OK...my full recap of the finale is still in the works, but it may be a while still so I wanted to go ahead and throw this out there: my theory on the Sideways Universe, and what it means.
First things first. Damon and Carlton said they were leaving the ending up for interpretation, and that's all my theory or anybody's is...it's just your interpretation. I don't know that there is a "right" theory (although, of course, we all think our own is more right than anybody else, right?).
So here's mine...it's kind of "wonky", as Miles puts it, so bear with me...
I think a lot of people are frustrating themselves trying to apply the concepts of "Purgatory" and "Heaven", because the logic starts falling apart. I mean, Sayid is still a killer, right? And Sawyer is still driven by revenge...Kate is still a fugitive...Charlie is still a drug addict. Yes, some of them, like Locke and Jack, have certain "issues" that it seems they have worked out, but many of them seem very similar to who we've always known them to be, with just little differences.
For that matter, if the Sideways Universe is a place of Purgatory, what the heck is a guy like Keamy doing there? Shouldn't he already be in Hell? And what about Alex? Why is she still paying some sort of "penance"?
You get the point...I don't think they are in any sort of limbo state waiting to move on to what we know as "heaven". I think we have to dismiss all of our own theology if we're going to make it make sense.
My theory is this: The Sideways Universe is a totally separate consciousness. The people we see in it are the innermost manifestation of every single human being, whether you want to call it your soul, your spirit, your consciousness, whatever. I'm there. You're there. EVERYBODY is there. It exists outside of time...it's always happening. It exists outside of space. It's not an "afterlife". It's "another" life. It existed before the events we have watched happen for the last six seasons, and it exists long after. It is a sort of shared consciousness, if you will.
In that Sideways Universe, life is experienced much as it is in our physical universe, with some subtle differences...we don't really know enough about it to know all of the characteristics of this other life, so we sort of have to fill in the rest of the blanks ourselves.
Now, for every spiritual being in that Universe there is a physical manifestation...one that is born, lives , and dies in our physical world. If, in this physical world, you are lucky and blessed enough to be a part of a group of people who go through a life-changing, consciousness-altering experience together, one that leaves an imprint of those people and those experiences on your innermost being, then those experiences and those people can actually be "remembered" by your soul/spirit/consciousness in the Other Life.
We saw that spark of recognition as these characters were suddenly able to remember these people and their time together as experiences and emotions "bled over" into the Other Life from this one.
The church, as Christian told Jack, was a place that these people "created" as their own special place in this Other Life as a place where they could come together, reconnect, remember, and even re-LIVE their time together. Once they all "connected" and came together, then they "moved on"....not to Heaven, but to a higher state of consciousness, a higher state of being, new places of love, communion, and true friendship.
The lesson, then, is that while we are here it's important to LIVE life, LOVE the people around you...create bonds and experiences so deep that it touches your innermost soul, so that when this physical life is over you can "find" that place that you and your loved ones have created for yourselves.
At least...that's my theory.
Couple more thoughts:
- This would explain anybody who wasn't in the church...the people who weren't there either weren't really part of this "bond", or they had their own that was outside of this one. For instance, Walt was only on the Island for a short time as a child, so maybe his "most important" time and people were from later in life. Ben, I think, wanted to be with Alex, and plus can you really say that Ben was a "part" of this group? Etc, etc...bottom line, anybody who you thought "should" have been in that church who wasn't, my theory means that they may have had some other place of their own to be, or maybe they didn't have any connections strong enough.
- I still call foul on Shannon being Sayid's "soulmate" in this scenario, as we have been hit over the head for six seasons now that Sayid's lifetime love is Nadia. I think the actual explanation is that the writers wanted Maggie Grace to be a part of the finale, and this was the way it made the most sense, but I can fanwank it to say that since Shannon was Sayid's "love" at THIS time in his life, it made the deepest impression on him. I can make that argument, but that doesn't mean I have to agree with it.
- I'm still not sure what the deal is with Jack's son, but the closest I can come to an explanation is this...as I said, I think life in the Other Life is very similar to what we know as our physical life now, and I think Jack and Juliet were drawn together because of their shared experiences and connections, and from there, well...nature took its course. But, in my theory, David has a physical "counterpart", who was born, lived, and died in our physical universe, and his spirit/soul has its own destiny that we know nothing about.
- Part of my theory came from the end of the Dark Tower series by Stephen King. I won't give away any more than that, since some of you may not have read it (and if you're a fan of LOST and its influences, than I STRONGLY recommend it). But Damon and Carlton have both listed this series as a strong influence on their writing in general, and on the endgame in particular, so read into that what you will.
Feel free to question my sanity, laugh at me, etc., in the comments section...but this is my interpretation, and I'm (most likely) sticking with it.
Just thought of something else...remember when the Mother told Young Jacob and Young MIB that a little of the "Glowy Magic Light Stuff" is in all of us? Maybe the part that is in all of us is this spirit/soul/consciousness part that exists in the Other Life? And maybe THAT is the part that dies if the Source is allowed to go out on the Island? So, when Jacob said that "everybody dies" if the light goes out, he was actually referring to their existence in the Sideways Universe, rather than the death of their physical bodies? Just a thought...