How to Rewatch 'Lost' for its 10th Anniversary
10 years ago today, one of my favourite TV shows of all time premiered on ABC. Back then, TV was a different place. The era of binge-watching wasn’t quite upon us. Serialized dramas with large casts were a rare breed. Before Lost arrived, you would’ve been laughed out of the room if you pitched a show with a roughly $12 million pilot, shot on location in Hawaii, with no definitive plan for how to tell the story.
But the island-based, sci-fi mystery concept gathered a rabid audience, and proved that television stories don’t have to be neatly wrapped up in 22 or 44 minute chunks. While Lost’s audience didn’t stick with the show in quite the same large numbers in its latter seasons, it’s impossible to deny that the series was part of the vanguard of the new TV golden age that we’re currently enjoying.
For that reason, I’m encouraging each and every former Lostie – along with any of you poor souls who never got around to watching – to rewatch the show in honour of its first big milestone. Dust off your box sets or fire up your streaming services and settle in for 121 episodes of flashbacks, Dharma stations and supernatural mumbo-jumbo. But before you get too comfortable: there are a few important rules if you want to rewatch Lost the right way.
1. If you’re returning to the show after a number of years, or are on your first viewing, don’t expect everything to be answered.
This might be a hard sell if you’re the type of viewer who doesn’t like loose ends. If you want to enjoy Lost, it’s important to remember what kind of show it is. Forget about polar bears, smoke monsters and the rest of the confusing set dressing: Lost is a character-driven show. We get hooked on it because we learn about its many characters in off-island flashbacks, and watch as their experience on the island changes them, for both good and bad. It’s better to worry about how Jack, Kate, Locke and the rest develop as people than to obsess over specific details of how the island works.
And if you don’t believe me, take it from the showrunners: as Lost neared its series finale, Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof argued that they couldn’t get distracted by answering every question. Instead, they would try to solve the core mysteries that the characters themselves wanted to crack. I know, I know: it might sound like a cop-out in the face of fan pressure to deliver a good ending, but it does make sense in the grand scheme of Lost’s structure.
2. Don’t binge-watch if you can help it.
This will probably be one of the hardest impulses to resist. Lost’s infamous cliffhanger endings cry out for viewers to say, “Just one more episode”. I distinctly remember watching a second-season episode Lost as it aired in 2006, and was left with an ending that had my mouth literally gaping for 2 minutes afterwards - and then I had to face the agony of waiting for a week to know what happens next.
And by now, we’re so used to doing it with new shows that it’ll feel oh so good not to stew over a Lost episode for days before picking up the story again. Guess what? When it comes to Lost, I take a tough-love approach. I’ve heard from a handful of new viewers who have binge-watched the show recently, and they always tell me that the cliffhangers (and eventually, whole seasons) weren’t nearly as thrilling.
Speaking as a fan who watched each episode as it aired, if you want to recapture the essence of the show, you’ll need to build in some wait time here and there. Maybe watch a maximum of two episodes back to back, and take one- or two-day breaks between viewings to ratchet up the tension. Trust me – it’ll be hard. But I have faith in you. Crazy John Locke faith.
3. Don’t get hung up on Season 3.
Whenever I talk about the show with people who fell off the Lost wagon, they often tell me that Season 3 was the deal-breaker for them. Even as a die-hard fan, I can understand their plight. Season 3 became notorious for piling on more mythology and questions than it resolved, and for including “filler” episodes that gave the show a sense that it wasn’t going anywhere.
It’s a shame that this block of episodes turned out this way, because the season risks driving viewers away before they reach the much snappier episodes of Season 4, which kicked off a bit of a Lost resurgence. If you can turn off your brain for little while and last out until the Season 4 story “The Constant”, you’ll find it a lot easier to stick it out until “The End”, and wade into the…energetic discussion of the series finale.
If you keep all this advice in mind, your 10th anniversary rewatch could go even more smoothly than your first viewing. And one of the great things about returning to a show like Lost is that you can dive deeper into the parts you love, discover some of the Easter eggs you might have missed the first time, and not worry about whether you’ll like the ending – because either you sort of do, or you really don’t.
Are you planning to dive back into Lost again to mark the anniversary? Or did the show leave you too burned to care? Join the discussion in the comments section, and if you liked this post, share it with your friends and followers!