Though the TV series “Lost” went off the air in May 2010, it continues to attract new viewers through DVD and online streaming. The fact that two blog posts I originally wrote about the show a few years ago continue to rank in this blog’s top 10 pageviews every month was surprising to me at first, but not anymore.
“Lost” was a unique show that required a lot of heavy thinking and reflecting, not just in relation to the complicated occurrences on the island, but also the characters’ inner lives and their ongoing quests for redemption after the mistakes or sins they’d committed. They weren’t just lost on an island; they were lost in an existential sense. Every selfish or selfless choice the characters made resulted in repercussions on the states of their souls.
The show also took a firm stand on the idea that there is a supernatural dimension to life, far beyond what the naked eye can see. SPOILER ALERT IF YOU HAVEN’T WATCHED THE SERIES FINALE: When the series finale revealed that the final season’s flash-sideways had taken place in purgatory, some viewers were apoplectic. They HATED the show’s ending with a passion because it went with a spiritual resolution instead of a science fiction one. Co-executive producer Damon Lindelof got so much foul-mouthed abuse on Twitter that he eventually suspended his account.
While some of the critiques that focused on the show leaving various plotlines dangling like participles had validity, there was still a great deal more to praise than pan as “Lost” faded to black. Lindelof, who is Jewish, and his co-executive producer Carlton Cuse, who is Catholic, incorporated elements of both their faith traditions into the entire series, while also bringing in elements of Hinduism and Buddhism. “Lost” was ecumenical storytelling at its finest.
Cuse, Lindelof and several of the show’s stars reunited at Paleyfest in Los Angeles this weekend in honor of the 10th anniversary of “Lost’s” premiere. Thankfully they were in front of a friendly crowd and got to defend their decision to end the show the way they did. They said (via Entertainment Weekly):
“Lost was metaphorically about lost people looking for meaning in their lives,” Cuse said. “The ending had to be a spiritual one that explained these characters’ journey and destiny.” (Lindelof acknowledged that early on, viewers guessed that the show’s characters were caught in some kind of purgatory — a theory he and Cuse always shot down.) “Obviously, there are all these mysteries, and in the final episode of Lost, we could answer a question that wasn’t asked,” Lindelof added. That question: “What is the meaning of life? And what happens when you die?”
Another person who affirms the show’s ending is “Person of Interest” star Michael Emerson, who starred on “Lost” as the seemingly-irredeemable Ben Linus. In the CBS interview below, he admits he loved the show’s focus on morality and redemption, and that he’s happy with how everything wrapped up. He also observes that the characters’ redemptions never occurred in isolation, but always in community, with at least one other special person.
I’m happy that “Lost’s” stars and producers got to celebrate the anniversary with their fans instead of always having to defend their storytelling choices. “Lost” changed the face of television storytelling in a good way, and continues to provoke viewers with its imaginative and other-worldly themes. Happy 10th anniversary to the crew that started it all!