Why we love Lost—and why we hate it!

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Adam-Troy Castro
Dec 14, 2012

Lost returns to TV tonight, and if the season premiere is anything like the ones which preceded it, it will answer a few questions while at the same time raising many more.

For some, tonight's episode will be appointment TV. For others, who've given up on the series, this will be just another Wednesday night.

SCI FI Wire has found two viewers—one sworn to stick with Lost until the end and another who once loved the show but now feels so badly burned that she won't bother to watch it ever again—and asked them to tell us why.

Adam-Troy Castro will be with Lost until the final episode no matter what:

Let's get this straight.

I don't expect, and don't necessarily want, everything to be explained.

I don't think we're ever going to reconcile the difference between the Others once commanded by Ben Linus and that spooky barefoot group we once saw wandering through the jungle with that tattered teddy bear. I don't believe that we'll ever know the deal about those magical cursed numbers, and I'd be very, very surprised if we ever received a briefing on that four-toed statue. These are all issues I'd like to know about, sooner or later, but I take definitive revelations, when provided, as garnish.

No, the one thing I most want from the show is also the one thing it has always been scrupulous to provide: the spectacle of conflicted, multidimensional but recognizable people growing and changing in the face of extraordinary circumstance. Whether it's Jack, trusted by everybody but himself and torn apart by self-loathing he has largely earned; Sawyer, doing his best to alienate everybody but sometimes doing the right thing in spite of himself; Hurley, who is seen by many as happy-go-lucky but is in large part neither; Kate, who goes after what she wants but never wants what she has; or Locke, who was profoundly broken long before his spine was snapped in two and who remains broken even after the island restores his ability to walk; the others who must go unmentioned here for lack of space but should not be taken as second thoughts; they are the ones who keep me watching.

I care what happens to them. I cheer when they show nobility, I gasp when they fall back into bad habits, and I shout curses at the screen when, like Boone and Charlie and Ana-Lucia and Mr. Eko, they fall victim to the island's many perils.

There are other fantasy shows—Heroes seems to have become one of them—in which the characters are as inconsistent as the mythology and sometimes seem to make their life decisions only after missing more prior episodes than I have. Not Lost. The island may change shape and character according to rules we cannot fathom, but the protagonists do not. They're knowable people, doing the best they can in a capricious and hostile universe.

And that makes them a lot like us.

On the other hand, Gabrielle S. Faust has already given up:

Tonight, the fifth season of Lost will premiere on ABC as it begins its slow march toward completion. In May 2007, the producers announced that the show would cease after 48 future original episodes, which would be spaced out over three seasons. No doubt millions of viewers will be glued to their television screens in high anticipation of what new bizarre twist the fifth season will bring.

I will not be one of them.

For the past four years, I have attempted to find an insight into the fervent worshipping of the J.J. Abrams phenomenon Lost. About midway through the second season, my attention simply began to wander. Between the constant introduction of entire casts of new characters; plotlines that seemed to have no true beginning, middle or end; arbitrary beasts such as polar bears; and carnivorous swirling black mists that caused explosions, the extremity of the randomness had reached a level that even I, a tried and true fan of the bizarre, could not tolerate. I was beginning to feel as if I needed to keep a notebook with me during every episode to chart it all out and hypothesize on what it could all mean.

Where was this show going, and what was the massive, looming message it was trying to tell us, the rapt, dumbfounded viewers? Too many aspects of the show simply didn't work for me logistically either.

Perhaps they might be small details to the average rabid Lost fan, but to me they were sufficient enough to become a painful thorn in my consciousness every time I watched the show. The extremely overweight man who, even trapped on an island and hiking daily through the jungles, never appears to lose weight. Or the availability of running water (enough to power a washing machine), electricity and dish soap in the bunker in the middle of the jungle where the mysterious computers are kept. I'll take a man-eating black mist over those types of overlooked details any day of the week, because, in the end, it is the little details in science fiction that make the overall story believable.

And I can't forget to mention the horrifying overuse of symbolism! Each episode of Lost wasn't merely an artistic indulgence in symbolism, it was an absinthe-soaked eight-ball of creative chaos and melodrama. By the middle of the second season, it seemed that every single scene contained some sort of dream-vision or hallucination on the part of one or more of the characters that forsake all subtlety. I began at times to wonder if the writers had any clue where they were taking the show, and, indeed, I remember certain rumors circulating that this was perhaps the truth. It had been speculated that the writers were simply charging ahead at full steam without any clue as to how to resolve it, that each show was merely an intense, insane creative compulsion without direction.

Perhaps this was, in large part, due to a growing restlessness in viewers such as myself? At least now we have a resolution in sight.

Three more seasons to go before the great "mystery" is revealed, and, of course, they're heading back to the island. According to producer/writer Damon Lindelof, the fifth season "is about why [the people who have left the island] need to get back". Personally, if I finally found a way to leave an island like that, and the dozens of psychotic people on it, I don't think I would be heading back anytime soon. Call me crazy, but that's just me.

However, despite all of the infuriatingly confounding randomness, there continue to be viewers who seem more dedicated to it than a member of the David Koresh Waco compound. And so, even after the second season ended and I sat back with my head in my hands, I continued to try to embrace Lost through the third season and part of the fourth, to see the light within the melting Dali nightmare of a television program, but it was hopeless. Despite my friends' reassurances that this was the best show on television, I simply kept thinking to myself, "I should have turned it off with the polar bears."

Thus, I will not be tuning in for the upcoming season of Lost. I cannot tolerate another 20 or so hours of my life being consumed by such madness without screaming, "Just get off the island, already!"

What do you think?