Are you a Lostie, or a non-believer? A man of science, or a man of faith? A Jack Shephard, or a John Locke? For the spinal surgeons amongst you, I suppose the most obvious question to ask has to be: when did you get Lost? It’s most likely that you fell away around late season two/early season three when admittedly the show floundered, but those who let intrigue triumph over confusion are now reaping the rewards. The show’s renaissance was assured upon receiving a concrete end date after 6 seasons, and as such the storytelling is tighter and more answers are forthcoming. So for those of you who (like Jack) left the island, you’ll soon realise that you have to go back.
What perhaps sets Lost apart from its competition is its intelligence, a rare feat for a mainstream television show. The storytelling is complex; flashbacks, flashforwards, flashes through time and space, but even as we enter season five where the mind really should begin to boggle, comprehension is retained. Returning audiences are treated with respect without pandering to the casual viewer, answers are forthcoming but rarely spoon-fed, the onus lies with the viewer to theorise and discover for themselves.
The fans are not just voyeurs, but are actively encouraged to take part in the show. This ranges from the between-seasons alternative reality games to having a direct effect on the storylines that appear on the screens. The executive producers scour the forums to gauge fan opinions, ensuring the programme they produce is as strong as it can be. The fans have a voice and can often be ruthless (R.I.P. Nikki and Paulo).
Although riddled with mythology and a pounding sci-fi heart, it’s the characters that elevate Lost above being simply a nerd’s wet dream. There’s a castaway or an other for everyone to identify with – I’m a Desmond man myself – and their intriguing pasts, revealed through flashbacks, flesh them out into riveting individuals that you can really invest in. So when a major death occurs it’s heartbreaking, when lovers are reunited it’s heartwarming; it is impossible not to care for at least some of the survivors without ever diverting attention away from the enigma that is the island. Dharma, numbers, others, cabins, statues and monsters… The answers are coming and I guarantee you’ll want to be around when they arrive. Namaste.
Lost isn’t a great television show and it never will be. The show started out like a girl you meet in a club and from far away, she looks great. She flirts with you, seems interesting and full of potential, at first you really like her. But as you spend more time with her it all starts to fall apart. She just isn’t as intriguing as you first thought and she is nowhere as smart as she likes to think. Her penchant for only giving ambiguous answers is just supremely irritating, as are her attempts to always seem mysterious! The analogy starts to collapse (unless you’ve ever met a girl who causes you to be inexplicably attacked by polar bears) but the point is made: Lost is aesthetics over substance.
The defenders of the show point to a master plan at work, and that it will eventually all make sense. The show gives the illusion it has such a plan, but you have to doubt it. The first season looked nothing like the show currently airing; it’s hard to shake the feeling that it is being made up as it goes along. For instance, primary character and main villain of the show, Ben, was only ever intended as a recurring guest star and even the creator J.J. Abrams washed his hands of this convoluted mess a long time ago. The main problem with the show is that it isn’t satisfying. The plot never really advances and the audience just gets distracted from that fact by a new gimmick. The flashbacks aren’t working anymore, how about flashforwards off the island? It doesn’t matter that the idea entirely destroys the premise. The characters have barely developed; Jack and Kate are exactly the same as they were in the first season. The same is tragically true of the rest of the cast. There are of course exceptions, the fantastic Desmond and his ocean spanning romance with lost love Penny are always enjoyable, but there are so few characters that are genuinely engaging.
The greatest offense is one the show has yet to commit; the ending. Lost has reached such preposterous heights that it can only culminate in a collapse under a mountain of expectation, probably destroying the show’s tenuous ‘mythology’ in the process and resulting in a stack of loose ends. Frankly, it might be better for us all if Lost just ended like The Sopranos and faded to black now.