Sunday, 14 March 2010

Lost - the polar bear's escaped!

Is anyone still watching Lost? Or, more to the point, is anyone who is still watching it, watching it for any reason other than that this is the last series?

The heady days of Season 1 seem a long time ago now. Remember the thrill of first seeing a polar bear on a tropical island? Of wondering how Jack's dead father appeared to him? Or how Locke had regained the use of his legs? Remember how much fun it was trying to guess what could possibly explain all those weird and wonderful plot twists?

Were the characters dead and serving their time in purgatory? Was everything happening inside Hurley's head? There seemed to be so many possibilities!

By Season 2, watching the series was already becoming a bit of a chore. Setting 50% of the show inside a concrete and steel bunker where the most excitement on offer was wondering whether the latest character-of-the-week would remember to push a button was hardly gripping television. But we kept watching, right? After all, there was always just the merest hint of a possibility that something might happen to explain what the Hell was going on.

It didn't, of course. As each successive season came and went, the main characters started to be killed off (some to add much needed tension, others presumably because the actors no longer wished to be associated with the show) and a variety of increasingly improbable methods were used to introduce new characters to replace them: the Tail-enders, the Others, the Rescue team, the Dharma initiative ... They all came, and they each added one or two replacements to the permanent cast before being whisked away and almost instantly forgotten. Now, as the climax approaches, we have the Temple-dwellers. Forgive me if I stifle a yawn at this latest deus ex machina.

Anyway, for those of us who are still looking in every week, there is at least the chance of an explanation at the end of this season, and that'll make it all worth while, right? Well ... kind of.

The trouble is that I don't think anybody cares any more. The writers have written so many inexplicable twists and turns into the previous five seasons that there simply is no single explanation that can satisfactorily bring all the threads together in one big "Ah, so that's it!" moment. We know this because of the glimpses we've aleady had: the bland and uncharismatic Jacob, nuclear explosions, the island moving through space, the characters moving through time, Locke becoming the smoke monster ... In the frantic scramble to tie all the lunatic plot twists together, the final series is already on course for one of the messiest and most contrived endings ever.

I knew this was coming. Hell, we all knew this was coming. But, if I'd needed any proof, it was given when - as the Dharma settlement's camp was being torn apart - one of the characters could just be heard shouting over all the confusion: "The polar bear's escaped!" Honestly, if that's the best explanation the writers could come up with to justify a polar bear being on a tropical island, what hope is there that they have anything better in mind to explain all the other 2,003 paradoxes and plot holes?

For all that, I am watching the last series. I'm not entirely sure why. I suspect it's because part of me wants to be proven wrong. Part of it is also because I have a theory about where the series seems to be heading and, I suppose, I just want to see if I'm right. (I do hope I'm not!) But mainly, I think, it's because I'm quite enjoying the glimpses of the characters' "what if" lives, back in the US. If it wasn't for those sequences, I'm sure I'd have given up by now, because - as far as everything that's happening on the island is concerned - I really don't care any more!


  1. I have to say I'm glad I never started watching Lost.

    Though my biggest complaint with it has nothing to do with any episodes. I've never seen a 1 of them!
    I remember the show was going on it's mid season cliffhanger. Probably around S2 or 3.
    They had another show that would fill the void during the 12 weeks it'd be off called Day Break about a cop reliving the worst day of his life over and over again kinda like Bill Murry's Ground Hogs Day.
    I always loved that concept and was immediately hooked on that show.

    The bad thing is apparently no one watched it because it was in Lost's time slot. So instead of letting the show finish they took it down after 6 eps and forced you to watch the rest each week online. Which I did. The show was AWESOME!

    To make matters worse they put reruns of a reality show on instead! So I'll always blame Lost fans for causing a great show to meet its premature end >:(

    Nothing to do with crappy network executives. =p

    Most of the time anymore I won't give a new series a chance at all now because these networks seem to cancel the best ones every time and stuff like Lost and Heroes gets to stay on being forced to come up with ideas while it was obvious they only had 1 or 2 seasons worth of stories in mind. In Heroes case I remember reading it was the network wanting the writers to not kill off many of the main characters and that's why the last episodes of S1 went downhill. From what I remember they wanted to make each season have brand new heroes. That would had been MUCH better!

    Looks like I LOST the topic really soon, sorry :(

  2. Heh - you make a good point (but I'd still recommend you watch Season 1!) I can't believe how many mediocre shows get renewed season after season when my favourites are so often axed!

    Legend of the Seeker, Fringe, Sanctuary etc are all shows that I started watching but decided they were very average. Meanwhile excellent shows like The Sarah Connor Chronicles and others which showed promise like The Bionic Woman and Defying Gravity weren't even allowed to complete their first series.

    The lessons for producers, I think, are: (i) make shorter series; and (ii) don't end seasons on a cliff-hanger unless you KNOW you've been picked up for another one! Anyway, I'm now as far off-topic as you are. Go watch Lost Season 1!