I, as much as anyone, have complained about television series finales. I seem to recall having written about the disappointment I've felt at the closure of television shows on more than one occasion. I wasn’t someone who disliked the last episode of Battlestar Galactica, but there have been more than one series which I've felt cheated by when they turned off the lights. While I wouldn’t suggest that some shows have an easier time in creating their finales, there are series that certainly have an incredibly difficult battle to do it correctly. One need look no farther than Lost to see how true that is.
Last night, as many are aware, Lost began its final season. While the series' numbers aren't what they were earlier in the show's run, Lost is still a cultural icon and has, as a bandleader said back in the day, got some 'splainin' to do.
At this point in the series, as was pointed out to me last night, there are a ton of questions. (and here we get into spoilers). There are people out there who seem happy that the show finally answered the question of the black smoke – it's actually Jacob's non-friend who has made himself look like Locke. That may sound like an answer initially, but that's not an answer, it's about a half-dozen more questions (as noted in the aforementioned article). Who is Jacob? Who is the other guy? How does he turn into the black smoke? Why does Jacob have guards? Why do the two guys hate each other? Who over the course of the series that we've thought was one person has actually been this other guy? The list goes on and on. How are they possibly going to clear this up by the end of May?
I'd like to suggest that they shouldn't – they shouldn't bother explaining everything.
Oh, I'm not saying that they shouldn't take some time to sketch a general picture, but they shouldn't go into everything. I have to figure the executive producers are smart enough to understand that. As much as some out there may want a great deal of hand-holding, it seems to me that it would be better if we didn't get that. If you've stuck with the show this long, surely you want don't want some dumbed-down explanation that makes you feel like a fool, right? A general picture would be far better — everyone then can have their little ah-ha moments when they work out for themselves what this, that, or the other meant. To take us down the path and show us each little flower along the way is to not treat the viewer with respect.
In the end, of course, whatever answers we may get on the series will not be universally pleasing. It really matters very little what Cuse and Lindelof come up with, someone will be angry – and they will be vocal about their anger. But, that potential anger must not influence what they're doing.
At this point, the important thing is not that the show tries to satisfy everyone – by doing that they will almost assuredly satisfy no one. The important thing is that when the overarching answer (whatever the question may be) is revealed, the audience honestly believes that it is something that the producers had in mind all along. The biggest way to cheat us is to present us with something that feels half-baked and like a very last minute idea.
I have no guesses – no good guesses – as to what the answer may be to what the island is, who Jacob is, and any other myriad of questions, but I'm still completely hooked on the show and can't wait to get more answers (even if they lead to bigger questions).