Anticipating Lostalgia: A Therapeutic Series Retrospect by Season

Well gentlereaders, the day has finally arrived. D-day, or LF-day – Lost Finale Day. Since May 2007 when showrunners Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse announced the popular mind- (and eventually time-) bending show would come to an end in 2010 it never occured to me that the date three years into the future would come so quickly. Life moves pretty fast, as someone once said, and while I’m excited to see how our favorite band of castaways since Gilligan’s Island will fare in the show’s final hours and close the chapter on this crazy ride, I still look at this event as if I’m losing an old friend. Now a fond look back at each monumental season in hopes that it will be a kind of therapy for this fan to prepare for many days of Lostalgia.

“GUYS…WHERE ARE WE?”

From the moment the amazing, and still-exhilirating, pilot hit the airwaves in 2004 I knew something special was happening. This was a groundbreaking show. In a time when the numerous CSIs and Law & Orders were dominating the airwaves and a plethora of reality shows were hanging out at the top of the ratings, this serialized show with its questions and cliffhangers at the end of almost every hour practically dared people not to come back every week. It also helped that this was all coming from a band of creatives brought together by J.J. Abrams, the man responsible for another ABC hit, and personal favorite, that melded action and character development so deftly – Alias.

Locke discovers the hatch.

Like following Sydney Bristow et. al. on the spy drama, Lost viewers were not only given present day storylines full of action and intrigue for our castaways, but also multi-faceted backstories courtesy off-island flashbacks fully fleshing out these characters to more than just stereotypes. To top it all off the Lostverse gave us layers upon layers of material to dissect that included philosophical and religious allegories in names, places and situations. Not to mention the multitude of mysteries that continually unfolded on the strange island and the eventual embrace of science fiction with the introduction of time travel that solidifed this show as a wonderfully complex creation.

LOSING ITS WAY

I’ve never claimed that Lost was perfectly perfect in every way; any show with more than one or two seasons under its belt is going to have some missteps. Even in season 1 there were some less-than-compelling episodes, but overall it was a solid start to the series, with the first of many great season finales – “Exodus” – which involved an epic and beautiful scene that still brings tears to my eyes thanks to the genius score from Michael Giacchino. It was somewhere in season 2 that I started to notice things faltering in the story throughline. It might have been the first few boring episodes post season premiere (“Adrift” and “…And Found” I’m talking to you), or maybe it was when my favorite reformed-heroin addict Charlie goes dark for no reason with the one-two punch of attacking Sun in her garden and stealing Claire’s baby.

While there were more than enough bright spots in its sophomore year there were so many times the Bad Robot team was treading water, struggling with where they were taking our intrepid band of plane crash survivors. However, ending year two with a huge bang (literally!) in the amazing two-part finale “Live Together, Die Alone” my faith in the show was fully restored and I never questioned coming back for season 3. And for a show that preached alot about faith mine was about to be tested again in the early goings of that third year.

TWO WORDS: SECOND ISLAND

Oh, fellow Losties you know what I’m talking about. Those handful episodes opening season 3 with bear cages and the Hydra station. Wow, were those some trying times of “Get our heroes back to the real story already!” Although I will hand it to the show that these were also episodes that began to fully flesh out the evilly goodness of Benjamin Linus and finally introduced us to a strong female character with Juliet (sorry Kate, you didn’t earn that badge until much later in this fan’s opinion), the soft-spoken blonde doctor of The Others camp that proved to be an excellent foil in the ever-tiring Jack/Kate/Sawyer love triangle.

“Kate, dammit, RUN!”

It wasn’t until the last moments of the sixth episode “I Do” where Lost finally did something, as I’ve often found myself repeating at critical points. In a classic cliffhanger moment (and they did leave us hanging for 3 months!) Jack has Others’ leader Ben held hostage bleeding out on an operating table and bargains for the release of his kidnapped castaway comrades Kate and Sawyer, but sacrifices his own freedom, before agreeing to save the manipulative man’s life. This propelled the rest of the season into a breakneck pace – okay, so there were the handful of speedbumps along the way with throwaway episodes, I was never curious about the origins of Jack’s tattoos nor did I care about anything having to do with tagalongs Nikki and Paulo, those two “existing” survivors that until year 3 hadn’t even been seen as background characters – why?

Pitfalls aside you could tell that Darlton had finally found the show’s ultimate direction and knew where it would all end up creatively which was confirmed when they made the announcement, as the third year ended, that the landmark series would end with its sixth season. This declaration then gave way to the best season finale to date with  “Through the Looking Glass.” On a side note, this episode premiered three years ago today on May 23, 2007 – fitting.

Charlie’s parting words.

Bringing thrills, chills and a mess-load of tears, this has always been the definitive episode for me. There’s a sense of danger on at least three fronts – The Others bearing down on the castaways with intent to kidnap all the women, Charlie’s daring plunge into the underwater and titular Looking Glass station and a mysterious freighter offshore that may or may not be the harbinger of salvation. Plus you have one of the all-time most heart-breaking deaths in Charlie, bravely sacrificing his life to make sure the rest of the group can contact said freighter but finding out in the last moments that those on the boat were not telling the whole truth about why they were there. And don’t even get me started on the big reveal in the last moments that all the glimpses of Jack’s story off island were actually flashforwards instead of the flashbacks we had all come to expect – mind-blower and game-changer all-in-one.

“I’M ONE OF THE OCEANIC SIX!”

While it was the final line of season three – “We have to go back Kate! – that left us wondering what was to come, this opening line from Hurley threw us headlong into the big “what the what?” of season 4. We all knew that Jack and Kate had found their way off the island, but who else was a part of this Oceanic Six, and why only six? There were at least a dozen more characters we’d come to know and love (and hate) so who was a part of this select number and what happened to the rest? This brought us a full year of the flashforward device, playing out who had made it back to the mainland, and showing the paths each had taken to lead them to their place either on or off the island. We also got new character additions in the form of the freighter folk, including physicist Daniel Faraday, the character behind the show’s full-tilt turn into science fiction with the introduction of time travel, and realized for the first time in what is now considered Lost‘s benchmark episode, “The Constant.”

A beautiful piece focusing on island button-pusher Desmond trying to reconnect with his true love Penny so he doesn’t die from time-traveling aneurysms, I’ve come to realize that this might be the one hour that is more divisive than any other in the series. While the complaints had previously been all about unimportant details and slow-moving stories, the choice to embrace the idea of time travel turned off many viewers who believed the show was diverting terribly from its initial focus of being a character study, a grown-up Lord of the Flies.

I, for one, always supported Darlton & Co’s decision to fly their geek flag high; never feeling it took away from the true heart of the show – our characters. It provided more peril and most importantly provoked more questions. It might’ve made the series a bit more inaccessible to non-regular viewers, but as a fan of Twin Peaks I love that it became more complex. To cap off this newly-minted sci-fi-filled season we were treated to the sight of the biggest time travel moment of all – as the Oceanic Six are flying away they realize that the island they left behind has disappeared.

CASTAWAYS BECOME PASTAWAYS & COMING FULL CIRCLE

Now that we had all learned how the Oceanic Sixers and the Left Behinders got separated, season 5 was like watching a game of time Twister, and a dangerous one at that as we came to find out that because of this schism both groups were meant to suffer – those still on the island would eventually die because of the continual time jumps created from moving the island and the Six would always wallow and wonder what happened because they left. And so the crux of this fifth season was to bring these two camps back together, but all is not so easy in the Lostverse.

The time travel element really took center stage this year and really wreaked havoc with my own comprehension of this very dense subject and of the Lost timeline in general. Regardless of my spinning head being able to see the island’s goings on prior to the 815 survivors’ arrival (from primitive days even!) was an amazing addition to the already brimming-with-goodness show mythology. The pièce de résistance being the big reunion moment for our two camps during the heyday of Dharmaville – 1977. Yes, they achieved the goal of getting back to the island by, how else, traveling through time.

Although it didn’t end up quiet that simple, as nothing in the Lostverse does, since not all of our original castaways joined in the Dharma grooviness of the past. The plane transporting those back in time ended up landing safely – in then-present day 2007. Here was a story arc that created a whole new mess of questions in the shady folk who didn’t trust you until you correctly answered, “what lies in the shadow of the statue?” as well as a miraculously resurrected-from-the-dead John Locke. It wasn’t until the finale “The Incident” where we started to see the turn the series would take back to where it all started, the basic story of human nature, fate, free will and the ultimate battle between the light and dark within which we have seen play out in its final season.

As the series went through its last year the biggest compliment I can give is that it never lost (heh) sight of its core – the characters (I’m repeating myself, for a reason) – and has done a tremdendous job in honoring everyone that has inhabited this world. To add to that at almost every turn I never quite knew where it was going, in a good way. Consistently surprised, always left wanting more this was the year that I realized there were so many questions in the mythology yet to be answered that I resigned myself to just sitting back and taking it all in rather than become outraged or dissatisfied by overlooked and abandoned story elements. Will we ever know why Walt had special powers? What did happen to Vincent the dog? Will it all come down to a heated game of backgammon over the fate of the world? Most of these things don’t matter in the grand scheme, but I have faith that ultimately we’ll all have closure but with a side of mystery that will continue to spark theories, speculation and spirited debates for a long time after the final moments, which was what Lost always did best.

Some of us at this point in the evening already know the outcome (East Coasters!) but this viewer has just a few minutes to prepare for the beginning of the end and knows one thing for sure, I’m grabbing my box of tissues ’cause there’s a tearfest to come.

Namaste,

Trishthedish

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