I don’t know where I’d rank Lost on my all time tv rankings, but pretty darn high. For the most part, television is just entertainment. Entertainment is great; I wholeheartedly support entertainment. But not many shows stick with you after the 60/30/22 minutes are over. Lost did, for four reasons: the plot, the mysteries and the characters and the themes.
I know lots of people hated the Lost finale. But for starters, a lot of people hate any television finale. Look at any popular/acclaimed show in recent memory (Seinfeld, Sopranos and Battlestar Galactica come to mind) and a sizable portion of the audience hated the finale. Part of it is people don’t want their show to end, so will hate any ending. But a bigger part is that endings are hard to do. Satisfying endings for a 2 hour movie are hard to come by. Coming up with a satisfying ending for a 100+ hour mystery? That’s a job and a half.
Lost could have tried to answer all the mysteries in the finale. But if they hired the Micromachines guy to spout direct answers nonstop for the 2.5 hours of the finale, they wouldn’t have answered everything. Why did the shark have a freaking Dharma symbol on its tail???? There’s just no way that this ending to the show was going to happen.
So the lovely people of Lost sidestepped this problem. They didn’t address the mysteries of the Lost universe at all. Instead, they stuck with the other three strong suits of Lost, the characters, story and themes.
The story of Lost changes fairly dramatically from season to season. So again, people might have wanted the finale to go back to plot elements from earlier seasons. But the fact is that these storylines are no longer part of the story. They’ve been erased with time travel, science, magic etc. It wouldn’t even make sense to go back to these storylines in the finale. All they had to do was finish the storylines from this season, which they did. How? They moved a rock, and they put it back. One of the truly amazing things about Lost is it made you care about the tiniest of things. They find a hatch. How many hours of rapt attention did we spend over a door. In the finale they moved a rock, then put it back. And those 2.5 hours flew by. But by the end of the night, they finished the story. Success.
Some people take issue with the tone of this last episode. Yes, it was a bit overly religious. A bit. BUT, it's not like it hasn't been religious from the start. Man of science, man of faith people. A great thing about Lost has been the thematic elements. I'm not going to discuss this in depth, but the beauty of it is that you could discuss it in depth. Lost is about knowledge v belief. It's about family. It's about progression. It's science fiction, it's fantasy, it's drama. You could argue any of these and be right. Am I thrilled with the flash-sideways-as-purgatory? No. Was it surprising? Yes. Did it fit the themes of the show? Yes. Was it a good finale, I'd say yes.
Which leaves us with the characters. A mark of a great show is how invested we become in the characters. Lost made us care about nearly every character introduced. The characters we didn’t care about tended to get blown up or buried alive relatively quickly. The finale was dedicated to those characters, frequently reminding us exactly why we cared about them. We either got to see them demonstrate their quintessential selves, or show how’ve they’ve grown over the last 6 years. Yes, you could argue that they were pandering to the audience, especially during the LA scenes, but the pandering works because the relationship between the audience and the characters is the strength of the show. To me, spending the last episode showing those relationships was a legitimate conclusion of the series.
So, it wasn’t what lots of people wanted, but I think it was a good ending. Using dogs and babies and kisses and martyrdom is the quick and dirty road to emotive response, but this last season, and the series in general was about dogs and babies and kisses and martyrdom. And polar bears.
Other reasons the finale rocked:
1. Lapidus rocks.
2. Jack does a flying punch.
3. Kate got to do something other than be gorgeous.
4. Fingers crossed for a Ben and Hurley spinoff.
5. Enough religious content to bring it up in Sunday School.