Okay, this is a bit spoilerish.
As many predicted, the Lost finale seems to have polarized the fanbase. Most either loved it and thought it was the perfect ending or were thoroughly disappointed. And as always, I'm in the middle. I can see two sides. I rule.
There were flip sides to this show that made it great, two sides to the Lost coin: the characters and the mythology. Unfortunately, in the end the writers were only able to satisfy one side.
From the beginning, it was always a character-driven series. The heroes were forcibly upstaging the setting—as decided by the writers (and we let it happen)—because the characters were so unique and likeable. And diverse. Look how much time was devoted to flashbacks, starting in season 1 (which was the best season). Ultimately the acting, the popularity, and perhaps even the politics of the real world changed the plans. Some actors left the show for one reason or another, while others who were only supposed to be temporary stayed on because they impressed. In that way the creators of Lost allowed the show to evolve in ways they hadn’t originally planned. Clearly.
Then there’s the mythology, the milieu, of Lost. It just so happens that stuff was enormously appealing, to some of us more than to others. It created an epic mystique: Who are the shadow players on this island? What anomalies of science are at work here? How? Why? What does it all mean? Do fate or faith really play a part? Very intriguing sci-fi stuff, and Lost made it more interesting than just about any other TV show out there.
But in the end the writers only really addressed the characters. And from a ratings stand point, that’s probably what made the show so popular: the drama, the romances, the love triangles (blah!)—so much melodrama! And you know what? Most of it was awesome. Realistically, sci-fi still isn’t that mainstream. While it is getting more popular, American television, film, and audiences are still more occupied with cops, lawyers, criminals, crime scene investigators, coroners, philanderers, desperate wives, and pregnant teenagers.
Lost appealed to a pretty diverse group. Speculative fiction freaks (like me) got into it, and yet so did fans of bad reality TV and "good" reality TV and Survivor and readers of trashy romance novels and readers of good romance novels and lovers of social dramas and talk shows and celebrity gossip shows. And so on. That’s why Lost was popular. Somehow , the writers, producers, and director made a solid show which managed to please so many different types of people. Pretty amazing. The season finale brought to a close the character arcs that began in the very first episode. In that I found it very satisfying. And while I know many will disagree with this, I personally think they were bold about the ending, ambiguous as it was. To address the afterlife, faith, and spirituality at all is damned gutsy. Spirituality isn’t popular in our culture, and a lot of people are uncomfortable when you venture onto topics of an afterlife or belief in any kind. Makes them defensive, especially if they’re anti-spiritual. And yet Lost did touch on it without catering to any one faith. Or perhaps none. It was all very interpretive and adaptable. That frustrates some people but if they had been very definitive about what the afterlife was like, people would have been up in arms. All things considered, well done.
But I'll admit, it was a bit too afterlife-lite, much like in What Dreams May Come.
And Benjamin Linus, mass murderer and complex character, opting to sit out for a while and not "move on" with the others quite yet? Nice touch.
They didn’t bring any real closure to the mythology of the island, the nature of its original inhabitants, the Jacob role, the smoke monster, the "light," the Egyptian motifs, the Sobek statue, the powerful electromagnetism, teleportation, the mysteries of time travel . . . and plenty more. In that I feel the writers pulled an X-Files on us: they tossed out lots of cool mysteries but never really decided what they were all about. I’m sad about that. They could have, perhaps, if they’d trimmed out some of the less relevant material (the Temple, the freighter, the leaving-then-going-back-to-the-island stuff, the constant flux of running around and dissolving and reforming camps . . . something!).
But it’s apparent that the show was more about the characters than the mythology. And so the finale came full circle and addressed only them. And I think they did a good job with that. Could they have done more to satisfy everyone? Yes, they could have, but they waited too long to start tying things up.
So I’ll proudly stand between the love and hate camps. It was an awesome show with a frustrating and yet strangely mostly-satisfying ending. It will be difficult for anyone to match what Lost accomplished—not just in ratings but in diversity. It’s damned hard to tell a good story with that much diversity and get so many people to pay attention to it.
In conclusion, I’m just happy to see Vincent at very end. He was my favorite character. And the Hugo and Ben thing on the island, the new Jacob and his new Ricardo thing?
Edit: Ken Hart made a pretty cool post about the finale, too, right here.