In about a month, the final season of Lost is premiering. At long last, the show which has taken us on a very long and complicated and winding journey will be coming to an end. I have to give the creators props, I think that scheduling a set end date was a brilliant move. Instead of trying to spin out plotlines for ever, they created a tight, neat piece with a beginning and an end. There was a bit of wandering and wobbling in the middle there, I freely admit, but I think they avoided falling into the trap of trying to maintain this level of confusion and tension indefinitely.
I like the idea that there is an overarching plan and that we will see the realization of this plan over the coming months. That everything has been built up for a reason, not just to spin out a story until the network gets bored, and we are about to find out what that reason was.
I was introduced to Lost slowly. The first season actually came out on DVD while I was working in a video store, and I remember we could not keep it on the shelves. The reserve list was miles long. Every time the DVDs got returned, they would whip back out the door. People were very, very, very intently focused on getting their Lost and we were all sort of bemused by it, not having seen it. And never got a chance to because the DVDs never stayed put long enough.
And then, I was at someone’s house and they were watching an episode from the middle of the second season, and I was totally confused and not at all interested. Who were all these people? Why were they wandering around? What in the heck was going on? Smoke monsters? Jungles? Bah. Far too confusing and meta to be good television!
Finally, the power went out for several days and I camped out at the house of friends who had power. They were watching Lost and I got sucked in. I got it. I saw several episodes in order and I was instantly captivated, and as soon as the power came back on, I raced to the computer to watch everything which had been released up to that point, and was a committed Lost watcher every week as new episodes rolled out.
I got used to having no idea what was going on. I got used to going back and rewatching episodes and seeing entirely new nuances and levels. I got used to groundwork being laid not over the course of a few episodes, but a few seasons. At every turn the show got more bizarre and confusing and complicated and I loved it. Lost was the kind of television I had been waiting for, the kind that kept me glued to the screen and captivated and chattering about it. The kind of television which was unafraid to alienate viewers by being too complicated. The kind of television which makes demands of its viewers, even.
The show’s lost a number of fans over the years. There were some rocky points, and it’s so complicated at this point that it’s hard to stay on board if you fall behind. I’ve heard the creators say that the final season is for the serious fans, the people who have stuck with it from the beginning. Now, to be fair, I started a bit late, but I have stuck with it. I have had patience, and I am waiting eagerly to see what happens next, and how this story can possibly conclude.
Assuming it does. They’ve promised that it will be brought to a finish point, but with Lost I have learned that things are rarely this simple. I wouldn’t be surprised if the show leaves us in a loop, imagining all sorts of things with the characters and the story. The world of Lost does not follow a linear timeline and I think it’s a bit much to expect that they will abandon this in the final season; even if they “fix” the timeline, doesn’t that mean that there are other timelines, somewhere else, which aren’t fixed?
The weird thing about Lost, for me, is that I have difficulty relating to several of the main characters. I really am not a fan of Kate or Juliet. Jack and Sawyer annoy me. I’m not following the story because I care about what happens to the main people, I’m following it because I want to follow the story. To see where it takes me, to see where the creators are going with this.
That’s weird, for me. Usually I follow and get attached to television because I love the characters. They are what drives the story and they are what I come back for every week. But with Lost, I couldn’t give a fig for a lot of the characters (well, I like Hurley. And Jin, kinda. And Sun. Ok, so maybe I like more characters than I think. Fine!). But I do want to figure out what in the heck is going on with this island and all these strange things. This epic mythology.
And I really hope they don’t ruin it for me. I’m not exactly sure how they would do that, because the show is so esoteric at this point that I can’t really point to any one event/concept/thing which would ruin it. I just have this vague sense of unease as we start to gear up for the season premiere. I worry that this story which I have been following for so long will end in a way which utterly destroys the experience for me, that I will be left feeling betrayed and upset by how the mythos of Lost resolves.
Here’s hoping that doesn’t happen.