“Lost” finale leaves a lot to be desired

There’s an old adage in show business — leave ’em wanting more. With last night’s finale, “Lost” showrunners Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof took that line a little too far, offering up one big, metaphysical argument while leaving many questions unanswered.

Slate’s Laura Miller argues that the show’s fans might be to blame:

Could it be that in resisting the geekiest, nitpickingest, most Aspergerian demands of their audience they swung too far in the opposite direction, dismissing as trivial everything but the cosmic (the tedious and largely unnecessary Jacob-Smokey background) and the sentimental (making sure that every character receives his or her designated soul mate or therapeutic closure of the most banal Dr. Phil variety)?

If so, “Lost” may be the quintessential example of a pop masterpiece ruined by its own fans. The comic-book paraphernalia and texture of the island — its secret bunkers with their code names, Jacob’s migrating cabin with its creepy paintings, the ersatz normality of the Others’ compound ringed by those sonic pylons and the fantastically mechanical grinding and dragging sounds that used to accompany the appearance of the smoke monster — were not peripheral to the heart of “Lost.” They were the very essence of its appeal, what that show did better than any other. If I want to contemplate the nature of good and evil, I’ll turn to Nietzsche or Hannah Arendt (or, for that matter, Joss Whedon), and if I want ruminations on love, give me Emily Brontë or John Updike (or “Big Love”). From “Lost” I wanted less profundity and more fun. And I still want to know what the deal was with those numbers.

Ree Hines of MSNBC had a problem with the actual ending:

Sometime after his “Hey, kiddo!” and Jack’s understandable “What-the-what?” reaction, the silver fox explained precisely what the alternate reality was — a place Jack and his past pals created to have one giant, post-mortem meet up.

That’s right. It wasn’t a different thread of reality created by the time-changing blast Daniel Faraday suggested. That makes too much sense. Instead, it was all just some oddly plotted excuse for everyone (minus Michael, Walt and loads of other characters) to get together after their respective deaths but before they moved on to whatever follows.

What was the point of everything before that? What about all that alt-action? The alt-escapes? The alt-killings? The alt-family members who don’t really exist? (Sorry, David! And sorry anyone else who paid attention to your now meaningless story.) There weren’t any.

The end.

Really this time.

Those who spent the better part of the last six seasons wondering where in the heck the sometimes frustrating, almost always entertaining mystery could possibly go finally got their answer. If they can make sense of it, that is.

In the end, the electromagnetically charged mystery island gave way to a hug-filled waiting room leading to a pan-spiritual afterlife, led by the aptly named Christian Shephard. Whew!

It’s a daring way to end “Lost” — leaving plenty of questions unanswered and winking out on what has to be its least satisfying twist to date.

At least no one can say they saw that coming.

In other words, the ending was a surprise, and not a good one.

In terms of opinion, I fall more in line with Hines than Miller. While I see Miller’s point, the time to answer many of the questions that plagued her — the meaning of the numbers, why children were being abducted, how the island came to be, etc. — was not the finale. Those should have somehow been answered earlier. Within the context of the finale, it didn’t make sense for Jack to stop Ben and say, “Hey, why did you kidnap Walt anyway?” or “What’s the deal with the numbers?”

While most of the finale was terrific, my problem is with the all-important ending, and the explanation of the alternate universe, what we here at Premium Hollywood have been calling Earth-2. Earth-2 doesn’t exist, not like Earth-1, anyway. According to Christian, it was created by the Losties as a place where they could all meet. Only when they go there, they don’t know they created it until they run into each other and have flashbacks of recognition. But only certain Losties get to have flashbacks. If you’re a supporting player, like Miles, Daniel, Charlotte, Charles, Ana Lucia, etc., you’ll hang out there, but you won’t get to “move on” like Jack, Kate, Sawyer and Co.

Um…okay.

Actually, it’s not okay. I was a faithful viewer from the start, and I had no problem when Cuse and Lindelof started with the flash-forwards, the time travel and the alternate universe. I was on board for all of it, because I thought there was some satisfying, well thought-out conclusion down the road. I thought Earth-2 really was a parallel universe and the flashbacks were signs that the two timelines were about to somehow merge.

This all made some modicum of sense, as explained by Daniel Faraday, and seemed to be confirmed by Juliet, who told Miles that the bomb “worked” at the start of the final season. Why not play things out on Earth-1? Let’s say no one survives. One way or another, they all have to sacrifice themselves in order to keep Smokey on the island. But as a reward, they’re each eventually given their happy ending on Earth-2.

Instead, we get the generic spirituality (what some are calling “a religious smoothie”) of heaven’s waiting room. Forget about Jack’s son, forget about Daniel and the rest of the supporting players, forget about Nadia — really, Sayid ends up with Shannon? — forget about all the nagging questions and enjoy watching all most of your favorite Losties as they prepare to “move on” together. Laugh with them. Cry with them. Get caught up in the emotion surrounding the conclusion of one of television’s most beloved series, because if you stop and think about the fact that a good part of Seasons 5 and 6 were made irrelevant, or that many of your questions about the island were left unanswered, you might get angry.

  

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