Saturday, May 22, 2010

594 - Lost Finale

“Guys? Where are we?” Asked drug-addicted has-been rock star Charlie Pace at the end of the first episode of “Lost.” It’s become the series’ most famous line, a literal question that also perfectly encompasses the rhetorical mysteries of the beautiful, deadly, mind-bending setting. Years later and one day before the two and a half hour finale, the question is pertinent as ever; for every window “Lost” closed with a revelation, another would be opened. I’ve seen every episode, but I’d still be hard pressed to explain even half of the series to a “Lost” neophyte, at least not in any way that would make a lick of sense.

But then again, “Lost” has always been more about the experience, the whys simply a ceaseless stream of MacGuffins to justify the action. The series truly soars not by the allure of its secrets, but by the lift of its characters, a delightfully eclectic group that we’ve come to know through a twisty timeline that takes pleasure in dropping bombshells and teasing our imaginations. How did paraplegic John Locke get put in that wheelchair, and why was he now able to walk? What was it that Kate Austen did that put her on the lamb? Who is Ben Linus, and what’s the deal with the Others, the shadowy group of apparent jungle dwellers hell-bent on antagonizing the Oceanic 815 survivors to no end?

The questions are too numerous to list without a book big enough to strain the suspension of a truck. Yet any serious fan of “Lost” will tell you that as far as the inevitable end is concerned, character trumps puzzlement. The producers have indicated that many questions will go unanswered, and with a mere two and a half episodes left, it’s looking like a lot will be left up to debate (Kate’s horse? Those DHARMA notebooks in a field? Juliette’s sister? Don’t get me started.).

It’s to the show’s credit that were one not in the know to watch the pilot and the finale back to back, very little would be recognizable. While it remained, at its core, a tale about those unfortunate enough to stumble across the island, the writing was always willing to challenge our expectations, utilizing an array of dramatic devices over the years to push the heroes (and anti-heroes) into situations that upped the ante, breaking some, proving the strength of others. Flashbacks, flashforwards, flashsideways, time warping, and a willingness to butcher its characters second only to “24” kept the suspense on high, and rarely did it disappoint the faithful. Those with the patience to see it through have been rewarded with a litany of stunning moments; the terrifying series opener, the bittersweet victory over the Others, Desmond’s life saving phone call to Penny, the revelation of immortal Richard Alpert’s origin, to name a few (is there a serious “Lost” fan who couldn’t name a couple dozen?).

Tomorrow night, the last episode will have aired, and the series will be complete, though not over. We’ll still have theories to obsess over, obscure references to link together on repeat viewings, and a thematically rich tapestry from which to reexamine in its complete form. We may never know for sure just where they are, but it’s a brainteaser that’s been a helluva lot of fun to ponder.

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