lost 2: end of season 1
I’m not going to write much about Lost, partly because I think anything I have to say has probably already been said many, many times, back when people cared. I’m just going to note that one of the vital ingredients in the making of a legend is incompleteness.
Or, to deploy a cliche, you should leave them wanting more. I firmly believe The Prisoner was such a legend partly* because Patrick McGoohan had the enormous good sense and taste to end it after 17 episodes, when he ran out of good, fresh ideas. You don’t often see that sort of integrity. I don’t think I’ve seen it on US TV over the past decade or so, where good series tend to rot on the vine until even the studio execs feel that the audience has been turned off.
I’ve just watched the end of the first season of Lost. And it might be difficult for folks to remember, after the past 4 seasons or so of mounting frustration, but back then it was really, really tight. Most of my predictions from watching the pilot came true, and they were worked through nicely. The boat was well designed, even if their sailing plan** still mystified me, and by episode 25 I trusted the writers enough to roll my eyes conspiratorially rather than feel insulted when Hurley asks “what does the number 23 mean to you?”
So. I just wanted to say how impressed I was with all the sweating dynamite play. In which cliches are deployed left and right but freshened up with new significance. First Arzt (doctor) demonstrates his homily on the instability of nitroglycerene, and even though he’s telegraphed it, it’s a surprise (structure!). Then sur-sane crypto-shaman Locke asks surgeon Jack if he ever played Operation and Jack gets to say “do you like playing games, Locke?” (tension, salted with absurdity!) and finally Jack gets to say to misunderstood multi-murderer Kate, “we’re going to have a Locke problem” (dramatic irony!). The trick here, the reason it’s such smart writing, is that it looks awful in this blog post. It doesn’t read like poetry. You have to have the context, the setup, the delivery, the exformation. Which means, I think, that all parts of the storytelling apparatus are working: the scenes are not reducible to their texts.
* Other parts: really smart, theorem-laced plotting; intriguingly poker-faced hard man protagonist; sets and design.
**heading N by NE – unless they’re accounting for ocean currents they haven’t discussed, and according to my guesses about where they might be, this should make their next landfall Japan or Kamchatka.