And so my grievance about Sunday night’s series finale is not that we didn’t get enough answers to the show’s pressing questions, but that we got the wrong answers. You think I’ll not feel cheated when you take away my Hatch and give me a golden glowing whirlpool? You want to trade me Daniel Faraday’s equation-crunching geekery for a hippy-dippy theory about the nature of good and evil? And in place of explanations about the motives and machinations of the Dharma Initiative and the Others, you slide in a season’s worth of Purgatory phantoms struggling to join the gobsmacking Afterlife?
No thank you. And this embrace of fantastical spiritualism is making it difficult for me to concentrate on the many, many pleasures of the finale. Because it was great in so many ways. There was a fantastic narrative energy to the episode as the various threads wound together. Desmond and Hurley coolly manipulating the flash-sideways Losties. Locke and Jack on a badass collision course with world-changing implications. Rewarding reunions between the likes of Sawyer and Juliet, Claire and Charlie. And Vincent, the very definition of man’s best friend! It was tense at every turn, with payoffs aplenty, and it left me with watery eyes more than once.
For two hours I was on the edge of my couch, munching on the GarLocke bread I’d made for the occasion, sipping on a Jack and Coke. I’d resigned myself to the fact that all those sci-fi elements I’d nerded-out on for years weren’t going to be addressed. I’m not one of those “Lost” viewers who needed every item on an Unanswered Questions checklist ticked off one by one. The producers decided to go in a mythical direction, and although I wasn’t happy about, it’s their freaking show.
Then we find out that the entire flash-sideways world we invested in for months wasn’t real? That it was just what all these lost souls needed to create before they could move on to the Great Beyond? That even the original timeline might just be imaginary (I don’t subscribe to this theory, but it’s out there)? And that all the Numbers and time-traveling and wackadoodle science experiments and generations of people being brought to the Island and SO MUCH MORE — all this boils down to a golden glowing light with a stone stopper plugging it up?
Ambiguity is fine in storytelling. Declining to answer tons and tons of questions is fine. Leaving your audience struggling with fundamental confusions — ones that weren’t there until the final minutes of a show that ran for six seasons — is not fine. That’s just lazy. And worse, it’s kinda mean.