On the bright side, the finale was a hoot. As I said above, I'm glad the Island didn't get an in-depth explanation. The showdown between Jack and Esau was a hoot with Jack running down at our villain. And I appreciated the small shutter cinematography for the scenes in the rain when the Island is collapsing because Desmond uncorked the well. I also liked how the flash-sideways world wasn't explained until the end. There were some classic moments. You had the low-angle shot of Jack and Esau looking down the waterfall which brings back memories of season 1. And it was wonderful to see Jack grow his cajones back and tell Smokey that he wasn't going to stop him, he was going to kill him.
Remember when Ben told Hurley that he wasn't going to go inside the church? It took about four and a half seasons for that wretch to be saved, but he finally saw the light. But he still didn't think himself deserving of moving on along with everyone else. I am very glad they decided to go this path because it shows that redemption is a two-way street and cannot be obtained by everyone. Those you wronged must forgive you and the Losties – including Locke did forgive Ben – but you have to forgive yourself as well, at least to a certain degree. This enlarges the show's discussion of redemption as Ben joins Michael in being irredeemable. Perhaps there are simply people beyond redemption.
So what about the show in all its six seasons and not just the finale? Here are a few things in no particular order:
1) Its style. The flash-forwards, flashbacks, flash-sideways – has any other TV show had such a chopped up narrative?
2) Mysteries. LOST had mysteries aplenty and not just about the mythology of the Island but also about the characters' histories. The smoke monster was an enigma just as was how Locke became paralyzed. In addition, the show was pretty stingy in answering them, as we have seen. Smokey, the numbers, Adam & Eve – all of these mysteries took years to be answered. The impatient probably got frustrated but for those who could wait, being strung along was a fun ride. Along these same lines I'd add surprises. I mean, do you remember seeing the blast door map for the first time? Great stuff.
3) Ben. Benjamin Linus was a fantastic character and it's hard to believe he was supposed to only be around for three episodes. He was an almost innocuous villain but he was the height of treacherous and had a cold heart to boot. While his motivations were pretty basic, they were largely inscrutable. He was like Iago with an inferiority complex.
4) The world of LOST. A beautiful tropical island dotted with abandoned research labs, the pedaled remains of a colossus, and a smoke monster zipping around – what's not to like? It was an extremely fun world to explore. Plus we got to explore it in time as well as space. The time spent in the Dharma Initiative in the 1970s was a hoot!
5) The story unfolded slowly. I've alluded to this already with the mysteries. LOST's story unfolded at a relative snail's pace. This could be a virtue or a vice, depending on your tastes. A lot of this had to do with the large number of characters involved.
6) Sawyer's nicknames. Hoss, Mr. Clean, Jumbotron, etc. They provided a nice bit of humor in the midst of danger.
As far as thematic content, I'll have to think on it a bit more. How do all the mysteries tie together the major elements of people who are broken/lost finding themselves and finding redemption? Repetition is a big element. Various characters have parental issues, mini-pogroms preface the ascendancy of leaders, people arriving on the Island, and so on. And there's all the dichotomies: black vs. white, reason vs. faith, free will vs. destiny, old vs. young, etc. Plus, do all of these things work together successfully to push the major theme of the show?
That's a lot to ponder.