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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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the ending was really good. It brilliantly and perfectly wrapped up the island storyline. The sideways storyline was a little slow in that they went through EVERY character having a realization moment and that took too much time, but it was still nice a satisfying and people would be complaining that their favorite character was left out if they got left out. anyone upset about the lack of connection between the island storyline and sideways is only upset because they are petty egomaniacs who guessed wrong about the connection. anyone upset at the lack of answers is also pathetic because all the questions that were truly important were answered. the show is the greatest show in the history of television and wrapped up great.

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I loved the ending so what if not all the questions where answered that's how life is stuff happens you don't know why you don't get answeres and lost is about life and death the life and death of the characters.
I thougt the end was very touching I loved the juliet and sawyer scene and the scene with jack and his father wneb jack said i'm dead that really moved me the ending was very moving and I loved it that they all got to move on together because they complete each other.

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I agree with The Barnacle, The End needs to be processed to be appreciated at its best: I was very disappointed when it ended, I slept and thought about it the day after, with a fresh mind, that's when I realized that I loved it.
I think that LOST challenged a lot of people intellectually in the past years, WE had to think about the answers and that's what we should keep doing.
It's not like Grey's Anatomy season 6 finale, we weren't treated like morons who, after a very boring season, would accept anything, I think the writers do know the answers, but I also think they will let US believe what we want about Dharma and the polar bear.
I don't think it's just a character driven show, I think we are supposed to be a part of it. These are my two cents about it. @LJ Gibbs: Sayid was supposed to be with Shannon to be happy and move on, not Nadia. This means that (at least, to me) he was wrong while alive, he thought he wanted Nadia (MIB promising he could reunite with her), but she wasn't the one who made him complete, if you want to be cheesy about it.
Same thing goes for Jack, he needed Kate and his opposite (the man of faith) to complete himself, not Juliet and a son; being a father, a good father in the end, wasn't the point.

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lol i agree with "A viewer could watched seasons one, five and six and completely understand the finale. How is that a good ending? " i got together with my boyfriend just as season five was about to start. I watched only season five and six, asked as few questions as possible because I knew I wouldn't understand without watching everything...and i completely understood the finale. so i really agree. btw my boyfriend has watched since the beginning and has been really into the show, and left watching the finale totally pissed because of the unanswered questions

Rileyford

It's sad that with my insane addiction to this show from day one.. i have no idea what the ending.
People are saying they just thought the ending was dumb or stupid.. but i can't even understand the gist of what happened. The Sideways world "existed" and then the island story "existed" and yet they all end up in sideways world and all died at some point.
I'm just insanely confused on that aspect. I really wish the ending could be dumbed down for my understanding just a bit so i'd be a bit more acceptive of the ending. However.. as The Barnacle stated, this show was about the characters. Thats what i absolutely loved about it! I enjoyed learning about these characters and their pasts and futures. It was an amazing experience all together. This last season and even the one before it, were quiet confusing as they tried to make their insane story make some sense. I became very used to going with the flow and accepting Lost for whatever it chose to do and be happy. So in the end, in my eyes. I witnessed everyone off the island, everyone happy and aware of their past on the island. All the couples together (although i'm still a SKATE fan 100%, sorry jack, your scene on the rock was very cute though! and i agree sawyer and juliet were also the sweetest thing) and everyone happy. Which is exactly how i wanted the show to end, everyone happy and off the island. In the end i was confused, but it wouldn't be Lost without some confusion. So i'm happy accepting that fact that i have no idea what happened and i loved it! PS: we got to see vincent, rose, bernard, boone and shannon! So happy about this. But i was really hoping to get to see Mr. Eko :( -Riley Ford

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To LJ Gibbs: I think the purpose of David Shepard was to allow Jack in his hidden subconscious/"purgatory" to shed his own insecurities of being a son, as well as his father issues he had in real life, and project his new found peace in the form of a son-he was able to be the man he always wanted, and for part of his life, that would include defeating the doubts he likely would have had about being a father. He also had a new found confidence in "purgatory"-thinking back to Season 1 when he barely had the confidence in his own O.R. (when his dad basically calls him out in front of the other surgical staff), he says to Locke that he KNOWS he can fix him. So I think Jack's transformation of personality was allowing him to be the man he really wanted to be, including possessing the ability to be a good father. With Sayid, while I thought it strange to see him and Shannon as being reunited, on the other hand, they actually were able to have a true relationship on the island, while Sayid never quite was able to have fully develop that relationship with Naydia, he was always pining for her. I've seen other comments out there too that believe that in a way, the sideways world was "Jack-centric" and therefore relationships would be about how Jack saw them (which would mean Sayid and Shannon versus Sayid and Nadia). Christian also says at the end that "you need them and they need you"-so in a sense, it was characters that developed relationships on the island that are now rejoining together.

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It just sucked!Whatever impact the ending was supposed to have on me was lost when I realised that nothing at all would be answered and as mentioned above, the whole finale was very un-lost like in that it was very predictable and boring! I truly loved Lost but this ending takes away any of re-watch value that it had previously (I have watched the series 3 times). Yes it was character driven show but surely all the people who use this as an excuse for the finale being that poor can not be the same people that read the thousands of theories on fansites that this show spawned! Lostpedia must feel like heroeswiki! I love the website Darkufo, used to check it daily, sometimes twice but even they are kidding themselves by saying the finale was good and saying that anyone who didnt like, didnt understand it! These people just dont want to admit what I have been forced to admit....I was fooled by the writers who used the tagline 'answers are coming' for this season when really, they never had answers at all. Shame on you!

Lost Quotes

Find a suitcase. If there's anything you want in this life, pack it in there, because you're never coming back.

Ben [to Jack]

Why there is a dead Pakistani on my couch?

Hurley's mom
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