Lost Concludes Season 5
Okay, I admit, I was not on board from the beginning. Perhaps that disqualifies me from commentary altogether. In fact, I have still never even seen a number of the episodes from the first few seasons so my perspective is forever that of an outsider, completely baffled as to the root of some of the shenanigans and contretemps that seem to unfold on that crazy, cursed island. Maybe it is merely that keeping me from taking the goings-on very seriously.
I am entertained by the show, at least enough to keep watching - I like the fast-paced nature of the constantly shifting, multi-character plot-line, which has no real regard for time or continent, and likes to keep upping the ante by piling plot twist upon plot twist upon red herring upon plot twist; I like the array of interesting and different characters; I enjoy the colorful photography playing on my wide-screen HDTV. I’m just honestly not sure what it all means. Although, that’s probably partly the point, right? Perhaps the show is just an elaborate allegory for the randomness of human existence? Perhaps the shows ethos is something like this - “life plays games with our minds, dude - just like the show, so take the good with the bad, roll with the punches, and make the best out of it.” I feel like one needs to take a zen approach to watching Lost - don’t sweat the small stuff; take pleasure in the details; go with the flow and be one with the Island… I don’t know. Maybe that isn’t it at all.
Lost confuses me, and it isn’t just the plot. While JJ Adams’ show-runners Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof are clearly smart, hip people, who like to name (drop?) characters after famous thinkers and pepper the show with literary references, and while the show itself obviously has a kind of post-modern sensibility demonstrated by the ever present inclusion of pop references and wry comebacks in the dialogue, there is also this earnest, and at times, frankly, poorly written and acted, melodrama, that intrudes on each and every episode. I get that this is an inherent part of the fabric of the show - what confuses me is whether or not these cheesy spots are intentional? Are we, as audience members, supposed to laugh or think it’s ironic when Kate (Evangeline Lilly) pauses for long seconds with a well-placed tear in her eye to stare longingly at the rugged, Fabio look-alike Sawyer (Josh Holloway), or when Jack (Matthew Fox) punctuates a point by looking vaguely (but meaningfully) at Kate, letting us know there’s a raging current of emotion and pain behind his weary-thousand mile stare? This seems to me to be the kind of writing and acting that goes on in soap operas, and in some ways Lost is one giant violent, time-warpy soap.
I am not, a literalist per say, although I have always struggled to connect to comic books (or graphic novels or whatever), as well as certain sci-fi, horror, and action related material. Put it this way - I’d rather watch a Daisy of Love marathon than try to discover what that gosh darn anime is all about. While I understand the deep attachment some develop with mythological franchises, and sympathize with individuals who separate themselves by acquiring detailed knowledge of their intricate workings; and while I get it that fantasy and role playing is inherently tied into these strong connections people feel, I simply have never felt a kinship with this type of stuff. I guess I’m forced to come clean and admit to being a film nerd who doesn’t play video games or like comic books. There - I said it. Also, while I appreciate the stylings of, say, a David Lynch, or a classic surrealist like Bunuel, I almost always feel manipulated by their more avant garde work and wind up resentful because of it. I understand the general intent (if not always all the symbolism in the details) - which is to provoke, to prod, to play with the conventions of narrative film-making, to promote visual metaphor and defy the limits of tightly structured plot, to… well, lets’ just say it - to fuck with the audience. I’m all for that. Huzzah. It goes on all over the world in art schools and in modern art galleries and museums. It’s a good thing. I will go so far as to acknowledge that those who adore Lynch and his like are probably right - but for me it’s like Max Ophuls - I know the films are great, I appreciate their artistry and construction - they just don’t hit me on an emotional level.
Despite my lack of Sci-Fi pedigree, I do like Kurt Vonnegut and Phillip K Dick and Harlen Ellison. I like 2001; Stalker; Solaris and a host of other films about space. I like a bunch of post-apocalyptic, dystopic, and time travel films too, like A Boy and His Dog; Blade Runner; The Terminator; Minority Report; Gattaca; Twelve Monkees; Last Night; Time of the Wolf; and The Stand. I like it best when films like these remain in the realm of the plausibly possible, and when it involves real people experiencing incredible things. I like when Hurley is confused and questioning his own sanity, and better yet when physicist time traveler Daniel Farraday is clueless, because, well, they should be - I mean, the shit is weird, dude.
Lost is fun. It’s entertaining. And while obviously there is an epic struggle between good and evil infusing every aspect of the show, it’s ultimately the character’s story-lines, more than anything, that make it interesting for the likes of me. This season we learned more about Kate’s fierce devotion to Aaron; Jack and his demanding doctor father, as well as his abiding love for Kate; Sun’s loyalty to Jin; Juliet and Sawyer’s relationship; Miles and his scientist father; young Ben Linus and his Dad; Ben and his daughter; Desmond and his fierce connection with wife Penny Widmore and their child, and of course, the various machinations of her megalomaniac Dad, Charles; Hurley and his Dad; Locke battling his own self-hatred and his destiny; Saheed’s tie in with Ben and his dead girlfriend and his revenge bent activities; Charles Widmore’s connections to Farraday and his Mom Eloise; Jacob and his history with some of the Oceanic survivors; Locke coming back from the dead; Nestor Carbonell’s Richard Alpert never aging.
Questions about the hatch and swan station have been answered, although others remain. I’m still not completely clear about that crazy ball of energy that is the smoke monster and its relation to the shifting time periods or the disappearing island, but so it goes. Our heroes had to get in a plane again and re-crash (or re-something) in order to return to the island - some of them were eventually thrust back in time to join the Dharma people, but in 1977. There are the others; and there are, seemingly, other-others; there are french people; there are the people from the tanker; there are new plane crash survivors; and many of the main characters now have younger versions of themselves - which confuses things when Daniel meets a younger version of his Mom and a child Charlotte; or when Miles (Ken Leung) meets his long dead Dad and his young self. One things for sure, that shifting island can cause a mean nosebleed. Just ask adult Charlotte (Rebecca Mater).
There seems to be a lot of family dysfunction in Lost - especially when it comes to troubled relationships between parents and their kids, and even more specifically fathers and sons, which maybe isn’t so surprising given that is created and mostly written by men. I’d love to know how many of the writers/ producers/show- runners are products of broken families. Is this whole thing about Daddy issues?
There’s one season left. I’ll keep watching and not understanding much. Maybe at some point I’ll get the lead out and go back and watch those episodes I missed and maybe then it will all make sense. I don’t know; I kind of doubt it, but so what - I’m breathing in and out, remaining calm, and allowing myself to experience the series in a no judgement zone. I am one with the island. Namaste.