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Why your next TV binge should be... Lost

Now that the hype is over, this TV phenomenon is actually well worth a look.

Image: ABC

Your Next TV Binge is TheJournal.ie’s new Friday feature, recommending a box set for you to get stuck into over the weekend. This week: the controversial, infuriating, brilliant juggernaut Lost. 

WE KNOW, WE know. The hatch, those numbers, the polar bear… haven’t we seen this all before?

But if you take a step back from the show as a whole and just allow yourself to fully appreciate what JJ Abrams and co managed to pull off, the story of Lost is kind of astounding.

For those who are brand new to the show, Lost tells the story of a group of plane-crash survivors who end up marooned on a tropical island. (Some would say, if you are brand new to the show… were you one of them?)

Source: FanMadeVidz/YouTube

But this is no regular tropical island, as we see from episode one, when the pilot gets eaten by an unseen monster, and a giant polar bear arrives from out of nowhere. No, this tropical island is some kind of bizarre, scary, magical island, and its secrets are the basis for six seasons of TV.

Perhaps no show before Lost launched as many careers off the back of its success, on both sides of the camera. JJ Abrams was already known for Alias, but he went on to become one of the biggest directors in Hollywood, with a Star Wars movie now under his belt. Co-creator Damon Lindelof went on to co-write the Star Trek reboot movies, as well as Prometheus, and most recently he co-created another mystical hit TV series in the shape of The Leftovers.

So what’s the plot? Out of the 324 people on board Oceanic Flight 815, there were 70 survivors (as well as a dog, because you can never kill the dog). These include a lot of very interesting characters, all forced into getting along with each other. Plus, not all of the survivors landed in the same place…

Source: Jim R/YouTube

… and on top of that, there is already another group of people on the island – known as, uhm, The Others – who want to keep its secrets safe for their own nefarious purposes.

That alone would’ve been enough to warrant a greatly tense series, but then there was all of this supernatural stuff thrown in for good measure. How come Locke got on the airplane in a wheelchair but now he can walk? How come the lottery numbers that helped make Hurley a millionaire keep popping up all over the place? And what made the place crash there in the first place?

Source: Giphy

If you think the online fan theories for Westworld are rabid, you really should see the frenzy the internet whipped itself up into over Lost. Fans and TV critics alike lost their minds attempting to figure out what everything meant, and the makers of the show weren’t shy of getting involved either: No, the island isn’t purgatory. No, aliens didn’t shoot down the plane. No, this isn’t some twisted reality TV show.

But guessing is only half the fun. Throughout, the writers yank the rug from under us every time we think we know what’s going on. Going back to watch it a second time is a profound experience because you can see the puppet strings this time, and can appreciate just how masterfully they’re being pulled.

Source: Giphy

For those who have already invested time in the show, it is kind of a shock to realise just how different all of this could have been. First of all, Michael Keaton was initially cast in the Matthew Fox role of the show’s sorta-frontman Jack. Plus there’s the fact that Jack, not the pilot, was meant to be eaten by the monster in the very first episode.

More than anything, Lost feels like the first show built for an internet audience, one for Twitter to #theorize over for hours and days. And even if you have seen it (or haven’t seen it, but know how it ends), it deserves its place in the pantheon of truly great blockbuster TV – of a sort that we just haven’t seen again until, well, Westworld.

So, where can I watch it? Lost is currently available on-demand on Virgin TV Box Sets.

This article has been corrected to reflect the fact that the actor who played Jack Shephard is Matthew Fox, not Michael Fox. 

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Rory Cashin

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