Monday, May 24, 2010

My thoughts on the LOST finale

Okay, after having watched it and thought about it for the past 24 hours, I've come to a conclusion: I was somewhat underwhelmed by last night's 2.5-hour series finale of LOST.

Not horribly disappointed, mind you; I think in many respects it made a lot of sense. But I came way a bit unsatisfied.

To be sure, I didn't expect every question to be answered or every detail to be resolved. I know that no ending is going to satisfy every fan of the show. And I know there are a lot of folks who absolutely loved the way it all ended. "I cannot help but give this episode a major WOW WOW WOW WOW WOW!!!!!!!!!!!!" LOST Addicts blogger Mike V. gushes. "I think what we saw last night was the best ending a superfan could ask for,"'s Jessica Derschowitz opines. I can't say I feel the same way, however, and there are indeed a variety of opinions about the show's finale.

To be technical, the show actually had two endings - the ending of the "original" island timeline, and the ending of the "sideways" timeline that has now been revealed as a sort of "purgatory" where the show's characters all went to "let go" and reunite with one another after they died. The island timeline's ending mirrored the show's beginning, with Jack lying in a bamboo forest, only this time, instead of opening his eyes, he closes them as he dies. The sideways timeline ends with the main characters reunited with their loved ones sitting in a church, as Jack's father opens the doors and lets "the light" in so that these characters can move on to heaven or nirvana or wherever.

And on the surface both endings seem sensible and complete. Jack killed the Man In Black / Smoke Monster and saved the island. Before he dies he sees the Ajira airliner carrying his friends home. He dies with satisfaction, knowing that he accomplished what he was brought to the island to do. Island plot resolved.

And then, after Jack dies, he goes to purgatory, where he is eventually reunited with Kate and his father. The other main characters are, likewise, reunited with one another, and, having worked out their mortal issues, are "Shepherded" into the next plane of existence. Character plots resolved. Considering the show's religious undertones - the struggle between good and evil, the failure and redemption of humankind, the clash between faith and science - this seems like an appropriate ending.

But I still can't help but feel like something's missing. For a show as complex as LOST, the ending seemed a bit simplistic and left a lot of storylines hanging. Fans of the show who have been so emotionally involved in these characters over the past six seasons probably deserved something more, especially with regard to the surviving characters in the island timeline. I would have liked to have seen something - even if they were a series of short vignettes - that, however vaguely, wrapped these storylines up.

Maybe Hurley and Ben go back to re-inhabit Dharmaville. Maybe Rose and Bernard and anybody else who is left on the island join them. Maybe they help Desmond get back on that sailboat and return home to Penny. Maybe Frank lands the Ajira plane safely, and they concoct another story to the press and authorities to explain their disappearance. Maybe Claire finally gets to meet Aaron, and Sawyer sees his daughter Clementine, and Kate and her mother resolve their issues, and Richard gets to live life as a mortal for the first time in 150 years, and Miles does whatever he does. The creators of this show developed a lot of time developing these characters over the past six seasons, so don't viewers deserve at least some closure?

It's fine and well to say, as the show's creators seem to be doing, "don't worry about what happens to the surviving characters, because everybody's together and happy in the afterlife," but it still seems like a something of a cop-out. I mean, couldn't you theoretically end EVERY show with that kind of ending? As a commenter on an online discussion forum described it: "Take your favorite book. Rip out the last chapter. Replace it with one page that reads: And they lived happily ever after. The end."

And speaking of the "sideways" ending: we know that Ben is not among those in the church because he had decided to spend more time in purgatory doing penance. Daniel and Charlotte are not there because Desmond told Eloise Hawking he wouldn't take them. We know that the ghost of Michael is stuck on the island, and that Ana Lucia (according to Hurley) isn't ready to leave purgatory yet. But what about, say, Richard and Isabella? What about Michael's son Walt? And why, if Sayid's true love for the past six years was Nadia, was he paired up with Sharon, a long-forgotten character who was killed off early in the show?

I realize I'm beginning to sound like an obsessed LOSTgeek and that's not my intent. As I said before, I didn't expect every question to be answered and, to be fair to the show's creators, the DVD set that comes out later this summer is supposedly going to contain some extra footage that might answer some of these questions.

It's just that I don't watch a lot of television. LOST and The Sopranos are really the only two series that I've followed religiously over recent years because, for whatever reason, I found them interesting enough, fascinating enough and stimulating enough to invest time in following them. And even though I didn't hate either of them, both endings left me with a "is that really IT?" kind of feeling.

I was just expecting something more, I guess.

UPDATE: the folks at have a four-and-a-half-minute list of unanswered questions from the show:

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