Lost is over, which means I have 20 or more hours that I previously spent agonizing, debating and arguing one of the most complex, intelligent and emotionally satisfying television shows ever produced to devote to other activities, like sleeping. It had its ups and downs, but people who abandoned it partway through missed out much more than they realized.
ABC Studios has released Lost: The Complete Sixth Season (also known as The Final Season) on DVD and Blu-Ray, which of course contains all 16 episodes and several bonus features. This review arrives a little late because I was on vacation for the last three weeks, so consider this the better-late-than-never and save-the-best-for-last Lost: Season 6 reviews.
Lost: The Final Season was the weakest of the six seasons, which is a shame after so much investment by the fans. It’s not a bad season – even at its worst, Lost is better than most television, which is why it’s so frustrating when I hear that people stopped watching a season or two in – but it definitely goes a direction that many fans didn’t like.
Much of the season’s problems have to do with the flash-sideways. After years of flashbacks and then flashforwards, the Lost guys threw another curveball: an “alternative” universe where the survivors truly did survive the crash, and, presumably, have grown up a little differently than we previously knew. Sawyer and Milo are both LAPD detectives. Jack has a wife and child. Jin and Sun arrive in LA to find themselves in the middle of a gang war. Claire lands and meets with her child’s foster parents. Ben is a high school teacher whose best student is Alex. Oh, and the nefarious island is at the bottom of the ocean, following the explosive events of last season.
In a season where audiences expected to be given answers, Lost instead gave them a whole new set of mysteries. It was a frustrating development, though in hindsight one that should have been expected and even desired. After all, Lost didn’t sustain its legion of fans by providing answers. As much as the fans wanted answers, they relished in the “it could mean this and this and this.” Answers will always disappoint someone; questions can only intrigue.
Unfortunately, the biggest issue with Lost: Season 6 was that the truth about the flashsideways didn’tt become clear until the final episode – “The End” – which meant that fans had to sit through 16 episodes watching an alternate storyline that no one cared about. If the flashsideways represented reality, then that meant the other five seasons were erased and meaningless; if they weren’t real, then what’s the point? Bottom line: no one wanted the flashsideways to be real, and no one cared about how their characters progressed in this alternate universe. Fans wanted to see how the survivors on the island finished their story.
Beyond the overarching principals of the season, Lost: The Final Season also suffered from inconsistent production values. Lost introduced another group of “Others” this season, but their costumes and the temple they lived in looked like something out of a bad SyFy version of Pirates of the Caribbean. Interestingly, one of the bonus features looks at this very aspect of the season and praises it. The special effects seemed to get worse throughout the six seasons – the CGI in the pilot episode is better than anything in the final season. Locke even develops a set of man-boobs for half the season.
Claire’s return as a psychotic disciple of the Man in Black is also tough to grasp.
At the same time, there are plenty of goodies for fans to delight in this season. “Ab Aeterno” examines the early life of Richard Alpert and is one of the best episodes of the season. “Across the Sea,” another set-in-the-past episode, looks at the origins of Jacob and the Man in Black. While released later in the season than it should have been, it’s a worthy episode. “The Candidate” is one of the most shocking episodes of the season as several main characters are killed. There are other sprinkles of perfection, including Jacob’s vague allusions to what the island is and why it’s important.
“The End” is the episode that gave fans all the answers, or at least enough answers to end the show. The final episode is controversial, and while not as literally satisfying I would have liked, it is satisfying in regards to Lost. It doesn’t answer some of the most pressing questions, and it ends in a way that divided audiences, but it is quintessential Lost. The final episode – and the entire series – will continue to be debated for years to come, and that is how Lost should be. Had it given fans all the answers, it still would have divided them but eliminated all need for argument; as is, it’s still not clear what the island was or what happened to the survivors.
Were the survivors alive on the island and their flashsideways their purgatory, allowing them to act out the lives they always wanted before passing to the other side? Or were the survivors dead the entire time and the island itself their purgatory? It’s not clear. If the island is the purgatory, then what are the flashsideways? Second purgatory? Or, better question: if the flashsideways are purgatory, then is the island reality?
I’d lean toward the latter, except for the final shot of the plane’s wreckage on the island’s shore. Some people have shrugged that final, post-credits shot off as scenery, nothing more, but anyone who says that is ignoring the fact that nothing on Lost is accidental; everything that is given to audiences is shown for a reason.
Bottom line: Lost ended the way it should have, leaving one big question out there for fans to feast on. It may not have ended in the way people wanted, but it ended the way it should.
Lost: The Final Season comes with several new bonus features, all of which are good in their own way. “The New Man in Charge” is a compilation of clips that help explain a few additional questions that weren’t answered during the actual season. Those looking for just a few more minutes of Lost should go to this feature first.
There are also a few deleted scenes, but nothing particularly noteworthy.
“The End: Crafting a Final Season” looks at how Lost differed from other shows in that the final season was the completion of a six-season show, not a season developed to wrap up stories set forth in the past. One of the most interesting aspects of this featurette is that it features interviews with producers/writers from other shows such as The X-Files and The Shield to explain the difference between Lost and everything else.
Other featurettes include “A Hero’s Journey”, “See You in Another Life, Brotha” and “Lost on Location”. There is also a short bloopers montage and audio commentaries. The DVD and Blu-Ray sets, as well as The Complete Series, are now available for purchase.
Lost: The Final Season is not everything I wanted and more, but it is an emotionally satisfying conclusion to the series. It isn’t perfect, but it works and shouldn’t diminish what this show did for television and the expectations of fans; let’s hope more intelligent network shows like this emerge in the future.