I mean, the title of this post is certainly no joke, maybe not even a controversy at this point. The Wire isn't on TV anymore (and I didn't even watch it while it was). I've heard that BSG went out with a whimper, not a bang (and I'm only now catching up on that, too). Cheers? The Cosby Show? The Sporanos? Seinfield was hilarious, but are we seriously continuing this discussion?
LOST is unlike anything else before, even those that it owes an obvious debt to. Yeah, The Prisoner set out to tell a story, and yes, it did so, but not on this scope. Not with this many influences, not with as ambitious an aim. Doctor Who gets a lot of love as a sci-fi/fantasy show and Buffy is worshiped by the geeks, but neither of those work on this level - the ultimate conflict.
In its final season, LOST is continually picking up steam (minus the sub-par "Recon" last week) every single episode. Last night's "Ab Aeterno" was no exception. The focus was on Richard, the badassest of all the Others, mainly because (according to last night's show) he might have been the first. He was definitely special a long time before anyone else, even though there had clearly been others around before him.
A couple things stood out in the episode, which satisfied overall, but was still less than I wanted. (Not that this is a bad thing. This is the right way to treat a customer. You should never give them everything they want. Right?) First of all, Jacob was clearly a lot more raw than we've ever seen him. The immediate reaction there is that he must be younger. But he can't be, right? I mean, the Man in Black says that he's been there much longer and the statue certainly seems to imply so. Also, Jacob told Richard that there'd been other people on the island before he brought Richard. However, based on his actions and his tone, I've got to think that Richard is the first one he's brought in a long time. (All of this has happened before and all of this will happen again?) Maybe Richard is the start of Jacob's fascination with numbers. Maybe he's number 108. Maybe 108 is supposed to look like JOB, as in; The Book Of. Or the trial of. Maybe. But one way or another, Jacob was not nearly as well-put-together as we've always seen him.
Secondly, the Man in Black is disarmingly honest. As he should be. He's got a lot of good points on his side. More on this is but a moment. (But seriously, how good was it to see Titus Welliver playing him again? He's awesome!)
Thirdly, I can't believe that I'm hearing people complaining about Richard switching sides, or having his loyalty tested or what not. He's put up with a remarkable amount of a tremendous amount of time, and he's been the good soldier. Also, I'm 100% positive that even if he'd meant his request to Jacob about living forever literally (which he didn't!) he would have asked for some other stuff first! Which he did. Jacob is an incredibly tasking master. And it's hard to play for someone who will never give you a straight answer and refuses to answer some questions while taking others at literal face-value. Richard's had a hard road.
Last, the best things about LOST: if Jacob is the stand-in for God (and I'm honestly not sure what else you could call him - you could make it sound less impressive, sure, but you'd just be playing semantics; he's obviously the quote positive-force-in-control. That's a heavy load in and of itself) he's going to have a lot of trouble at the end of this show. And he should. It's always harder to be on the side of right. The Man in Black gets to promise all kinds of ludicrous things, which he may or may not be able to deliver on. (My money's on yes, to be honest. But it would always be twisted in some way that was unforeseen, like the oldest story known to man.) But
It's big ideas like these that make LOST an ambitious work and a human work. I'm absolutely positive that we won't have the answers to all of the questions at the end. But...there's nothing inherently wrong with that. The fact is, the show set out to tell a story. At this point, it's incredibly close to telling not only an engaging story, not only a story that's ambitious in scope, not only a variation on one of the oldest and most popular themes, but doing all of the above in a unique, engaging way, in a format that's rarely, if ever, been used to the same aim.
Here's to a strong close.