Let’s face it, “Lost” fans: you’re nervous about Season 6. And not just in an “oh crap, I have to get a life come June 2010” kinda way. You’re worried that it’s gonna suck. There’s no reason to think it will, but in the back of your mind you realize that parts of Season 5 gave you cause for concern.
Not only has the show written itself into a potentially major corner, but the history of episodic storytelling is marred by subpar finishing legs to the narrative. Essentially, you’re worried about an impending series of “Lost”-esque Ewoks running around on your television next spring. Like Hurley said, “Ewoks suck, dude.” And Hurley speaks truth, people.
What I think you’re going to see as Season 6 approaches are a lot, and I mean a LOT, of frayed “Lost” nerves online. You’re gonna see it in blogs, you’re gonna see it on the comments, and you’re going to get sprayed with it on message boards. Why? Because the quality of “Lost” will directly affect those watching it. A sensational Season 6 validates that that spent the last half-decade talking about the show endlessly to the converted and/or unconverted masses. A subpar season reflects just as badly on those that spent so much time invested in something that crashed and burned during the final lap.
I’m not saying that’s how it SHOULD be, but that’s how it WILL be. To be a fan of “Lost” says as much about the person as it does the show: one announces their fandom of the show as a shorthand way of identifying himself or herself as a particular type of individual. It reminds me of the way Chuck Klosterman talks about the band Nirvana in “Killing Yourself to Live”: “I never thought Kurt Cobain represented me; I chose to represent him as a way to explain what kind of person I thought I was.”
In other words, saying you’re a fan of “Lost” is not usually a validation of the show. That’s not to say such an opinion denied the show’s quality. It inherently assumes it. But by saying, “I’m a ‘Lost’ fan,” what many people are trying to say is, “I get this show. I understand it. And because I do, I’m different from the typical pop culture fan. You say less people watch now than in Season 1? Good. Just reinforces my current status. They just never got it.”
I’m not above thinking this type of thing. I don’t exclude myself from this categorization. But I’d like to think that my self-awareness in this matter gives me a level of sympathy towards the writers of the show. The flip side of creating a show that people obsess over is that you run the insane risk of breaking their hearts when it doesn’t meet expectations. It’s not producing a bad episode that Darlton and company have to worry about. That’s unfortunate but not a crime. Where the crime lies in the viewer’s eyes is producing something that invalidates their love of the show. In essence, a bad episode is a personal affront on an individual layer, playing out in million of homes.
And that type of reaction is only going to increase as the episodes tick away, as character motivations seem sketchy, new mysteries are introduced, and we start getting that feeling in the pit of our stomach we do after a late-night run to Denny’s. For me, that moment happened during “The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham,” the first time I actively thought, “Oh crap, they actually might not stick the landing on this show when all is said and done.” I had simply not thought that since mid-way through Season 3. Never even occurred to me that they wouldn’t. And there I was, writing a “Lost” blog and getting people excited about a show that just made me vaguely ill. I was an enabler! Oh noes!
I’d say two things to all of this: one, while it’s normal to be nervous, I am still excited about Season 6. We’re going to see at least a dozen things you’ve wanted to see since Season 1, and half of them we didn’t even know we wanted to see. And second, Darlton owe us nothing except telling us the story they want to tell. That’s it. I assume they know where they want to go with the story after Juliet blew up Jughead. The fact that I can’t think of one satisfying way in which they can is MY problem, not THEIRS. There’s a pretty darn good reason why they sit in the writers’ room and I sit in my Boston apartment. And no, it has nothing to do with any restraining orders betwixt myself and Elizabeth Sarnoff, no matter what you might have read over at TMZ.
I’ll be reiterating this as the season approaches, but as you think about what’s to come, take the approach so few characters on the show actually do: see things as they are, not for how you’d rather they be. I’ve been confused, perplexed, annoyed, and generally mad that the show zigged where I thought it should have zagged, and nearly every time their zig trumped my zag. Did you have “a Scottish man trapped pushing a button thanks to the machinations of a man who once ruled the Island but was banished after visiting his partner who killed their adult time-travelling son before he was actually born” in your Season 1 “What’s in the hatch?” office pool? Yea, didn’t think so. I like their answer better than mine. (I think it was “whole lotta Chex Mix.”)
Considering how few times the show’s actually disappointed me, I consider myself pretty damn lucky to experience a show this smart, weird, and overall brilliant in my lifetime. And while my next entry will be about six potential pitfalls for the show come its final season, we should remember how often the show has not only skirted those pitfalls before, but often overcome them with great creativity and ingenuity. But most of all, I hope we all try and keep our heads on straight as the curtain starts to close. I’ll do my best to keep this little part of the interwebs a place not for people to celebrate their shared status as fans, but to use the connective tissue of the show as a way to hang out with some pretty fun people.
After all, how “Lost” wraps up its run says nothing about us as fans. How we treat each other in this space and beyond during that time? That says everything.
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