LOST in the Pandemic — Part 1

Title Font from the ABC show LOST.
Title Font from the ABC show LOST.

In what seems like a long time ago, unwitting strangers were sent hurtling into a catastrophe that separated them from their families, their comfort zones, and at times, their sanity. Now, I could be talking about the pandemic. But I’m also referring to LOST, the television phenomenon that aired from 2004 to 2010.

During the past month, I dusted off an old manuscript (so to speak; in other words, I searched for it on my computer and stared at it stupidly off and on, deciding what to do with it). I wanted parts of it to feel a certain way, evoke a particular mood. I wanted the characters to have depth and relatability. I’m no stranger to that, but I had a laser focus on the sort of weird, disoriented feeling I wanted those characters to go through. And for that, I turned to LOST.

Some context: I did not jump on the LOST watching bandwagon until almost the end of the ride. I caught up on the show so I could watch the final couple of seasons along with everyone else. And I, like so many before me, became obsessed with the slanted reality of the show, even as I rolled my eyes at its sleekness and perfect makeup. Still, the characters mattered. I was invested. And when it ended, I can’t truthfully say I was satisfied. But I had to admit that, overall, I had been entertained.

Fast forward to April 2021. Not a flashback, like on the Island. But I get those. I lost my father suddenly last May. And so now when I’m watching Jack grieve his father, it carries an entirely new meaning. I also think I’m luckier than Jack; I had a father who was never afraid to let me know he was proud of me. But still, Jack’s grief is raw, and honestly, so is mine.

And when Claire gives birth to her baby boy, I’m reliving the births of my own sons, and my fears and hopes for them. I sit in between my boys, now fourteen and twelve, and think, what a journey!

So what happened was this. As I was writing that manuscript recently, and craving a mood, I went to the first episode of Season 2, “Man of Science, Man of Faith” and the reason I did that was simple. It’s one of the weirdest episodes of television I have ever seen in my life.

Jumping around a bit — and hey, it’s appropriate with that damned Island — LOST had inspired me to look into what inspired the show to begin with. I had, as a result, read Stephen King’s THE STAND, and I had watched The Prisoner. I became obsessed with listening posts and was startled when one became active in the 2010s. And THAT led to some creepy scenes and moods in my first published novel, HELIOPAUSE.

Back to Season 2. I rewatched the episode alone, but the kids poked their heads in to see what was on the screen. I mumbled that maybe we could watch it sometime together. Then the next day, I decided we would. They were instantly intrigued, made a big deal about it, and the three of us ensconced ourselves in front of the screen to watch, at first, the opening of a man’s hazel eyes on a jungle island, and the chaos that spiraled from there.

Now we’ve just finished Season 1. It’s held up rather well, makeup aside. We all have our favorite characters; we all think Sayid deserved better than to be with Shannon; we all love Charlie and laugh at Hurley, and shiver over the Voices and the Terminator-esque Ethan Rom.

The show has opened up a lot of interesting questions between me and my sons, and it’s had them thinking in terms of survival, character development, and cautionary tales. The dialog we’ve had so far has been more than worth the price of admission, so to speak.

And now it’s time to start Season 2, and that quite bizarre episode that hooked me back into this show. Where will this next season take us, in terms of discussion and influence? I don’t know, but we’ve sure enjoyed getting LOST.

J. Dianne Dotson is a science fiction and fantasy author, science and content writer, and watercolorist. Learn more at jdiannedotson.com. @jdiannedotson

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