The island is purgatory. The smoke monster is fate. Jack and Locke are good and evil personified. Time moves slower, and that’s why Hurley is still so fat. The guy sitting on the beach with Jacob is ESAU, like the GUY FROM THE BIBLE! THE NUMBERS ADD UP TO 108—THAT IS DIVISIBLE BY NINE!
Is any of this plausible? Sure. Is any of this true? Maybe. Has any of this been discussed so far this season on Lost? I don’t know, because I’ve been huddled in my bedroom with the shades drawn and my computer unplugged for fear of having any part of what is probably the most spoiler-capable show in television history ruined.
I started watching Lost in February of 2008. The show was already in the midst of its fourth season, but a month-long battle with pneumonia or whooping cough or whatever a coworker infected me with sidelined me at home. A binge at Best Buy on the first three seasons’ DVDs and some frantic Hulu viewings and I was all caught up.
But once you’re caught up, there’s no turning back.
It’s like being allergic to something. I see a friend IM me with “Did you see Lost last night?” and I immediately sign offline. I hear two people in the Press kitchen mention Kate and Sawyer and I run as fast as possible in the other direction. I search Google News for what’s popular and a seven-word headline later have my heart broken and tears streaming down my face.
Before season five of Lost aired, I was surfing the ’net, reading something on Entertainment Weekly’s website, minding my own business. I glanced to the left side of the screen, where EW keeps the top five trending stories, and there it was: “Michelle Rodriguez seen on set of Lost in Hawaii.” Not a big deal, right? WRONG—Her character was killed off in the second season. Yes, death is a relative term in the Lost world, but because of the Internet’s need to tell everyone everything, I was on the receiving end of information I did not want to know.
I’m focusing on Lost because I watch it fervently and the plot is the entire show, but it’s a concern for much of television’s nightly lineup. 24, with its you-thought-I-worked-for-the-government-but-I-really-work-for-the-terrorists-ACTUALLY-I-really-work-for-the-Russians twists, Mad Men, because you never know who Don Draper is going to sleep with; even a show like Cake Boss—if it has a story, it’s prime for spoiling.
The birth of TiVo and the proliferation of the digital video recorder (DVR) brought the VCR to the 21st century and then some. No longer did you have to watch a show the moment it aired, or even be at home to set it up to be recorded. If I wanted to take a break (something I never do at work), I could go on TiVo.com to schedule my device at home to grab a show. Or I can do it from my phone. I never have to miss anything.
The Internet reverses all of that. For the four days after the premiere of Lost aired, I had to shun the Internet, avoid any news outlets and not speak to my friends. I regressed to a caveman. Where TiVo and DVRs aim to unchain us from being in a certain place at a certain time to watch something, the Internet shackles them right back on. For 96 hours, I was living a different life, like a convict laying low.
And avoiding spoilers won’t get any easier—the next generation of LCD televisions will have their own Internet connections, bring headlines and Twitter updates to the bottom of your screen. It’ll be like a stock ticker, except instead of the Dow’s closing numbers you’ll learn that THE SMOKE MONSTER IS THE GUY FROM THE BEACH?! COME ON! (Spoiler alert.)
When I first got into the office Wednesday morning, I was finding some news items for the “Express” pages and saw “Lost: The Mystery of the Num” and looked away. I knew I wanted to mention the numbers in the intro of this column, but searching for them would be a suicide mission. So I asked two friends, both of whom watch Lost and had seen last night’s episode, to tell me the numbers, so I could add them up. Here were the responses:
Friend 1: it looks like jacob had a list of names
Friend 2: 4 – locke
I’ve never typed STOPSTOPSTOP so fast in my life.
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Barring any horrific and bizarre twists (which are absolutely guaranteed to happen), the first few episodes of Lost have been pretty good. What do you think? OK, OK, Hurley isn’t that fat…