Friday, April 10, 2009

on "dead is dead."

I've been meaning to write about Lost for a long time now.

For those who don't know, let me be clear: I am obsessed with Lost. I might like it right now even more than I like comic books. (I know, I know, this paints me as a semi-nerd, if not a total one. I readily cop to nerd qualities. But I also love basketball, coach it, and run like a madman. So I try to have a little balance. I promise.)

So, with this obsession comes a fanatical countdown to every Wednesday night, when I can get my (usually-) weekly fix. This season has been widely recognized as a good one, especially for fans of the show who have been watching consistently, with a lot of answers being given in the show that used to be accused of asking all the questions and never delivering the goods. Below, a breakdown of a few of the recent ones:

"Whatever Happened, Happened" continued the theme of this season of Lost, insofar as it was (ostensibly, at least) largely centered around the idea of time travel, often in a very meta way. (BTW, Lost does this often. It was, essentially, the entire premise of the Nikki and Paulo episode but it's worth talking about for those who don't know. Lost's creators listen to the audience and they're super-involved in the online community, so when there's a lot of particular blowback against something or questions about something, they'll often deal with it in an intentionally obtuse, tongue-in-cheek manner. Last night, see Hurley and Miles' conversation on time travel, with Miles patiently explaining how time is not a straight line, and everything was actually OK, but then being honestly stumped when Hurley asked him a question that was echoed online all week last week. It's a clever way of acknowledging that there are [many] things about this show that the creators simply ask the viewers to accept - for now. Reality, however, demands that we acknowledge the answers are there - we just don't get them yet. But I digress.) The whole idea of the Oceanic crew being separated (some of them remained on the island, six of them left) was enough to put some people off. I wonder how those people are reacting to the fact that we're now separated in an even more significant manner - through time.

The basic premise goes like this: six people left the island, but most of them eventually realized they needed to go back. They attempted to do so and succeeded, but with a twist. All are back on the island. Some, however, are located, temporally, shortly after their flight took off. Four of them (Sayid, Jack, Kate, and Hurley) somehow traveled back in time (approximately 30 years) and are now living with the DHARMA Initiative.

It's a bizarre twist to the series that had tried to previously bill itself as at least semi-realstic, but, coming from the comicbook background, this doesn't bother me at all. I'm curious as to other viewers' reactions, and I know that the show's down in the ratings overall, but I also know that the creators of Lost quite expected that. Next season is the last and I'm assuming (as I guess they are) that at least some of the viewership that's dwindled over the last five years will return for the end, just to see how it all turns out.

This is another vital part of the Lost experience: a deep-seated faith that the creators have a plan, know what they're doing, and have been moving toward that end (slowly sometimes, but...) steadily. When they fought with ABC a few years ago to publicly declare an end date for the series, it was an important moment for the fans of the show, because that deep-held faith could be tempered through that announcement.

"Dead is Dead" continues the above-discussed theme even through it's very title. It's been a long-standing debate on the show whether we are trapped on our course or whether we actually have free will and can change things. In perhaps the most controversial episode to date Desmond Hume takes a trip back in time, meets a time keeper and gets informed that there's nothing he can do to change time. We've heard this several times this season, most notably from new fave Daniel Faraday but he appears to be...elsewhere for now, casting into doubt what he's previously said. (BTW, just briefly, for those already in the know...he's not dead. There's no way. He still has to tell young Charlotte to never come back to the island. And he will. Oh yes.)

The direct addressing of this issue via time travel is one of the most brilliant things about the show. When Sayid shot Ben, it appeared as though the previous theories were shattered, but now we've seen this issue resolved in a rather understandable way. It's still not fully resolved, I'll give everyone that, but the confidence with which the show moves forward reveals to me, at least, that the creators are happy with the way things are going.

The main page on Wikipedia for "Lost" is a good place to start if you're interested in some basic background of the show before watching it, but in all honesty, if you're going to watch the show, it's best just to start at the beginning and go forward. Go put it on your Netflix and, once you've gotten through season one, go check out Lostpedia for the juicy stuff.

"Lost" gets my highest possible recommendation, as I seriously do believe it might be the best show in the history of television. Granted, I haven't watched every single TV show ever produced, but from what I have seen, this show stands out in a unique, enthralling way every single week. I'm depressed that this season is almost over already, but am already looking forward to a year from now, when the final countdown will begin. It's that good.

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