I was right... and I was wrong.
The series finale of Lost, a more than two-hour final chapter long known to have been titled...
... revealed that the so-called flashsideways scenes threaded throughout this season took place not in an alternate timeline, a theory that I espoused in my first 'Lost' in Thought post in January, nor in an altered version of the original timeline, as I theorized earlier this month, but in the afterlife. What we expected to have been the result in some way of the EM/Jughead Incident turned out to be utterly, well, incidental to the narrative of the series, including its conclusion, except insofar as it reaffirmed how bound together these characters were and granted them something of a happy ending.
I don't mind in the least having been wrong about what we were flashing to. And I'm not surprised to have been right about the finale neglecting to address pretty much any of the outstanding plot points itemized in my pre-finale post, much as I wish I hadn't been; the series is truly diminished for the lack of follow-through in those areas.
Yet the finale itself was a tremendous success as gripping, epic, emotional drama. It was as widescreen and intimate as the pilot. It brought more closure than I expected to the characters, both focusing on Jack and spotlighting the rest of the cast in a very satisfying way, and choked me up more than once. It was in and of itself Great Television, although of course it wouldn't mean much to anyone who hadn't followed the series to date.
When I say "in and of itself" I mean that "The End" did practically nothing wrong — there were certainly very few missteps or head-scratchers that occurred to me as it played — and had Season 6 been indicative of the rest of the series it would have been the perfect capper. The failure is really in the season that led up to this, not so much for what we got (even if some of it was rendered oddly superfluous) but for what we didn't get, or with previous seasons for introducing things that would never pay off. The previous 120 episodes, and particularly Seasons 1-5, wrote checks that "The End" couldn't cash, and it shouldn't have had to; Damon Lindelof, Carlton Cuse, and their staff had perhaps more time than any creative crew in the history of network television to craft not just a worthy series finale but a worthy finale season and they dropped the ball.
The climax and conclusion were pretty good, depending on how you split the hairs to segment the story. The season-long denouement that preceded them — per my laptop's New Oxford American Dictionary, "the final part of a play, movie, or narrative in which the strands of the plot are drawn together and matters are explained or resolved" — left something to be desired, or, less charitably, didn't really exist; everything after the "in which" isn't really applicable to the series as whole.
I was so enamored of "The End" on Sunday night while so aghast at the creators' refusal to fulfill the quite literal promise of Lost's many outstanding individual episodes and its daring series arc that I could practically feel the synapses in my brain giving up. And my disposition towards the whole megillah has actually worsened since then. Initially the white stone tipped the scale, as my very itemization of the burning questions left unanswered before the finale helped me flush out some frustration and accept whatever happened on its own merits; I also knew that if I ever did rewatch the series, unlikely as that would be outside of a paying project, I'd have the commentary of Finding 'Lost' author Nikki Stafford's bloggerati and Totally 'Lost' guru Doc Jeff Jensen's hilariously, brilliantly pan-cultural theorizing to keep me company as we did the storytellers' job for them. Over the past day, however, deficiencies in the finale have become magnified to me, ones that might well have been acceptable for only becoming uncomfortably apparent in retrospect were they not piggybacking upon Lost's cumulative letdown.
There's much more to come after I organize my thoughts further and write more when rewatching the episode. Not a single note nor line of dialogue was scribbled so that I could take in the show as purely as my stuffy head would allow, and while I haven't been able to view it again yet I plan to do so shortly. You're more than welcome to respond to the above; just keep in mind that I haven't begun to dissect things yet and probably won't reply to specific points on the comments page until I cover them here. [Update: I've rewatched but also been dealing with a cold that has kept me far too fuzzy-headed to flesh out my notes and opinions.]