It’s easy to say that Lost fans will need time to fully form an opinion on the series finale, but the truth is that your first gut reaction will most likely be the one you always have. After a night of reflection, my thoughts on the finale have hardened like a Jell-o mold in the refrigerator and I’m left with the oxymoronic reaction is being impressed and disappointed.
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The fact is that the finale of Lost was a very well made and emotionally satisfying episode that had a lot of good qualities. But it also left a lot of unanswered questions, and like a loose thread on a tapestry, the whole show starts to unravel if you start pulling.
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If you love Lost because it’s a character-based emotional drama, the finale was perfect. The alternate universe, now known as the afterlife, gave every character a moment of revelation to flash back on all of their great memories from the Island. The catharsis was great and it was impossible to feel bad when everyone finally had their moment of clarity.
In addition, the finale offered a nice symmetry with the premiere by letting the final scene mirror the very first scene, with Jack lying in the middle of the bamboo with Vincent, only this time his eye closed instead of opened. It was a clever homage to where the show began and completed Jack’s journey.
The problem with everything that was good about the finale is, when you start to look at it closely, it was all style without substance. It may have answered questions about the alternate universe, but that wasn’t introduced until the final season. What about the Island, Jacob, the Light, the Smoke Monster and all the other big questions fans have? Those went completely unanswered.
If you view Lost as a sci-fi mystery series, then the finale was a huge disappointment. The afterlife and religious subtext doesn’t start to explain what the Island was or where the Smoke Monster came from. The only questions the finale answered are ones it introduced in the final season, ignoring everything from the first five seasons.
Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse are smart to go into radio silence following the finale because it means they can avoid answering questions they either don’t want to answer or don’t have answers for. Team Darlton also built themselves a simple excuse: Lost was always about the characters, and the finale paid tribute to that.
The problem with that defense is that only the first season was truly about the emotional drama of the characters. Once the show introduced the Hatch, the button, DHARMA, the Others, Jacob and the Smoke Monster, Lost became something else.
No matter how loudly some people may speak, Lost was NOT a pure character drama. It was just as much, if not more, sci-fi, but the series finale pretended that the science fiction elements never existed. Sure it had the mysterious Cave of Light, but the ultimate showdown between Jack and Flocke was a rather pedestrian and out-of-place action sequence.
The Final Verdict
Part of me will always love the interesting religious views of the afterlife the finale introduced. I’ll also cherish the expert craftsmanship of the finale for its plotting, music, sets and the final scene. Whatever else it was, “The End” was a great episode of television.
But the part of me that loves sci-fi resents the fact that I invested six years of my life to this show and all I got was this lousy afterlife. I want to know what the Island is, where the Smoke Monster came from, and how Jacob, his Mother and all the other protectors developed special powers. The sci-fi half of me is angry and growing more and more resentful every passing minute.
It sounds like a cop-out, but the truth is that my final reaction to the Lost series finale is that a half-loved it and half-hated it. At the start of the series John Locke said there were two sides, one light and one dark, so it’s only fitting that the two sides are still at war even after the finale.
(Image courtesy of ABC)
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