Gay is the television critic.
Finally, the end comes Sunday night from 9 to 11:30, and after six amazing years, there is still so much to say about "Lost." But you haven't got all year. Let's go to the questions, and get you some answers for a change:
What is the real legacy of "Lost?"
Simple - that this type of show will never be done again, and never could be done again. "Lost" was a TV freak of nature, a once-a-lifetime anomaly that wasn't even supposed to happen. A former ABC Entertainment executive simply wanted to essentially rip off "Survivor," then the hottest show in TV, and instead, ABC got a metaphysical treatise on the meaning of life. Fact is, TV was desperate to "break the model." Mission accomplished with "Lost." ABC (and others) did try, you'll recall, and failed.
But why all the fuss in the press and online over this "freak"?
Foremost, "Lost" was and is a beautifully produced show. Second, it was and is a TV experience unlike anything that had come before. This was a tube version of an almost-bottomless well into which the viewer could dive and never return from. With its near-infinite links, the Web was the perfect companion/enabler of the " 'Lost' experience."
The show became exquisite agony for some who chose to follow every thread, clue, metaphor, literary reference and symbol down every rat hole the Internet offered. "Lost" became like a mirage - if you could only reach the shimmering image, then the meaning of life would present itself.
What was "Lost" about?
Two words - love and redemption. Willa Cather said "There are only two or three human stories, and they go on repeating themselves as fiercely as if they had never happened before." Such were the characters of "Lost" - who in flash-forward, flashback or real time - repeated themselves, fiercely, due to circumstances beyond their control. They were tragic, damaged beings (damaged usually by fathers) for whom love of self and love of another was impossible. But then, there was this so-called "sideways world," where true love and redemption were possible. But how to get there . . . ? On to the next questions.
Who was the most important character?
Let the debate rage, but . . . Desmond Hume (Henry Ian Cusick), the existentially bereft button-pusher in the hatch, who finally escaped the island, and time-traveled into the arms of his beloved Penny Widmore (Sonya Walger) for one brief embrace. In that one magnificent scene ("The Constant," Feb. 28, 2008) the full meaning of "Lost" presented itself.
What is the "island?"
Final answer, Sunday, but if "Lost" ends happily, then the Island wasn't hell, after all, but the Land of Oz, which allowed the characters to return home - or to Kansas, if I may be so corny - full of wisdom and a complete understanding of that which is most important in life: love.
Was "Lost" a good show?
Hell, yeah, a great one. One final thought about "Lost's" legacy: This show taught viewers and Hollywood that TV could take you to places you'd never been before. What a thrill that was.
It ain't over till . . .
There's a lot for "Lost" fans on ABC besides Sunday's finale:
* Enhanced "Pilot, Parts 1 & 2," Saturday, 8-10 p.m.
* Retrospective special, "Lost: The Final Journey," precedes the finale, Sunday 7-9 p.m. Fan messages will run during the special.