No spoilers (and not just for the finale, but any episode of Lost) except for the section between the warnings.
Whoa. Lost is over. It feels...strange.
I can safely say that Lost is the TV show that I've been the most invested in for the longest period of time. It's had its ups and downs, its hits and misses, but I've been a fan all along. I even followed some of its "alternate reality" material (the Lost Experience) one summer (I actually stuck with that Simon-like game to figure out what DHARMA stands for) before I decided that, well, it wasn't really worth it--the show was perfectly enjoyable without it.
I sometimes forget, but I didn't actually follow the show until its second season. I think I watched the pilot when it started in the fall of 2004, but this was during my first two years in college when I didn't follow any TV shows (hard to believe I once did that, now). By the summer after the first season I had figured out that this was a show I should be following, and a chance encounter with Daniel Dae Kim (Jin) gave me further star-struck reason to start watching. I bought the Season 1 DVDs, and by the start of Season 2 I was all caught up. I then proceeded to get my roommate hooked on the show. She was caught up by Season 3, which we watched together.
That year I bought the DVDs, I think I watched every episode in Season 1 at least four times; I could list them all by name in order and had a very good sense of the events and flashbacks in each episode. I also co-founded a facebook group at my school (ah, back when Facebook wasn't a giant monster, when you had to be in one of the listed colleges to join and Facebook groups were a new thing and were limited to people in your own school...) which enjoyed relative success in its first year (until Facebook groups went "global" and all school-specific fan clubs became dwarfed and outdated). This was the golden age of Lost's popularity, when even non-geeks were fans, and you had to watch it the night that it aired or you'd overhear people discussing it the next morning and the surprises would all be ruined.
The show got a little lost in its second and third seasons (though I never gave up hope), but once they set an end date--three more seasons with 16 episodes each (with maybe a little flexibility)--in the spring of 2007, Lost found its direction again. It seemed that every episode had purpose, with important character and plot developments packed into it. In Season 4, they really let out the geeky sci-fi side of Lost, alienating some (lesser) fans, though show runners Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof said that if any fans didn't think the show was sci-fi all along, they were kidding themselves.
When they set the end date during the third season, it seemed like a lot of time. The show, after all, was only half over at the time. Somehow, three years have passed. It may be hard for me to believe it, but the epic tale of Lost is finally over. Spoiler section ends after the picture, so skip down there for my spoiler-free final thoughts.
SPOILERS FROM THE LOST FINALE
Since the finale aired on Sunday, there has been a lot of discussion over whether it was good or bad. A lot of people, it seems, are disappointed about the questions that the show never answered. They had three years to tie it all up! And they never told us why ____?! I bet they never knew the answer. That's bad show-making right there!
There are indeed things that it would have been nice for them to tell us (to name a few: What was special about Walt? Why did Aaron have to be raised by Claire? It didn't seem so disastrous when Kate was doing it. And why can't women have babies on the Island?). I think it was sloppy for them to bring these questions up, make a big deal out of them, and then forget about them. But somehow, I'm OK with it. For now, at least, I can forget about those questions, too. Their answers are not required for me to be happy with the show. At the moment I'm satisfied with all the mysteries they did solve for us.
I was a little disappointed by the way they ended the "flash-sideways" story. They had set it up as a sort of alternate reality where the bomb had gone off in 1977, the Island had been destroyed, and thus the lives of the passengers on Oceanic 815 were never touched by the Island's craziness. I guess with everything we learned about the Island in Season 6, a hydrogen bomb may not have been able to wipe away the issues that the Island had, but still... I liked the idea of this alternate reality. When Juliet said, in her last dying breath, that "It worked," I assumed she meant that the bomb plan had worked and that, in the new alternate reality, none of them would come to the Island. Even though that reality existed, they still had to keep playing through their own reality, which was also real. I don't know where I thought this would lead (War between the two alternate realities! No, wait, that's J.J. Abrams' other show...), but I hoped that the Lost show runners had a good idea.
But it turns out the sideways world wasn't real. It was just a fantasy in which all of our favorite characters, who touched each other's lives in such monumental ways, could find each other in the afterlife and have a big get-together before moving on. It was very sweet and touching, and I liked the sentiment, but, well... Why would this fantasy created by the people brought together by the Island take a form that looks so much like how their lives might have been if the Island had been destroyed in 1977? The only reason I can think of is, so that it would trick viewers into thinking it was an alternate reality. And that makes me a little sad. If anyone has a better reason, please share.
On Island, though, I was very happy with the way they ended it. I'm still sad that both Jin and Sun died a couple episodes back (what about their daughter?!), but other than that, I liked how they tied up the characters. Jack--and Kate!--take down Smokey. Jack sacrifices himself, and passes the guardian role on to Hurley (I believe in you, Hurley--*sniff*). Ben becomes Hurley's new second. Lapidus is alive! And the plane has a runway! And he takes Richard (no longer ageless), Miles, Kate, Sawyer, and Claire off the Island (see, Desmond was right, if Charlie died Claire would get off the Island...eventually). Now Claire gets to raise Aaron and wash her hair. Rose and Bernard live out their days happily on the Island, with Vincent (Hurley should make Vincent ageless--he's a nice companion to have around). Desmond hopefully, with Hurley's help, gets off the Island. And then the last scene, mirroring the very first scene in the pilot: Jack lying in the bamboo, visited by Vincent, then the closeup of his eye closing...It was beautiful. I couldn't have asked for more.
END OF LOST FINALE SPOILERS
So I have slightly mixed feelings about the Lost finale, but overall I thought it was great. It was a fitting ending to an awesome show. Lost's place is firmly cemented on my list of favorite shows of all time. It was an important show both in my life and in the world of TV. It helped make sci-fi cool and start a movement in new TV shows (mythology-heavy, serialized, sci-fi related shows), which unfortunately hasn't really spawned many successful successors but is still appreciated nonetheless.
I will miss the show, but strangely not as much as I've missed other favorite shows of mine that have ended. I guess, in the case of Lost, I feel like it was time. They told their story, and now it's over. It was great while it lasted, and I am happy with the experience. It was one hell of a ride.