Lost, Season 6

Season 6 preview: Enough With the Time Travel!
Talking television.
Jan. 28 2010 9:42 AM

Lost, Season 6



If I were marooned on a tropical island in the Pacific and had to discuss Lost with any two people of my choosing until a submarine transported us back home, I'd pick you, Seth, because of your general popular-culture shrewdness, and you, Chadwick, because of your Lost erudition. (You taught a class on the series when you were an undergraduate!)

As luck would have it, Slate has asked us to pick apart Lost's final season for the next four months but is permitting us to do so from the comfort of our offices—no marooning required. This is a task I'm both eagerly anticipating and dreading. Why? From the first episode of the first season through the Season 5 finale, I've been in a perpetual state of confusion over my feelings for the show.


I didn't mind Smokey the Monster. I could tolerate the visions and Locke's miraculous rebirths—first after he was shot and second after he was stuffed into a coffin by a mortician. Jack's dead father wanders around the island like a clip-boarded Greenpeace advocate looking for donations on a street corner—but I haven't complained. I haven't even protested the lameness of so many characters being killed by gunshot.

But as you both know, when Lost's creators threw time travel into the mix, I became openly derisive of the show. Time travel is the single biggest swindle a writer can pull on his audience. Given the keys to the time-travelmobile, any writer can easily motor out of any dead end or sink hole. Lost's reliance on the device has been doubly irritating because up until its formal introduction in Season 5, I thought the show's creators were about to deploy some brilliant plot twist that would unite all the disparate mysteries. Instead, they turned a weird but satisfying show into a squirrelly, gimmicky one.

I stopped caring about Lost, but since I'd already invested so much time into it, I kept watching and comparing notes with other viewers. For me, Lost is like the tanking stock you won't sell because you can't admit you've taken a financial hit.

One of the creators has said  that Season 6, which debuts on Feb. 2, will ditch both time travel and flash-forwards and will deliver something new. For that reason, I have great hopes that after Season 5's shenanigans, a spirit of narrative resolution will save the series. The only way to do that, I think, will be for the writers to close the plot's ever-widening aperture and focus instead on a small set of conflicts and mysteries. Do we have any confidence that the show's creators know how to end something? Or is their expertise concocting nightmares that have no conclusion?

Am I being too hard on the show? Do you find elegance in time travel and Egyptology and polar bears and pirate ships? Or are you prepared to join me in a class-action suit against the authors, charging them with narrative malpractice?

Please advise.

Like Slate on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter.


War Stories

The Right Target

Why Obama’s airstrikes against ISIS may be more effective than people expect.

The One National Holiday Republicans Hope You Forget

It’s Legal for Obama to Bomb Syria Because He Says It Is

I Stand With Emma Watson on Women’s Rights

Even though I know I’m going to get flak for it.

Should You Recline Your Seat? Two Economists Weigh In.


It Is Very, Very Stupid to Compare Hope Solo to Ray Rice

Or, why it is very, very stupid to compare Hope Solo to Ray Rice.

Building a Better Workplace

In Defense of HR

Startups and small businesses shouldn’t skip over a human resources department.

Why Is This Mother in Prison for Helping Her Daughter Get an Abortion?

The Only Good Thing That Happened at Today’s Soul-Crushing U.N. Climate Talks

  News & Politics
Sept. 23 2014 6:40 PM Coalition of the Presentable Don’t believe the official version. Meet America’s real allies in the fight against ISIS.
Sept. 23 2014 2:08 PM Home Depot’s Former Lead Security Engineer Had a Legacy of Sabotage
Sept. 23 2014 1:57 PM Would a Second Sarkozy Presidency End Marriage Equality in France?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 23 2014 2:32 PM Politico Asks: Why Is Gabby Giffords So “Ruthless” on Gun Control?
  Slate Plus
Political Gabfest
Sept. 23 2014 3:04 PM Chicago Gabfest How to get your tickets before anyone else.
Brow Beat
Sept. 23 2014 4:45 PM Why Is Autumn the Only Season With Two Names?
Future Tense
Sept. 23 2014 5:36 PM This Climate Change Poem Moved World Leaders to Tears Today
  Health & Science
Sept. 23 2014 4:33 PM Who Deserves Those 4 Inches of Airplane Seat Space? An investigation into the economics of reclining.
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.