After a fifth season which had been nothing short of spectacular, the anticipation for the final season started from the minute Juliet detonating the hydrogen bomb. Could the writers of Lost do what they had promised? Could they succeed where so many prior shows --- Twin Peaks and The X-Files were the most prevalent examples--- had failed? Would they give an explanation to what the island was and what it meant?
First of all, we need to make things clear. As someone who had been a rabid X-Files fan, and who had watched so many shows on TV try to emulate Lost's sweep and grandeur--- and almost inevitably, get canceled before they got a chance--- to create something as brilliant as Lost had been for the first five season was lightning in a bottle. Having been a fan of the show nearly since its inception, I was only recently appearing at the message boards that followed the show with a fervor, and frankly, we all had doubts. There is an obvious reason, one that as far as I know has not been commenting on for any of the websites. No explanation of any mythos is ever as good as the buildup. No matter how well plotted, written or executed, getting to the final prize is never as rewarding as the journey. I had gone through a very similar experience with Stephen King's Dark Tower series (which I have always held was a template for Lost), and the disappointment had been staggering. My best friend (who read the whole series) still speaks of it with bitter disappointment. So even if Darlton had delivered us the last season as a series of specials, in which they reveal every single mystery of the island to us, with audio commentary as to what they were thinking, I still believe the vast majority of Lost fans would have been dissatisfied. I might have been sated, but my problems with the last season were for completely different reasons. (We'll get to them in the reviews.)
Admittedly, my expectations may have been different from others. After season 4, when the flashforwards had finished, I had hoped that they would spend the remaining two seasons explaining the mysteries of the island. It sort of worked like that during the fifth season, with the island skipping through time to what were critical points in it's history. We learned Rousseau's story, how the Dharma Initiative works, and how Ben Linus might have gone from the innocent lad to what seemed to be a horrible monster. As an added bonus, we finally met Jacob and got a hint as to what he might have been doing. So with no more stories to tell, I figured the final season would give us the mysteries of island.
To be fair to the writers, we did get quite a lot of that. I'll go through this in detail when I begin the reviews, but I'd say a lot of the questions that were posed were answered. But the truth of the matter is, that's not what's bothering the vast majority of dissatisfied customers. No, what's bothering so many people, what caused one of the most loyal fans of the show to say in a public setting: "Dear Darlton, I hope you rot in hell," was what turned out to be the biggest folderol in TV history, the 'flashsideways'.
However, I think we all need to acknowledge something that we have shunted to the side in the last couple of years. While they were unfolding, while we were still trying to figure out what might be happening, nobody had a problem with it. Entertainment Weekly, one of the shows biggest boosters, consistently gave it high marks, rating it at an A-. USA Today and TV Guide were thrilled by them. I don't remember reading a single negative comment on it in any of the chatrooms. I should know; I thought they were exceptional, and with questions getting answered right and left, I had every reason to think that Lost would end satisfyingly. Maybe I should've known better.
I intend to go into great depth and detail in each of the last reviews. This is partially due to the fact that they deserve close analysis, and because I, unlike many of my fellow reviewers, have a distinct idea where the wheels began to go off the Dharma van. A huge amount of Season 6 worked ---- I still believe that nearly two years after the carnage ended ---- but the parts that didn't really landed with a thud.
The Emmy judges, whose marks on Lost were something of a mixed bag, also had an interesting response. Season 5 of the show received six nominations, far less than it deserved. (Michael Emerson did earn a much-deserved Supporting Actor Emmy, though.) Season 6, however, would receive 13, more than it had since the first season. Emerson and Terry O'Quinn received Supporting Actor nominations (and considering how many characters each was playing, they certainly earned them), Matthew Fox got his only Emmy nomination for Best Actor, and Elizabeth Mitchell, after being ignobly ignored her full three seasons as regular, copped a nod as Best Guest Actress (Nothing for Evangeline Lilly or Josh Holloway, but you can't have everything) Maybe they knew more than we did for once.
So here we go, one last time to the island... or do we?