The first episode of the TV show ‘Lost’ aired back in September 2004 and all these years later, few shows have got close to the masterpiece that was created.
“To remember and to let go”…but how you can let go of something which was so special?
Lost never once took the easy route. Just as you thought you were close to working one mystery out, it took another turn. Sure not all questions were answered, but where’s the fun in that? The best television series are the ones that leave you guessing, the ones that allow you to make your own interpretations and piece together the puzzle. From the hatch, to the others, to the tail section survivors and the crazy timelines – Lost was full of surprises, shock deaths and crazy cliffhangers that left you craving more and more.
Bringing in more than 16 million viewers in its first season, Lost was one of the most talked about shows of its time and continues to grow in popularity even 10 years after it ended.
But what about Lost made it so enthralling?
1. It defied expectations from the beginning
If you went into the TV show Lost with no knowledge of what you were getting yourself into, you were likely stunned at the turn it took after Oceanic 815 crashed on the island. What could have easily been interpreted as a simple survival story soon developed into a mystery that had us desperate for answers. The first twist came with “The Smoke Monster” which until revealed to us could have been anything, and that once revealed just raised more questions. We then had Danielle Rousseau who had been stuck on the island for 16 years, the discovery of the hatch and the nightmare that was “The Others” who helped to emphasise that the Oceanic survivors were most definitely not alone. All of that was just in one season whilst numerous other mysteries and storylines were unfolding!
2. The narrative was far from the norm
With flashbacks, flash-forwards and even “flash-sideways”, Lost never kept things simple. The show’s narrative structure is what made it truly unique. Whilst flashbacks aren’t anything new, Lost exemplified exactly how they should be used. There’s no denying that one or two flashbacks provided no real use (Jack’s tattoo story), but they did allow us to see a completely different side to the characters we were watching. The perfect example? Discovering that John Locke was in a wheelchair before crashing on the island.
The season 3 finale then complicated things even more when what we believed to be a flashback was actually a flash-forward. This continued into season 4 until it was revealed how the ‘Oceanic Six’ got off the island.
3. The complexity of the characters
Did any of you think when you first met Juliet or Ben that you’d grow to adore them so much? What we saw on the surface was never what was really going on. Despite so many characters having done terrible things, they all had redeemable qualities. Sawyer may have come across as arrogant and full of hate, but he was genuinely caring and fuelled by the anger of what happened to him as a child. Jack was the obvious hero and leader, but he actually had many flaws that counteracted that. Lost really enabled the audience to get inside its characters and it was impossible not to get attached.
4. Relationships that you couldn’t help but root for
Sun and Jin, Charlie and Claire, Jack and Kate, Sawyer and Juliet, Desmond and Penny; each relationship was so drastically different yet they all had us rooting for them. But on a show like Lost where killing off a much-loved character happened far too frequently, getting a happy ending was easier said than done.
None of the relationships were easy going, but that’s what made them so great to watch. In season one, I don’t think many people were fans of Sun and Jin’s relationship. He was controlling and she was better off without him, but with some time apart for Sun to find her identity again and Jin to learn from his mistakes, they found their way back to each other. Then there was Sawyer and Juliet’s relationship which came as quite the surprise but they turned out to be one of Lost’s best couples.
5. It pulled on your heartstrings
If you can read the words “not Penny’s boat” without crying, I applaud you. If you can watch Desmond’s phone call to Penny in “The Constant”, see Juliet dying in Sawyer’s arms, Jin giving up his own life to die with Sun and the final church scene without crawling into a ball, you deserve an award.
Lost was an incredibly intense show that could leave you sobbing for hours at the end of an episode. I’ve watched it countless times and have watched repeats of numerous scenes, and every time I’m left with the same feeling I had the first time.
6. The brilliant one-liners
Charlie (picking up Kate’s shirt): “Somebody left this behind”
Kate: “Yeah, it was full of bees.”
Charlie: “I’d have thought c’s actually.”
Jack: “How can you read?”
Ben: “My mother taught me.”Locke: “Does any of this look familiar from when you were coming back?”
Sawyer: “Oh yeah, there’s my favorite leaf.”
Charlie: “No but if you hum it I can probably play it.”
7. It asked questions and started conversations
Questions weren’t just raised about the show, but of our own reality and the meaning behind it. The subtext in Lost was hard to miss. To begin with, a number of characters were named after famous philosophers such as John Locke, Rousseau and Richard Alpert. But putting the obvious aside, Lost went a lot deeper primarily through the character of John Locke and the key themes of the show.
John Locke was a great believer in destiny. He believed that he had a purpose on the island and trusted it to show him the way. He even made questionable decisions that often came with consequence based on what the island told him. His conversations with Jack always emphasised two sides of a coin. Locke; a man of faith. Jack; a man of science.
“I’m a man of faith. Do you really think all this… is an accident? That we, a group of strangers survived, many of us with just superficial injuries? Do you think we crashed on this place by coincidence, especially this place? We were brought here for a purpose, for a reason, all of us. Each one of us was brought here for a reason.”
Lost left a lot of people questioning their own beliefs. Everyone had a slightly different interpretation of the show (particularly the ending) which may give us a look into how we view life and death. Did you believe they were brought there for a reason? Or was it simply coincidence?
As well as seeing faith vs science, we also saw ideological contrasts. There were recurring symbols of black and white, most notably in the backgammon game. But the main contrast was seen through Jacob and The Man in Black who represented good vs evil. Jacob believed that all people had the potential to be good, whereas The Man in Black saw only corruption. These two characters directly discussed the nature of humanity, whilst simultaneously embodying each side.
Few TV shows have come close to the level and depth of symbolism Lost had.
8. The ending
The final episode of Lost has to be one of the most debated TV finales. You either love it, hate it, or don’t get it. Everyone has their own interpretation of what the final season was all about, and what the final church scene really meant, but Christian Shepherd summed it up pretty well:
“I’m real. You’re real. Everything that’s happened to you is real. All those people in the church, they’re all real too.”
“No. They’re all… They’re all dead. I’m dead. You’re dead.”
“Everyone dies sometime, kiddo. Some of them before you, some… long after you.”
“This is a place that you… that you all made together so that you could find one another. The most important part of your life was the time that you spent with these people on that island. That’s why all of you are here. Nobody does it alone, Jack. You needed all of them, and they needed you.”
“To remember. And to… let go.”
If your question is “were they dead the whole time?”, simply re-watch that scene and you’ll get your answer.
The ending to Lost was so beautifully done and stayed true to the show we watched for 6 seasons. The afterlife that they created for themselves is evidence of their time on the island and how important it was to them all. They found a way to live together so they didn’t have to die alone. Whether you believe in a life after death or not, there’s no denying that Lost portrayed it in an incredibly touching way.
It’s a shame that after such a monumental series so many people misinterpreted the finale, but that’s overshadowed by the meaning it provided to all those who understood it.
All of the above just touches the surface on why Lost is one of the best TV series of the century. Why do you love it?