I confess. I have turned into a LOST junkie. I never watch TV (except for football). Really. Never. I read about LOST in a magazine in May when the six-season sci-fi adventure series ended and it sounded intriguing. So we watched the first show of season one on Netflix instant play and we were hooked. That was the beginning of the end. The end was three months later, this past Friday night. Since June, we have spent the entire summer watching old LOST episodes every night. One weekend in July, we spent the entire day on a Saturday glued to the TV. But now we’re done and we know everything that happened. I could quarrel with some of the choices the writers and producers made, and I could fault them for getting themselves in a corner with plots that had to be abandoned or were not fully developed, and I could complain that character motivation was off in places, but the bottom line is that they had me and I couldn’t let go so they did a lot of things right.
This epic adventure was so brilliantly well-written that I shouted with glee sometimes at the genius of it. LOST works on several levels (including a mythic level), has many plots going at once, and travels marvelously through time and space. The characters have real depth; and there are lots of them. Several years ago I paid a professional book editor to read one of my novels and critique it. She said it was “overpopulated” – too many characters. One of the things I loved about LOST was that it had so many characters that it felt like a real world. Filled with people. Kind of like Harry Potter. The reader/viewer gets to go to another place and meet all these people and, through imagination, participate in their lives and their struggles. The viewer is far from passive in LOST. Unless you engage, and work, it makes no sense.
At the end of the final episode of LOST, Jack’s father tells him that he and his friends from Oceanic Flight 815 made a community together and that he has finally arrived at a place they created where they can come together “to remember and to let go.” Many questions are left unanswered, but the big unanswered questions are basically the big questions about life that have a habit of remaining unanswered. The best that we can do is remember those who have passed over and then let go of them. As we will be remembered and then cut adrift by those we leave behind when we pass over. The most powerful human moments in the final episode are the points where characters exchange their love for one another. So that in that final episode, the most moving images are those of the people who loved one another embracing. And that is what remains, what we remember, what must be let go. It was a good ending for six years of drama and adventure (although for us it was completed in three months). And even though Christian Shepherd assures his son Jack that “it was all real,” I was left wondering if perhaps no one ever survived that plane crash to begin with. Of course, by the end, it didn’t matter if they had survived the crash or not.
At the end of the last Harry Potter book, Harry asks Dumbledore: “Is this real? Or has this been happening inside my head?” And Dumbledore answers: “Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?”