Home > Uncategorized > I know where Lost went wrong…

I know where Lost went wrong…

Here’s the thing: Lost gets it right almost all the time, IMO, in terms of starting you off far from the center of the mystery and then spiraling in. It does a masterly job of communicating only what it wants to, and letting you draw all the wrong conclusions, and leading you down blind alleys and then delivering a truth that was completely unguessable 5 minutes before but giving you just enough ammo that you half guess it before it’s delivered. That shit ain’t easy, and when it’s done right it’s catnip but when it’s done wrong it’s shark-jumping idiocy. So kudos.

But then you have to control what you promise.

Best moment: when the Others’ primitive clothes turn out to be theatrical costumes. Why is this so great? Because it takes something kinda lame and unmasks it with something better. Sure. But also because it plays with you expectations and lets you in on the game before the characters articulate it, and because it shows you that you’re closer to a central mystery than you thought you were.

Worst moment (so far, end of season 4): moving the island using the donkey wheel. Why is this so bad? Because it ups the stakes radically, and it raises the kinds of questions that make you go “whu?” rather than “OMG.” Because if we’re learning more about all the Dharma Initiative’s bases, and we’re starting to get a picture of what they were up to, we want a reward from that: we’ve peeled another layer of the onion, but now suddenly, with the break in the wall of their bunker, it turns out it’s not an onion at all. Or we were peeling the wrong onion and none of that Dharma shit mattered anyway. And now we’ve got a big mystery and there cannot be any sensible answer to it. Is the island an alien spaceship or the realm of the gods? These are the only two possible solutions, really, and they’re basically indistinguishable. The narrative collapses there: nothing now will matter except finding out who the gods are, and then that knowledge will have to mean something. And that’s a problem, because there aren’t many meaningful gods to go around, in the US.

So I call this a terrible misstep. What are the Others doing, after all? Why are they strangely immortal? I’ve a feeling the answer is going to be disappointingly abstract.

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