Now that Lost has ended, there are a bazillion blog posts on how unfulfilling, stupid, disjointed, illogical and pointless it was. Many bloggers ask many questions about the point of it all, and then complain that none of the questions was answered. As one of the viewers who didn't chart the plot points of this bitch, I gotta say... is that REALLY what you want? Or is it possible to just, I dunno... WATCH the show and follow the characters and enjoy the tremendous symmetry of the finale? I always weary of logic nerds who seem incapable of understanding character and emotion and exist only to complain about red matter and disappearing islands. Because all of the plot detritus aside, what the Lost finale did for me was create a resonant send-off for these characters. But too many people seemed too focused on WHY the flash-sideways universe existed than on what purpose it served.
Giving the flash-sideways universe time to unspool was rewarding, unless you were desperately trying to figure out where to add it on your Lost flow-chart. I found it interesting that all people wanted to do was solve it. They wanted Answers, Goddammit, and screw what was happening with the characters. But everything does NOT need to be spelled out and wrapped up in a neat little bow. That's not what I'm looking for in drama. I like the things that rarely happen in life, like parallels and symmetry and the impossibility of people finding each other. I didn't need to know the express purpose of the hatch (although it's not too hard to figure out now). The hatch introduced me to Desmond, who became one of the show's most captivating, lovelorn characters. But people reject that character development because The Hatch Was STUPID.
Lost was a genre show and as such, that means that every little plot point needs to make perfect mathematical sense. This is also what people objected to with JJ Abrams's Star Trek. It's STAR TREK. It should make logical sense. But what I like about Abrams' ouevre is that he utterly, completely refuses to sacrifice character for logic. Sure, it can get messy and confusing but the Lost finale was SO resonant that all you can do is sit there and marvel at how beautifully these characters were created and developed. You don't get that resonance without all that work, and sure, without some missteps along the way.
For me, the missteps on Lost came in the middle part of the series, when the writers paid too much attention to the Internet and tried to answer questions at the expense of character. And when the writers finally went "Fuck it," the show relaxed back into what made it so fantastic: A character show. Asking for a television show to be perfect for six years is asking the impossible. Every show is going to make mistakes. And a show like Lost, that's so dependent on exploration, takes more of a risk. Look at where this show began, and where it went. People who are so used to being locked in to a premise that carries throughout the life of a show just got mad. They couldn't go with it because that's not what they wanted out of their TeeVee shows. And that's fine. But that doesn't mean Lost was a failure.
What's so wonderful to me about the finale is how it took the crazy six years of this series, with smoke monsters and hatches and psychics and Others, and brought it right back to where it began -- the characters.
Some people said Lost has changed television. But unfortunately, it hasn't. Now it's just... gone. If Lost really WERE the game-changer everybody seems to imagine it to be, then there would be more chances taken in network TeeVee. But networks aren't taking any chances right now. They're circling the economic wagons. I'm not even sure television shows CAN be game-changers anymore. We're too locked into the procedural way of life. ABC took a chance with Lost. The show was bold, rich and different. And it kept being different, to such an extent that people wanted to crush it with a rock. It's funny, because people will go on about how TeeVee is just the same-old all the time but then they'll turn around and criticize the Jacob/Man In Black origin episode by going, "Gee, there are only a few episodes left and THAT'S what they want to spend their time on?" Well, YEAH. THAT'S WHAT MAKES THE SHOW DIFFERENT. You, guys, are trying to shove it back into that safe format that networks have been forcing upon you for decades. You're not ready for different either, audience.
Getting into fights on the Internet about creator intent is SO mid-90s. If you didn't like the finale, fine. We're just looking for different things from our drama.
So maybe you're wondering WTF happened. Were they dead? Alive and then dead? Not waving, drowning? Here's my interpretation, which also happens to be pretty much what Christian Shephard said in that monologue in the church. Seriously. Go back and watch it: Think about the castaways' lives prior to going to the island. As Jacob said, they were all pretty fucked up. They all had problems. They create their universes where their lives are better. Their problems are fixed. And they could exist there forever, if they wanted to (the choice Ben made at the end). But instead, they choose to remember their fucked-up existences. They can't be together in their perfect lives, so they sacrifice those lives, those fantasies, because moving on together is preferable the superficial fantasy of a life that hasn't really been lived.
And the ending mirroring the opening shot of the series? How often does a show actually get to pick their ending? It was a beautiful, perfect bookend.
Bravo, Lost. You went out on your own terms.