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Friday, May 25, 2012

Lost In Expectation


Two years ago, one of the boldest, oddest, trippiest shows ever to grace a TV screen aired its final episode.  and as with the series itself, that episode was in and of itself one of the most polarizing events on television.  I'm talking, of course, about Lost.  There are people who get it, and many, many more people who don't.  My personal belief is that the show was a very bold social experiment about faith.

Lost, over six years, asks of its viewers an escalating suspension of disbelief.  48 people survive a plane crash on a desert island.  Sure.  But this island isn't quite so deserted.  Okay.  And the island is the home of some peculiar science experiments, including a doomsday EMP button. And the Other people on this island have a particular interest in a young boy.  Hmm, okay...  This Other group also don't want these people
to leave the Island, for fear of worse people coming to the Island, which has special healing properties if you are "worthy." So they move the Island.  And then there's time traveling.  And a visit to the afterlife.

Trying to explain the events of Lost is impossible without sounding like a blithering idiot.  It's kind of like trying to explain religion, ANY religion, to someone listening to only the words you say empirically.  Try, for instance, to listen to Catholic dogma with no emotional investment, just as words and as stories, and you'll get what I mean.  It's faith, attachment, that gives all of these events context and meaning, and the producers of the show very smartly presented the mystery and wonder of the Island and the castaways and asked us to do with it as we pleased.  Over time, faith was lost as some people I knew simply couldn't wrap their heads around it, or could no longer suspend disbelief.  Someone close to me referred to the show as an overly dramatic "Gilligan's Island."  But over time, people were rewarded with... whatever they were rewarded with as the show and its resolution meant something different to and touched something unique in everyone who watched it.  To me, it felt like a 118 hour movie, and by the middle of it, I realized that the movie wasn't about the Island, or the Others, or any of the insane and madcap stuff happening on it, but it was about the people.  These amazing adventurers that the show focused on, these wonderfully, ordinarily complex and flawed people that were placed in an over-the-top series of scenarios, and simply tried to cope.  These characters were people who were unable to be in the moment, to fully appreciate the mirales going on around them, the danger that they were in, and one the person who did, who could, seemed crazy for half
the show's run.  The more we found out about these people the more we rooted for them, rooted against them, believed in them.  Felt sadness when they died.  Felt joy in their successes.  One of my favorite moments in the show was when Jack revived Charlie after he was strung up from a tree.  I honestly pumped my fist and cheered.

Two years later I re-watched the show, beginning to end.  All the episodes I loved and hated.   I walked away, knowing from the beginning how it would end, with a sense that the creators of the show -- JJ Abrams, Damon Lindelof, Carlton Cuse, et al -- crafted this brilliant, moving, wondrous exploration of faith and hope and wonder, of good and evil, of forgiveness and regret, and of destiny.  All of these are relatable themes as we all struggle to find our place in this world, regardless of age, race, ability, or situation.

To date, Lost is my favorite show of all time.  The only thing I found to be unbelievable was that there were THAT many impossibly attractive people on one flight.  I fly.  Regularly.  I've never been on a flight with one hot woman, much less with a hot fugitive chick, a hot pregnant chick, a hot rich chick and a hot Korean chick.  And what WAS the deal with that island...

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