The finale and the mystery component (production perspective)
This is a theory over why some were disappointed with the finale and why those that were satisfied can not see eye-to-eye with those that weren't.
In this "theory", I criticize the finale as an episode of a TV show, which regardless of how you argue against my points, is what LOST is at its core--it is a TV show that delivers a message of love/togetherness and character redemption.
In regards to LOST and the messages it delivered, I believe there are 2 basic components that attracted people to LOST and made it as popular at it was:
1) The characters
2) The mystery
While some people loved both components, some people watched LOST more for one component than the other--which is what made LOST so appealing to various demographics. This made it more successful then shows that focus primarily on the character component and shows that focused primarily on the mystery component--it provided balance, which is a core value of LOST, is it not? The ability of LOST to balance both components throughout the series is the very reason for its success. Had it consistently favored one component more than the other in earlier seasons, I don't believe it would have aired for as long as it did. The writers knew this too--every season had both character and mystery revelations. However, I believe the finale fell short on the mystery component of the show, which is why there is so much split opinion on how it ended.
When I refer to the mystery component lacking, I'm not just talking about knowing answers. I don't want to be spoon-fed answers. I'm talking about the inter-relatedness of the island mysteries and the satisfying and thrilling feeling of when something happens on-screen that we can directly link to earlier episodes and seasons that gives us a better, overall understanding of the island and the series as a whole. This, along with the character relationships, redemption, and development, is what made me and many others so addicted to LOST.
Remember the epic Season 3 finale Through The Looking Glass? I was satisfied fully by the character events (Charlie's tragic death, Rousseau's and Alex's reunion, Jack telling Kate he loved her) as well as the awesome island/mystery moments (Walt's appearance to John in the Dharma ditch, NOT PENNY'S BOAT, the code to the Looking Glass station only being able to be entered by a musician, the radio tower/Rousseau's recording, "We have to go back!"). The mystery moments definitely validated/incorporated components from previous seasons in a revealing way as well as components that were just introduced in the episode itself, like Jack's flash-forwards.
My point is that the Season 6 finale, which was also the finale to the series of a whole, was saturated in satisfying character moments while neglecting the mystery component. While there were some mystery revelations, they mostly related to Season 6 and not the series as a whole--which is what you would expect from a series finale--especially considering how awesome all of the other finales have been. Regardless of the message of the show, the finale clearly failed to deliver on a core component that attracted (to varying degrees) all fans.
Yes, you can claim that it excelled on both components because the answers are there if you look, but that is not the point of my argument as LOST as a TV show with superior, overall production quality. Since when did we have to analyze LOST to obtain the entertainment value of the mystery component? I've always enjoyed reading theories and using my brain to analyze the crap out of episodes, but the canon, on-screen revelations that were consistent with the rest of the story (within the season and series as a whole) are what made the show enjoyable to watch in terms of the mystery component.
The claims that it was always "about the characters" is a justification for invalidating half of the foundation of its success in the last 2.5 hours of the show. The only, real mystery revelation in the finale was the revelation that the sideways world was a purgatory world. I had no problem with that--I was fully satisfied from the character component with the finale. Instead of completely ignoring the mysteries from the previous 5 seasons, I still think they could have touched upon Dharma, time travel, MIB/Jacob, the Others, etc. while still leaving room for interpretation and theories. Like I mentioned before, I am not about being given answers--I just was disappointed in the character/mystery balance of the finale.
I loved LOST for the high-quality TV show it was. There are countless, awesome scenes I can recall from memory due to a solid production value thick and through: the cinematography, the music, the story, the acting, the characters, the consistency, and the inter-relatedness across the mysteries, characters, and seasons. The finale excelled at some of these production factors, but was sub-par in others. To argue otherwise is to be in denial, but hey, that is just my opinion.
I understand that LOST is not my show--I am merely a fan. The writers had the freedom to end the show as they see fit. In doing so, however, they stripped away half of the equation to an awesome LOST episode--which I, and many others, were not expecting from the series finale. Perhaps this was done due to funding issues, casting issues, or wanting to open up revenue opportunities in the future such as the 12-13 minute epilogue that will be in the DVD's coming out in August. Regardless of your interpretation of the point of the show (science to faith, everybody loves, Dharma is the key to everything, life's a beach), I still believe the last episode was inconsistent with the rest of the series in terms of balance of the 2 pillars of its success.
In the end I am still a LOST fanatic and will continue to be one--I am just not a fan of the finale (nor do I have to be) as it did nothing for me in terms of the mystery component. I am glad that the characters obtained a happy resolution, but it only felt like half of a conclusion to the series. Those that obtained the majority of their excitement from LOST through the character interactions were wholly satisfied by the finale and I am glad for you--but that is only one part to LOST, and if you don't believe me, then watch pretty much every other LOST season finale.
The finale and the mystery component (production perspective)