I am one of more than 12.3 million people* who tuned in to last night's Lost finale. (I'm guessing you are too.)
And...wow. Just wow.
I am so glad that all I can think of to say is "wow."
If the ingenious and epic nature of Lost was at all in question, I think "The End" was more that sufficient to prove and solidify it to everyone.
Series finales are incredibly difficult. I can't even imagine the challenge, nevermind the pressure, behind putting together a conclusion to something as monumental as Lost. Even the best of the best can falter at series finales - see: BSG. So I didn't get my hopes up for Lost's finale and was ready to accept whatever came.
Now I wish I'd let myself have enormous expectations. Because they still would have been totally blown away.
"The End" did what series finale ought to do: bookending, reflecting back on the whole series, complementing echoing - and all with what is definitely the best script all season. It answered major questions, but it didn't attempt to wrap everything up in a neat little box with a horrific little happy-ending bow (see: epilogue chapter of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows). It ended the series, but not the story, assuring that Lost, though technically over, will never be at an end.
And, well, it was a happy ending, and who doesn't like that?
...me, actually. But I can make an exception for this take on a happy ending. Because it isn't a happily-ever-after happy ending. It is a mix of truesweet and bittersweet, and the emotionality is absolutely heartfelt. There is a part of me that wanted to be cynical about the happy reunion crap a la Claire and Aaron and Charlie finally together in the Sideways...but I was too busy tearing up. Those three in particular have always been my undoing, but especially in those moments.
There are only three things about "The End" I am honestly unsatisfied/displeased with. The first two are minor: One, What about the children?! I can't contain my worries about Jin and Sun's poor orphaned daughter, and I don't like how Jack's son in the Sideways (Dylan Minnette, who I became quite fond of) is just sort of...dropped out of sight. But I guess I'll have to get over that. And two, it's just depressing that Lapidus never has any function other than "pilot."
The third is less minor. "Locke" aka the Man in Black was killed by a GUN. A gun fired by KATE. This is a PROBLEM for me. SO MANY people have gotten shot on Lost and pretty much NONE OF THEM have died from it. Ever. So how does it follow that what is arguably THE major death of the series comes via gunshot, and not at the hands of the person who should rightfully be the killer? Sure, you could argue that having Kate do it in order to save Jack is actually a great piece of emotional poetic justice. Sure, you could argue that the gunshot was just the final nail for the putting out of the light at the Heart of the Island, or that it could well have been the fall that actually killed him. But you'd need an autopsy to confirm that and dammit, I'm just peeved about the whole thing.
...and by "the whole thing" I just mean the shooting...and maybe the fact that Kate did it. But definitely not the Western-style showdown between "Locke" and Jack. That was fucking EPIC - and I don't just mean Jack's starting 300-style jump-punch. The stunt team deserves such an insane amount of congratulations for putting it all together. Tough location + multiple camera angles + rain + that much pressure to be amazing = a lot to handle. And oh boy did they.
Speaking of Jack, I think it is important to note that "The End" is the first time where I've truly appreciated what an extraordinarily well-crafted character he is. I feel like I finally understand all the work that the writers and Matthew Fox have put in over these six years. Jack always seemed a little off to me. I can't say how. I mean, he was certainly admirable and I did like him, but there was always some lack of, I don't know, humanness, that set him apart from everyone else. After "The End," I've reached a stage of enlightenment about the character Jack Shephard. I get it now, how he is important not just as a person, but as a tour-de-force of concepts. He really does personify the heart of the story. So yes, "Locke," he is "the obvious choice" for Jacob's successor. And now I feel that I understand why - at least, I think I do.
But back from the land of tangents, as far as closing the story and answering that question of "What/where is the Island?" (and also "What/where is the Sideways?"), "The End" was just about perfect. Despite this growing black/white Man in Black/Jacob biblical imagery, the finals answers were not any sort of Heaven/Hell answer. Not in my opinion. Instead, it was just a beautiful conclusion to what has been the main theme of Lost over the course of six seasons.
As writer/creator/masterminds Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof noted in the pre-show "Lost: The Final Journey," Lost is "a character study." It is a story about people, and the idea that people, however isolated they feel, always have and need each other. No man is an island.** And so, the final destination for all the characters, whenever they die, is this place "[they] have all made together" (Christian Shephard). It is not a "here" or a "now," but it very truly is.
I am absolutely in love with that idea and that ending. Because the concept is so moving on its own. And also because it leaves us with the thought that we haven't seen everything - Hurley and Ben did spend real time protecting the Island, those on the plane leaving the Island with Lapidus got to live their lives, Desmond got off the Island and back to Penny.
That's how I'm choosing to interpret it, anyway. I think it is a thought that has merit, but I'm sure there are other arguments that are just as persuasive. The ubiquity is the masterpiece as much as anything. Nothing is cut and dry - there are hints of what the minds behind Lost are thinking or intend, but there is also room to leave the conclusion and messages up to interpretation. The ubiquity, as well as the depth, are what make Lost such a monumental work of fiction. The show is truly an epic. Serial television can be literature***, and this is the proof.
Lost is over. And there is a definite void. In the world of network television, and also just in the world. There is nothing to replace it, not in terms of scope or in ability to capture the imagination. And I'm really going to miss it. In terms of post-partum, I think I get off easy. My emotional- and time-committment hasn't been anywhere near six years - not even one year. But I like to think that I'm not totally unaffected in comparison to the diehards who've hung on fanatically since S01E01. I was touched by Lost. Dorkeriffic as it is to say, it is true, and I don't think that another five years would change that.
So, RIP Lost. Or, rather, thanks for the memories.
And thank you for being so absolutely beyond-words extraordinary.
*Current Nielsen estimate; does not count DVR numbers or headcounts of Lost-viewing parties. So, really, it's probs MANY more.
**I'm sorry but I just HAD to. I apologize for using it in both title and text.
***I use the word "literature" because that is the best way I can think of to describe a narrative with depth/symbolism/mythology/message - all those elements one looks for in text-based literature; if you have an alternative to offer, please do
(This review, plus some slightly sillier stuff, is also posted on my blog at http://meltedbrain.wordpress.com.)