Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Eight Reasons We'll Miss LOST

Lost-Pilot-One_l True Confession: I'm one of the Others. And I'm not talking about the LOST characters who walk around barefoot and then throw you in bear cages. No, I'm a true Other.

Typical people can watch a show and then manage to go about their daily lives without talking about it to strangers and dwelling on obscure connections to literature, religion and science. I'm not.

I've written academic papers on LOST. On a youth retreat, I made 25 middle and high school kids sit through the first four episodes (I hooked a good percentage of the kids who weren't already hooked--for weeks they came up to me telling me about season 1 and 2 episodes they were catching up on). I invite friends over and introduce them to the show. In my life, I have never had the inclination or desire to do any of the above with any other show. LOST is different.

I think I may be that guy. But I'm not the only one. There are other "Others" out there. But our reign at the water coolers is nearing it's end. Here's why we'll miss LOST.

(1) Sawyer's Nicknames: During the course of the show, Sawyer's nicknames progressed significantly from "Lardo" (Hurley)  and "Metro" (Jack) to more clever "Crouching Tiger/ Hidden Dragon" (Jin/Sun). And some were very contextual. When Kate is trying to pilot a canoe around the island, she earns the nickname "Magellan" (a maritime explorer from Portugal), or when locked up by Eko, he earns the nickname "Shaft" (a fictional detective from a 70s television show). Whatever else Sawyer was, he was a smartass and we loved it.

(2) Daniel Faraday's Nutty Professor-ness: Before getting shot by his mother while traveling back in time (WTF?), Faraday couldn't help but win our respect on the show. The passengers of Flight 815 are on the island for nine months before figuring out how to take a dump in the forest without getting attacked by polar bears and smoke monsters. Faraday is on the island for five minutes and he's already run tests that tell us that the island is dislodged from Time. Dude. He finally brought us some answers. He made us feel smart just by being on the show.

Desmond&penny (3) Desmond, brotha: It's hard not to like Desmond. He has the most engaging love story (statistically, viewers favorite episode of all time is "The Constant"--a hippydippy time travel episode about Desmond's love for Penny). And there's just something about the Scot. He spent some time as a monk. He also spent some time as a pint-guzzling soccer fan. And he also spent some time traveling around the globe as part of an Around-the-World-in-80-Days-esque race. Oh, and he spent some time pushing a button that kept the world from ending. Quite a resume.

(4) Hurley, for representing us: While the rest of LOST characters slowly buy things like the smoke monster, giant polar bears, the Others and time travel, Hurley is the guy who represents us as viewers. His comic relief kept the show from becoming too serious--and this is something other narrative shows need to learn from (*cough* Flashforward, *cough* V).

(5) RAZZLE DAZZLE! They Killed Nikki and Paulo: Yeah, everyone thought it was ridiculous when two new actors suddenly started showing up and doing things with the Flight 815 survivors--especially since we knew they hadn't been there in any previous seasons. Other shows may have been able to pull it off but LOST has fans who literally re-watched old episodes to look for signs of the characters. The producers heard our grief and buried them alive. RAZZLE DAZZLE!

(6) Boone Survive Plane Crash 1 To Die in Plane Crash 2: He survived a 30,000 ft plane crash but died in a 30 ft crash. We kind of liked Boone for a while, but then we found out he and his sister...er....did some laundry in a unique way. So it was time for him to go. What better way than ANOTHER plane crash?

Kate-jack-food (7) McBeardy: Jack's character has fallen-been redeemed-fallen-and been redeemed again more times than Johnny Cash. The guy seems to be addicted to the process. The emblem of all this is, of course, the beard. At the end of Season 3, we got a twist ending in which a flashback turned out to be a flashforward--and that flashforward featured a mangy-bearded Jack Shephard who had turned to pill-popping and whiskey chugging. Thank God he's our leader.

(8) Dead People Keep Showing Up: The magic of LOST flashback structure (and now it's "flash-sideways"/alternative reality structure) is that folks who have been dead for seasons show up all the sudden. Charlie Pace drowned in Season 3 but has shown up numerous times since then because, well, Hurley sees Dead People and because in an alternative world, he's still just a washed up rock star. And Christian Shephard? Man, that guy was dead before the show started but he's been practically a regular on the show. Put his name in the credits.

All these and for many more reasons, we salute you LOST. Thanks for the ride.

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