The review by Davie Bianculli on Fresh Air deserves a 2nd (or 1st) look. Check it out because it really puts the final episode in perspective. After the show, Matthew Fox, among many other cast members, was on Jimmy Kimmel. He claimed years ago that he always knew how the show would end, but it turns out he meant the final seen of his death w/ his eye closing in the bamboo field just as it opened there when the show started 6 seasons ago. I highly doubt he actually knew that the flash-sideways timeline was actually more like some Limbo/Purgatory/holding facility. When the show started, people thought maybe the island was just that sort of place, but the producers repeatedly denied that angle. As it turns out, they pulled the wool over our eyes. The island was the real world & the real world was the spiritual holding facility. Harold Perrineau was also on Kimmel. He seemed to clear up the "why wasn't Michael in the church @ the end" question pretty well. He was never redeemed & is then doomed to wander the island forever whispering things to people. The whispers were explained in all of 4 seconds a few weeks ago when Michael talked to Hurley in the jungle. If that didn't bother people, then the ending should certainly not raise any eyebrows.
Over all, I have many problems w/ the entire final season, but I certainly can't put all the anger on the 1 episode. It reminds me of Star Trek V in that they needed to explain more than they had to for & did their best to squeeze it all in. If you'll recall, Star Trek V features an awkward alliance between Kirk & a Klingon general. They clearly wanted to get to the Klingon treaty that eventually leads to Worf being on the Enterprise, but rushed it too much. The final episode of Lost is by no means bad like Star Trek V, but the rushed explanations are the same.
Along w/ the connections to Star Trek V there was also some Star Trek II things. namely, Jack putting the plug back into the yellow well thing. It was exactly like Spock putting the mains on-line. The good of the many.... The funeral thing was a lot like Finnegan's Wake... from what I've been able to make out of Finnegan's Wake. It was also like the funeral scene in Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader. It's a recent graphic by Neil Gaiman in which Batman dies & all of the main characters (good & bad) speak @ his funeral & claim responsibility for his death. (Alfred's story is pretty good, btw.) Ben's redemption @ the end reminded me a lot of Celie's husband Albert's in The Color Purple. He's just suddenly a semi-decent guy. It's odd, but it strangely works.
What we did learn amounts to this:
* Ben turns out alright which is what I was hoping for all along
* Richard starts aging again & leaves the island w/ Kate, Clair, Sawyer, & Frank... I wonder what he'll do next. Here's a little something for the comment section: in what fields could Richard succeed?
* Widmore & Ben were basically on the same side all along.
* Clair will be alright which suggests the temple-folk didn't really know what they were talking about which is what I assumed all along. That Degen dude pissed me off.
* Anna Lucia wasn't in the church which means she apparently never found her redemption even though she helped the fugitives (Kate, Sayid, & Desmond) escape.
* Being crossed off the cave list wasn't very important. It was just a line of chalk through a name (wee might have gotten that last week, but it was a funny revelation none the less).
What we didn't learn:
* What the fuck was the yellow glowing stuff? And is it similar to the stuff in Marcellus Wallace's briefcase?
* What's up w/ Walt?
* why was Desmond weird w/ electro-magnetism? Did the hatch explosion make him special like Bruce Banner w/ the gamma rays or was he already special and therefore able to survive the hatch explosion?
* How did Mikhail lose his eye? (I didn't really expect to get this info anyway)
* Daniel's time in A2? other than the 5 minutes it took him to decide that blowing up the bomb was a good idea, what was he doing?
* Did the 2 hot chicks in the Looking Glass ever get it on?
* If Ben & Widmore were basically on the same side all along, was Season 4 ridiculous? If their main job was protecting the island & ensuring the Man in Black didn't leave, then why was their struggle important one way or the other? As long as it's getting done, why does it matter who is doing it?
With all of these unanswered issues, a follow-up movie is almost certain. Who will sign on though, & more importantly, what will it be called?
* Lost: The Motion Picture
* Lost: The Man in Black Strikes Back
* Lost: Fire Walk w/ Ben
* Lost: Jack Wants to Believe
* Lost: Jack & Juliet & Kate & Sawyer
* Lost: Big & Carrie Go to the South Pacific (I like this one because Kim Catrall could merge her characters from Sex & the City & Star Trek VI & maybe be some ancient Egyptian mannequin again too)