There Are Still People Who Don’t Understand the Ending of Lost And I Can’t Let It Go and Have To Explain It
No, they we not dead the whole time. That’s not an interpretation, that’s what the showrunners explicitly state not just in interviews but on the damn show itself. What we’re seeing in the Flash Sideways world– yes they are dead there. But everything on the island actually happened. It had all the real world stakes and consequences that we witnessed over the six seasons. We know this because Christian actually comes out and tells us exactly that. It’s actually one of the few times the show bothers to explicitly state what the nature of something it’s depicting really is. Here is the actual dialogue:
Jack: Are you real?
Christian: I sure hope so. Yeah I’m real. You’re real, everything that’s ever happened to you is real. All those people in the church, they’re all real too.
Jack: They’re all dead?
Christian: Everyone dies some time, kiddo. Some of them before you, some long after you.
Jack: Why are they all here now?
Christian: Well there is no “now” here.
Jack: Where are we, Dad?
Christian: Well this is the place that you, that you all made together so that you could find one another. The most important part of your life was the time that you spent with these people. That’s why all of you are here. Nobody does it alone, Jack. You needed all of them, and they needed you.
Jack: For what?
Christian: To remember and let go.
Jack: Kate, she said we were leaving.
Christian: Not leaving, no. Moving on.
And there it is. They’re all dead in the Flash Sideways. Not the island. They didn’t die when the plane crashed. Aside from the characters we saw die on the show, most of them likely died of old age long after the events depicted. Christian says, I’m real, you’re real, everything that’s happened to you and everyone in the church is real. It doesn’t get much more straightforward than that.
You may not have liked the Flash Sideways thing. It was indeed sappy, and it was purgatory-esque after the showrunners promised that the island wasn’t purgatory– which is a promise they kept but anyway. That’s fine. I personally liked it. I felt that they wanted to have a way to send off beloved characters like John Locke in a dignified way instead of having his last appearance being that of a broken man getting murdered by Ben Linus. Everyone gets a happy ending, including the main character who was about to die on screen.
But they were not dead the whole time. Stop it.