I was a quasi-latecomer to Lost. After watching the premiere episode and a couple after, I fell out of regular viewing until I caught up sometime during the third season. Since then, for better or for worse, I’ve been hooked. As the finale draws near, I fear it was for worse.
But wait, I am not simply being blindly critical. It isn’t that I doubt the dedication of the cast and crew to deliver a rip-roarious finale that will satisfy–it’s that I doubt said ability of anyone. Think about it for a moment, what was the last, really great final chapter you were exposed to? When it comes to television, I struggle to name many finales I can even label decent, let alone grand. Perhaps the greatest television finale of all time was for Little House on the Prairie, because they had the guts to simply blow up the entire town. That’s chutzpa! Otherwise?
When it comes to literature, for years many have criticized the Chronicles of Narnia for Susan’s fate in the last book, even going as far as to claim it blatant sexism as J.K. Rowling did. Speaking of Rowling, her own Harry Potter series ended with an epilogue many found too tidy and Disneyesque considering the lead up. That’s to say nothing of the disappointment many Twilight fans felt with that series’ final book.
Film trilogies fare no better. From The Matrix to X-Men, from The Godfather to Spider-Man, film trilogies rarely end well. Spider-Man 3 was so bad that they junked the entire franchise and decided to start over. That’s the opposite of chutzpa–that’s defeatism.
So here we find ourselves mere days away from the Lost finale with no hope in sight. While it has been a wild ride through hatch highs and Paulo lows, the ending can only hope to at best meander into somewhere in the middle, leaving many fans disappointed and many more apathetic. That’s not the way anyone wants to go out, but is sadly the price for setting the bar so high.
Great stories require great endings, but with expectations so high and so much time to pontificate over possible endgames, few ever live up to fan expectations. As in the examples given, the greater the buildup to the finale, the higher the expectations. That’s why nobody was let down by the finale to According to Jim. Lost fans should brace themselves, but hasn’t that been part of the allure all along?