Each month, we pitch a new question to our staff and readers. If you have a question you’d like us to answer, email it to us. This month we asked: How would you rewrite the ending to Lost?
The Man in Black kills Jack after Desmond extinguished the Light, which sets off the chain of events for darkness to spread to the whole world. At the same time, the characters in the flash-sideways come together to realize that they must hit the cosmic reset button to prevent this from happening. As pleasant as their current world is, it too comes to an end if the Man in Black is allowed to escape. Eloise Hawking has the key, so they all gather with her after the benefit concert and she tells them how to press the reset button and that this time around, they have to fix something. They do what is required of them, and the end of the show is Jack waking up in the jungle, followed by a speed-replay of everything up to the crucial moment (continuing to press the button, calling the boat, not killing Ben, not leaving the island, etc.). In essence, the characters are doomed to repeat the sequence of events ad infinitum until they get it right.
EXT—Island jungle. Jack, mortally wounded, lies down in the bamboo fields to die. Vincent the dog suddenly appears beside him, man’s best friend. As the light flickers from Jack’s eyes for the final time, Vincent groans and licks his chops. He then proceeds to eat with relish Jack’s inner organs. When finished with his meal, Vincent magically transforms into a column of black smoke and snakes his way off into the jungle, leaving the door wide open to a possible sequel or movie franchise.
Jack turns round and sees Steve, says: “Who the hell are you?” Steve is rugged and handsome and has eyes made of pearls. “I am the Ticketmaster,” he replies. “This island is my domain.”
Jack waves his hands wildly around in the air. “Wha? Buh?” he enquires.
“The island was never there, Jack. It was there. But it was never actually, you know, there.”
Mysterious music plays. Jack falls on his back, eyes staring up through dense forest.
“But,” he begins.
“Sssh,” whispers Steve, stroking his hair. “You never needed to know.”
Steve turns into a crow.
Mysterious music plays.
An ending in which it doesn’t end: Early Lost episodes alluded to the potential for consciousness after death, even if the afterlife was a dirty Mobius strip of bizarre events. But then the damn reoccurring numbers made me think that perhaps the island represents infinity, which is the mathematical equivalent for eternal life. It seemed plausible that visualizations of infinity might include an island populated by sexy people and one fat dude. This idea jived with the storyline since the most parsimonious description of infinity is that infinites and infinities exist within everything non-infinite but not within themselves. Thus, everything real is made up of infinitesimally small things but infinitely large things contain only infinities. Because infinitesimals and infinities reside outside reality and yet are found within everything real, one could suppose that infinity is the creative force behind all things, including the writers of Lost. As such, infinitesimally small and large things define everything that is unreal, including polar bears and black clouds, which are inherently part of everything real, as the characters on Lost are well aware. Axiomatically, if everything is described by infinity then we can assume that time, space, matter, and energy are all the same and reality ceases to exist outside the unreal. Therefore, Lost did not end.
I’ve never seen Lost, not a single episode, but the ending is obvious: Willoughby is found to be the killer, and he is banished from the island. Darcy and Daisy buy a Big Green Egg, and they install it at the end of a dock where Bobby Flay lives in a houseboat named Special Victims Junket. Winston Smith goes to Washington, starts a security-camera company, and tweets his way into Eurasia.net. No one’s surprised, not then and not when Sandra Bullock blames her failed marriage on that road-trip movie with Ben Affleck. She becomes president, and at the inauguration Vice-President Tracy Jordan says, “So you’re the little lady who started this great war!” Also: Paul is dead. Meanwhile, the last remaining Vronsky, of the Tara Vronskies, scatters the ashes of his best friend Donny from a cliff, and his buddy Walter destroys the shield generator on Endor, which prompts a race riot in Harlem, which Walter escapes by building an underground bunker for his collection of 1,369 lightbulbs—at which point we realize the entire show was a dream in Jeff Wall’s mind. Simply a hallucination in a Canadian photographer’s brain. Really. A Canadian, for shame. Never again will a single story be told as though it were the only one. Signed, David Shields.
While the group is arguing over something, lets say which hill to climb, the fat guy sneakily opens a can of beans to eat. The beans are in a dented can and the rust and bacteria have contaminated the food. After a few minutes the fat guy turns into a zombie and goes after everyone. There are four hours of blood, guts, and mayhem as they hide in different time warps and whatchamacallits. Then everyone dies in the end. Maybe they could’ve had Ramero be a special guest director or something.
At the beginning of season six, the characters in the flash-sideways realize that all they need to do to connect is to join the “Oceanic 815 4-Evahhh!” Facebook group (Administrator: Desmond Hume). Christian schedules an event called “Moving On.” The time spent on the flash-sideways is instead devoted to flash-comedy: Hurley and Ben fighting over how to cook a Dharma ham; Walt astrally projecting himself into girls’ locker rooms; Driveshaft playing gigs throughout history thanks to its new time-trippin’ piano player; Mr. Eko forcing his way into scenes à la Daffy in Duck Amuck. Everything else plays out with deadly seriousness.
Before the sporty brunette gets back to the island with the ancient Aztec vaccine—without which all of them, being enzyme-deficient clones, will burst into flames—the big hairy guy wades into the ocean for one last brawl with that smarmy, psychic dolphin, Steve.
The blonde scientist woman can’t find Merry from Lord of the Rings. Neither can the Asian family. Someone dreams they find Merry in a Jacuzzi somewhere, hiding from a sentient fart. It’s Merry who’s dreaming it, who wakes up in the Jacuzzi now, whose dead father’s ghost is the sentient fart. The Jacuzzi is a volcano. The volcano is on another planet. The planet is a rock monster, eating him.
Meanwhile, back in the cave, Doctor Manchest prevails against his goateed double, Evil Doctor Manchest. They’re both shirtless. Later, the escaped Evil Doc makes a slow-motion lunge for a blinking detonator, his finger hovering over the big red button that will blast them all into an extended movie franchise.
Doctor Manchest eyes the evil him. “I wouldn’t do that if I were you.”
That nice Korean couple open a vegan Korean restaurant on the island. The round-faced man with lots of hair—Jorge Garcia?—is the head waiter and host. All the rest of them build an eco-friendly resort that charges on a sliding scale. The polar bear makes amazing vegan desserts, and is called Professor Tooth-and-Claw.
While performing surgery, Jack has another flash-sideways. In his moment of clarity, he sees himself fighting with the smoke monster—who looks like Locke—on the edge of the cliff. Now we’re coming full-circle with the conflict at the heart of the show from the very beginning, and that was so often explored between Jack and Locke: science versus faith. Jack had already joked he could kill Locke during surgery; he’d already hinted he had a “surprise” for killing the smoke monster. I’ll leave whatever happens next to the show’s continuity supervisors, but that one shift would have had a powerful effect on the finale’s outcome.
The Man in Black pursues the big guy, the bald guy, the handsome guy with the accent, and the girl through the water, then scales the Cliffs of Insanity, where he is not the six-fingered man but must duel to the death regardless. He beats the guy with the accent, but he is governed by his own set of rules and doesn’t kill him. He continues by overpowering the big guy and outsmarting the bald guy, and then he and the girl roll down a hill before heading to a swamp where they have to deal with natural obstacles and unusual monsters. There’s an underground pit, magical powers, a man regains the use of his legs, and they all wind up at a church. I’ll spare you the kissing parts.
The Man in Black coerces Desmond to destroy the island by extracting the stone plug at the bottom of the cave. However, in the process, the Man in Black and Desmond are both killed. The island is consumed by the ocean, sealing Jack’s fate as a failure in his ultimate task on the island. However, with this failure, Jack finds himself aboard Oceanic flight 815 once again, as if nothing ever happened. Each of the other castaways is there as well, completely unaware of his/her former experiences and friendships on the island. It is only when Jack accidentally brushes his arm against Kate that a wave of intense déjà vu overwhelms him, but he dismisses it. As the final scene closes, Kate turns around in the LAX airport terminal and pursues Jack, a look of euphoric bewilderment on her face.
Everybody dies except Vincent. Balance is restored to Tuesday evenings. Mr. Eko rides a polar bear down the beach into the sunset.