Why did Lost end up so….lost


If you have never watched any episodes of Lost, then I would suggest not bothering. Find a friend who did watch the whole series (121 episodes), buy them a drink and let them distil the 84+ hours of high-jinks tv for your viewing pleasure.

Chances are that watching them try to remember the order of events, the relevant moments, which season held what, and then realise the final episode concluded almost nothing may be the greater entertainment.

In a nutshell: plane crashes onto a mysterious island and a seemingly random group of people try to decide whether they want to stay, leave or kill as many people as they can with their endless supply of ammunition.

By the end of this thrilling and annoyingly addictive series we have learned, erm, nothing. We have not learned why the island exists or what is so special about it, nor what is so special about this trigger-happy troupe, nor do we find out whether they do, for the final time, leave the island. Oh, there are hints and suggestions, and they’ve probably been chosen because they’re all so damned attractive – even the token large funny man – but the most interesting parts of the story are discarded in favour of character exposition.

Setting all this aside, what frustrated me most about this series was the attitude and skills-set of the survivors. On idle moments in a train carriage, I look at the people around me and wonder what would happen if we were stranded somewhere, forced to survive on our wits. Would we too be able to show these same skills when the situation demanded it?


So you’re in a strange wood, jungle perhaps, and suddenly the guy in the suit next to you starts “tracking”. Better yet, he sharpens a handy branch into a spear and comes back with dinner dripping from the end of it. In the space of a few short days a small hardy crew of people who up until recently lived in Croydon and dined in Nando’s are now able to wander purposefully from redwood to reeds, knowing exactly which way is North West and able to track each other, should the need arise.

Shooting people

This may be more relevant to commuters of countries with greater gun ownership, but there is still something odd about former doctors and office clerks wielding guns at any moment possible and saying, “I’m going to kill him/her” at 40 minute intervals. There are also times when wielding a gun means you may get shot, but your fellow commuters-cum-intrepids will express such rage that they will go out and find someone else to shoot to avenge you. And thus the great cycle of life continues.

Keeping busy

Obviously there would not be time to focus on a whole train-load of survivors, so everyone you don’t have time to care about develops the uncanny ability to look busy. This is a general kind of busy, since the shelters are all up, everyone has only one set of clothes and the aforementioned man-with-spear is the one getting dinner. Looking busy at a computer screen while doing very little is easy, doing the same on a deserted wasteland is impressive.

Excellent grooming

Let’s say that things do not go well and we find ourselves stranded for 14 years in whatever dreadful and mysterious place our train crash has left us. We all, of course, refuse to drop our standards. It’s perfectly shaved armpits every day for the women, yes, even for the one remaining survivor who has been forced to eat her companions, the only people who might have cared. And in the 13 years leading up to this, we all display immaculate grooming: designer stubble, perfectly trimmed beards, fuzz-free legs. In the fight for survival we know it’s important to look good doing it.

Lost became farcical when laymen set nuclear bombs and everyone started manipulating each other. But what skills do any of us have that could be used on a desert island, or even somewhere without electricity or running water?

This is probably a disproportional response to a tv programme, but I have decided to learn a skill. A real skill. So that should the need arise, once we have plunged ourselves into a distopia without the internet or spreadsheets, I am able to contribute something, anything useful. I may be a thoroughly modern commuter, with my laptop bag and pasty skin, but I will not be found wanting.