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Book Review: Finding Lost – Season Six: The Unofficial Guide by Nikki Stafford

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For those of us who have deeply and sorely missed our weekly Lost fix ever since the often perplexing, but undeniably groundbreaking ABC series faded to black for good this past spring, Nikki Stafford’s Finding Lost – Season Six: The Unofficial Guide makes for the same kind of bittersweet experience as attending your thirty year high school reunion.

Reading through Stafford’s intricately detailed recaps of every episode of Lost’s sixth and final season, you become intimately reacquainted with the already foggy memories associated with its most unforgettable characters (Jack, Locke, Hurley, Linus, Sawyer) and even its biblical deities (Jacob and Smokey).

With the added benefit of rear view hindsight, you might also even be able to finally make sense of the island’s deepest mysteries (or, much like that high school reunion, maybe not).

Mostly though, Stafford’s book will leave those Losties who became the most emotionally invested in it, with the same feelings of longing, regret and finally resignation as the series finale itself did.

For those who “got” Lost — which was admittedly, not always the easiest task — it was an epic story of good vs. evil. The great, if not always easily deciphered writing, wove together elements pitting the basic arguments of religion and faith against those of science and free will. But it was also a story where the lines were always ambiguously drawn enough to never clearly favor one school of thought over the other.

For those who didn’t (“get it,” that is) — or perhaps just want to take a fresh new stab at getting Lost all over again on the DVDs — Stafford’s definitive guide also goes a long way towards peeling away many of these same layers of mystery.

It is for this latter group, that Finding Lost – Season Six: The Unoffical Guide may hold the greatest overall value. As something of a Lost scholar, Nikki Stafford’s deep knowledge of this series isn’t at all unlike Blogcritics’ own Barbara Barnett’s expertise on all things House. The author gives a detailed, chronological run-down of each of the season six episodes that also provides just enough backstory to get the newbies mostly caught up to speed.

The fact that she also does this without revealing any future spoilers along the way, makes this book a great resource for any unanswered questions that may linger following the viewing of each episode (for those who choose to do so).

Of course, there is also plenty enough new Lost trivia to satisfy the hunger of even the most insatiable, more seasoned Lost nerds. The revelations here range from fairly common knowledge like the Springsteen references to “Spanish Johnny” and “Rosalita” in the “Everybody Loves Hugo” episode, to the lesser known fact that the mysteriously anonymous “Man In Black” (a.k.a. the Smoke Monster) was in fact, at one point scripted with a biblical name (which Stafford reveals).

In between the episode recaps, Stafford also goes into considerable detail on the cultural and literary influences woven into the storylines of Lost by primary writers Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof. These range from Star Wars (prompting a complimentary letter from George Lucas) to Milton’s Paradise Lost and Stephen King’s epic apocalyptic novel The Stand.

Stafford also attempts — and mostly convincingly — to solve most of the many lingering mysteries and questions left unanswered by the series finale, as relates to the Dharma Initiative, “The Others,” the Smoke Monster, Hurley’s lottery numbers, and — well everything else.

Whether or not Lost follows other sci-fi television classics like Star Trek and The X-Files onto the big screen remains to be seen. But I’d bet a six pack of Dharma generic beer that ten years or so down the line (or maybe even five), it will.

If and when that happens, the most obvious challenge will be in topping the unprecedented scope of the original six seasons of this series, and condensing them down to a mere two, or even three hours. To that I say, good luck and Namaste.

Perhaps the more daunting task however, will be rekindling the original magic of this amazing series, and finding new ways to expand upon it. For those of us who loved and still miss Lost, Nikki Stafford has mostly done that with this book.

Ten years down the line, on the other hand? Well, much like that thirty year reunion, you can never go home again…but then again, maybe you can.

Nikki Stafford’s Finding Lost – Season Six: The Unofficial Guide is the final installment in her series of Finding Lost books. She continues to write about the series — even now — on her blog Nik At Nite.

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About Glen Boyd

Glen Boyd is the author of Neil Young FAQ, released in May 2012 by Backbeat Books/Hal Leonard Publishing. He is a former BC Music Editor and current contributor, whose work has also appeared in SPIN, The Rocket, The Source and other publications. You can read more of Glen's work at The Rockologist, and at the official Neil Young FAQ site. Follow Glen on Twitter and on Facebook.
  • El Bicho

    too bad she couldn’t find a good finale and what exactly would the movie be about? Zombie Lost?

  • http://theglenblog.blogspot.com Glen Boyd

    I actually liked the finale…to the point of it making me get a little teary-eyed in a few spots, matter of fact. But each to his own I guess…

    -Glen

  • Gray Hunter

    The show was fabulous, some of the best writing ever. The finale was a very large disappointment. The show started strong, ended weakly, but will not be forgotten.

  • http://theglenblog.blogspot.com Glen Boyd

    For people seeking “answers,” I can certainly see where they may have been disappointed by the finale. Some of those questions (about things like Walt and the Polar Bears running about the island) were answered by the bonus “New Man In Charge” mini-episode on the Season Six DVD, and Nikki Stafford does a credible job of answering most of the rest in this book.

    But for a lot of people, including me, the show was as much about its characters as it was about the weirder and wilder twists in those often convoluted story lines.

    To that end, the finale wrapped up that part of the story in a way that was both heart wrenching and poignant. I know there are two very different schools of thought out there about this. But for me, I thought they ended it on a very sweet and beautiful note.

    -Glen

  • El Bicho

    I wasn’t seeking answers. I was seeking a good story and they failed with the ridiculous “let’s all go to heaven” together nonsense. And they couldn’t even get that right, such as pairing Sayid with Shannon when his love for Nadia resonated throughout the entire series.

    The show stopped being about the characters early on, probably about the time they found the hatch. There were still good episodes during the latter seasons but they were filled with as many great moments as there were disappointments as the writers kept painting themselves into corners they had no idea how to get out of.

  • http://theglenblog.blogspot.com Glen Boyd

    I disagree on a number of levels here, but I’ll try and touch on just a few of them.

    To me, the whole “lets go to heaven” ending (as you call it) made infinite sense. Each of these characters were set up in their own individual ways throughout the series as being flawed people who were seeking to discover who they really were, or at least what their true purpose was. The way each of them had their moments of recognition in the final episode, seemed to me to also symbolize the way they finally understood their purpose and were therefore able to make an inner peace with themselves.

    As for Lost not being about the characters for some time, I feel that you just couldn’t be more wrong about this. In the final episode, there are a number of these moments of recognition — Sawyer and Juliet at the candy machine; Charlie helping deliver Claire’s baby backstage at the concert; and Jin and Sun in the hospital room — where the memories of these characters are also moments of ultimate discovery for them.

    It’s no mistake that each of these scenes are absolute tearjerkers, and it is precisely the masterful way the writers developed these characters that elicit the powerful reactions they had among many viewers.

    Over six seasons, the writers made us care about them. To me, that’s just great writing, and at that moment anyway, knowing what happened to Walt or whatever became a lot less important.

    The heaven metaphor for me was much less about individual belief (and why the symbols of many of the worlds religions are represented in the scene as opposed to just one), then it was about these characters finding themselves in this “sideways reality.” Making that same peace also allowed them to also move on from it.

    -Glen

  • http://theglenblog.blogspot.com Glen Boyd

    One last thing here, and I’ll shut up. Sayid’s pairing with Shannon rather than Nadia also makes sense, at least in a poetic justice sort of way, since Shannon represented the one romantic relationship Sayid was able to enjoy without it being forever associated with his own deeply felt guilt.

    After all, the way Sayid and Nadia met was when he was her captor, interrogator and torturer.

    This is also why in the “sideways reality”, Nadia remains a close, but unattainable object of his desire (since she is married to his brother).

    -Glen