Thursday, May 20, 2010

Watching together, crying alone: The end of TV's "Lost"

Unless you've spent the last several months living under a rock, you know that ABC's towering sci-fi drama "Lost" is coming to an end this Sunday.
Chances are, you are dealing with this in your own way. If you are a non-fan, you're likely flummoxed over the fact that ABC is airing five and a half hours (!) of "Lost"-related programming on Sunday night, including the two and a half-hour finale episode. I don't blame you for being flummoxed, non-fans. I'm a bit bemused myself, and I've seen every single episode and written countless words on the show.
If you're a casual fan (and, to paraphrase "Lost" guru Nikki Stafford, how can anyone be a casual fan at this point?), you're mildly curious to see how the show will end, but firmly believe that life will go on without it.
And then, there's the rest of us. You know who you are, friends. You're the ones who, like me, haven't missed an episode in six seasons. You're the ones who get choked up whenever you think about Charlie floating off into death, or Sun and Jin dying in each other's arms. You're the ones whose eyes don't glaze over when someone mentions one of the show's more obscure references, like MacCutcheon Scotch or Stuart Radzinsky.
You're the ones whose hearts will break a little Sunday night when the show ends for good.
Yes, the depth and breadth of that heartbreak will depend somewhat on what happens in Sunday's finale. But regardless of how we feel about the show's ending, I'm pretty sure we'll still feel the sting of the show's loss acutely.
Why? Why do this show's fans feel such a deep connection to it? I don't know. In the weeks leading up to the series finale, writers, pop culture experts and fans have all offered their theories on why the show means so much to people.
I have no such theories. I'm not even sure I can tell you why I like it, let alone anyone else. But I can't deny this show is special to me. It's never been my favorites series; never topped a list of my 10 best shows of the year. Yet I enjoy writing about "Lost" more than any other show. Yes, the show is flawed. It can be a bit too smug in its mystery. Its dialogue can be a little too on the nose. And there have been waaaay too many episodes in which characters break into groups and wander around the island.
But, even in its weakest moments, "Lost" runs deeper than nearly any other show I can think of. Its allusions to literature, philosophy and religion make it one of the smartest shows on TV. Also, can you think of another current TV show that has inspired such feverish debate? "Lost" flew in the face of the idea, long trumpeted by TV haters, that television rots the brain. "Lost" engaged the mind and the imagination. It actually encouraged people to think about what they were seeing. That's rare, and admirable.
The show also stood out because of its characters -- perhaps the most complex collection of people on TV.  When the show started, we were presented with a group of archetypes. We had the Hot Doctor, the Hot Ex-Con, the Hot Con Man, the Funny Big Guy, the Tough Old Goat, etc., etc., and so forth.
Yet,  over time, many of these characters deepened into special, complex human beings. When we first met cowering Sun and her seemingly brutish husband Jin, we had no idea that they would become the show's Romeo and Juliet. When Sawyer first scowled his way into our lives, how could we have predicted the emotional growth he would experience over this past six seasons? And John Locke -- what a sad, strange journey that character has been on.
Let's not forget that some of the show's most memorable characters -- Desmond, Ben, Juliet, Richard Alpert and Charles Widmore, to name a few -- didn't even show up until the second season or later.
I have no ideas and no predictions about what will happen in Sunday's finale. I'm sure it will be, in true "Lost" style, unpredictable. I have no way of knowing what I'll think about the actual episode.
But I know I'll miss "Lost." Through its ups and downs, it's truly been one of television's most unique viewing experiences.


Bill Scurry said...

Call me sentimental, but kind of miss the halcyon days of Dharma-hatch mystery. It seemed so big and imaginative, not weighed down by heaven/hell imagery.

The Colonel said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Colonel said...

It had to come down to something. There was something out there, or in there, such as the case. Even though we have a more specific image of the mystery at the core of the island than we did at the beginning, it still remains very much a mystery. And it's not like we didn't get hints of this in the early going. Locke saying he looked into the heart of the island and what he saw was beautiful, for instance. Still, I can understand your disillusionment, Bill. That's life, I guess. All buildup and excitement and dreams of sugarplums dancing in our heads, and then ... "uh, that's it?"

I, for one, am mostly satisfied where "Lost" seems to be ending up. At least I feel that way pre-finale. And I must say I'm more excited than sad. As the poet says, "We'll ride the spiral to the end and may just go where no one's been."

MsRaeNYC said...

Thumbs up, Mandy. I am going to miss the characters, their [albeit sometimes annoying] idiosyncrasies, and their stories, the references, the feeling of my brain working overtime...

Lost has been one of the most amazing television experiences of my life and I'm really going to miss it. I don't care who makes fun of me.