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Befuddled and Lost
May 24, 2010 - 5:16pm

Now that it's in the past, I can safely admit my addiction to the TV show Lost. I could go weeks and months without watching anything else, but Lost had me from "hello". The drama, the scenery, the puzzles, the characters . . . I couldn't bear to miss a single episode. And didn't dare to, since each one held out the promise of a clue to help me figure out just what these writers were up to. They proclaimed from the beginning that the characters weren't dead, that the thing wasn't a dream, that all would be explained and that the explanation would make sense. Clearly, they had a wonderful back-story in mind which contained explanations for all manner of odd business.

Except they didn't. And it didn't. And now it never will.

I tried to be reasonable in my expectations. From the beginning, I was willing to suspend a tremendous amount of disbelief. As the plot machinations got more complex and the number of remaining episodes dwindled, I reconciled myself to the fact that not all would be explained. That there would be gaps in the 2500-year history of the island requiring logical interpolation. That some things (for instance, the first involvement of a member of the Widmore family) might result from happenstance. That some of the intricacies of the Dharma Initiative and its funder, the Hanso Foundation, would remain unaddressed. That I'd likely never understand how Rose's cancer was healed, and how Locke could walk again.

But I took the writers/producers at their word that there was a back-story. That at least some of the interesting stuff would be explained in a reasonable, logical manner. That all the love expressed in all the fan-written "final transmissions" wouldn't go entirely unrequited.

As it is, I am reminded once more just how much I hate television. Especially network television. Next time, I'm going to enter an appropriate 12-step program the moment I start getting interested in any series where the story arc is longer than a single episode.

I mean, let's face it, there hasn't been a really good series finale since Star Trek - The Next Generation. And that ended in 1994!

I hated the ending of The Sopranos but, compared to what has come since, at least that one was honest in its duplicity. (Fitting, don't you think?) At least David Chase ran a legitimate con in such a manner that the audience knew they'd been suckered and was willing to laugh, learn, forgive.

But the finale of the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica wimped out (unless the ongoing prequel which is Caprica establishes some believable subjective logic). And the end of Lost was even worse. Dime-store theology at Owl Creek Bridge. What a let-down.

It needn't have been such. The major puzzles presented could have been resolved within an appropriate mythos. It wouldn't have been complete, and it wouldn't have been fully logical, but it didn't need either completeness or logic. It just needed something. Which is more than the writers delivered.

Any culture is, in large part, motivated by the stories it tells itself about itself. If Lost, indeed, falls into that category then I'm even less optimistic for the future than I was a year ago.

 

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