Tonight, after six seasons and more than 100 episodes, the series finale of Lost will bring closurehowever incompleteto one of the most intriguing TV shows in decades. Many fans (including me) are naturally worried that the final episode will be a disappointment. But in the Wall Street Journal , my friend Sarah Pulliam Bailey says that Lost devotees need a little faith:
For many, “Lost” has already transcended mere entertainment. The show’s first episodes portrayed charactersdeveloped through flashbackswho were merely hoping to escape. As they became aware of the island’s supernatural elementsone paralyzed survivor can suddenly walk there and another survivor’s cancer is healedtheir questions gradually shifted from “Where are we?” to “Why are we here?”
Now viewers wonder whether they are watching a battle between good versus evil, but they still don’t know who, or what, is good and evil. Is it Jacob, or the unnamed “smoke monster” or one of the survivors who is controlling the island’s fate? The show could end with a redeeming, messianic characterbut we’re not sure what that character would save: the island, the other people on it, or would he prevent evil from saturating the world?
As the final episode approaches, some viewers don’t want ultimate answers. “The power of the show is the air of mystery that it always preserves,” says Craig Detweiler, director of Pepperdine University’s Center for Entertainment, Media and Culture. “In the same way we would never want to put God in a box, I would hate to see ‘Lost’ wrapped up in a tight bow. Maybe the show will leave us with a sense of critical self-reflection about whose side are we on and which parts of our backstory do we need to reconcile.”
Although I’m open to loose ends and unresolved questions, I’m hoping that the show’s creators will reward our faithfulness by providing a satisfying resolution and coherent ending. Any decent television producer can provide a promising set-up and string viewers along for a time (see: Flash Forward and V ), but few have the talent to deliver a credible denouement. Will Lost live up to its fans’ impossible expectations?