LOST (aka mystery frickin’ island) – ABC’s groundbreaking television series
Today happens to fall on a day deeply personal to many of our editorial team, as it falls on the 12th anniversary of a television series that touched and changed our lives forevermore. ABC’S groundbreaking series LOST ran for six magical seasons full of mystery and intrigue, captivating the hearts and minds of viewers around the world. To this day it remains one of the most unique and memorable television shows of all time, and no series since has managed to be quite as alluring.
From it’s deeply intricate mysteries, absorbing writing, flawed but lovable characters, diverse and talented cast, emotive score, and stunning location, LOST enthralled and delighted viewers from its pilot, becoming even more enticing with each episode and season. Brilliantly executed, the series managed to balance an abundance of characters, multiple timelines, and layers of mysteries in a way that was so compelling and thought provoking that it inspired endless discussions and theorycrafting among fans. From forums, to podcasts, to Facebook groups and Tumblr blogs, followers swooned over LOST with an almost religious fervor.
Praise aside, the series wasn’t faultless. There were times when plotlines or characters seemed pointless (side-eyeing Exposé and Stranger in a Strange Land here), and others when the writers didn’t quite deliver on clarifying mysteries, not to mention entire periods where it got so frustratingly complex that it was nearly impossible to wrap one’s mind around (essentially all of season 5, am I right?). Ultimately, that became part of it’s charm, as the series was at times as beautifully flawed and frustrating as it’s characters. To this day, fans will heatedly argue about what it all meant. For the sake of this article, we’re discussing what it meant to each of us on a personal level, following what we feel is a stand-out episode. Fair warning, we’re a wordy and sentimental bunch when it comes to LOST.
Chosen and written by Jennifer Izykowski
When it comes to LOST, three of it’s most elusive characters are my holy-trinity…Jacob, The Man in Black (Smokey incartate), and Richard Alpert. Which makes choosing Ab Aeterno as my stand-out episode a given, as the series finally delved into these characters in a satisfying way during this installment. From the moment he first appeared on screen, Richard Alpert (aka guy-liner), piqued my curiosity. Magnetic and ambiguous, he would periodically turn up at key moments throughout the seasons. Viewers were given just enough of his character to know that he was intrinsic to the narrative. Though in typical LOST fashion, his appearance generally raised more questions than it answered. Which, naturally, only made me want to know more.
I had always hoped that we would be gifted a Richard centric episode that disclosed his backstory. What I never expected was an exceptionally crafted extended episode packed full of substance, with riveting cinematography, an impassioned score, and stellar performances. The chapter chronicled Alpert’s tragic past and how he came to be on the island, giving much needed insight into his character. Furthermore, it finally revealed the motivations of Jacob and The Man in Black and touched on the series more faith based themes. And perhaps most compelling was the exploration of the island itself as a character, a notion that I had rarely considered beforehand. Ultimately, this episode benefited the overall story on an epic proportion by giving clarity to many aspects of the series.
What LOST means to me
I’ve always been a die-hard fan of mysteries. Throw in elements of sci-fi, tidbits of horror, compelling characters, and heartfelt drama and I’m downright fixated (obsessed, who am I kidding?). LOST had me hooked from the pilot episode. There was something inexplicable about it that I will likely never be able to articulate, but it was truly magical and it floored me. Before long I was having lengthy discussions with other fans, listening to podcasts, and reading and writing long well thought out theories that never came to fruition. I was consumed by the themes and the mysteries, waiting endlessly for answers. Many of them never came, and if I’m being completely honest, it stung initially. But only briefly. By the time The End aired and Christian Shephard gave his speech to Jack in the final moments at the church, it hit me….the mysteries were hella fun, but fundamentally, they weren’t the most important aspect of the experience. What LOST was about at it’s core was connecting with people and having real and visceral experiences. That’s what it did for it’s viewers, and is why it remains so beloved. That’s what it did for those of us writing this article, and is in fact how we all came to know one another. I for one am forever grateful. Not just for having forged new friendships that have lasted years, but for the reminder not to get so distracted by the world’s mysteries and dilemmas that I forget the importance of connecting with others. For this, LOST will always hold a special place in my heart that will forever remain untouched.
Chosen and written by Christopher Hart
Mystery is crucial to LOST‘s narrative mechanics. Consequently, answers to the island’s mysteries have always been viewed as a Holy Grail among fans. This is the episode that finally delivered on the mystery surrounding the island’s governing forces and in doing so opened up a deep and textured mythology for fans to bend their minds around. The Incident opens with a flashback that introduces Jacob and The Man in Black – two deific island entities that are odds with one another. The two enter into weighty philosophical discourse about man’s worth, as the Black Rock drifts calmly towards the island’s shores, before The Man in Black vows to kill his brother.
It’s a clue that plays in very cleverly to the episode’s endgame reveal that John Locke never did return from death and that instead it had been The Man in Black assuming Locke’s guise all along. It’s a twist that no one guessed was on the cards and one which packed a doubly painful gut punch in its implication that John Locke was truly dead and no longer with us. Scattered throughout the episode, Jacob’s God-like inclinations are given further attention when it is revealed that Jacob visited many of our main characters at different points in their pre-island lives, all to play a hand in guiding them towards their fates on island and adding further layers to the show’s wonderful theme of destiny.
Alongside this, the show’s Dharmaville arc heats up into a bloody climax, culminating in one of the most memorable and heartbreaking deaths in television history – Juliet falling below the earth as a distraught Sawyer tries desperately to save her, while beseeching her not to leave him. The episode’s closing moments of Juliet hammering away at the bomb with a rock hold an intense and almost unbearable power. Upon Juliet hitting that final, successful blow, everything cuts to white, leaving fans in awe of what is undoubtedly LOST‘s best finale within any season.
What LOST means to me
What LOST provides is so far beyond what anyone could hope to expect from a television show. Its blend of riveting mystery, awe-inspiring sense of wonder, intelligently approached SF themes and endearingly heartfelt characters all combine to provide something truly unique and beyond exceptional.
Right from the pilot’s UK airing, the show simply changed my life and I was entwined among theories and entrenched within its mysteries from thereon in. Personally, I think the show’s themes of fate and the feeling it provides of belonging to part of a greater destiny play a big part in why it means so much to so many. Similarly, a certain few characters play a key role in why I hold such a deep love for the show; for me this is mainly Desmond Hume and Richard Alpert.
Michael Giacchino’s input shouldn’t go unmarked either; his beautiful and sombre symphonies play a huge part in contributing to the overall perfection of the show. You only need to play a snippet of Giacchino’s efforts to turn a LOST fan into a blubbering mess of intense adoration and tearful nostalgia.
Chosen and written by Oliver Ducker
Honestly, I knew my choice was going to be a Locke episode, but damn it, there are just so many iconic episodes to choose from. I mean, there’s Deus Ex Machina, Orientation, Lockdown, The Man from Tallahassee, The Brig… I could go on, but in the end I decided that there just wasn’t any real choice in the matter – it had to be Walkabout; the first episode specifically about John Locke, my absolute favourite character in the entire series.
Whenever I convince somebody to watch LOST for the very first time, I am always eager to know their thoughts regarding this episode (okay, yeah, I am eager to know their thoughts on the entire season, but shh), particularly the final moments in Locke’s very first run of flashbacks. This is probably because Locke is my favourite character, and I’m hoping that they like the character and this episode as much as I do; but unfortunately, many of those first time viewers just feel that Locke is just a little bit creepy, and I can understand why, I mean, the man has been calling a phone sex-line for eight months and referring to one of the operators by the name of his (ex)girlfriend, so… But anyway, this simply serves to show how lonely Locke’s personal life is.
Moving on. Is there a bigger douche than Randy? Seriously. Fuck that guy! The multiple times this guy pops up in the show (thus forging a connection between certain characters), he’s nothing but a knobhead. All high and mighty, and mocking Locke for having aspirations. Randy (contender for the ‘Biggest Douche in the Universe’ award) is Locke’s manager, which is just one of the many terrible things in Locke’s life before the crash. Though things are soon shown to be much worse than we originally realised. The closing moments of Locke’s flashback reveal to us that Locke actually required a wheelchair, and was confined to said wheelchair immediately before boarding Oceanic flight 815. WHAT THE HELL?! Goosebumps. Mind-fuck induced goosebumps.
Yes, this man that is actively hunting boar on the island was badly crippled back home and did not have the use of his legs (fear not, we do actually discover why this is). To be fair, because of situations like this, it’s easy to understand why people believe the survivors are actually dead (no, they were not dead the whole time! Watch the show!). This is an episode that simply continues to pile on the questions while giving us a tremendous amount of characterisation, not only for Locke, but for others on the island as well. I would definitely add Walkabout to my list of ‘Top Ten LOST Episodes’. Hmm, that gives me an idea for an article.
What LOST means to me
LOST means more to me than I could possibly get across to you here, dear reader, but to give you a sense of just how special LOST is to me I must take you back to my teenage years – a particularly troubled time for me. I didn’t have a great deal of friends, I wasn’t really that much of a social creature anyway, and I desperately craved escapism (resulting in massive obsessions with worlds like Middle-Earth, or in movies and TV shows). What LOST provided for me was an amazing sense of escapism – a beautiful, stunning island, captivating storylines, and outstanding characterisation. There was just something about the show, I cannot to this day put my finger on what it was, but the show struck a chord with me. It genuinely provided me with a reason to keep going; I know it sounds stupid saying that a TV show of all things could mean that much, but it truly did; the show was full of messages and lessons for people to take away about topics such as redemption; forgiving not only other people, but yourself; not isolating yourself from the world; and just trying to be happy in this life. Of course, there is also the cast and characters to take into consideration; They are the greatest, each and every one of them. Do I like all of the characters? Definitely not, some piss me right off, but they still serve an integral role to the show as a whole, and LOST just wouldn’t be LOST without them.
Speaking of characters, as you can probably tell from the section where I talk about the ‘Walkabout’ episode, John Locke is the one character that means the most to me. Despite myself not being all that much of a ‘man of faith’, Locke resonated with me the most as a character. Here is a man that had an unimaginably heartbreaking life, yet he never gave up trying to find happiness, trying to find that light in the darkness. Sure, there were times he came close to giving up, but never did. The Man in Black describes Locke as “weak, and pathetic, and irreparably broken”, but that is simply not true. Locke was one of the strongest characters on the show. Yes, okay, he was a broken man for the most part, yeah, he was gullible, and sure, a little too secretive, but weak? Pathetic? No. To remain so supportive of the group, to offer time and guidance to those people that needed somebody, Locke was one of the strongest people on that island. It was particularly his resilience to life’s shit that gave me the strength to fight on through my tough patch, to try and regain the happiness in my life. One day I hope to shake Terry O’Quinn’s hand and offer my heartfelt thanks to him for doing such a damn fine job at portraying one of the most important characters in my life.
Outside of the show itself, LOST actually caused me to join up to my first ever online forum – LOSTpedia. That place was the best, I cannot tell you how much I miss being an active poster over there. I made a good number of friends taking part in a few of the threads over on that site; I particularly loved the silly roleplay thread called “I’ve just become protector of a light” in which I was a regular contributor. I also found my way over to the SpoilerTV forums (though I wasn’t nearly as active on there as I was LOSTpedia), having already been a devout reader of DarkUFO and the various reviews and theories regularly posted on the site. Anyway, I eventually ended up following a few of my LOSTpedia friends onto Tumblr where I actually ended up meeting the lovely people that are co-writing this article with me. Though I’m not active on Tumblr any longer, the friendships forged have continued, and I am a lucky (albeit sentimental) sod to know them, and it’s ultimately down to LOST. I dare not imagine what my life would be like right now if I didn’t take the choice one day to simply tune into that first episode of LOST all those years ago. I implore each and every one of you to check out LOST; naturally it won’t be to everyone’s tastes, but it’s worth a try, isn’t it?
Chosen and written by Vytautas Jokubaitis
LOST has always been known for its season finales. Every year, as the end of spring approached, the fans knew that something big was coming. Possibly some beloved characters dying. Possibly a mind-bending reveal during the very last minute. Possibly an explosion. Possibly a few. No matter what it was, we knew we were in for something epic. One could talk about Live Together, Die Alone, Through the Looking Glass, There’s No Place Like Home, The Incident or The End – they are all wonderfully crafted pieces of television that set internet message boards aflame back when internet message boards were still a thing. But for me personally, the finale of season 1 entitled Exodus holds a very dear place in my heart. It is THE episode that made me fall head over heels in love with the show.
You could say that came rather late – surely there were so many great episodes before that! There definitely were. But Exodus was an episode that combined everything I loved about the previous great episodes. It had profound character moments, it had emotional nuance, it had reveals that raised more questions, it had mysteries, it had full-blown Giacchino’s score, it had cliffhangers and plot twists. It was a summary of the whole of season 1, a look-back that made you reflect on everything that’d happened before, be immersed in everything that was happening at the moment and speculate everything that might happen in the future. It was a finale that looked what a finale should look like.
Aptly named after a biblical event, the episode itself was of biblical proportions to our characters. We had the launching of the raft, with Sawyer, Jin, Michael and Walt setting sail in hopes of finding salvation for everybody. Then we had Jack, Locke, Kate, Hurley, Arzt and Rousseau heading for the Black Rock (which turns out to be a ship in the middle of the jungle) to get dynamite to blow open the door of the hatch. We also had the rest of the survivors heading for the caves to seek shelter and hide from the ominous coming Others. And to top it all, we had flashbacks of our characters preparing to board the fateful flight in Sydney. LOST had always been on the verge of mythical, and this episode is a shining example of that. The proportions of it make you think that whatever’s happening is very damn important and keeps you on the edge of your seat for over an hour.
Besides that, it gave us the first glimpse of the Smoke Monster, an intense shocker scene where the Others abduct Walt and a touching montage of our survivors boarding the plane, unknowing of what awaits them in just a few hours. That was where I knew I will stick with LOST until the end.
What LOST means to me
I’ll confess – I wasn’t watching LOST since the very beginning. I only started season 1 in September of 2009, when I was a shy and nerdy high school student. Now I’m a shy and nerdy Masters student but I still remember LOST fondly. It was really the first show that I decided to binge watch. It was LOST that grew my love for good television, and, as lame as it sounds, I probably wouldn’t be where I am without it. In some weird meta sense, LOST is the reason I have the chance to contribute to this article about LOST. What I mean is that this show introduced me to the vast internet community of film and television fans. First, it was the SpoilerTV forums where I found myself talking about LOST with fellow fans. It is quite a dead an empty place now with large cobwebs in the corners, but it was the big thing back then, a place where I made quite a few long-time internet friends. Then everybody moved to Tumblr, which introduced me to dozens of new TV shows and their large fanbases. That site was where I truly found myself for a good few years, sucking in all the fan theories, discussion and graphics, as well as contributing myself. Sadly, as all good things it came with its problems, and after a while I had to call quits. But it all began with LOST, and, as Oli mentioned above me, I’ve had a chance to be acquainted with wonderful people that are co-writing this very article. I’m going to stop myself here before I get too sentimental but the impact that LOST had on me is still sending shock waves up to this day, that’s for sure.
If LOST has proven anything, it’s that it’s undeniably evokes intense emotions from its viewers. Whether or not they understood it entirely, or liked or disliked how it ended…to this day fans will passionately discuss all of it’s elements and what it means to them. Regardless of our varying opinions on certain aspects, I think fans can all agree that it was an amazing experience that will truly never be forgotten. The island isn’t done with you yet.
To that I say Happy #LOSTiversary. See you in another life, brotha. Namaste.
(Cue Michael Giacchino’s Life & Death)
Image credits: ABC