NEW YORK — You got a sense of how “Lost” ranks in the scheme of things when President Barack Obama saw it coming — and blinked.
Sure, this wasn’t exactly a showdown between the leader of the free world (with his State of the Union address) and a TV series about people on an island.
But Obama could have scheduled his annual address for, say, this Tuesday night if he’d wanted to — the same night “Lost” was already scheduled by ABC to start its final season — which would have left “Lost” fans wondering where the island went this time.
Just 18 episodes remain in the series, after which it, and a certain brand of national obsession, will be over. The vast “Lost” lore — or most of it, or a teeny-weeny smidgen, at least — will finally make sense.
You remember how last season ended. Jack (Matthew Fox) deployed a nuclear warhead that, if things went as he hoped, would rewrite history by destroying a huge pocket of electromagnetic energy that may have been responsible for pulling Oceanic Airlines Flight 815 out of the sky and setting the whole darn show in motion.
In short, if this scheme worked, Flight 815 would have made it to Los Angeles as scheduled, while the show would have instantly been zeroed out.
Another of the weird things you may recall from the finale: Locke (Terry O’Quinn) had an unprecedented audience with the never-before-seen uber-boss of the island, Jacob. But at the same time the meeting took place, a corpse that looked remarkably like Locke was lying on the beach.
Fair warning! Now that a new season is here with a final infusion of fodder, speculation among “Lost” faithful could be rising to an unprecedented pitch, and pushing the patience of “Lost” non-observers to the breaking point.
For this final season, the “Lost” flock have license to be more obsessed and aggravating than ever. Anybody else is welcome to seek refuge.