Ten years ago television viewers found themselves in the middle of a plane wreck. Pieces of wreckage were on fire, people were screaming, and a man even got sucked into a still-spinning turbine; into the chaos ran a young doctor by the name of Jack Shephard and the rest is television history.
No one had seen anything like “Lost” and its sprawling mythology back in 2004 and the pilot went on to be one of the highest rated and viewed episodes of modern television. A decade later and every superhero movie comes with several prequels worth of backstory and world building so the flashbacks and mysteries of “Lost” might now seem old-fashioned and slow when spoilers move at the speed of Twitter. “Lost” came into the world at the rise of social networking and wikis and left when everyone could tweet and Facebook their opinions and thus “Lost” was one the first truly online phenomenons; after each episode fans would scour the internet for information on dead philosophers and historical events to try and peel back the mysteries of the island and its inhabitants.
What hooked many fans were all the questions raised by the island and its secrets. Are the survivors of Oceanic Flight 815 in purgatory? What is the Dharma Initiative? Why are there polar bears and smoke monsters on the island? And what is Richard Alpert’s deal with eyeliner? Some of these questions were eventually answered, others were mishandled, and still others were completely forgotten about much to the frustration of some fans; but a magic trick is only as good as the magician who presents it and “Lost” had a wide array of talented magicians and assistants to perform for audiences. Boasting one of the largest casts on network television, “Lost” was always introducing viewers to new and fascinating characters such as Sawyer the sneering conman who was always ready with a nickname, John Locke who is a candidate for the most tragic television character, and perpetually unlucky Hurley just to name a fraction of the great cast. “Lost” was never better than when it showcased the stories and backgrounds of its characters who were often initially portrayed as one-dimensional only to subvert audience expectations later on such as Benjamin Linus; first presented as a villain counterpoint to John Locke and Jack Shephard, Ben is soon revealed as a maze of contradictions as he could elicit both sympathy and disgust during any given episode. All the characters are like this; very few characters are wasted and the actors give it their all with their roles and it’s this humanness that lends “Lost” its emotional weight. For all of the time travel and mysterious Jacob encounters none of that would have mattered if there weren’t characters to care invest in the weirdness of the show.
“Lost” is also arguably the first show to cause the internet to collectively implode with its series finale; something that “How I Met Your Mother” went through and “Game of Thrones” will probably experience. How you feel about the finale will most likely reflect what about the show was most important to you; if the mysteries were what mattered then they likely and frustratingly remained as just that, mysteries, but if you cared about the fate of characters who had long ago become old friends then you were probably more content with the ending. Since the end of “Lost” pop culture has darkened considerably to the point where we are familiar with things like Red Weddings and meth-cooking cancer patients; even Superman has gone dark, gritty, and overly serious. “Lost” has some very dark moments, once again look at John Locke’s character arc, but “Lost” is also a show about hope and redemption but in a way that never feels cheap or cliche and no episode illustrates this better than season 4’s “The Constant”. This episode highlights what’s so great about “Lost” because for all the nosebleed inducing time travel the characters still come before the mystery as long-suffering Scotsman Desmond Hume struggles to keep his fragmenting mind together in order to reach the love of his life. It’s tragic, it’s confusing, but above all its characters are emotionally relatable and that’s why the six seasons of “Lost”‘ are well worth a first time visit and why some of us keep having to go back to that island with its haunting score by Michael Giacchino, mysterious hatches, and memorable characters.
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