It has been nearly six years since the crew of Oceanic Flight 815 crashed onto the mysterious land mass known only as “The Island” and began exploring its dangerous terrain. That season marked the beginning of what would be a flagship year for ABC, which saw two other hits, “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Desperate Housewives,” premiere soon after. Of the three, “LOST” has enjoyed the most adoration in the realm of pop culture, embraced for its daunting balancing act of crafting its own startlingly expansive mythology while creating and molding characters we care about.
In other words, it is different from any other show on television. “LOST,” which aired its sixth and final season premiere two weeks ago, still has a plethora of mysteries to solve before it wraps up in May. Yet that doesn’t stop Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse – the show’s current executive producers – from injecting new mysteries into the show to be mulled over for weeks by millions of excited fans. Take the premiere, “LA X”—the first new episode to air in nine months was a two-hour event which answered some questions (who is the Man in Black?), introduced new characters (Dogen, played with perfection by Hiroyuki Sanada), and established yet another method of telling the dual storylines the show is so accustomed to—the Flash Sideways.
“LOST” has always left an impression by being the only program of its kind and juggling the timeline on and off the island has been one of the primary methods of accomplishing this. Seasons one, two and three offered flashbacks to better flesh out the characters we were getting to know. Once some of the survivors made it back to land, seasons four and five offered us flash-forwards. Now, following the detonation of a nuclear bomb, we have the Flash Sideways, as the creators call them. As usual, parallel stories are being told, one on the island, and one back in the mainland; the catch is that the latter poses the question the survivors have wondered many times: What would have happened had Oceanic flight 815 not crashed?
It’s an intriguing idea, one made all the more tantalizing when you consider there is a distinct possibility these two timelines will merge. “How is that possible?” you might ask. Just wait and see. “LOST” never takes the easy way out. Its utter refusal to rely on the usual conventions of television are what help to make the continuing puzzles so easy to accept. You want interesting characters? This show offers up more than two dozen, with a cast as grand in scope as “The Lord of the Rings”—the villainous Benjamin Linus, played to perfection by Golden Globe nominee Michael Emerson, is quite possibly the best villain in television history. The show itself boasts a wonderfully cinematic feel that almost requires high definition viewing to savor the full experience.
If you’ve quit on “LOST,” some of me doesn’t blame you. The challenge of watching a normal weekly serial program is taxing enough, but something as complex as this is in a category of its own. If you can find the time, though, give it another shot. Bring up your Netflix account, add the seasons you’ve missed to your instant queue, and catch up now. Because if the past is any indication, “LOST” is going to end much like it began: with a thrilling, beautiful bang.
“LOST” airs on ABC on Tuesdays at 9 p.m., with reruns airing at 8 p.m.