August 30, 2010 Posted by Roger Overton
If you have not watched the final episode of LOST and don’t want to know how it ends, do not continue reading*
Having been an outspoken fan of LOST for the last few years, a good number of folks have asked me how I felt about the finale. My response has been that I feel great about the finale. The problem is that the more I think about it, the more nagging questions come to mind. It was an emotionally satisfying ending, but not intellectually satisfying.
Before I explain my reaction, I should note that I still believe LOST is the most daring, compelling, beautiful, and interesting show that has ever aired on television. It appealed to a wide spectrum of genres and interests, including drama, romance, science-fiction, comedy, religion, and mythology. The narrative, story-telling, acting, score and production were top-notch across the board (with the exception of a few cheap CGI scenes). No amount of disappointment in particular elements of the final episode changes my belief that there isn’t another show that can match the caliber of LOST.
Reaction to the final episode seems to be split right down the middle: many people were satisfied with how the character’s stories were resolved, while many were dissatisfied with the lack of resolution of many of LOST’s mysteries. Misguided expectations were partially to blame: some people expected every mystery to be resolved and lambasted the writers and ABC for not providing the desired answers. Folks, we live in a flawed world and everything we encounter is flawed to some degree. Those who expected the finale to wrap everything in a nice tight box were doomed for disappointment before the episode started.
On the flipside, viewer’s expectations for answers were partially motivated by advertising for the show. Official promos and teasers repeatedly promised that this final season would reveal all the important answers we’ve longed desired. So, I think the blame for false expectations goes both ways.
From the very first episode mystery played an integral role in the developing narrative. It was one of many plot devices used to hook viewer’s interest. What was that “monster” that made strange noises in the jungle and knocked down trees? How was Locke miraculously heeled after being paralyzed? How did polar bears end up on a tropical island?
The importance of mystery relied heavily on J.J. Abrams’s “Mystery Box.” If you haven’t seen Abrams’s brief lecture on this, check out the video below. In the next post I’ll further explore mystery and why my satisfaction is mixed with some of the ways LOST utilized it.