From the beginning, “Lost” has always been a show about dualities: good vs. evil, free choice vs. predestination, science vs. faith, and most of all for viewers, heart vs. brain. And in that sense, last night’s series finale hit all the right notes with the heart for a good two-plus hours, but left the brain disappointed at the end.
I loved, loved, loved all the action on the island. Even though pretty much none of the burning questions were answered, we still got some satisfying resolutions: Smokey dies, Jack saves the island and sacrifices himself in the process, Hurley and Ben take over as island caretakers and the surviving Losties fly away. (And for those of you who think they were dead all along and it was six wasted seasons – and wow, there are a lot of you – you missed something. All the island action was real. It was the sideways world that was post-death.) Yeah, it would have been nice to get some answers (I was sure we were going to at least find out who was shooting at the canoe last season), but in the moment, things were too exciting for me to care.
In the sideways world, the moments of clarity and recognition totally worked for me – Sun and Jin, Claire and Charlie, Jack and Kate and especially Sawyer and Juliet. Totally sappy, but they pulled all the right heartstrings. And I loved that scene after Sawyer used up his last dollar and Juliet – as her consciousness crossed over – suggested they go dutch. That was perfect. Not as perfect was Sayid and Shannon. (Shannon? Really? All that, for Shannon?) But I never really bought them as a couple anyway. (My one complaint: We never saw the Desmond-Penny moment. Considering how their love story transcended space and time and was such a hugely emotional storyline, I find that kinda baffling.)
Up until about 11:15 p.m., I was totally satisfied. And then came the church scene.
That was when we found out everyone in the sideways world is dead and in a sort of purgatory. That just didn’t do it for me, and seemed like a major cop-out. As commenter James noted, the creators took the whole notion of “no, the island is not purgatory” that they had steadfastly maintained since the beginning and attached it to the final season for (apparently) convenience’s sake. That was a huge, frustrating letdown, and I think they took the easy way out.
And then there’s the issue of the mysteries. Pretty much none of them were ever answered. The more I think about that, the more it bugs me. And I don’t buy the creators’ defense that “Lost” was always more about the characters than the story. Um, no it wasn’t. So much complex work and thought was put into the mysteries that they can’t simply be ignored at the end. For six seasons, minus 15 minutes, the overriding theme of the show was summed up by Charlie’s “What is this place?” To change gears at the very end and make it all about the salvation of Jack seemed cheap and gimmicky, and unfair to a diehard fanbase who had invested so, so much in the mysteries. (This is why I tried not to get too caught up in the mythology – I’ve been burned before by “Alias” and “Battlestar Galactica” and others enough to know that getting too invested is the easiest path to disappointment.)
That being said, the last 15 minutes weren’t enough to ruin the preceding 2:15 for me, or the preceding six seasons. It really is the journey, not the destination, that makes following a show like “Lost” fun, and despite the unsatisfying conclusion, the whole trip was totally worth it. Just remember how it made you feel for so long, and don’t overthink it. Going back to the heart vs. brain battle, for two-plus hours (hell, six seasons, really), my heart was racing and I cared. For 15 minutes, my brain was going “Does not compute.” Shut up brain, I’m following the heart. It’s more fun that way.