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Requiem for a Dream: Saying Goodbye to Lost

"To everything there is a season..."

As hard as it is to fathom, the end is upon us.

Lost will end six seasons of mysteries, mythology, and smoke monsters with a two-and-a-half hour series finale tonight as ABC devotes what seems like seven hours to ending one of the greatest and most ambitious serialized storylines ever devised.

My relationship to Lost dates back to May 2004, when I was still working in television development. On that particular day in late May, a box of pilots arrived at the studio where I worked, as they did every spring like clockwork after the network upfronts.

Among the offerings, many of which have now been forgotten to the dustbin of time, was the two-hour pilot for Lost, which was co-written and directed by J.J. Abrams, then coming off of a successful run on ABC's Alias. We had been waiting for this day for quite some time.

I remember that our boss was out of the office that week, so several of us furtively entered his office and sat down together to watch the original pilot. For ninety minutes (remember, no commercial breaks), we sat there in near-silence, entranced by the story that was unfolding, one that was so unpredictable, so shocking, and filled with plot twist upon plot twist so that by the time Dominic Monaghan's Charlie uttered those immortal words ("Guys, where are we?"), we were all hooked.

Lost, more than any other network drama series, showed us what television storytelling was capable of delivering, in terms of complexity, scope, and drive. It was television as Dickensian literature, featuring a cast of hundreds, the push and pull between fate and coincidence, and an examination of the human condition, all there on the screen, but made even more intoxicating by the introduction of the series' trademark mysteries.

The questions that the series kicked up week after week made us ponder, theorize, guess, and devote huge sections of our lives to decoding, even as we followed the characters through thick and thin, through kidnappings at sea, imprisonment in bear cages, birth and death, and the never-ending battle between light and darkness.

That early viewing of the pilot, five of us huddled around a television set, was sharply contrasted with the first Lost panel at that year's Paley Festival, which showcased the cinematic qualities (save that stuffed animal polar bear, maybe) of Abrams' pilot on the big screen. The crowd that gathered was large but nowhere near the gargantuan following that the series would later have at other public events such as San Diego Comic-Con and others. Its mythology was only just beginning, its following loyal but not yet as rabid as it would later become. (It seemed to reach its apex with last week's beautiful and triumphant Lost Live: The Final Celebration, which saw 1,800 attendees attend what was essentially a wake for the beloved show.)

But I was already on board, compelled week after week to check in on these disparate characters--a doctor challenged by a lack of faith, a paralyzed man who believed in miracles, a fugitive who had nowhere to run, a con man loner forced to live with others. The list went on and on, each one of them special in their own way, a part of a larger puzzle that became more complex and labyrinthine as the years went on.

I started Televisionary back in February 2006. At the time, I was still working in television (and would be for a few more years after that) but wanted a place to vent my feelings about the medium and the programming that I was most fixated on. Not surprisingly one of the series that I wrote about frequently and passionately was Lost, then in its second season of faith versus science battles, lonely men in hatches, and an increasingly mounting body count.

I've been a Lost devotee since the beginning but I've also been willing to call the series out when it made some missteps or missed the mark altogether. I've struggled to solve mysteries, pondered the larger metaphysical questions that the series has raised, and followed the drama with a passion that bordered on obsession. It was a series that broke down the fourth wall between the series and the audience, inviting each of them to discuss, come together, and debate. It was perhaps the first real organic social networking experience, demanding that its viewers, like its characters, had to live--and watch--together, rather than alone.

Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse announced several seasons back just when Lost would be ending its run. We've had several years' warning on that account but it doesn't make it any easier to know that that fateful day has finally arrived, and with it, the end of an era for its audience and for television in general. There has never been a series quite like Lost and there likely never will be another quite like it again.

As I quoted at the outset of this personal reminiscence about Lost, all things have their season and all things must come to their natural ends, even Lost. I've loved writing about this remarkable series and discussing it with friends, critics, writers, family members, strangers, and each of you, who have visited this site over the last four years, sharing the experience of watching this series week after week. To you, I offer my thanks for allowing me to express my thoughts and theories about Lost with you each week, year after year.

To the writers, actors, directors, and below the line crew who have worked so tirelessly to provide us with fodder for thought and six years of entertainment, I'd like to also offer my sincere thanks. You all have made your mark on the television industry in so many important ways. But even more than that, you've incited our imaginations, returning us to a state of wonder and awe on a weekly basis, something many of us left behind when we embarked on the long, hard road to adulthood.

Many thanks for the memories and for the magic.

The series finale of Lost airs tonight at 9 pm ET/PT on ABC.


AskRachel said…
It's been a long but fun journey and your reviews and thoughts along the way have always been appreciated (and, honestly, sometimes I enjoyed your reviews more than the episodes themselves)! Your insight and appreciation of the show has been great and I look forward to hearing your thoughts on the finale!
Annie said…
Thank you for putting into words what I couldn't. I'm going to miss LOST so much.
Nicole said…
I will miss your reviews of LOST almost as much as the show! You have always done a beautiful and eloquent job of guiding us through each episode. Can't wait to read your review of "The End!"
Unknown said…
Great article, sir. I never thought I could love again after Firefly but I way I feel right now, I am really bummed. It must be love. It shouldn't go on forever, but I can't believe the end is here already.

And, yes, thank you to all involved. It has been quite a ride and it's one I don't want to get off.
Samantha said…
Thanks for sharing your LOST story with us, I've loved reading your weekly reviews.

It's hard to believe the end is tonight, but we'll all keep coming back here to see which shows to watch.
Anonymous said…
a possible spin-off, 'Ben's Island' in the making? I'd love to see an exploration of the entire Dharma Initiative.

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