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April 26, 2010 1:46 PM   Subscribe

Here, There Be Spoilers: As "L O S T" Ends, Creators Explain How They Did It, What’s Going On. (Previously on MeFi)
posted by zarq (226 comments total) 33 users marked this as a favorite

 
I guess you have to be as vague as possible, but how many and what sort of spoilers, before I read it?
posted by codacorolla at 1:49 PM on April 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Geez, I tried to read it, because I don't watch the show and just want to know the big secret. And even the article that supposedly spills the beans is a huge, sprawling, indecipherable mess. I guess there may be spoilers in there somewhere, but I couldn't find them.
posted by drjimmy11 at 1:51 PM on April 26, 2010 [8 favorites]


Spoilers about things that have aired? Or real spoilers?? Without clarification, this post is just too scary to anyone who actually watches the show!
posted by moxiedoll at 1:52 PM on April 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


I prefer Monkey Island for my island-based mysteries.
posted by turgid dahlia at 1:53 PM on April 26, 2010 [31 favorites]


No spoilers if you're up to date on the show.
posted by emelenjr at 1:55 PM on April 26, 2010 [5 favorites]


Insert disk 23.
posted by Mwongozi at 1:56 PM on April 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


I like the WD-40 they keep in their office. No doubt they use this to fit incomprehensible square peg-shaped reveals into gaping round chasm-esque plot holes.

Plus they've got those nice UniBall pens sitting there but they're using hotel stationery.

It's all coming together.
posted by turgid dahlia at 1:56 PM on April 26, 2010 [6 favorites]


Geez, I tried to read it, because I don't watch the show and just want to know the big secret. And even the article that supposedly spills the beans is a huge, sprawling, indecipherable mess. I guess there may be spoilers in there somewhere, but I couldn't find them.

Exactly what I came here to say.
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 2:03 PM on April 26, 2010


I like the WD-40 they keep in their office. No doubt they use this to fit incomprehensible square peg-shaped reveals into gaping round chasm-esque plot holes.

Yeah, that, or they just huff the shit.
posted by Sys Rq at 2:05 PM on April 26, 2010 [10 favorites]


Wow, I can't believe Sayid kills Dumbledore.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 2:05 PM on April 26, 2010 [29 favorites]


drjimmy11: “Geez, I tried to read it, because I don't watch the show and just want to know the big secret. And even the article that supposedly spills the beans is a huge, sprawling, indecipherable mess.”

Damnit, now you've ruined it. And I was actually looking forward to watching the ending. Thanks a lot, jerk.
posted by koeselitz at 2:07 PM on April 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


Geez, I tried to read it, because I don't watch the show and just want to know the big secret. And even the article that supposedly spills the beans is a huge, sprawling, indecipherable mess. I guess there may be spoilers in there somewhere, but I couldn't find them.

That's because the spoiler is that season 6 is a huge, sprawling, indecipherable mess.
posted by Mcable at 2:07 PM on April 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


From the article, Carton Cruse talking: At the beginning the secret was that the show didn’t announce itself as a genre show, so it could be about the characters. The audience got invested in the characters first and the mythology second. We were criticized for not having the characters talk about the mythology, and we were like, “That’s right, that’s our dirty little secret.”

Dude, it got to the point where I couldn't respect characters who didn't seem to ask basic questions about what the hell was going on.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:08 PM on April 26, 2010 [4 favorites]


It was all Pam's dream.
posted by MrMoonPie at 2:08 PM on April 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm sorry LOST is ending, if only because I fear this will give Abrams some free time which he will fill by turning his full attention to similarly mucking-up Fringe.
posted by Thorzdad at 2:12 PM on April 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


I once heard an interview with the creators of Lost right when it was going south real fast, like mid season three or something.

I was really flabbergasted by how inarticulate they were. Not all good writers speak well, but they honestly didn't seem to have a clue in terms of narrative arc and all that.

Plus, they revealed that Ben Linus wasn't supposed to be on for more than a few shows, and then they wrote a bigger part for him. Which added to my sense that the show was a cobbled-together mess.

One reason why I really loved listening to the Ron Moore podcasts of BSG is that you could hear him turning this big story arc in his head and mulling over how the individual episodes fit in.

Although the podcast for the finale sort of sounded like he had lost his way.
posted by angrycat at 2:12 PM on April 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


I think I stopped watching once they started time traveling, or right before it, once what's-his-name starting shifting back to parallel universe. The mysticism and mythology jumped the shark and I much preferred the physics-based representation. Time traveling ALWAYS feels like a cop-out, we-wrote-ourselves-into-a-corner,-shit way out which I can't stop but roll my eyes at.

Basically, I should be on the edge of my seat running through my head the ways something can end. When you play the "FUCK YEAH TIME TRAVEL" card, it just breaks everything else, since the rules you play by are obviously far too fluid and I don't get to have fun hypothesizing anymore, since I have no idea what other crazy wild cards you'll introduce.
posted by disillusioned at 2:12 PM on April 26, 2010 [10 favorites]


I’m sure I’m not the first to say it, but I just don’t get Lost. One hundred percent absolutely do not get it.
posted by spitefulcrow at 2:13 PM on April 26, 2010 [4 favorites]


MetaFilter: a huge, sprawling, indecipherable mess.
posted by spitefulcrow at 2:13 PM on April 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


I'm sorry LOST is ending, if only because I fear this will give Abrams some free time which he will fill by turning his full attention to similarly mucking-up Fringe.

Abrams hasn't been involved much in Lost in quite some time. If I recall correctly, it's been Cuse and Lindelof's show since then. Abrams has been off making movies and shit.
posted by sparkletone at 2:17 PM on April 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


I am very glad I never started watching this. What a very, very, very small subset of humanity I am.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 2:18 PM on April 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


I have not seen one episode of LOST.

I do have a TV.

That is all.
posted by mazola at 2:18 PM on April 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


I've watched Lost for its full run, but I very happy to see it go in a few weeks.

I've said it many times now, but Lost is thinking man's TV for dumb people.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 2:21 PM on April 26, 2010 [20 favorites]


Eh, it's not as compelling as it was in the second season but it's a fun soap opera-y kind of thing.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:23 PM on April 26, 2010


Judging solely by how much people on MetaFilter vocally detest this show, it must be pretty popular.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:29 PM on April 26, 2010 [23 favorites]


The final season has already given me Richard Alpert on horseback in the rain.

I am content.
posted by mmmbacon at 2:31 PM on April 26, 2010 [17 favorites]


Spoilers about things that have aired? Or real spoilers?? Without clarification, this post is just too scary to anyone who actually watches the show!

Apologies. I haven't watched the show since the second season, so I wasn't sure what the article might spoil. Thankfully, emelenjr weighed in. :)
posted by zarq at 2:33 PM on April 26, 2010


I maintained from the beginning that they were just making stuff up as they went along. Which is fine; I do that all the time when I'm running RPGs and stuff (though there it's more of a defense mechanism against the horrible things Player Characters do to established plotlines). But it can work.

The problem is they never started going back and working out how everything would tie together, and instead they just kept answering questions with more questions. At some point, the fun has to end and you have to plan and prepare for that, if only by making sure you've got some idea what the Big Secret really is. You don't have to reveal the Big Secret, and it doesn't even have to be the SAME Big Secret all the way through, but there needs to be an Answer, or else you've got a tangle instead of a puzzle, convoluted instead of intricate.
posted by Scattercat at 2:33 PM on April 26, 2010 [4 favorites]


I suspect that the only way to truly appreciate Lost is with a singular Lost Binge where you watch every season in order over the course of a week.

One thing I have enjoyed are the hilarious lost cartoons that pop up on twitter during the show. The best ones are from nedroid
posted by hellojed at 2:33 PM on April 26, 2010 [5 favorites]


Sometimes I picture the post-apocalyptic future sort of like Mad Max, but with each roaming gang identifying with some TV show or the other. In all that chaos and maiming, I suspect the most legendary battles will be between LOSTies and Wire Heads. And after they exterminate each other fully, the lonely observer in the nearby hilltop will unfurl his Kolchak banner and head on to the barren lands to tell the tale in exchange for some grub.
posted by Iosephus at 2:37 PM on April 26, 2010 [8 favorites]


I like Lost, without apologies. I am enjoying the final season very much. I'm glad that enough people have continued to watch the show to keep it running. Please send money.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:39 PM on April 26, 2010 [10 favorites]


The plotting of Lost reminds me of my days as a Storyteller for a Vampire LARP. We'd start the school year just making stuff up as we went along. Some plots and scenes would be a huge hit, others would be ignored. Around the start of the Spring semester, all us STs would sit down and put our heads together and cobble an overarching plot out of the stuff people liked.

"Er, yeah," I'd say at the year end wrap party, "We had it all planned out all along!"

And then a cute goth girl in a leather corset would pour me another glass of red, red wine.

I suspect the brains behind Lost have similar motivations.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 2:39 PM on April 26, 2010 [9 favorites]


I’m sure I’m not the first to say it, but I just don’t get Lost. One hundred percent absolutely do not get it.

I'm with you. I posted this to my Facebook profile back in February:

"I am alternating randomly among 10-second chunks of 'Fantasy Island', 'X-Files', the 1938 Olympic Games, episode six of 'Cosmos', 'Planet of the Apes', and a NOVA documentary about photosynthesis. I figure the overall effect will be comparable to watching tonight's LOST premiere."
posted by Ratio at 2:42 PM on April 26, 2010 [8 favorites]


To whom it may concern:

It turns out there is, in fact, a definitively spoiler-ish easter-egg in this article (I won't actually give the spoiler here, so Losties can keep reading, but I'll tell you how to find it if you're interested): it's in the picture of Damon and Carlton in their office on the article's first page. Notice that there is an area of heavy glare on the whiteboard behind them. Look carefully, and you'll see the names of the next two episodes. If you look even more carefully, and apply a bit of logic and lost-fan type knowledge, and you'll get pretty juicy piece of info...

It definitely isn't a huge, show-ruining type of spoiler, but I will say that it's big enough that I wish I hadn't seen it (though it does excite me greatly). You have been warned.
posted by DZack at 2:44 PM on April 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


In 2004, ABC called on producer J.J. Abrams to create a prime-time drama that capitalized on the success of Survivor: something tropical, Cast Away-ish, and closer to Lord of the Flies than Gilligan’s Island.

Actually, they called on a young writer named Jeffrey Lieber to create a prime-time drama that capitalized on the success of Survivor: something tropical, Cast Away-ish, closer to Lord of the Flies than Gilligan’s Island - and painstakingly true to life.
Lieber recalls that they had only one major complaint: they told him to cut a scene in which a shark killed one of the castaways. Too unrealistic, Lieber recalls them saying.
Somewhat later, the head of ABC tossed the script to Abrams and asked him to jazz it up a bit. The rest - minus some Writers' Guild arbitration - is history.
posted by Iridic at 2:45 PM on April 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


I’m sure I’m not the first to say it, but I just don’t get Lost. One hundred percent absolutely do not get it.

I liked the first season. They took a bunch of people from various backgrounds, threw them into a very weird, difficult situation and showed why they react they do by using flashbacks to their normal lives. The bits of mystery- the noises, the others, the smoke, etc could be explained away by normal paranoia and fear. But, they kept doubling down on the stupid. I mean, the lighthouse mirrors? ugh.
posted by stavrogin at 2:47 PM on April 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Somewhere in that office is an Edgar Wallace Plot Wheel: Stoners' Edition.
posted by tigrefacile at 2:48 PM on April 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


One thing I have enjoyed are the hilarious lost cartoons that pop up on twitter during the show. The best ones are from nedroid

Sweet jesus, those nedroid ones are fantastic.
posted by sparkletone at 2:49 PM on April 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


turgid dahlia: "I like the WD-40 they keep in their office."

I liked noticing the indeterminate greenish plantlike substance in the baggy directly behind the WD-40.
posted by mwhybark at 2:50 PM on April 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


This is why I liked "The Prisoner" better: as mind-fucking as the whole thing was, each episode was more or less self-contained, and yet they STILL managed a final episode that worked out a degree of closure AND a cliff-hanger at the same time.

Sometimes there's something to be said for the good old days of episodic television.
posted by briank at 2:50 PM on April 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


This is why I liked "The Prisoner" better: as mind-fucking as the whole thing was, each episode was more or less self-contained, and yet they STILL managed a final episode that worked out a degree of closure AND a cliff-hanger at the same time.

If I recall, the writer of said show, famously, had to leave the country when the finale aired.

Let's hope things go better for Lindelof and Cuse.
posted by sparkletone at 2:56 PM on April 26, 2010


I got roped in by the bizarro science, now I can't get away even though the characters are completely ridiculous now.

I can't hate on the writers for making it up as they go along, 'cause that's how they made Doctor Who back in the day. And that's pretty much my modus operandi as well.
posted by vortex genie 2 at 2:57 PM on April 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


I've said this before, but nobody who writes long form serial fiction 'plans it all out in advance'. Even JMS in B5 pulled stuff out of his ass as he went along. This goes for tv, for comic books and even Charles Dickens.

They key is that if you throw enough narrative balls in the air, even if you only catch half of them on the way down, it still looks like an impressive juggling act.

That said, I'm down for a game of spotting the dropped balls in Lost.

here are my nominations: Walt, the numbers and libby in the insane asylum. Actually most of the second half of season 2 and the beginning of season 3 was a complete clusterfuck.
posted by empath at 2:57 PM on April 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


oops, it's more behind the cup of pens, near the beer. I was working from memory.
posted by mwhybark at 2:57 PM on April 26, 2010


I have three TVs, one black-and-white, one fairly standard set (circa 1985), and one HTDV. They're all in a coat closet, though I've removed the door and bricked the doorway shut, then plastered the wall flush. I applied new wallpaper to that wall, so if you didn't know better, there would never have been a doorway there in the first place. But I know they're there.

I keep them, hidden from the world but ever-present, to remind me of the past that I can never return to, the present which is always a let-down, and the future which will forever taunt me with unattainable potential.

Also, I can then tell people "I'm sorry, I don't watch TV," and sigh in a genuinely mysterious way.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:59 PM on April 26, 2010 [7 favorites]


Hey, there's a Beaker on his desk. :) Lower right.
posted by zarq at 3:01 PM on April 26, 2010


I like Lost, without apologies. I will say, though, that I'm not sure I would enjoy it as much without the help of Lostpedia, especially when they casually bring back some character or refer to a previous plot point which hasn't come up in the last twenty episodes or so.

Also, the aforementioned nedroid is in fact MeFi's Own™ Nedroid.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 3:02 PM on April 26, 2010


Time traveling ALWAYS feels like a cop-out, we-wrote-ourselves-into-a-corner,-shit way out which I can't stop but roll my eyes at.

It really isn't, in Lost's case. They're not using time travel as a gimmick or to conveniently slice through a few Gordian plot twists, but rather to broaden and deepen the characters and their backgrounds. It gives the ones we know a different context in which to act (see Sawyer LeFleur in Dharmaville) and allows us to meet new characters up close, without having to use flashbacks (like Ben's father or the Dharma scientist guy). The flash-sideways do pretty much the same thing in that they show us additional facets of the Losties, bouncing their character traits across radically different circumstances. It helps us see what really makes them who they are, like personality sonar.

And I must say, I'm liking the direction the show has been going in the last couple of seasons. People complain about the intricacy and weirdness of the plot, but that's really not what the show is about. Things like the Numbers and the Dharma Stations are great for atmosphere, but the show is really about the tension between basic themes -- reason and faith, destiny and free will, the inherent goodness or badness of human nature -- and how the characters puzzle out those tensions.

Is Jacob really a benevolent guide, or a manipulative control freak? Is the Man In Black a rational actor who merely wants freedom for himself and others, or is the case he makes for voluntary allegiance really a deal with the devil? Do the main characters have a choice in any of this, or will fate always pull them back to where they belong? And which choices will they make, given what we've already seen of them over the years? In the end, the answers to those questions are a hell of a lot more interesting than "Is Walt psychic?" or "Why did that statue have four toes?"
posted by Rhaomi at 3:03 PM on April 26, 2010 [23 favorites]


Also, I'm pretty sure that in the final episode, they will finally get the Minnow seaworthy and make it back to Honolulu, only to find that they are the last - or is it first - people on Earth. Sawyer will take the boat and go far away from Gilligan. Then Kate will turn into a pigeon, or an angel or something, as Jack chases the bird around in a flashback. Then we'll see Berman, in a cameo on a Vancouver street, picking up a newspaper. As he picks it up, the shot fades to black over Journey's Don't Stop Believin'.

Then Ripley wakes up. It was all a dream on the way to LV-426.
posted by mwhybark at 3:07 PM on April 26, 2010 [8 favorites]


I only started watching lost cuz a hawt girl told me to. I only ever liked Sayid and Alpert, they killed Sayid. I kinda now understand why all the other characters are so god damn awful, gotta make Jacob and the Smoke Monster appear cool and relaxed.

I've never been impressed by these "big mystery we make up as we go along" shows, yes American Gothic had substance, but the X-Files was trash. It's fine if stories play upon philosophical big questions while delivering a story that doesn't answer them, well Shakespeare nailed that, but yeah Lost is thinking man's TV for dumb people.
posted by jeffburdges at 3:08 PM on April 26, 2010


Reminds me of Michael Scott promising his staff a big surprise to make up for the health plan cuts. He shows up with a bag of ice cream sandwiches from the gas station, and right away someone says "That's not the big surprise, is it?" to which he replies, "No." That's when he's truly backed himself into a corner.

(Never actually watched more than five minutes of Lost)
posted by evilcolonel at 3:12 PM on April 26, 2010 [5 favorites]


I live in constant fear that the show is going to rely on some sort of dues ex machina and spin it with some Physics! that I'll be hurt, angered and alone. Sort of like when you're going out with a girl who you think is cool and she tells you how much she enjoys Joy Division's Warsaw and then you go back to her place and find nothing but Lady Gaga pop and you realize she was just trying to impress you and you feel conned, like how did I not see this coming (the fact that this is actually a recurring theme on the show does no give me hope).
posted by geoff. at 3:14 PM on April 26, 2010


I only started watching lost cuz a hawt girl told me to. I only ever liked Sayid and Alpert, they killed Sayid.

As of last Tuesday, Sayid isn't dead.
posted by mmmbacon at 3:14 PM on April 26, 2010


I recognized the writers were winging it several years ago, when they revealed that the Ben Linus character was supposed to be an also-ran, but Michael Emerson's performance rated so highly with focus groups, they had to keep him on.

But I've still been impressed, because they've mastered the "you think the bad guys are bad until you meet the worse guys" concept that, while not groundbreaking, can be hard to pull off.

I mean ... we meet the Dharma people ... and then we realize the Others are the real bad guys ... only they're trying to stave off Widmore's mercenaries ... and then Faraday wants detonate a hydrogen bomb ... oh, and then it's a cosmic battle between demigods ... until Widmore shows up again, using Desmond as a human guinea pig and what happens if Widmore really wins ... and WTF did Desmond really run over a dude in a wheelchair? ... the stakes keep getting raised effectively. I like it. Tip o' the cap.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 3:16 PM on April 26, 2010 [10 favorites]


I enjoy Lost well enough, and am all caught up, but christ I'll be glad when it wraps up.
posted by everichon at 3:16 PM on April 26, 2010


As of last Tuesday, Sayid isn't dead.

This doesn't appear to be the same Sayid we grew to know over the last 5 seasons anymore than Smokey is really Locke. Which is not to say I think the same thing is going on with Sayid just that... Well. He really did die and he's back know but maybe dying and coming back kinda blows (it wasn't much fun for Buffy).
posted by sparkletone at 3:17 PM on April 26, 2010


Also, I'm pretty sure that in the final episode, they will finally get the Minnow seaworthy and make it back to Honolulu, only to find that they are the last - or is it first - people on Earth. ?

But will the lost on LOST have the Harlem Globetrotters appear in a reprieve special episode?
posted by GuyZero at 3:18 PM on April 26, 2010


They're not using time travel as a gimmick or to conveniently slice through a few Gordian plot twists, but rather to broaden and deepen the characters and their backgrounds.

I read the hydrogen bomb plotline/flash sideways as a riff on Nietzsche's eternal return:
What, if some day or night a demon were to steal after you into your loneliest loneliness and say to you: "This life as you now live it and have lived it, you will have to live once more and innumerable times more; and there will be nothing new in it, but every pain and every joy and every thought and sigh and everything unutterably small or great in your life will have to return to you, all in the same succession and sequence — even this spider and this moonlight between the trees, and even this moment and I myself. The eternal hourglass of existence is turned upside down again and again, and you with it, speck of dust!"

Would you not throw yourself down and gnash your teeth and curse the demon who spoke thus? Or have you once experienced a tremendous moment when you would have answered him: "You are a god and never have I heard anything more divine." If this thought gained possession of you, it would change you as you are and perhaps crush you. The question in each and every thing, "Do you desire this once more and innumerable times more?" would lie upon your actions as the greatest weight. Or how well disposed would you have to become to yourself and to life to crave nothing more fervently than this ultimate eternal confirmation and seal?
That was the question that they had to answer at the end of last season, and we're seeing the consequences played out. Note: it's a psychological question about character rather than a physics question about parallel universes, etc.
posted by empath at 3:18 PM on April 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


Hi! Could everyone who hasn't watched LOST or wants to say they stopped watching it partway through Season 1 or 2 or 3 or who thinks it's completely made up on the spot or who is really eager to say that the mysteries are abandoned or the questions are answered with more questions please form a line in one of the billions of other LOST threads that have been filled with those same statements so that I can talk about a thing I enjoy with other people who enjoy it?
posted by shakespeherian at 3:19 PM on April 26, 2010 [28 favorites]


I recognized the writers were winging it several years ago, when they revealed that the Ben Linus character was supposed to be an also-ran, but Michael Emerson's performance rated so highly with focus groups, they had to keep him on.

Worse than that: Jack was supposed to die in the pilot episode.
posted by empath at 3:21 PM on April 26, 2010


I agree, sparkletone, that Sayid might be different, or dying. I personally think he's the same old bad ass and that he's going to end up redeeming himself by killing Flocke or something. I also highly doubt that we will ever get a good explanation on how/why he was brought back to life.

I just didn't want jeffburdges to think one of his two favorite characters was dead.
posted by mmmbacon at 3:22 PM on April 26, 2010


evilcolonel: Reminds me of Michael Scott promising his staff a big surprise to make up for the health plan cuts. He shows up with a bag of ice cream sandwiches from the gas station, and right away someone says "That's not the big surprise, is it?" to which he replies, "No." That's when he's truly backed himself into a corner.

(Never actually watched more than five minutes of Lost)
It would be understatement to say that is the single most apt description of LOST's piss-poor, mentally-challenged, monkey-fucking gaggle of hack writers- and the reason why I stopped watching 6 episodes into season 3- that has ever been typed.

Also: thinking man's TV for really dumb people.
posted by hincandenza at 3:22 PM on April 26, 2010


shakespeherian: Hi! Could everyone who hasn't watched LOST or wants to say they stopped watching it partway through Season 1 or 2 or 3 or who thinks it's completely made up on the spot or who is really eager to say that the mysteries are abandoned or the questions are answered with more questions please form a line in one of the billions of other LOST threads that have been filled with those same statements so that I can talk about a thing I enjoy with other people who enjoy it?
This isn't a thread, it's an intervention to help those poor souls who think LOST is good TV and worth your time. Have a seat on the couch... we need to talk.
posted by hincandenza at 3:23 PM on April 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


Could everyone who hasn't watched LOST or wants to say they stopped watching it partway through Season 1 or 2 or 3 or who thinks it's completely made up on the spot or who is really eager to say that the mysteries are abandoned or the questions are answered with more questions please form a line in one of the billions of other LOST threads that have been filled with those same statements so that I can talk about a thing I enjoy with other people who enjoy it?

The best part of fandom is talking about everything you hate about what you love.
posted by empath at 3:23 PM on April 26, 2010 [6 favorites]


I recognized the writers were winging it several years ago, when they revealed that the Ben Linus character was supposed to be an also-ran, but Michael Emerson's performance rated so highly with focus groups, they had to keep him on.

It was the right decision. That guy deserves to be way more than the teeny character actor he was before Lost got hold of him.

As far as making it up... Yeah, I'm sure they had vague notions at the beginning, but were basically winging it since they didn't know how long the show's been on. They've said several times that part of the reason they wanted an end date from the network was so they could tell a story with all three parts, not just a beginning, and then so much middle that everyone stopped caring.

The end of season three (which coincidentally was around when they agreed with ABC to do X more episodes) felt like the car being pulled back on to the road, and the show's been much, much better since.
posted by sparkletone at 3:25 PM on April 26, 2010 [5 favorites]


Also: thinking man's TV for really dumb people.

Hey guys, can we knock THIS off, though? Cause you all are coming off as smug assholes.
posted by empath at 3:25 PM on April 26, 2010 [10 favorites]


This is why I liked "The Prisoner" better: as mind-fucking as the whole thing was, each episode was more or less self-contained, and yet they STILL managed a final episode that worked out a degree of closure AND a cliff-hanger at the same time.


I like the Prisoner better for exactly the opposite reasons: Absolutely no attempt whatsoever at overarching continuity, and a finale that is a giant, unmistakable "FUCK YOU" to anybody looking for anything like a coherent resolution. I've always thought it was just a gonzo excercise in tweaking the audience's expecations while paying no heed at all to their demands.
posted by anazgnos at 3:26 PM on April 26, 2010


I have not seen one episode of LOST.

No one would expect you to have seen one episode of LOST, unlike other ubiquitous TV phenomena. You've either seen them all, or never bothered or quit after season two.
posted by milestogo at 3:27 PM on April 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Lost is thinking man's TV for dumb people.

I'm pretty damned smart, and I love Lost.
posted by billyfleetwood at 3:27 PM on April 26, 2010 [4 favorites]


Hey guys, can we knock THIS off, though? Cause you all are coming off as smug assholes.

So, wait, hincandenza is actually several people?

What a plot twist!
posted by Sys Rq at 3:27 PM on April 26, 2010



I enjoy Lost well enough, and am all caught up, but christ I'll be glad when it wraps up.


God yes
posted by milestogo at 3:27 PM on April 26, 2010


To Do list:

Pick up some milk

Pay bills

Find a Lost thread on Metafilter and piss off shakespeherian
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:28 PM on April 26, 2010 [4 favorites]


I was one of Lost's biggest fans, and I've been watching it faithfully the whole time. I had been actively anticipating and talking about season 6 months before it aired. I've obsessively read Lostpedia. Hell, I still host Lost parties at my house every Tuesday.

But it's gotten to the point where I only still watch it because it's an excuse to socialize with similarly disappointed peers. Season 6 of Lost is the worst season of television I have ever seen.

The writing is seriously bad. So much worse than it used to be. I remember one scene this season where Jack walks in on Kate in the woods, and she was pointing a gun on him, clearly surprised that it was him. Then she said "I almost shot you!" That bad.

They are rushing to solve all the mysteries now and there is absolutely no tack at all to any of the reveals. Last week's episode contained like three huge reveals in the first 10 minutes, and they were all answered in the most straight forward, boring way possible. This is what I waited six seasons to learn?

Which is to say, some of us hung on this whole time because we really thought that the writers were building to something. That they had a plan. That they cared about telling a story. In actuality, they just built a show on suspense, plan on caring it out as long as possible, and are perfectly content to disappoint an entire nation of fans.
posted by lunit at 3:29 PM on April 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


So, wait, hincandenza is actually several people?

What a plot twist!


It was the third time someone said it in the thread.
posted by empath at 3:29 PM on April 26, 2010


MetaFilter: coming off as smug assholes
posted by mwhybark at 3:30 PM on April 26, 2010


This isn't a thread, it's an intervention to help those poor souls who think LOST is good TV and worth your time. Have a seat on the couch... we need to talk.

(When the DMZ finally forms in you, you'll be a fan. That's the real horror of IJ's beginning.)
posted by sparkletone at 3:30 PM on April 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


Also how do I read this article?
posted by turgid dahlia at 3:30 PM on April 26, 2010


To Do list:

Pick up some milk


The joke's on you. That's skim.
posted by shakespeherian at 3:31 PM on April 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


Questions:

What night does Lost come on in the US?

What's the final air date? How many episodes are left?

Is there a quick summary, say no more than a page or two (think standard american paper) of the show up to the current episodes this season?

Namaste
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:32 PM on April 26, 2010


Namaste

If only there were some searchable, vast information network that might contain such things...
posted by sparkletone at 3:35 PM on April 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Is there a quick summary, say no more than a page or two (think standard american paper) of the show up to the current episodes this season?

Lost in 8:15
posted by empath at 3:39 PM on April 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


Is there a quick summary, say no more than a page or two (think standard american paper) of the show up to the current episodes this season?

Ha!

(I sincerely hope for all the Losties out there that the series resolves better than, say, X-Files or BSG did. But I have my doubts.)
posted by kmz at 3:40 PM on April 26, 2010


They all drive off a cliff, after which it is revealed that all along, they were all just a figment of M. Night Shayamalan's imagination.

It was the third time someone said it in the thread.

Oh, hey, how 'bout that!

posted by Sys Rq at 3:43 PM on April 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


There are three remaining regular hour-long episodes which air on Tuesdays, followed by a 2-hour finale on Sunday May 23 which is preceded by a 2-hour series recap and followed by an hour long Jimmy Kimmel talk show devoted entirely to LOST.

However one does not simply walk into Mordor LOST. The Lostpedia has some summaries, but really the show is so complex that trying to simplify it down to a page is really not going to do a lot of good.
posted by Rhomboid at 3:44 PM on April 26, 2010


Lost in 8:15

I'd seen this before, but forgot how truly awesome the tiny bits of snark are: "Mr. Friendly throws like a girl." I LOL'd.

Also, this is, of course, a semi-worthless, reductive way of catching up, when the DVDs exist, and the whole thing is streamable on Netflix. Like reading a summary of the first 80% of a Dickens or Dumas novel so that you can read the last few chapters.

Yr doing it wrong.

These are useful refreshers for people who'd previously seen the episodes though!
posted by sparkletone at 3:44 PM on April 26, 2010


They are rushing to solve all the mysteries now and there is absolutely no tack at all to any of the reveals. Last week's episode contained like three huge reveals in the first 10 minutes, and they were all answered in the most straight forward, boring way possible.

I think the reason the show handles it's mysteries like it does is that those "huge reveals" aren't really important to Cuse and Lindelof. What they see as important is the overall story and idea of the show, not necessarily some relatively insignificant fact.

So while you might be disappointed to see questions about Christian Shepherd on the island handled offhandedly, that mystery isn't something of utmost importance to the minds behind Lost.

Or something.
posted by DoublePlus at 3:50 PM on April 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


when the DVDs exist, and the whole thing is streamable on Netflix.

You're talking about a 90 hour commitment here.
posted by empath at 3:50 PM on April 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Is there a quick summary, say no more than a page or two (think standard american paper) of the show up to the current episodes this season?

People crash land on an island. They then find that they aren't the only ones on the island and the island does all kinds of crazy things (voices in the woods, smoke monster, dead people appearing). There emerge two leaders (Jack and John, two leaders is a theme on the show and is recurring) the former who relies on just the science ma'am and the other believes in faith (he was crippled and after the crash could walk). Anyway, they find out that there is another group on the island and they're actually living comfortably. They have a kind of hippie science 60s cult vibe going and are doing all sorts of 60-70s type psychological experiments. You also learn that the island is powerful and it has something to do with electricity.

The island is divided into two camps, the plane crash people and the well funded 60s hippies who terrorize them. Eventually plane crash people get fed up with the 60s hippies and take them over, ostensibly just to get off the island. They get off the island and then decide they need to get back (it feels right, faith, etc.), which is just as hard as getting on the island and relies on quantum physics and stuff.

They get back to the island and some of them start time traveling and you get the sense that the island is really old. The 60s hippie group we find out, was actually opposed to another group that was there before them. This group wiped out the 60s hippie group and then pretended to be them (or at least use their facilities). We begin to learn that a big theme of the show is us vs them and the various groups with different motives seem to form together over time. Keep in mind there's a lot of magical, "what is this island really for" stuff going on.

We also learn that there are two god like creatures in human form (they might be human but are ageless and really powerful). They've been here for a long time and seem to represent good vs evil but the show is not really as cut and dry as that. They've sort of been pulling the strings the entire time, but we don't know what they are or their motives except that they hate each other.

After the "good one" dies the bad one takes the form of John Locke (who has died at this point) and tries to get off the island. Right now no one has said explicitly why he's bad or what will happen if he gets off, just that it will be a Bad Thing and people either seem to accept it or not. Loose groups form around the good (dead) guy and the bad guy. This sort of mimics season one as there is a group that just wants to get off the island (bad guy group) and another group that wants to keep them there.

Keep in mind the show has A-plots and B-plots, where the B-plot was a flashback to the characters previous lives and how they were all connected but didn't know it (sort of). After they got done explaining the 100 different characters they switched to "side flashes" or what-ifs if the characters did not crash land on the island. There's some indication that this is "wrong" and the sideflash characters are becoming aware of this.

Add about 12 hours of romantic drama, needless action and a couple of other diversions and that's Lost. A lot of what keeps it going is that the same themes keep repeating themselves and done in a nice, organic way. Like groups form and reform, it doesn't feel contrived. There's also a freshman philosophy course theme underpinning the show. This is weak at best, and would probably have been incredibly hard to do right. This is why people refer to it as a "dumb person's smart show."

There's some strong acting and JJ Abrams is good at keeping the mystery going, but this definitely isn't The Wire or even The Sopranos. Some of the lead roles are so weak it is laughable (I'm looking at you Evangeline Lilly).
posted by geoff. at 3:52 PM on April 26, 2010 [22 favorites]


Last week's episode contained like three huge reveals in the first 10 minutes, and they were all answered in the most straight forward, boring way possible. This is what I waited six seasons to learn?

If you're talking about the MiB admitting he took the form of Christian, I think that may be a misdirect. Christian visited Jack in LA, which would not be possible if it was the MiB who is stuck on the island. So either there are multiple entities taking the form of Christian or the MiB was lying.
posted by Rhomboid at 3:53 PM on April 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


If only there were some searchable, vast information network that might contain such things...

If only there was a thread on a website, populated with fans who could more quickly rattle off the information...

Thank's empath, that rocked!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:53 PM on April 26, 2010


(I sincerely hope for all the Losties out there that the series resolves better than, say, X-Files or BSG did. But I have my doubts.)

Losties? I thought they were called "Losers".


I KEED
posted by Ratio at 3:53 PM on April 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


"To whom it may concern:

It turns out there is, in fact, a definitively spoiler-ish easter-egg in this article (I won't actually give the spoiler here, so Losties can keep reading, but I'll tell you how to find it if you're interested): it's in the picture of Damon and Carlton in their office on the article's first page. Notice that there is an area of heavy glare on the whiteboard behind them. Look carefully, and you'll see the names of the next two episodes. If you look even more carefully, and apply a bit of logic and lost-fan type knowledge, and you'll get pretty juicy piece of info..."

posted by Dzack

spoiler cos it is magnified and you can see all the whiteboard text: Do you mean this image?

sorry. i dont have a telly and have never watched lost.
posted by marienbad at 3:55 PM on April 26, 2010


You're talking about a 90 hour commitment here.

So? Does it matter whether the hours are spaced out over the course of years, instead of the course of weeks or months? And it's not like you can't stop before you hit 6xWhatever We're On if you decide the show's not for you. You can also do all kinds of other things that don't involve 100 episodes of TV, and are plenty satisfying in and of themselves!

I'm not sure how long it took me to read Count Of Monte Cristo, or, say, Sandman or Infinite Jest the first time. Or any number of other things. In every single case, reading a plot summary, and then reading the last 15-20% would've been a vastly degraded way to experience whatever bit of culture you care to choose as an example.

It's the equivalent of reading the blurb on the back of a DVD and then going to the chapter menu and watching the last 3 of them. You're doing it wrong.
posted by sparkletone at 3:58 PM on April 26, 2010


With a month to go, though, anyone who dropped out of the show would be well served to simply wait until a couple of weeks after the finale, see if the zeitgeist is "OMG THEY ACTUALLY PULLED IT OFF I CAN DIE WITH NO REGRETS!" or instead "WHO GAVE THOSE ASS CLOWN WRITING TIPS, RONALD D. MOORE?!" If it's the latter, no point in watching anything- but if it actually paid off, then yeah, go watch it out knowing the end will be satisfying.

Really, it's the problem with episodic TV in America, where it's a feature and not a bug to run indefinitely. As seen above and elsewhere, LOSTophiles allege the show got good once it had the constraints of a known end time (although people in this thread are saying that apparently even knowing 3 years ahead of time that they'd be ending in May 2010 didn't prevent them from cluster-fucking the reveals they've done this season). By comparison, movies and plays are written to be complete and self-contained as stories before a single audience member has sat down to watch the first seconds. Even BBC shows or the like that get a one-year, 6 or 8 episode run and that's that (with an outside chance they get to do the show again in a few years) means more attention is taken to plan out the whole arc, with potential balance of "beginning, middle, end", resolved questions, continuity passes, all done ahead of time.

The equivalent to episodic TV would be if Shakespeare was madly scribbling mode dialogue and scenes backstage in response to the audience, in real-time. It would have made for some shit plays, no? Which is what happens to shows like Lost, Heroes, or BSG which hinge on the "We're holding back secrets" suspense of the show's plot lines, when it becomes increasingly obvious that they a) have no idea where they're going with it beyond the gimmick they started with or b) are drawing out the conclusion they planned from the beginning to the detrement of drama or tension, and possibly c) had a clear ending, but got pissed off when everyone guessed it right at the beginning, so they threw continuity out the window just to spite people (see Scott, Michael and the 'ice cream sandwich' theory of television writing).

Just once I'd like to see a creative team take really seriously the "series bible" concept, and I imagine the ginormous balls and unparalleled creative integrity of a producer who did his Leno or Letterman interview about the new hit show with a Radio Flyer full of finished scripts saying:
"Yeah, well, glad you all are liking the show so far. We've actually written the whole 5 year arc, it's solid and tight and all complete, right there. We may refine the dialogue a bit, but every character, plot twist, and story arc is planned out ahead and finalized, like it or not. Hey, if we get canceled, oh well, but it's 5 years or bust, and we think we've crafted a meticulous, balanced, well written show that you'll all enjoy for 5 years."
Such a person would be like a god in TV writing land!
posted by hincandenza at 4:02 PM on April 26, 2010 [4 favorites]


JJ Abrams is good at keeping the mystery going

That was a pretty good summary, but again, Abrams hasn't been involved with the show since the first season. It's Lindelof and Cuse's baby and has been for years. Abrams isn't even coming back to direct the finale.
posted by sparkletone at 4:05 PM on April 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Such a person would be like a god in TV writing land!

Yeah: Nonexistent.
posted by Sys Rq at 4:11 PM on April 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


You're talking about a 90 hour commitment here

I watched all five seasons of The Wire in a few frantic weeks and it was AWESOME. Swear to God, it was mainlining literature, I was buzzing for weeks, despite the downer 5th season.

I actually loved the first season of Lost, loved that it was seemingly so character driven, but the relentless mystery got old in the second season, along with the previously mentioned characters who couldn't ask decent questions i.e. if they ask questions, it'll spoil the plot. Caught up with the show when six returned to the main land and that was good, but again the ridiculous amount of mystery was off putting.

That said, I love the idea of Lost and am glad it was a success, got a chance to spread its wings and come to finale on its own terms. I hope studios are as risk taking with future shows.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:11 PM on April 26, 2010


Just to clarify a small point about the introduction of Ben Linus as it's been used twice to prove that they're making it up as they go along:
Michael Emerson was cast to play Henry Gale in a four-episode arc with the proviso that if he was good (which he was) it would be revealed that Henry Gale was, in fact, Ben Linus, leader of the others. If Emerson proved to be a poor choice, another actor would be cast at a later date as Linus.
Cuse and Lindelof have always said that they have the overall arc and the arc of whatever season they're currently on planned out. The details get fleshed out as they go along but the big story is always the same.
posted by minifigs at 4:12 PM on April 26, 2010 [4 favorites]


I'm not sure how long it took me to read Count Of Monte Cristo, or, say, Sandman or Infinite Jest the first time

And yet most of the story arcs in Sandman are fairly self-contained, and I could whole heartedly recommend any of them (except the The Kindly Ones and The Wake) be read alone. I've often recommended that people read just A Game of You or A Doll's House or Dream Country, or even just a single issue (A Midsummer's Night Dream, depending on their tastes and level of interest. Of course reading the entire series has its own pleasures, but that doesn't make a piecemeal enjoyment of the work completely valueless.

I personally wouldn't recommend watching just the finale of Lost based on a summary, but I'd have had no problem telling people to jump in at the beginning of this season and catch up on older episodes when they have time.

I think well-written serial fiction can be picked up anywhere and read in any order, to be honest, because of the structure of nested narrative arcs that most of them adopt.
posted by empath at 4:16 PM on April 26, 2010


That said, I love the idea of Lost and am glad it was a success, got a chance to spread its wings and come to finale on its own terms. I hope studios are as risk taking with future shows.

Most shows that do this sort of thing succumb really, really, really badly to Twin Peaks/X-Files Syndrome eventually. While neither Lost nor BSG are perfect by any stretch, I like the though that show creators are starting to learn from those sorts of mistakes and are making shows that have most of the good sides of the mystery-driven show, but fewer of the downsides[1].

[1] - Again, acknowledging that neither show is flawless in this regard. Heroes is the big cockup of the batch. My understanding is that they had a plan, then had to make drastic changes due to Sylar's popularity, and then FURTHER drastic changes because the writer's strike fucked them over but good, and now they just did a season about evil carnies. Yeah. Carnies.
posted by sparkletone at 4:17 PM on April 26, 2010


I actually loved the first season of Lost, loved that it was seemingly so character driven, but the relentless mystery got old in the second season, along with the previously mentioned characters who couldn't ask decent questions i.e. if they ask questions, it'll spoil the plot. Caught up with the show when six returned to the main land and that was good, but again the ridiculous amount of mystery was off putting.

I know everyone says this, but it really does get better in Season 3. I thought halfway through season 2 it went off the rails, but the last 2/3rds of season 3 and on have been good.
posted by empath at 4:19 PM on April 26, 2010


"Yeah, well, glad you all are liking the show so far. We've actually written the whole 5 year arc, it's solid and tight and all complete, right there. We may refine the dialogue a bit, but every character, plot twist, and story arc is planned out ahead and finalized, like it or not. Hey, if we get canceled, oh well, but it's 5 years or bust, and we think we've crafted a meticulous, balanced, well written show that you'll all enjoy for 5 years."

I don't agree that would be a good thing. I think there's a happy medium between fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants and meticulously-planned-out-from-the-beginning. A complete lack of flexibility is a bad thing. I mean, JMS with Babylon 5 is probably the closest anyone's ever come to what you're suggesting, and even then he had to deal with all sorts of unexpected things such as actors leaving the show (Foreshadowed that the character played by one of the actors who left would marry another character? Oops.) and looking like it wouldn't get a fifth season, which meant pushing a bunch of the plot planned for the fifth season into the fourth, and then it did get a fifth season after all, which was kind of plodding now that he'd already done most of the plot planned for it. A complete lack of flexibility would make such problems worse, not better.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 4:22 PM on April 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


Oh nice one zarq, start a Lost thread a month before the final episode. Oh what's that, threads close after 30 days?! Someone will create a new thread sometime around the final episode? Gosh, wonder who that'll be?!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:25 PM on April 26, 2010


P.S. And expanding Michael Emerson's role beyond the original conception is an example of a good use of flexibility.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 4:25 PM on April 26, 2010


Oh nice one zarq, start a Lost thread a month before the final episode. Oh what's that, threads close after 30 days?! Someone will create a new thread sometime around the final episode? Gosh, wonder who that'll be?!

Shakespherian, no doubt.
posted by zarq at 4:30 PM on April 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Sorry... shakespeherian.

Me not type so good.
posted by zarq at 4:31 PM on April 26, 2010


I watched all five seasons of The Wire in a few frantic weeks and it was AWESOME.

I did it in six days last Thanksgiving and it totally became part of my cognitive matrix for the next several months. Good times.

posted by Burhanistan at 4:32 PM on April 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Well, I disagree DevilsAdvocate, although I can understand that real world implications (actors leaving/dying) could be problematic, although the first part would be solved with contract renegotiations as season 1 is coming to a close since the show and the actors would know exactly how long they'd be signing on for (granted, then they don't get the Seinfeld/Frasier/Friends payout if things go really well- but I don't imagine the actors are getting that richly rewarded on Lost or BSG- Michelle Rodriguez was killed off because of her off-screen DUI wasn't she?). However, the idea of cramming season 5 into season 4 is what I'm talking about: if you get canceled after 3 seasons and never get to do your last two, your well-planned 5 season arc gets truncated. If your show is good, there will be a potential market for DVD/alternative viewing locations (even just other channels), and at worst you realize when the show can't find an audience, you just publish the scripts online for the fans to get closure (because you're an artist and not a douchebag, you'd care about that).

I don't mean this tactic for intentionally episode stuff like sitcoms, but for self-contained multi-season shows with clear arcs and 'mysteries'. Yes, there are exceptions like apparently "The Wire" which work (although I suspect the freedom of HBO meant the artist was able to plan out and bank on doing the full story arc he planned), but on the whole shows like BSG, Lost, Heroes, and others all seem to fail because of how they are run. I've never seen Babylon 5, but if that hewed to my formula that sounds like it succeed because of, and not in spite of, having a clear plan from the beginning.
posted by hincandenza at 4:36 PM on April 26, 2010


oh Lost! I remember back in the summer of 2008 when I was working a really intense, physical job and living in a motel for 3 months; I decided I needed a TV show with at least 3 seasons under its belt, one that I could become addicted to and watch night after night while lying in bed, feeling sore and consuming large amounts of THC. Having not watched any television in almost a decade, I hunted around (as I remember, I paged through a lot of tv-related Mefi threads) and boiled it down to either Lost or Heroes. I've still never watched an episode of Heroes, and judging by what I've heard I made a wise decision.

Unfortunately, I've come to realise that this show isn't nearly as good when one episode ends and you have to wait a week rather than just firing up the next one. Most of the good moments happen in the first 10 minutes, you get about 30 minutes of subplot filler and romantic drama seasoned with bad acting and characters who never tell each other anything, and then an awesome cliff-hanger ending. And that's about it.

By this point, I'm watching just out of an addictive need for answers to some of the bigger questions, but, yeah, having recently watched all five seasons of The Wire in under a month, I'm fully aware of the many shortcomings of this show. Its enough that I don't actually care whether or not the producers knew what they were doing, because, yeah, who cares. I probably won't watch anything else either of them do in the future, nor JJ Abrams. But, to each their own ..
posted by mannequito at 4:40 PM on April 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Too much goddamn handwaving in this thread.
posted by Burhanistan at 4:45 PM on April 26, 2010


Really, it's the problem with episodic TV in America, where it's a feature and not a bug to run indefinitely.

Here's what I don't get: okay, I'm making a show for, say, NBC. The network tells me that I can't plan ahead for when the show will end. It might end after two seasons; it might end after twenty. I will have no control over that.

Still, I want the show to be as good as possible. I don't want to add in all sorts of filler that doesn't move the story forward. Nor do I want to leave the audience hanging when the show suddenly gets canceled at the end of the third season, when I thought I was going to get a sixth.

Knowing all that in advance, it's obvious to me what I need to do: I need to make each season have a complete, satisfying story arc. I need to leave some hooks in the end of each season, so that if there's a next season, it will have a launching pad. But I should always assume that the current season may be the final one.

Given the vagaries and limitations of the way TV is produced, that plan seems like a no-brainer to me. I don't get why more shows aren't like that. I know that some are. Many of the HBO shows seemed to be made according to that plan (and it's been the norm in the UK for decades -- in England, they say "series" instead of "season," as in "there's going to be another series of my favorite show!"). Why don't people do it more often? Is it just not the way American TV-writers are trained to think. Or is there network pressure to plan multi-season arcs without promises of multi-season support? "You MUST end season one with a huge cliffhanger, but we may choose not to greenlight season two."

Because unless that's the case, the way TV writers tend to work -- just taking a risk and hoping that they'll get the ten seasons they need to finish their story -- is deeply irresponsible. I know many people would say I'm a (crazy?) extremist, but I'd go so far as to say that it's unethical.

You have an audience who is spending time and emotional energy following your story. You owe it to them to make it work. When the show gets yanked after the third season, I know we're supposed to champion the writers and hate the network, but I think that's ass backwards. The writers KNOW the medium. They should work within it. HBO and the BBC have proved that it's possible. (It sucks that there won't be more "Deadwood," but each season felt complete. Same with "The Wire.")

I feel the same way about these writers who make it up as they go along. You're writing what is, in effect, a mystery, and you don't know whodunnit? ARE YOU KIDDING ME! That's also unethical. The audience assumes that someone is piloting the ship. Yet you're letting it get randomly pulled by the tide. WHAT?!?

If you think I'm going a bit to far when I say it's unethical to toy with (and needlessly disappoint) audiences, that's fair enough, but surely we want our storytellers to be people who think of stories as sacred. It's fine if audience members think that stories are just fun diversions. When I go out to eat, I don't think all that much about it. But I want the chef to be devoted to cooking. I want cooking to be his religion. If you don't feel this way, don't be a chef. If you don't feel that you have a binding contract with your audience, don't tell stories.
posted by grumblebee at 4:52 PM on April 26, 2010 [7 favorites]


grumblebee: The problem is that some series fit the "closed story arc" mold better than others. House had a story arc for a season, and it's perfectly fine if the series ends in roughly the same situation as it started. In Friends they could always put Ross and Rachel together, and if they got renewed they could find some jar of mayonnaise or something for them to fight about and split again. In Heroes they can get rid of the villain of the year, and then cook up something later.

But Lost has (had) a clear objective: getting out of the island. They do have season long story arcs, but they are not self-contained, because a "self-contained" story arc would either be
"Oh, they solved minor arc X, but didn't get off the island (or, in later seasons, didn't find out anything about the nature of the island) and the show got canceled. Guess that'll all go unresolved. Bummer."
Or "Oh, they got off the island, and figured out it was [insert explanation here]. By the way, we got renewed. Uh... next season... the premise is... hm... Hurley and Sawyer become pet detectives!"
posted by qvantamon at 5:03 PM on April 26, 2010 [4 favorites]


I would love to see Hurley and Sawyer as pet detectives. Wait, did you mean that as an example of bad t.v.?
posted by mmmbacon at 5:06 PM on April 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


What? The bit about them becoming pet detectives is right there on the whiteboard photo for anyone to see... sorry for the spoiler.
posted by qvantamon at 5:09 PM on April 26, 2010


"spoiler cos it is magnified and you can see all the whiteboard text: Do you mean this image?

sorry. i dont have a telly and have never watched lost."

Yea, thats the one. Oh, hey, I'm the only one here talking about this and not ranting about the show's writing.
posted by DZack at 5:14 PM on April 26, 2010


I would love to see Hurley and Sawyer as pet detectives.

On his podcast, Bill Simmons said he would be genuinely excited to see a spin-off show with Sawyer and Miles as police detectives in the alternate timeline. I agree. The ex-conman and the talks-to-the-dead psychic fighting crime, but neither of them know they're in an alternate timeline, which keeps leaking events and people over into their timeline. A hundred pounds of awesome.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 5:26 PM on April 26, 2010 [5 favorites]


I suspect that the only way to truly appreciate Lost is with a singular Lost Binge where you watch every season in order over the course of a week.

I watched the first five seasons over the course of January. It still makes no damn sense.
posted by donajo at 5:33 PM on April 26, 2010


Unfortunately, I've come to realise that this show isn't nearly as good when one episode ends and you have to wait a week rather than just firing up the next one. Most of the good moments happen in the first 10 minutes, you get about 30 minutes of subplot filler and romantic drama seasoned with bad acting and characters who never tell each other anything, and then an awesome cliff-hanger ending. And that's about it.

I'd actually agree with this, even though I love watching LOST every week on live TV, and have since the middle of the first season. I probably watch the clock during LOST more than I do any other TV show. There's always this weird tension where I feel like enough isn't being revealed in the middle and the clock is ticking down. but by the last ten minutes, I'm usually wrapped up in it again, and so disappointed when the episode ends.

Regarding the image that's with the article, I think there's another slightly spoilery thing in the center of the white board, regarding a conversation with a character we haven't seen anything of yet this season. Also, someone <3s their shih tzu.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 5:35 PM on April 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


You're talking about a 90 hour commitment here.

When I pitched the Hurley article (self-indulgent self-link), I had seen no more than a half-dozen episodes (most not all the way through); I was kinda up on the plot from all that was written about it (remember, I love spoilers) but saw its focus on the characters and thought the fat dude would be the most fun to write about. When my editor realized that the show was coming up on the last "Hurley-centric" episode, I was given a weekend to write it. I totally immersed myself in Lost and got through about 30 of the 114 episodes to date (with no more chemical assistance than Dr Pepper-level caffeine) and still had to depend on second-hand analysis to barely 'get' Season Five before the article was due. What I submitted was judged "too recappy" by my editor and I did some rush rewriting, moving around stuff to fit themes more than plotlines and adding more of my opinions, which, frankly, after that crazy weekend, I hadn't yet fully developed some of. Both I and the article got better in about 7 hours and it was thrown onto the site that night. Since then, I have watched the "Hurley-centric" episode and the subsequent episode, with the big relief of finding nothing that invalidated my hastily drawn conclusions. I am now hopelessly committed to finishing the series, even though my continued spoiler-hunting has made me sadly certain that... no, I won't say it here. But I do not regret not having followed the show from the beginning.

As I previously noted (in a comment where I misspelled Damon Lindelof's name), Carlton Cuse had previously created/produced "Nash Bridges" in which Cheech played a cop. Expect something at least as absurd as that.

I would love to see Hurley and Sawyer as pet detectives.

Don't know about other cast members, but there is serious talk happening about Terry "Locke" O'Quinn and Michael "Linus" Emerson doing a new series together as new characters... "suburban hit men juggling family issues." Close enough for you? It is for me.

But Hurley and Sawyer? I'm thinking sitcom. Hurley has Drew Carey's old job, and Sawyer is his boss. Hilarity will ensue.
posted by oneswellfoop at 5:39 PM on April 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think well-written serial fiction can be picked up anywhere and read in any order, to be honest, because of the structure of nested narrative arcs that most of them adopt.

It does depend on how the work is structured, I suppose, and perhaps Sandman was a poorly chosen example. I tend to think of comics as being largely similar to TV shows on a certain level due to the way one can think of things as episode : issue :: season : trade paperback (or whatever).

And even then, it does break down. Kindly Ones depends massively on previous stuff. There's no getting around it. It makes callbacks all over the place. While earlier chunks, and even individual issues can be enjoyed on their own, maximal enjoyment comes from the cumulative effect of all that stuff. I forget the exact wording, but Gaiman once compared that set of issues to taking this big truck that he'd carefully built over the course of years, aiming it at a wall, and stepping on the gas.

Theoretically, this season is the Lost writers taking the big car they've put together and, for better or worse, pointing it at a wall and stepping on the gas.

As for other shows: Most TV is built on self-contained episodes with the occasional two-parter, or season cliff hanger or what have you. House for example? Yeah, sure. That one you kind of watch however.

But the really heavily serialized stuff is better taken from the beginning, in order, IMO.

Buffy is a good example of a structure where individual episodes after a certain point just don't stand alone very well for newcomers, IMO. And yet each season is a self-contained arc, and while I would say watching it from the beginning is the preferred way, jumping in at the start of any given season isn't going to leave you hopelessly lost.

Same goes for The Wire, which is seems like a very good example of what I'm getting at. Quality issues aside, you just can't watch the final season of The Wire on its own and get the same things out of it as someone who's watched from the start. They, and this is something Simon's talked about in interviews, spent four seasons showing us how the city really works so that when you get to the final season and they focus on the press, you know exactly what stuff the press just isn't picking up on. You don't have the same investment in many characters for whom extremely significant events happen (being vague here out of respect for those who haven't seen the show, but examples are plentiful )... Events that just won't have the same resonance without the context given to us by the earlier stuff.

I'm not saying it wouldn't be enjoyable to watch free of that context, but in this age of easy access to the complete runs of TV shows, I see no reason not to watch things in their intended order from the beginning in the case of heavily, heavily serialized shows.
posted by sparkletone at 5:47 PM on April 26, 2010


I've been watching LOST since it started and this Wired article made me feel like the ending is going to be awful; I can understand using all the mystery to keep people watching, and I can even understand not answering everything, but the interview makes it sound like they're not concerned with whether it's coherent or not, in the end. The only reason the mysteries keep you watching is because you have some expectation they will be solved.

Season 1 was good, but I wasn't happy to hear they had no real plan when they were putting all the mysteries out there; it confirmed my fears, but after I'd put five+ years into watching the show. Great. Season 2 was awful. Season 3 was kind of bad. When they agreed to an ending date, seasons 4 and 5 were actually really good. And to be clear, I mean good or bad just based on how entertaining it was to watch; the big problem spans the entire series, but it didn't effect my enjoyment until season 6 when I had to realize it was a problem.

Season 6 has been disappointing so far; whenever anything gets revealed I don't even care anymore. Why? Because they just shellac over the old mystery with some New Explanation that makes the old mystery even more nonsensical in retrospect because people weren't acting rationally if the New Explanation was the case. This can be applied to a ton of things, now. It's begun to feel like a really bad fantasy/sci-fi book where there will be these huge build-ups to tense scenes, but they just write their way out of it with some deus ex machina new bullshit. [NOT FANTASY/SCI-FI-IST: Those are my preferred genres; I'm saying that the good ones establish limits before they start writing, so this doesn't happen. It's an important prerequisite when you're dealing with mystical-seeming stuff, for precisely the reasons I'm about to get into.] You get desensitized to the scenes, and to trying to figure out what's going on: you know there's no point to it because the big buildups should have never even happened if the explanation given is true. Until this season I'd held out hope that there was a bigger explanation for all this stuff, but now it's like, well, it seemed like they were writing the dramatic build-ups before they knew how they were going to resolve them because that's exactly what they were doing.

Ah, but the article says they would plant a mystery so long as they knew the explanation for it. That's a lot different than knowing how that mystery or explanation would rationally impact all the characters, though, especially when stuff starts overlapping with other mysteries, and that sort of thing determines what a character ought to do, whether they withhold certain information, etc. What I keep seeing happen is that Some Character will act secretive or aggressive, and episodes later, when whatever the particular mystery is revealed, it makes NO SENSE that Some Character was secretive or aggressive about it earlier instead of just being upfront. Often it will have worked directly against their best interest to have been secretive or aggressive, and no one told them they had to, and it's not just part of their personality, and it becomes painfully obvious that the only reason they acted that way was so there WOULD be some mystery or suspense.

It just gets really difficult at this point to think any of this is going to make sense. When it comes down to it, I couldn't care less about little things like why the statue has four toes or what the numbers mean, but it REALLY irks me when characters' motivations are inconsistent only because their motivation was a big question mark when they wrote the scene, or because they later tacked on some big overlapping thing that was constructed separately because oh my god wouldn't that be cool! even though it's inconsistent. They talk about how they wanted it to be a show about the characters and not so much the sci-fi elements, but when no one's motivations make any sense because you don't have your sci-fi elements straightened out, you've fucked up the characters, too. At this point I really don't care what happens to any of them, including ones that used to be my favorites, because they don't act like autonomous beings anymore: they're all just pawns wrenched around by whatever weird plot twist the writers demand of them. They can make all the effort in the world to show the characters in other scenarios to highlight the "essence" of their personality, but I still don't care as long as they make nonsensical decisions whenever it's convenient for the writers.

Seriously, here's an experiment to do when the series ends: rewatch it, and when someone acts secretive or aggressive, ask yourself why they're withholding information or going about things violently -- you know their motivation ahead of time now. (Sometimes it will be lack of trust, so make note of it and see why it doesn't come out later.) Count how many times this happens. It's ridiculous.
posted by Nattie at 5:55 PM on April 26, 2010 [4 favorites]


Yea, thats the one. Oh, hey, I'm the only one here talking about this and not ranting about the show's writing.

I didn't check to see where you are, but in the US all the episodes on that board have already aired.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 5:57 PM on April 26, 2010


I am now hopelessly committed to finishing the series, even though my continued spoiler-hunting has made me sadly certain that... no, I won't say it here.

Okay you can't just leave us hanging, especially after the Hurley prediction and this statement:

"If I ever narrow my theories about how "Lost" will end to 3 or less (currently 7), I will make them obnoxiously public. Bring it on."
posted by geoff. at 6:02 PM on April 26, 2010


I didn't check to see where you are, but in the US all the episodes on that board have already aired.

The bottom two haven't.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 6:06 PM on April 26, 2010


Nope, the two on the bottom left, right where the glare is, haven't aired yet. "The Candidate" is supposed to be the next one, but the white board reveals the characters at the center of it. Episode "somethingsomethingsomething" after that has not had the name revealed yet, and you can make out the last 2.5 letters of the character's name (and I can only think of one character whose name ends like that).
posted by qvantamon at 6:06 PM on April 26, 2010


I didn't check to see where you are, but in the US all the episodes on that board have already aired.

Nope, "The Candidate" and "Across the Sea" have not.
posted by empath at 6:08 PM on April 26, 2010


God, I love Lost. It's the best thing on television since "Twin Peaks." Seriously.

That said, I'm looking forward to it being over. It's exhausting in that wonderful, exhausting way. Time for an ending.
posted by jbickers at 6:14 PM on April 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Nope, the two on the bottom left, right where the glare is, haven't aired yet. "The Candidate" is supposed to be the next one, but the white board reveals the characters at the center of it. Episode "somethingsomethingsomething" after that has not had the name revealed yet, and you can make out the last 2.5 letters of the character's name (and I can only think of one character whose name ends like that).

Hover over me for spoilers.
posted by empath at 6:17 PM on April 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


I went ahead and tweaked the brightness / contrast of that image in case you were wondering if you could get anything else out of the glare (answer: not much).
posted by Pyry at 6:19 PM on April 26, 2010


grumblebee: The problem is that some series fit the "closed story arc" mold better than others.

Right. In any medium you work in, some stories work better than others. If you care about your audience, you tell the ones that work and not the ones that don't. And if you choose to tell the ones that don't, you don't later blame the network when they shut you down mid-story!

If your story requires music and dance numbers, don't tell your story in a comic book. If most of your story takes place inside characters' heads, write a novel, don't make a movie. If your story will suck without profanity, don't tell it as a Saturday Morning cartoon.

The business of television doesn't support stories that require multiple seasons. So don't tell those stories on television. There are ZILLIONS of stories you could tell, even given this limitation. Why tell stories that have a good chance of betraying viewers trust?

And I'm STUNNED with these shows that take the form of (or take large tropes from) mysteries and yet are made up as they go along. Every time a writer does that, Agatha Christie turns in her grave.

I keep hearing writers justify this by saying things like, "It's all about the characters." WHAT? And I say "WHAT?" even though I'm a guy who prefers Merchant Ivory movies and Chekhov plays to action flicks. But if you're going to create a show that specifically dwells on mysteries and puzzles, you (a) MUST solve the mysteries and (b) better know the solutions before you start writing -- or you may not be able to fulfill (a) and then, when you don't, you will wind up making lame justifications like, "It's all about the characters."

NOT solving a mystery needs to have a point. And the point can't just be "there's mystery in the universe." If you're going to leave the audience hanging, it needs to be because doing so creates a really thrilling aesthetic, emotional or intellectual effect.

And if you say, "It's all about the characters," then you need to ask yourself if the character arcs would somehow be damaged if you solved the mysteries. Because unless that's the case -- or unless there's a compelling reason to leave the mysteries unsolved -- then you need to fucking solve the mysteries. Or at least man up and say, "We started without a plan and then couldn't figure out anything satisfying. Sorry." Don't fob off "it's all about the characters" on your audience -- people who has been waiting for six years to, say, find out what the numbers mean.

Not that I think the writers of "Lost" are going to cop out on explaining that. Then again, in the linked article, they said that the only thing they "owe us" is to explain the two timelines. Bullshit! They owe us explanations for the puzzles they created. All of them. Or good reasons why we're not going to get explanations.
posted by grumblebee at 6:20 PM on April 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


For the first few seasons, LOST was like Twin Peaks: A gaggle of unusual characters, set in a beautiful, exotic locale, full of supernatural mystery.

David Lynch intended Laura Palmer's murder to be just one story in the twisted soap opera of Peaks, but pressure bubbled up from viewers who just had to know "Who Killed Laura Palmer?" The network demanded Lynch supply an answer, so he did. One he knew he would enjoy, but would frustrate and stymie all the folks who watched Peaks but wanted Murder, She Wrote.

They complained about Laura Palmer's murderer back then the same way people complained in recent years about LOST being too mysterious. But being angry at LOST for being too mysterious is like complaining about Jerry choosing to live next to Kramer. There's a difference between not liking a show, and not getting it. The Smoke Monster, the Hatch, the Button that Must Be Pressed Every 108 Minutes... these weren't clues to some Scooby Doo pull-the-mask-off reveal, they were the story elements that let us see inside the characters.

The point wasn't merely about what would happen when John Locke didn't press the Button, for example, but that Locke was the sort of man who would devote himself to pressing a button every 108 minutes if it would make him important, a man with a destiny instead of a nobody in a wheelchair--the man he feared he was.

The point wasn't whether the boat was Penny's or not, but that Charlie would risk his own death to make sure his friends back on the island knew. And so on.

Throughout most of its run, LOST has been about spectacular character-based storytelling in a magical realist vein. And that's precisely my beef with the last season. LOST has sacrificed its roots as a character-driven show. These characters we've spent five seasons investing ourselves in--where are they?

Sayid isn't Sayid. Claire isn't Claire. Locke isn't Locke. The whole season is filled with doppelgangers.

All their various issues and relationships have been scribbled over and blotted out in an attempt to tie up the mysteries of the Island, which, to be honest? I would rather just stayed mysterious. I loved the way Twin Peaks ended, with the secrets of the Black Lodge and the White Lodge never being explained. I think I'd have been happy if the show ended with Season 3, "Through the Looking Glass", with Jack shouting, "We have to go back!" And then never going back. Never knowing the answers. It's not that I haven't enjoyed the remaining three seasons, but they have had diminishing returns.

Whatever happens in the finale, I will say that I have enjoyed the hell out of the ride. Darlton and friends have produced some of the most entertaining television I've ever watched. Not every episode of "The Twilight Zone" was a winner, but there's no denying the series was a classic, with many indelible moments, and likewise, so is LOST.
posted by Missiles K. Monster at 6:22 PM on April 26, 2010 [15 favorites]


I suspect that the only way to truly appreciate Lost is with a singular Lost Binge where you watch every season in order over the course of a week.

I did this with seasons one through three. It took somewhere between 10 days and 2 weeks.

Those were the 2 most bizarre and unsound weeks of my life. Do not do this, my internets friends. I implore you.
posted by elizardbits at 6:22 PM on April 26, 2010


grumblebee: “If you think I'm going a bit to far when I say it's unethical to toy with (and needlessly disappoint) audiences, that's fair enough, but surely we want our storytellers to be people who think of stories as sacred. It's fine if audience members think that stories are just fun diversions. When I go out to eat, I don't think all that much about it. But I want the chef to be devoted to cooking. I want cooking to be his religion. If you don't feel this way, don't be a chef. If you don't feel that you have a binding contract with your audience, don't tell stories.”

I once had a friend who was an excellent cook. He didn't love cooking - it was just something he was used to; his parents had pretty broad tastes, and it happened to come naturally to him. Some of the best things I've ever tasted were things that he put together because he was hungry at the end of the day, and he didn't put much thought into doing this.

Does that make any difference to how much I enjoy the food? Or is it something separate from it? I think that I know of writers like this, too. Isn't it the stuff that matters, and not the investment the creator of the stuff has in it? Why should I care how much J J Abrahms cares about LOST if I like it?
posted by koeselitz at 6:28 PM on April 26, 2010


They owe us explanations for the puzzles they created. All of them. Or good reasons why we're not going to get explanations.

Man, there are a lot of 'musts', 'needs' and 'owes' in that comment. It's their story, they can tell it however they want. And you're free to stop watching any time. But you won't. Why is that?
posted by empath at 6:30 PM on April 26, 2010


Warning! Mega spoilers below!

I've been secretly involved on a contract basis with production writing on this for a few years, mainly as a general scientific advisor. Since my contract is over and I don't like how sloppy the storyline is ending I don't mind talking about it.

Yes, The Island can travel through time - and space, since it just needs to travel through enough time to find the correct space/time. Parallel universe and all that. The Frozen Wheel is the 3rd dimensional projection of a truly 4th dimensional object, the entirety of which exists in 5 or more dimensions. The Smoke Monster/Man in Black is a free-standing manifestation of collective ego due to The Incident. Yes, Smoke Monster is evil and bad and not to be trusted.

Of course, most already know that The Numbers must be entered every 108 minutes to prevent another Incident from happening, but obviously most people don't know what this actually entails. Time can be simplified as ripples in a pool of water. Wave forms. There is constructive and destructive interference, time ripples behave in much the same way.

The crater that exists now at The Swan aka Station 3 is one singular manifestation of constructive ripples - if The Swan had not have been destroyed everyone would have died a long time ago.

However, the potential for the original electromagnetic anomaly still exists. What would happen if no one entered the numbers? Time as we know it as a linear thing would cease - all time would happen now. All of the ripples both constructive and destructive would collide all at once, an infinite quantity of light-cones collapsing in on themselves.

The pocket under The Orchid and The Frozen Wheel is actually an artifact left over from a much earlier incident with the energy pocket that exited/exists below The Swan. It's an after-image of sorts burnt into the fabric of space time from when the energy pocket below The Swan station coalesced naturally in the gravitational fluctuations of a very large, very dense planetoid that passed very close to earth thousands of years ago. The Wheel is part of this artifact, a remnant poking through the fabric of our local space/time continuum. It is unknown if it's an object from another dimension or one parallel to ours, from a parallel human culture or an alien one. Manipulating it wiggles the hole in the fabric of space time, moving the island and often the people in contact with The Frozen Wheel to The Exit.

This is all orthogonal to the ending of the season, though. The Smoke Monster finally gets his due in Locke's form as the Others finally take over and confront this free-ranging collection of unadulterated ego. During this fight his Mother Figure - essentially the technocratic aggregate of the Dharma Initiative - got scared and she said 'You're movin' with your auntie and uncle in Bel Air!'
posted by loquacious at 6:31 PM on April 26, 2010 [21 favorites]


Not every episode of "The Twilight Zone" was a winner, but there's no denying the series was a classic, with many indelible moments, and likewise, so is LOST.

The reveal of the Blast Door Map is probably my favorite TV moment ever.
posted by empath at 6:32 PM on April 26, 2010


And I'm STUNNED with these shows that take the form of (or take large tropes from) mysteries and yet are made up as they go along. Every time a writer does that, Agatha Christie turns in her grave.

Reading her journals suggests this is exactly how Christie wrote her novels, deciding only at the end who the murderer was (and, one assumes, editing the books where needed, an option unavailable to television shows).

I sort of enjoy Lost, which I am watching now mostly because I want to know how it ends. I thought season 1 was great, and then I really enjoyed making fun of the show for a number of seasons. What annoys me this season is the whole "reveal the secrets" thing. Reveal them, or don't, but telling us 3 times an episode that they are Candidates and have to be Saved etc etc is not really revealing things after the first time, especially since reactions have been non-existent.

I am also watching Lost because I remain hopeful that the show will kill off Jack any time now. I know it won't, but I can dream.
posted by jeather at 6:34 PM on April 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Agatha Christie was a hack who wasn't fit to polish Dashiell Hammett's cufflinks.
posted by koeselitz at 6:35 PM on April 26, 2010 [4 favorites]


But Lost has (had) a clear objective: getting out of the island. They do have season long story arcs, but they are not self-contained, because a "self-contained" story arc would either be
"Oh, they solved minor arc X, but didn't get off the island (or, in later seasons, didn't find out anything about the nature of the island) and the show got canceled. Guess that'll all go unresolved. Bummer."
Or "Oh, they got off the island, and figured out it was [insert explanation here]. By the way, we got renewed. Uh... next season... the premise is... hm... Hurley and Sawyer become pet detectives!"


With respect, I think that shows lack of imagination on your part. I don't blame you, because, presumably, you were responding off-the-cuff to something I wrote. But I don't think that "Lost's" only choices were leave-everything-open-ended-for-six-seasons or "Hurley and Sawyer become pet detectives."

Just of the cuff from me, here's another possibility: it seems as if "Lost" is going to wind up being about some sort of huge, mythic battle between two god-like beings. (Maybe they are actual gods; maybe they are space aliens. Whatever.)

The cool thing about mythologies is that they can deepen and deepen. If it were my show, and if I understood the way television worked, I would have ended Season One with what it took the show's actual producer's five seasons to get to: my first season would have ended with the revelation that Jacob and the smoke monster were pulling the strings.

And there would have been some sort of character-plot-arc ending, too. After ALMOST getting killed, our heroes would manage to get off the island, and, maybe, they will live happily every after. But the last shot in the season is the smoke monster, in human form, watching the heroes sail away. Close up on his face. He's not done with them yet!

(Did you watch "24"? I turned out to be a pretty sucky show, but the first season have a fantastic ending. The whole show could have ended after that season, and it would have ended with a dramatically-sound, tough tragic, conclusion. Yet the ending also allowed for further seasons.)

You can also have Jacob throw in a few hints to some sort of greater mythology. For instance, he might say to the smoke monster, "You know very well that our masters will never let us leave this island!" Learning who "our masters" are won't matter to season one, because they don't impact the heroes at all. Their fate is tied up with whatever Jacob and the smoke monster do. But it leaves a hook for season two, in which the overlords of Jacob and the smoke monster arrive on the island. If the series gets canceled after season one, then we are just left with the interesting feeling that the gods have some sort of complex society.

Okay, that's pretty lame. That's what I would throw on the table in the first five minutes of the first story conference. My point is that there are ways to tell this kind of story without stringing people along for an ending that may never happen, because the show might get canceled. You create a fictional universe that has simple stories that can then broaden out, like greater and greater ripples around a pebble thrown in the water.
posted by grumblebee at 6:38 PM on April 26, 2010


I resisted hovering. I am resolute!
posted by Kwine at 6:39 PM on April 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Michael Emerson was cast to play Henry Gale in a four-episode arc with the proviso that if he was good (which he was) it would be revealed that Henry Gale was, in fact, Ben Linus, leader of the others. If Emerson proved to be a poor choice, another actor would be cast at a later date as Linus.

The best part is, Michael Emerson wasn't in on this and had to figure it out for himself (not unlike the audience).
As you know, I was originally engaged to be a guest player, to do a few episodes and go away, so I wasn’t thinking in terms of staying in Hawaii. The scenes I was in in the early going, when I was Henry Gale, they had a kind of ambiguity about them. There was a mystery in there, and no one could really figure it out. I remember one day, a director came to me—I had a line, Sayid was waving a gun in my face saying, “Tell us who your leader is,” and I said, “If I tell you, he’ll kill me,” and the director came and said, “That’s good. Let’s take it again, and this time, act as if the leader is the scariest person on Earth.” And I said, “Okay, I can do that, but what if the leader is me?” And he blinked at me a couple of times and said, “I can’t discuss that.” [Laughs.] And that was it. From then on, I thought, “Oh, I see. This could turn into something.”
Michael Emerson's subsequent performance has to rank as one of the great villains of network TV, not least because of his recent take on Ben as an increasingly powerless and confused subordinate:
I hope the fans continue to love Ben, even though he’s in a state of cringing vulnerability. I can only assume the wheels are still turning and he’s looking for an opening so that he can reassert his authority. In the meantime, he’s going to have some, uh, some very interesting adventures. [Laughs knowingly.]
I'm looking forward to seeing how he tries to manipulate his way out of the mess he's in.
posted by Doktor Zed at 6:42 PM on April 26, 2010 [6 favorites]


Throughout most of its run, LOST has been about spectacular character-based storytelling in a magical realist vein. And that's precisely my beef with the last season. LOST has sacrificed its roots as a character-driven show. These characters we've spent five seasons investing ourselves in--where are they?

Sayid isn't Sayid. Claire isn't Claire. Locke isn't Locke. The whole season is filled with doppelgangers.


This isn't entirely true. Yes, on the island Locke is dead, Claire's insane, and Sayid is a soulless monster. But all three live on relatively normally in the alternative universe. And if Desmond gets his way, all of them will soon "wake up" to the unreality of their Island-less lives. Certain aspects of each character have already started to "bleed through" the two worlds -- scars, bruises, vague memories, Sun's inability to speak English. Maybe once all the characters have had their respective epiphanies, worlds will begin to collide in a much more tangible way.
posted by Rhaomi at 6:47 PM on April 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Why should I care how much J J Abrahms cares about LOST if I like it?

You shouldn't. I don't. My point is that if a writer doesn't care about the details, there's a good chance his stories will suck. Of course there are exceptions to this. There are some people who are so talented that they create gold without even trying. And there are also casual viewers who don't care about the details. I'm not one of them, so I can't speak for them.

Man, there are a lot of 'musts', 'needs' and 'owes' in that comment. It's their story, they can tell it however they want. And you're free to stop watching any time. But you won't. Why is that?

If I say to you, I'm going to give you a big surprise tomorrow. It's going to be the answer to a question you've always wondered about! And then, tomorrow, I give you a Pez dispenser, I think you have would be in the right to say that I've broken some trust. That if I say -- or imply -- that I am going to reveal an answer, then I MUST reveal one. Or I'm an asshole.

But I can't defend my statement. It sounds like you and I watch things differently. I DO have some expectations of storytellers. That's the way I am, and I don't think I'm alone.

If a storyteller says, "Once upon a time there was a man named Sam. He had something in his pocket that I'll tell you about later," I feel fully justified in saying that he MUST tell me about it later.

I don't see it as his story. I see the act of storytelling as a kind of giving. Once you start telling a story to an audience, it's no longer yours. You can disagree. We're talking about ethics here, so no one can prove anything. I'm just describing my ethics.

I am a storyteller, myself. There are many things I feel that I MUST do for my audience. If I don't do those things, I feel guilty. When I direct plays, I don't have the option to just produce the first act and then, after intermission, come out on stage and say, "I've decided not to let the actors play the second half." Why not? Because it's not my story.

I still watch "Lost" because I've invested a lot of time in it, and I'm hoping that I'm wrong about some of my suspicions.
posted by grumblebee at 6:50 PM on April 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


If I say to you, I'm going to give you a big surprise tomorrow. It's going to be the answer to a question you've always wondered about! And then, tomorrow, I give you a Pez dispenser, I think you have would be in the right to say that I've broken some trust. That if I say -- or imply -- that I am going to reveal an answer, then I MUST reveal one. Or I'm an asshole.

Marketing aside, I don't think Lost ever promised answers to everything.
posted by empath at 6:54 PM on April 26, 2010


hellojed: I suspect that the only way to truly appreciate Lost is with a singular Lost Binge where you watch every season in order over the course of a week.

This is absolutely true, and it's the way I've spent part of my recent unemployment. I can't even imagine the impatience and bafflement that would result from having to wait a week between episodes. For the last few weeks I've been "GET ON WITH IT ALREADY!"

I'm worried about the finale since I don't have a TV and will have to wait until it's posted on Hulu with captions. I guess I'll be avoiding the internet and most of humanity during that gap.
posted by desjardins at 6:59 PM on April 26, 2010


Marketing aside, I don't think Lost ever promised answers to everything.

I disagree. I think the promise is embedded in the form of the show. Even if you pick up a Sherlock Holmes story without knowing anything about what genre it was part of or who wrote it, you would very quickly have a reasonable expectation of learning whodunnit.

Similarly, I think you'd have a right to be pissed off if "The Wizard of Oz" ended with Dorothy having sex with uncle Henry, even though no one in the story overtly promises you that it won't end in such a scene.

(I'm sure someone here will say, "I WISH 'The Wizard of Oz' ended that way!")

The convention in stories is that if you set up a mystery, you solve it. There are exceptions to this. There are exceptions that work. But they are few and far between, and they almost never occur in melodrama, which is "LOST's" main form.

Writers of melodrama KNOW that they audience expects the puzzles to have solutions. If they choose to thwart this expectation, they know it will piss people off. If they're okay with that, there's nothing I will say.
posted by grumblebee at 7:01 PM on April 26, 2010


desjardins: JACK IS THE FINAL CYCLON.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:02 PM on April 26, 2010


hincandenza: "The equivalent to episodic TV would be if
Shakespeare Dickens was madly scribbling mode dialogue and scenes backstage home in response to the audience, in real-time. It would have made for some shit plays novels, no?
"

FTFY.
posted by mwhybark at 7:03 PM on April 26, 2010 [4 favorites]


Lost... interest.
posted by Edward L at 7:05 PM on April 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


I only watched because of Hurley.

"Dude!"
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:06 PM on April 26, 2010


The thing is, there ARE Dickenses out there. There are people who can start a story without any idea of how it's going to end (if that's, in fact, what Dickens did), and they can write it as they go along. And they are so brilliant that they can write their way out of any corner in a way that pleases their readers and doesn't seem like a cop out.

They are few and far between.

In GENERAL, this is not a good strategy.
posted by grumblebee at 7:07 PM on April 26, 2010


grumblebee: "... the way TV writers tend to work -- just taking a risk and hoping that they'll get the ten seasons they need to finish their story -- is deeply irresponsible. ... I'd go so far as to say that it's unethical."

yes, and? TV writers write to gain audience, not to be ethical.
posted by mwhybark at 7:09 PM on April 26, 2010


o HAI! :)

Fair enough, I can't ethically argue these guys are Dickens redux. I do think it's a fair point to note that Dickens was unlikely to have had an end-to-end story arc in mind when taking up pen.
posted by mwhybark at 7:12 PM on April 26, 2010


grumblebee: "... the way TV writers tend to work -- just taking a risk and hoping that they'll get the ten seasons they need to finish their story -- is deeply irresponsible. ... I'd go so far as to say that it's unethical."

yes, and? TV writers write to gain audience, not to be ethical.

Yes, and? I don't care why they write. I like ethical behavior and I dislike unethical behavior. Along the same lines, I don't expect my audiences to care why I direct. They will be happy if I entertain them and unhappy if I don't. If a writer doesn't solve the puzzle he sets up, I will be unhappy -- unless the aesthetics of leaving my hanging are richer than a solution would be.

I don't think I'm alone. What I see on all the "LOST" message boards are tons of people hoping and praying for the mysteries to be solved.
posted by grumblebee at 7:16 PM on April 26, 2010


The reason it's such an indecipherable mess is because Lost's first priority is creating intriguing mystery. They load piles and piles of mysterious crap into the show without worrying about explaining it, because their first priority is to simply captivate the audience.
posted by aesacus at 7:21 PM on April 26, 2010


I think there's something satisfying about stories that don't get solved, too. I think I can see what you mean about wanting LOST to stay true to its own internal logic, but it's hard for me to say that the internal logic of a show is so set in stone.
posted by koeselitz at 7:21 PM on April 26, 2010


koeslitz, in spite of the line I've been taking here, my FAVORITE stories don't get solved. I love ambiguity. But I don't think LOST is the right kind of show for it. It doesn't work well with action/adventure/melodrama -- even when the show has a thin layer of mysticism laying on top of it.
posted by grumblebee at 7:27 PM on April 26, 2010


Brandon Blatcher: desjardins: JACK IS THE FINAL CYCLON.

I have a feeling this is a reference to some show geeks like, but I am not a geek so I don't know which one.
posted by desjardins at 7:34 PM on April 26, 2010


loquacious: "This is all orthogonal to the ending of the season, though." (entire comment inclusive, esp deeply insightful ending info)

MULTIFAVORIT MULTIFAVORIT MULTIFAVORIT A+++ WOULD READ AGAIN
posted by mwhybark at 7:37 PM on April 26, 2010


The convention in stories is that if you set up a mystery, you solve it.

But what if you set up a thousand mysteries? That convention doesn't work so well then.
posted by me & my monkey at 7:38 PM on April 26, 2010


Right. So don't do it.
posted by grumblebee at 7:41 PM on April 26, 2010


Thing is .... I've been to the parallel universe.
Lost sucks there too.
posted by Poet_Lariat at 7:42 PM on April 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think the point of Lost is in a way understand that not every question has an answer...specifically the questions presented by LOST.....the question of why are they on an island? Is easily the same question humans themselves ask when they say why are we here? The dichotomy between MIB and Jacob can certainly be the same dichotomy between God and the devil....and all the talk that Desmond does regarding destiny, and whether we have a choice, is really all convoluted (or not so convoluted) talk about free will and whether we have it or not even though it seems that God (or an entity like Jacbo) has put us here for reasons that seem to be unknown.....I enjoy the show because I enjoy seeing all these characters flesh out these basic questions that really have no answer....yet I enjoy the fact that they are asking them.....
posted by The1andonly at 7:47 PM on April 26, 2010


By the way, speaking of twist endings - I finally got around to seeing the entire US series of Life On Mars. And y'know what? That show had the best ending of just about any show I've ever seen in my life. It wasn't the best show ever - though it got pretty good, especially later on, and would've been even better if I hadn't seen the UK version first - but it certainly had the best ending ever. I wish more TV writers would have as much guts and gusto as the writers for that show apparently did; they really went for it at the end.
posted by koeselitz at 7:47 PM on April 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


mwhybark: Also, I'm pretty sure that in the final episode, they will finally get the Minnow seaworthy and make it back to Honolulu, only to find that they are the last - or is it first - people on Earth. Sawyer will take the boat and go far away from Gilligan. Then Kate will turn into a pigeon, or an angel or something, as Jack chases the bird around in a flashback. Then we'll see Berman, in a cameo on a Vancouver street, picking up a newspaper. As he picks it up, the shot fades to black over Journey's Don't Stop Believin'.

Then Ripley wakes up. It was all a dream on the way to LV-426.


You forgot the part where Ripley has an autistic son who has a snowglobe with a replica of the Island in it. When you shake it, instead of snow, it fills with black smoke.
posted by tzikeh at 7:48 PM on April 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


And y'know what? That show had the best ending of just about any show I've ever seen in my life.

Heh, yeah, I loved it, too. I think of it as the Philip K. Dick ending--mouseover for something that might spoil both one of Dick's books and the show.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:57 PM on April 26, 2010


Nope, "The Candidate" and "Across the Sea" have not.

It's a fair cop. I had just looked at the list of Lost episodes and got confused... no, wait, in my timeline they have aired.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:30 PM on April 26, 2010


MULTIFAVORIT A+++ WOULD READ AGAIN

It's probably obvious I've never watched a single episode of Lost. I just wanted to wave my hands around a bit.
posted by loquacious at 10:12 PM on April 26, 2010


Well, I also watched the first five seasons in a month. Now it's fun to re-watch with Mrs. B, who likes to take it a bit slower (we're mid season two). I'd forgotten some of the great moments (and repressed some of the awful ones). I'm wary of season 6. From all the bits and pieces, I'd say it sounds like a complete clusterfuck, but I'm sure I'll hear all about how it was a success or failure before we get there.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 10:31 PM on April 26, 2010


Missiles K. Monster: "There's a difference between not liking a show, and not getting it. The Smoke Monster, the Hatch, the Button that Must Be Pressed Every 108 Minutes... these weren't clues to some Scooby Doo pull-the-mask-off reveal, they were the story elements that let us see inside the characters. ... Throughout most of its run, LOST has been about spectacular character-based storytelling in a magical realist vein. And that's precisely my beef with the last season. LOST has sacrificed its roots as a character-driven show. These characters we've spent five seasons investing ourselves in--where are they?."

If the show was about these same characters crash-landing on a regular uninhabited island, it wouldn't have lasted beyond - stretching it here - a couple of seasons, if it were even picked up. Why do these characters hardly ever share information with each other? Because if they did it regularly, there'd be no mystery anymore, and from there it would be a fairly short interval to the denouement. It's the mystery, and the (seeming) momentum towards its resolution, that drives this show. Which is why the show was more character-driven earlier i.e. when they had a ways to go before the climax, and a not coherent & rich enough substance behind the mystery, airtime had to be filled, so they did it with content lateral to the primary narrative i.e. flashbacks and dead-end/trivial subplots on the island. But remove the core mystery or replace it with a more banal version, then there's not much juice in it. I believe the writers are aware of this. This is not to say that the characters are dispensable placeholders in the narrative but rather, the biography of the characters serves as a tapestry around the main narrative drive, but is not its raison d'etre.
posted by Gyan at 12:42 AM on April 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Why do these characters hardly ever share information with each other? Because if they did it regularly, there'd be no mystery anymore...

That's a problem when the show keeps piling on mystery after mystery. The characters cease being characters and then just become linchpins into forcing another mystery on the audience, which ultimately gets boring, IMO.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:17 AM on April 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


That's one of the problems. A character-based show is not a good character-based show if the psychology of the characters isn't realistic. And it's not realistic the way these characters all have a stunning lack of curiosity and are so easily thwarted every time they ask a question.

Why has not ONE person asked "Lock" to explain exactly what he is and where he came from? Of course, if they did, he would say, "That's not what you really want to know, is it? What don't you ask the question you really want to know?" Or he'd say, "Let me show you something," which would lead to a long walk through the jungle ending in some other mystery. Or he WOULD be about to answer, when suddenly there would be a huge explosion, and after the explosion, the character who asked would completely forget that he'd asked. I don't believe it.

These are all examples of the writers bending psychology (past the breaking point, in my opinion) in the service of plot. And once you do that -- once you start saying, "Well, we have to do that -- otherwise we'd be giving away the secrets" -- then you're NOT telling just a character story. You are telling a story in which your characters are subordinate to your plot. And if your plot is so important that it's perverting your characters, then ADMIT that it's important and tie up its loose ends.

What we have now is a show in which, possibly (we haven't seen the ending yet, so I guess there's still hope), the writers will leave all sorts of plot holes. They will also leave all sorts of character-psychology holes. Not acceptable!
posted by grumblebee at 6:18 AM on April 27, 2010 [4 favorites]


If the show was about these same characters crash-landing on a regular uninhabited island, it wouldn't have lasted beyond - stretching it here - a couple of seasons, if it were even picked up.

I suppose if Gregor Samsa didn't wake up as a cockroach, we might not find his life so fascinating, either. It doesn't bother me that Kafka never explains why Gregor finds himself a cockroach, and in the story, Gregor doesn't dwell on the reasons why, either. He just goes on about his miserable life. And that's fine with me. The story would be diminished if Gregor had done anything else. Most of the "mysteries" of LOST are more like the mystery of why Gregor wakes up a cockroach than they are the whodunit variety.

As for whether the characters were just dead end, trivial airtime filler for a show about magical island, all I can say is that I disagree. I'd put this moment as one of my favorites, of LOST's run, or any TV show ever, and it's all about the characters and their relationships to one another. This sense of emotion is increasingly absent in later seasons, but for those people who "one hundred percent absolutely do not get it" when it comes to LOST, this is why people love the show.
posted by Missiles K. Monster at 6:27 AM on April 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


My wife and I watch Lost primarily to yell at the screen whenever Kate is annoying or screws up someone else's plan through her inability to follow simple directions. We are rarely disappointed.
posted by joelhunt at 6:37 AM on April 27, 2010


Missiles K. Monster: As for whether the characters were just dead end, trivial airtime filler for a show about magical island

The magical island isn't the focus of the show. Neither are the characters. It's about these particular characters on this magical island together; this specific island isn't simply an incidental backdrop for the melodrama among the principal cast. The island and its secrets do matter. To paraphrase LOST, we aren't done with the island yet.

grumblebee: all sorts of character-psychology holes

LOST essentially feels, to me, like a comic-book story i.e. a series of snapshots, rendered in live-action. So, I just give these character-psychology holes a pass. For starters, I imagine a real-life contingent of 50 survivors stranded on a island in the middle of the ocean, cut off from civilization, would evolve differently, both personally and socially, if they had to endure it over a certain length of time. If this show were realistic, the writers would have to show the characters deal with the sudden cut-off of routine mental stimulation, comfort, food, lifestyle that they are used to in civilization; even something as simple as the effect of altered circadian rhythms on their psyche.
posted by Gyan at 6:59 AM on April 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Most of the "mysteries" of LOST are more like the mystery of why Gregor wakes up a cockroach than they are the whodunit variety.

Fascinating that we see it so differently. Like you, I am not bothered that Kafka doesn't explain how Gregor became a cockroach. But I find that mystery completely different from the ones on "LOST."

For one thing, it's posited at the beginning of the story. It's a story given -- an axiom. At no point does Kafka hint that we might, at some point, find the answer. Similarly, when I read "Lord of the Rings," I don't spend time thinking, "Wait a minute! What the fuck are hobbits? How did they evolve?" The story basically starts by saying "Once upon a time there were small creatures called hobbits." It extends from there.

Also, there's no obvious way Gregor COULD figure out how he became a cockroach. Maybe there's some really convoluted way that would involve him tracking down a scientist and having the scientist run tests on him, but, as far as we know, Gregor doesn't know any scientists.

But if Kafka had added a scientist character, things would have been different. Let's say Gregor's next door neighbor was an expert on biology and he somehow hinted that he knew what had happened to Gregor and why it happened. Gregor or someone else asks, "So what did happen to him?" The scientist says, "I don't think that's what you really want to ask me..."

Okay, I might buy that once. But then, someone asks the scientist again, and this time he says, "I'm going to take you someplace and, once there, all your questions will be answered." But when they get to the place, they find it's a mysterious cave with a glowing blue light in it.

They say, "This is cool, but how does it explain what happened to Gregor?" The scientist says, "Okay, okay... I'll tell you ---" But just then, a stalactite drops on his head and kills him.

At some point, I'm going to think, "Kafka doesn't have an answer and he's trying to cover up that fact with a boring con job of woo-woo mysteriousness and 'fate'."

Someone will tell me, "You don't get it. The story isn't about why he became a cockroach. It's about the effect that transformation has on him." Okay, but then why lavish so much time on the mystery and on people trying to solve it? Why add in a character who knows the answer and then contrive all sorts of dodgy events that stop him from giving answers? Why not just start the story with 'he just DID turn into a cockroach and no one is in a position to know why or how.'?

Which is exactly what Kafka did.

Character-based stories generally rely on the reader or viewer identifying with the characters. For me, LOST is successful this way. I feel for the people on the island and I put myself in their shoes. What would I do if I were Jack or Hurley? Once I go down that line of thinking -- a line that the show prompts me to take -- I can't help feeling like, "I would DEMAND to know answers. I would point a gun at Ben or whoever and say, 'Tell me everything NOW and if I ever find out you're lying to me, I will shoot you without pause.'"

Unlike Gregor, the LOST characters don't show no interest in the mysteries. They are strangely bad at finding answers, but they do try. And I am on that journey with them. So as Jack demands answers, I demand them, too. I don't demand them because I'm focusing on stuff that isn't important. I demand them because Jack demands them. I demand them because it IS a character story and I'm on the ride with the characters.

The fact that the characters are so bad at learning answers to what THEY want to know creates huge cognitive dissonance for me, because I'm asked to believe that these are smart people. So I feel like I'm watching an action movie in which the hero forgets he has a gun strapped to his belt. WHAT?

Storytellers who want to write about fantastic events are faced with a problem. Many readers can't help wondering, "But how is this possible?" Over the years, two major (and generally successful) ways have been found to deal with that question. Those ways are science fiction and fantasy. Broadly speaking, a sci-fi story says, "The answer is...." and then gives some scientific (or convincing pseudo-scientific) explanation. Fantasy says, "It happened by magic."

Both, to me, are usually acceptable explanations. I don't find myself wondering how the Wicked Witch of the West can fly on a broomstick. How? By magic. I don't find myself wondering how HAL9000 works. How? By AI developments that haven't happened yet.

But both sorts of stories DO offer explanations in their own ways. LOST doesn't. LOST doesn't even make clear whether it's sci-fi or fantasy. Hybrid stories are interesting, but you do give up a big advantage when you don't squarely place your story in a genre. If you make it clear that your story is sci-fi or fantasy, you help the reader know what sort of answers to expect. The "Wizard of Oz's" style immediately makes me stop asking certain questions and start asking other ones.

LOST poses mystery after mystery without (yet) giving answers. If that doesn't bother you, then great. I'm happy that you have found a show you like to watch. But I don't see how anyone could say that someone like me is perverse. You say you have a joke for me; you set it up and then you refuse to tell me the punch line. You can say, "Ah, but don't you see? The point of my joke isn't the punch line." But I'm not abnormal for wanting to know the punchline or being mad that you won't tell me.
posted by grumblebee at 7:14 AM on April 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


If this show were realistic, the writers would have to show the characters deal with the sudden cut-off of routine mental stimulation, comfort, food, lifestyle that they are used to in civilization;

Heh. So many people I know are on brain meds that have major withdrawal symptoms. I always think about that when I watch movies about people getting marooned. In real life, half the people on the plane would be total messes after their meds ran out. Charlie's story would be the norm.
posted by grumblebee at 7:18 AM on April 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


I suppose if Gregor Samsa didn't wake up as a cockroach, we might not find his life so fascinating, either.

That particular day, Gregor Samsa was very lucky to awake as a cockroach and miss out on the other things due to happen to him.
posted by fuq at 7:22 AM on April 27, 2010


But both sorts of stories DO offer explanations in their own ways. LOST doesn't. LOST doesn't even make clear whether it's sci-fi or fantasy. Hybrid stories are interesting, but you do give up a big advantage when you don't squarely place your story in a genre. If you make it clear that your story is sci-fi or fantasy, you help the reader know what sort of answers to expect. The "Wizard of Oz's" style immediately makes me stop asking certain questions and start asking other ones.

Cuse and Lindelof have both talked at length about their love of Stephen King novels, particularly The Stand. I find this a pretty good thing to bear in mind when attempting to regard LOST as a single cohesive story with internally consistent rules-- The Stand, if you haven't read it, begins with an engineered plague breaking out of a military base, killing off 97% of the human population, and then those who are left over begin having mystical dreams that draw them towards two different demigod-type people who have magical powers and are using the survivors as pawns in a game against one another and there is a nuke and a guy from a one-hit-wonder band and etc. It's the same sort of thing as LOST, though, in that it begins with a realistic (maybe very slightly sci-fi) premise and then towards the end gets heavily invested in fantasy tropes.
posted by shakespeherian at 7:37 AM on April 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


Having watched the entire series over a couple of weeks, the character development is quite dramatic in some cases (yet believable).

Sawyer is the most obvious example. He transforms from a racist, selfish and sarcastic redneck to a loving, courageous, protective leader. Jin was an abusive misogynist who became a loving husband. Sun was his passive, fearful wife, but her experiences on the island forced her to become assertive. Ben went from a murdering sociopath to a vulnerable and broken man. Juliet likewise went from sociopath to loving girlfriend (although I find this the least believable of these five, since we never saw HOW she transformed).

Sayid and Jack have dealt with various internal struggles. I'm much more sympathetic to Sayid, despite the zombification, but the "Everybody Loves Hugo" episode showed a humbler side of Jack.

Kate - OK, you got me there. I don't see how she has changed one iota since the beginning, and I think that is why people dislike her so strongly. She still seems to have no mind of her own.

Yes, there have been cheap tearjerker moments (Miles & baby Miles comes to mind), but I am much more invested in the characters than in the island's mysteries, and I think that was the point. Compare and contrast FlashForward, which was heavily marketed to LOST fans. It's primarily about the mystery, and I could care less if every single character was wiped out in the next episode. At this point I'm not even sure I care about the mystery.
posted by desjardins at 8:21 AM on April 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


I agree with you that Sawyer is a really well-written character with a complete story arc. I think he's the most fleshed-out character on the show. The actor who plays him is really good, too, and he took me by surprise. I was prejudiced against him to begin with, because I thought "male model."

Though he has plenty of flaws, he is also the character I most relate to. Were I on the island, I would act exactly the way he's acting now. I would be really pissed off at Jacob, the smoke monster, Ben, Widmore and the others. I can't think of any excuse for the way they've treated the crash survivors. Either leave me alone and let me live my life in peace or, if I'm needed to keep some catastrophe from happening, have enough respect for me to EXPLAIN things clearly. Otherwise, I'm going to look out for number one.
posted by grumblebee at 8:48 AM on April 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


I am much more invested in the characters than in the island's mysteries

I respect that, but I think people take the plot-show vs. character-show thing too far. If a show has a plot, no matter how slight, there are many audience members who are going to care about it. You owe it to them to work hard to make the plot, such as it is, coherent. And plot-based show -- with characters -- should have convincing characters.

(Chekhov is famous as a character writer. People -- wrongly, I think -- call his plays inactive. It IS true that his plots are very simple -- so simple that people tend to focus more on his rich characters. Yet he famously said, "If in the first act you have hung a pistol on the wall, then in the following one it should be fired. Otherwise don't put it there." So he clearly cared about plot.)

If you make such a show, you will get people like desjardines (and others here) saying, "Hey, I don't care if the plot has holes. I get that it's a character show." And you can only listen to them and pat yourself on the back saying that THEY are your audience and you've done your job well because you pleased them.

I totally understand that temptation. I've given into it, myself. For instance, I sometimes direct a play and, while the lead actors are good, some of the supporting cast members are not convincing. So I justify that to myself by saying, "It's not the best friend's story. It's the story of the HUSBAND!" And SOME of my audience do see it that way.

Others don't. They say, "Well, the play was okay, I guess, but a bunch of the actors really sucked." Because I don't want to think of myself as a crappy director, I really want to ignore those people or think of them as people who "don't get it."

But the fact is, my work is flawed. That's fine. Nothing is perfect. But it's a bit perverse for me to ignore or blame audience members for noticing or calling me on the flaws. And if I'm an audience member who only cares about Hamlet when I watch "Hamlet," it's a bit perverse for me to tell audience members who care about Gertrude or Ophelia, and who are upset because the actors playing those parts aren't good, that they don't get the point of the show.

In the end, I don't think I, as the director, have say over what the point of the show is, except for me. Even if I DID think I got to dictate the point, it wouldn't do me any good. Audience members will mine what they will from what I present to them.

So it really doesn't matter whether I think it's a show about the characters or a show about the plot. What matters is that the event I'm presenting HAS characters and it HAS a plot. Maybe I push one of those items to the forefront more than the other, but it has both. And that means that any given audience member may focus on either or both. I can't know it advance what he will focus on. I owe it to him to take great care of both. I am the steward for EVERYTHING in the show.

And you, as a fellow audience member are not making a meaningful utterance when, after I complain about a plot hole, you tell me that it's a character-based show. What DOES makes sense is for you to tell me that YOU personally care about the characters and not, so much, the plot. But that doesn't make it a character show. That just tells me how you view it.
posted by grumblebee at 9:07 AM on April 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


What? Your plot holes and character deviations are both irrelevant. It's a plant show. Botany. Did you get a look at those ferns?
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 9:25 AM on April 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


And you, as a fellow audience member are not making a meaningful utterance when, after I complain about a plot hole, you tell me that it's a character-based show.

That's not what I was saying.

What DOES makes sense is for you to tell me that YOU personally care about the characters and not, so much, the plot.

That is what I was saying.

FlashForward
makes this distinction really clear to me; I am so frustrated with the plot holes in that show precisely because there is no character development. With LOST, the character development is sufficient enough that the plot holes don't nag at me.
posted by desjardins at 9:34 AM on April 27, 2010


koeselitz, I am with you in loving how "Life on Mars (US)" handled its ending, especially since the show itself was cut quite short, but know that we are a small minority, especially among those who saw the UK version. Still, it's the only series I've ever seen that made a variation of "it was all a dream" into something that didn't make me want to smash my TV. Frankly, I hate Tommy Westphal more than Dick Cheney.

But among the seven theories I alluded to earlier is one in which the original universe, not the Sideways one, is destroyed with the only trace being the weird memories of the characters who end up getting together, realizing their shared hallucinations and beating the crap out of the dealer who sold them all bad pot - remember, I mentioned Carlton Cuse's old show with Cheech - making the show's final message "don't do drugs". In other words, I don't have a freaking clue, but wild speculation is probably a lot more fun than whatever the show finally comes up with.
posted by oneswellfoop at 10:24 AM on April 27, 2010


I've never seen Babylon 5, but if that hewed to my formula that sounds like it succeed because of, and not in spite of, having a clear plan from the beginning.

Well, I agree that it largely succeeded because of having a clear plan from the beginning, and came closer to your ideal of "five years worth of complete scripts written before shooting starts" than any other show before or since, but my point is that it still retained some flexibility to adapt to real-world considerations—even if less so than other shows—which was also a strength. And even then its limited flexibility showed through and affected the show negatively in a few cases. While I'd like to see more shows move more towards your ideal, by having more thorough planning from the beginning, I think going all the way to the extreme you suggest would be taking it too far.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 10:37 AM on April 27, 2010


Speaking as someone who followed the U.K. Life on Mars, and only just read about the U.S. adaptation's resolution: WTF?

Is there any way the setup is satisfying given the way that particular adaptation was carried off, or is it as abrupt a switch as reading about it was?
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 10:37 AM on April 27, 2010


I have not seen one episode of LOST.

I do have a TV.

That is all.
posted by mazola at 2:18 PM on April 26 [1 favorite +] [!]


I was like you once. Never seen an episode. Then... that one night, I watched a rerun out of pure boredom. I thought wait what just happened there? I had to watch another, and another, and another... soon i kept out getting deeper and deeper. But don't worry Lost isn't a gateway show. I've never become addicted to any other hour long hard to explain show and I never will. That Happy Town HA I'm not the least bit interested in it. (Me/ looks around nervously and scratches my neck.)
posted by Mastercheddaar at 10:44 AM on April 27, 2010


Is there any way the setup is satisfying given the way that particular adaptation was carried off, or is it as abrupt a switch as reading about it was?

The first episode or two seemed to follow the UK version, but even in those there were hints as to the eventual end. It had been heavily fore-shadowed if you watch closely enough. If you were, like, on autopilot, though, I could see how you could miss it.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:45 AM on April 27, 2010


The biggest problem I've had with season six is the amount of time they're spending on the flash-sideways stuff. They spent five seasons crafting characters with depth that I care about (and also Kate) and I'm just not really interested in an over-long What If? story. I know Desmond is doing stuff to pull it all together now, but unless they pull that off well I'm going to feel like we wasted half of the final season on bullshit.
posted by graventy at 11:30 AM on April 27, 2010


I'm going to miss Lost - no matter how it ends. Its personal. I think all in Hawai'i will miss them. Almost everyone here has been involved - watched the filming, or running into the characters at the market, or knowing someone who works with or who has been on the show. The cast and crew are cool. They are almost like family (except for that wacky chick who racked up all the DUIs was killed off -- and then ended up in Avatar, lol)

We watch to see our favorite beaches/hiking spots and to enjoy our friends' work. They've done some good work.
posted by Surfurrus at 1:05 PM on April 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Durn Bronzefist: “Speaking as someone who followed the U.K. Life on Mars, and only just read about the U.S. adaptation's resolution: WTF? ¶ Is there any way the setup is satisfying given the way that particular adaptation was carried off, or is it as abrupt a switch as reading about it was?”

I enjoyed the UK version a lot, and I hemmed and hawed for a long time about watching the US one. In fact, I remember complaining about it here quite recently, before I'd finally just gone and watched it. I have to say that I've never like the UK version's ending, which was feel-good and happy and sort of satisfying but in a way not really true to the series itself, I think.

Anyhow - yeah, I think the US version's ending made a great deal of sense. And there was, astoundingly, a lot of care put into details - wrapping up particular plot points, making sure loose ends were tied up. This was done in an entirely unexpected way, granted, but it worked. Moreover, I can also say (without spoiling it for those who don't know, I think) that the motifs and appearance of the US version lent themselves more readily to that kind of ending.

It was actually amazing, honestly. They made sure to mention and clear up every single little niggling thing, but in a radically different way from the way the viewer might have been expecting.
posted by koeselitz at 1:16 PM on April 27, 2010


That's cool. I was afraid from the wiki description that you basically had the U.K. LoM unchanged other than ending, which would have been terrible.

I like and dislike the U.K. ending. Gutsy decision for the writers if they just, how shall I say this, ended with Sam's decision. Cut 30 seconds from the series and I think it's just about perfect.

They spent five seasons crafting characters with depth that I care about (and also Kate)

Heh.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 2:16 PM on April 27, 2010


Durn Bronzefist: “Cut 30 seconds from the series and I think it's just about perfect.”

I know, right? The jump, and then fade to black. Perfect ending. They had to go and add a happy coda to it. Ech. Oh well.
posted by koeselitz at 3:15 PM on April 27, 2010


So this Lost... it vibrates?
posted by docjohn at 5:36 PM on April 27, 2010


LOST SPOILERS!!!
posted by oneswellfoop at 6:11 PM on April 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


Sir, that page is obviously fake.

Hurley doesn't say "dude" even once.
posted by qvantamon at 6:24 PM on April 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


So this Lost... it vibrates?

Only if you fail to push the Button every 108 minutes.
posted by sparkletone at 12:39 AM on April 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


My Lost thoughts:

Yeah, the "relentless mystery" and the back-and-forth rhetorical questions that can't be answered for plot's sake are both irritating at times, and the weakest aspect of the show.

The acting could be stronger (but, with Jack at least, I think has improved immensely), but the characters have grown into themselves over the past 5 and a half years.

There are plot holes, and ones that will never be patched over or resolved.

These things are the price you pay for a good pulp story on network television. Let's take a look back at the two main entries in the history of the pulp mystery on broadcast television:

Twin Peaks: resolved its main storyline in one glorious season. Died stillborn in James Hurley's furrowed brow in the second.

X-Files: Did it ever resolve its main storyline? The one-off episodes were my favorite part of it, and I mostly tolerated the alien mythology, which was really the only 'serial' part of the show.

All of television is an effort to sell something: programming packages for HBO, and advertising space for network, plus DVDs on the side. If a good story gets told in the selling, then all the better.

For cable pay-package stuff it's not an issue: the better quality your programming, the more likely people are to pay. You're not selling advertising space, and you don't have to worry about being too weird, or too hard to follow, or not milking a franchise for all its worth. Being unique is a feature, as HBO has been proving over the past few years.

For network television you have to conform to certain expectations, and cast the largest net you can to make sure that eyeballs are on the advertising that keeps you afloat. This leads to a lot of compromise.

Because of its format Lost is a little gangly and awkward. Sometimes stuff doesn't get entirely resolved, or have a deeper meaning. But if you've followed it from season 1 until present then they've done a pretty good job at answering the biggies. The ones that they haven't answered are the central questions of the story:
1) What is the island?
2) What is the black smoke?
3) Why these particular people?

We know, basically what DHARMA is. We know why there's a pirate ship, and a giant foot, and a polar bear, and hatches (if not in detail then at least in general). The two major villains of the show, Ben and Widmore, have both been adequately motivated and explained and then cast aside for the main antagonist: the black smoke. Jacob has been formally introduced, and is now known to be the major force in opposition to the antagonist. Aside for a few missteps and early departures, most the characters have at least been attempted to be explained and their actions make sense.

That's pretty good for a pulp story about people lost on an island.

It's even better if you consider the network TV attempts at similar stories that didn't go anywhere.

And it's that much more impressive if you consider the other stories that were tried at around the same time.

When Lost was first released you might remember a torrent of "me-too!" shows that were ostensibly network TV mystery series. Now try to name them. Lost has succeeded where a score of predesecors and followers have failed. They've told a story (albeit a flawed one) in the medium of network television.

At the end of May we'll see how successfully they've told that story, since they still have another five episodes or so to wrap up loose ends, and (hopefully) provide satisfaction to their viewers.

So you can rightfully slag on Lost for not being as good as the Wire (it's not, in raw terms of story-telling, and even the Wire sort of dropped the ball in Season 5), or not being as good as a novel. But for a network television pulp mystery show? It's pretty firmly #1
posted by codacorolla at 9:38 AM on April 28, 2010 [4 favorites]


One thing that really separates viewers is whether or not, while they watch, they hold in their heads the context in which a work was created. To some people, this is a natural way to watch. To others, like me, it isn't.

People who do this will say things like, "Well, it's good for network, television." And, intellectually, I totally get it. I get that when some people watch a network show (made under the constraints that entails), they have different expectations than, say, when they watch a show on HBO. I get it, but it's totally intellectual to me.

While I watch, I don't think at all about that sort of contextual information. And it certainly doesn't impact my feelings, even though I understand the concept. I just watch the story and react. And I either like it, dislike it or have mixed feelings about it. Knowing that it was made under this or that constraint doesn't alter those feelings.

I've also notice that some people, when they watch a show, are more concerned with the creators than others. If you are concerned about them -- if thinking about their artistic problems and triumphs while watching a show is part of what makes it enjoyable for you -- I can also understand how that sort of context matters to you.

I sometimes hear people -- presumably the type of people I just mentioned -- say things like, "Well, you can't fault the writers for that!" or "I can forgive that, because I know the show had a low budget."

Again, I get it intellectually, but my gut response is "fault? forgive?" I am not thinking about the creators at all. I am thinking about Jack and Hurley on an island. If, say, the special effects are crappy or the plot has holes in it, my bubble is burst. I stop being emotionally involved in "Oh my God! Are they going to die?" and start thinking about aesthetic issues involving the mechanics of the show, which is so not what I want to think about. (Though I know others enjoy thinking about that stuff.)

If there's a failure in the mechanics, I don't care whose fault it is or whether they should be forgiven. It's still a failure and it still has the effect on me that it has.

If soup tastes terrible, knowing that the chef's wife just died may help you forgive him, but it doesn't change the fact that the soup tasted terrible. On the other hand, if part of your dining experience involves thinking about the chef, then I can see how you might care.

I suppose you could say to someone like me, "Well, if you can't watch a network show with a different mindset than an HBO show, you shouldn't watch one, because you will inevitably be disappointed." I often think that, myself. But then I get lured into a show like LOST or BATTLESTAR GALACTICA, which seems, at first, to be made by people who know how to forge really well-crafted shows within network constraints.
posted by grumblebee at 11:51 AM on April 28, 2010


So you don't appreciate something for its genre, just on some monolithic and imagined set of parameters for a good story?

I can't say I envy your purity of vision.
posted by codacorolla at 12:03 PM on April 28, 2010


If soup tastes terrible, knowing that the chef's wife just died may help you forgive him, but it doesn't change the fact that the soup tasted terrible. On the other hand, if part of your dining experience involves thinking about the chef, then I can see how you might care.

This is maybe an unfair comparison. Maybe a more apt comparison would be whether you can enjoy watching movies from the 40s or earlier, say, Dark Victory-- the blocking is obviously just a few levels removed from stage blocking, the emoting is big and unnatural, you can see multiple shadows and obvious backdrops when the characters are supposed to be outside-- because these are the limitations of the medium at the time. Can you look past that? Or do you still think the soup tastes terrible?
posted by shakespeherian at 12:07 PM on April 28, 2010


Did it ever resolve its main storyline?

Pretty much. Eventually. And not satisfactorily. You can GOOG around for details. Where Lost is accused of being made up from the get go, X-Files was till the bitter end, and you could tell after the first 4 or 5 seasons (I gave up on it early on in 7, but still have great affection for the early part of the show's run).
posted by sparkletone at 1:08 PM on April 28, 2010


So you don't appreciate something for its genre, just on some monolithic and imagined set of parameters for a good story?

I can't say I envy your purity of vision.


I'm not 100% this way. I don't get upset when I'm watching a fantasy film because I'm thinking, "Hey! People can't fly!" I generally find it easy to relax into rules that are specified in the work itself (which is why I can enjoy 40s movies -- they are unified in style). What doesn't tend to penetrate my brain, when I'm watching something, is the fact that it's on NBC or the fact that the filmmaker died halfway through making it and had to be replaced.

Also, I don't have any "parameters" in my head when I watch something. I just watch and have the reactions that I have. IF I wind up in a discussion about it, I may go back and try to analyze why I liked or disliked it. And having spent years watching shows, I know myself well enough to be able to make some educated guesses about why I reacted the way I did.

So, to take a simple example, if a character is running from a dragon and the dragon looks fake, I don't think, "That violates rule #236 which demands realistic-looking special effects." I just sit there thinking, "Oh shit! He's going to get killed by that drago--- wait a minute! That's not REAL!" But after the fact, I can figure out why I had the reaction I had and know that if the special effects had been better, I wouldn't have had it.

And it doesn't help, after the fact, to be told that, "Well, they had a really small budget." IF I was interested in placing or not placing blame, or IF I was interested in ranking the artist, that WOULD make a difference. But I'm not interested in those things.

I didn't start watching LOST thinking "It better conform to this rule or that rule, or I'm going to hate it." Nor did I sit down and think, "Well, this is on ABC, so it's probably going to suck in ways that most network shows suck." In any case, I find that if I try to sit down with things like that in my head, they don't stick. I get caught up in the story and just have certain feelings and reactions -- positive or negative.
posted by grumblebee at 1:22 PM on April 28, 2010


I mean, I don't do that either, it's just that when something makes me roll my eyes a little bit ("Wait, what do you mean you have to push the button every 108 minutes" *violin strings* "I... I can't tell you") it doesn't totally ruin the show for me. Unless you hate everything or have impeccable tastes, it's rare that you absolutely love everything you watch, and small foibles that are inherent in a network show don't bother me because they're part of the territory. I'm not excusing Lost for anything, because Lost is the best of its kind.

I guess you need to immediately love whatever you're watching. I can take stuff with a grain of salt.

*shruggles* I'm not going to try to convince you.
posted by codacorolla at 1:41 PM on April 28, 2010


No, I never said anything about loving or hating every second. When a show has a blemish, I may or may not be able to get over it.

If what you enjoy about shows is getting caught up in them until you're in a state of belief or near belief -- that place where you really get scared that the characters might die or whatever -- then blemishes, even small ones, can burst that bubble or, at least, weaken it.

If I'm thinking, "hey, that doesn't make sense," then I'm thinking of the show as a fabrication: I'm thinking, "the writers made a mistake." And if I'm thinking about the writers, the emotional impact of what's happening to the characters is going to be less than it would be if I was in a state of belief.

That doesn't necessarily mean that I'll have no concern about the characters at all. It just means that I won't be AS concerned.

If a blemish is minor, I will probably be able to fall back into belief fairly quickly. But if, say, there's another blemish a few minutes later, and then another and another, eventually I will lose trust. My brain will protect itself from falling back into a state of belief, because it will be sick of getting constantly yanked out of the dream.

It's very much like being awakened from sleep. If someone wakes you up once, you may be able to fall back to sleep. If, after that, they wake you up again, five minutes later, you may still be able to fall back to sleep. But it will probably be harder. If they keep waking you and waking you, eventually you will lose your ability to relax and won't be able to sleep at all. Or at least that's how I work.

Despite my misgivings, I am still watching LOST, because it still manages to push my emotional buttons. But I do find, more and more, that I'm losing trust. There are just SO many unanswered questions, and I don't have faith that they will be answered. If I had that faith -- the the writers had built up trust -- then I could just sink into my sofa and enjoy.

What do the numbers mean? Why that 108 minute thing? If the smoke monster was all those apparitions from people's pasts, what was the point of all his antics? Why did he appear to Kate as her horse? Why did he kill the pilot of the plane and several of the other characters? Why did a helicopter drop supplies near the castaways camp? It couldn't have been a DHARMA helicopter, because DHARMA no longer existed. Why can some of the characters talk to dead people? Why does the island seem to heal some people, even bringing them back from the dead, but not others? Why don't the characters demand to know answers? Why does Eloise seem to have magical powers when it comes to time-travel and alternate universes? Etc. Etc. Etc. Why were the Others doing experiments with children?

You make it sound as if there are just a couple of minor questions, but there are tons! And the show keeps reminding me of them. It's not like I sit around and try to poke holes in it.

And what DOES make me mad at the writers is that I don't think all of these problems had to exist. I am aware of the constraints of network television. But even given all that, surely the show could have been made with more care.
posted by grumblebee at 2:05 PM on April 28, 2010


HI GUYS I THINK YOU ARE JUST DIFFERING ON THE THRESHOLD FOR SUSPENSION OF DISBELIEF
posted by shakespeherian at 2:07 PM on April 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


Oh, and also:
What do the numbers mean? Why that 108 minute thing?

108 is 4 + 8 + 15 + 16 + 23 + 42.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:08 PM on April 28, 2010


Um. Is that an explanation?
posted by grumblebee at 2:10 PM on April 28, 2010


Jacob likes numbers. The different numbers represent the candidates who are left to take over the island. I strongly suspect we're not going to get any more answers than that.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 2:11 PM on April 28, 2010


That's not even the beginnings of an answer. What does that have to do with pressing a button every 108 minutes?
posted by grumblebee at 2:12 PM on April 28, 2010


Um. Is that an explanation?

I'm just saying that you're asking the same question twice. We already know that after digging the Swan, DHARMA figured they had fucked up one of the Island's electromagnetic pockets, so they had to figure out a way to let the energy discharge on the regular. The fact that this regular interval is 108 minutes is the same reason that every clock we see is at 8:23 or 4:15 or whatever and the fact that the flight was Oceanic 815 and every number we ever encounter on the show is made up of The Numbers for whatever reason. So you're just asking the same question twice.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:16 PM on April 28, 2010


Watch for those numbers to show up in the card game. This is how messages are sent beyond the time loop they're caught in.

What, you didn't realize this was Star Trek: TLG? Data just hasn't shown up yet.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 2:20 PM on April 28, 2010


That's not even the beginnings of an answer. What does that have to do with pressing a button every 108 minutes?

My guess is that Jacob, being somewhat of a God and someone who has actively pushed various members of the cast together has somehow sprinkled them throughout the universe, because he likes them. I mean, we've literally been told that "Jacob has a thing for numbers."
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 2:21 PM on April 28, 2010


Well, but again, the writers are pretty big fans of Stephen King, who just absolutely loves to pepper everything with coincidences and references to other things, whether there's an in-narrative reason for it or not. I think the numbers showing up in so many places in LOST has less to do with Jacob's omnipotence and more to do with the writers winking at us, or at least going 'Hey there's going to be a clock on Jack's bedside table in this scene. Why not have it show some of the numbers, since it has to show some combination of numbers anyway?'
posted by shakespeherian at 2:25 PM on April 28, 2010


If you guys are asking "why did the writers choose 108 and not 109?" it's an allusion to Buddhism and Hinduism (as is Dharma, obviously). If you're asking why is 108 important in the context of the story, I have no idea.
posted by desjardins at 2:25 PM on April 28, 2010


Oh, okay. I get it.

One of the little questions that won't stop nagging me is that supply-drop one. But I'm wondering if I missed something. Has there ever been any explanation -- or even a plausible guess -- as to why a helicopter dropped a bunch of DHARMA supplies near the castaways early in the series?

It couldn't have been DHARMA, because they no longer existed by that point. It couldn't have been Widmore because he didn't know the location of the island then. I guess it could have been Jacob or the smoke monster doing some kind of magic, but that really seems odd. We have never heard of them turning into helicopters.

I guess it was The Others. Maybe the supplies were from the mainland and they were meant for them, but if that's true, why were they all DHARMA containers? And I though helicopters couldn't get through from the mainland -- only submarines.

I guess, maybe, there could have been a helicopter on the island, and the Others could be moving old DHARMA supplies from one part of the island to another, but (a) why? and (b) how come we never see that helicopter again?

That particular puzzle nags at me, because it seems unconnected to Jacob. To some extent, I can go with "the numbers are magic woo-woo," but I can't do that when it comes to machinations of the human players.

I'm also wondering if we're going to get explanations for the donkey wheel, the magic traveling to and from the island, the fact that the smoke monster (or someone) could somehow get off the island (even though the smoke monster says he can't) and appear as various people, the "Adam and Eve" skeletons, why Desmond has special powers and why certain people's strong feelings for each other seems to have a magical effect.

I would be curious to know whether, when the writers, say, made Kate's horse appear, they thought, "we don't really know what's going on, but we'll figure it out later," "we know exactly what is going on, and we will explain it later," "shit, we were going to explain it, but we ran out of time," "we know, but we choose to never explain it," or "hell, most people won't even remember random strange things we throw in, so who cares about explaining them."
posted by grumblebee at 2:28 PM on April 28, 2010


'Hey there's going to be a clock on Jack's bedside table in this scene. Why not have it show some of the numbers, since it has to show some combination of numbers anyway?'

Ah, the Chris Carter/1013 theory!
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 2:47 PM on April 28, 2010


grumblebee: Supply drop.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:48 PM on April 28, 2010


from that link: "Executives producers Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse revealed on the the March 11, 2010 podcast that they intend to reveal the origin of the supply drop, although that might not happen on the show itself. "

Odd.
posted by grumblebee at 2:51 PM on April 28, 2010


Nice. I have to say, steaming through (the first five seasons of) Lost the first time, and coming back to watch them at a slower pace the second time, I am appreciating it a lot on re-view. We just watched two episodes of season two tonight and to my surprise they were good. Additional bonus: being able to view with the knowledge I have made a very minor season two clue stand out in a meaningful way. Might just make a believer of me yet in the long-term plotting with flex, rather than making it up as they go along.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 8:14 PM on April 28, 2010


Since I don't really have a lot of respect for the sideways crap they've been foisting on us this year, I kind of wish they'd spent more time exploring what currently dead characters were up to. What happened to Nikki and Paolo if the plane lands? Boone and his (step so their love is ok) sister? Eko? Ana Lucia? Are their lives better off in this alternaverse?

Nikki and Paolo are two of my favorite characters, because they were such a fantastic misstep and so quickly sidelined.
posted by graventy at 9:11 PM on April 28, 2010


Durn Bronzefist: “Star Trek: TLG

... is a brilliant idea for fanfic involving Riker and Troi being stranded, "City On The Edge Of Tomorrow"-style, in Paris in the 1920s, wherein they booze it up and mourn their dead childhood chums and the disappearance of their innocence before taking a brief jaunt to Pamplona for the running of the bulls.
posted by koeselitz at 10:34 PM on April 28, 2010


Nikki and Paolo are two of my favorite characters, because they were such a fantastic misstep and so quickly sidelined.

I don't get it. They are two of your favorite characters BECAUSE they were a misstep? Can you explain?
posted by grumblebee at 6:23 AM on April 29, 2010


Wesley Crusher was once flyweight boxing champion of Starfleet Academy. Do not think that I, who have punched out Vulcans in full pon farr, am much impressed by the title, but it meant a lot to Crusher. He cared nothing for boxing, in fact he disliked it, but he learned it painfully and thoroughly to counteract the feeling of inferiority and shyness he had felt on being treated as a legacy at the Academy. I never met any one of his class who remembered him. They did not even remember that he was flyweight boxing champion.

Wesley was a member, through his father, of one of the richest families in San Francisco, and through his mother of one of the oldest. During his naval apprenticeship, when he served with me on the Enterprise and did nothing to disgrace himself too much, no one had made him class-conscious. No one had ever made him feel like a swollen parasite on Starfleet's flank, drastically over-favored by fortune of birth, until he went to the Academy. He was a nice boy, a friendly boy, and it made him bitter. He took it out in boxing, and he came out of the Academy with painful self-consciousness and just a little brain damage from all the blows to the face and accepted the first commission that was offered him. He was a captain in five years, had command of three ships, lost the stake in the dilithium concern his father left him, the balance of the estate having gone to his mother, and hardened into a rather unattractive mould under domestic unhappiness with a rich wife. Just when he had made up his mind to leave his wife she left him and went off with a Ferengi.

Around this time a Time-Phase Distortion Whorl left him, myself, and Deanna Troi stranded in 1921. It was a very healthful shock to him. He lit off for California, where he fell among literary people, and, as he had brought a matter synthesizer back with him and did not lack for scarcity-basis money, in a short time he was backing a review of the Arts. It was called "Broom," and it was founded just two months before Harold Loeb, in the original draft of history, would have published a seminal Modernist magazine of the same name.

The review commenced publication in Carmel, California, and finished in Provincetown, Massachusetts. By that time Wesley, who had been regarded purely as an angel, and whose name had appeared on the editorial page merely as a member of the advisory board, had become the sole editor. It was his money and he discovered he liked the informal, unmilitary authority of editing. He was sorry when a crop of temporal paradoxes made the magazine too risky a concern and he had to give it up.

I went through the motions of commiseration with him, but in truth I was still too concerned with how a Phase translation error had scrambled my junk to give much of a damn.
posted by Iridic at 6:36 AM on April 29, 2010 [5 favorites]


Brilliant.
posted by mwhybark at 1:38 AM on April 30, 2010


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