The Cheese Fry remains cautiously optimistic that the six years we've invested in ABC's "Lost" won't turn out to be a colossal waste of time. Even so, as the show rolls into it's final two episodes and the writers continue to show no sense of urgency in untangling the plot or creating any sort of real endgame momentum (seriously, what are they been waiting for?), our expectations continue to drop. At this point, we're not even looking for moderate satisfaction in the show's finale. We just want to avoid feeling like a fool for watching this long.
As a fellow Lostie put it so aptly, watching "Lost" is like struggling with an annoying girlfriend in the final days of a bad relationship. You fight all the time, you know it's not working and isn't worth your time, but you hang in there hoping to recapture some of that old passion. The more time you invest, the more stubbornly you hang on. And every so often, the two of you have a great time and you remember why you're together. But then the next day you hate yourself for not breaking it off.
"Lost" has always been a frustrating endeavor. Artful, poetic episodes about science and reason, love and grief scheduled back-to-back with cryptic, dense episodes that raise more questions than they answer or, even worse, do-nothing place-holder episodes that seem to exist solely to mark time and continue to drag everything out. No regular viewer of the show could ever make a convincing case to us that the writers knew what they were doing when they first started. We're not even sure they know what they're doing now, though it seems they may have started figuring it out a few years ago when they introduced the clever flash-forward element. Unfortunately, by then too many plots and characters and problems and twists had stacked up in such a way that no one could have ever devised a storyline to plausibly tie it all together. In short, the show is cool, but also a big narrative mess. And we probably just have to accept that.
Watching the episode this past week, "Across the Sea," we were struck by how improbable it is that it's running on a major broadcast network like ABC. If we could take that episode and go back in time to 2004 when "Lost" first debuted and show it to the network executives, we might have inspired a mass panic. No cops, no crimes, no laugh track, no dancing, no footraces? What the hell is this thing? This episode, which seems to have been set around 100 BC (!), told the backstory of two god-like men who live on the magical island and who - it seems - have all along been secretly pulling the strings of the regular cast members in some mythic struggle between good and evil with the fate of mankind hanging in the balance. Look at that last sentence again, people.
To illustrate the insane tapestry this show has woven, Wired magazine commissioned a diagram showing the connection between the cast of characters.
Goodbye, "Lost." Thanks for giving us so much to talk about.