February 14, 2014

TV Show Review: Lost

Tonight I finished a complete watch-through of ABC’s smash hit Lost. I have to say, it was just as good as the first time I watched it. But, let me warn you ahead of time. In this review, we’re going to be getting into the weeds quite a bit. And, if you haven’t already watched the series to the end, this is my Spoiler Alert. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

It’s not just me out here, mourning the loss of a great show. The critics have described Lost as one of the top ten television series of all time. Of all time? I would agree, given that it had a great start, great cast, great writing, and actually ended with a whole heaping of closure – the latter something most show never get.

But, let’s just jump in, and you’ll soon see for yourself. That is, if you haven’t already seen it. If you have, you know what the hype is all about……

The Story

It’s critical to keep in mind how this show begins. Crucial! At the very beginning, we find a man who opens his eyes. He’s laying in a bamboo grove and is wounded (key), and a dog suddenly comes out of the jungle. This is where EVERYTHING begins for us, for him, for everyone in this story. Keep in mind, though, it’s also where everything ends.

Before long, the survivors of a plane crash find themselves stranded on a deserted island. The first night, they discover they are not alone, and witness the incredible sounds of some kind of huge monster in the jungle. Right away, everything goes crazy. The pilot is killed, there’s a polar bear (what?), one of the passengers, who was previously in a wheelchair, can now walk, there’s a strange radio message being sent out, a crazy lady is found in the jungle, they find out that there is someone among them who was not on the plane, Claire and Charlie are kidnapped, and a hatch is discovered by Locke and Boone in the jungle.

The Numbers

Of course, they discover a map from Rousseau’s survival shelter (crazy lady) and see the mysterious numbers on it. These numbers have special meaning to Hugo, since they were the same numbers he used to win the lottery before coming to the island. They were the numbers his friend in the psych ward would repeat over and over again every day. They are also the same numbers printed on the outside of the hatch…and on and on it goes. These numbers have significance throughout the series and are never actually explained. It wasn’t until I read up on it that I found out these numbers are part of a mathematics equation written by Enzo Valenzetti, and predict the end of the world.

You never find out that the numbers were actually arbitrary, being drawn from the show itself (4 years Locke had been in a wheel chair, 8, 15 for flight 815 and the final number 42 being a homage to the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy).

Those in the Back of the Plane

After the raft is blown up, Walt kidnapped by the “others,” Michael and Sawyer come ashore, only to be grabbed by a group of scarey looking savages and thrown into a pit. We quickly find out they were the people in the tail of the plane, and boy do they have a story to tell.

At the same time, Henry Gale becomes a prisoner of the group down in the hatch, after he’s caught in the crazy lady’s net. He insists he’s not one of the “others,” but no one trusts him. Hurley starts seeing an imaginary person who tells him he’s still back at the wacko farm, imagining everything (key point). Unfortunately, this is where things really get bad. Michael ends up shooting Ana Lucia and Libby so he could free Gale (who is actually the “other” leader). He then lures Jack, Kate, Sawyer, and Hurley to the other side of the island, only to fall into a trap and be kidnapped. Michael leaves with Walt and Hurley is sent back to tell everyone not to look for the three ever again.

The greatest story of all time ever told on television.

If things weren’t already weird enough, right? Well, Jack is being kept in a big fish tank (or under one, technically), Sawyer and Kate are in big polar bear cages (mmmm, bear biscuits), and the flashbacks are showing us just how miserable life is for a doctor these days.

We find out that everything has been a ploy to get Jack to do surgery on Ben, who has a tumor on his spine. Kate and Sawyer get away, with help from Ben’s daughter (who he stole as a baby from the crazy woman in the jungle). Along the way the hatch is blown up, Hurley finds a Dharma van with Roger, Ben’s dad, inside. They get it working and go for a drive.

Who the Hell are Nikki and Paulo?

There is an episode that should have never been included, the one with Nikki and Paulo. Who cares about these two. They’re dead within the first episode they’re in, and has nothing to do with the story at all.

Visitors to the Island

The boys go on a camp out, based on Desmond’s prophetic visions. They hear a helicopter before it crashes into the ocean and see the beacon light from the pilot who jumped out and find Naomi, hurt in a tree. Meanwhile, Sawyer kills Locke’s father at the Black Rock (oh, that’s a slave ship in the middle of the jungle, by the way), via flashback, we find out that Ben and the others were responsible for mass killing the Dharma Group. Back with Naomi, they make contact with the ship and they will soon be rescued.

Classic split. Are you Team Jack or Team Locke?

Of course, we meet Daniel the Physicist, Miles the Medium (among others), and charlie finally dies in the underwater signal jamming station. They find out the people from the ship can’t be trusted. Claire disappears, Kate takes her baby Aaron, the last of the survivors are heading back to the ship on the helicopter when the big boat and island both disappear. They crash and are rescued by Desmond’s girlfriend, Penny. They decide to lie and the Oceanic Six go home.

Back on the island, the others are skipping through time like a broken record. Oh, and I forgot to mention the mercenaries that went to the island from the ship and killed Ben’s daughter, Alex, and her mother and boyfriend, too.

Already missing my LOST fix. I probably should watch it again. From the beginning. I think I’ll call in sick for work tomorrow!

The story is split in two, as we see glimpses from what it’s like for the Oceanic 6 back home as well as what’s happening for the time travelers. Locke finally puts a stop to all the skipping around when he moves the island again, but several of them are stuck back during Dharma Group days and end up joining the organization. Back in reality, Locke tries to get everyone to come back to the island, but ends up trying to kill himself, and is ultimately murdered by Ben. The six survivors do actually head back, and after the second plane crash, they find Locke alive and well, even though his body had been in the cargo hold of the plane.

On the crash, some of them ended up back in 1975, while the others were in current time. Back at Dharma time, Sawyer and Juliet have spent three years getting real chummy, which I think is the best tv relationship of all time. Perfection doesn’t last, though, as Jack, Hurley, and Kate make problems for those already back there.

Sayid kills little Ben, but he’s healed by the others. Daniel returns to the island from the mainland and is quickly shot by his mother. The island is eventually evacuated because of what is about to happen, but not before they detonate a bomb at the future location of the hatch, causing the very problem they were trying to solve.

Distinct realities yet same great characters.

After the bomb, the story splits again in two timelines: One where they are blown into the future but are still on the island, and the other where the first flight never crashes.

On the island, Juliet is found in the hatch rubble only to die shortly after in Ford’s arms. We find out pretty quickly that the recently resurrected Locke is actually the smoke monster and he’s trying to get off the island. Jacob is killed and the smoke monster kills everyone at the temple (yeah, there’s a temple on the island, too). All the crossing back and forth from one side of the island to the other and back again becomes a little tedious, if you ask me. But alot still happens despite all the exercising. For one thing, Bed kills Widmore, Jack becomes the new Jacob, having won the Candidate contest. He kills Locke at the cliffs, and then goes back again to fix the island where the light it. At the mouth of the creek-cave-light thing, he does the “here drink this” to Hurley, and the big guy then becomes the new protector of the island. Hurley appoints Ben as the second in charge (basically, taking Richard’s old job).

It’s VERY interesting, if you catch it, that while dipping water at the creek, when Hurley is arguing, saying Jack isn’t supposed to die, Jack responds, “I’m already dead.” Keep that in mind. As Jack goes down to the bottom of the cave, sends up Desmond back up the rope, and saves the day by putting the rock back in place. Pretty soon, water starts flowing again and the light shines bright. Of course, all the others (minus Ben and Hurley) are rushing back to the plane and get there just in time before the “other” others take off. Simultaneously, we see Jack on the outside of the “other” side of the mystery creek and he doesn’t look so good. He struggles to his feet, starts stumbling through the bamboo grove. If you notice, he’s injured again, just like he was when he woke up. He makes it only so far, then sits and lays back, suddenly right back where he was when he first woke up after the plane crash at the beginning of the series.

As he lays there, grasping onto the last of his life, the others take off and he can see them fly overhead as they miraculously make it off the island. Jack has saved the day. Granted, he sacrificed himself to do so, but he was the hero. He saved them. He fixed it.

On the other timeline, the one where the first plane never crashed, they all end up finding each other and, when they touch or say the right thing, they all start to remember memories from the original timeline (when the plane crashed). Things get a little spooky and the finally all meet up at the funeral home/church where Jack was planning to have the funeral for his dad. Everyone is there and they all remember their time on the island, even though in their timeline, it never actually happened. Jack then meets his dad (the coffin is, of course, empty), who cryptically explains how this “place” (meaning the second timeline) was created by them so they had a place to meet and find each other before they all “moved on.”

The reunion is great, and then, as they all sit down in the pews, Jack’s dad goes back to open the double doors. As he does, a wave of bright, inviting light washes over them and they supposedly “let go” and “move on.”

We flash back again to Jack laying in the bamboo grove. The yellow lab comes running out of the jungle again (just like in the beginning), but this time lays down next to jack. At that moment, Jack closes his eyes and dies. The end.

During the credits, all you see is the wreckage of the plane on the beach, but the beach is empty.

The somber and mysterious ending credits scene. The actual wreckage of Flight 815.

So, what does it all mean?

There are actually several possible interpretations, but only a few are plausible, and I think only one can account for everything without leaving anything unexplained.

The first interpretation is everything happened just as they portrayed it. Everything happened on the island, everything was real, and there were magical smoke monsters and time travel and ghosts (like Michael), and the lot. The plane crashed, then didn’t crash, but then actually did crash (see ending credits). Jack saved the day in the end, but there are many, many questions still left unanswered and what a fantastical world we live in!

The second interpretation is as Hurley’s imaginary friend said: it was all in his head. Hurley was committed to a mental hospital and was suffering from delusions – seeing people that were not there. When he tricked his imaginary friend to jump out that window and then lock him out, he snapped, sending him into a coma and now he was inventing everything that happened, all those people, in his mind. Of course, with this explanation, we get no real closure and there are many questions left unanswered.

The third interpretation (and the one I believe works the best), is there was an actual Oceanic Flight 815 that had Jack and most, if not all, those people aboard. It did crash on “an island” (pictured for read in the ending credits). On that flight, Jack was thrown into the bamboo grove where we find him at the beginning of the series. The reality, though, is we are not actually seeing “him” at the beginning. We only see “him” at the end, as he is dying, at the end of the series. Everything else, from the very opening scene to the last, is all in Jack’s mind – a coping mechanism as he tries to deal with the reality that he is about to die. The whole series probably occurs in a few minutes, maybe an hour or so as he lies there dying. It is a mixture of seeing his life flash before his eyes, but, because Jack has to always have something to fix, because he has so many unresolved issues with his father, because his life was such a mess, he has to first “fix” and resolve as much of it as he can before he can “let go” and “move on.” Because it’s too late to fix his relationship with his dad or his ex wife, his mind immediately begins to fill in the blanks, taking faces from the plane and maybe the last few days of his life and creates people around them.

But Sawyer and Juliet have to end up together, right? They were real, weren’t they?

All the other people on the island, none of them actually exist. They might have been real people on the plane, but not the names or personalities that Jack created in his mind. As Jacob explained, everyone that was on the island has something wrong with them. They all were searching for something. This was subconsciously created into these characters by Jack’s mind so he would have something to strive for and fix in each of them. By the end of the series, he did that, or the best he could. In the end, they were all together, and were all happy and fulfilled. It took all of this fantastical effort, this superhuman feat for Jack to feel okay with what his life amounted to before he could die. As his dad said, what happened on the island was the most important thing that had happened in Jack’s entire life. Jack was coming to terms with the reality that his real life had been a shambles, despite all the professional success, he was miserable and his life amounted to nothing. Only in those last moments in the bamboo grove, did he find (trick his mind in believing) that his life had meant something important.

The numbers, all the characters, the “others,” the smoke monster, the polar bears, the Dharma Group, all were coping mechanisms for Jack. In one way or another, they all were ways of pushing him, gently leading him through the final doors to die. In the end, after he was able to successfully save everyone (important), was he able to return back to where he started (his mind to return back to his physical body), and here he could say okay and let it all go.

It would be inferred that no one else, save the golden retriever, survived the actual plane crash on the island. We simply do not know. Even if they did, they would be completely different people than we know them, since everyone we grew to love on this show never actually existed in the first place.


In the end, what a fantastic show that was so moving and dramatic and left such a personal and lasting impact. I imagine I will watch it every year for the rest of my life. Maybe when I’m on my death bed, I, too, will create a phantasmagoric world in which I’m the hero and can save everyone before the final curtain. I wonder if I’ll get six seasons, too?

No happy ending for these two. Just misery and heartbreak, all the way to the end.

What do you think? What was your experience watching LOST? Post a comment below and tell us….

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