Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Good-bye Lost

This month, viewers can tune in to see the final episode of the ABC series Lost. Now in its sixth season, executive producers Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse have promised that all the many questions regarding the mysteries of 'the island' will be answered. After years of watching the band of plane crash survivors struggle with the 'others', the smoke monster, the hatch, flashbacks and flash forwards, and the occasional disappearance of a major character, that's a promise of epic proportion.

The first two seasons, arguably the best in terms of writing, were mainly devoted to introducing an unusually large cast; unraveling their back stories and their secrets with the grace of Scheherazade. As it with drama, each character was conflicted; bad deeds but a good heart, well intentioned but addicted to drugs and so on. Plenty of time was spent on pairing up couples, though it came as no surprise that the romances were as much about power as the general survivor dynamic.

Remarkable writing and solid performances can seduce any viewer, even those not given to following weekly television shows. I was most drawn to the terribly damaged yet deeply hopeful John Locke, the fiercely loyal Sun-Hwa Kwon, and the spiritual leader and former drug warlord Mr. Eko. The actors Terry O'Quinn, Yunjin Kim and Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje who played these characters are astonishingly great performers.

Viewership waned in subsequent seasons, but I stayed with it despite reservations. For the final season, a new device coined the flash-sideways was instituted and I had to throw in the proverbial towel. It was bad enough that the Smoke Monster became a major player, but to divide each episode with two timelines: what if the plane had never crashed? And, what if the bomb exploded and several characters could somehow return from the dead? Mysteries aside, that's wa-aay too much to ask, and I'm a fan of good supernatural/ghost/zombie stories.

Imagine if a friend of many years, someone that shared family myths, and 'don't tell anyone' secrets and heartbreak stories, suddenly admitted that none of it actually happened, or maybe just random bits and pieces were a little true. It'd be strangely off-putting, right? Endings can be bittersweet, but some endings bring relief.

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