For a while I was grateful that I wasn’t caught up in “Lost.” I had so much more free time than other people I knew, the ones who were always going on about a Smoke Monster and The Others, and who not only had to watch the show each week (and mourn its absence during its many hiatus times) but also seemed to need to go to chat rooms and special websites to discuss what they had seen and what it might mean.
My very own husband got hooked on the first episode–a night I was busy with a work assignment–and since then he hasn’t missed a moment of anything “Lost”-related. We are not DVR people, so this has meant that Tuesday nights are hallowed times, not to be disturbed. Honestly, I haven’t seen anything like this level of sacred time around my house since the Cubs made the playoffs a season or two ago.
I missed the first few shows, and by the time I was interested in seeing what it was all about, even I could see it was far too late. The plot was already in such a twist that there was never any hope for people who didn’t witness the initial plane crash. We who were busy on a Tuesday night years ago have, sadly, been shut out of the entire phenomenon.
Tuesday nights Nick goes down into the family room, and from there, I can hear him reacting to each twist and turn, shouting at the television set, beseeching characters to be careful.
The other night he moaned, “OH NOOOOO!” and then fell silent. Later, when he came upstairs, he was quiet and pale. He went immediately to the computer to connect with the other watchers.
“Are you okay?” I said.
“Sun and Jin are dead,” he said grimly.
He was so silent and sad for the rest of the evening that I felt as though I needed to send some condolences to somebody.
But to whom? What is this show about, anyway? There have been times when I’ve tried hard to find out. Apparently it’s got everything–that’s all people seem to be able to say about it. The Bible, literature, free will, faith v. determinism, and whether a person can survive in the world by themselves: all that is there. There’s also, the way I understand it, something called flash sideways, polar bears, and a frozen donkey wheel.
“How can you not love a show that is written by people who can think up stuff like that?” my friend Mary asked me. “Come on. A frozen donkey wheel! That’s great stuff.”
Once I made the mistake of actually asking to be told the plot. It was like listening to someone’s odd, rambling dream.
“The show starts with these people in a plane crash on a deserted island. The survivors all gather themselves and at first they’re just lost, hoping to get home, and you learn about how each character got there by flashbacks. Then they start seeing polar bears and a column of smoke that shows up and kills people, and they find an ancient wooden sailing ship, and then they learn there are other people on the island, violent and mysterious people. And there’s a secret metal hatch in the ground, and they discover that there is a whole labyrinth of underground stations by something called the Dharma Initiative there since the 1970s. The mysterious Others not only try to torture them and kidnap some of them, they tell them they can never leave the island because the island needs to be protected for some reason, yet some of the survivors do manage to go back home, but their lives are more miserable when they get home than when they left. They feel guilty about the survivors, and they decide they need to go back somehow. Then some of them go back in time. It culminates in them setting off a hydrogen bomb as a way to reset time so that the plane crash never happened. What it in fact seems to have done is to set up two parallel universes…”
STOP! Please. I beg you.
But of course it’s ending next Sunday, flaming out in a full evening of television that is sure to leave more questions than it answers, according to all the “Lost” pundits. My own husband is preparing himself for being cut loose from this show, and I’m not sure yet how he’s going to survive it. Life is going to have an emptiness to it that I’m not sure the “American Idol” finale is going to be able to fill.
My friend Ben–who also happened to miss the first season or two–said he’s attempting to go back in time, Netflixing the first episodes so that he has a hope of understanding one day what this whole thing was about. He figures in about seven years, he’ll be able to talk intelligently about the show.
Right now he still knows nothing.
I told him I know something that might help him. “There’s something called a frozen donkey wheel, and it’s buried underground and if someone turns it, it sets off an electromagnetic response that moves the island,” I said.
“Please,” he said. “Don’t tell me anything more.”
“Come on,” I said. “This is great stuff! How can you not love a show that has something called a frozen donkey wheel?”