Today, May 24, marks the one-year anniversary of the series finale of ABC’s Lost. Many of the show’s devotees still struggle to fill the void that this particular program left (filling it with Real Housewives reruns and the like), and so a few contributors to Heave felt it prudent to look back at the series and what it meant to them.
I never thought I’d be one of those kids that go so geekily into a show that I’d be embarrassed of myself, but that is what happened with Lost. In full disclosure, I didn’t start watching Lost until after season four. I was working at a TV station that had just launched, so not only was the station new, but I was meeting new coworkers that I would eventually call friends. One friend I made goes by the name Mike and one of the first conversations we ever had was about Lost. He told me it was the best show on television, I told him I heard it was pretty lame and confusing. He kept working me over (about the show, sickos) and I eventually caved in and borrowed seasons 1-3. I finished them in about two weeks. Eventually I caught up enough to see midway through season five on first airing. And I watched it with Mike. Our friendship blossomed because of Lost, and many other workers at the TV station became good friends because of our intense debates about Locke, Jack, Penny and Widmore vs Ben.
In between season five and six I met Beth (my now-fiancee) and on our first date we were making small talk and somehow Lost was brought up. I told her how much I loved it and she told me she had never watched but was interested. I seriously question how the beginning of our relationship would have went if we didn’t start watching Lost together. For me it was nice because I was re-watching the show. For her it was nice because she was enjoying a new show, even though she doesn’t really watch TV at all. It was best for us, though. Because days of her coming over and watching a few episodes turned into weeks, which turned into months and that turned into the loving relationship we have now. Of course we did other stuff during that time, but watching Lost was a serious backbone to getting over the awkwardness of a brand new relationship. Beth, I think, might have turned out to be a bigger fan than me and, I think, (I lost count) she owns about five or six Lost-inspired t-shirts.
Throughout all of this, it’s pretty easy for me to pick a favorite scene. Nothing, probably in the history of television, will ever top the Desmond and Penny phone call from “The Constant.” Desmond is my favorite character (Farraday a close second) and the telling of their relationship through that episode with the time flashes was fantastic. I can’t even really describe seeing that phone call scene for the first time. You could never watch Lost ever and just be shown that scene and probably still get goosebumps.
A year after Lost has ended, I honestly can’t say I feel too differently about it. I still love the show, and I still think the finale was great. At some point, I would like to go back and re-watch the whole thing, but before that, I kind of just want to re-watch the final season, which I still say was wholly disappointing. Perhaps if I do re-watch the whole show, I’ll feel differently about season six. In any case, however, I will still say that the finale was beautiful, and that despite some of the serious flaws the final season had, they pulled it all together in the end.
Besides being a phenomenal program, Lost was also a definitive revolution in serialized television. The ultimate mythology show, it gave birth to numerous other pieces of genre television. All of a sudden, cop-and-lawyer procedurals went out of fashion in the development offices of the major TV studios, and shows with long, expansive character and story arcs were all the rage. The caveat to that, of course, is that most of those shows haven’t been very successful. But then again, how could they be, when they have to stand in the giant shadow of Lost? If that’s the show you have to hold yourself accountable against, how can you manage to measure up? Mark my words, though, when another mythology-laden show does finally succeed on television, you can bet that Lost will have been a major influence on it.
My favorite episode of the show is season three, number twenty-two, “Through the Looking Glass.” It’s a well-known fact that most Lost fans consider season three the weakest in the whole series (although as I said before, I have a lot of problems with season six as well.) But when they aired the season three finale, it reaffirmed for everyone what a great show Lost still was, somehow even validating many of the unfortunate episodes that preceeded it. This truly was the episode that changed everything. From here on out, the story and the structure of the show were never the same. The writers and producers realized they were fumbling, and finally, after two years, figured out where the show was headed and how it was going to end. I needn’t rehash anybody on too many of the details from “Through the Looking Glass,” but suffice to say, if you’ve seen it, you probably remember it. Besides being my favorite episode, it also has my favorite moment, containing what I think is the definitive line of dialogue from the whole series. This is of course the “We have to go back, Kate” scene. Watching that, I knew that Lost was a television masterpiece unlike anything that came before it. People have made fun of Jack’s goofy voice in that scene ever since it aired, but that only helps reaffirm what an important moment in television history it was.
I think that Lost is probably my favorite television drama of the last decade. Moreover, I think it’s probably the best show of the last decade in general, comedy or drama. Granted, there are still several glaring holes in my TV viewing experience, but of all the shows I watched from 2000-2009, Lost was in my opinion the best. Ever since I awakened as a person, it was the show that I watched the longest. So yes, I’m biased. I’m biased because I gave six years of my life to this show, and I don’t regret a single minute I spent watching it. None of us who lived with and loved these characters do. It’s my favorite drama in TV history, and in my opinion, the best show to air in the last decade. Thank you Lost, for all you’ve to given me, and to everyone else as well.
At the end of Lost, I didn’t want a single one of them to go. Not Jack Shepard, who spent most of the first five seasons complaining about his father issues, his tattoos or the fact that Kate wouldn’t touch his penis as often as Sawyer’s. Not John Locke, who died, lived and switched loyalties at dizzying speeds to the point where I was not only convinced by the series’ end that he was not only both God and Satan, but was also the Boss that Tony Danza spent so many years hunting. (That’s what Who’s The Boss was about, right? It was the Most Dangerous Game with scrappy children?) Frankly, if Damon Lindelhof and Carlton Cuse had revived Nikki and Paolo for the series finale, they’d have pulled me in like a sucker anyway. It was like seeing your entire family head out on a long trip and somehow knowing they wouldn’t return.
Melodramatic? Yes. Absolutely. With that said, Lost was so much more than semi-hard sci-fi television to me, and so many others. The show began in September 2004, the beginning of my sophomore year of high school. It ended May 24, 2010, right on the cusp of my senior year of college. At the risk of this bit of the column devolving into self-indulgence, I will now devolve into self-indulgence and say that I grew up with this show more than any other. There is something inextricably meaningful about growing up with a show that held as its central thesis the idea of “Whatever happened, happened. Let go.” In a time period when friends and (usually, unless you’re one of those cool kids) virginity are lost, wisdom and debt are gained and the whole given track of one’s life suddenly gives way to a vast and endless uncertainty, watching a bunch of people on a remote island try to figure out What It All Means is probably the most comforting thing I could’ve ever asked for.
This was best summed up in the series finale, in which reunions sprung up by the gross and the castaways were reunited in (SPOILERS, BUT SERIOUSLY YOU SHOULD’VE WATCHED THE SHOW BY NOW) the afterlife to travel onward together to whatever might meet them. Sure, it was a tidy bit of emotional manipulation, and we never quite fully came to understand the fucking polar bears among other mysteries, but if pressed between having the show jump the shark to address every little mystery and seeing Charlie get the peace in death he could not find in life, I’ll take the sappy route any day.