Monday, May 24, 2010

"Lost": Final Thoughts

***SPOILER ALERT*** - if you haven't seen last night's "Lost" series finale yet, this post is not for you.

So, the much-hyped "Lost" series finale has come and gone. What'd you think? Personally, I thought it was good. Not great; just good. It about met my expectations.

Now...for one reason or another, some series finales - especially those for long running, successful, popular series - are met with anger. "What? That's IT?? What the hell was that?" I'm sure the "Lost" finale made a few people angry. I think we can chalk that up to people setting the bar too high, expecting every outstanding question to be answered, and the realization that the show is over, forever. Maybe they feel abandonded? HOW DARE THEY not film any more episodes! As a devoted viewer, I feel they owe me. THEY OWE ME!

Personally, I kept my expectations in check, knew going in that many questions would be left unanswered, and - most of all - realize that this is just a television show. So, Amber and I enjoyed it. We watched the 120-minute preview show (or whatever it's called), plus the entire 150-minute finale, and it didn't feel like we were watching TV for as long as we were. The time just flew by! (We watched both shows via DVR, and were able to skip all commercials, turning what would have been a 4½ hour commitment into a 3 hour commitment. Originally we were going to skip the two-hour recap, but we figured, why not?)

Regardless, I think that's a good gauge for how good a show is: how quickly does it pass the time? I call it the "soda test". Used to be that whenever I went to see a movie, I would buy a soda. The longer it takes me to finish the drink, the better the movie. The rationale is that I'm more likely to drink my soda faster if I'm bored. I don't drink soda anymore, but the "Lost" finale would have certainly passed the "soda test".

However, that's not to say it could have been better. I thought the death of the Man in Black should have been a little more spectacular - for example, Locke's "body" (or "form" or whatever) disappearing or evaporating into dispersing black smoke or something. Instead, his "body" just sat there on the rocks. Is this what happens when evil incarnate dies? I guess so. I also wanted something bad to happen - you know, like the island actually going under water, or something other than the good guys pretty much having their way from start to finish. What would have happened if MiB got off the island? We'll never know, probably because the show's writers never even thought about it. They never needed to. But all that is just personal preference, and the strongest part of the finale wasn't the on-island action; it was the flash-sideways. Those sequences, while completely soaked in sap, did a good job of "wrapping things up". Well done. Some series finales spend too much time reminiscing about the series and/or patting themselves in the back; I think they struck a good balance here. I'm also satisfied with the explanation for the flash-sideways.

So...was that "heaven"? What was that light? What's the deal? Actually, it doesn't matter...the show's over. We are free to interpret as we wish. A series finale requiring at least a little bit of interpretation is good for the series, because it keeps people talking about it for a while. For example, I haven't seen a single episode of "The Sopranos", ever, but I know how that series ended. People are still talking about it, and even though it was kind of a niche show, the show's abrupt cut-to-black ending is now standard pop culture. This ending wasn't quite like that, but still left most viewers wanting more. And that's the key: leave it a little open to interpretation, and leave the viewers wanting more. I mean, who wouldn't want to see what life on the island is like now that Hurley is in charge?

If the explanation for the flash-sideways left you feeling empty inside, confused, and/or asking more questions...sorry! It's done. It's time to let go. Besides, there's another series finale tonight, although the "24" finale is probably going to be a different animal altogether.

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