Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Unbearable Lightness of Lost


The first sign that I had lost my edge came without warning: I Tivo'd Lost on Tuesday, when I was unable to watch the show in real-time for the first time ever, and then was in no real hurry to see it. I'm now the weary gambler who won't fold because he secretly wants to lose, and betting on an indifferent hand hastens that perverted joy.

A lot of people died this week on Lost -- only white people survived, a friend observes, and the suicide bomber was an Arab, she also noted. Well, Sayid is Iranian and thus Persian, but at this point, on this show, which purports to be all about the details, this slight twist on an cheap cliché seems like an inconsequential inside joke.

Even death provides no finality in this bloated final season. Jacob says he can't bring people back to life and the seemingly untrustworthy Man in Black promises he can. But of course, nobody is ever really dead on Lost, because people can time travel and reunite in the past and also alter the future (with evidently imperfect effectiveness). And, anyway, Hurley can talk to dead people -- or pretend he has.

So what are we to say when Sayid and Jin selflessly make the supreme sacrifice, for love? Later, dude?

I think what really upsets me is that the creative forces behind Lost have miscalculated the value of "Anything is possible." It anything is possible, nothing is impossible. And when nothing is impossible, whatever happens has zero impact. Lost has created a huge appetite among a dwindling but committed fan base for answers, and at this point it no longer matters. That is the cost of having no canon; there is no need to hew to the nuance of a thousand delimiting historical "facts."

There is a strong religious theme playing out (or, sigh, so it would seem) but Lost has literally become the Bible: there are no fixed truths, lots of confused, needy, susceptible people living in caves and so many vague non sequiturs that it says exactly what you want it to.

And like the Bible, the only counter-argument is that Lost is not an the inspired word of God but the work of humans, which, of course, the Bible teaches us are flawed.

But SciFi needs rules, as well as faith. Certain things are impossible on Star Trek, for all of its imagination and invention. Lucasfilm employs a Star Wars continuity cop named Leeland Chee who keeps track of "thousands of years of story time, running through all the bits and pieces of merchandise" to protect the viability of that franchise. The boys on the Big Bang Theory can correct you in Klingon and argue about String Theory and make them seem equivalent.

Lost, meanwhile, has become a prime time soap with the worst daytime attribute: Nobody (Jack) ever asks the obvious question any intelligent person (neurosurgeon) would, settling something once and for all instead of staring as if lobotomized as we cut to commercial.

Lost is bound by nothing now, and that makes it uninteresting, by any definition.

12 comments:

IrmaOrbison said...

Actions speak louder than words. ........................................

baldbobbo said...

Sayid is Iraqi, not Iranian. Ergo, he's Arab.

Pete said...

Excellent points.

Count me as disappointed with the finale, since it seemed to have come from nowhere. I would have much preferred something that played into the time travel, "constant," and alternate timeline devices that the show was building up in the past.

Ahaan::ApartHeist::AfroPolitico said...

I think Sayid holding the Iranian passport was a production error. As in, all they had was an Iranian passport laying around, and they thought no one would notice.

I'm disappointed for the obvious reasons: the non sequitur-esque ending, but also because we were told by the producers that the island wasn't purgatory from as long ago as season one. And I get it: the island wasn't purgatory, the altiverse was, but I was still expecting a scientific answer to it all. Hell, we ALL die at some point. According to the logic employed here, every series could end with all it's characters being "shepherded" off to heaven. Blah.

Michael said...

The Bible doesn't have fixed truths? Seriously? Have you ever read the Bible, or are you just assuming this because you disagree with the Truth?

Paull said...

Storytelling is more than just facts and rules. I am happy Lost last serie didn't turn out as yet another time paradox riddle. I'm not telling it's a perfect show, but open questions are not so meaningful to me. The real surprise was how they set up what just seemed a time riddle (alternate reality), but they arranged an "explanation" on a completely different level (characters' deaths and emotions - "You don't die alone")

John C Abell said...

@michael. The Bible has no fixed truths, correct. You can believe in it, or not. Most of the world does not. The proof of whether the truths are fixed or even truths at all conveniently elude us in this life.

John C Abell said...

@Ahaan::ApartHeist::AfroPolitico Yes, you are correct, I believe. I will amend the post as best I can to leave evidence that I was wrong while making it right.

Michael said...

BTW, I do agree that the Lost ending was a major disappointment.

Michael said...

@paul- I'm sure you've read John 3:16. That is truth. And if you want to discount 33% (over 2 billion) people in the world who profess to be Christian and believe in the Bible "Most of the world does not.", well that just proves your theory that there is no fixed truth.

If the truth is that there is no fixed truth, than isn't that just a contradiction?

John C Abell said...

>Michael said...
>BTW, I do agree that the Lost ending >was a major disappointment.

Now, THERE's a fixed truth :) (No disrespect intended)

John C Abell said...

@michael @paul, fwiw I didn't say that there are no fixed truths -- I believe there are. I said there are no fixed truths in the Bible, which there is no reason to believe isn't the work of mortals.