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Tyler Charles

'LOST''s Adventure Doesn't End with the Finale

Why the popular show's swan song is a powerful—and fitting—conclusion.

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On Sunday night, LOST, the series that has consumed so many, and baffled so many others, finished with a flurry of activity befitting the show that consistently blazed its own trail.

Fair or not (and perhaps it is), a TV show's legacy is often judged by the final impression. But whether fans liked the ending or not (whether they understood it or not), it certainly was a all-you-can-watch buffet for the millions of insatiable LOST diehards. Starting with the two-hour recap and ending with Jimmy Kimmel's hour-long "Aloha to LOST" special—oh yeah, and with the extended two-and-a-half hour episode sandwiched in between—the series finale was not just the final episode; it was an event.

Aptly titled "The End," the finale was action-packed, philosophical, emotionally intense, rewarding, baffling, redemptive, and just ambiguous enough to prompt speculation. In other words, it was everything fans have come to expect from their beloved show.

Worth the Devotion

The series began six years ago when Oceanic Flight 815 crashed on a mysterious island. Every episode since "The Pilot," it seems, has raised more questions, or implemented a new mind-boggling storytelling device. First viewers witnessed flashbacks, then flash-forwards, then an island that jumped haphazardly through time and space, and, starting earlier this season, an alternate (or "sideways") reality—created when a group of the survivors detonated a hydrogen bomb in the season 5 finale—where the plane never crashed.

Throughout LOST's six seasons, fans tuned in for the characters, the drama, the adventure, and, perhaps most of all, the mysteries that spawned thousands of theories on online forums, message boards, and blogs. Since its premiere, LOST has been unlike any other show. Similarly, its finale may have carried more expectations than any single episode in the history of television. With so many questions unanswered and so many mysteries unresolved, it would be an understatement to say fans expected a sensational (and satisfying) end to what has been an epic journey.

The finale, for many fans, wasn't just about the end of the story; it was about solving the mystery, and determining, in this final culmination, whether the show was worth the devotion it evoked. Leading up to the finale, LOST websites were abuzz with chatter about the questions that needed to be answered. Those who expected the finale to finally answer all those questions, however, may have been disappointed. Some of the mysteries were addressed in the finale. Most weren't.

In fact, the final hours of LOST showed little concern for satisfying viewers' curiosity.  Instead, the writers were committed to finishing the story they have been weaving for the last six seasons. But the finale did offer something for everyone. For the sci-fi fans: the pool of electromagnetism in the "heart of the island" (and the cork-like contraption keeping the glowing water in the electromagnetic pool). For the romantics: all the "I love you" exchanges in the Sideways reality (and the final kiss for Jack and Kate on the island). For the adventure-lovers: well, the entire episode. And for everyone: numerous meaningful scenes between all the characters to whom viewers have developed such an attachment.

LOST has often been described as an epic journey, and for the last year, it seemed to be building to a definitive confrontation between good and evil. But LOST was always more Lord of the Flies than Lord of the Rings. These characters were not marching toward Mordor together. For the entire first season, they struggled to inhabit the same beach without killing each other. Even when they did work together, the characters all seemed to be harboring their own hidden agendas.

So for the LOST characters, the "good versus evil" struggle started inside each of them. As Jacob, the island's former protector, revealed in a recent episode, he chose these people as candidates to replace him because they were flawed. Because they were searching for something. What these characters found on the island was an opportunity for redemption. Some embraced this opportunity; others did not.

Embracing the Outlandish

LOST's plot has gotten so complex, so outlandish, that when one attempts to sum up the on-island events it sounds, to borrow a word used by Miles in the penultimate episode, wonky. A man instantly healed from paralysis. Cancer cured. A polar bear on a tropical island. A smoke monster—that also seems, somehow, to be at least part-human. A frozen donkey wheel that, when turned, can send the island skipping through time. A man who doesn't age. Men who come back to life. Men who communicate with ghosts. A sideways reality. A mystical pool of light at the heart of the island.

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