Did 'Lost' lose it?


After six years of twists, turns, and even more twists, the TV show that seemed like it would never end is over. Did the end justify the hype, asks SHANE HEGARTY

LOSTHAD a character, Richard Alpert, who would occasionally turn up in different countries, in different decades, but always the same age, with the same hairline, same square shoulders, not a jowl sagging or a new wrinkle. For some time, he represented the show’s apparently boundless mystery; its teasing plotlines and fractured storytelling; its what-the-hell-is-going-on-ness.

In the drama’s final episode, Alpert got his first grey hair, the sign that after a century-and-a-half he was finally beginning to age. And once again, Alpert embodied the show. Here was confirmation that the end was nigh after years when it seemed as if Lostwould never end.

To those who only watched the early seasons of Lost, or who read about it rather than watched it, there was a misconception that it had held on to its mysteries and that the finale might finally see it hand them over. In fact, Lost had already answered many of the big questions. The numbers? They corresponded to a list of candidates to protect the island. The smoke monster? Jacob’s brother after a domestic got out of hand. The island? A giant cork keeping the rest of the world safe. In the final episode, this was subtly represented by a giant cork.

There is an interesting comparison with the final episode of The Sopranos. That show was not about mystery, but its final scene was so inscrutable that fans are still squinting in an effort to figure it out. Lost’s finale, though, was not too obtuse. For years, it had been singular, ambitious, influential, and entertaining – and all while wrapping the viewers’ minds in knots. But on the whole, the final episode was about resolution rather than revelation.

There were a couple of major exceptions. The main one – and here we must politely offer a spoiler alert – was that in the alternative timeline the characters were, in fact, dead all along. Each had been brought together for what would be a concluding scene of white light, swelling strings and an orgy of hugs. This was, it must be said, somewhat of a letdown: a punchline to a long-running fan theory about the whole series being set in purgatory. The island, it turned out, was not such a place but the alternative universe was. That they had been dead all along was the big fear among fans of the series, and as those versions of the characters became swallowed by bright saccharine light, in a church whose stained glass contained symbols from the major religions, it tugged at your heartstrings but eroded your satisfaction. It also, coincidentally, echoed the finale of the BBC’s Ashes to Asheson Friday night. There are, it seems, only so many stories that can be told.

The other major twist was far more pleasing. During an early exchange, Smoke Monster Locke told Jack that his position as successor to Jacob seemed a bit obvious, that he would have liked a bit more of a surprise. He was speaking for the viewers here, but also giving us a clue about the resolution.

In the end, Hurley became the new Jacob, and through him we were left with a new mystery. No, not why it is that he has spent a great deal of time running through a tropical jungle without losing so much as an ounce. Instead, it’s why, having achieved borderline immortality, he still ended up in purgatory. Therein lies a spin-off series.

Ultimately, Lostwas at its best when it was about questions rather than answers, but it was generous enough to give viewers both. A finale that had recreated various scenes from earlier episodes ended with a closing scene identical to that of its very first episode – except that Jack closed his eye rather than opened it. He is dead. Smokey is dead. They’re all dead. Lost is over. And like Richard Alpert, we can all get on with our lives again.