I don’t want to beat a dead horse. Or sound like a broken record. Or whatever the proper metaphor here is. But I want to discuss Lost one last time.
Given today’s release of Lost’s final season on disc, and with the benefit of having had three months since the final episode was broadcast, I felt the time was right for some considered reflection as to what it all means.
Last we talked, I gave initial praise to the final episode, while noting that “the more I reflected on the episode, the more my enthusiasm began to wan.” I went on to explain why. Earlier in the season, I had expressed my growing disappointment with the direction the plot was headed. Clearly, I was not happy with Lost’s final season.
I remain disappointed. Even more so now.
At the end of Season 5, I was hyped almost beyond belief. The great final scene, with the bomb exploding and the inspired fade-to-white, left me at the edge of my seat. With an eight month wait before the story would continue, my impatience and anticipation for Season 6 could not have been higher if I had been a resident on the space station. When the Season 6 premiere finally arrived, I was sure I would be treated to a great ride And when the ride was over, I would buy the entire six seasons on disc so that I could take the ride again.
It didn’t work out that way. I will never watch Season 6 again. Not will I watch anything close to the entire series again. Why? Because the series ending was so disappointing that it has colored everything that came before it, casting it all in a negative light. I see this much more clearly now than I did last May. To start all over again, knowing where I will eventually wind up, not longer seems fun. Season 6 ruined it all for me.
Specifically…the flash-sideways plotline of Season 6 was by far the biggest disappointment. From my perspective, it was a complete mistake to go in that direction. The flash-sideways added a spiritual “purgatory” and “heavenly redemption” element to the show that I was never able to take seriously. It felt phony and contrived. It not only had no relevance to anything that came before, it seemed almost at odds with the direction the show had been heading in earlier seasons. Worst of all, it rendered almost everything that happened on the island as ultimately meaningless. What did it matter who lived, who died, or why, if they all ended up here for a happy reunion and a joyous stroll into the white light? What a letdown.
And that H-bomb blast at the end of last season? Another fizzle. Yes, it seemed to kick the characters back to the present. But, aside from the death of Juliet, nothing else had changed. I had expected something more.
As for the island scenes in Season 6, they were a disappointment as well. Too much time was spent having characters wander about the geography, with the only significant plot advancement coming in the final five minutes. Occasionally, even the plot advancements were rendered almost meaningless by the events that followed (e.g., we finally get to see inside the temple — only to have it, and almost everyone inside it, destroyed a week or so later). Too often, I found myself bored with the slow pace of an episode, my finger hovering over the fast-forward button.
The fact, lamented by numerous fans, that too many of the mysteries of the show were left unanswered became a minor point for me, in light of all of this other trouble. I imagined so many ways that the time wasted with flash-sideways and island-wandering could have been better spent. Instead, the writers/producers squandered it away.
I do look forward to watching the mini-episode epilog included with the final season package. The preview that I saw on the Web looked promising. And, after more time has passed, I am sure I will rewatch some of my favorite episodes again — including my absolute favorite, the Season 3 finale, “Through the Looking Glass.” But that’s about it.
Despite everything, I will always consider Lost to be, overall, one of the finest achievements of weekly series television. The final season’s mistakes can’t completely undo this. Still, the final season did ruin, for me, what I would have otherwise ranked as my single favorite television achievement ever. Now it’s just somewhere in my top ten. Not bad. But it could have been so much better.