Episode Review: "Lost" Series Finale

SPOILER ALERT: If you haven't yet seen this episode of Lost, you should avoid reading this article and the user comments, as they will discuss events that happened during the episode.

Episode 17/18 Metascore
Average User Score*: 7.4

* through June 4

Season 6, Episode 17/18: "The End"

"Lost" may be over, but discussions about the finale are only beginning. As we typically do with any episode of "Lost," we have collected a handful of reviews of the episode from critics and recappers, assigned scores to each review, and averaged them together to get an overall Metascore for the episode.

In this case, however, two things should be noted: First, due to the overwhelming interest in this particular episode, we have quite a few more reviews than we normally do, since many critics who don't weigh in on a weekly basis opted to offer their opinions of the finale. Secondly, in many cases, the reviews quoted below are only preliminary observations of the episode. Due to the finale's length and thought-provoking ending, many critics will be further developing their opinions after (deservedly) giving the episode more thought, and thus their instant reactions that we include there may ultimately differ from their final assessments. Think of the Metascore, then, as a rough guide to viewers' first reactions to what they just saw.

Our collection of individual critic reviews is below. First, we want to know your initial reaction: On a scale of 10 (fantastic) to 0 (terrible), enter your grade for the "Lost" finale below:

Preliminary Reviews for This Week's Episode
Score Publication Reviewer
100 IGN Chris Carabott
The Lost series finale was one of the most enthralling, entertaining and satisfying conclusions I could have hoped for.
100 Orlando Sentinel Hal Boedeker
I can think of several [series] that were more influential:”The Sopranos,” “ER,” “CSI,” “NYPD Blue,” “Hill Street Blues.” But there’s no denying “Lost” was unique, and the series finale was a stunner.
100 St. Petersburg Times Eric Deggans
Sunday’s show was an emotional, funny, expertly measured reminder of what Lost has really centered on since its first moments on the prime time TV landscape: faith, hope, romance and the power of redemption through belief in the best of what moves mankind.
100 Television Without Pity Cindy McLennan
[Grade: A; full recap forthcoming]
100 TV Overmind Sam McPherson
“The End” is the best episode of television I believe I’ve ever seen. Best series finale? Most definitely.
100 USA Today Robert Bianco
Sunday's emotional feast of a finale ... can stand with the best any series has produced. ... Thrillingly, cleverly, and in a manner that tapped into the simple, profound truths of great American works like Our Town, the show spelled out for viewers what it has been saying all along. Lost is about life and death, faith and science, spirit and flesh, and has always stressed that the title refers to the characters' souls, not their location.
91 The Onion A.V. Club Noel Murray
As far as delivering action, emotion, wit and “whoa, what the hell?” I’d say “The End” was enormously entertaining. ... Does making “The End” about the characters “finding each other” rather than about them accomplishing some specific goal or learning some applicable lesson negate the previous 100-odd hours of adventuring? I don’t think so ... but it did make the closing moments in the church ring a little hollow for me. [Grade: A-]
90 Chicago Tribune Maureen Ryan
The first two hours were exciting and emotionally engaging, especially when the island castaways in the Sideways world began remembering their "real" lives. ... But the last half hour or so took the finale to another level. ... The emotional part of the finale worked so well that I don't care much about the analytical/structural stuff.
90 Cultural Learnings Myles McNutt
Lost doesn’t try to end in a way which closes off its plot holes or pieces together its own meandering qualities, but rather creates an episode that says the journey was worthwhile, that the time these characters spent with each other and the time we spent with these characters was all worth it. ... Beautiful and heartwrenching, “The End” captures more than any other series finale I’ve watched the sum total of the series’ experience, awakening in viewers the same power of recall which pulls together half of the series’ narrative.
90 Entertainment Weekly Jeff Jensen
“The End” was an emotionally draining epic that had me crying with almost every single “awakening." ... I was satisfied. More than satisfied. [Jensen's full recap will eventually appear on this page.]
90 Telegraph Michael Deacon
So there we are, then. It wasn’t completely clear. It wasn’t completely logical. But it was completely thrilling. [Deacon has further thoughts here.]
90 Time James Poniewozik
"The End" was an epic, stirring two and a half hours of television, full of heart and commitment, that was true to Lost's characters as we knew them from season one.
90 TV Squad Jason Hughes
As finales go, 'The End' will definitely go down as one of the more satisfying ones; even though it didn't come close to answering all of our questions about the Island and its special properties.
90 Zap2It Ryan McGee
Looking at it from an emotional perspective, I thought the finale was a masterpiece.
80 Entertainment Weekly Ken Tucker
For most of its long but rarely boring length, the final Lost did not huff and puff and labor toward a heavy metaphorical conclusion. Instead, it was, well, pretty delightful, full of reunions that were both emotional and funny. ... Was this an all-time great finale? I wouldn’t say so.
80 HitFix Drew McWeeny
The finale is about 80% "Wow, they're doing it! They're doing it!" and about 20% "Oh, crap, they're doing that!".  And that's a ratio that I can absolutely live with. ... The way the show paid off the various emotional arcs that it's been building for six years was impressive, and there was a series of major moments that are some of the most memorable I've ever seen in a finale.
80 Los Angeles Times Todd VanDerWerff
Very little of the actual plot is, really, all that thrilling. But it works and it becomes thrilling because it provides character payoffs we've been waiting for. ... The important thing ... is not answers. It's resolution. And "Lost" provided that in spades. ... [But] I don't know where I'd rank "The End" against all other "Lost" episodes. There were some jokes that fell flat, and an overreliance on sentimentality that could be a little grating at times.
80 TV Fanatic M.L. House
I found myself almost bored, anxious to get everyone enlightened so we could get to the show's overarching resolution.
80 TV Worth Watching David Bianculli
The general tendency, after a show this complicated says goodbye, is to pick it apart and complain about every untied plot thread, every final inconsistency, every forgotten character. But I'd rather just thank Lost for the ride, and for providing such unforgettable characters and performances, and presenting a series of such originality.
70 Los Angeles Times Mary McNamara
No matter how you felt about the resolution of the finale, the 144 or so minutes that preceded it were pretty compelling television.
70 San Francisco Chronicle Tim Goodman
As a series finale it overjoyed the heart and annoyed the brain. But if I had to do it all over again, knowing how it all plays out, I'd still watch.
70 The Star-Ledger [Newark] Vicki Hyman
A conclusion that delivered gratifying codas for beloved characters, though it maddeningly side-stepped the show’s legion of unresolved enigmas.
70 What's Alan Watching Alan Sepinwall
I'm still wrestling with my feelings about "The End"... As two and a half hours of television - as an extra-long episode of "Lost" - I thought most of it worked like gangbusters. ... But as someone who did spend at least part of the last six years dwelling on the questions that were unanswered - be they little things like the outrigger shootout or why The Others left Dharma in charge of the Swan station after the purge, or bigger ones like Walt - I can't say I found "The End" wholly satisfying, either as closure for this season or the series. ... There are narrative dead ends in every season of "Lost," but it felt like season six had more than usual.
60 People Tom Gliatto
The very long finale to ABC’s Lost was deeply touching, quite ridiculous and, in its very last seconds, so infuriating I erupted like the Smoke Beast and did a few cloudy charges around the perimeter of my apartment on the island of Manhattan.
50 The New York Times Mike Hale
When the entire island story line we had been following for six seasons turned out not to matter very much within the internal organization of the show’s narrative — to be largely disconnected from that final quasi-religious resolution of the plot — it was deflating, despite the warm feelings the finale otherwise inspired. ... As it so often had been, “Lost” was shaky on the big picture — on organizing the welter of mythic-religious-philosophical material it insisted on incorporating into its plot — but highly skilled at the small one, the moment to moment business of telling an exciting story. [Hale's initial comments are available here.]
50 Televisionary Jace Lacob
I found it to be sentimental and cliched, as Lindelof and Cuse offered up the very plot contrivance that they fought so hard not to fall into in the island-set storyline. ... I found the ending to be so heavy-handed, clunky and maudlin at the same time, that I couldn't give in to the post-life love fest going on in those final scenes. [Lacob has even more comments at The Daily Beast.]
40 Boston Globe Matthew Gilbert
The mixed episode offered an abundance of emotional resolution and vague metaphor, some of which was compelling (Sawyer and Juliet’s reunion, Jack and Desmond's farewell) and some of which was quite hokey (the cork?! the light? Locke becoming human again?).
40 Variety Brian Lowry
Despite the emotional wallop of the finale -- there were just too many unanswered questions for that to be wholly satisfying. ... I can't escape the feeling the flash-sideways arc was a waste of time.
40 The New York Times Ross Douthat
I was by turns moved, engrossed, and deeply irritated. But mainly I was irritated, because in the end I’m a plot-centric person, and “Lost” was a densely plotted show, and the macro-plot turned out to be … well, a big nothing seems like an awfully strong way of putting it, but it was certainly close to that.
10 Baltimore Sun David Zurawik
If this is supposed to be such a smart and wise show, unlike anything else on network TV (blah, blah, blah), why such a wimpy, phony, quasi-religious, white-light, huggy-bear ending. ... Once Jack stepped into the church it looked like he was walking into a Hollywood wrap party without food or music -- just a bunch of actors grinning idiotically for 10 minutes and hugging one another.
10 Gawker Max Read
We learned nothing from two-and-a-half hours of slow-motion bullshittery backed with a syrupy soundtrack. ... How great is it to get all these characters back? Not very great at all, as it turns out.
All "Lost" Episodes This Season
Episode Score   Episode Score
Episode 1/2: LA X 89   Episode 10: The Package 72
Episode 3: What Kate Does 64   Episode 11: Happily Ever After 93
Episode 4: The Substitute 88   Episode 12: Everybody Loves Hugo 83
Episode 5: Lighthouse 71   Episode 13: The Last Recruit 73
Episode 6: Sundown 82   Episode 14: The Candidate 92
Episode 7: Dr. Linus 92   Episode 15: Across the Sea 58
Episode 8: Recon 76   Episode 16: What They Died For 89
Episode 9: Ab Aeterno 93   Episode 17/18: The End 74

Individual critic scores are assigned by Metacritic (on a scale of 0-bad to 100-great) based on the overall impression given by a review. The overall Metascore listed at the top of this page is a simple average of the individual scores.

One more thing

If you happened to miss the past six seasons, here's a handy recap:

What did you think?

What did you think of the finale? Was it a fitting end to the series, or were you hoping for something different? Join the conversation below.

We're sorry, but comments are closed for this article.

Comments (132)

  • Brian  

    This was posted:

    "We learned nothing from two-and-a-half hours of slow-motion **** backed with a syrupy soundtrack. … How great is it to get all these characters back? Not very great at all, as it turns out."

    You clearly didnt actually watch the episode, makes me wonder what **** was going on where you were. If it takes answers to satisfy you, go watch CSI. Love Live Fox Mulder.

  • Chris  

    To the people complaining that the finale didn't answer enough questions: What show have you been watching?! If they explained all the magic behind everything that went on, it wouldn't be Lost, and it would have dispelled the magic for the rest of the series. And by the way, they answered a lot more of the questions than you think. They just didn't spell it all out neatly like on CSI or House.
    Overall I think it was a better conclusion to the series than it was an episode. It tied everything up neatly but also with room for interpretation. The only major thing I would have changed is I would have made the Sideways-verse somehow real with one of those Daniel Farraday psuedo-scientific explanations. That's the only thing that really let me down.

  • Olly  

    Charachter driven comes up a lot when people say how great this ending is. For me charachter driven drama is far more than they all lived (died) happily ever after, I always found lost great for its ability to kill off some of the major cast members and keep things suspenseful. I think it was a cop out to have them all come together in the after life maybe we will maybe we won't it really doesn't matter. I honestly couldn't care less if Charlie met Claire again or if Shannon got with Syaeed (Wtf was that about they dated for like a week) the focus of those tragic charachters was their inability to deal with their former pre island lives however if they can remember the island thats enough to work everything out and pass on apparently.

    I felt that the light vs dark concept that they ramped up this season pitting half the surviviors against the other was great which eventually boiled down to just being one lad who only ever wanted to leave the island and could hardly really be conscidered evil getting thrown down a well and turining into black smoke. There were so many intrguing mysteries about why these charachters fates were intertwined, in the end nothing explains why these charachters were special Jason threw out the fact that they were chosen because they all had misserable lives, kind of hard to tell when he visited half of them as kids. The compelling part of the show for me was who are these people and what makes them special why have they missed each other closley over the years to wind up together on that island. Ultimatley this was half answered with Jacobs candidates and them being unhappy. It didn't however explain things like e.g. why Sayeed met the guy who Desmond replaced in the swan station (there are dozens of these little infringments into peoples pre island life). I was expecting a tied fate notion it didn't have to really make sense because lost doesn't but there was no real attempt to answer this. 4 toed statues, ancient symbols, infertility etc.. didnt't really bother me but just casting out the notion that Jacob picked misserable people was BS. 6 billion people on the planet and he chose them because they were misserable no explination for how he got them on the first plane.

    But all in all it was just really dissapointing way to end the show. Some pompous self agrandised notions of the afterlife and moving on coupled with an ending that could only be described as cheese made this almost hard to watch. If i had just seen the last episde i would have been blown away by a great well acted peice of television that i could dismiss with some really cheesy action bits. But 6 years has seen me devlope a respect for this show which it let itself down on massivley. It was fine nto great 65-70 seems fine to me .

    Why are people saying certain reviews shouldn't be included? How would that mean that the show was any better. Accept it not everyone took this ending as brilliant it was so ordinary and I always thought we would get an extraordinary almost rediculous ending but no it was a mundane ending to an extrordinary show. Watched for 6 years and enjoyed so many bits of this show and won't think any less of it really for the finale but it in no way saw out lost in the style i had come to expect from it. A whimper as appose to a bang.

  • meh  

    They get an "A" for a beautifully shot, wonderfully acted episode.
    They get a "F" for presenting a mind-boggling series of mysteries and then exiting stage-right with a boat load of cash without answering a damn thing.
    If they had managed to answer some of the mysteries AND presented us with that ending it would have been the greatest show of all time.
    Instead.. it was an excercise in futility.

  • Noah James  

    I thought it was great but it still gave a stero typical ending, the one I really didn't want to happen. It was almost like them waking up in a coma but not as bad.

    That is why I can only give it an 8 instead of a 10. I thought it was great how they integrated all the best characters was a treat but they still left some great ones out...that's a negative one point and my other negative point is the fact that the ending didn't have more science fiction I though it was cheap how they killed Whitmore, and didn't talk much more about Giles. It was like they took the spirtual simple sided way out when it should have been something like "they all were stuck on the island because they were ghosts and Whitmore and The Dharmas experience kept them from going to Heaven right away". It was very close to a ten but it really needed something like that to make it's ending truly unique.

  • Andrew  

    I am amazed at how people are feeling frustated that everything wasn't handed to them on a silver dish. Also, the idiots who think that everything wasn't real need to get their brain checked. The stuff that happened on the island HAPPENED. The alt verse is not a "now" but a state of conciousness, a place to let go before you move on to whatver you believe is the afterlife. And for all the idiots who can't understand that the answers were laid out, and the show didn't dumb it all down into a monologue, seriously rewatch certain moments. Desmond knew about the ALT verse because he almost died from electromagnetism. Juliet saw it also before she died, hence her "it worked." The light (my opinion) is electromagnetism. electromagnetism is very unique, and high pockets of it can have adverse effects like the dislocation of time (its a sci fi show). People like Some Guy didn't understand what LOST is about, but after some time, people will still use their own interpretations of this show, immortalizing it. They gave all the pieces of the puzzle, it just matters how people put that puzzle together. If they dumbed it down, A) people would not be satisfied with some of the answers B) it would feel insulting to most fans (not people like "Some Guy" and C) it would be a boring way to end a finale. I think that it is really hard NOT to feel sentimental during this episode, but it wasn't maudlin. It was a resolution to the story. By the way, IT IS A CHARACTER DRIVEN SHOW!! How the hell can you explain episodes like Dr. Linus. Why include the flashbacks if it is plot driven?? That image of Jack walking back to the bamboo field, the show, him laying down, Vincent running up to him, watching the plane fly overhead, and closing his eyes will remain one of the strongest images EVER of the show, and it is a clear testament to the fact that this show was ALL ALONG a show about CHARACTER. Don't tell me it wasn't, because that is WHY I WACTHED IT. I feel the fans that liked it understood the real purpose of Lost while the people that didn't like it only wanted a desperate resolution to the mystery. I don't think that if they got that resolution that they would be happy, since the fact that they liked it was FOR the mystery. Seriously, just think about the finale a bit more, and the show overall. You will be surprised at the "answers" you find. LOST could not have gotten a better finale and a better end. It simply wasn't possible. I dare you to try and write one that would satisfy most people, and you can't. This is the best possible choice, and I am extremely glad they chose this rather than an answer loaded fest with no heart.

  • garan  

    Sunday night, my 2 year old niece was sleeping on my lap during the Lost finale. With about half an hour to go, I realized she had just urinated on me.

    By the time the show was over, I realized Lost had ended by doing pretty much the same thing. The ending was such a total cop out. I will admit that it wasn't quite as bad as the Battlestar Galactica finale-- but since that was the worst Deus Ex Machina BS ever, that it pretty faint praise. At least now, I know not to waste anymore money on Lost DVDs.

  • Kurt  

    I think the reason the flash-sideways was NOT a waste of time was because we (and the writers) wanted to see all these characters who died so awfully (Charlie, Jin and Sun) have a happy ending somewhere. A lot of questions are still out there, but at least we know that these people we hated to see go during the last 6 years are happy wherever they are.

  • SunBok Kim (? ??)  

    I thought it was a strange way to end a series. Honestly, the island wasn't real? That's crap that they had to suffer through all that just to realize it was a way to get over their sudden death and to move on. And if you think "Oooh the island is real! There were those episodes showing the past!" it was just the people's thoughts in their minds that made the island seem more real- it's just like making their own background for the island because they wanted to make it more realistic because they couldn't accept the fact they were dead. In fact, that's why they made the island- they couldn't move on because of the sudden death.
    All in all, I didn't like the last episode. It ruined everything.

  • The Island  


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