Perfect. Just perfect.
All questions that needed to be answered were answered, I was completely at ease with where everyone (including those who have died throughout the series) ended up, and the message of the show was so beautiful.
I honestly wouldn't change a thing.
Jack finally knew what it was that he was supposed to do, why he was on the Island in the first place, and he did it because he wanted to, not because he felt like he had to or was destined to, but because he made the choice.
Desmond was a true hero in both realities, allowing the Smoke Monster to be defeated so that the Island would finally be safe again, making the faith that Jacob had in humanity a reality and allowing his mistake to finally be made up for, much as Jacob gave all of the LOSTies the opportunities to make up for their mistakes.
I actually think that the Smoke Monster could have been redeemed as well, since we saw both Sayid and Claire redeemed, but he made the decision to work against humanity and actually against life itself.
Had the light gone out permanately, then I doubt life could have continued at all, we were told that there is a little of that light in everyone, and so I think that we can infer what the Island actually is. The Island is the source of whatever it is that makes us human, makes us special, because each of us are special, and can make choices to accentuate that light inside of us (or make choices that dim that light, perhaps allowing there to be the Darkness that was spoken of, and that was so literally shown in the Smoke Monster). Some people have gifts that make them even more special, and I think that is why Hurley was such a perfect choice to ultimately replace Jacob. He had the special ability to see and speak to the dead, and while it isn't necessary to have such a special gift in order to protect the Island, I think that it helps.
Walt would have been a perfect choice to replace Jacob, but he was allowed to leave the Island, and moved on beyond it. I buy that explanation completely and fully, even though I know that the real reason he wasn't brought back into the show is because he went through his growth spurt and pretty much grew out of the character. I'm okay with how it all turned out though concerning Walt, by giving us other characters that were special, and by making it clear that there were many people eligible to become Jacob's replacement, the importance of Walt overall is lessened and the show was able to move on without him.
And by getting the back story of the Locke-less Monster, we learned that merely being special isn't enough to make you right for the leadership of the Island. The Locke-less Monster was able to commune with the dead just like Hurley, and yet he made choices that kept him from being able to protect the Island, meaning that it was up to Jacob instead.
I really loved the explanation of the Sideways World.
The moment that Jack entered into the room in the church that was decorated with every religious symbol imaginable (far beyond Christianity) I realized that the Sideways world was the afterlife.
Not necessarily a purgatory, although it could certainly be viewed as such, but I think that it was a place that the LOSTies created together in order to make sure that they could reconnect in another world (brotha), so not everyone in that world was truly there, for instance, David Shephard isn't real, but part of the creation of this world. Locke says to Jack after being awoken, "You don't have a son, Jack."
So this world, the LA X reality, isn't purgatory insofar as that is the reality that everyone goes to before "moving on", but it is the place that the LOSTies created for themselves to be able to move on.
The ending itself was so very fitting, coming full circle. A plane crash that gave us an opening eye amidst bamboo, ended with a plane traveling away safely and an eye closing amidst bamboo. Such a perfect close to the series.
The many themes of this television show were highlighted in this finale as well. The matter of choice verse free will was played out so beautifully throughout the episode both on the Island and in the sideways reality. Jack made the choice to take on the role of Jacob and sacrifice himself to save the Island. Hurley offers Sayid a choice before he is awakened by Shannon. While so much of the show seemed to hinge on destiny or on things that were meant to be, ultimately, the show was about the characters making choices that proved Jacob's view of humanity correct.
The show has also always been about the connections that these characters had, connections that were so strong that they literally created a world, a reality, in order to reconnect before moving on to whatever is next. The love that these characters had for each other was so plain as they reconnected in the church, ready to move on.
I loved the moments throughout the finale when various characters were awakened, especially the reconnection of Jin and Sun and their ability to speak English, and the moment of Claire giving birth to Aaron, awakening herself, Charlie, and Kate. Knowing now what the sideways world is will probably give those moments (as well as the ones from previous episodes) even more heft upon rewatching.
Ultimately, this entire show is going to be amazing upon rewatch. I will post my thoughts on the events that catch my imagination as I begin my epic LOST-Re-Watch this summer.
Thank you all for your desire to read my thoughts on this show over the last few years, and I look forward to continuing the conversation as the episode continues to sink in with us.
And thank you to all who worked on this incredible and amazing show, thank you for giving us something that allows such deep viewing and for keeping us challenged as well as entertained.
It could not have ended more perfectly.