Six seasons and some 120 episodes later, many viewers might be wondering the same thing as the much-awaited "Lost" finale brought the series to a close Sunday night.
Viewers, where are we? The answer: Almost anywhere you want to be.
(Spoiler alert for what follows.)
If ever a TV series could be likened to a journey, "Lost" is it, and as it came to the end of the road it left its audience with comfort and inspiration more than hard answers. There was also, not surprisingly, a sense of being lost in the maw of a show that henceforth will give up nothing more, a show whose sweep and ambiguity will fuel debate and theorizing from its viewers for years to come.
That's where you are, dear viewers.
Preceded by a two-hour retrospective, ABC's Super Bowl Sunday-scale drama event then led to the two-and-one-half-hour-long finale.
As they have all season, story lines overlapped between the characters on the island and in their parallel lives in the "normal" world back home in California.
On the island, Jack (Matthew Fox) has volunteered from among the chosen candidates to take over from Jacob (Mark Pellegrino) as the island's protector.
The Smoke Monster, occupying the body of Locke (Terry O'Quinn), wants to stop the candidates, kill them, destroy the island and sail away.
Back in Los Angeles, Jack, who's a surgeon, is about to operate on Locke, who (in this incarnation) is crippled.
"If I can fix you, Mr. Locke, that's all the peace I'll need," Jack says.
But then back on the island, Jack and the Monster-Who-Looks-Like-Locke have a tense confrontation.
"So it's you," says Monster-Locke, meaning the island's new protector. "I assume you're here to stop me."
"Can't stop you," Jack says, but promises instead, "I'm gonna kill you."
Well, he doesn't. But a bit later, Kate (Evangeline Lilly) kills the monster-who-is-mortal-again with a single gunshot after a fierce cliffside fight between him and Jack.
Back in L.A., Locke's surgery is a success. From his bed, he gratefully tells Jack he has feeling back in his legs.
"Jack, I hope that somebody does for you what you just did for me," Locke says to an uncomfortable-looking Jack, who seems to be having flashes of memory of his alternate existence. It's the sort of memory bursts all the characters are having: island recollections invading their consciousness.
A few minutes later, Jack runs into Kate, his island love, where they, too, play the haven't-I-seen-you-somewhere-before game.
"What is happening to me?" Jack says as she looks at him adoringly. "Who are you?"
"I know, you don't understand, Jack," she says. "But if you come with me, you will."
Come with her where?
To a gathering at a church where all the castaways seem to be having a beatific funeral reception for themselves. Everyone is blissful and full of smiles as the room floods with light.
And Jack reconciles with his dead father, whose body he had been bringing back from Sydney when Oceanic flight 815 crashed on the lost island at the start of the series.
In the church, Jack has a tender conversation with the man he had clashed with so often before.
"I don't understand," says Jack. "You died." "Yes, I did."
"Then how are you here right now?"
"How are YOU here?" his father replies.
"I died, too," says Jack, beginning to weep.
"That's OK, son."
And yet it's all real, his father assures him.
"Everything that's ever happened to you is real. All those people in the church, they're all real, too."
"They're all dead?" Jack asks.
"Everyone dies sometime, kiddo," his father replies gently. Through the run of the series, there was much talk among its characters of being on the island for a purpose. As it drew to a close, "Lost" sustained the eerie feeling (eerie for TV, anyway) that it had been on the air for a purpose, too - a special purpose beyond selling products and filling time, or even entertainment.
Its cast, producers, writers and the rest seemed drawn to create "Lost," and keep creating it year after year, thanks to fate as much as show biz.
Deeper and wider than any TV series should dare to be, it has been thrilling, captivating, confounding (and, at times, pretty tedious), while it challenged its viewers to think, talk and feel.
That's where it leaves them now. Not clear, but challenged. And not so much lost as reassured.
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