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SPOILER ALERT. Don't read this if you don't want to know what happened on the LOST series finale last night.

In case you've been living under the proverbial rock, here's a newsflash: the series finale for ABC's hit epic, LOST, aired last night. And dedicated viewers such as yours truly finally got an answer to the question that, over the course of six long years, no one has ever asked: did the passengers of Oceanic 815 like each other enough to enter Heaven as a group?

LOST's series finale may go down as the most glaring non sequitur in television history. Essentially, the producers marginalized the show's conclusion to focus on the epilogue. In fact, we found out last night that the off-island plot-line this season was just one, long postscript, culminating in a scene reminiscent of the weekly credit-rolling send-off to Saturday Night Live.

Ever since Flight 815 crashed on the mysterious polar-bear-populated tropical island, LOST fans have sought to understand the Island's unique role in the cosmos and the lives of its accidental inhabitants. The answer we were given is that the island really wasn't that unique after all. None of the grand schemes that got most of the cast killed really mattered in the least. What matters, we were told, is that the events of the show were important to the people involved. So important, in fact, that most of them chose to hook up for a little post-death pre-party before moving on to Heaven or Nirvana or whatever final realm of existence you choose to believe awaits us.

That's all well and good, but it's really beside the point. I don't think there was ever any question that the Oceanic passengers were committed to their collective mission on the island, or that they had come to care about each other. That was hardly a question that needed resolving. What in the hell the mission was and why it was important, on the other hand, are THE burning questions that every LOST fan wanted to have answered. When it comes down to it, the Big Answer of last night's finale didn't resolve a single lingering mystery. If you don't believe me, just try a few examples:

Q: Why was it so important to kill the smoke monster, and how did Jack's doing so affect the world outside of the Island?

A: The passengers of Flight 815 (plus Desmond) felt a special bond and, after living out their lives, waited in purgatory for each other before moving on to Heaven as a group.

Q: Why did the passengers of Oceanic 815 cross paths prior to coming to the island?

A: The passengers of Flight 815 (plus Desmond) felt a special bond and, after living out their lives, waited in purgatory for each other before moving on to Heaven as a group.

Q: What was the "light" at the center of the Island?

A: The passengers of Flight 815 (plus Desmond) felt a special bond and, after living out their lives, waited in purgatory for each other before moving on to Heaven as a group.

Q: What was so special about Walt, and why did the Others want to take him?

A: The passengers of Flight 815 (plus Desmond) felt a special bond and, after living out their lives, waited in purgatory for each other before moving on to Heaven as a group.

See what I mean? If the Island isn't particularly important, then the whole series is really superfluous. This kind of ending could have worked as well for any story about group bonding. "Your time in Capeside, Massachusetts was the most important time in your lives, Dawson. This is the place you've constructed to meet up with Joey and Pacey and Jen before you move on." Or, try "Your time in Manhattan was the most important time in your lives, Jerry. This is the place you've constructed to meet up with George and Kramer and Elaine before you move on." I fail to see how this epilogue-style ending is uniquely applicable to LOST. In my view, it diminishes the significance of the entire narrative.

Although it didn't answer any relevant plot questions, last night's finale might have betrayed the creators' original intent. During the early seasons, there was rampant speculation that the "survivors" of Oceanic 815 had not, in fact, survived the crash at all. Under this theory, which very neatly explained the narrative, the Island was Purgatory. While the producers vocally denied this theory, I've always believed that the Island-as-Purgatory view was the correct one. But there's no allure to a six-season mystery that is solved in the first few episodes. So, the original idea was abandoned and a rather convoluted Rube Goldberg machine of a storyline installed in its place. But, in the end, the producers couldn't fully trash the original concept of a group of flawed-but-fundamentally-good dead people helping each other reach paradise, and they sewed this once-core concept as an unnecessary appendage onto the Frankenstein monster they had created.

At the end of the day, my feelings on the series finale - and the series itself - are muddled. I have really enjoyed watching this show, speculating about its mysteries and poking fun at its cliches for the past six years. And the series finale was genuinely touching and enjoyable to watch. But I can't help but feel like the producers lost control of the show, and lost sight of the important issues awaiting resolution. LOST could have been a better, more coherent and more powerful show had its creators stuck to their original vision from the outset, instead of relegating it to an unsatisfying epilogue.

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