Get Lost

May 21, 2010, 12:13 a.m.

Six years ago, my friend told me he envied me for the happiness I had coming, having not yet seen ” Lost.” He was right–minutes into the first episode, I was hooked.

Episode One opened with Jack Shepherd (Matthew Fox), lying face up in the middle of a jungle. Over the next few minutes, we closely followed the character, discovering with him the beach, the carnage from the crashed plane of which he was a passenger (Oceanic flight 815, Sydney to LA), and met our principles. Among them was Jack, a doctor with a hero complex, Sawyer (Josh Holloway), resident rogue and former conman or cop (depending on which Lost timeline you are following), Kate (Evangeline Lilly), her father’s murderer and subject to a love triangle (and occasionally rectangle) most often involving Jack and Sawyer, and Hurley (Jorge Garcia), an overweight, light-hearted lottery winner with worse than bad luck.

Even back in that first season, these characters seemed mysteriously connected for a reason. Discovering that reason is the driving force behind the final season of “Lost.”

When mentioned sidelong, the powerful, mysterious motives of the characters in the show seem plausible enough; but when answered directly (which viewers, myself included, demanded of the final season), suspension of disbelief becomes tough even for a sci-fi savvy guy like me.

Each of the characters we’ve been following throughout the series was intentionally brought to the island because of Jacob, a man reared outside the influence of human corruption so that he could inherit the task of protecting the island’s valuable “secret.” This secret is a glowing light akin to lifeforce; for some reason harnessable by humans, it is beautiful when used properly, and, when misused, is capable of turning the dead into a powerful black smoke that can possess the bodies of the dead brought to the island from the outside world. That evil black smoke, currently possessing John Locke (and formerly possessing Jack’s father) is determined to get off the island, and its up to Jacob’s chosen one–particularly his successor, Jack–to do whatever they can to close Pandora’s box.

When I think back on the realistic fiction “Survivor”-like show I fell in love with nearly six years ago, I can’t help but feel some disappointment at the fantasy melodrama I continue to watch. Like most other series, Lost has suffered from “jumping the shark,” raising the stakes to a degree where the plot must become ridiculous to keep up. Nevertheless, J.J. Abrams and his crew are masters of creating rich, captivating stories that [mostly] tie together in the end. Pseudo-scientific electromagnetic island properties aside, the actors and the mysteries have drawn me through 119 episodes so far (of which I’d say two-thirds to three-quarters were great), and nothing will keep me away from the final, behemoth two-and-half hour series finale next week.

Get LostWhile I will probably never find out what the deal was with Walt’s powers or what was with that Lupitas guy anyway, at least I’ll know if the good guys win and which Season Six timeline to believe–we’ve been following two simultaneous, contradictory timelines throughout the season. I don’t expect a final, triumphant return to the show’s more compelling roots as a character-driven drama, organically developing by enclosing great actors with great character backstories in a space; but I do expect to finally say “The End” to the show I started back in high school and will finish after college.

If you’ve been following the journey, join me next Tuesday night. And if you have yet to start, block out a summer for yourself, gather some friends that like intellectual puzzles and hop on the bandwagon. I envy the happiness you have coming, having not yet seen “Lost.”

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