Lost Round Table: Special Finale Edition

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With opinions on the Lost series finale ranging from ever-lasting love to outright hate, we asked our TV Fanatic Round Table panel just one question this week:

What did you think of the conclusion to Lost?

Their detailed viewpoints are below. Whose do you come closest to sharing?

M.L. House: Viewer reaction seems to be divided into two camps: Answers vs. Characters. Those in the former hated how many questions were left unresolved; while those in the latter were thrilled because the finale brought the focus back to the characters.

But there's a third side to this debate, one on which I fall: Storytelling. I disagree with those that whine because we didn't learn more about Walt; and I also think it's a cop-out to say the conclusion was satisfactory simply because it provided closure to the castaways' journey. Instead, I look at the bigger season six picture and wonder what Jack meant when he said "all of this matters."

Perhaps that's true on some grand scale, in regard to his redemption. But the sixth season teased a set-up in which on-island events would play a major role in off-island revelations. I can't be the only person that expected the Jacob/MIB/good/evil war to be resolved with some vital tie-in to the Sideways universe. But we didn't get that. We didn't get anything that would make us return to an earlier Sideways scene and understand it better in the context of that universe as a type of Purgatory.

The lack of specific answers doesn't bother me; but the frustrating lack of storyline development does. David Shepard was a Sideways concoction? Sun was never really pregnant in that world? These now feel like cheap gimmicks, depicted on screen just to make us believe we were watching another reality play out.

I still love Lost and would watch all six seasons again in a heartbeat. One episode should never define any show. But I felt disengaged watcing the finale because the Sideways events were purposely kept mysterious until the final moments, and because the island events felt like I was watching a sport whose rules I didn't understand.

Lost RT

LJ Gibbs: The more I think about it, I'm satisfied with the conclusion of Lost and the final episode itself ... mostly. Some aspects could have been much better, such as the confrontation between Jack and MIB/Locke which basically amounted to "Desmond will destroy the island." "No he won't." "Okay, let's go together, lower him down and see who's right!"

That and Jack's Rush Hour 2 style slo-mo running punch of his adversary felt beneath what I consider the greatest show of our time. I didn't mind the revelation of what the Sideways World is, save one caveat - if the point was to bring the characters so they can ascend to a better place, why introduce us to David Shepard then? Why have Sayid pine for Nadia for years, including this season, only to reunite him with Shannon?

Previous Sideways World scenes now feel like wasted time to me, despite how poignant the season finale was, and a conclusion/explanation I actually enjoyed a lot. This has always been a show about character connections, so going out this way was true to form. The acting and directing was so amazing that I was moved by every island enlightenment took place - even after I began to see them coming. This was a show with so many themes and perspectives, a program so unique in its appeal that any ending was sure to be a huge disappointment.

Simply because it was ending, but furthermore, because there were so many overarching and intertwining themes, a resolution to all of them would be impossible. No, the finale wasn't perfect, but it was pretty solid, and I'm just thrilled to have gone along for this ride Sunday and for six seasons. What we saw was as little of a letdown as possible ... almost.

Mr. Probst: My reaction while watching the two and a half hour finale of Lost was one of boredom.  For a show that had frequently been able to provide me with countless "whoa" moments, the finale lacked a single instance where something unexpected happened.  Instead, we were treated to a very long episode where the action was forced and the suspense was predictable. 

A show that was intellectually based for six seasons and relied on the viewer making the connection themselves did an about face and spelled out everything.  As such, the show could have been wrapped up in one hour instead of two-and-a-half - and saved me an hour and a half of my life.

Perhaps most disappointing, however, was the ending.  Turning the sideways world into purgatory discredited any of the sideways world story lines in season six and eliminated the significance of most of the show.  A viewer could watched seasons one, five and six and completely understand the finale.  How is that a good ending? 

From a story telling stand point, using purgatory and the afterlife as the ending was a very curious choice to me.  Why spend six seasons crafting an elaborate science fiction world of magical islands, immortal beings and smoke monsters when the ending is not science fiction at all?  The same ending could have worked for a story crafted entirely in a normal world. 

Fake Family

The Barnacle: Whatever you thought of "The End" and where it brought the Lost story arc, the episode itself was a reflection of what the show has always been about: its characters.

I am not saying that Lost was a purely character-driven show and that the overall story shouldn't matter; to me, Lost has always been a cool, thoughtful, sometimes funny, sometimes spooky mystery and I have loved watching that mystery unfold over the past six years. But in that time, there have been weak episodes, tangents that go no where, and big questions that were never answered.

But even at its story's weakest moments - and this final season had its fair share - the show has always been salvaged by its characters and the tremendous actors who embody them. That was the case in "The End", as it was throughout the whole final season (it is no mere coincidence that "Across the Sea", the generally accepted worst episode of the season, and perhaps the series, did not feature a single actor/character we'd come to enjoy over the past six seasons).

For me, what I will remember most about "The End" was the little moment when Hurley, now in his role as Island Protector, asked Ben if he would like to be his right hand man. This was the acceptance and responsibility Ben had been looking for his entire life and the emotion that played, however quick and subtle, across Michael Emerson's face was the best acting the show has ever given us. Ben's two brief interactions outside the church, with Locke and then Hurley, further drove home that the acting, and the deep, complex and so very real (even when living among fantasy) characters it created, was what was at the core of the show.

Just as Ben needed to wait a little longer outside the church for his redemption, perhaps Lost needs to sit in our critical Purgatory a bit longer, too. In time, when we have exhausted every question that went unanswered, when we have stated every complaint about how we wanted the show to end, we will realize that Lost gave us exactly what it set out to: years of entertainment, driven by tremendous performances.

Matt Richenthal is the Editor in Chief of TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter and on Google+.

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Lost Quotes

Cesar: You know him?
Locke: He's the man who killed me.

[on Sawyer and Juliet] I thought it was kind of obvious. I mean, who couldn't see that coming?

Hurley