I figure this would be a safe place to post my thoughts on the finale so I don't spoil anything on Twitter or elsewhere for people who haven't seen it yet.
There are two types of people in this world. Those who love Neil Diamond, and those who don't. Those immortal words by Bob Wiley in What About Bob? sum up the Lost finale pretty well. You either loved it, or you feel like you wasted 6 years (seasons) of your life. Count me in the "loved it" group.
My view of the meaning of the show changed in this final season. For 5 seasons we were posed numerous questions about the the island. The Smoke Monster. Jacob. Electromagnetism. Miracles. Free Will. Destiny. Redemption. Some of these are products of the show. Some are real questions in life. Did they adequately explain the island mysteries to everyone's satisfaction? No. Did they explain these life mysteries? No, but has anything outside of Scripture been able to truly explain those things?
I discovered this final season that Lost was more about the people than the actual island. That's kind of a no brainer, but hear me out. Was the island an important part of the story? Absolutely. But was it necessary for us to understand all the mysteries of the island and this 2000 year conflict between Jacob, the island's protector, and his brother, who felt betrayed by his "mother" and wanted to go his home which lied beyond the sea? I don't think so.
We know the island has been around awhile. And by awhile I mean thousands upon thousands of years. Jacob was the protector of it for approx. 2000 years. He was born 2000 years prior to the events of the show, and once he grew up his "mother" made him the unwilling protector. But Jacob wasn't the first protector of this myterious place, and he wasn't the last. And Ben's comment to Hurley, when Hurley was expressing his frustration about being the protector, and said, "We can't even get off the island!", answered pretty much every lingering question about the island during Jacob's reign. "That's just what Jacob did." Hurley could make the island open to everyone to come and visit if they wanted. He could make it so you didn't need permission to come or leave the island. Hurley could run things differently.
So here we have a show that is basically giving us a snapshot in the "life" of this mysterious place and of one of its protectors. Now, after the finale, I am pretty much convinced that Jacob was not necessarily a good guy in all respects, and his brother was not necessarily a bad guy. They were just like the people Jacob brought to the island. Flawed and shaped by their own personal experiences. Who wouldn't be pretty messed up if we found out the woman we thought was our mother actually killed our biological mother and has been lying to us for years that the island is all there is? And then we find out that there is more out there and we belong there but when we want to leave our own brother throws us into a cave which turns us into a smoke monster, destroying our humanity? Yeah, I'd probably be pretty ticked off too. Granted he murdered his faux mother, but still, she had lied to him about almost everything. Not an excuse to murder, but it explains his motivation for doing what he eventually did.
So we've only seen a glimpse in the existence of this island. Who built the big statue that Jacob lived under? Who made the cave? Who made the island?! The answers to stuff like that are above and beyond the point. The island is mysterious. We know that. It's very old. Thousands of years old. But the point of the show isn't about the island. To go into all that, while it would make some people happy, would be to derail the story of these characters. We were told pretty much everything we needed to know about the major players over these 6 seasons. The other stuff wasn't really necessary to get us to the end. We don't NEED to know who made the island or how it came to be. The survivors of Oceanic flight 815 were brought to the island so Jacob could prove a point to his brother (that people could do good), but also to find a replacement for himself should his brother kill him (which he did). It's kind of unfair to these people, but in reality their lives weren't anything to write home about.
But in the end, for all the misery most of them experienced throughout their lives, most of them found redemption (albeit a worldly version). This is not a Christian show by a longshot, despite the sometimes heavy Christian themes (i.e., Christian Shephard leading them into the afterlife). But that's no surprise. It wasn't meant to be. It was a show about flawed people finding redemption, despite the situation they were pulled into, or more likely because of it. It was a show about the faithless finding faith, and about the faithful holding on to faith. Not a religious faith necessarily, but a general faith and hope.
A friend described it like the movie Signs. It can be easy to be disappointed with that movie if you focus too much on the aliens and the water being their weakness. But ulimately that movie was a story about faith lost and faith restored through incredibly outlandish circumstances. Lost should be viewed in the same manner. If we get too hung up on the smoke monster and the heiroglyphics and the giant statue and the electromagnetism, we'll miss the point.
Charlie and Claire's "reunion". If you didn't cry at that then, as another review said, you have a rock for a heart. :-)
Hurley and Ben: Island protectors! I wish we could have seen them as the island protector and advisor. Ben as a new Richard would be great. He really redeemed himself. And his complexity really makes sense considering he felt a little used by the island's former protector, Jacob.
Ben and Locke's reconciliation: Ben confessing, Locke saying, "I forgive you". Powerful moment for both characters.
Hurley and Ben at the church: Ben: "You were a great #1." Hurley: "You were a great #2." Another great moment.
I'm sure I'll think of more. But I teared up a lot in the final hour as characters started to have their big clarity moment and the reconciliations came. This is what the show is about. Characters finding redemption and healing and reconciliation with themselves and each other.
NOTE: One point of confusion I've been hearing today is that "they were dead the whole time!", and those people aren't very happy with how it ended because of that. But they weren't dead the whole time. This wasn't The Sixth Sense. If you watch Jack's conversation with his father again you'll see that they're all dead now (or about to die), in the sideways alt universe, but they all died at different times. As Christian said, some die sooner, like Boone, Shannon and Charlie, while others died later, like Hurley, Ben and Jack. The sideways reality was like limbo, a reality that they had created (it's a mystery how), and where they hung out waiting for the rest to die. Once they had all died at their various points in life, they would converge in the church and move on to the afterlife. We saw some of the deaths during the show, like Boone, Shannon, Charlie, Sun and Jin, Sayid and Jack. We didn't see a lot of them though, like Hurley (the new protector of the island), Ben (Hurley's Richard-like advisor), Sawyer and others. But they all ended up in the same place. Yeah it's a little Unitarian, but it is a secular TV show.