Has “Lost” Lost it? And other great Mysteries of our Time
February 9, 2008
After Thursday’s episode, I’m not so sure that “Lost” still deserves to be reckoned as one of the greatest shows on TV. Don’t get me wrong, the episode was still good, the acting still crisp and the story still intriguing, but things aren’t quite the same over on the main, non-Hydra Island. The “Lost” that we fell in love with is gone. Gone is the focus on character and exploration of personal redemption; in its place, mystery and obscurity for the sake of obscurity, the introduction of ever more and more organizations for the sake of further narrative complications, and the transformation of Walt into a spiritual Ghost Walt because of the producer’s inability to stop the effects of aging. For shame, Carlton Cuse, for shame.
I’ll say right off the bat that it is without a doubt too soon to write off “Lost.” The third season got off to a slow start, with the show turning into a bizarre version of Cool Hand Luke as Sawyer and Freckles went to work on a chain gang for the others.
He Just Bugs the Establishment!
Still, things righted themselves in the end, and season 3 turned out to be incredibly entertaining. If not quite as good as season 1, the show was certainly better than in season 2, and the season 3 finale introduced wonderful new storytelling opportunities that had the show poised for greatness. Unfortunately, that potential is currently being squandered. The creators have unleashed a torrent of new characters rather than working them in gradually; instead of a flash(back/forward) focusing on an individual castaway or other, we received a jumbled flashback of multiple characters. It’s as if the show started to listen to its critics, started to listen to those who said everything was moving too slowly and that nothing was being revealed (legitimate criticisms), only the creators didn’t know what to do and decided just too move everything really fast and to have characters ask direct questions (yet without answers).
Although past experience has told me that the show will probably recover, there are more than a few reasons for concern. To adumbrate but a few:
1) Poor track record with new characters. There have only been two unmitigated successful additions to the main cast: Ben and Desmond. Now think about just how many characters they’ve introduced. Every other one, including Juliet and Ekko, has had a problematic relationship with the show. All the (new) tailies were killed off, casting a pall over the entirety of season 2. Only Bernard is escaped alone to tell thee, and he was a preexisting character. Why were so many new faces introduced only to be killed-off? Were there stories necessary? Why does no-one ever grieve? Each new character presents new challenges, and the show rarely rises to the task, leaving a mess of unsolved problems. We’re still waiting on the Desmond-Odysseus connection and any number of other mysteries.
2) Whatever happened to _____? Mo’ characters, less time to go around. What ever happened to Jin, Sun, or Claire? Or Micheal and Walt? Why haven’t we learned anything about Sayyid in the last year? His character grows more and more badass everyday, yet we know less and less about his training. America fell for the core castaways; we fell for a show about people thrown into an impossible situation, with bizarre metaphysical obstacles standing in the way. Now the show is a show about the Island. About the various competing interests for island, about the different organizations trying to tap its magnetism or find Ben, or whatever it is they want. I’m not even sure any more.
3) J.J. Abrams and the synthetic flying machine. While I certainly don’t worship at the cult of J.J. Abrams, one can feel his absence from Lost. That’s all.
And since I promised more mysteries…
1) Can a light saber cut Superman? Can it? I vote no, but only because Superman is real and Star Wars only exists inside our TV screens. But in the event that it can, is Superman faster than the new AGV?