May 28, 2010
Remember, let go, move on… LOST 2004 – 2010
What a profound parting message to present the characters and viewing audience. The fact that questions were left unanswered was good; that’s the nature of life. Apart from being a timely and wise message from the right source (dad, Christian Shephard) to the right recipient (son, Jack Shephard), it was also a way of telling the viewing audience and fan base: folks, it’s been a great ride, and you may even have taken some of this material home with you into your lives, but hey, it’s just a TV show … put it behind you and get on with the work of doing real life.
If you ever attempted watching LOST out of sequence, you may have come away with the (way-off) viewpoint that it’s Gilligan’s Island with sex, drugs, guns, violence, xenophobia, and a smattering of mysticism. That (i.e. the necessity of viewing in-serial) is probably the only ‘negative’ I could state about the show. On the contrary, I was positively amazed by how a TV show could tie together its very first and very last scenes – six seasons apart in viewing time — together so powerfully, after keeping such a compelling story line all the way through.
What was so fantastic about LOST was that instead of playing to the audience’s collective idiocy like TV shows have done so often for decades, it appealed to folks’ intelligence. On the one hand, you could have watched the show for its brilliantly woven sequential plot, intrigues, action, etc. But beyond that, if you were so inclined, you could have explored the show’s content on many different layers and levels … science(s), mathematics, religion, history, medicine, ‘new age’ spirituality, and so on. Folding a lot of the weird science aspects under the banner of the Dharma Initiative was a smart strategy on the part of the show’s creators, as it lent an air of legitimacy — even believability — to some of the program’s off-beat elements.
The relationships between the characters were multi-dimensional and complex. And while the program’s sci-fi elements required that you suspend disbelief with regard to occurrences in the plot, the realness, richness, consistency and steadiness of the characters compensated to the point where the show maintained credibility all the way through. I don’t think there was a point where I’d thought, ‘okay, they jumped the shark this time’.
The comment that ongoing involvement with the show evoked a sense of concern for the various characters was also on target. How many of us — let’s admit it now — found ourselves “interacting” with some of the characters on occasion during these past several years, or asking ourselves, for instance, “Gee, how would Sayid or Kate handle this?”
There have been a number of shows this past decade that started out strong but after a few seasons deteriorated into an implausible sexual escapade or a “lets test the outer limits” potty-mouth fest. That just didn’t happen with LOST. And the few times that it drifted slightly (remember Nikki and Paulo?) the producers, in response to fan response, took action and corrected course.
I take my hat off to JJ Abrams, Damon Lindelof, Carlton Cuse, Jack Bender, and the multitude involved in creating, producing, directing, and managing the show for having made the courageous decision to end it while it was still running pretty hot. That gave respect to the age-old entertainer’s adage “keep the audience wanting.” Unlike so many TV series, LOST concluded while ABC — had it wished — could have kept it going for at least a couple of more seasons. While I’m sure there were compelling business reasons influencing their decision — like a huge cast and crew filming on location in Hawaii for extended periods — I thought that ending it when they did and in the manner they did gave honor to LOST’s cast and fan base alike.
Finally, while I’m not sure this was their intent, if LOST’s creators were attempting to embed a subtle message that the program was to serve as a metaphor for the world, its present condition, and the need to affect change, they did so brilliantly. After keeping us intimately engaged in the program for the better part of six years, the message, moral, and take-home lesson didn’t change from the pilot all the way through to the finale; that being Jack’s frequent refrain: we’re going to live together, or die alone.