Was Jack's eye the only dry one in the house?
Sunday's Lost was "an emotional feast" (USA Today), "emotionally draining" (Entertainment Weekly) and, presumably speaking for curmudgeons and/or everybody else who wanted more answers, "a bit of a cop-out" (New York Times). Its very last image—of the dying Jack's closing eye? "Satisfying emotional closure" (Washington Post).
So where does the final blink rank among the TV's all-time great goodbyes?
Glad you asked. We've compiled TV's 10 best—and worst—final finale moments of all-time since Newhart went off the air so as to avoid having to say again how great its Suzanne Pleshette surprise was. Even though we just did. Say how great it was. Again.
Anyhoo, here are our picks, followed by our take on where Jack's eye falls: among the good? Or among the smoke-monster bad?
Six Feet Under's montage: A perennial favorite of ours. This time-traveling sequence, revealing how each character ends up in the very end, is so affecting that if you'd never previously spent so much as a minute with the Fishers, you'd be inspired to add the entire series to your Netflix queue.
ER's emergency: So many seasons, so many faces, so many locales. (Darfur?) What was this show about again anyway? Oh, yes, an emergency room in Chicago, as this scene, paying homage both to the actors and the original spirit of the show, so poignantly reminds.
Roseanne's book: Maybe you think it was a Bobby Ewing shower to get the comedy out of a season gone awry. We think Roseanne's soliloquy about how everything from the Conners' lottery win to the happy outcome of husband Dan's heart attack was a figment of her writer's imagination is touching, and, when it comes to her closing observations about women and class, brave. As an added bonus: The show ends with a quote from Lawrence of Freakin' Arabia.
The Sopranos' fade cut to black: "Don't stop?" Still brilliant. And more arresting, if not unsettling, the more you see it. And think about it.
The Larry Sanders Show's guys: Johnny Carson's final Tonight Show still gets kudos, even if people are really thinking about the next-to-last show with Bette Milder and Robin Williams, and not the funereal finale. But the closing moments of Garry Shandling's comedy about a faux Tonight Show feel so much more real. In the end, after the cameras are off, and a better-than-Bette Jim Carrey's gone home, it's just Larry (Shandling) and his pre-Entourage entourage, producer Arthur (Rip Torn) and sidekick Hank (Jeffrey Tambor). Is it finale cliché to show a hug and a cry? Not when it works.
Seinfeld's jail stand-up: We put in nine seasons, and what do we get? Intentionally lame prison jokes? The best that can be said of "The Finale" is it kept so many people glued to their sets that in Los Angeles the streets were sufficiently empty to allow the ambulance carrying a stricken Frank Sinatra to get to the hospital in a flash. Oh, wait, Sinatra died anyway? Never mind. Nothing good can be said.
The Gilmore Girls' breakfast: The closing bit of banter between Lorelai and Rory at Luke's is, in a word, eh. And while eh ordinally doesn't mean terrible, it does when you—and the beloved series—deserve fireworks.
The Two Coreys' lonely hilltop vigil: When it first aired, this scene played like high reality-TV drama. Now, in the wake of Corey Haim's death, it plays like unbearable, if not unwatchable, tragedy. "It's officially the end for the 'Two Coreys,' " the all-alone Haim says as he waits on Corey Feldman, "and it's just the start for Corey Haim."
Friends' apartment porn: A slow pan across a refrigerator, sink and stove? A lingering shot of the oh-so-cleverly framed peep hole? Seriously? Is Friends just trying to make us feel bad one last time that we don't have a New York City apartment as cool, or as large, as Monica's? Spare us.
The X-Files' Hallmark card: Agent Scully: "You only fail if you give up." Agent Mulder: "Maybe there's hope." Ryan O'Neal: "Love means never having to say you're sorry." Oops, sorry, wrong soap opera on that last one there.
THE VERDICT ON LOST
Keeping in mind that our decision is based on the final moments only, and not about whether we learned, well, anything about the Island during the other two-plus hours, we have to say Jack's eye has it.
The reverse tie-back to the shot that opened the series six years ago was effective, affecting and, for once, sadly, all too clear.
(And we didn't even get into the extra-added bonus points for the return of the loyalest dog in the world.)
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