Hey guys, been thinking a lot about that ending.
Hands down, it was an unsatisfying ending to the flash-sideways storyline OF THIS EPISODE. They'd been building up to an unbelievably awesome climax, and then suddenly seemed to throw it all away. It felt weird. But I'm starting to come around that it was the right way to end the series as a whole. Everyone awakening to a perfect new world time line which they got to keep living in would have been an awesomely satisfying ending in a Shawshank Redemption kind of way. But would it have been real? It would have negated the time line that we originally knew and it would have ultimately cheated the Losties out of the realest parts of life: That there are consequences for your actions, you have to own them – and every choice you make matters. What the flash-sideways showed us is that everyone we love eventually made peace and were able to go to Heaven. But their choices on earth during their life on the island and in their past were not without weight or import. This is the right way to go. The fairy tale perfect ending that they teased us with throughout the episode would have felt right, but in retrospect have just been wrong. So, it was the right way to end, but in the context of the episode it felt like someone pulled the rug out from under our feet emotionally.
That said, upon reflection, I think the SATISFYING ending is actually in the REAL time line. Let's think about it. Jack made the ultimate sacrifice to save the world from evil being released, and died content knowing that his friends got off the island. (In my interpretation, which is the right one.) Frank, Miles, Richard, Sawyer, Kate and Claire flew home, and lived out the rest of their lives somewhere off screen. Claire probably reunited with Aaron in the real world, and worked hard to heal her relationship, and mentally recover from years of axing dudes in the chest. Frank saved them all, and made up for the time he overslept and sent another pilot to his death in the original crash. Miles was able to cash in Nikki and Paulo's diamonds and buy as many fish tacos as he wanted. Richard got to live out the rest of his life, having made peace with his past. I'm assuming he got to die a noble death, complete with gray hairs. Kate and Sawyer probably ended up together, but apparently made the switch back to their true loves in the afterlife. And best of all, Hurley and Ben protected the island together for an untold amount of time. Given that they can both have immortality, I'm assuming they lived there for a long, long time and met many new people and fought new and interesting battles together keeping some new form of an old evil at bay. Imagine the cool fan fiction and graphic novel ties-ins possible there. Pretty sweet. Even Rose and Bernard got to stick around and die of old age. It's a pretty awesome wrap-up, with not as nearly as many deaths as you would expect. I'm guessing even Michael and the other whispers were released when the Man in Black was killed, or when the cork was pulled.
On top of that, we got to see all the characters reunite right as they go into Heaven. Like I said, it felt like a let down in the context of the dramatic arc of the episode, but when you think about it, that's a pretty great ending.
It even makes me want to go back and watch all the flash-sideways again. Christian said that our Losties "created this place". Since they all teamed up to help blow up the hatch and reboot time, I think it makes sense that they would be convinced in the after life holding room that they had succeeded. Knowing that they "created this place," you can really start analyzing the entire season's worth of flash-sideways in a new way. Was David actually young Jack himself, dealing with his own father issues? Locke did say, "He looks just like you." Was Aaron actually there, or just in Claire's mind to help her deal with what happened? Was Keamy actually there, or just an apparition to help Sawyer work through who he really is? And Sawyer apparently still had issues to work out with the death of his parents, but because of his time on the island in the 70s as head of Dharma, he now viewed himself differently – a hero instead of a villain. Locke's purgatory is also very interesting. The fact that he had created a world where he was punished for killing his father in a plane crash was very interesting. Because 815 did crash in a place where he would eventually arrange the murder of his father. It was like he was trying to forgive himself for that. And Anthony Cooper's state in this inbetween place, to me, suggests that his actual soul is somewhere else, somewhere much hotter.
There's so much to analyze, and really, it's great that all our beloved characters not only got a chance to live a full life on earth after the island, but we also got to see that they eventually all found redemption – and they were so connected in life that they ascended to the "other side" together. Pretty cool.
Or, you can be a cynic and think that the ENTIRE thing was in Jack's head. And that there's nothing to believe in at all. The writers gave you that option with the ending, but my guess is that they cast their votes on the "faith" side by having the plane fly overhead. It certainly didn't have to, if they were trying to say it was all in Jack's head.
What I'm saying overall is don't discard the ending just because it didn't feel right in the flow of the episode. They made a bold move and ended it the right way, in my opinion. And we all have to deal with it, just like the Losties themselves.