end, Jack "saved" the island from the Man in Black but died in the process, joining the several other characters we have seen die on the island. Kate, Sawyer, Claire, Richard, Miles, and Lapidus successfully fly away on the Ajira jet, presumably to live long, healthy lives off of the island. Hurley and Ben stay behind as the island's new protectors, although with a different set of rules than Jacob had, allowing Desmond to leave to reunite with Penny and baby Charlie. Back in the sideways limbo world, we can assume by now that it is years later and everyone has, by that time, died, but does not realize it yet. To awake from this purgatorial stasis, each character experiences an enlightening "moment of clarity" brought on by some key event that caused all of the memories, emotions, and feelings to come rushing back and signified the person was ready to "move on." A lot of time last night was spent on these "awakenings," and with each one, I experienced my own sense of remembrance as I was flooded with images from the past six years. It concludes in a church, with all of our happily dead "survivors" reuniting with one another and finally finding their peace. They are all ready to move on, which is symbolized by Christian Shephard opening the door of the church and letting light permeate the room. And with that, the sideways world ends.
But to where are they moving on? And what happens to Kate, Sawyer, Hurley, and everyone else who survives the island? And why were some characters absent from the church? These are just some of the many questions that were left open for interpretation, and, honestly, I wouldn't have it any other way. It has always bothered me that some people did not enjoy LOST because there were too many questions without enough answers. In fact, that was one of the many things I always enjoyed about the series. It was, and always will be, a cerebral show. If you try to view it with a list in hand of all the questions for which you demand answers, you are missing out on quite an experience. The island was just a device to tell a story. The crux of it all and what always tied everything together was the characters, and "The End" did give a tremendous resolution to the story of the characters I believe. Everything they did mattered. Without the events of the story, they would have never found the peace and meaning in their lives. In the end, they died together, instead of living alone. And I couldn't ask for anything else.