Lost: Season 6
Most networks have the lamentable habit of coaxing every possible iota of financial gain from a popular series. This typically means renewing a show past its prime; past that regrettable point where the proverbial shark is in the review view mirror in 2004 the ABC network began to rebel against the growing infiltration of so-called reality series into the programming schedule and returned to scripted dramas, eventually they would dominate the ratings with series like ‘Desperate Housewives’ and Gray’s Anatomy’ but their flagship show would be ‘Lost’. This series would prove to be unlike anything shown on conventional broadcast television before. It sought to combine genres ranging from fantasy to drama with just a touch of mystery and suspense to hold the rapt attention of the audience. Rather than beat this horde to death the network had enough respect for the series creator, J.J. Abrams and his legion of fans to allow the sixth season to be the grand conclusion of this enigmatic story. It is true that the last couple of seasons of the series have come under fire by critics and even the most diehard fans for becoming too confusing and diverging from several of the fundamental elements of the series than were responsible for its initial rapid success, the fact with this type of series is it is experimental in nature. Abrams and his co-creators attempted something completely different and while audiences tired of pseudo reality shows clamored for a tightly scripted show like this. Now the secrets have been revealed and what was hidden brought to light and as is the case with any conclusion many fans was disappointed in the concluding chapter of this epic story. While not as extreme as the controversial final episodes of ‘The Sopranos’ many felt either disappointed or even worse, confused when that final ‘LOST’ floated past the screen. At least they did everything possible to prepare the loyal audience members for this moment. The buildup began towards the end of the preceding season and played out over the final 16 episodes.
At the beginning the series quickly established itself as one on the most perplexing shows on TV. On the surface it was a story of survival following a group of people who survived a plane crash, Oceanic Flight 815, on a remote, uncharted island somewhere in the South Pacific. In the first season a formula was established where each episode would account for about two days of island time. Each week part of the overall puzzle was probed with flashbacks revolving around a central character past. This helped the ad hoc leadership of the survivors to emerge as fully developed, relatable characters. The one everyone immediately looks to as the one in charge is Doctor Matt Sheppard (Matthew Fox). As a neurosurgeon he is accustomed to making split second decisions under life-or-death consequences. While Matt is a man of science tourist John Locke (Terry O'Quinn) becomes the man of faith. Before the crash he was a paraplegic unable to walk. Some mysterious force at work on the island enabled him to regain the full use of his legs. What made the series so popular was the incredibly elaborate mythology infused into the story. In every mythos there is always a trickster. The Norse had Loki, the Gallic had Akien Drum but on the island this vital role was filled by James Sawyer (Josh Holloway) a lovable con man on the run from the law. This is one thing he had in common with the goddess of the island, Kate Austen (Evangeline Lilly). The fans enjoyed watching her vacillate between Sawyer and Jack seemingly changing with the tides. Over the six year run some characters, frequently among the most beloved by fans met an untimely demise. Thanks to the magic of the island and really efficient agents actors playing dead characters remained employed long after their onscreen death.
By this final season a new direction had been established where the normal laws physics are frequently suspended. This allowed them to mover characters and stories back and forth in time and by the penultimate fifth season create an alternate time line. This permitted not only flashbacks and flash-forwards but looks at the alternate reality in what fans dubbed as ‘flash-sideways’. The sixth season saw the alternate characters meeting each other in the new reality met each other frequently forming relationships and discover themselves in situations that are strange reflections of what already had been established. The one mystery that had to be explained before drawing the final curtain is the infamous smoke monster; a polar of flowing black smoke that could prove brutally lethal. The resolution of this was done through the infusion of the most ancient theme ever; good versus evil. For centuries two once human entities resided on the island. One, later known as Jacob, was the protector of the island. Like his mother before him he drank a mysterious liquid that conferred immortality on him but the price was to spend that long life protecting the heart of the island, a glowing pool of water. His brother, the man in black, would become the smoke monster luring people to the island in hopes of using them to kill Jacob so he can leave for the outside world. Anticipating his own end Jacob selected a number of candidates to follow him in the position of the island’s guardian; brining them to the island required a set of circumstances throughout many years culminating with the plane crash.
Admittedly the end was still more muddled than most fans hoped but the great thing about the DVD/Blu-ray releases is you can go back to revisit the island as often as you like. I’ve done son several times now and each time I come away with a new perspective or detail I previously missed. This was a series than cannot stand as is. It helps to have a couple of friends to debate the trivia and examine the minute details with. It can also help to book mark the ‘Lost’ specific Wiki to have some of the more esoteric points laid out. If this last season was too plainly laid out than it would not be able to leave a mythos as its legacy. As with any mythological system ultimately the interpretation must be left to the imagination of the one hearing the stories.