Lost, created by the incredible J. J. Abrams and Damon Lindelof, was a show that once upon a time was a cultural phenomenon. It was easily the biggest show of the Noughties and it had millions of people worldwide talking about it and theorising on the many (!) questions that were posed weekly. There was a lot that upset and annoyed fans and there were A LOT of unanswered questions come the show’s end. But Lost was incredible and here’s why:
Lost featured one of the first ensemble casts in an American show and it worked because of the casts’ diversity. No two characters in the central cast were alike: we had the controlling but dashing doctor Jack, who was full of angst and daddy issues; the unconventional criminal Kate, who we eventually learnt had killed her stepfather; lovable and larger-than-life Hurley, who was plagued with bad luck; the warring non-English-speaking (or so we initially thought) Korean couple Sun and Jin; bad-boy Sawyer, who we loved-to-hate; and previously disabled Locke who was full of mystery. Yes, there were a few under-developed characters such as Boone and Shannon but for the most part the initial cast were compelling.
It also posed numerous questions as the shows mythology was fleshed out and developed, whilst repeatedly mind-fucking the shows viewers. The rampaging threat in the jungle turned out to be a cloud of black smoke that recurred throughout the shows span before being revealed to have originated at the heart of the island (yes, even I don’t quite understand that one…). The hatch belonged to the Dharma Initiative, a scientific research group who had come to the island in the seventies and built several research stations that had fallen under the hold of “the Others”. And Ethan belonged to this group of Others, natives of the island that wanted to further Dharma’s work whilst taking the survivors of Oceanic Flight 815 into their ranks. The mythology made the show feel more rounded and fully fleshed out.
Yes, there were some annoying elements of the show. Within the first season the love triangle was interesting (kind of) but by the end of the second season I couldn’t have cared less who Kate ended up with. Jack and Locke’s incessant daddy issues drove me insane as episode upon episode was focussed on these non-important aspects. Jack and his dad didn’t get on – we get it! We didn’t need fifty seven episodes focussed upon their relationship. And yes, there were a lot of filler episodes (need I mention the one where Jack got his tattoo? Seriously Abrams and Lindelof – did we REALLY need to know that?), but in between these were episodes of television gold.
‘Pilot’ was a stunning introduction to the show with incredible production values and ‘Exodus’ perfectly concluded the first season by answering enough questions whilst simultaneously posing hundreds more (seriously, what the fuck was the smoke monster?!). Season two’s ‘Orientation’ cemented Dharma forever in the shows mythology with a creepy orientation film featuring the sublime Francois Chau as Pierre Chang (neé Marvin Candle, neé Mark Wickmund, neé Edgar Halliwax) and ‘Live Together, Die Alone’ reintroduced us to Henry Ian Cusick’s Desmond whilst showing us our first glimpse of the outside world.
Season three’s ‘Not in Portland’ and ‘Flashes Before Your Eyes’ gave us incredible flashbacks for the new characters Desmond and Juliet respectably; ‘The Man Behind the Curtain’ gave us our first eerie insight into Ben’s childhood and Dharma’s time on the island; and ‘Through the Looking Glass’ stunningly and emotionally killed off the lovable Charlie whilst flashFORWARDING into the future as we learned Jack and Kate had escaped the islands clutches. Season four’s ‘The Constant’ was not just the single best episode in Lost’s history but it was one of the best episodes of television I have ever seen – Henry Ian Cusick and Sonya Walger were stunning as Desmond and Penny and their final phone call, after Desmond’s mind warped back and forth through time, was emotional and poignant and completely believable. Their story was more or less concluded in ‘There’s No Place Like Home’ as half of the cast escaped the island, Desmond and Penny were reunited, Locke died in the future and the island FUCKING VANISHED! What?!
It wasn’t always good though. The fifth season suffered by the split cast and only really started to work when the ‘Oceanic 6’ returned to the island. The 100th episode, ‘The Variable’, paradoxically ended Daniels short time on the show whilst proposing a reset and ‘The Incident’ revealed that the newly revived Locke really wasn’t Locke at all, formally introduced us to Jacob who had touched (not in that way) the characters lives and actually reset the show. Well, kinda…
And finally we come to the sixth season, which really was a mixed-bag. The flash-sideways plot divided fan opinion, and a lot of questions were left up in the air whilst some of the answers we got really weren’t good enough. But in between we were presented with some of the best episodes in the shows history: ‘Ab Aeterno’ gorgeously flashed to Richard’s past as the Black Rock smashed into the four-toed statue and introduced us to the war between Jacob and smokey; ‘The Candidate’ strikingly killed off three (!) of the shows original cast; and ‘Across The Sea’ divulged more (but not enough) about Jacob and smokey’s war.
‘The End’ also divided fan opinion but for me it was a perfect end. Yes, a lot was unanswered, but ninety percent of the shows central cast returned for a stunning final shot as the characters ventured onwards together after death (yes, purgatory was the answer all along) and Jack emotionally died on the island he had come to call home. Over the course of six seasons we came to love these characters and it hit the fans hard when one of them died. The unanswered questions we annoying, but fundamentally the characters where why the fans fell for the show. Buy the boxset. Re-watch it. Get lost in Lost (sorry…).