I literally stayed up all night trying to watch the Lost finale. When it originally aired, I was on my way home from a party, and it was halfway through the last episode when I got home. So thanks to my trusty old VCR (I totally need a DVR after this), I was able to watch most of it...I somehow missed the last half hour of the finale...which I didn't realize until I was 2 hours into watching the show, well after midnight.
I'd also like to add that no one on the internet had a reliable stream or download that was safe to view on my computer. I probably stayed up until 2am looking for the last half hour in vain (did I mention that I'd been up since 3am Sunday because of work? That's 23hrs, I was feeling pretty psycho by then). So I set an alarm to wake up earlier than I had to, so I could watch it on ABC.com. Sure enough there it was, ready for me to view.
Now, let's get to my thoughts on the show. Of course, we leave the show with a lot of unanswered questions. The only thing that made sense to me, was the explanation of the flash sideways; this seemingly alternate time line where Oceanic Flight 815 never crashed. Since the beginning of the season, I wonder why some of the characters' lives were different before they got on the plane. If the sideways timeline were simply their lives if the plane never crashed, wouldn't Sawyer still be looking for the guy that ruined his life? Wouldn't Jin and Sun be married when they got on the plane? Somehow I just couldn't believe the fact that the plane not crashing in this world, meant the lives of some people on the plane were different prior to the flight. It just didn't make sense.
So everyone dies. I'll buy it. Now I'm starting to believe that the sideways timeline doesn't begin until all the characters involved have died. We know all the stuff on the island happened, because as the characters meet, they start remembering all the things on the island. It seems like all their memories lead up to their deaths, except for the characters that we don't see die in the original timeline (Hurley, Desmond, Kate, Sawyer, Claire, Ben). I'd like to believe that these characters die on the island, or somehow on that plane, bringing them to the sideways timeline. What the hell happened to Lapidus and Richard will remain a mystery.
Desmond's special abilities allowed him to retain memories from the two timelines, which most likely happened after Widmore exposed him to that machine that fries people. So Desmond in turn could bring everyone together, so they could remember and let go. All the main characters have a seemingly happy ending, which I'm not entirely disappointed with. But, I have to ask why go through the trouble of having this other life? I think maybe the island had something to do with it, or maybe Jacob, who knows. But whatever the source, all these people were connected to each other and the island, and I'd like to think the island is giving them back the peace they deserved.
Everyone dies sometime. The group of characters that end up in the church at the end, are just fortunate enough to move on together. None of the people from the back of the plane were there, or Michael and Walt...but maybe they had their own sideways timeline/journey to heaven.
So, what the island is, how this magical drain seemed to hold it all together, and why it was so important, I don't really get...but I do feel like I understand what happened to these characters. I don't think they all died when the plane crashed in season 1, I truly believe that everything we saw on the island was real (as ridiculous as it all was), and the sideways timeline was the one illusion in all the events, that was created to give these characters peace.