Monday, October 25, 2010

Every Day, Every Day, Every Day...
Every Day I Wrote The Book

Hello my dear friends -

Before anybody freaks out... if you're looking for my Lost series finale analysis, you can find it by clicking here. You didn't think I'd have the nerve to try and peddle my book without finishing The Mother of All Posts first, did you?

Even though it has absolutely nothing to do with Lost, I decided to share a little bit about my book, Zero-Sum Game, here on Long Live Locke because: 1) finishing its manuscript, and then going through several rounds of editing that manuscript, and then working on pre-publication marketing and PR efforts for the book were some of the main reasons why my final Lost post was so late, and I didn't want you guys to think I was making all that stuff up, and 2) I have gotten a ton of questions about the book's subject, but haven't been in the position to be able to share many details until now.

First things first, though. As always, I've got to keep it real and tell you up front that I'm pretty sure 80% of you would not have much interest in my book if you weren't already familiar with its author. (Can you see why I had no business working for The Man? I'm not very good at sales.) There is a chance, however, that you might like it... or that you may know somebody else who would dig it... so if you would like to help me continue my writing career/avoid returning to Corporate America, read on.

What is Zero-Sum Game about?

On September 1, 2006, I started working at the Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT). I wasn't a trader or anything, I was the Managing Director of Marketing. CBOT is a futures exchange (like in the '80s Eddie Murphy/Dan Aykroyd movie Trading Places), and the contracts traded there affect all of our lives on a daily basis. The book explains why that is.

During my fifth week on the job, I was called into a secret meeting along with a small number of other senior managers. Our CEO told us that the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) -- CBOT's main rival for over 100 years -- had made an $8 billion offer to buy the company, and we needed to work on the merger announcement documents over the next 11 days before the news was made public. Five months later, a small energy exchange in Atlanta came out of nowhere and offered $1 billion more for CBOT, thereby upending our planned merger with CME... and kicking off an absolutely crazy bidding war. All of the above is what my book is about. And, as regular LLL reader "Garry UK" pointed out after reading the Chapter 1 preview on Amazon, I mention Ferris Bueller's Day Off on the second page. You can rest assured that my love of pop culture is sprinkled throughout the rest of the story as well. This is NOT a boring business book!

And yes, I am a "character" in it, for lack of a better term. It was written from my first-person perspective, and several of my co-workers, as well as executives in the futures industry and banking industry at large, make an appearance. Since it's a true story and real people are in the book, I had to keep things under wraps for a while. No one I worked with in 2006/2007 knew I was doing this until I called them on February 4, 2010. (That was the date of the Lost Season 6 premiere, by the way -- I couldn't stand to have the guilt hanging over my head any longer and wanted to have the weight of these calls off of my shoulders before my premiere party that evening.)

Who would want to read Zero-Sum Game?

Besides my immediate family members, anyone who has read and enjoyed any of the following books will most likely be interested in Zero-Sum Game: Liar's Poker, Barbarians at the Gate, When Genius Failed, Too Big to Fail... are you seeing a pattern? All of these books are "nonfiction narratives" (a term I learned during this process) that are set in the financial services industry. Now, I'm not trying to say that my book is as good as any of those -- they were all bestsellers written by brilliant journalists -- but after receiving positive feedback from a lot of hardcore investors, traders, and professors, I feel very confident in saying that the story I have to offer is comparably entertaining and informative. (I personally think it's also a lot funnier, if I may be so bold.)

What might convince a Long Live Locke reader to pick up a copy of Zero-Sum Game if they would otherwise never want to read anything even remotely associated with the financial services industry?

All right, here it goes: I'm going to try and be a saleswoman!

  • Although you may have never met me in real life, you do, in fact, know me. The longer you've been reading this site, the better you know me. As I mentioned earlier, the book is written from my point of view and it's about my year at the Chicago Board of Trade during a very tumultuous bidding war, so it might be interesting for you to read about who I worked with, conversations I had, things I experienced, etc.
  • To the above point, part of the book takes place during Season 3 of Lost, so you can also marvel at how in the hell I was able to still write my posts about the show while chaos was erupting all around me at work!
  • Like it does in Lost, Australia plays a big role in Zero-Sum Game. Dun-dun-dunnnnnn!
  • What's more, there is a powerful character who doesn't appear until the second-to-last chapter (Jacob, anyone?).
  • NEW POINT (added in a few hours after I originally published this post): Shout-out to LLL reader Heidi R, who observed that the CBOT logo (above right) totally looks like the Dharma logo! Another dun-dun-dunnnnn!
  • Although the story is told in my voice, my writing in the book is a little more formal than what you're used to in this blog. That being said, there are a few conventions I carried over from Long Live Locke, and -- as I mentioned above -- I did my best to infuse a bit of pop culture into the story whenever possible.
  • My mom was my "test reader" to see if all of the educational parts made sense to someone outside of the financial services industry. While she said that she did have to read some sections over a few times, she was surprised by how much she grew to like certain characters (and dislike others), as well as how much she got into the story of the bidding war, even though she already knew how it ended.
  • I would say that Chapters 1 - 3 are the "heaviest," because I had to front-load explanations about what futures exchanges do and how futures contract work. But those same chapters also include some of my favorite stories in the entire book, so there's a healthy mix of education and pure entertainment. Once Chapter 4 hits, almost all of the educational content has been covered and the true drama begins. 70% of the book is story, 30% is educational. But since when did Lost fans NOT like to learn new things?
  • You are all collectively thanked in the acknowledgments. There are some other names you might recognize in that section, too...

If someone wasn't interested in buying a copy of the book but still wanted to help, what could they do?

As I made clear at the beginning of this post, I realize that Zero-Sum Game might not be every Long Live Locke reader's cup of tea. The good news is that there are several things you could do -- that cost nothing -- to support the book and in turn help me avoid returning to The Man. When you are not a cast member of a reality TV show, a politician, or an already famous journalist, it's quite an uphill battle to promote your book. So I would truly, truly appreciate if you could do any of the following:
  • Think of friends, acquaintances or family members who would be into this sort of story. They'd be people who either work in the financial services industry, watch CNBC all the time, read the Wall Street Journal/Financial Times/BusinessWeek/Fortune/Forbes/etc., enjoy books like Liar's Poker or the others I mentioned above, or are really into investing/trading/the markets. Then pass them the Amazon link and/or the book's title (it is already in bookstores across the US and Canada), along with a note about how cool the author is. Hee hee.
  • Become a fan of Zero-Sum Game on Facebook
  • Share the Fan Page link -- -- on your Facebook wall.
  • Follow Zero-Sum Game on Twitter: @ZSGame
  • Follow me on Twitter: @erikaolson
  • Visit the book's web site: for updates
  • Retweet / repost any messages I send out about the book.
  • Leave me a message through the blog/Facebook/Twitter/email if you have a connection to someone in the media who might be interested in covering the book. I do have a PR firm helping me out for the next few months and we have most of our bases covered, but personal referrals are still critical in helping Zero-Sum Game get press attention.

Will there be autographed copies for sale?

Unfortunately I don't have the logistical set-up needed to be able to sell books on my own, sign them, and then ship them out. I will, however, personalize and mail out bookplates to anyone who bought the book -- details on how to get one are here.

Will you be going on a book tour?

If there's anything I learned during this process, it's that book tours don't really sell books and usually cost more money than they bring in. (I actually learned MUCH more than that, but you get my point.) Further, most publishers don't pay for that sort of thing if you're not already a bestselling author or member of the Jersey Shore cast. So as of right now I'm assuming I will only have signings in Chicago and New York, as I already know I'll be in both of those cities.

The Facebook fan page, the @ZSGame twitter feed, and the book's web site -- -- will be the best places to check for updates on media appearances and signings over the next few months.

Will there be an electronic version of Zero-Sum Game available (for Kindle, iPad, etc)?

Yes! It's now available in eBook version on all major online book-selling sites.

Will the book be sold outside of the US and Canada?

Yes. It's available on most country-specific Amazon sites outside of the US and Canada.

How do I buy the book in the United States or Canada?

Zero-Sum Game is available in bookstores, and online it is available on all major book-selling sites.

Here are a few:

Amazon (Amazon has the most up-to-date information about the book, including descriptions, jacket quotes, etc.)


Barnes and Noble

And here is a link for my Canadian friends:

Amazon Canada

How did you get this book published? Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

The process I went through will be detailed across three blog posts on my personal site, "According to e":

Part 1: From idea to agent
Part 2: From agent to contract (still in the works)
Part 3: From contract to publication (still in the works)

I think my fellow writers will find a ton of valuable information in those posts -- so stay tuned, I'll be working on them soon now that my Lost finale post is complete.


I think that covers everything!

Thanks again for your patience and support during what has been quite a wild ride.

I have one last favor to ask of you: WISH ME LUCK!

- e

LOST Series Finale - The End

Hello my dear friends -

This is it.

This is the Mother of All Posts.

If I were you, I would watch "The End" again before continuing on. Even if -- or perhaps I should say especially if -- you weren't too fond of it the first time around. I speak from experience when I say that it's much more enjoyable when you're not trying to figure out what's going on in the ALT world because you already know the twist.

If you don't refresh your memory of the finale, you might not have any idea what I'm talking about in this post. It's my fault that so much time has gone by since the last episode of Lost, but it'll be your fault if you don't revisit "The End" before you read the rest of what I have to say, and as a result find it hard to follow the details.

So, now... is everybody ready?

Good! Here we go.

Get comfortable.


I'm truly sorry that this post took so long for me to finish. I was working on this little project. It was kinda the reason I left Corporate America in 2007... so, you know, I couldn't really say "Screw you, John Wiley & Sons! Even though you took a huge chance on me -- a no-name, first-time author -- I'm gonna write about Lost instead of finishing my manuscript per our legally binding contract! HA!"

And so I appreciate your patience. I have a feeling that the people who were constantly hollering at me about publishing this post have already forgotten the show and will never visit this site again anyway. Whereas the people reading this right now are the ones I've always written for: the true fans. The people whose lives, like mine, were forever changed by the series. I know that these readers understood that I had to keep my priorities straight. I can only hope that they (meaning you) enjoy this last analysis and forgive me for the delay.


Long Live Locke reader "notWalt" made an insightful comment here on the site at the beginning of September. He/she guessed that since (at that point) four months had passed since Lost's May 23 conclusion, my final post would probably be "more reflective. I also suppose that it will be more emotional. Since it isn't an immediate reaction, it could be more of a goodbye to an old friend..."

notWalt hit the nail on the head, ladies and gents. This post isn't going to be like my others. Oh, there will be the song-lyric headings and roll-over picture captions and an analysis of the final episode of Lost... but I'm also going to include some very personal thoughts and background -- things I have never written about until now -- so that you can understand where I'm coming from. Because, as proven by the comments on the short post I put up the same night the finale aired, people's reactions to "The End" were closely tied to their own thoughts and beliefs about life, death, and religion.

So you need to know where my head's at on those topics in order to comprehend why I was, and continue to be, so attached to the show, why I might be a little more forgiving of the series' weaknesses than some other bloggers and critics, and why I loved the finale so much. Therefore, we need to go back to 2004. (If you don't care about any of my personal experiences that shaped my feelings about the series, that's totally fine... click here to flash-forward to the Lost analysis.)

In May 2003, I graduated from business school and moved back to Chicago. A small number of my classmates ended up in Chitown with me, and we decided to have "TV night" at my place every week in order to stay in touch. Being the b-school dorks that we are, we decided to gather together for The Apprentice, which premiered in January 2004. We liked it well enough, but by Season 2, which premiered on September 9, 2004, it was losing a bit of its luster. (Little-known fact: Donald Trump was one of my heroes in the sixth grade and I was already reading his books back then. I also applied to, but was obviously not chosen for, Season 3 of his show.)

I'd heard about a show called Lost and was excited that it starred Merry from Lord of the Rings (Dominic Monaghan), so I started watching it on September 22, 2004. Within a few episodes I'd convinced my other friends that we needed to switch our TV nights to Wednesdays and watch Lost instead of The Apprentice.

My first Lost write-up was for Episode 9, Sayid's initial flashback ("Solitary"). Each week I would email my thoughts about the show to my friends, and before long these messages were being forwarded all over the place and I had a distribution list of hundreds of people. My brother was largely responsible for growing my readership on the east coast.

You might remember that the early seasons of Lost were plagued by several hiatuses and weeks where they'd air reruns in order to encourage more people to get into the series. In Season 1 there was a big break between episode 18 ("Numbers," which aired on March 2, 2005) and 19 ("Deus Ex Machina," which aired on March 30). During that break, my brother went into the ER for breathing pains... and was diagnosed with Stage IV Hodgkin's lymphoma.

Spoiler alert: my brother went through seven months of chemo and two weeks of radiation, is now fine, and has been cancer-free for five years. But on that awful night in March 2005 when I got the call about what was going on, the first thing through my mind (ironically enough) was, "Oh my God, isn't that what Charlie had on Party of Five? Didn't he die from that?!?!"

As you may recall, Charlie on Party of Five was none other than Matthew Fox, who I had a hard time seeing as "Jack" on Lost at that point in time. He was still Charlie to me (I also had a hard time accepting Lost's "Charlie" as anyone other than my hobbit buddy... needless to say, I was very confused).

Matthew Fox's character on P05 did have Hodgkin's but didn't die from it, probably because it's known as "the best kind of cancer to have." But that show was always so freaking depressing that I guess my mind just assumed/falsely remembered that he DID die, and all I knew was that my "little" brother (he was 26 at the time) had this same kind of cancer. I was terrified about what might happen to him.

(Let's lighten things up for a second, shall we? Yes, he's talking about cancer so it's not exactly a humorous clip, but this just might be one of the first and best examples of Matthew Fox's scary-good man-crying abilities. And this was TEN YEARS before Lost!!!)

Between episodes 18 and 19 of Season 1 I spent a few weeks on the east coast with my brother and the woman he would eventually marry. His treatments were an awful ordeal, as you might imagine. By the time Lost returned with "Deus Ex Machina," my brother had started his chemotherapy, and the show gave all of us something else to think about -- something else to focus on. It helped my family through the worst time of our lives, and so even back in Season 1, I knew that there was simply no way I could ever have negative feelings about the series.



It probably goes without saying that when someone you love receives such a shocking diagnosis, you really start to question things. You start to question the meaning of life, what happens when you die, whether or not there is a God, whether our fates are already sealed, and why bad things happen to good people. You also start to realize the importance of family and friends, and of having hope. And -- if you're lucky like my family was -- you will experience the kindness of strangers on a near-daily basis, and you will remember that no matter what the news tries to convince you of at every waking moment, the vast majority of people are goodhearted and quick to help others.

I saw all of these same questions, themes and lessons reflected in Lost. I understood the 815ers' fear of the unknown. I related to how hard it must be for each of them to trust complete strangers. I initially was drawn to Locke's confidence that everything was happening for a reason... but then when "Deus Ex Machina" aired right after my brother's chemo started -- and there was that scene that still makes me cry to this day, where Locke's banging on the hatch and screaming "I've done everything you wanted me to do, so why did you do this to me?!?!"... and then the light comes on -- for some silly reason, it just really moved me. I took it as some sort of cosmic message of hope or something. Hey, when you're beside yourself with the worst kind of worry, you start associating a lot of very out-there things to your situation, OK? Don't judge!

Here's the kicker, though. The character I related to the most -- and I know this might come as a surprise to anyone who doesn't actually know me -- was Jack. Even if my brother hadn't gotten sick, I would've seen myself in The Mad Doctor, because I'm always trying to "fix" things -- people and situations -- even when they are beyond fixing. My nature is to take charge. Those who know me best might describe me as "controlling." So when my brother ended up in the hospital and there was nothing I could do about it and there was no way I could directly help him get better, I felt quite desperate and overwhelmed. The same kind of feelings that I imagine might drive a person to believe it was a good idea to use the Amputron 2000 on their clearly dying friend (RIP, Boone). So yeah, the secret's out: Locke was my favorite character... but had I actually been on the Island, I would've been on Team Jack.

One-third of the way through Season 2 (November 2005), I traveled east once again to go with my brother to his final radiation treatment. He's been healthy and cancer-free ever since, and got married last summer in Ann Arbor, Michigan -- home of the Dharma Initiative. I can only guess that since he played a large role in helping to pull together ideas, theories, and details for my posts -- both before, during, and after he had the Big C -- the show will always hold a special place in his heart as well.

I want to take a moment here to say that I know my family is not the only one Lost helped through a tough time. In fact, one of my dearest Lost-blogger friends, Karen -- who I had the great pleasure of meeting in person in Hawaii during the Season 6 Sunset on the Beach premiere event -- battled cancer during Season 1 as well. Her story will leave you in tears, but it will inspire you, too. It will also make it clear why Lost is not "just a TV show" to so many of us. You can read Karen's story here. She is one of the most awesome and positive people I know.


One thing I'll never forgive myself for is deleting -- or otherwise losing track of -- an email my brother sent me during Season Two. He could tell how attached I was getting to Lost, he knew how much time I was pouring into my posts, and he feared my obsession would not end well. He wrote something like, "They're never going to be able to wrap up the series in a way that everybody's going to like. We're bound to be disappointed. So just enjoy the ride and don't even think about how they could possibly end everything."

I'm happy (and, admittedly, relieved) to say that not only did I follow my brother's advice and thoroughly enjoy the ride over the last six years, but I was also thrilled with how everything turned out in the end. (Granted, it took a little time for me to feel that way. And for the record, my brother loved the series finale as well.)

My hope is that this post will help some of the people who didn't like the finale to be able to look at it through my eyes and thereby salvage some of their otherwise positive feelings about the series. But fear not, I'm not going to try and convince anyone of my point of view, or chastise those who hated "The End." We're all entitled to our differing feelings and opinions, and Lord knows that -- as I think I made clear above -- it would've been hard for me to have ever been disappointed with the show. I seriously don't think there's anything they could have done that would have ruined the series for me. It's just not possible.

Well, OK, maybe if Miley Cyrus had showed up. But that's about it.


All right! Let's get into the actual episode, shall we?

I think the only way I can tackle the finale is chronologically -- although where it makes sense I'm going to group certain scenes together even if they didn't run back-to-back.

Let's begin with the opening montage.

That montage consisted of shots of several characters in the ALT world, followed by what they were doing on the Island, inter-spliced with scenes of Christian's coffin being unloaded from an Oceanic plane and then taken to the church in L.A., where Desmond and Kate were waiting in the parking lot.

For all of Season 6, I had assumed that Oceanic would never find the coffin in the ALT world. I figured that the ALT timeline was going to merge with the Island timeline, and somehow Jack's father would still be alive. So I was pretty surprised that the finale opened with a box labeled "human remains" that presumably carried Zombie Dad's casket. However, because they were still showing scenes of Jack, Locke, Ben, Kate, Sawyer, etc., both on the Island and in the ALT world back-to-back, I thought that confirmed the theory that by the end of the 2.5 hours, the two worlds would've somehow combined -- or each character would end up picking which version of their lives they wanted to live out.

While I didn't really think Kate's disbelief at Christian Shephard's name was as funny as others seemed to, upon rewatching the episode I definitely caught and fully appreciated the quick, knowing smile Desmond flashed after Kate asked, "Who died?" Brilliant.


Next up was Jack transforming into "the new Jacob" by the water. I was really relieved that they didn't have Jack start acting any differently than he always had -- that would have been lame.

Sawyer quickly realized that Jack wasn't suddenly infused with any specific ideas about how to proceed -- while the Mad Doctor knew that he had to protect the light and that they'd all be killed if MIB had his way, it was Sawyer who figured out that Desmond must somehow be the key to everything. So he set off to see if our favorite Scotsman was still stuck down in the well.

On the Island, Hurley was starting to get a sinking feeling about everything, whereas in the ALT he was totally kicking butt and taking names. He pretty much had a very disturbed Sayid held captive in his Hummer, and then went to pay his old best friend a visit. Almost all of my favorite parts of the finale revolved around reunions in the ALT world, and Hurley and Charlie's half-reunion was no exception. In fact, it might've been even more awesome simply because Hurley -- with that HUGE smile on his face -- knew what was going on, but Charlie didn't.

The interesting thing to me was that earlier in the season, Charlie clearly had some sort of subconscious idea of where he truly was. That's the only way to explain how he had no fear of walking into traffic or drowning in a car with Desmond in "Happily Ever After." It was like he knew enough to understand that he needed to convince Desmond that there was something strange going on... but then never came full circle himself. Charlie simply thought that on the ALT 815 flight, he came close to death and had a life-altering vision of the love of his life -- who was someone he'd never met. He thought (and so did a lot of Lost fans, myself included) that he was peering into an alternate universe and seeing another life he'd lived out.

And so that's why he resisted Hurley's first attempts to get him to come to the concert, and therefore Hurley had no choice but to shoot him with a tranquilizer dart.


Back on the Island, Ben is with Fake Locke at the well. I think it's very important to note here that even at this late stage in the game, Ben is still up to his old tricks. You might remember that in the last few episodes leading up the finale, I couldn't figure out whether Ben was just acting like he was on the MIB's side, or if it was some elaborate scheme. But the scene where he outed Sawyer and held him at gunpoint made me believe that Ben was playing both sides. He still had the walkie-talkie in order to communicate with Miles in case things headed south and he needed a Plan B, but hanging with the survivors wasn't his first choice. He was truly hoping the MIB was going to turn over the keys to the Island. And I think this is just one of several bad, selfish decisions that Ben was still trying to atone for when we see him in the ALT world outside of the church at the very end of the finale.

After Ben forced Sawyer out of hiding, Sawyer and Fake Locke exchanged words and Sawyer confirmed that Desmond was the MIB's secret weapon.

More proof that Ben was still "a bad guy" at this point: he was stunned that the MIB let Sawyer leave unharmed. Once Sawyer headed back to rejoin Jack and the others, Ben finally confronted the MIB about the Island's fate.

BEN: When you said you were gonna destroy the island, I thought you were speaking figuratively.

FAKE LOCKE: Because I said I'd leave you in charge once I was gone? I'm sorry if I left out the part about the island being on the bottom of the ocean.

D'oh, Ben, you just got served!

And so did we, the viewers. You don't think they put in that line about the Island being on the bottom of the ocean to continue to fool us into thinking that the ALT world would end up being the final version of events? Remember how Season 6 started out with the ALT Flight 815... and then took us underwater to see the ruins of the Four-Toed Statue?

I'm not too proud to admit that I thought the MIB's line was another oh-so-obvious clue that the ALT world would win out.

Next, Fake Locke retrieved Desmond from Rose & Bernard's B&B and -- together with Ben -- they started the march toward the heart of the Island. Ben was quick to switch off the receiver when Miles called in news of Ageless Richard's retrieval. (I was very happy that Smokey hadn't killed Richard -- that would've made me very angry if he'd gone out like that after the awful life he'd led.) Without any guidance from Ben, Miles and Richard decided to stick with their original plan of going over to Hydra and blowing the Ajira plane sky high.


Over in the ALT, Sawyer gets word from Miles that something fishy is going on: Miles just saw Sayid -- who should've been in a jail cell -- roll onto the concert grounds in Hurley's hard-to-miss ride. Sawyer decides to go warn the Kwon's that their attacker might be on the loose.

At that same time, Sun and Jin are met by none other than Juliet (was anyone surprised by this? No? Me neither) and she begins to perform an ultrasound on Sun. This scene right here is a perfect example of why it pays to rewatch the finale now that some time has passed. Because when I first saw it on May 23, it was of course emotional -- but it was nowhere near as emotional as it was when I revisited it a few weeks ago, after I knew the big twist.

On the night the finale aired, when I was still trying to figure out what the ALT world was -- and when I continued to believe that this version of events might "win out" over the Island timeline -- I interpreted the scene of Sun and Jin's awakening as one where they remembered all of these awful things some other version of themselves had been through and how horribly it had all ended. I assumed they were beyond appreciative that they'd been given another chance, if you will, to live out their lives and raise Ji Yeon.

Once I watched it again, though, it became clear that their reactions to their life-flashes stemmed from the fact that they had no regrets in their lives. If they had to do it all over again, they would still choose to die together. Since I'd been extremely critical of the way Jin and Sun went out, in some weird way their scene in the hospital helped soften the blow for me a bit. Yes, they did really drown together in the submarine. Yes, in the end, they chose to stay together rather than fight for Jin's escape so that he might back it home to their daughter. But that was their decision. They'd spent the last several years fighting to get their relationship back on track, and now that they were finally together, they weren't going to leave each other. (And dammit if we didn't have to see Sun screaming her guts out in the flashes -- AGAIN! That scene still kills me.)

After Sun and Jin have their freak-out, Juliet's like, "These people are weird," and busts outta there.



On the Island, Sawyer rejoins his friends and confirms that Locke is planning to destroy the Island. But Jack is not fazed by this -- nor does he care who finds Desmond first. "We're all going to the same place, anyway," he reasons. "Then it ends."

In the ALT world, Locke and Jack share a quick conversation before Locke's big surgery. Then Locke asks about the missing coffin, and Jack shares that it's supposedly been found. Next:

LOCKE: Well, I hope that brings you some peace.

JACK: If I can fix you, Mr. Locke, that's all the peace I'll need.

While we all know about Jack's obsession with fixing things, we also know that he's never going to really be at peace until he comes to terms with his daddy issues. And simply finding Christian's coffin and subsequently laying him to rest probably isn't going to be enough. Clearly Jack is still in denial about this, though.

At this point in the episode I figured that one way or the other, we would definitely end up seeing a Christian/Jack reunion. And since I didn't see the big twist coming, that's why I continued to assume that the ALT world was real and that the coffin would be empty and Christian would be somehow found alive... and Jack would come to understand how all of this was possible when he experienced what Des, Hurley, Sun and Jin already had, and the memories of his "other" life on the Island came flooding back to him.


Back on the Island, Miles and Ageless Richard come to realize that Ageless Richard is no longer so ageless. So now he's Just Like The Rest of Us Richard... as well as the first person on the planet who actually seems pleased to find his first gray hair. Jacob's immortality spell has been broken... but Richard realizes that he's not ready to die just yet. So he and Miles continue on their way, and take off in an outrigger toward Hydra.

That's when -- surprise, surprise -- they run across good ol' Lapidus, who'd been floating at sea since the submarine blew up and sank. I thought it had been a little bit fishy that we never got a "final death shot" of our favorite pilot, but I was still surprised that he turned up again and was basically in one piece. I was NOT surprised, however, that he was mad as hell and not gonna take it anymore. He made it clear that they were absolutely not going to blow up the Ajira plane, because he fully intended to fly them back to civilization.


When Jack and his group were shown traveling up the mountain just as the MIB, Ben, and Desmond came into view, it very much reminded me of the scene in the Season 3 finale ("Through the Looking Glass") when Jack and the 815ers confronted Ben on the way to the radio tower. Back then, Jack went berzerker and delivered a royal beatdown to Ben. This time, Kate pumped about ten bazillion bullets into Fake Locke -- only to realize that he couldn't be harmed.

"You might wanna save your bullets" the MIB shouted, all smug-like. That advice was going to come back to haunt him...

Then Jack and the MIB had their own little war of words, which ended with one of my favorite exchanges of the episode:

JACK: I'm gonna kill you.

MIB: How do you plan to do that?

JACK: That's a surprise.

I love it when Jack tries to be funny! I love it even more when he actually is funny, like this time. I also enjoyed the worried look that quickly crossed Fake Locke's face after Jack's threat. MIB no likey surprises.

Here's yet another thing I thought was pretty cool about this scene: How the two sides realized it was pointless to do anything other than travel together to the Magical Cave of Light. I'm glad they didn't do some lame "race to the cave" or have Jack and Fake Locke try to stop each other or something. They were each confident in their plans and knew that one of them was going to be proven right, so -- as the MIB said -- they might as well just get on with it.


So everyone treks to the cave, and on the way, Jack tells Sawyer that he believes Desmond is actually some sort of weapon that can be used against the MIB. He reasons that Jacob wouldn't have been on the lookout for Desmond's return if his powers could only bring about the destruction of the Island.

Eventually the MIB suggests that only Jack and Des continue on with him. The trio gets ready to lower Des down, and that's when the Scotsman decides to drop a bomb on Jack. He tells the Mad Doctor that nothing they're doing matters, because there's "another place" that Des is going to travel to once he hits the light -- and that Jack is in this other place too... and he's happy.

When I watched the finale the first time, I assumed this scene proved what we all had assumed since "Happily Ever After" -- that Widmore's experiments sent Des over to the ALT and back, and that he had full memory and knowledge of what that world was. It was another sly move by the writers that furthered the theory that the ALT was some sort of "way out" for our beloved 815ers.

The second time around, however, it was clear that Desmond obviously did not know the truth about the ALT. His short time in the ALT (which, remember, was only his consciousness traveling -- not his physical body) led him to believe that he'd seen a different instance of his life where everyone from the Island reconnected (because of him) and lived... happily ever after. (The title of that episode sure takes on a different meaning now, doesn't it?) Des was convinced that this other life would play out regardless of what Jack or the MIB did on the Island. I think he was trying to make Jack feel better -- or less stressed out or something -- by assuring him that everything was going to be OK because nothing they did mattered. But Jack was having none of it: "All of this matters."


Back in the ALT, we learn that it was in fact Juliet whom Jack had been married to (no surprises there) and who was therefore David's mom. They confirm plans to attend the benefit concert together (with Auntie Claire) while Sawyer arrives at the hospital to check in on Sun and Jin.

Meanwhile, Hurley pulls into the parking lot of a seedy bar and has a little chat with Sayid. Sayid is continuing to grow impatient about what's going on, and Hurley tries to have the old "you're really a good person!" chat with him. Sayid, of course, proves Hurley's point when he jumps out of the Hummer in order to rescue... Shannon. D'oh!

Yeah, you could say that I didn't really like this part. Those of you who've been reading my posts from the beginning know that Boone was one of my least favorite characters, so I was in no way happy to see him again (though I'm thankful that we didn't have to witness his awakening). And the Sayid and Shannon relationship had always seemed forced to me -- serving no purpose other than to help Shannon find self-redemption before the writers killed her off. It's pretty clear that Nadia was Sayid's soulmate. BUT... now that we know what the ALT was, it kind of makes sense that Shannon had to be the one to stir Sayid's memory. Did we have to see them making out, though? No.


On the Island, the moment of truth drew closer. While the group Fake Locke and Jack left behind waited for something to happen, Ben's walkie-talkie lit up. Though no one actually ever told the group back on the main island that Lapidus had been recovered, Miles did make it clear that the plan had changed and they now intended to escape by plane. That's when Claire arrived on the scene and started firing shots. Richard tried to talk her down and convince her that she could tag along, but she just walked off.

At this same time, Jack and the MIB were lowering Desmond down into the cave. I 100% thought that Des was going to be a goner. I never in a million years expected him to survive until the end of the show -- I thought his and Penny's love story would always be the "tragic" one. Turns out that was Sun and Jin's role to play. But I watched Des dangling above what I was sure would be his death, I was really sad. Such a great character -- only to be sacrificed, I thought.

As Jack and the MIB waited to see what effect Desmond might have on the light source, they delivered yet another classic exchange -- one of my favorites of the season:

MIB: This remind you of anything, Jack?

JACK: What?

MIB: Desmond...going down into a hole in the ground. If there was a button down there to push, we could fight about whether or not to push it. It'd be just like old times.

JACK: You're not John Locke. You disrespect his memory by wearing his face, but you're nothing like him. Turns out he was right about most everything. I just wish I could've told him that while he was still alive.

MIB: He wasn't right about anything, Jack. And when this island drops into the ocean, and you drop with it, you're finally gonna realize that.

And then the two men peered down into the cave just like they peered down into the hatch in the last moments of Season 1. This moment was pure genius.



If you didn't feel a thrill -- a rush -- when you watched this scene, then it must take a hell of a lot to impress you.

Fake Locke's second mention of the Island ending up at the bottom of the ocean continued to solidify the theory in my head that the ALT world existed as a result of something that happened on the Island. I'm sure I'm not the only one who was so completely fooled.

This is probably where I should take a moment and address a few things about Locke. Rest assured that there's going to be an entire section devoted to my favorite character later in this post, but considering the conversation we just covered between the MIB and Jack, I think it makes the most sense to mention the following two points now:

1) Jack realized that Locke had been right all along: the Island is special, they'd all been brought there for a reason, and they all had a role to play. It turns out that Locke's role was helping Jack believe all of this. If it hadn't been for Locke, Jack would not have been able to come to terms with the fact that he needed to accept his destiny as the New Jacob and save the Island (and, in turn, all of humanity).

2) On the Island, until the point where Locke left via the Frozen Donkey Wheel in Season 5, he was 100% Real Locke. Some people wanted me to address the theory that Locke had turned into the MIB or was at least partially being controlled by the MIB as early as the fourth episode ("Walkabout") of Season 1, when Locke first encountered Smokey. To me, this theory doesn't make any sense -- no offense to those who came up with it. If you've got the MIB saying in the Series Finale that John Locke "wasn't right about anything" -- that wouldn't really jibe with the notion that the MIB and Locke were one and the same for Seasons 1 - 5, now would it?

It also wouldn't make sense because Smokey tried to kill Locke by dragging him down into a hole in the ground in the Season 1 finale.

And then there's the fact that Locke realized those who had left with Lapidus were never supposed to have done so -- and he knew that in order for them to each play their individual parts, they all had to come back to the Island, together. If Locke and the MIB were one, why would the MIB want his biggest threats to return? Why would he want them to fulfill their destinies? Why would he care about finding Helen after he was back in the real world? Or Walt? And most importantly, why would the MIB be trying so hard to convince everyone all Season 6-long that Locke was just a crazy fool... if the person we'd come to know and love as John Locke was really the MIB the entire time?

It just doesn't make sense. I think that when Locke "looked into the eye of the Island" during his first encounter with Smokey, all that happened is that Smokey/MIB did his typical "mind scan" routine and then immediately realized that this was a man who could be manipulated. A man who desperately needed to believe in something. A man who needed to feel important. And so Smokey showed Locke a vision -- something that Locke called "beautiful" and later described as a "white light" -- that would make him feel special so that later... much later... the MIB could put his plan into effect.

It was Ben, however, who ensured the success of the MIB's treachery. By killing Locke in Los Angeles and then insisting Dead Locke be taken back to the Island with the rest of the 815ers, Ben unknowingly played right into the MIB's hands. And then when Locke appeared to come back to life after the Ajira flight? Well, Ben was scared to death and knew that he better do whatever "Locke" said... especially after Alex -- in a vision conjured up by Smokey -- told him to. In Ben's eagerness to ensure that he remained the leader of the Others by murdering his biggest threat, he was outwitted by the MIB (whom he didn't even know existed at that point in time). Craziness.


Down near the Heart of the Island, Desmond found his footing and moved toward a pool with a beam of bright light emanating from its center. Scattered around were the skeletons of those who most likely attempted this same mission before him -- that couldn't have been a confidence booster. But it was definitely a hint for us that this Island Drama had been going on a long, long time.

In what might have been the biggest Here Goes Nuthin' moment of the series, Des waded into the water and underwent a unique form of electromagnetic shock therapy. I could barely watch this part -- I was so sure he was going to do whatever he needed to do and then crumple to the ground in a bloody heap.

It turned out that what he needed to do was uncork the light -- a fairly literal translation of Jacob's wine bottle analogy from earlier in the season. Now, I haven't been able to read other takes on the finale, but I do know that a lot of people thought this whole cork thing was lame. While it definitely took me a little off-guard (a cork? really?), I was more perplexed by how UNcorking the light would somehow turn it off. To me it would seem like corking it would make the light go out. But I digress... all that really matters is that there had to be SOMETHING for Des to do down there that Jack could then later undo. None of us knew that Jack would have to undo it as we were first watching it, though, and so it might have seemed a little silly. Quite frankly, if someone had already accepted a Frozen Donkey Wheel as a means of time and space travel on the show, then I really don't understand any bitterness or disbelief over a cork. What else could it have been down there? A gigantic light switch? The means by which Des had to get the job done were neither here nor there -- all that mattered was that when he accomplished his task, it didn't immediately destroy the Island (like the MIB had figured)... nor did it make the MIB go poof (like Jack had figured).

It did seem like the situation was working in the MIB's favor, however. Once the Light went out, the Island began violently shaking, the pool started glowing lava-red, and it appeared that perhaps the volcano that we'd gotten hints about over the past several years was finally going to erupt.

Above ground, Fake Locke's all "Nyah nyah!" and attempts to run off, but not before Jack tackles him, gives him a big ol' punch in the kisser... and then they both realize that Fake Locke is bleeding. So yeah, the Island is falling apart all around them, but the MIB is once again mortal, too. Win-win?

Jack barely had time to fully realize the implications of the MIB's situation and subsequently dazzle us with one of his full-on Cocky Grins before he was pounded with a rock.


In the ALT, things were heating up as the benefit concert got underway. Charlotte and Faraday met for the first time, but neither experienced a flash (that we saw, anyway). Juliet was called back to the hospital, and David and Claire end up at Table 23 (ZOMG THAT'S ONE OF THE NUMBERS!!!) with Kate and Desmond. Des seemed pretty damn pleased with himself, which was hilarious the second time I watched the finale. Kate and Claire were like "What tha...?", which was funny both times.

After an intro by Pierre Chang, Charlie took the stage with Drive Shaft and Faraday (I don't care that his last name's Widmore in the ALT) and started playing some downright awful music. Charlie spotted Claire in the crowd and simply couldn't take his eyes off of her. Here was the woman in his Mariah Carey-like Vision of Love! I adored that part. But then, as we all kinda expected, Claire started having labor pains and left her table to try and... do what exactly? Who knows.

Well, I guess Claire was simply trying to NOT have a baby in front of everyone else. Kate follows her (resulting in another twinkly-eye moment from Des) and, just like on the Island, has to calm Claire down and help her through the delivery. Also just like on the Island, Charlie joins the women but then is sent off to get things that will help.

Unlike Sun's soul-rattling scream or Juliet's Death Fall, Aaron's birth scene is one that I didn't mind seeing again, especially in this new setting. I am so happy that it was THIS experience that brought on Kate's awakening and not something having to do with the freakin' love quadrangle. It proves how much Aaron really did impact her life. I teared up a little during this scene on May 23... but I downright lost it at this part on my recent rewatch.


Next it was Claire and Charlie's turn to experience a rush of memories. (Can we assume baby Turniphead had his own awakening as well?). All of the pieces quickly fell into place for the Bloody Rock God, who hadn't realized the full scope of things during his initial flashes on the ALT 815 flight when he nearly died from choking on a baggie of heroin. Now he remembered you, all, AND everybody! He did know the woman from his earlier vision... he had tried to comfort her on their first days together on the Island (yay for the peanut butter flash!), he had grown to love her, and in the end, he had sacrificed himself in the hopes of saving her and her son.

Outside, Eloise confronted Des about his intentions. She was worried that, despite her warnings, Hume was going to continue to meddle with things and "take" her son. I think this was one of the only instances where Eloise ever looked completely vulnerable. Now we know why. She wanted more time with Daniel... and she needed to get over what must have been extraordinary guilt for killing him. On that note, so many things -- Faraday's death being a prime example -- that I just assumed would magically become "undone" by the end of the series, had truly been set in stone the moment they happened. I know that some people who didn't like the finale's twist never want to revisit earlier seasons of the show, but scenes like Faraday's death (and Alex's death... and Locke's death) -- basically all of the big crazy moments of Season 5 that a lot of us figured could and would be changed -- were real. For me, rewatching them with this new certainty gave them even more gravitas then they had already carried.

Once Charlie, Claire, and Aaron were a big happy family again, Des arrived on the scene with his little told-ya-so look at Kate. It should have been a huge clue as to what was really going on when no one got angry or upset after they relived their memories. It should have been a sign as to what the ALT world represented when everyone seemed at peace and failed to question anything once they had their awakenings... but I still had no clue about the upcoming Gotcha! moment

MOVE, $&%)#!

Over on the Island, the earth was crumbling beneath the survivors' feet. Quake after quake knocked everyone over, and soon a mammoth tree started to fall -- with Hurley in its path. In an uncharacteristically heroic move, Ben pushed Hurley aside and took the hit himself. I think this was the exact moment when Ben finally began an unfettered path toward redemption. He had certainly had his good moments before, but as we'd witnessed earlier in the finale, the more cunning and selfish side of him often reared its ugly head before he ever fully committed to being "one of the good guys."

Sawyer then realized that that the MIB might have defeated Jack and the obliteration of the Island might well be under way. At that same time, Miles radioed in again and said that they'd be taking off from Hydra in the Ajira plane in an hour. That's when Ben let everyone know about Fake Locke's boat.


And now came the time for the final Jack/Fake Locke battle. Thank God it was replete with sleeting rain, earthquakes, bodies flying through the air, AND slo-mo! For it was a very epic battle, indeed.

Fake Locke was peering over the cliff, thinking about how he was going to make his escape before the Island went under, when lo and behold, Jack appeared -- and he wasn't gonna take it anymore! I'm sure it wasn't actually meant to be funny, but I must admit to laughing when the two men starting running toward each other. It was so primal -- like old-school cavemen stuff. Kill or be killed. I'm not saying I didn't enjoy it, I just found it slightly humorous.

Since I'm admitting I giggled at Jack hurling himself onto Fake Locke, I must also admit to being utterly and completely shocked when he was so viciously stabbed in the gut. There was a part of me that always assumed Jack would die in the finale... but it was a pretty small part. Truth be told, it was really Desmond and Ben who I figured were definite goners. I thought both of them would go out in some completely heroic way, à la Sayid. But I was wrong. Jack's wound was bad, and he knew it. As Fake Locke was in the process of giving him another slash to the neck (the same spot that was constantly bleeding in the ALT), Kate arrived on the scene and showed how well she'd listened to Fake Locke's previous orders.

She growl-yelled "I saved you a bullet!" as she shot the now-mortal Fake Locke. I'm not one for cheesy lines like that, so I definitely cringed at this part. But I was happy that in the end, it was Kate who ended up saving Jack. No, this has nothing to do with my preferences about the love quadrangle (because I had none), it simply means that I appreciated the mirroring (along with the contrast -- yes, there can be both) between the series' pilot and its finale. In the first episode of Season 1, Kate helped Jack by sewing up his nastiness from the plane crash, despite the fact that she was incredibly nervous and thought she might puke. Now here she is at the end of the series, saving his LIFE, and not at all hesitant about doing it. I'm not trying to make any point about Kate growing as a character per se, since we know she was already quite comfortable with violence before she ever stepped foot on Oceanic 815. I just liked how the two scenes seemed to be like bookends or something. Hopefully at least one person out there understands what I'm getting at.


Jack made double-sure the MIB was out of their lives for good by kicking him off of the cliff. And then the directors made sure there were no doubts in the audience's mind by showing him again a while later, still all crumpled on the ledge below. Ding, dong, Fake Locke is dead!

Jack then turned to Hurley and Ben, who had somehow gotten out from under the tree that three people couldn't budge just a little while earlier (seriously, what up with that?). I have to say, I was surprised that Hurley stayed. I guess I thought that Hurley was really one of the only characters remaining -- besides Claire -- who truly had a reason to go back to the real world. That reason being his parents. But perhaps he knew in his heart that he still had another role to play on the Island.

As for Ben, well, it was a given that he would want to hang around. He was truly like a captain determined to stay on board a sinking ship -- and he pretty much said exactly that:

"If the Island's going down, I'm going down with it."


The Island was indeed going down. There was no time for drawn-out goodbyes -- Jack knew he had to go back to the Cave of Light, and that the others had to bust it to Hydra right quick. Kate reluctantly accepted this and gave her ex-fiancé a kiss, they each said "I love you," and then Kate prepared to jump into the ocean and swim to the boat with Sawyer.

Around this time I started to really worry for Jack, Ben, AND Hurley.


In the ALT, Locke's surgery was over, and shortly after he was wheeled into the recovery room he surprised Jack by waking up despite heavy anesthesia. What's more, he claimed to know the surgery worked because he could already feel his legs again. To prove it, he wiggled his toes... which brought on a wave of memories from the Island.

Remember that it's likely Locke had already received a series of flashes after Desmond ran him over earlier in the season... but now John had achieved total recall. I selfishly wish that Locke's awakening had been a little longer and more emotional -- I wish they had shown his off-Island attempts to get the Oceanic 6 to go back, and I also wish we'd seen a glimpse of his reaction in the ALT once he remembered the part about Ben strangling him. But oh, well.

Locke, like all the others who were suddenly in on the big secret, seemed at peace. He wanted the same for Jack, but Jack was too unnerved by everything John was saying. Especially the part about him not really having a son. When I first watched the finale I just chalked that line up to the fact that Locke was so deep in his Island memories that he didn't realize that in the ALT world, Jack DID have a son. Now, of course, I can't believe I didn't register that huge hint.


Elsewhere in the hospital, Sawyer's trying to convince Sun and Jin that he needs to protect them from Sayid, and it takes everything in their power for them not to pat him on the head like an over-eager puppy and then burst out laughing. Sawyer's like, "Whatever!" and goes in search of food -- passing Jack in the hallway and calling him "Doc," presumably out of (subconscious) habit.

Once Sawyer got to the vending machine, we all knew that Juliet wasn't going to be far behind. Which inevitably meant that another round of Juliet's Death Fall lurked in the not-too-distant future. I armed myself with tissues.

Unbelievably, this scene exceeded my very high expectations. I LOVED how they tricked us for an entire year into thinking that Juliet's Season 5 dying words of "It worked" had meant that the Jughead "do-over" plan had succeeded, and that what we were seeing in the ALT was perhaps the result of their efforts. Instead, "It worked" was what Juliet said to Sawyer in the ALT after he followed her advice of unplugging the machine in order to get his Apollo bar out... and she said it at the exact moment that triggered both of their awakenings.


And then yep, of course, there was the freakin' Death Fall again at the end of their respective flashes. Like Sun's Soul-Rattling Scream of Agony, Juliet's Death Fall (well, really more Sawyer's reaction to it) gets me every time. I love, love, LOVED how their conversation about going dutch for coffee was seamlessly woven into the ALT. The editing together of the flashes and the real-time ALT was simply amazing. Juliet's wincing of the painful reality of what happened to her was what I was expecting/hoping for from Locke... but at least we got it here. This scene was perfection. PERFECTION, I tell you!!! Once again I must say that if you weren't impressed by the Juliet/Sawyer reunion sequence, I have to wonder what exactly it would take to make you raise an eyebrow, nod in approval, and utter, "Bravo."

I guess this scene put an end to the Love Quadrangle once and for all. Right?

Over at the concert, Kate was attempting to seduce Jack into remembering his Island life by slinking up to him in that va-va-voom black dress. But he was lame and still in denial.


On the Island, Jack, Hurley and Ben made it back to the Cave of Light, and Hurley finally realized what it was that Jack intended to do. It's always been tough for me to watch Hurley break down, and this time was no exception. Not only was it sad to see him so distraught, but when he took on the Jacob role, it also confirmed my fears that Jack was going to die. Now, I've been annoyed with Jack several times over the years just like everyone else, but I never wanted him to die. Boone? Yes. Ana Lucia? Yes. Nikki and Paulo? Yes. Jack? No.

But there Jack was, dipping a water bottle into some nas-tay (and presumably magic) puddle and then turning over the Island Protector role to his most loyal friend. The only thing that made me feel better about this scene was that it proved correct the hunch many of us had after watching "What They Died For." Here's what I wrote in that post: "Hurley just said, 'I'm just glad it's not me.' That gives me the sinking feeling that something's going to happen to Jack and it WILL be Hurley who has to take over. That line was way too out of place for it to not eventually have meaning."

This was another scene that I thought was handled very well overall -- Hurley's protests were spot-on, but what I loved even more was how the camera cut to Ben, who was clearly uncomfortable and of course more than a little bit forlorn about not being The Chosen One... again. I mean, there's not a guy who loves the Island more than Ben. But that proved to be his downfall, as well... and I think the looks that Ben gave while Hurley was making the transition showed that he was beginning to realize that.


Over on Hydra, Kate and Sawyer make it to shore and find Claire, who was still stubbornly refusing to join their escape. She didn't want Aaron to see her with her bad weave and preferred the company of Squirrel Baby to humans. But Kate tells her that the MIB destroyed Squirrel Baby and so now there's pretty much nothing left for her on the Island... and not to worry because she knows a real good stylist back in LA. So Claire relents and the trio is able to wave down Lapidus before he runs them over.

Miles and No-Longer-Ageless Richard pull their friends on board, and the Ajira plane achieves liftoff. I was 100% expecting it to blow up, or something else major to go wrong. I thought maybe they would slam into the protective shield around the Island and all get nosebleeds and die... but I supposed that once Jacob ceased to exist, all of his ways of keeping the Island hidden went poof as well. Lapidus and crew seemed to be in the clear. I couldn't believe it. But once I started believing it, then I became really sad. Sad because Sawyer was without Juliet, Claire didn't know the son she was going back to, and Kate didn't really have anything TO go back to. Of all of the original 815ers, so few finally had a chance at a "normal" life again.

Then I made myself cheer up by thinking of the possibility of a spin-off entitled No-Longer-Ageless Richard's Adventures in the Real World. Sure, he'd left the Island before... but he was always working for The Others. Now he'd have a chance to... I don't know... go to Vegas! That's a show I want to see! ABC, are you listening?


Now came the moment of truth. Jack went down into the Cave of Light and found a still-alive (yay!) Desmond. Des was totally confused and downright depressed as to why he was "still here" and not in the happy world he'd been sent to during Widmore's experiment. But he quickly got his bearings and tried to talk Jack out of his suicidal plan. Jack replied by ordering him to find a way back to his wife and son, and told him he'd see him in another life, brother. (VERY forced... but you can't blame them for putting it in there.)

Jack helped Des back into the rope sling and then made his way to the drained pool. You could tell his knife wound was getting the best of him, but he still managed to return things to the way they were in the cave... and The Light eventually started glowing as water began rushing in to fill the pool. Jack was whooping it up, all alone -- happy that he finally achieved his purpose on the Island. But all I kept thinking was, "Get out of there, dude! You're gonna drown and/or get electrocuted!!!!"

As Jack and his kinda maniacal laughter dissolved into a sea of yellow light on the screen, I assumed that was the last we would see of him on the Island, and I was not happy.

Above ground, Hurley and Ben hauled the rope up... only to find Desmond on the other end. That's when the loss of his buddy hit Hurley full force, and I was sad all over again.


Believe without a doubt that at this point in the finale, on the night of May 23rd I was experiencing what I can only describe as pure, unadulterated panic. There were mere minutes left in the series, and I couldn't fathom how they were going to be able to explain the ALT and finally reconcile the two worlds and, you know, make Real Locke somehow come to life again on the Island like I always wanted.

I started to get the sinking feeling that there was going to be a huge twist -- the kind of twist that I'd hoped and prayed would never happen. The kind of twist where someone wakes up and it was all a dream... or a virtual reality game... or a science experiment. Something that would negate all of the characters' experiences on the Island.

But I forced myself to stop worrying about it, because it was time for the Locke/Ben reconciliation. Locke pulls up in a cab to the same church where Kate and Desmond had been in the beginning of the episode while they were waiting for Christian's coffin. This was also the same church that served as the home of the Dharma Lamp Post Station in Season 5 -- where Eloise Hawking explained what the Oceanic 6 had to do to get back to the Island -- so I figured that maybe this church would end up being some sort of portal where the Island and ALT worlds would intersect... or SOMETHING. Once again, I was way off.

Ben was sitting quietly in the courtyard as Locke, still in a wheelchair, made his way to the back entrance. I realized at this point that we weren't going to get to see Ben's awakening -- he'd already had it. We can assume he started to piece things together after he saw a few flashes when Des gave him the beatdown in "What They Died For." I'd wager the rest of his memories were brought on by some interaction with Alex shortly thereafter.

Locke and Ben's exchange was brief, but filled with sadness. Ben apologized for what he'd done, and explained he'd acted out of selfishness and jealousy. Locke was a bit confused as to what Ben had to be jealous of, but forgave his old frenemy nonetheless. The two men wouldn't be going inside together, however -- Ben said that he still had some things he needed to work out. His last words to Locke were a gentle reminder that he probably didn't need the wheelchair anymore. And with that, Locke stood up and walked into the church.

I still had no idea what was going on. Did this mean Ben was going to stay in the ALT world while everyone else was going back to the original timeline?!? But wouldn't Locke still be dead in that other timeline?!? GAH!


On the Island, Ben was tending to a passed-out Des, and Hurley was coming to terms with Jack's death and his new appointment as the Island's protector. At first I was like, "Why does there need to be a new Jacob if the MIB is dead?" -- but now I think that over the course of six seasons it became pretty clear that on top of Smokey/MIB, there had been a human threat against the Island as well. Remember that "Mother" -- Jacob and MIB's mom -- was obviously protecting the Island's Light against ne'er-do-wells before her dark-haired son turned into Smokey. There would always be people up to no good that would want to exploit the Island's powers, or turn it into some sort of tourist destination -- or worse -- and so that's why it will always need protecting.

On that note, when The Light was first mentioned this season, I know a lot of people were frustrated about exactly what it was. They wanted a concrete answer. I personally think we had been given one long before we ever learned that there was literally a glowing light in a cave. It was made fairly clear pretty early on that should the Island ever fall into the wrong hands, it would ultimately mean the destruction of the world. I don't know if any of you have ever read The Road (or seen its film adaptation), but in that book -- which takes place in a post-Apocalyptic America -- a father talks to his son about "carrying the fire." That's immediately what I thought of when The Light was first referenced on Lost. Does anyone really need a drawn-out explanation for this? Isn't it pretty reasonable to assume that The Light was meant to represent what is pure and good in the world... and in each of us? Knowledge, empathy, sympathy, kindness, bravery -- all of that. That's what The Light is. And in the universe of Lost, the Island held the source of The Light. Are there other explanations? Of course. But that's mine.

Anywhoo... back to poor Hurley. He was totally distraught about the responsibility he now held and the great burden on his shoulders. He was at a loss as to how he could ever help Des get home -- until Ben reminded him that all of that tomfoolery about not being able to leave was Jacob's way of running things. "Maybe there's another way. A better way," Ben suggested.

And then Hurley asked for Ben's help. I really loved this scene. It was right up there with when those two shared the Apollo bar. They make such an unlikely duo, but somehow it just works. And Ben was finally happy. He wanted nothing more than to help Hurley -- and you could tell that he had absolutely no hidden agenda this time. He wasn't going to try and usurp Hurley's power... he wasn't going to plan a revolt with the remaining Others... he wasn't going to do anything except assist Hurley in figuring out how to go about changing things on the Island for the better.

The next scene took place in the ALT, with Ben still sitting alone in the courtyard. Hurley appeared on the balcony and wondered what Ben was doing, since everyone else was already inside. After Ben told Hurley that he didn't think he was coming, Hurley just smiled and thanked him for being "a real good number two." At this point I was thinking, "OK, so this is taking place AFTER their joint stint ruling the Island... but where are they all going that Ben's not?" I assumed that maybe the rest of the group was going to go back to the Island somehow, but now that Ben had fully realized how much the Island could bring out the bad side of him, he wanted to stay and live out his life in peace with Rousseau and Alex. I was about to find out how wrong I was...


It turns out that Jack did end up leaving the concert with Kate, who of course took him to the church. On top of being a Dharma station, Eloise's office, and a meeting place for the 815ers, it was also where Jack had been planning to hold his father's funeral. Kate told Jack she'd see him inside.

And then the moment of truth was upon millions of Lost fans around the world. WHAT IN THE HOLY HELL WAS GOING ON? On the Island, we saw that Jack had emerged from the cave, and was now lying bloody and broken on the rocks. My first thought that he was going to be the new MIB (remember that MIB's body has been found in a very similar position) and I was like, "AWW HELL NAW!" But then Jack got up and started limping toward the bamboo grove. He didn't look treacherous or evil or possessed. I let out a sigh of relief.

Then the scene switched to the ALT. What I figured at the moment Jack went in and was alone with the coffin was that he would open it up and he would be inside of it. I didn't have enough time to process what the implications of that would be, and I was definitely still thinking that the two timelines were going to merge... or one was going to win out and destroy all evidence of the other... or something like that. Now I know that it was this total and complete lack of preparedness for the Big Twist that caused my initial knee-jerk reaction to the final scene to be one of disbelief... and hate.

So Jack places his hand on the coffin, much like he did back at Hoffs-Drawler funeral home after Locke (or, "Jeremy Bentham") died. It was this gesture that brought back the flood of memories from the Island. He touched the coffin a second time, and even more flashes appeared. But dammit, he still didn't get what was going on... though I finally did.

"#($%*#(@(%*$(#(!!!!! THEY'RE ALL #)$%*@#*#)$#)%)## DEAD!!!" I either shouted out loud or screamed inside my head (I had friends over, so I was probably trying to be polite) around this time. I was sorely, sorely disappointed when it all dawned on me.

Because I was so utterly thrown by what was going on and in denial that it was happening, I don't think I actually heard what Christian said to Jack the first time I watched the finale. If I had, it would've made me feel much better -- immediately. For I had assumed that all of the Losties had ALWAYS been dead -- ever since Oceanic 815 crashed on the Island. That the Island really had been freakin' purgatory like so many people had insisted ever since Episode 1. But ol' Zombie Dad was quick to say that wasn't the case: "Everything that's ever happened to you is real."

I just wasn't listening.


Christian went on to say that where they were was a place they'd all created in order to be able to find each other again. Some of the people who were there had died before Jack, and some who were there had actually passed away long after. Basically they were in a place that wasn't really anywhere on the space-time continuum, which I later had to chuckle about, because as we all know from the backwards-audio in the Clockwork Orange Rave Room from Season 3, "Only fools are enslaved by time and space."

When I spent some time thinking about this "place" that we referred to as the ALT throughout all of Season 6, I came to the conclusion that it was in no way Heaven... or the afterlife... or anything that may be connected with any particular religion. This extravagant world that the characters lived in without realizing they were dead was something they had to power to create BECAUSE they were on the Island. ONLY because they were on the Island. That was one of the Island's powers, and they all figured it out and made use of it in order to reunite one final time before... before what exactly? Who knows!?! But in no way do I think that the writers were trying to say that this is what happens to ALL of us after we die. It's what happened to these characters because of the extraordinary experience they shared on the Island. (Oh, and by the way... since Des was uniquely and miraculously special, he got to bring Penny along for the ride. See? Is it that hard to come up with our own answers? I think not!)


And so Jack sees all of his old friends again, and then Locke speaks the final words of the entire series: "We've been waiting for you."

If you didn't realize it before, you probably have since: Lost was very much about Jack. Sure, it was about all of the other characters we loved as well and their respective paths to redemption, but clearly The Mad Doctor was the one that they all didn't want to -- or couldn't -- move on without. The series began with him and it ended with him. It revolved around him needing to fulfill his destiny -- the six seasons followed his journey to come to terms with the fact that he even had a destiny in the first place. And here I was SO SURE that it was all going to be about Locke. Realizing it wasn't was like when it dawned on me that the Star Wars films weren't about Luke, but rather Anakin. D'oh!

Back on the Island, Jack comes to his ultimate resting place -- exactly where he first woke up in the bamboo grove after the Oceanic crash. And then -- I don't care WHAT you thought about the finale -- when Vincent padded along and settled in next to Jack as he took his dying breaths? Well, we all lost it there, didn't we?

In the church, the reunion has settled down, and everyone takes their seats -- looking very much like they were all back on a plane. Christian walks down the aisle and opens the door to let a blinding white light stream in and engulf the room. Everyone looks happy and at peace.

On the Island, Jack gazes up at the sky and sees his friends flying home to safety in the Ajira jet, and he knows he has done his job. He fixed things.

And with that, the series concluded exactly the opposite of how it began -- and of how many of us thought it would end: Jack closed his eyes.


As I mentioned, oh, 12,000 or so words ago, I'm not here to try and convince anyone of anything. I'm not here to try to change anyone's mind about the finale, and I'm certainly not trying to defend the show's writers. But a comment left by LLL reader "bill" on my Instant Reaction post intrigued me. He observed that the people he knew who didn't like the finale could explain why they didn't like it... but those who approved of it could only say "I liked it" without any further discussion. So now what I'm going to try and do is explain exactly why I liked the finale.

Regarding what many viewed as an overtly religious theme in the last episode... like I said above, I think that what we saw was what happened to the characters on Lost. I never felt like the writers were trying to suggest that this is what happens to everyone after they die. And I definitely don't think they were attempting to push some sort of Christian view of Heaven or anything like that. In fact, I was a bit annoyed at how blatant they were at putting just about every religion known to man's symbols all around in rooms where Jack and Christian were having their little chat. It was like they wanted to ensure everyone saw something from their own religion, and I thought it was a bit pandering. On that note, I can certainly see why atheists were annoyed... but yet there have been very, VERY overt religious symbols and undertones in the show since the first episode back in 2004, so it's not like the writers were trying to pull some "Gotcha!" move in that respect. These religious themes were nothing new.

Further, at no point was it explained what was going to happen next to the Losties. All we know is that because of their time on the Island, they were able to all reunite once they'd died... but BEFORE whatever happens next. So pretty much anything's game. They could go to Heaven... they could be reincarnated... or they could just dissolve into dust and it's game over. We don't know, because that's not what the point was. The point of the entire series was that "no one does it alone." It wasn't "Hey, we're going to trick millions of unsuspecting dorks around the world into believing in X religion!"

I consider myself a spiritual person, but not necessarily a religious one. I have traveled all over the globe and have spent time with people who celebrate all different religions. Yep, even that one. Yes... even THAT one! (The world's major religions have much more in common than most people assume, by the way...)

I also have several friends who are atheists and I understand where they are coming from, too, even though I myself do believe that there is some sort of higher power out there. But I have no idea what happens after we die, and I don't think anybody does. So was I offended that my favorite show depicted "moving on" as being engulfed by a bright white light? No. Did I like the idea that perhaps -- even if you never spent any time on a magical Island -- you could meet up with your loved ones after you die? Of course I liked it. Why wouldn't I want to see all my peeps again? I don't see what the issue is, and I truly didn't understand what the controversy was over this part.

And yeah... they all met up in a church. So what? Were people not watching the same show I was watching all along? There were ALWAYS religious themes in this series! And really, where else were the Losties supposed to meet up? Walmart? Seriously -- it makes me very, very, very sad... crushed, even... to think that some fans' enjoyment and love of the show was ruined by something like the fact that the final scene was in a church. Could it be that people were interpreting that scene in a way that was never intended? Did it touch on a nerve it wasn't meant to? Is it possible that people were just upset that they didn't see THIS particular ending coming and so they felt "tricked"? Was it really SO BAD that someone would feel compelled to write off the entire six-season run? I just don't get it. I'm not being sarcastic here. I really don't get the disappointment.


So I covered the fact that I liked the finale because 1) I took no issue with its depiction of a pseudo-afterlife that only existed for the Losties, 2) I like the overall idea of being able to reunite with loved ones once you've passed on, and 3) the religious overtones were nothing new and therefore nothing for me to get annoyed about at this late stage in the game.

But the biggest reason I liked the finale is that -- despite how incredibly badly I wanted to see Locke alive and well and running around throwing daggers on the Island in all of his glory once again -- there was no twist that wiped out everything we'd seen our beloved characters experience since 2004.

That is what I was most worried about all along. I know that a good chunk of the fan base was hoping for some huge shocker that would throw the entire series into a new light, thereby making a rewatch not only fun, but almost necessary. I wanted nothing of the sort. I wanted everything that happened on the Island to be real. I think if it hadn't been, that would've been the biggest cheat of all. Everything we saw the 815ers (and others) go through would've been pointless had the Island never existed, or had the ALT truly been a different timeline where Oceanic never crashed, or had it all been a virtual reality game, or whatever.

So I can only assume that a significant percentage of the people who didn't like the finale were mad that they don't have a good reason to rewatch the series. They WANTED a big switcheroo that changed the game and had far-reaching implications, back to the beginning of the series... so they felt tricked because the ALT didn't provide that -- and they never saw the twist that it did bring coming. Whereas I never saw the ALT's twist coming, either, but would have felt tricked if it had been pretty much anything other than it was. Once I realized that I'd misinterpreted the final moments, I couldn't have been happier with how everything was tied up. And if there's anything worth rewatching -- it's Season 6. There are hints about "letting go" right from the beginning -- including Rose telling Jack that "he can let go now." (Of course he didn't listen, though.)

In the end, Lost was about people who crashed on a magic Island -- how the relationships they formed and the experience they had changed the rest of their lives. There was never going to be any big shocker of an ending that threw the entire series into a new light. The fact that all of us were expecting one is probably what led to a knee-jerk reaction of disappointment for many people. It did for me -- I thought I had the ALT all figured out. But after mulling it over for five months, I dare say there's no better way the story could have ended.


Lest anyone think that I felt the entire series was flawless, I will now list the things that bothered me the most:

  • Pretty much the entire Jacob/MIB arc -- including Jacob's "followers" like Ilana and Bram. Believe it or not, I don't think any of it was needed. I think that they could've actually achieved all of the same major plot points without us ever physically seeing Jacob, or knowing any of his/the MIB's backstory. Smokey could've just been a badass spirit on the Island and he could've still hijacked Locke's body. The Island could have been responsible for summoning each of the characters to their Oceanic flights. And then we would've been spared "Across the Sea" (Jacob/MIB's backstory), one of my least favorite episodes ever.
  • Keeping with the above, I'm disappointed that we nerds spent so much time trying to figure out who matched "Jacob's eye" ... and then his profile in the cabin... and who broke the ash circle, and all of that stuff, when none of that ended up making any sense at all. First the ash ring was meant to keep Jacob (?) in the cabin... or was it Smokey? Then it was meant to keep Smokey out of the Temple grounds... but Dogen also had to be alive for it to work. Huh? I could go on and on, but I think you get my point.
  • The poorly written dialogue attempting to clarify the more confusing elements of the show. Exhibit A: Faraday trying to explain the time-jumping. Exhibit B: Ms. Hawking trying to explain what the Island was. Exhibit C: Michael trying to explain the whispers. I apparently was in the minority and did NOT want answers, especially if they were going to come in such awkward form. Which leads me to...
  • "The New Man in Charge." Lord, how I despised this "epilogue" that was included on the Season 6 DVD set. So I'm not even going to talk about it. I'm going to pretend it doesn't exist. Because those 12 minutes, my friends, are what happens when a show's writers are trying to appease part of a fan base that is unhappy about not having absolutely everything spoon-fed to them.
  • I feel that Widmore's storyline ended much too abruptly, and I think overall his character was given the short shrift. He was a badass mo-fo and after all that back and forth and cat and mouse FOR DECADES with Ben -- who supposedly COULDN'T kill him because of "the rules"... he gets shot to death by Ben? Whaaaa?

All in all, there's not a lot I didn't like about the show. Were there more things than the above that annoyed me over the past six years? Yes -- a ton. But I can't even remember them now. So that means that they weren't that disruptive.


And now, a word on my favorite character and the namesake of this site: John Locke. I've already said that I really thought he would be alive and well again by the end of the series. Now that I know that he truly was murdered by Ben (in the episode I saw filming in Hawaii, no less!) and that he felt dejected and like a failure when he died... and that he really did write a suicide note to Jack that simply said, "I wish you had believed me"... it just breaks my heart. It also blows me away that the writers took such a HUGE gamble by killing off one of the most -- if not THE most -- beloved characters on the show. I mean, Terry O'Quinn won an Emmy for that role, for God's sake. That's confidence, people. But if they hadn't done it, we wouldn't have gotten to see the awesomeness that was Terry as the MIB. Those devilish looks will haunt my nightmares for years to come, I tell you.

I've made peace with Locke's story arc now. Although Locke didn't survive until the end of the series, Jack couldn't have fulfilled his destiny and saved the Island (and the world) without him. Locke was a man who had a pretty boring life before he came to the Island. Boring... and so, so pitiful. Man oh man, how I cried at all of his flashbacks... his backstory just kept getting worse and worse! But then he came to the Island, and he could walk again. And he had the time of his life when he was there. The Island gave him the power to walk again SO THAT he would come to believe so vehemently that they were all brought there for a reason, and that the Island was a special place in need of protection.

He had his moments of doubt, but overall his conviction in the roles they were each meant to play is what led him to leave the Island and try to get everyone to come back. That same conviction is what ended up helping Jack to see the light. Ben saw Locke's power, too... he saw that the Island smiled kindly upon him -- and, as he admitted at the very end, it made him jealous. Jealous enough to want to get Locke out of the picture permanently.

Locke's story is also ultimately a cautionary tale about not just believing in something blindly. His faith in the island -- which was understandable because he was miraculously able to walk again after the crash -- led him to quickly be identified by the MIB/Smokey as someone who could be easily manipulated. But in the end, it was that same naive nature of Locke's that helped Jack realize the man he was once at odds with had spoken the truth -- they were all there for a reason.

Do I wish things had turned out differently for old baldie? Duh, yes, of course. Seeing him so at peace with Helen was the main thing that made me start hoping that perhaps the ALT was real. If I were writing the show, would I have found a way to bring Locke back, and would the final shot of the series be on the Island with the rain pouring down on Locke's face and him smiling and raising his hands toward the heavens in a moment of pure happiness? Um, yes. But do I like the show any less because this isn't what happened? NO.


So here's the deal. There's a ton more that I want to say, but it's been over five months since the finale, and I've been trying to finish this post for the past several weeks. If I don't wrap it up now, it's never going to happen. So allow me to quickly cover some of my favorite things about the series, with the promise that I intend to revisit a few points in more detail come early next year.

I loved:

  • How we all got so great at figuring out anagrams
  • Looking for Easter eggs and giving the pause-button a workout
  • That people were moved to read books that appeared in the show
  • That the cast and crew met so many fans at so many incredible events around the world, and that so many Lost fans met each other
  • All of the hilarious show-inspired t-shirts
  • That I would lay in bed with my mind whirring for hours after every episode
  • That the show motivated people -- myself included -- to visit the gorgeous island of Oahu
  • How so many smart and dedicated fans came up with elaborate theories that actually made sense!
  • That the show drew upon everything from pop culture, to physics, to philosophy, to ancient history, to religious works (and more)
  • That Lost made people THINK
  • The fact that we will never be able to see the numbers without pausing
  • How millions of people around the world now have the love for this show in common
  • That Jack and Locke proved there's room for both science AND faith
  • That I was inspired to start writing again because of Lost... and that so many others were as well


I want to thank each and every one of you who have checked back in to see if I was ever going to finish what I started! I really appreciate your incredible patience, and I'm thrilled to have gotten to know so many of you over the years.

This is not goodbye. This is not the last post I'm going to write about Lost. Sorry Zombie Dad, but I can't let go just yet. After I'm past all of the hoopla with my book launch, I intend to do some sort of "Reader Mailbag" thing starting in January 2011. I'll write a short post when I'm ready to have people submit questions for it.

Until then, I've covered in this post how you can keep track of me and what's going on with my adventures in publishing. I hope you keep in touch!

And last, but not least...


JACK: Jacob didn't say anything to me about Desmond.

SAWYER: Doesn't sound like he said anything about anything.

HURLEY: That's kinda of true, dude. He's worse than Yoda.


HURLEY: None of this is ringing a bell, is it? You me, tranquilizer gun?

SAYID: You are insane.


JACK: I'm gonna kill you.

MIB/FAKE LOCKE: How do you plan to do that?

JACK: That's a surprise.


RICHARD: Can you fix it?

MILES: I don't believe in a lot of things, but I do believe in duct tape.

Don't cry, Jack!


I wish I had some sort of award to give out to anyone who read all of this, but I don't. But you do have my sincere thanks. I hope it was worth the wait!

Until the first edition of Reader Mailbag...
- e