Lost finale a giant-sized tribute to a simple idea: The journey sometimes matters more than the destination
They will say it was too schmaltzy. Too predictable. Too overdone. Too filled with commercials.
Let me gently suggest, from the vantage point of this blown away fan, a simple retort.
No f---ing way.
Turns out, the creators of Lost had already shown us the series’ end before Sunday’s night’s 2 ½-hour finale extravaganza. We were just too caught up in the details to see it.
True enough, the story of whether the villainous smoke monster (the always amazing Terry O'Quinn) was able to destroy the island and unleash evil across the world was resolved in the series’ sprawling finale episode. But that wasn’t really the point of ABC’s creative, six-season tribute to smart television. That was just the lure to draw us in.
Instead, Sunday’s show was an emotional, funny, expertly measured reminder of what Lost has really centered on since its first moments on the prime time TV landscape: faith, hope, romance and the power of redemption through belief in the best of what moves mankind.
In the face such epic storytelling, who cares that Smokey got his comeuppance with a bullet to the back from Kate? By the time he plunged down a cliff wall to land lifeless on a rock ridge, inches from his goal of leaving the island for good, his passing was a dark afterthought confirming a loss that felt pre-ordained from the start.
But viewers won big, as Lost showed hero Jack Shephard sacrifice himself to repair the island’s light and leave lovable audience surrogate Hugo Reyes as the island’s new caretaker.
Say it out loud and it sounds like a cheesy Hallmark card. But the key to Lost’s finale success Sunday was redeeming all these characters who had been lost in the tangle of their own troubled lives without seeming sappy or overly contrived.
After years of theories that the island was purgatory or hell, it seems the “sideways” alternate universe created at the start of this season served that function. The big reveal at the end of Sunday’s show was that all our losties were coming together in that world after their own deaths – enjoying one last bit of fellowship before moving on to a larger light.
(As always, the smallest line said the most -- Hurley telling Ben he was an excellent Number Two let us know that each character came to the sideways world after their lives ended in their own time, not at the same time).
Most series finales devolve into awkward, obvious cavalcades of past characters and old triumphs. But as we saw dead characters reunite, old loves rejoined and past friendships renewed in the sideways world, the emotional payoff was all a Lost fan could hope for, and more.
Along the way, we got some funny zingers. I never realized Jack’s dead father’s name was Christian Shephard until Evangeline Lilly’s fugitive spitfire Kate cracked a joke about it Sunday. And when the Smoke Monster Shaped Like Locke snarked that Jack was an obvious choice to replace island caretaker Jacob, he was mimicking the snipes producers knew had already blossomed across a thousand Twitter pages.
The emotional jolt for fans Sunday was enough to make us forget all the detailed questions which went unanswered, at least for a while. We still don’t know who built all the old structures on the island, or exactly how the Man in Black’s departure would have ruined the world, or who the Others really were or even what the connection was between electromagnetism and the spiritual power that makes the island so special.
But what we learned, as Matthew Fox’s Jack Shephard echoed his position in the series’ very first scene – lying on his back in the island jungle, closing his eye one last time as a plane filled with his friends took off – was that this really was about the journey and not the destination.
Thank you so much producers Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse, along with the cast of Lost and ABC for allowing us to join you on an unparalelled ride.
You left us right where we needed to be – full of hope and wonderful memories of an amazing story well told.