Wednesday, May 5, 2010

About Lost Last Night

I'm not entirely sure how I feel about this season of Lost. There are times I love it, there are times I hate it, and then there are the dark times...the times I'm bored and indifferent. When it comes to Lost I find it almost impossible to perform a function of my brain I usually utilize with ease; the ability to differentiate between personal preference and objective observation. For example: I don't like Fight Club. I don't enjoy it at all really. But I know it's a great movie.

With Lost, it's never been easy. If I hate an episode or if I'm disappointed by a season, I cannot see passed my own feelings to whatever merit the show may have.

Last night's episode wasn't bad at all. In fact, it was good. I enjoyed it very much and it shocked me and even moved me at times. A commercial with a giant shark gnawing a man's arm ruined the most powerful moment in the episode but that's to be expected and something I'll bring up later.

But, if I'm being completely honest, I'm not satisfied. And it's not because of one big reason. It's not because we're not getting answers anymore. It's not because a particular character isn't being used enough. It's not because there are useless characters taking up screen time anymore. It's a bunch of little reasons that leave me confused and disheartened with this season and particularly last night's episode.

One such issue is Sayid. He turned evil in a natural, powerful way. His decision last night, therefore, was somewhat confusing to me. In the middle of this episode until the end, he became good ole Sayid. There was no indication that there was any good left in him, no hint that it would come out. But it did in a big way. Yes, I'm very aware of all the arguments in support of his decision that meticulously examine what's happening in that moment. But there's only one thing that could leave me satisfied with this character's rapid transformation and that would be if a flashback to his conversation with Desmond at the well revealed a seed of dissent being planted.

Other such issues are confusion, or a sense of awkwardness, resultant from watching Jack and the original cast follow the smoke monster and even side with him and then turn on him and then side with him and then turn on him again.

Then there's Widmore and his fences and his machines and his obnoxious minions. Any time I see that girl with glasses who works for him I think, "Why am I staring at you? Why am I hearing you? You are not important. You are not a character. Go away". Widmore has simply been cheesey and seemingly without purpose. I know he has a purpose, but that purpose is being kept a secret, so how can I appreciate him?

And perhaps it's as simple as I don't like the alternate reality. If I hate 50% of what I'm watching, how can I be satisfied?

It's become remarkably redundant, rehashing scenes and lines of fan-service dialouge from previous seasons and now even from previous moments of this season. Any time I watch a scene from the alternate reality I simply feel like it's unimportant. And, for this entire season with the exception of the premiere, it has been. No actual information about anything has been revealed to us in these scenes that we didn't already know. And there's a simple explanation for's not on the island. How can anything pertinent about the island be answered if we're not watching the island?

The only pertinent information that's been revealed during alternate reality episodes is that some characters are aware it exists, or that they've had another life on an island somewhere. But that doesn't impact what's happening on the island (at least not now) and the island is what we've devoted our entire veiwership lives to. The alternate reality doesn't make the events on the island any more interesting, it makes them less interesting, in fact. The alternate reality is just there, servicing nothing in the present story, existing solely as a inevitable explanation for a "happily ever after" ending. And because it has no impact on the actual narrative beyond the occasional, and again, redundant, "what if" character exploration, it slips easily into little nods to the audience that feel condescending at this point. Yes, I remember Bernard. Yes, I remember Charlie. Yes, I remember Arnst. Furthermore, the alternate reality creates two practical problems.

1) These scenes literally steel time away from the island. As last night's episode demonstrated, it's the island that can create compelling action sequences and moving drama. To have scenes that seem to have no bearing on anything beyond nostalgia makes me feel as though I'm being cheated out of something I've waited years to see.

2) Anything emotional or powerful that occurs on the island comes with a caveat that reduces the impact of such an event. If, for example, two characters die in a really emotional way, a shot of one walking down a hallway five minutes later reduces the impact of that scene. We've been watching the island reality for six years. The island reality feels like the real reality (dumb sentence, but true). So when a character dies, it feels like they should really be dead. To have the impact of their death stolen from us is almost, unfair. It's as if we're being toyed with.

What bothers me the most about this season is that it simply has not lived up to expectation, and that's something I never wanted to acknowledge. A better statement is that it has not been what it easily could and should have been.

Like Homer watching his flying pig, I have proclaimed, "It's still good, it's still good". And Lost is still good. Lost is still the best television show in history. But I have to acknowledge that this season isn't the best. In fact, this season may be the worst. Every other season, whether it gave us answers or not, had compelling drama. This season has been a confusing mishmash of scenes with varying degrees of quality with no real focal point heading toward a finale upon which it's relying. This feels lazy on the writer's part. I wish the writers had made different choices, choices that would have left us unavoidably wowed after every episode. There have been four episodes that have achieved this, without any problems. But that is all.

I know the finale will be amazing. Every Tuesday is an event of Super Bowl proportions, despite the truth I've been denying all this time. I will always love this show. And, as always, I must acknowledge that my problems would be reduced, if not nonexistent, if I were watching it on DVD. It's impossible to adequately describe how much commercials detract from the emotionality of the experience and the wait between episodes infuriates when we desperately want answers.

Thanks for reading guys. I hope it's a great finish.

1 comment:

  1. Dead on.

    You've nailed it completely. The writers have - and keep saying - that once you realize what the alternate reality means to the island timeline, it will all make sense, that it will all be worth it. Its almost like they are asking us as if we were their main characters, to be strung along, them being the Man in Black. We are just asked to have faith it something we don't understand and can't ask questions about. I refuse. I will continue to be disappointed and just accept that things will be alright.

    This is the worst season thus far. Season 1 was awesome, two expanded the story, three slumped and then geared up into greatest, four changed the genre, five changed everything, and six should have been the greatest. Yet it isn't and I don't think ever will be. I can't wait for each episode but I do not look forward to it, if that makes sense. The shame of it was that I thought Lost would break the mold of horrible last seasons. But just like every other highly anticipated last season, it has completely missed the mark.

    Fucking Lost....