ABC’s Lost is coming to an end this Sunday, May 23rd, with a two and a half (!) hour episode that will no doubt be the greatest! finale! ever! OR the Most Disappointing Finale in the History of Television. Or possibly both. Lost has always had a knack for combining the brilliant and sophisticated with the absurd and just plain bad. Witness the May 11 episode, detailing the mysterious origins of Jacob and MIB (that’s Man in Black to you Lost newbies, though I prefer to think of him as Esau, now). Set in some unspecified time frame hundreds of years ago, and featuring a miscast Alison Janney as a sort of precursor to Locke in the role of (wo)man of faith/protector of the Island/general nutball, the episode was widely panned by Lost fans, many of whom felt like too much time was spent on these tangential (if important to the overall story of Lost) characters when so little time is left in the series. Some also felt frustrated by the esoteric nature of the episode, and thought it raised more questions than it answered (a complaint about Lost episodes since around episode two, but one with particular weight when, again, you’re talking about the third-to-last episode of the series).
I actually liked the episode, at least in part. Sure, they got a little heavy-handed with the religious parallels (“take this cup and drink from it”), but I liked getting some insight into Jacob and MIB’s respective roles and natures. As suspected, it’s not as simple as Jacob=good, MIB=bad (or black and white, as the stones in the game they play indicate – another bit of symbolism that I suppose some may find heavy-handed).
This last season has had its ups and downs – I think the “sideways” storyline has been brilliant, overall; on the other hand, seeing some of the core characters altered beyond recognition (as Claire and Sayid have been) or killed (as I guess Sun and Jin have been) has been kind of disconcerting. Lost has always been about the mysteries to a great degree, but the audience has come to care about the characters, too, and I don’t like to see them jerked around to serve the plot, if they indeed have been. The final “truth” remains to be seen, of course; if the sideways storyline somehow ends up being the final reality, then I guess maybe everyone will be okay? (I’ve seen speculation that the two timelines will merge somehow, which would be interesting, though I wonder what it would mean for Jack if he is now “keeper” of the island?)
The realistic Lost fan knows that not all questions can or will be answered. Maybe that’s as it should be. After all of the many, many mysteries the show has thrown at us (polar bears! mysterious numbers! men who don’t age and who look like they’re wearing eyeliner when they aren’t!), it would feel too trite if the series were wrapped up in a perfectly neat and tidy way. I think what most fans want is a general understanding of what’s been happening for the last six seasons and why. An explanation that balances the mystical aspects of Lost that many of us have found so fascinating, without getting too deus ex machina or full of mumbo-jumbo, would be ideal in my eyes. I’d like a reasonably happy ending, too – I don’t care that much if Kate ends up with Jack or Sawyer, but for goodness sake, if Locke somehow turns up alive he should be given a break. I haven’t always liked his character – he could be maddening at times – but, jeez, he’s certainly been tortured enough. Same goes for Claire, actually.
What about you? Do you have an ideal ending in mind? Any theories on what could or should happen? Share your thoughts!