After the jump, you can find David Gaynes‘ musings on the final episode of Lost (which also happens to be his first). Just remember that this David is only one or two episodes beyond where he’s blogging, so if you leave a comment, know that I’ll be patrolling them to make sure there aren’t any spoilers.
Season 6, Episode 17 – INTO THE WILD
What was Rick thinking when he suggested that I watch an entire network television series—six seasons long!—in reverse? What was I thinking when I agreed?
There’s a chance that this might actually work, though, so let’s begin this series with some healthy rumination on why:
1. I like pilots. Especially decrepit, old, unshaven pilots. The kind who look like they’ve been marooned on deserted islands for years. Exactly the kind of pilot that shows up halfway through “The End” to taxi his 737 down a beach toward either salvation or certain death. I’ve been a fan of pilots ever since I began writing a play about pilots. (It’s not finished yet—I write a line of dialogue every 2 to 3 years.) In the play, one of my pilots is a kind of zombie-pilot, wearing a TWA or Pan Am uniform with stuffing coming out the sides of his old blue blazer. Unlike the disheveled pilot in Lost, my pilot was undead, while I assume the pilot I just met in the show is not technically dead (yet).
I wonder if the cabin applauded what had to have been a partly successful emergency landing. (By the way, why do airline passengers not applaud pilots anymore for safely landing planes? These are trained professionals not only cheating death, but also getting us to Fort Worth on time. Are we all so pissed off over having to pay to check luggage that we can’t appreciate that anymore?) Anyway, I hope they did applaud the Lostpilot; I hope we find out why his plane was stuck in the dunes, miraculously capable of flying again; and I hope we find out who built the bamboo jetway situated perfectly against the cabin door.
2. I used to like network television.That ended when I realized that the writers of Friends [and very likely the executives of NBC (and possibly also Jack Welch, Chairman and CEO of the General Electric Corporation)] were using the Ross/Rachel storyline to brainwash humanity (or at least me) with the hope that a socially awkward young adult might score with the homecoming queen. This is a powerful fantasy for a young adult with unresolved relationship issues and an inability to distinguish between network television and real life.
My disenchantment with network television continued when I was fired from my first job as a television newscaster in Utica, New York. Survivor’s success hasn’t done anything to revive my enchantment. (By the way, isn’t the crazy, knife-wielding old guy in Lost Rudy from Survivor‘s first season?) There seem to be many similarities between Lost and season one of Survivor, but I’ll explore them in maddening detail down the line.
The real reason I’m going to enjoy this assignment, though, occurred to me as I reached the last third of the Lost finale, and it’s not for any reason Rick could have anticipated:
3. I love death. I’m not suggesting that I enjoy death. Basically, all I want to say in this early post is that I had an early exposure to death in my own life. And while that opened a door to years of existential crisis (with perhaps more to come), I embrace the awesome truth of death and I think I’ve come to good place with what death is or can be. I admire the bravery of those who recognize the end and can stare at it without fear. Rick and I discussed death following our screening of the finale. He might have disclosed a little more insight into the ideas of the series than I wanted, but I’m okay with that. Rick’s dealt with some heaviness in the recent past and I suspect that watching these left-for-dead, Lord of the Flies-type castaways handling end-of-life scenarios will bring up some things for both of us to consider.
Ronald Reagan, when diagnosed with alzheimers, was credited with writing a great letter to the nation. In reality, it was probably written by some conservative stoner-scribe, but whoever it was, I applaud them for nailing the right tone, hitting the voice of a once-great communicator: “I now begin the journey that will lead me into the sunset of my life.” A line so timeless that you would think it came from a network television series. Who knows, with Reagan, it might have.
I’ve carefully considered the ramifications of watching a television program—especially one as chronologically challenged as Lost—backwards. Now that I’ve gotten my first impressions out of the way—death, an aversion to network TV, and admiration for grizzled pilots—I think it’s best to just start following the show farther back. I know I’ve probably pieced together as much meaning out of the show now as I ever will, and I’m ready for a long, lonely walk into a jungle that only thickens with each step.
But first, I’ll download Driveshaft’s latest single and make a donation to the Golden State Natural History Museum.