In "The End", Lost's Hurley-sized finale last night, TV's most fascinating fable said goodbye in a surprisingly sweet and simple fashion. After a concert by Drive Shaft, of course.

Jack and the nefarious fake Locke locked horns as expected. Even though the forces of good prevailed, the ground shook and the island started to crumble into the sea.

But the outcome of their epic battle really didn't matter. Because the episode's conclusion suggested that everything that happened on the island was merely a shadow play, a tropical limbo where our Jobian castaways were forced to work out their issues before they could move on to the next phase of their existences.

That's one interpretation anyway. The show remained elusive to the very end, always more inclined to ask questions than to answer them.

One of the final exchanges was a quintessential Lost moment. Jack asked his father, "How are you here right now?" To which his father responded, "How are you here?"

You're not making this easy on us, guys.

The final show initially followed the pattern used throughout the sixth season: alternating between the island and the Los Angeles realities of primary characters like Sawyer, Jack, Hurley and Kate.

But gradually, the two mutually exclusive worlds began to blend. Sun was the first to make the leap, suddenly remembering her island experiences. Then everyone in the sideways reality began recognizing their island soulmates.

It was one big lovers' reunion as Daniel remet Charlotte, Sayid swept Shannon into his arms, Charlie bonded with mid-delivery Claire and Sawyer shared a candy bar with Juliet.

All of this romance was facilitated by Desmond, with an endearingly all-knowing Hurley acting as his assistant Cupid.

As they realized their fates, the newly enlightened souls, who maybe hadn't survived that plane crash after all, gathered in a church.

Only Ben wouldn't enter the chapel, explaining to Hurley that he still had a few things to work out. Curiously, he was no longer the noble high school teacher of the sideways world, but a reformed and remorseful version of his island Iago. Hey, if Ben can reform, there's hope for all of us.

Even with Kate trying to bring him over, Jack had the hardest time letting go of his illusions. Finally when he arrived at the church, the whole Lost congregation was joined. Even the guy from The Vampire Diaries was there.

They all sat down in the pews, looking appropriately like passengers at an airline gate waiting for their next flight to take off. Then Jack's father threw open the church doors and the heavenly light flooded in.

This wasn't the cataclysmic climax some fans may have been hoping for. No profound revelations. No cosmic thunderclaps.

But on an emotional level, Lost's elegaic, haunting and unexpectedly joyous swan song was rapturous.

Contact staff writer David Hiltbrand at 215-854-4552 or Read his recent work at