Say goodbye to Lost, dudes.

The following is not a formal review/summary of the television show Lost, but instead a love letter from one fan who is particularly sad to see it wrap up for good. None of the show’s major revelations will be discussed, but let’s just put a mild spoiler warning up-front. Now, enjoy.

The final hours, minutes and seconds are winding down, but there is no Scotsman sitting in a hatch to type in the magic numbers and start the counter all over again. Lost – perhaps the most divisive television show of the past decade – is coming to an end. Next week, devoted fans will sit down in front of the TV with their regulation Dharma Initiative Rations (or perhaps even a jar of Charlie’s delicious peanut butter – mmm, imaginary), and behold the last ever moments of the most enduring mystery in television history.

I have never made it a habit on this blog to regularly discuss Lost, or any TV show for that matter. Frankly, it just becomes a bit too much of a commitment. There is just so much excellent television out there, it is near impossible to keep up with it as it airs. However, Lost has produced some of the finest TV-related writing ever, and I have relished catching up on the various dissections and theories (both sensible and ridiculous) throughout the show’s six-year run. I certainly recommend that all fans flick back through Doc Jensen’s allusion-filled analysis over at EW, or Alan Sepinwall and Myles McNutt’s thoughtful weekly reviews. This brief article could never compete with those three writers’ herculean efforts.

I remember first watching the pilot episode back in 2004, with that unforgettable opening shot (one that would recur time and time again) – that of a dilated pupil in extreme close up. The pupil belonged to Jack (Matthew Fox), and Jack belonged to Oceanic Flight 815, a doomed vessel that crashed onto a mysterious island halfway between Sydney and Los Angeles. Jack was a spinal surgeon, and he took it upon himself to save as many people as possible – not just from the injuries incurred from the crash, but also from the island’s other mysterious inhabitants and resident “monster” (at this point, indicated only by a disembodied roar). And so, we all thought, this was Lost. Jack was the hero, and the main thrust of the show would be his attempts to get himself and the other survivors off the island. But the episodes went on, and we met the rest of the survivors: Kate, Hurley, Sawyer, Locke, Michael, Sayid, Boone, Rose (and to a lesser extent Arzt , Vincent the Dog and Frogurt). We spent as much time on the island as we did in the memories of the show’s dozens of characters, learning about their mysterious connections to one another, and how deep their daddy issues really were (and everyone had daddy issues).

By the time the third season rolled around, most of the posers (yeah I said it) had bailed – the viewers who thought Lost was meant to be a clear-cut mystery with an easily digestible ending. Perhaps they weren’t satisfied by the increasing number of questions raised by show-runners Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse, and the lacklustre amount of answers being provided. Maybe they didn’t like the show’s descent into science-fiction territory (although looking back, the show was always sci-fi). Maybe they just weren’t Ana-Lucia fans.

But there were a lot of us who hung on, realising that there was more to this show than just getting answers – Lost was far more than that. The character work on the show was unsurpassed. We watched Jack – the man who would be saviour – make decisions that would end in the deaths of innocents. We watched Locke – the island’s #1 cheerleader – re-evaluate every instinct he ever had. We watched Hurley evolve from mere comic relief. We watched crims Kate and Sawyer reveal their vulnerability. We watched Sun and Jin subtly shift from being trapped in a loveless marriage to inhabiting a timeless romance. All of this, revealed through groundbreaking televisual storytelling: flashbacks, flashforwards, flashsideways. Occasionally, the plot would fracture into three separate timelines. There were constants, time-quakes, parallel universes, donkey-wheels, bright flashing lights, moving cabins, dead people walking around everywhere, polar bears – even a rapidly aging Walt! Yes, it was confusing at times, but we loved it.

Of course, you couldn’t tell the non-fans that. “Are they off the island yet?” “So, what is that monster?” “It’s all Hurley’s dream, right?” “I bet they’re in purgatory. Are they in purgatory?” They would ask the questions, but whenever we would offer up our thoughtful, all-inclusive synopsis of events, they would simply roll their eyes and call the show stupid. OK, I’ll admit that it couldn’t have been fun to be friends with a Lost fan over the past six years, listening to their/our ranting and raving. But, maybe you should spare a moment of sympathy for us Lost fans who have spent the past six years being told we’re idiots for liking the show in the first place.

Lost is not perfect. No TV show could be; that is the nature of the beast. Show-runners do not have the control over their program that the producers/directors of a film (ideally) do. It’s all well and good for the team at Lost to say “we can tell our story in six seasons”; if the show’s ratings flat-lined, it would have been off screens in three. Conversely, if Lost was still the number 1 rating TV show in the world, Jack and co. would probably be on the island until 2017. There are just too many variables in play to keep the show contained. Too many actors getting DUIs in Hawaii and so forth. This is why we get terrible filler episodes about Nikki and Paulo, the time Hurley found a van, or the inexplicable ep in which Bai Ling gave Jack a tattoo. But the same goes for any show, from the gone-too-soon Arrested Development to the stayed-too-long 24. Even fans of The Wire – arguably the best show in history – would agree that Season 5 just didn’t match the heights of Season 4. How can we expect flawless quality maintained over hundreds of hours?

As Lost has wound down, and the central mysteries have been revealed, even long-time supporters have begun to turn their back on the show. For whatever reason (all potentially valid), they have found themselves displeased with the final direction of the program. I too have had my reservations about the final season (did we really need to meet so many new characters), but I’ve found one thing consistent: the character drama.

Lost showed us that a sometimes infuriating mystery can be built upon interesting characters. We have shared a lot with these Lost souls, and they have reciprocated in kind. We have celebrated their achievements and mourned their deaths. They have occasionally changed in ways that we haven’t liked, and yes, it has only made this final season all the more difficult to endure. There are far too many characters to guarantee either a happy or fully explanatory ending for each. But this show, perhaps more than any other, is about death – making your peace and saying goodbye. Dead is dead. What happened, happened. In the months following the show’s conclusion, we will all be scurrying around online, piecing together the exact order of events and figuring out what exactly was happening on that kooky island. The final revelation – if it can even be called that, so deliberate has the unfurling of information been in this final season – will undoubtedly be compared to the former reigning champ of TV mystery: Twin Peaks. Lost will probably be compared unfavourably. But as time moves on, and we forget about Jacob and Smokey’s brotherly tug-o-war, we will remember Jack, Locke, Ben, Kate, Hurley, Sawyer, Desmond, Juliet, Miles, Richard, Widmore et al, and what rich wonderful characters they were. The mystery was just a macguffin. This was a show about people, and I for one will be sad to see each of them gone. See you in another life, brothers.

Discuss: Your thoughts on Lost?

One Response to “Say goodbye to Lost, dudes.”

  1. i don't really have much to add other than "yes, i agree". i started watching from when the pilot aired in australia and dropped out for a bit around late season two, came back about mid-season three and haven't looked back since. i own seasons 1-5 and the discs are well worn. i have had many an (often drunken) argument on lost theory that has ended in tears or close to. it's just been a very long and tumultuous journey, one that you have to be in to understand. i don't have many friends who are into it but the ones that are i know we've been brought closer together because of it, as sad as that sounds. because there has never been anything like it and there will be nothing like it ever again. i'll defend it against the masses and the plebs who didn't keep up for as long as i can because it's something that i feel completely and utterly privileged to have been a part of.i feel as though i'll be rather.. ahem, misplaced once it is all over and done with.this blog has had me all soppy and sentimental recently.

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