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)

  • abilify uk  

    I felt that this was the perfect ending for the show. It may not have answered every single question, but did it really have to?? Lost has never been about the details of the Island or anything else in that category. It simply focused on the characters and why they acted the way they did. This episode wrapped up all of the character-relations stories throughout the whole series. The emotion behind every single awakening was simply astounding. For half the show, I was on the brink of tears. The very ending, when Jack had his awakening, was the most intense scene I have ever seen. The biggest reason why this finale worked was because it realized Jack as the true main character. He kind of took a back seat the last few seasons, feeling defeated, but he fulfills Jacob’s vacancy in the Christ-like role of the show.

  • Tracy  

    I just watched the finale. I am honestly upset with it. Not because of unsanswered questions, but because of pointlessness. Ji Yeon will grow up without parents, John never actually found what he was looking for, when he was the biggest believer in the island, Charlie died for nothing in the end (he had already pushed the button), etc, etc. And for what? To keep a monster from leaving? If he had just been allowed to leave in the first place, would he have been a danger to anybody? The entire time, all the survivors wanted to do was go home. Most of them never made it. The show wanted to show how life is? That in death, that's when it all works out? If life is really that pointless, let's all just get it over with. I don't believe that life is pointless, or that happiness can only be found in death.

    I loved this show, but in the end, I don't want to watch it again. It's too flippin' depressing.

  • Alex  

    The End is the episode i ever seen.Its a masterfull ending to a fantastic series.

  • Bob  

    @ MATT LOL, when I read this, the first thing that entered my mind was that you are an idiot. Even though saying they were all dead is stupid since that is incorrect, saying it was a dream is pulling that theory completely out of your ass. BTW, thats not a technique, and it proves nothing. Everything that happened on the island was real, flash-sideways was purgatory. Matt, why even watch Lost when it is clear you are an idiot??

  • Matt  

    it was all a dream. that is the laziest writing technique on the face of the planet. It proves that the writers WERE just making it up as they went.

  • Ryan  

    Rob, I agree. I think the Lost writers misjudged how smart their viewers were. I also am amazed at the amount of times I hear people saying the whole series was pointless since they were all dead. I mean Christian Shepard clearly stated that this was untrue in the most explicit way. And I am also amazed how people are stating that they did not answer any questions since they have answered TONS. The only excuse I can say for people not liking this finale is that they felt the purgatory was unnecessary, and although I disagree, it makes sense. Also, stop saying the finale "sucked" since it did not. You did not like it because it did not suit your needs, but it was a well done finale with some of the finest acting on television, a beautiful score, brilliant effects, and great editing.

  • Rob  

    OK RANT TIME: Thanks for setting that guy straight Andrew. I was about to myself before I realised you already had. I'm amazed by the amount of people slating the show for little reasons like the significance of the polar bears, when a lot of these were blatantly cleared up in the early seasons. A majority of the other mysteries are also explainable if you just THINK about them for a bit. In all honesty though, there are several things mythology/plot-wise that annoy me about season 6 too, but the writers are HUMAN after all, not infallible. For another thing I am absolutely in awe of the amount of people who misunderstood the actually stated and explicit fact that EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENED ON THE ISLAND HAPPENED. THE ISLAND WAS NOT PURGATORY, THE 'FLASH SIDEWAYS' WAS. Call me pompous and arrogant all you like but the fact that many people thought that was what the ending meant is laughable.

  • Tim  

    I'm not religious at all and I absolutely loved the finale. How does Jack get sent back in time now??? Can't say I'd like your theory.

  • Drew  

    Ryan, I couldn't have said it better. Everything you say is true, and although sometimes I didn't notice the thematic focus weaved into the show, I now realize its importance. Also Baycityroller1, it seems to me that you are angry simply because the finale did not follow your theory. Like Ryan, I am so glad it did not because it is a horrible theory. Just because the finale wasn't what YOU predicted it to be does not make it bad. Not to mention the fact that the writers continually said they would not sacrifice the show to please viewers (which they didn't and I am so glad for that).

  • Ryan  

    @baycityroller1's comment
    This comment almost made me laugh. If that happened on the finale, I would have said that almost nobody would have liked it, it would have been dead boring, there would be no character depth growth or closure, no emotion, no thematic focus, nothing. It would have been one of the worst endings ever. From the end of season 1, it was clear that this show explored the theme of faith vs science with Locke proposing he was a man of faith and Jack was a man of science. From season 5, it was apparent that Jack knew he had been wrong in not believing Locke and having faith. I don't understand how you can say this show was purely sci fi with the NUMEROUS biblical allusions throughout the show. That being said, it was in no way a "Christian" show. I don't think they insulted anyone, and I do not understand how this is a "lazy" route. I hear it so many times, yet this ending took just as much effort to come up with as your ending. The score, the acting, the brilliant tied in themes. I mean, in 5 seconds, when Richard cries when he sees his gray hair, it became apparent that the writers were stressing that life is meaningless without death. I stress that this show was in no way religious. Faith is not synonymous with religion. It is keeping an open mind, straying away from skepticism. As an atheist, I can tell you this. I do not believe in "God", but spirituality is important. Looking from the growing number of supporters, and by mulling over the finale, I have come to understand that the writers clearly understood that an initial reaction would not be all out in support of this ending. They knew it would be debated, and it still is, almost 3 weeks after its air date. It would still be analyzed, and people are still trying to dissect the finale. Contrary to popular belief, Lost left us with only 1 or 2 completely unanswered questions, and those are irrelevant. I never cared about Walt, and I still do not. The Egyptian connection in my mind was just to emphasize the timeless and mystic quality of this island. I don't think it ever was important. Lost has been immortalized now, not easily forgotten like CSI episodes. I do not understand why so many people wanted a finale that would by exactly like CSI... THAT would have been the lazy route. Fans can not call the writers lazy simply because they are not willing to look for answers or themes. Lost gave viewers thematic questions that have no simple answer, unlike a murder case. For example, how could the Lost writers have explained what destiny is. Jacob touched these people, and all of a sudden they drew to the island. The question people want answered is how could Jacob do this. What is fate is the question in the subtext, and VIEWERS need to answer that, not writers. I leave you with these words, since Lost truly has been an amazing experience for me. The journey has been worth it, and I would never want it back. Those people who go through life expecting simple answers to difficult questions, expecting all the answers, or are angry at unresolved questions will not like this finale. But they will also face a bitter life, since the answers are not apparent in life just like LOST. Lost is an allegory of life, a visual dramatization of the progress of life. It changed the medium of television, made it something more than a means to watch people sing or witness cops solving cases or office workers acting stupid. It made it a tool to express those metaphysical questions that remain in the forefront of our existence. For that amazing and daring feat, I applaud you Lost. The title "lost" never meant it was about a bunch of people LOST on an island. If you thought that is what it meant, I feel bad for you since you missed the real point. It was about a bunch of people LOST in their LIVES. In the end, they finally found themselves. I hope one day I can do the same.

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