Like a lot of people, I watch Lost. Every week. But until now, I've kept the manifestations of my devotion to casual conversations with friends who also watch. But, it’s time to jump on the blogwagon and write about why I watch. (Also – don’t tell anyone – last week, I went to the Lost Forum and read all 426 posts about the previous episode. I’ve never done that before with any TV show. God help me.)
Initially, it was the suspense. Who wouldn’t be drawn to the scary music that happens on cue when someone’s about to open a door or goes traipsing through a mysterious forest? And, the crescendos before flashbacks have you curious until you’re transported to pre-Lost suburbia or past-life trauma.
But, with each episode you see how the whole narrative is masterly crafted. Hovering above the 40 or so people is a genius, intersecting and bisecting lives, bumping characters and events up against each other for our enjoyment (and so that can sell ad spots at a very lucrative sum per 30 seconds). It was like I felt after I watched Brokeback Mountain: If I can ever write something half that good, I can die happy.
A quick perusal of online Lost sites will show that there is a behind-the-scenes-adventure happening for the dedicated (insane) viewer. There are online games with clues hidden in episodes, a novel for sale on Amazon by a passenger on flight 815, a Hanso Foundation website, fake commercials, and more. Clearly, the folks at the helm of this thing are brilliant and have the ability to walk the fine line that keeps both the average viewer and the maniacal watcher entertained.
And last night’s episode answered nothing and everything all at once. Each answer is its own next question. True to form, we (and the characters) are left asking "Why?" after each explanation like we were a three-year-old curious about the world we're a part of.
We learn about the electromagnetic forces and the plane crash, but we don’t know why this island has that capability. We know that Walt and Michael are reunited, but we don’t know why the Others are the 'good guys' (according to Henry Gale) and what will happen to the main three. We see what happens when you don’t press the button, but we don’t know the fate of Eco or Locke. And what does, “Ms. Widemore, we think we’ve found it,” mean?
It means we’ll all be back in the fall when this ride starts up again. It means over the summer we’ll be in Lost detox as we watch Season 1 again on DVD and replay the iTunes downloads we’ve got on our hard drives.
And for me, as I reflect on the deeper meanings, I convince myself I’m justified in watching Lost because of its introspective look at humanity and how it makes me look in the proverbial mirror and ask myself, “What would I do?”
If I were stranded on the island, who would be my friend? Who would I trust? Would I make friends with everyone? Would I help build a church or a big sign? Would I push the button? Would I run into the thick undergrowth with a loaded weapon? Would I shoot myself?
And I’m left only with the hope and fear that there in the middle of the Pacific, my past would come rushing back to me, like it does for each character. I would be reminded that as much as I may regret and try to run from who I’ve been and what I’ve done, there is a better path of thankfulness for each experience, good or bad, that has led me to this moment. Whether or not you believe in a master storyteller who delicately weaves all of our narratives, Lost teaches me that there is no such thing as random chance. Coincidence happens on purpose. Those we pass in the supermarket checkout line and those we know for just a semester at school have every chance to flip our worlds upside down.
I am taught to live in the moment, because these moments make a lifetime, and there is no running from our legacies.