I’m going to skip the recap portion of this article for two reasons: 1) if you’ve already seen the Lost finale you know how it ends; 2) if you haven’t seen it, watch it. As most everyone around the world knows, Lost concluded last night on ABC with a giant send-off that included a retrospective, the 2.5 hour finale, and a Lost edition of Jimmy Kimmel LIVE. It was a evening mixed with emotions, memorable moments, and a few laughs, and in the end it appears there are two camps (just like what would happen on Lost periodically).
There is a group of people who are disappointed with the series finale, and that’s okay. They have the right to their opinion, after all it is just a TV show. While it may have changed the face of TV, been a universally shared phenomenon, and created hundreds of websites, blogs, and Facebook pages, there are people who expected more out of the final episode.
My question to these people is this: How would you have ended the series? It’s not an easy question because everyone who’s in the same disappointment boat has a different way in which they would have liked to have seen the series end. I believe that there are die-hard fans who loved the finale who also would have wanted to see certain things, but we’ll explore that group in a moment.
Lost was a show that asked questions; and asked, and asked, and asked, and asked…until there may have been so many to answer that some things just had to remain a mystery for the sake of storytelling and time. Yes, there are many things we still don’t know, and even the finale posed more questions for us to ponder. But I go back to my first question: How would you have ended the series?
If an ancient man was found in the cave of light and started to do a monologue about the history of the Island would that have satisfied you? If they had suddenly discovered another Dharma film that laid out everything you wanted to know about the Island, would that have made you happy? The point is that it would have been easy to just do a lame expository ending that tied up every last thread and puts all the pieces into place. But this isn’t Law & Order or CSI, this is Lost and mystery and open-endedness is par for the course. You should really expect this type of thing by now.
The other camp is those who loved the finale. Many have called it beautiful, the perfect ending, and a wonderful experience. I belong to this camp. I’ve been watching Lost since it premiered and have been hooked ever since. I’ve been confused, frustrated, excited, and sad like all viewers have been at one time or another. I’ve allowed the series to become not just another show but an experience (sounds silly, but diehards know what I’m talking about).
Last night was a culmination of six years worth of dedicated viewing. Does the show have flaws? Yes. Most TV series and movies do. But the beauty of Lost was its ability to transcend genres and not just be a standard-type series. It made you think, question, analyze, and debate with fellow fans of the series. Not many TV shows in recent memory have created such a buzz and caused so many heated debates over meaning, symbolism, and allegory.
Lost was every bit a literary work as it was a TV show. Each episode had its surface meaning and then some level of subtext that usually could only be found by watching the episode or a season over again. With the series over, many will do what Michael Emerson said he was going to do: watch the series over again with fresh eyes.
Lost will remain a cultural phenomenon that had the ability to bring friends and families together to ponder what the hell was going on each week. One thing I’ll miss is watching the series with my best friend and discussing what just happened during the commercial breaks. Did Lost contribute to me being social? Perhaps.
Now we get to the series finale, which did answer questions and tied things up in a nice bow. Like most seasons of Lost, the finale left us asking questions and pondering the truth and real meaning of what we just saw. It’s a clever concept and was a risk that they were wise to take. The writers knew that couldn’t satisfy everyone; there was no way to do it. I’d have my list of things I want answered, and you’d have yours.
By leaving it open-ended with a spiritual/philosophical tone, the viewer is empowered to determine for themselves what they have seen. Too often movies and TV series dictate to us what we should think, feel, and believe. They even can come across as condescending. Lost never did this and to end the series with that type of trite ending would have come across as cheap.
We’re asked to think about what we saw and maybe watch it again to further insight. It’s clever to do so. I’m sure many people are re-watching the series from the pilot right now trying to connect-the-dots and make sense of things. No matter what the reaction, Lost did things its own way.
With great acting, amazing locations, and a multitude of storylines, Lost may go down in history as one of the most complex, visually stunning, and well-acted series of all time. It’s sad to see it go, but we all know that we can always return to the Island anytime we want and relive the moments many of us will remember forever.