KATE & JACK COMICS
I Was Completely Lost Watching LOST But I Just Rewatched It And Now I’m Found!
First of all, it’s important to say that I am blessed with one of the worst possible TV memories. I can happily rewatch things I’ve already seen, over and over again for the first time.
While I didn’t remember most of the details of what happened on LOST, my general impression was that the first seasons were terrific fun, but then it became deeply confused and finally flat-out fraudulent.
In the last of its six seasons, I remember my wife and I looking at each other in horror when they announced that there were only three episodes left. Both of us thought there were only two. Watching it had become a job both of us hated but didn’t have the nerve to quit. With SO many questions and five+ seasons already invested, we were hopelessly indentured.
We both thought the series ultimately added up to nothing, multiplied by zero. It made no sense and all of our endless questions remained maddeningly unanswered. I heard that JJ Abrams left the project after a couple of seasons, and I figured that he must have taken all of the explanations with him, leaving the island to drift aimlessly and preposterously through time and space.
Nevertheless, I recently had the idea to watch those first seasons again, figuring I’d quit when it got to the ridiculous part. But it never did! In fact, it got better and better. The last three seasons were more interesting and compelling than the first three, which is exactly opposite of my original impression.
How could I have been so off before? What changed? Since it’s unlikely that they secretly reconvened the cast, somehow made them look the same age, and reshot those last seasons (a possibility that I actually considered), the only explanation was that I was the variable.
Admittedly, the show suffers some seriously clunky acting at times, and over-the-top, ham-handed scoring. It also features Hollywood’s typically distracting and offensive preoccupation with inanely pervasive beauty, lots of gratuitous cleavage shots, and perfectly fitting–albeit refreshingly dirty–clothes, inexplicably salvaged from other people’s luggage. Plus a tedious, low-brow onslaught of fat-shaming for poor Hurley, one of the show’s best characters and actors.
I also seriously doubt that they maintained full cohesion in the story and timelines embedded into this meandering and wandering cacophony of complexity.
But my second time through, I wasn’t pining for cohesion, and that helped a lot. As did watching it all without any breaks between episodes and seasons, other than an occasional night’s sleep and 2 minutes and 35 seconds now and then to pop corn. Even from one night to the next, it was hard for me to keep track of what was happening and when it happened.
But surprisingly, astonishingly, it actually made sense. Pretty much, anyway. My wife only saw bits and pieces of my second pass through, but she had the same reaction. We couldn’t believe how much was actually explained, sometimes in straightforward, unambiguous exposition. I don’t know what we were thinking or expecting before. It’s like we didn’t know how to watch television.
The show is mysterious, no doubt. It’s steeped in metaphor and allegory, and lots of religious references that I mercifully missed growing up. It’s deep and rich and free of Hollywood’s typical pandering to the lowest common denominator.
LOST is a ninety-two-hour poem tackling all of the biggest possible questions in the universe including faith, fate, destiny, reason, free will, good vs. evil, tribalism, connection, atonement, God and the devil, the afterlife, and time itself. And it’s all rolled into a show with a dazzling talent–equal to Orphan Black’s–for creatively sustaining forward driving action, tension, and interest.
The show admittedly has less than an obsessive compulsion for absolute clarity. Less, I guess, than I could tolerate at the time. But far more than is required by any poem. Nevertheless, it is actually tied together with almost superhuman skill, especially considering the number of episodes and pressures on the showrunners. I won't try to list the connected threads here, since I’m running long and it’s done very well on this site.
The real point is that is so jam-packed with meaningful explorations and thematic ambition that I can’t imagine how I could have gotten hung up on a few missing details here and there.
I remember that there were people who loved the show at the time, even with what seemed to be that tortured, meaningless, two-season-long, fraudulent “ending.” Of course, I thought they were the fools. Little did I know.
I like to think that I’ve grown and can now embrace things that echo the amorphous complexity of the world I inhabit, instead of needing tidy, complete, cartoon-like summations.
There is a lesson in LOST about letting go, and I like to think that, along with Jack, Sayid, Kate, Jin, Sun, Sawyer, and Locke, I’ve learned it too. Suffering is said to come singularly from not accepting what is happening. I’m not sure that if I accepted a root canal more fully, it wouldn't hurt, but I do think that I wanted LOST to be something other than what it was, which I now realize would have been less than what it actually is.
In any event, I am so glad I returned to the island, whatever exactly or inexactly, it is. I’m glad I was able to let go and so thoroughly enjoy something that both made no sense at all, and all the sense in the world.
I’m proud of myself.