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Monday, May 23, 2011

One Year Later, We're Still Blown Away By The Originality That Was LOST

Today is the one-year anniversary of the LOST series finale, and boy do we miss that show. One year ago, Leeard, Ern, and two of our best friends went to a LOST party at someone’s house. We lived far away from each other, so a few had to travel, but it was worth it. One of our friends printed out “Dharma Initiative” labels and put them on all the food and drinks at the party. We were so obsessed. There was perfect silence during the show and loud arguing during the commercial breaks. Perfect. That was a good night. This post is a reminiscent one for all LOST lovers. Spoilers follow.

Were we mad that the finale didn’t answer all the questions? Do we still wonder how that bird was able to say Hurley’s name? Did we want something besides a good vs. evil redemption story? Not really. We think that everything the show didn’t explicitly answer can be figured out through thought and subsequent viewings of the series. Or they were questions that didn’t matter that much. Seriously, present us with a legitimate question about LOST that you are hopping mad that the show didn’t ever answer, and we will try to answer it. We are satisfied with what we know.

The greatest thing about the island was its mystery. Once you dissect that and lay all its guts out on the table, it loses its mystery. There are people who want answers to every question, but there are other people who just enjoy the ride and get that there are things, not just on TV but in life, that we don’t get spelled out for us. Grey areas are fun. They are playgrounds for the mind.

Plus, the finale was a wonderful emotional ending that was true to the show’s (sometimes cheesy) big heart. And it added a dose of spirituality that the show was famous for. We think the element of mystery and the spirituality and philosophy is what made it great. Because that’s what creeped us out and reached us on a deeper level than most shows. Hurley got the island, and the show gave hints as to what the characters did after the finale/before death, but didn’t explicitly tell us, leaving us full of hope.

Over time, we got attached to our favorite characters, but LOST’s themes were what really brought the heart. Leeard didn’t even realize she was emotionally attached to any LOST characters until Jin and Sun died together. It wasn’t the characters that made this show stand out (even though they were complicated and interesting and sympathetic). It was the themes. None of the other LOST copycats (Flashforward, V, The Event) GOT that. They just thought people wanted a sci-fi serial with some action and mythology. Not so. We want universal themes, well-articulated, that resonate with most people.

The characters had such rich journeys. Locke had never accepted who he really was. He wanted to be the hunter, the warrior, and the athlete. He wrongly picked the knife when he was a boy, he didn’t want to go to science camp, etc. He didn’t know how to embrace the kind of special that he was. The island gave him purpose...but, shockingly, that didn’t end too well for Locke. We were shocked that the show went there. It gave us this character that we hated, felt for, and were fascinated with. The show gave him so much to do and built him up. Then it killed him and his last thoughts were that he was confused? For a while. Jack’s journey from control freak to humble savior was annoying at times, but it paid off. Most of the characters could have carried a TV show all on their own, with just their own stories.

The way the show played with time was also a huge plus. The flashbacks that tied everything together and got us off that island. The flashforwards and sideways. Desmond’s mind hopping around his life. Who DOESN’T love time travel when it’s done well. It’s nerd heaven.

Let’s look at a few of our favorite things, characters, and moments from LOST.

1) That moment in the season three finale where Jack says, “We have to go back!” and we realize that we had just seen the future and they got off the island. Mind. Blown.

2) That moment when we realized that Locke had been in a wheelchair after that guy (rightly) told him that he couldn’t go on a Walkabout.

3) The episode “The Constant” where Desmond time travels and ends with a phone call to Penny. You know you cried, and if you didn’t, check your pulse, because you’re a zombie. For the most part, LOST could have done its romantic stuff better. We weren't exactly wanting to rip our bodices off watching this show. Desmond and Penny got to us, though, and so did Juliet and Sawyer.

4) Ern’s favorite scene in the whole series? The whole scene where Ben talks Locke out of killing himself only to strangle him. We don’t think we breathed through that.

5) Hurley. Just Hurley.

6) And Ben. Whoever thought we could care about a genocidal, jealous, lying, creepy, bug-eyed, cold, kidnapping dictator like Ben? But we did. Ben and Locke had the best material, as characters, and the actors delivered.

7) Those creepy numbers that we still know by heart.

8) All the daddy issues.

9) The episode where Michael kept trying to kill himself, but he couldn’t.

10) That some of them actually got off the island for good.

11) Feral Claire.

12) The episode “Greatest Hits” where the show actually managed to convince us that Charlie was a beloved hero rather than an annoyance.

13) The fact that Echo died (even though his death was really lame), because we found him boring, and he knew jack about Catholicism.

14) Every Locke back-story episode.

15) Every mention or sight of Sawyer loving reading or Little House on the Prairie. And all of his nicknames.

16) Creepy episode titles.

17) One of us also thought the pilot was extra good.

18) In the finale, when Ben asked Locke for forgiveness and they made up. So sweet.

And some things we didn’t like:

Walt (well, one of us thought he was useless), Charlotte and Miles, Nikki and Paulo, the Kate love triangle, the Bai Ling episode (obviously), Juliet’s sad death, that whole part of the finale where the goal was to unplug the drain and get the light back or whatever (we loved the finale, but that made no sense), the episode with young Jacob and his young brother, that they pulled a Sixth Sense on us for a whole season (they could have just created the final concert meeting place for the emotional ending. The sideways world could have collided with the island world in a different way, and that would have been more satisfying.), that manipulative episode where Sun had her baby, and the fact that The Others could have served a bigger purpose.

Overall, LOST didn't go with the regular TV formula, and for those looking for more than just quick entertainment after work, it was one of the greatest shows of all time. And we defend that finale.


  1. Well said, and couldn't agree more. LOST is to sci/fi what Seinfeld or Frasier was to comedy. A show like this comes along once in a generation, and perhaps a lifetime. Never before has a show so successfully combined spirituality, science, and mythology.

    Favorite Moment:

    Jack and his Dad making up in the finale. For some reason this scene hit me really hard, and has always stayed in my mind.

    Favorite Character (tie):

    Locke and Ben. Yin and Yang. Two sides of the same coin. You get the picture. I think the character dialogue and acting quality was the best of the show with these characters.

    Least Favorite Moment:

    The scene in a Kate-centric episode where she is betrayed to the Fed by an old Australian cattle rancher. Why on earth didn't he just pull over? No need to flip the car. The scene just drives me crazy.

    Least Favorite Character:

    Jacob (both young and old). For a god-like character he was pretty pathetic, imo.

    Here is looking forward to a lifetime of repeat viewing. I don't ever see this show loosing it's sheen.

  2. Oooh, add to the list “The moment Sawyer tells Jack that his dad was proud of him.” Right at the end of season one. The scene you’re talking about didn’t get to us as much, but it was a good one. The fact that the Locke and Ben actors didn’t end up in a TV show slated for next fall is a tragedy, because there were rumors that they were going to.

    Agree about Jacob. The best Jacob moments were when he appeared to Locke in the cabin and when he first appeared, checking in on the Losties in their significant life moments. After that, he got lame, and we blame the actor for a lot of it. Aaaand now we hate that Kate scene too.

  3. This post is fantastic. I couldn't agree more. "Universal themes", as you eloquently put it, separated this show from other "sci-fi" type shows, and the most shocking thing about all the copycats is that they didn't seem to understand that fact about LOST. Spiritual and philosophical depth is not something we usually get in large doses on our favorite shows, but LOST didn't shy away from it. The finale was utterly perfect.

  4. It should be a "duh" thing. Look at all classic fantasy and sci-fi. There was philosophy and/or spirituality, or even allegory. That's what brings it to life and keeps it from being stupid. We want it to apply to our world.

  5. I had SUCH a love/hate relationship with this show. There were so many times that it felt like the writers had no idea what's going on and lost sight of the important themes. Some of the characters irritated me to no end.

    I hate Locke. I will not lie to you, when he was flung out of his wheelchair face first onto the grass and the sprinklers... I burst out laughing in a heartless, cold way. Every time Locke opens his mouth, he sounds like a fortune cookie... cheesy, meaningless, and WRONG. But without him, the show wouldn't have progressed the right way, so he had his purpose.

    I too liked the finale. I thought it was good that it wasn't all tied up like a little bow of cynicism. There ARE mysteries, there ARE things that don't make sense, and I think that's what makes it so special. It's like the end of The Giver, not some stupid-pressured-sequel-to-make-people-happy. It lets you fill in the gaps yourself and decide what works best for you.

    I loved Sawyer and Juliette, which surprised me because I strongly disliked Juliette for a long time. They were impossibly cute and I wanted them to live happily ever after.

    Kate should go die in a hole. She didn't even serve a purpose. Ever. Except to mess things up and cry about them. She doesn't even really have freckles.

    Jack, shut up. You're NOT Jesus, so stop acting like him. Great, your name is shepherd and you even were stabbed in the same place. Great. You still suck, Doctor.

    Sun and Jin's death scene made me bawl my eyes out. Good lord, I love them so.

    So much I could say... I could ramble and ramble about this show forever, and all the characters and random side plots. Basically, it was a great show that did what it set out to do, it made me care and invest myself into it, even if it was hating some of the characters or side plots.

    P.S. Benjamin Linus is the best character on that show. He was all kinds of crazy. The best part is that he was ruthless and unapologetic. He made decisions because that's what he had to do, and he didn't mope around going "But what don't you liiiike me!" He just did it without pause. I think I proposed to him through my television more times than is healthy.

  6. Hilarious comment

    It was easier for us, because Leeard binged the whole series just in time for the season finale. Ern watched the first three seasons on DVD, then started following it in season four. Having it all run together like that made us feel like the writers weren't meandering in a wilderness. Not having to wait through the season three dull parts week-to-week made it easier to trust.

    Ern had two roommates, lots of friends, and a stepdad who hated Locke. Ern liked him from his first backgammon-playing interaction with Walt and thought it was ballsy for a show to have a protagonist lie and be a coward so much. Leeard liked him too. But sooo many people hated him, so it's understandable. Weirdly, those same people who hate Locke seemed to hate Juliet too. Maybe it's a personality thing.

    LOVE The Giver. Also dislike Kate. Jack was "meh". Ern was NOT a Sun/Jin fan. They were just a couple of cheating whiners, but Desmond and Penny made her happy.

    Agree agree agree about Ben.