Posted on June 25, 2009 at 6:38pm EDT. More.


About a month ago I finally started watching LOST. By the time it sounded like something I’d be into, it seemed like it would be too much work to catch up. Maybe knowing that next season is the final season made it seem like an attainable goal? Maybe I should be more ambitious in my goal-setting?

Anyway, I’ve watched four seasons in thirty days and I kind of want to talk about it. So here we go. I know the show is five years old and probably everything here has been written by someone else, but this is my blog.

A lot of the drama comes from characters refusing to, or doing a poor job of, answering questions. There’s no reason Juliet couldn’t have diffused a lot of tension by saying, “I was tricked into living on the Island because I thought I was taking a job with a pharmaceutical company and I want to go home, too.” Also, I don’t understand why Daniel Faraday believed that it was better to cryptically insist that the camp wasn’t gone rather than just say, “We’ve gone back in time.” He could have spared himself from fifteen minutes of arguing and a slap in the face from Sawyer.

I’m no student of literature, but I suppose LOST is not unique, and that’s where a lot of drama comes from. But LOST clearly depends on it, at first keeping the characters in the dark and then, in season four, the viewer also.

In the first three seasons, the format of the show was very clear: a story on the Island interleaved with flashbacks to a story before the crash. To be honest, any spoilers that I had come across never bothered me, because the show is really engaging. The two stories always tied together in a very clever way, such as Kate trying to save Jack despite his instruction not to versus Kate killing her abusive stepfather against her mother’s wishes. Both stories are about acting selfishly under cover of helping someone you love.

Although there was plenty of mystery in the first three seasons, you always knew at least as much as the main characters did. The writers withheld information from you so that you could identify with the characters.

In season four, with the inclusion of flashforwards, that changes. Once off the island, the characters clearly know what happened to them, but the scenes are carefully crafted to keep you guessing. This is most clear in the episode where Sun gives birth and Jin races to the hospital with a toy panda. Only at the very end do you learn that Jin was presenting a gift to a Chinese executive on behalf of Paik Automotive, before the plane crash; then you see Sun visit Jin’s grave and explain that she was calling for her husband during the birth because she was delirious. Ha ha, fooled you!

This is mildly irritating, because the mysteries in season four are no longer part of the story, they are part of the show. They are not shared with any of the characters; they exist only as an artifact of the video editing process. Season five seems to be rectifying this, but I’m only a few episodes in.

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