05/25/2010 02:29 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

What They Died For? Not Much. How the Lost Finale Negates the Series as a Whole

Well, that was a fantastic two-hour epic, completely redeeming the first act of weak, claustrophobic entries that started the season It was an intelligent, soaring adventure story, rich with excitement, character-development, crowd-pleasing pay-offs, heartbreaking sacrifices, and a final twist that cast the series in a whole new wonderful light. That's what I would be saying if this were a review of "Through the Looking Glass", the season three finale which aired three years ago. Alas, this is not a review of the series-high midpoint, although after last night, I'm of the opinion that Lost only ran for three glorious seasons. Last night's finale was a tragedy, a genuinely uninvolving and downright dull botch that not only fails as a stand-alone episode and fails as a finale, but it lessens the profound dramatic impact of what came before over the last six years. It was the worst major series finale since Ally McBeal, but at least the 'Ally leaves Boston because the daughter that showed up on her doorstep just months prior is fainting' wrap-up didn't wreck the storytelling of the previous five seasons.

What did these people die for, in the broad scheme of things? They died because, on the surface, Desmond forgot to push a button, which caused a surge of electromagnetic energy which in turn resulted in a plane crashing on the island in question. Fair enough. Cruel and random, desperately unfair, but appropriately tragic. But when you start telling viewers that there is a larger destiny at work, that those on the island were there for 'a reason', you'd better make sure that said reason justifies the loss of so many lives, as well as the investment of our time. When you have the main characters willingly return to the island after escaping to civilization, you'd best make their reason for returning a pretty compelling one. But why did the passengers and crew of Oceanic 815 perish? Why are Sun, Jin, Sayid, Libby, Michael, Shannon, Boone, and the rest currently buried on the island or on the ocean floor? Well, apparently they all died because Jack had to put a single rock back in its place after Desmond removed it, so that the island, an island which had two inhabitants at the time (Bernard and Rose, I will miss them most of all), would not sink into the sea. That's it, folks. Six years of hell for our heroes, just so one guy could move a rock, making a smoke monster into a man, so that another guy could toss said smoke-monster-man off a cliff and then put the rock back. All of this so the island which was nearly deserted would not crumble into the sea.

For more, including how the climactic episodes of season six makes the previous five years relatively meaningless in the grand narrative scheme, read the rest of this article at Mendelson's Memos.