Tag Archives: Culture

The End of Lost as an End to Mystery

24 May

[NOTE: This post contains spoilers about the series finale. The usual precautions apply.]

Update: See also Tracie’s excellent re-cap/analysis over at Jezebel.

I think Charlie Anders’s response to the finale of Lost over at io9 is representative of the reaction many other Lost fans had last night:

In the end, it’s hard not to see Lost as the longest con of them all. Not because we didn’t get enough answers – it’s really true that after this episode, I don’t need any more answers than what we got. But because all along, Lost seemed to be a story. Until the end, when it wasn’t. In the end, it was just a bunch of stuff that happened.

[…] It just felt like a cheap, cop-out ending.

Slb over at Postbourgie has a similar take:

I haven’t encountered too many fans who weren’t at least a little let down by this resolution. The whole, “Surprise! You’re all dead!” thing seems far too convenient for a show that encouraged its audience to invest so much time cracking codes and trouble-shooting mysteries. If you think about all the websites with secret messages and comic book plotlines and DVD commentaries and literary references and numerical fake-outs this show employed over the years, in light of the show’s last few minutes, it’s enough to make you want to throw something at your TV.

Contrast this with Tyler Cowen’s take:

Most of all I viewed the ending as tragic.  It was not mainly about any particular account of the metaphysics of the island.  It was about how few couples had the chance to actually live together, love together, and stay together.  The perfect reunions of the couples in the “we’re all dead” scenario only drove this point home.  I found this contrast moving.

[…] Overall I thought it was the best final episode of a series I have seen, with close competition from The Sopranos.

I favor Cowen’s reading for several reasons, mostly because I think it captures what was resonant and frustrating to the viewers annoyed by the finale: the promise of an end to mystery left us with another mystery and that mystery was different than the mysteries proffered by the show before the finale.  But first some quick background on what kind of Lost watcher I was for context: I wasn’t a committed Lost fan over the entire series.  In fact, I began watching the series starting with (I believe) the Season 3 DVD and stayed with the show mostly because 1) I had enough character background and basic mythology that I could watch an episode and follow the rough contours of the mysteries and revelations while grounded in the character drama and 2) I was sucked in by the Lost cultural phenomenon and was curious to see how it would all end.

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