Lost Seasons 1-6

Posted: 19th November 2010 by Mister Critic in Random

LOST (lôst)

1: not made use of, won, or claimed
2: no longer possessed or no longer known
3: ruined or destroyed physically or morally
4: taken away or beyond reach or attainment  5a: unable to find the way b: no longer visible c: lacking assurance or self-confidence : helpless.
6: rapt, absorbed
7: not appreciated or understood : wasted
8: obscured or overlooked during a process or activity
9: hopelessly unattainable : futile

What did Lost mean to you? It was a show that meant something different to everyone. Some people didn’t get it, and they hated it because of that. Some people didn’t get it, and they loved it because of that. For some it was about the characters. For some it was about the storytelling. For some it was about the mystery. And for some it just was. And to me, it was great television.

And now it is gone. Lost.

I told myself I wasn’t going to do this. No, I’m not crying…yet.  No, I had told myself I wasn’t going to review Lost. Partly because seven years had gone by since the start of the show so I felt that whoever was going to watch the show would have done so by now. And partly, I wasn’t sure whether I could do it justice and inject something new into conversation. But then I had my encounter with the Others.

They came out of no where. Their words flying, attacking. Words that cannot be taken back. Unnecessary, hurtful words…. about Lost. I know, I was as shocked as you are now. The Others had watched “a couple” episodes and thought (wrongly) they had gathered the necessary information to (unfairly) pass (poor)judgment against the show. Thankfully, the mind works in miraculous ways and has since protected me by blocking the ugliness of what was said by the Others. The only thing I know for sure is that I gave it my best to use measured, reasonable responses to open their minds.  However, I believe I failed. I tried to make them get Lost, and they just wouldn’t do it. So now, I know that I must bring this discussion to the masses. To a safe, welcoming place. A place where anonymous, irrational, ad hominem attacks never take place. A place no one is ever bullied. A place where all points of view are accepted (or at least a place where I have control over which points of view I will allow on the comment section). A place called the Internet.

So for those of you living on some remote island as survivors of a place crash for the past seven years, or those of you who refuse to watch more than two episode (you know who you are), Lost is a television show about the crash of Flight 815 on a remote island. The survivors have no idea where they are and learn quickly that they must work together or die alone. The more they explore the island, the more weird things they find, like polar bears, a smoke monster, a strange hatch, and the most creepy of all, they may not be alone. (Cue horn playing mysterious music).

As the show progressed through the years, some questions were answered, usually raising more questions. And slowly, the mysteries took on more and more of a science fiction or fantasy flair. But the show was about more than just the mystery.

This leads to one of the attacks made the Others: it was too gimmicky. Now I assume this meant that the show used allure of solving the mysteries on the island to draw people in. Now first of all, I can’t think of a show that doesn’t use some sort of gimmick to separate itself from countless other shows on during prime time. Each police procedural or medical drama has something a little different that makes people want to watch it. So you cannot fault the makers of a show for adding some creative, interesting twists to set it apart from Gilligan’s Island.

And for me, these were some darn good gimmicks. SPOILER ALERT: At first I was drawn in by because of my interest in the survivalist genre, but that interest grew into wanting to know what was in that hatch. Once, I did, I wanted to know why the button had to be pushed. I loved the debate between Jack and Locke about fate and freewill (OMG, a literary theme. On a TV show?). I liked looking for “the numbers” and the connection to the characters. Once we found out about what happens when you stop pushing the button, I got hooked on the time travel aspect and the Constant quickly became one of my favorite episodes. I liked the twist of the flash forward and I loved when the show went back in time with the Dharma group.

I will admit that twists and gimmicks, when used improperly, can lose their appeal quickly (see: the last few M. Night Shyamalan movies, as well as my discussion towards the end of this review), but used correctly I think it really enhances a show and (God forbid) makes a person think. And as I said above, this show was about more than just the mysteries on the Island.

Usually, each episode would focus on the back story of one of the main characters. Through the use of flashbacks, the show would slowly reveal more about who these people were and why they may be on this island. We come to find out people are not what they first seem and many of the characters might be connected. But how? Is it coincidence or fate?

And these character studies were interesting and unique. It appeared that perhaps each character had something in their life that made them fit the above definition of “Lost.” In fact, an interesting exercise those that have seen the show (I mean really have seen it, not just two episodes), see if you can match characters to a specific part of the definition of Lost. Post your answers in the comments section and we’ll compare notes.

We saw characters lost something, from their way in life,  to a loved one, to control over their lives, to the use of their legs, or something as simple as their luck. We got to see how these backgrounds defined them and then how the island caused them to grow and change. There was an actual arc. Not just in one episode but over a complete season. And over several seasons.

Which brings me to another Other complaint: Why should one have to watch an entire season, or episodes in the correct sequence, to fully understand and appreciate the show’s greatness?

Now perhaps it is simply Mister Critic’s humble opinion that episodic television that requires you to watch episodes from the beginning and in chronological order is a higher form of art than those show where you can come in and watch it at any point and in any order, like some reality television, soap operas or sitcoms. Don’t get me wrong, I like the occasional show where you can sit and watch any episode and know everything that is going on in seconds, but that’s because there’s not that much going on. And of course it is nice that they even have laugh tracks to help you know when to laugh. But those kinds of shows are not ever going to be better than shows like Lost, or the Wire or Mad Men.

What makes Lost a great show was how the characters changed as the show went on. You understood the decisions they made or the argument they had, or the love they felt because of the development you had witnessed. You grew with the characters and that allowed you to feel with them and for them. And what the show was really good at was interweaving the character development through the use of flashbacks into the strange, mysterious plot, so that one was not more important than the other.   From this point forward, I’m going to talk about SPOILERS, so beware!   Now the biggest attack on Lost is: Were you satisfied with the ending? If you weren’t, it must not have been that great then and so why waste your time.

Also, as a sub-point, I’m angry that the producers said the castaways were not in Purgatory and then they end it with them being in Purgatory.

So, was I satisfied with the ending? I don’t want to appear as though I’m trying to avoid the question so here it is straight: No. But let me explain. I was not satisfied completely, and that was true throughout the show, not just the ending. I wasn’t impressed with some the special effects, I didn’t like some of the side plots, I think there was something off with the time travel continuity, and I found some characters really annoying. The show wasn’t perfect and so, of course, the ending wasn’t perfect.

And I agree with some that it was a little bit of a cheat to have the alternative world be similar to Purgatory. I guess technically, or theologically, it wasn’t Purgatory, so the producers didn’t really mislead, but I think it was kinda a buzz kill when the ending felt exactly like what the producers said it wasn’t going to be.  But on the other hand, why do people feel the need to get these answers from producers before the show airs its conclusion. It is the TV equivalent of reading the last page of a novel. It is a no-no, and anyone who does it deserved to be disappointed by the ending.

My bigger complaint about the ending was like I said above, twists and tricks can be used inappropriately. They can get a little much after awhile and perhaps that was what happened for me with the end. There was an attempt for each twist and surprise to top the next one, and I think my expectations were then raised that the end would be mind blowing. If I watched it again without expectations, and stopped looking for the twist, maybe I would think the ending was really good.  There were some really good moments between characters in the finale, like Locke and Jack.

Really my expectation was for solid answers. Answers that did not lead to more questions. Answers that didn’t result in saying “It is all just magic!” But why did I think a show called “Lost” was going to be able to answer every one of my burning question. Every season, I felt lost when trying to figure out what was going on. Life doesn’t give us answers. And, when I really think about it, one of the great parts of the show was using our imagination to guess at the answers.

So although I wasn’t completely satisfied with the end, the journey getting to the end was spectacular. And I would do it again in a heartbeat. That’s what matters when it comes to great storytelling. And Lost was about great story telling, great plot, interesting themes, philosophical/literary/biblical/mythological references, interesting use of how point of view can color your perception about a person or a place, and I could go on and on. Personally, I may have expected something different or may not have like little things here and there, but the show had me hooked right up until the final minutes. And I looked forward to new episodes, and loved watching them with my wife. And now I notice that it is gone. So that’s why I give it a five out of five, and recommend the Others watch the show. I recommend you watch it because it wasn’t about the answers, it was about the process of finding the answers. That’s what Lost was about and that is what the Others are missing out on.

So if you want great storytelling and a spectacular journey, then get Lost.