It’s been a long and tumultuous journey, but Lost finally came to an end on Sunday in a feature length finale that summed up just about everything that was good, and not quite so good, about the show.
As the seasons drifted one into the next and the mysteries surrounding the island became ever more complex and intertwined, it became clear to fans and haters alike that Lost was never going to tie up every loose end. It was at that point that viewers who had enjoyed the first two or three seasons divided: some could accept the show’s flaws and roll with the punches, enjoying the remainder of a show that, they knew, would have its ups and downs, but would retain its key facets: startlingly high production values, excellent screenwriting and a wonderful cast. The rest decided that without a watertight narrative, the show simply couldn’t hold its own.
It’s an interesting debate. Usually a plot with as many holes and red herrings as Lost’s would be enough to derail a production, but in Lost’s case, as the finale so aptly summarised, the focus has always been with the characters. Many fans felt that the central battle between Jacob and The Man in Black was revealed too late, almost as an afterthought, and it’s hard to disagree with them. Whether or not the show’s conclusion had been planned from the start, the supernatural direction the final series took was both intriguing and beguiling. After so many episodes of mystery-baiting, character development and discovery, the fact that everything boiled down to a simple choice between good and evil seemed almost too easy.
Similarly, the finale’s concluding scene in the church has split opinion down the middle. Revealing the flash-sideways to be a kind of limbo created by the characters to move on together is a pleasing sentiment, but in practice it couldn’t help feeling like an easy way out, especially given the emotional heft that the character reunions in the alternate timeline had already provoked, particularly in the final episode. That isn’t to say that the storyline diluted itself too much to become interesting; far from it, in fact the supernatural element was handled rather well, but it’s testament to the show’s strengths that it was the character elements of the finale that really stood out, rather than the actual conclusion to the island’s story.
Fans who have followed the series until its conclusion would be hard pressed to watch the finale without feeling their cheeks dampen on multiple occasions and the show’s writers deserve immense credit for this, as does Michael Giacchino, whose now familiar score has lost none of its rousing effectiveness in tugging at the heart strings when required.
In the end, perhaps Lost couldn’t quite live up to the grand expectations that it’s legions of fans had imposed upon it, but that would have been an almost impossible task. What we had on Sunday was a mostly satisfying end to what has been a genuinely excellent experience: a show that had lofty ambitions from start to finish and which was able to reach them more often in some episodes than most shows do in their entire runs. Thinking back to episodes like the pilot, like the season three finale, like The Constant in series four, and many more, it’s impossible not to look back on Lost with anything but the fondest of memories. Jack and company, we will miss you.