As the fifth season draws to a close, I now realize that not one entire column in the last few months had been spent ruminating on “Lost.” To be clear, it’s not that I stopped caring, it’s just that the relationship has evolved. I’m not prone to hyperbole, except when it’s the most awesome comparison in the universe, but “Lost” resembles most of my romantic relationships.
If you haven’t been invested in the show for the last few years, this column is not for you. Sure, you can come to my house and watch the DVDs when the show has ended, but I will have moved on to a new obsession. Or perhaps my brain will be so Swiss-cheesed, Samuel Beckett style (he of the Bakula sort and not Godot), and I will simply have no working memory of the whole time-traveling wackiness.
Besides, if you haven’t been following “Lost” all this time, then everything I say here will be me trying to explain love to Mr. Spock and Brick Tamland.
See, when it began, “Lost” was a weekly mindscrew. Like a particular goth girl I once dated, the first season was sexy and scary. I felt alive and looked forward to spending time with both because things were engaging but unpredictable enough it kept me guessing. Where did the polar bear come from? How did that bald dude start to walk? Where did Sayid learn to be such a badass?
But there were signs of trouble on the horizon. Matthew Fox got on my nerves with his messiah complex, and she had a meltdown while driving down a Georgia highway that ended with me stranded at a rest stop. But, like the light flicking on in the hatch, I didn’t see that coming.
The next season was rough. Like in the second year in one of my more formative relationships, a redhead we’ll call Sculley — to protect the names of the innocent and to allow me a little wish fulfillment — the passion was still there but less frequent. It seemed like we talked and made out a lot, but I was craving some action. I was weighing my options and thought I had a shot with every waitress that laughed at my lame jokes. Looking back, I realize Sculley was preparing me for something more, but I was too immature to realize it at the time. I thought the thrill was gone but she was just slowly stoking the fire; she was getting to know me better to see where we could take things in the long-term.
Like Sculley, “Lost” was serving up more ellipses and questions marks than exclamation points in that second year. There was a heck of a lot of substance, to it, however. Sure, I almost quit but honored the once-a-week date night because, well, it was Wednesday and I didn’t have anything better to do. It still seems like there was more abruptly ended foreplay with the show than necessary, and I’m thinking the filler episodes drove away a lot of folks, but think about the good times. We met the Tailies, Desmond and Ben! Still, though, 24 episodes felt tiring and after meeting “Heroes,” I thought about dumping “Lost” and switching over permanently.
The third year in my relationships is an introspective, skeptical time for me. It’s a make it or break it period. At this point, I’m fully aware I’ve invested two years of my life in this gig; singlehood is across the border in another country — where there are more strippers but less clean towels — and I’m fully entrenched behind relationship lines.
The third year started out slow with my very own Penny. Like Desmond with his own Penny, I found a way to screw things up because of wounded pride and misguided good intentions. We were living together and getting along, but things ran hot and cold at times — and that had nothing to do with our shared showers that were increasingly meant for cleaning purposes only. Then, about halfway through this year, things shifted from antsiness and borderline boredom to complacent. I began to rediscover what made me like Penny in the first place. Things were nice; not awesome or mindblowingly hot, but nice. I realized I didn’t just like clean towels, but I liked the whole concept of clean towels — and the fact that someone wanted to share those clean towels with me.
The Nikki and Paulo thing was a bad way to begin the third season of “Lost,” but it was a hiccup in the big picture. This time around is loaded with sex and violence. Eko and Charlie bite it, and Kate and Sawyer make it. Things get back on track here. At the end of the season, there’s the big “Whammo!” flash forward with a bearded Jack, and suddenly fans like myself who have stuck it out for a rough patch that lasted a season and a half are rewarded. Despite the brief affair I had with “Heroes,” I realize that show was just a sexy distraction but my heart was in “Lost.”
Beginning the fourth year, and onward, my relationship felt solid. I was still with Penny and complacency became contentment. Sure, we fought sometimes, and we each had habits that drove the other insane. But it was real by this point. Instead of my CDs or her books, we had stuff together. There were inside jokes and bills to be shared between us. I believe the word is “commitment.” I was all in. The unpredictability we encountered now was life itself, but we were facing it together. She really was my constant.
For me, you could call the fourth season of the show “Dr. Faraday, Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Island.” It was my commitment season where I finally accepted the show, warts and all. Even now, it’s still silly and frustrating sometimes, but I’ve come to embrace the mystery of it. Instead of trying to solve every riddle, I welcome them. My noodle spins each twist around, but doesn’t worry too much.
Is Faraday dead? Will Jack become Jacob? Should Sawyer regrow his scruff and hook up with Freckles again? Is Ben good, bad or just buggy-eyed? Will Walt come riding in on a polar bear in the series finale? Whatever happens, I’m in it for the long haul. I get excited at the occasional tease; I chuckle when someone asks, “where are we…no, when are we?”; I leave the show at 10 p.m. each Wednesday knowing I’m in the right TV relationship.
Entertainment columnist Aaron Sagers writes weekly about all things pop-culture. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.