NEW YORK — Can we all agree that Jack Shephard is dead? That he died in a bamboo grove on the lost island, gravely injured after saving it, his eye seen in close-up shutting as the series' final shot?
There may not be much more that viewers will agree on after Sunday's gargantuan, challenging conclusion to "Lost."
For six seasons, the ABC mystical thriller has kept its audience guessing and arguing as well as entertained. But after the much-awaited finale, criticism and debate went into hyperdrive.
"One word. just amazing. the circle of life. wow. just wow," cheered franciSpace among a flurry of Twitter postings Monday morning.
And linenlimbs reported, "my dish network box won't turn on today; i think it committed suicide after that devastatingly beautiful episode."
On the other hand, tomuky declared, "Thank goodness its over. A show with a million plot lines in a losing attempt to appear as an intelligent show."
On YouTube, viewers rushed to upload their video responses to the episode.
One "Lost" fan, her face lit in an eerie blue glow, wept and choked out remarks such as "'Lost' is my life" and "I don't understand why it had to end" for nearly five minutes.
"I don't know what the hell just happened," said another YouTube contributor in a blistering critique.
The last series finale to fuel such fierce anticipation and spark such after-the-fact dispute was, of course, "The Sopranos," in 2007. Did Tony die in the restaurant a nanosecond after the final blackout, or did he carry on his mobster life with nothing changed? "Sopranos" fans still disagree.
Now, to no one's surprise, the "Lost" finale has joined its notorious, celebrated ranks.
But can we all agree that, even now, viewers weren't given the answer to one long-standing, seemingly fundamental question: Where was the doggone island?
Good. That's settled. Or not.
The two-and-one-half-hour special drew an average audience of 13.5 million viewers, beating NBC's "Celebrity Apprentice" finale by 4.2 million viewers, according to the Nielsen Co. The two-hour retrospective that preceded the "Lost" finale drew an audience of 9.8 million viewers.
But mysteries continued to plague much of that audience Monday in the "Lost" hangover.
Sure, Jack was dead. But what about the other castaways? What was the state of their mortality, both on the island and in the so-called sideways universe that showed their parallel existence elsewhere, mostly in Los Angeles?
"Both stories seem to be part of their limbo, part of their purgatory," said Chris Seay, author of "The Gospel According to 'Lost.'"
The finale, he said, "wasn't what I hoped." Pointing to the pledge from "Lost" producers that the island wasn't a purgatory for the victims of the Oceanic airliner crash, Seay suggested that the outcome of the series amounted to "sort of a misdirection."
He cited the finale's closing scenes in an L.A. church where many of the former castaways — all of them dead — convened, with Jack, apparently, the guest of honor.
With light flooding the sanctuary, it seemed a vision of a blissful afterlife, or the gateway leading there.
"It was the most compelling part of the show — people that you love being present together," Seay said. "They spoke about going to the place where you can be with the people that you love. This is how we speak of heaven, but in the most common understanding, it's a place where people that you love are reunited."
That's all well and good, he said with a laugh.
"But now, many of us are going to be having conversations about who died when, and what was the island. These were questions you would hope we would have gotten a little further down the road on."
On the other hand, Nikki Stafford "absolutely loved" the finale.
The author of "Finding Lost," book-length guides to each season of the series, Stafford argues that the plane really crashed on the island, the castaways survived, and went on to have all the experiences viewers saw there.
But in her view, the sideways world is their purgatory. And since "there is no 'now' here," in the words of Jack's father at the church, all those gathered there had died, at one time or another, after living their own respective lives.
"They reconverged for Jack's sake," Stafford said, "and this purgatory was an afterlife scenario, shown through Jack's lens."
Stafford, who currently is writing her Season 6 "Finding Lost" volume for October publication, then acknowledged, "Other people are going to see it differently, I'm sure."