Why I Both Loved and Hated the 'Lost' Finale
By Mike Hess Posted May 24th 2010 12:02PM
Pop-Ed: Sitting down for the 'Lost' finale was a bit like watching an odd hybrid of the Super Bowl mixed with a college graduation. Whether it was feasible or not, I was expecting fireworks, drama, action and answers to life's ... errr, 'Lost's' most troubling questions. Going in, it was obvious that not everything was going to be explained -- that would be impossible given how many dangling mysteries the show's producers have unfurled upon us. However, when the finale answered nearly none of those questions and instead went the heartwarming emotional route, I was left much like the souls of the cast (depending on who you ask to interpret) ... in limbo. Was the finale awesome or upsetting? If you ask me, it was both, with a heavier emphasis on the latter.
For six years and 120+ episodes, 'Lost' fans have been put through the wringer of theological metaphors, are-they-good-or-bad character judgments and some pretty freaking ridiculous diversions here and there. As much as the show's creators like to say it's all about the characters, the show shot to success thanks to the geekery it exuded. Fans hoping that the diversions and random Easter egg moments that peppered the show's existence would be all wrapped up like a nice little present in the finale are surely drowning themselves in Dharma beer today. Why, you ask? Well, mostly because, in the long run, nearly nothing about the vast and numerous intricacies of the Island -- the show's most important and omnipresent character -- were answered.
Remember the four-toed statue? What about the temple? That pool that revived Sayid from the dead? And yes, who can forget the polar bear cameo appearance way back in season one? Those all went to the wayside as the show came to an end. We were told that Jacob, Jack and others had to protect the Island, but we never really learned why. Yes, the illuminated cave (which, if you ask me, is a cheap rip of the 'Pulp Fiction' briefcase) represented the good of man ... so why was it held together by a hieroglyphic-strewn stone carrot that Desmond and Jack could easily unplug? This Island is protecting the human race from evil, and the only thing holding it together is a glorified wine cork? What was it about the Island that made it so damn special? What was Richard Alpert's role? That's what I wanted to know.
When it was announced that the finale had been bumped from two hours long to two-and-a-half, I thought to myself: "Excellent, they're tacking on 30 minutes so that they can really get to the bottom of things." 'Lost' generally never upset with major episodes. The pilot of the series is probably the most enthralling opener of any series to ever be broadcast, and nearly every season finale or opener has delivered, no questions asked. This time, not so much. While the extended episode wasn't entirely wasted, it certainly could have been managed more efficiently.
For instance ... how did Vincent the (adorable) dog suddenly come back into the storyline, nuzzling up against an about-to-die Jack? Sure, it was touching and emotional, but why? Where was WAAAAAALT? Early on in the show, Walt and his animal-whisperer mystique made him seem like he'd be an important player -- if not The One -- in the show's grand scheme. Forget that. Also, who the heck is watching Aaron and Jin and Sun's baby? Oh, and that minor plot point about that thing called the Dharma Initiative -- what was that about, ultimately? Farraday cracked the time travel conundrum? Great... let's move on. What did it all mean?
Well, now nothing, because the show is over and those questions weren't important enough to answer.
Now, on to the good. The fight between Jack and Locke was pretty flawless, beginning almost as an homage to old kung fu movies, complete with a long-distance stare down and Jack seemingly flying to deliver the first blow. It seemed as though Jack was a goner after taking a gnarly stab wound, but Kate -- who in the past episode made it clear she was hellbent on killing Locke -- came through with the shot heard 'round the 'Lost' world.
I also loved the remembrance-via-touch illuminations that all of the characters had in the flash-sideways segments. Sawyer and Juliet were downright tear-inducing (despite the corny snack machine metaphor) in their connection, and if you didn't feel that, then you should probably check your pulse. No matter what type of strained chemistry Jack and Kate had, the Sawyer-Juliet romantic arc always rang true, and their reborn chemistry was one of the finer moments of the finale. Seeing them back together along with Charlie and Claire tugged on the lovey-dovey heartstrings of everyone watching, and it was done perfectly: It was blunt, quick and passionate.
Another highlight was the redemption of Ben Linus. Through the course of the series, Michael Emerson nailed the role so well that actors for generations to come looking to play manipulative/creepy/diabolical characters will study his work as Ben Linus. Ben did nothing but connive, murder and backstab during his time with the Oceanic 815 crew, so to have him turn to the good side at the end -- while I and likely everyone else were waiting for him to kill everyone in glorious fashion (which would have been pretty fantastic) -- was a nice, unexpected touch, and it turned one of the greatest villains in television history into a hero.
Now, on to the end ... which is what everyone will remember the finale for. Jack has always felt he was living in the shadow of his dad. In fact, nearly everyone on the show had some sort of mommy or daddy issues, but Jack's rocked him to the core. He was a good dude, but his bad dad's legacy was too much for him to overcome. So, with the passing-of-the-torch scene in the church at the end, when Christian tells Jack that his entire life was essentially a test and that he passed, redemption rang throughout the 'Lost' world. The show, it turns out, was essentially all about Jack and his struggle to find salvation. Everyone else was simply a tool or supporting character in 'Jack' ... sorry, 'Lost.' And, like a poetic bookend, the show ended with Jack's eye closing, six years after it began with his eye opening. We should've known all along.
So, while Jack found his path and everyone was reunited in a pseudo-Heaven, 'Lost' adorers around the world were forced to make a decision: Did I want lots of answers, or did I want the overriding theme of the show (finding the good in man) and its main character (Jack) to succeed? On the balance scale of television expectations, that's a call for every viewer to weigh. If you ask me, though, throwing the answer-seekers a bone in lieu of the hokey all-faiths religious redemption wouldn't have been a bad thing.
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