Tuesday, 18 May 2010

On Top of Old Smokie

As some of you will know the final episodes of the epic TV show Lost are being broadcast around the world as we speak, building up to the big season finale at the end of May. For some the end will be a chance to finally find out some answers, many years after the tropical polar bears, smoke monsters and general strangeness led them to turn off their TV sets in frustration. For others the finale will mark the end of six seasons of intense speculation, water cooler hypothesising, stoned pondering, hours of dedicated online forums and terabytes worth of internet content trying to puzzle out what-the-huh-and-why?

My own journey has been relatively brief but no less intense. Just over a year ago Mrs Custard bought the first season of Lost on DVD. We had resisted so long primarily because every clip I ever saw of Lost seemed to feature a new was of showing an aeroplane crash and anyone who has ever seen me fly will tell you I just don’t need that kind of thing in my head. Having ploughed ahead and already made her way to Season 3 it was Mrs Custard who persuaded me to stick with the adventures of Oceanic Flight 815 by reassuring me that despite the mid-flight carnage ‘it’s a bit like Twin Peaks.

In the beginning: the Island runway and terminal facilities need a bit of work

So, anyway, here I am - fully up to date on events from the previous five seasons just in time for the grand denouement. And because I’m up to date, another part of the Lost universe has finally opened up to me; the internet. After years of skilfully avoiding any and all conversations, articles, reviews, interviews or debates about Lost that might spoil the show, now my appetite for all such things is bigger than Hurley’s for
Mr Cluck’s chicken. Straight after every episode I’m online to find out about clues I’ve missed, the latest theories on what Locke / Flocke / Man-in-Black / Esau / the Smoke Monster is up to and just what Desmond means in all of this, brother.

Dissecting David Lynch aside (and we all need help with that) I must admit that up til now I’ve never truly embraced my own internerd. I read the odd article on what-might-have-beens with Star Wars (I’m still sad that Lynch turned down the director job on Return of the Jedi) and enjoyed discussions around Life on Mars but as a rule I’ve stayed away from online obsessives. This is partly because I
haven’t seen any of the shows that people trade blows over, but mostly because – as I now know from Lost – some people posting have an unpleasantly disproportionate view on their place in all of this.

One would imagine visiting a site populated by
fans of something you like would be an affirming experience. Interesting then that so many of them (and there are lots) should be chock full of anger and resentment, mostly directed towards the people who created the show they like. I don’t know what the past five years have been like but the weekly comments on forums such as the Washington Post’s Lost Central or the Guardian’s Lost in Lost following each show are often so far beyond critical that they become personal (look at any of the comments below this interview with main writers Carlton Cuse and David Lindelof, including accusations of being ‘arrogant pricks’. Nice.)

The Season 3 cast including a much missed Mr Eko
As Season 6 has edged closer to its conclusion one of the key accusations that people keep levelling at Cuse and Lindelof (‘LindCuse’ or ‘Darlton’ depending on which nerd site you prefer) is that they don’t know what’s going on. Impatient to get to the end and frustrated by a perceived lack of answers, there is insistence that the writers are making it up as they go along. Despite reassurances for the past six years that there has is an overarching story and a point to everything that happens on the show, people - fans apparently – are desperate to prove them wrong. They do this by picking out every inconsistency, flaw or continuity error they can (aided and abetted by Lost uber-site Lostpedia) and posting them online with a big “ha! You suck, you losers!

Now before I’m accused of blindly towing the official line, I do kind of understand how people feel here. I too had my
Tim-from-Spaced moment with the crushing disappointment of the Phantom Menace. I know what it’s like to invest in something emotionally for many years and then see it pooed on from a great height by a stranger with a beard. Yet the crucial difference is I’ve seen the Star Wars prequels. All of them. To the end. At this point nobody but the writers know what’s going to happen in Lost – the very people who keep reassuring us that everything will be fine.
'And in the end...' : the owls are not what they seem
So hey, given that you’ve enjoyed over 100 hours worth of Lost over six years (I hope you have, or more fool you for keeping on watching) why not trust them in them for a few more hours and just see what happens? Hypothesise, speculate, have hope, get excited – it’s part of what makes Lost so appealing - but don’t slag off a show you supposedly love because this week they happened to confound your expectations of what should happen. It’s not your show, no matter how long you’ve been watching it. And remember this - unlike 99% of television programs Lost still hasn’t jumped its shark, sold out or let down characters we’ve grown to love. As John Locke and Jack Sheppard discovered there’s every reason to have faith that everything will work out right.

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