The finale of Lost
Posted on May 25, 2010
If you were not a fan of the television series Lost, you might stop reading now.
We were not huge fans of Lost, but watched much of the six season stretch on DVD two summers ago and then at some point we were with it too long to not see it to its end (we know some marriages like this). So I’ve taken two days to reflect on the much debated season finale.
Let’s start by recognizing that it is far easier to mess up a show’s finale than to get it right. Many would argue that the Six Feet Under finale was the best ever done and others include The Mary Tyler Moore Show, MASH, and the Sopranos (though the audience was very much split on this one). The X-Files was reviled for its poor ending and the Seinfeld finale was awful (the source of a very funny running commentary in Curb Your Enthusiasm). Getting the ending right is not easy for television shows.
So what about the Lost finale?
It was not a lot of things — could any ending possibly tie up all the loose ends, the endless loose ends, that the writers created over six seasons? Could so many religious, philosophical, and cultural allusions cohere in one clear mythology (they overworked their copy of The Golden Bough)? And what about the damn polar bear? Or the cheesy cave with the light. Mike Hale in the NY Times has a good piece that well chronicles what went wrong with the season closer (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/25/arts/television/25lost.html).
All that said, I liked the finale. Locke, or the Man in Black if you will, was vanquished and good/light prevailed over evil/the dark smoke. Characters I like — Hurley, Ben, Miles, Juliette (sort of) — were front and center. The church scene seemed genuinely joyous and warm, as if we had been invited into the cast wrap up party. I liked the notion that in sideways time, characters re-connected (loved all the flashes of recognition) and became whole again. The notion, explained by Jack’s father, that everyone in our lives — those that have died, those that will live beyond us, those that we love and that we hate — remain part of us and that people, not events nor accomplishments, are what’s most important provided the thematic basis for the church reunion. Not exactly profound, I know, but why is that we more often than not forgot the simplest of truths?
Was it a masterpiece? No, but the show never was. It was fun for its audacity, puzzles, and next day “so what do you make of the [fill in the blank]?” debates. I’m inclined to be big hearted towards the finale and the show, ignore its many shortcomings, and enjoy the writers’ willingness to do something original, if flawed.