Speaking before a packed auditorium at UCLA’s Royce Hall last night, Carlton Cuse, executive producer of Lost, invoked a Hans Christian Andersen aphorism, “where words fail, music speaks.”
It’s especially true for the ABC drama Lost, which is set to end its legendary run in a week. A series about the unbreakable nature of the human spirit (and, yes, a black smoke monster among other things), one of the show’s greatest strengths is the incomparable musical score written by Academy Award winner Michael Giacchino, who has served as the show’s composer since its 2004 pilot episode.
Click Image To View Our Gallery Of Lost: The Final Celebration
Cuse and fellow showrunner Damon Lindelof hosted Thursday’s Lost Live: A Final Celebration, the very last Lost event before the May 23 series finale, presiding over an evening that was both celebration and wake.
A charity event to benefit Los Angeles’ Coburn School, a music conservatory, the event was comprised of several elements: Giacchino conducting a 47-piece symphony orchestra as they performed music from the series, Lindelof and Cuse offering a final benediction for the series, and a screening of the series’ penultimate episode, “What They Died For.” (Without spoiling anything, it’s a huge improvement over this week’s polarizing installment.)
“How many other television shows can you identify just by the music? Not many,” said Cuse, shortly before a black scrim lifted, revealing a full orchestra—comprised of the Lost musicians and students from the Coburn School—on stage. “That’s a testament to Michael Giacchino.”
It was only the second time that Giacchino’s stirring score was performed live, the first with the Honolulu Symphony in 2007. While the songs’ titles may not be familiar, their notes are ingrained in the minds of the show’s viewers as deeply as any scene. (When the orchestra played “Parting Words,” set to video images of the raft being set off at the end of Season One, very few eyes remained dry.)
Several actors, including Daniel Dae Kim, Nestor Carbonell, Michael Emerson, Jorge Garcia, and Sonya Walger, gave readings of Messages in a Bottle—fictional letters written by the show’s non-speaking characters or “socks,” for sock puppets in common Lost parlance. Some were funny, some sad, and all managed to convey the sense of isolation and fear felt by the survivors of Oceanic Flight 815.
ABC’s Barry Jossen, who said that the show’s “impact on television and storytelling would last forever,” read a letter written to Lindelof and Cuse from Star Wars creator George Lucas, who couldn’t be there that night. “Congratulations on pulling off an amazing show,” wrote Lucas. “When Star Wars began, I didn’t know where it was going and I made it up as I went along… Throw in some father issues, [crib] stuff from other shows and call them homages.” (Lindelof responded to Lucas’ letter by saying, “I apologize for everything I said about the prequels.”)
The audience issued a standing ovation to a gathering of 20 actors both past and present—from Josh Holloway and Rebecca Mader to Fringe’s Lance Reddick and Treme’s Kim Dickens—who united on stage for the first time ever. Lindelof and Cuse gave each of them personalized introductions as players from all six seasons got their chance to stand in front of more than 1,800 cheering fans. Giacchino changed into a Dharma jumpsuit and snapped pictures of the crowd from the stage.
It was the kind of evening where stories from the editing bay and the writers room joined with memories of a different kind, those of the audience who were preparing to say goodbye to a show that had defied all odds—and logic—to become a groundbreaking television event on a weekly basis, conflating genres and exploding expectations with a mind-bending series of revelations, slow burn mysteries, and memorable characters.
“It’s impossible to say goodbye to this show,” said executive producer and director Jack Bender, speaking on behalf of the show’s writers and producers. “Every day we got up and made the best show we could… I can’t say goodbye. It’s inside all of us.”
But like the producers, the audience will have to make their own peace with the show. Entering its final three-and-a-half hour stretch, Lost has begun to answer many of the mysteries that have swirled around the last six seasons like the smoke monster itself.
For Lindelof, however, it’s not the answers that are meant to endure, but rather the emotional journey that the characters have gone on—and the audience with them—over more than 120 episodes. In the end, those mythology-based mysteries will matter less than the fact that the story that he and Cuse set out to tell is wrapping up.
“ Lost is only ending once,” said Lindelof, speaking on the red carpet before the event. “There’s only one finale, there’s not a question mark at the end of ‘The End.’ There’s not [an ellipsis]. This is the end of the story. It’s over and hopefully there will be a lot of interpretation in its wake.”
Jace Lacob is the writer/editor of Televisionary, a website devoted to television news, criticism, and interviews. Jace resides in Los Angeles. He is a contributor to several entertainment websites and can be found on Twitter and Facebook.