Monday, April 26, 2010

Lost or: How I Learned to Stop Griping and Just Enjoy the Ride

This post is possibly not going to really be of interest to anyone, because at this point, there probably aren't very many people who need to be convinced that Lost is in fact worth watching, but my journey with the show has been maybe a little different from other fans so I thought I'd at least record some of my thoughts.

I started out loving the show. As a TV fan who loves serialized dramas, how could I not? Throw in a little mystery and science fiction and I was hooked. But I started getting frustrated with the show pretty early on. By the end of the first season I was getting annoyed with how slow the show was moving and by the second season I was writing a full-fledged rant about it.

My main issue was that I didn't see how the kind of story Lost was telling was going to work with the indefinite endpoint of a traditional network TV series. I didn't like the idea that the writers were just going to throw in more and more confusion and misdirection in an effort to keep the show going. Also, one of the things I especially hated was that with all this confounding stuff going on, instead of being given answers the viewers would just get subjected to even more flashbacks of say, Jack's daddy issues. I mean, I'm all for character development but there's a point where plot and well, common sense, start to get sacrificed. One scene in particular that I remember exemplifying this was from the season 3 premiere, in which Jack was captured by the Others and being kept in that underwater station with Juliet. Juliet comes to Jack with a file that has all these documents about his life. Instead of asking how and why she has this information, instead Jack asks if his ex-wife is happy?? Seriously?

Soon after this I stopped watching the show. There were just too many characters I didn't like (including random and infuriating new ones like Nikki and Paulo, who the writers later tried to appease the audience by "comically" killing them off) and I was finding the show to just be a chore to watch. But then the producers did something I never expected: they agreed with me, and set an end date for the show!

Now, this didn't bring me back immediately. It turned out that I wasn't the only one who hated the first part of season 3 and people seemed to mostly agree that the show was just getting better and better but it still took me over two years to decide to start watching the show again. I think part of me didn't want to get sucked in again only to have things go bad again, so I waited until last fall, just before the final season was set to start airing. I just finished season 5 yesterday and may or may not catch up in time for the series finale.

So I'm still quite a bit behind, but you know what? I'm not really worried about the show disappointing me anymore. As soon as the producers set the end date, things started to happen. Starting with the season 3 finale, they mostly stopped with the angsty flashbacks and started doing the much more plot-driving flash-forwards. By the end of season 4, the present and future timelines had converged. Season 5 gave us some of the most fun episodes ever with the time-traveling, and now in season 6 we're onto a new construct: the alternate reality "flash-sideways."

That isn't to say things still aren't confusing. I watched seasons 3-5 in about a 6 month period and I still needed a lot of help from wikipedia in keeping track of what things happened and when they happened. I can't imagine how anyone remembered anything between seasons of the actual airing schedule. And there are plenty of things that still confuse me if I think too hard about them, like probably most things involving Locke and Ben and that big wheel thing and all the time travel stuff...

But you know, that's the funny part. Now that I KNOW that the show is ending and that the writers are going to at least endeavor to give us a satisfying ending, I'm no longer fixated on "getting answers" and I can actually enjoy the character moments. Jack and Kate are still annoying and their doomed romance just makes me twitch, but Sawyer has been awesome, Desmond and Penny are wonderful, Juliet has really grown on me, English-speaking Jin is a huge improvement, and I really like a lot of the newer characters like Miles and Faraday and Lapidus.

Actually, I think the reason that Sawyer, Juliet, Dan, Jin, and Miles became such favorites of mine is that the episodes where they're stuck in the 70s and join the Dharma Initiative were just so unexpected and as fun as a show like Lost can be. I just love that even though they were the ones "left behind" they're the ones that actually make lives for themselves for three years, unlike the Oceanic 6, who were either torturing themselves or being harassed by Ben or Jack or whoever. I remember reading a spoiler a long time ago that Sawyer and Juliet fall in love and thought that was totally illogical but actually watching the episodes, it makes sense because Sawyer becomes a different guy. As LaFleur he's still as badass and snarky as ever but he's more settled down than he's ever been, and just so much more likable as a leader than Jack or Locke or Ben. Although, I guess, I kind of like Ben. I mean, I don't like him, but Michael Emerson has just done such a phenomenal job making that character complex and alternately sympathetic and loathsome.

Anyway, I've only watched the first two episodes of season 6 so I can't really comment on what's going on now that there are only four episodes left but I'm just enjoying the ride. No over-analysis here, no theorizing, no obsessing over little details. Maybe that's for some people, but not for me. The finale may or may not wrap up all the storylines, it may or may not make sense, but it'll be an ending, a PLANNED ending, which is more than a lot of TV shows get and really the only kind that a show like this should have.

See that? The entire point of this post was to validate that in my rant from over three years ago, I was right!!!

1 comment:

Mira said...

i'm going to make a burkie-like comment and say, i've never seen a single episode of lost!