All this talk of the Breaking Bad and Dexter finales has led us to take another look at Lost’s controversial ending.
WARNING – HERE BE SPOILERS
The ending of a television series has the ability to change the perception of that series forever. As good as The Sopranos was, it’s difficult not to bring up the famous cut-to-black ending and how it alienated fans. With Dexter and Breaking Bad now over, the idea of the ‘perfect ending’ is back in dialogue amongst TV lovers. And whenever this discussion emerges, the same show is always used as an example of an unfulfilling, disappointing conclusion – Lost.
How was it possible to match the thousands of perfect ending scenarios fans had created in their minds?
The finale of Lost was hated by many; fans branded it a cop-out and even took to Twitter to take out their anger on one of the creators, Damon Lindelof. Over three years have now passed since The End aired, and I continue to defend it. The writers did back themselves into a corner with the amount of mysteries the show set up, but this was a method of storytelling that kept the audience guessing. It was a vital part of Lost. How could a show that prided itself on keeping the audience wanting more satisfy so many fans worldwide?
The truth is it couldn’t. No television series finale satisfies every one of the show’s devotees. How is it possible to match the thousands of perfect ending scenarios fans had created in their minds? It’s impossible. That being said, many things contribute to a great series finale, and the Lost finale had these factors in abundance.
When a story ends, the audience hopes that the main characters’ internal struggles are somehow resolved – if not throughout the show, then in the final episode. Lost was always a character-driven show and the finale was no exception. The characters’ quest for redemption was at the show’s core; it gave it heart and morality. Though the discovery of this redemption would often result in their deaths.
The characters’ quest for redemption was always at Lost’s core; it gave it heart and morality
Unfortunately for Locke, his destiny was to die and become the reincarnation of The Man In Black. The season finale begins and Jack Shephard, the main protagonist, has taken the mantle of island protector, from the now-deceased Jacob, who has protected it from external threats and The Man In Black for centuries. Sounds like he needed a break, right? Jack and the other remaining characters – Kate, Sawyer, Hurley, Desmond etc – are all in for the long haul, as Locke plans to sink the island and finally escape from his eternal prison.
Jack’s transformation from a stern man of science to an all-believing man of faith in the latter part of the show is a thing of beauty, and his constant need to fix everything finally gives him guidance in the final moments of the series. He stops The Man In Black, kicking him off a cliff with the help of Kate. He then accepts responsibility to go down to the cave of light and re-cork the island (we’ll get to this later) which is pretty much guaranteed to end his life, but he knows he must do it, to fix the island and to finally fix himself – it’s the ultimate character resolution. The final moments of the show are Jack lying in the bamboo forest as his life drains away, but not before he sees a plane fly through the sky, knowing his friends are safe, a wonderful moment and a fitting end to his life on the island.
He’s not the only one who got a resolution either; Hurley, who always had a problem with responsibility, is given the ultimate responsibility: to protect the island. Kate, who always ran away from her problems, helped Jack in defeating The Man In Black, then shared a last kiss with him on the cliff edge before he went off to save the island (she also saved feral Claire, which was an added bonus). I don’t know about you, but I think that’s ample character resolution for a season finale.
The majority of Lost’s big questions were already answered before we reached the final two hours
Now this part is tricky; Lost had so many mysteries, when it comes to tying up loose ends, it’s hard to remember all of them, let alone whether they were resolved or not. Some mysteries are bigger than others of course, and luckily enough, the majority of the big questions were answered before we reached the final two hours. The island, as told by Jacob to Richard in Ab Aeterno, turned out to a cork (literally) preventing the darkness – a malevolent force that lives beneath the island – from escaping. Much was explained, from The Smoke Monster to the numbers.
The only big unanswered question by the time we got to the series finale was the flash-sideways, which turned out to be an alternative scenario where Oceanic 815 never crashed onto the island and instead landed safely in LAX. Leading up to The End, the flash-sideways brought the passengers of Oceanic 815 together in coincidental circumstances, suggesting something more powerful at work. This was before Jack found that his father created the flash-sideways, along with the other passengers of Oceanic 815, in order to meet again in the afterlife and move on together, a touching and brilliant final twist.
One of Lost’s many themes was science vs faith, and one of the many reasons people disliked the ending was because they definitively went the faith route in the end. The thing is: how could it not be that? The central character struggle in the show was Jack vs Locke, and how they were opposed in belief and opinion. In the latter part of the series, particular after Locke’s death, Jack’s entire philosophy on life was unravelling before your eyes. It’s in this struggle where he found his destiny, his one true purpose. It’s the only direction Lost could’ve gone, and the right direction too.
So, with a combination of several character resolutions, tying up loose ends and copious amounts of action and entertainment, the last episode of Lost was a rip-roaring season finale. Damon Lindelof, Carlton Cuse and the rest of the writers should hold their heads up high; it seemed an impossible task, but they managed to make a thrilling, emotional series ending that will live with me forever. So, who’s gonna argue with that?
All images: ABC