Chronic ‘Lost’ Sickness

I’m making preparations for the end, but I still have so many questions. What will happen two months from now when it’s all over? Will I feel better? Is the fake John Locke really evil? What’s the deal with the Adam and Eve skeletons in the cave? Why can’t they have babies on the island?

Since the middle of Season One in 2005, I’ve been a fan of the serial drama Lost. Since 2005 on through to Season Six, the current and final season of the show, my brain has been attacked by questions and enigmas about castaways/time travelers/miserable human beings stuck on a mystical and scientific island focal point somewhere in the South Pacific.

For those reading who don’t follow Lost I can only say, “Lucky you.” You have a normal life. Meanwhile, I have an illness. The Lost Syndrome has consumed me for five years running, and I’ve lost the battle. See, when you follow a show for so long, it begins to feel like an addiction or ailment that’s controlling your body, and when the show approaches the end, you wonder if you’ll ever really feel better about it. For me, it’s like X-Filesioma all over again.

Maybe you are healthy. Maybe you aren’t infected with the same maddening disease that extends beyond a Tuesday, 9PM airing to reading fan sites, trading conspiracy theories with strangers, conducting more research than I spent on my master’s thesis, and examining DVR’d hi-def footage for clues more closely than anyone did with either the Zapruder or Patterson bigfoot film. To you, Pierre Chang is simply the name of a French-Asian fusion restaurant and not a persisting linchpin of island mythology.

Frankly, if you don’t suffer from The Lost Syndrome, then you have no clue what I’m talking about and your sanity is better off for it. Yet, you’ve also missed one of television history’s best rides that combined elements of horror, sci-fi, romance, adventure and even comedy. Gods, monsters, ghosts, mad scientists, heroes, villains and tricksters all moved about freely on the island of possibilities and when revelations came, they hit like a train made of click-clackety-clicking black smoke.

Of course, The Lost Syndrome hasn’t been an ailment I’ve suffered alone. Although many viewers were able to shake it off and emerge healthy after the first and second seasons, there are armies of sickly theorists and Lost fanatics itching for answers and made feverish with only more mysteries. We are brethren who find watercoolers to theorize and hypothesize at. We are treated by a caring “Doc”, Jeff Jensen of Entertainment Weekly who has been a pop-culture sherpa guiding us along the long, strange trip through castaway camp, Tailies, Dharmaville, Others, freighter folk and temples.

It has been arduous, and I’m slightly envious of those who will be able to watch the entire series on DVD – and will simply contract a short term fever over the course of a few days — I’m happy to have suffered with the syndrome. Granted, the show still has two-thirds of a season left, but the momentum is palpable and the end is nigh after a voyage week to week, spanning timeslot changes, hiatuses, repeats, a writer’s strike, and both long seasons and short.

Even though the end has a set date (Sunday, 23 May), I hardly expect to find resolution by 11PM that night when the curtain falls on the show forever. I know better than to expect enough answers to ever bring the series completely out of the rabbit hole.

In an odd way, suffering from The Lost Syndrome has put life into perspective. Good vs. evil, black vs. white vs. grey, reason vs. religion; like a real illness might, the Lost disease makes you realize that sometimes it’s just better to be a Miles or Hurley, just moving about while everyone else busies themselves with saving, or ruling, the world. It makes you question who the real leaders are, and reminds you how much time we waste gripping onto our pasts, fighting out presents, and trying to force our futures.

Enduring the Lost Syndrome has also taught me that there are always more questions than answers, and no one ever gets to find out both. Sometimes in life, you just get a “42” or a golden retriever that manifests randomly. I’ve learned to just roll with it and not expect to figure it all out.

After five years of battling The Lost Syndrome, I’m not quite ready to let it go. I’ve gotten used to the illness, in a way, and don’t need a cure. Assuming the show doesn’t completely blow it in the end (there are plenty of mysteries I fully expect to be resolved), I’m willing to settle for remission – until I begin re-watching every episode on Blu-ray and searching for clues all over again.