He may be one of the entertainment media's premiere Lost-ologists. • But try to compliment Entertainment Weekly writer Jeff Jensen on his encyclopedic knowledge of TV's most mysterious show, and he'll answer with the slightly bashful attitude of a guy who suspects he spends way too much time dissecting a television program. • Known as Doc Jensen to the folks who visit his blog posts on the magazine's EW.com site and watch his weekly Web show Totally Lost with fellow EW Lost-ologist Dan Snierson, he goes to heady territory in his analyses. • Like explaining how the castaways' journey mirrors the pattern of addiction recovery. Or floating his theory that the show is all about parents and the lengths they will go to to save or safeguard their children.
So, before the show starts its final season Tuesday, how does it feel to be at the beginning of the end?
In many ways, this is what every Lost fan was really waiting for and looking forward to — (seeing the show) lay out all its cards and bring everything to a really cool conclusion. At the same time, for a subset of Lost fandom that I happen to occupy and represent, there has been this weird and wild intellectual thrill ride of poring through every episode for clues. That intellectual gamesmanship — that will all end. And I'm going to miss that.
Can one 18-hour season answer all the questions Lost fans feel must be answered?
Everybody has a different notion of what the show needs to do. Lost fans are presumptuous — we think we know what's best. Everything we love about the show has been generated by (producers Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse) and their group of writers, so we should just do what we've always done: trust them and follow them and let them tell their story, while separately enjoying our own unique engagement about this show.
What are the most important questions?
At the end, there's so much, it kind of negates the whole thing. I give up — just tell me the story, and I'm going to watch it. So much of Lost, so much of the intrigue, has been generated by a clever thing they have been doing, which is withholding context from us. Our castaways have been caught up in an epic drama that has been hidden from us and them; they don't know who the grand players are and neither do we. In the slow revelation of context, mystery has been generated. Season 6 is: "This grand story we've been teasing about, here it is." We get the sense that the castaways are pawns in some great chess game, but we really don't see the board.
I've just been telling readers not to even try to figure out the ending — just enjoy the ride. Is that wrong?
The difference between me and a fan like yourself is probably mental illness or several thousand dollars worth of psychiatry (laughs). You are right — it is a futile enterprise to immerse yourself so deeply in this show if your goal is to "be right." But if your imagination has been so captured by this show, you just love thinking about it, and you find yourself daydreaming about where it could possibly go, that's a wonderful thing. It's a form of great play.
Can casual fans really appreciate the ending of this epic story?
The ultimate danger for the fan who isn't completely invested or engaged is when it does finally start pulling things together and revealing itself, will you feel lost? That's a bummer — that's where Lost may have given us so much information, the things that are revealed to be most relevant may be items people missed.
What kind of ending do you want to see?
It's stopped being about things, and started really being about characters. This island is an encounter with personal destiny — you survive it or are destroyed by it. I want them to follow that theme through. Is Jack going to get over his past? Is there any kind of happy ending for Locke? Can we hope for resurrection for a man who has been so royally screwed by the cosmos? I got hooked on the pilot (episode), became a mythology nut and now I'm a character nut. I want a show that makes me cry. I don't want a guy to step out from behind a tree and tell me what it was all about.