Hollywood Mysteries: “Lost”. Are you %#$&ing Kidding Me? Pt. 3

In 2008, after the end of season 3 of “LOST”, all had been forgiven with the show. I didn’t care that the show was answering questions more slowly than a busted morphine drip, I didn’t care that they continued to throw new mysteries at us left and right. Season 3 ended with a mind blowing episode that reminded me (and the rest of “LOST”s audience) just how awesome the show could be when it was on top of its game.

And then… Season 4 happened.

I thought I was upset with episodes that were complete stall jobs? How about entire seasons?

“You’re on a boat? And you’re right offshore? Oh my god! We’re rescued! It’s over! Wait, what? You’re here to kill us? What the %@#& is that?”

Yes, season 4 of “LOST” was a complete and utter filler season when you look at the show from the highest narrative sense. Essentially, they showed two things. How the lostaways got off of the island, and what they did once they were off the island before they decided they needed to go back. What is that but a giant U Turn? In my opinion it was not only a wrong choice by the Losties, it was a wrong choice by the creative team.

Don’t think it was a stretchjob? Think I’m overstating it? Riddle me this. At the end of Season 3, Jack is on the Island, talking into a walkie talkie to a boat that is right off shore. The writers created an entire season out of the period in time between them talking to the boat and them getting ON the boat.

Meet the World’s slowest boat.

You see, the boat was sent by the evil Charles Widmore, who was the new villain of the Show… and it was really sent to kill the Losties, not rescue them. Widmore was the latest and greatest in “LOST”’s Three Card Monte cast of villains. You see, on “LOST” we didn’t even know who the real “Villain” of the show was until the final season. At first we thought it was “The Others”, then we thought it was “The Dharma Initiative”, then Charles Widmore, then Jacob, then eventually, “The Man in Black”. It was one of “LOST”’s ways of answering a question with a question. They’d replace a villain with another villain.

In other stall job related news… the “Flashbacks” were now officially “Flashforwards”. The live action was happening as the Lostaways tried to get on the boat, and the Flashforwards covered what was going to happen to them once they got off of the Island. Now, the Flashforwards were kind of interesting enough… but there really wasn’t enough meat there to last an entire season either.

Airball…. Airball….

In the Flashforwards, they were playing this game about slowly revealing who was in “The Oceanic Six”. You see, only six of the Losties (and there must have been 15 main characters or so at this point) got off of the island and back to the mainland. There, they reached a level of fame and publicity for having survived the notorious crash (it had been faked for the World to find by the evil Charles Widmore in order to cover up the island’s true existence). The media tagged the survivors “The Oceanic Six”, but we were only shown one of them in the first episode. Plus we knew that Jack and Kate got off from the season three finale. So who were the other three??? Oooooooh….

Zzzzzzzzzz…

“What the hell do you mean, I didn’t make it off of the Island? Do you know who I am? Chicks %$#&ing DIG me!”

I guess some interesting things happened. Ben let his stolen daughter die, Jack and Kate played house as Kate raised Claire’s baby. Sayid was an assassin, Jin was dead, Locke was dead, Sun had a baby.

Overall though, Season 4 was the story of how the Losties got to a boat that had been offshore for an entire season, and then how they killed time at home before they decided to “go back”. Season 4 was a big, circular waste of time and I recognized it as such and resented it appropriately.

At the beginning of Season 5, the Losties that never got off the island started skipping through time. They didn’t know when they’d be transported to or when it would occur, they’d just get zapped with a bright light that fast forwarded them in time or rewound them in time.

At this point, I was just going with it.

Oh, and there was a nuke on the island. From like the 50s, when countries were still conducting nuke tests out on deserted islands and atolls and stuff.

Again, I was just going with it.

“If I could turn back time… If I could find a w–” Oh, God. I am SO sorry about that.

So, yeah, a handful of them get caught back in the Dharma initiative back in the 1970s. They wind up being joined halfway through the season by a select few of the Oceanic 6 Losties who finally return to the Island. Again, this is the type of thing that “LOST” sucked at. So 6 previous Island inhabitants return to the Island. 3 of them disappear back in time during a white flash and there’s NO explanation ever given or suggested as to a) How b) Why them and not the other 3. So instead, the viewer is left to fill in the blanks themselves and the only conclusion I was ever able to come up with was “The writers didn’t know what to do with these three in the present, and didn’t know what to do with the other 3 in the past. So they split ‘em up.”

It made more sense than 90% of the answers that “LOST” ever gave to stuff anyways.

“What do you mean? You say my wife was on the plane WITH you. So how did YOU three make it here, but she DIDN’T? It just doesn’t make any sense… It’s total bullshit…”

So there’s all kinds of BS time travel stuff where the characters in the past wind up being the cause of some of their own future problems and things like that – I think one of the characters wound up being his own father, right? LOL, no, but a couple of them had goofy stuff like talking to their mothers before they were born, or holding themselves as a baby, I think. Or maybe that last one was just Hurley making stuff up.

“I would take back those words that hurt you an–” Oh My GAWD!!! I’m really – I just apologize. This blog is totally making me schizophrenic. Seriously.

Honestly though? It didn’t matter to me that much that the narrative had gotten ridiculous. Hey, you’re reading a guy who does a “True Blood” recap every week, ok? What DID matter to me was that the stalling on giving answers had gotten to the point where it was MADDENING. It was almost as if the creative staff of the show was having trouble coming up with ways to AVOID giving answers. By this point in time Inspector Clouseau would have had the case solved. I can’t tell you the number of times when some character would get to a person who SHOULD be in a position to illuminate things, and then that person either gets killed, or they don’t know anything after all, or they answer with something completely cryptic, which is then unbelievably accepted by the Lostie in question and you just want to strangle them, but its too late because the moment has passed and now they’re off again vainly looking for answers.

I wanted to STRANGLE this woman.

I recall one of the characters… “Eloise Hawking” (LOL The “LOST” writers loved to come up with names, didn’t they?) talking to Jack and it was so annoying that I still remember it. Jack starts to rant and calls her out on the BS that everyone HAD to go back to the Island together. Understand, now, this was the BIG mystery woman they were supposed to find who was going to tell them how to get back to the Island (their quest for all of season 4). If anyone was going to have answers, it was her.

I went back to the Blus to look it up. Here it is. S5E6 “316”:

ELOISE: “Oh stop thinking how ridiculous it is, and start asking yourself whether or not you believe it’s going to work. That’s why it’s called a leap of faith, Jack.”

The writers might just have well been talking directly to US. That’s what they gave us.

I swear, if I had a brick at my disposal… well, and a less expensive tv, I’d have thrown the brick through my tv.

Speaking of strangling…

But that’s cool. It didn’t matter that the show didn’t really make sense. Or that trying to describe what was going on to someone who didn’t watch the show was literally impossible. It was fun. It was unique. Season 5 had a lot of good emotional stuff, the trippy time travel component, plus it promised to end with a bang (it did, LOL). It wasn’t as painful a stall job as season 4, plus it was the set up for the grand finale season – season 6, in which all questions would be answered. I was having fun with it again, and totally willing to write off season 4 as an aberration.

The end was right around the corner, and the show still had all the potential in the world to be one of the greatest shows of all time.

All it had to do was stick the landing.

13 thoughts on “Hollywood Mysteries: “Lost”. Are you %#$&ing Kidding Me? Pt. 3

  1. I think Season Four was also hurt because the new characters introduced from the freighter… Faraday, the Red-Head, the Ghost Whisperer, um… the other guys… they weren’t nearly as interesting (or as good at acting) as the “regular Losties”.

    Faraday in particular was horrible. I hated his delivery and how it turned every sentence into a question?

    As far as answering questions, Season 5 was probably the biggest season. Just the stuff on Dharma and their relations with the Others answered most of the old questions. However, as you pointed out before, the answers weren’t nearly as interesting as the questions.

    • That’s hysterical about Faraday’s delivery… He never bothered me, but I totally see what you’re saying. I liked him pretty much, but mainly because his character was right in the middle of the time travel element. And the time travel thing was a welcomed thing for me. While S4 had some of the strangeness, obviously, there was a LOT of really mundane stuff going on.

      I did like Frank Lupidis though. He came in with the freighter folk…

      • Frank’s “We’re not going to make it to Guam, are we?” line from Season 5 may be the funniest line in the whole show.

        Lupidis was a good character, but not until Season 6. Season 4 he was basically just T.C. to everyone else’s Magnum.

        The highlight of Season 4 for me was the Meet Kevin Johnson episode that brought Michael back full-circle. As I mentioned before, I don’t know what I would have done differently if I were him, and I think he’s one of the more sympathetic characters on the show. I was glad he went out a hero in the end.

  2. Finally. Someone who understands that even though it’s all ridiculous, we’re willing to forgive the writers for just about anything. The only thing that could make this all better is if Jack and Kate were siblings and Locke was their father. Or grandpa. Either way, we would still eat it up :)

    • I enjoyed it to a point. There was quite a ways I was willing to go and just “eat it up”. But… come back tomorrow for my post about season six, and the end of the series.

      LOL

      I didn’t “eat that up” so much… kind of sent the waiter back to the kitchen. :D

  3. I pretty much agree with you about Season 4. I felt like I was the only one watching it who thought, “is this actually important? Nothing’s happening.” Of course, I still watched the show all the way to the end and even came to accept the ending to a degree, so I don’t know how that affects my opinion.

    Also that’s the perfect picture of Eloise Hawking to sum up my hatred for her.

    • Sounds like we’re singing the same tune Steve! Season 4 was a huge excercise in treading water. And the poster person for it was Eloise Hawking. I couldn’t stand her either!

      Seriously man, thanks for stopping by, I hope you come back for tomorrow’s post… curious to hear what you thought of the finale. I’ll be posting it up in the morning bright and early!

  4. Oh man. I am so pissed at Lost. My whole family faithfully watched every episode together through almost the entire series. Until about the last 6 episodes. None of it was making any sense…at that point, I felt like I could shuffle every episode from every season, drop them, pick them up in any order & be no worse off. So, 6 episodes from the end of the series, we ditched it. I don’t even know how it ends. Totally pissed me off.

    • You know what’s funny? People who DIDN’T ditch it are pissed off too. LOL. And I SAW how it ended. :D

      There’s a lot of anger out there at it. I thought it would go down as one of the greatest shows ever, and now I have to count it as one of the most disappointing.

  5. Ok, I was going to wait for you to post the last part before commenting, but I don’t think I can hold it in till tomorrow. I was really invested in the show – emotionally, I mean. I loved that they had the guts to tell a story such as that on network television the way that they did. I really wanted them to succeed. I was willing to “eat up” some of the BS along the way, but I wanted to remain on their side. Yes, the big story was hard to grasp, unnecessarily complicated, It was too big a plane in too big of a storm to make a safe as well as spectacular landing. I would tell myself I wasn’t in for the mysteries. I really liked most of the stories. Loved the flashbacks, got along great with the forwards. Besides, for the better part of the cast, the way the parts were delivered was spectacular.

    Was I disappointed by the finale ? I wasn’t, but that was also due to the way I was feeling as I sat down to watch it. Let’s be honest, by the middle of the last season, we all really knew they could no longer tie every loose end. It was clear already that we weren’t to get solid answers. So I was hoping they would deliver a beautiful ending. The finale, I think, was the best they (and I dare say anyone) could have pulled off at that point. The final battle on the island. The plane departing (a sequence accompanied by a feeling we were all waiting for since season one’s exodus). The conclusion to Jack’s story (final sequence) was exactly as touching as it should have been. Then again, the “revelation” that the flashes in the last season were not about giving answers, but about the characters’ redemption gave me SOME kind of comfort. Furthermore, the answers they DID give were told with the talent, grace and storytelling charm that made us watch the show (e.g. alpert and the black rock).

    It is true, I was in for the mysteries. But even as the mysterious storylines became ridiculous I stuck with the show. And I can bet that my reason for doing that was the same as yours. The story was, at an emotional level, beautifully told. The characters were well constructed (well, at least most of them) and some of the arc stories were good enough to “survive” as a separate show : Desmond and Penny (the Constant – remember? That was also in season 4 and to me, that single phone call made up for all of the water treading). Even when it made mistakes, Lost did it so graciously that, once you were hooked up, you could not let go. It was the little bits of “heart” sprinkled along the storylines that got me addicted, and, to that side of me, even in the end, it paid off.

    • Thanks for sharing Cosmin.

      Actually, I agree. My problem isn’t with the finale. The finale was fine. I’d even say it was really good.

      My problem is with the final season. And retroactively with the show as a whole. I think its a little rude that they introduced all of these strange mysteries with no solutions – or at least no good solutions. The vast majority of people I know who watched the show are angry with it that they didn’t resolve the mysteries well, and the rest sidestep the point! They brush it off as if it were unimportant (and maybe it IS unimportant to them) and insist the show was about the characters. But either way, both groups essentially agree they didn’t resolve the mysteries well. And THAT’S my issue with it.

      The final show was very good, for where we were and what it was left with. If I have to find fault with an episode in particular it was that one towards the end that focused entirely on Jacob and his brother. Ouch. That was painful, if I remember correctly.

      Listen, thanks for stopping by… hope you swing back through. I’m sure the post today will have MUCH more of this.

  6. I get what you’re saying, and to some extent agree, but I thoroughly enjoyed LOST, so permit me to come to its defense.

    I’ll start by pointing out some of its flaws. The writers/producers made their fair share of missteps. Nikki and Paolo were maybe the worst of them in my humble opinion (though watching them get buried alive was rewarding). The introduction and use of these two was awkward and just plain poorly done. While most of the writing was excellent (and that includes many of the filler episodes), there were a few really bad ones. The worst of these was Season 3’s ” Stranger in a Strange Land” that answered that most pressing of mysteries: how did Jack get his tattoos and what do they mean? The only good thing about that episode was watching Jack get his ass kicked by and angry Thai mob. There were some other bad episodes, but they were the exception to the rule.

    But not all fillers were bad. Indeed, I think that they helped to spread out the mythology-oriented episodes instead of having them be presented in concentrated form. They help to make the show more interesting in the end. Think about it: if you saw/heard Smokey/MIB, the Others, new Dharma stations, Rousseau. the whispers, etc., every episode, their appearances would not be as interesting or exciting as they were being as spread out as they were. And for many viewers, these episodes helped them to feel more invested in the characters.

    Regarding the way that the writers answered a question with more questions, I strongly disagree. Try to imagine the incredibly difficult tightrope the writers had to walk. They introduce a specific mystery that is just one facet of the larger overarching mystery. Their dilemma: A) they don’t answer it in a timely manner and frustrate the audience; B) Answer it completely and ruin the element of mystery that the audience found so compelling to begin with; or C) treat individual questions like a trail of breadcrumbs that leads the viewer towards the answer to the ultimate mystery. Obviously in a show with several seasons and that revolves around one central mystery, the writers have to manage how best to reveal information while keeping the audience interested and involved. Other shows have attempted this and failed, either revealing too much, too soon or dragging it out beyond the audience’s level of interest (e.g., The X-Files).

    LOST was not perfect by any means. It had more than a few red herrings, missteps, missed opportunities, etc. But when all was said and done, it is (in my opinion) the best TV show of all time. I’ve gone back and watched it again from beginning to end a couple of times. There are a few things that I find extremely interesting. There are some very subtle things reaching back all the way to Season 1 that demonstrate how far in advance the writers were working in specific things that were key to the Season 6 storyline (for example, In the episode “White Rabbit”, Smokey takes the form of Jack’s father and tries to kill Jack – or rather, he tries to get Jack accidentally kill himself – by getting Jack to chase him over a cliff; Smokey/MIB couldn’t kill the candidates himself but COULD try to get them to do it themselves; he tried to get Hurley to jump off that same cliff in Season 2’s episode “Dave”). Stuff like that is just brilliant.

    Anyway, I could write write page after page in defense of LOST, but it ultimately boils down to personal preferences. And while it’s easy to focus on the mythological aspects of the show, in the end it’s about the characters and their individual and collective journeys. Desmond essentially says this in the very last episode, I believe. Oh…and if nothing else, just think of the entire show as a build-up to seeing Jack, who was a complete jackass and horrible leader, die. And THAT makes it totally worthwhile.

    • Well, at this point I feel pretty “vented” about “LOST”… Having written the huge series you found, my views are pretty much on the record, lol.

      I don’t begrudge anyone their enjoyment of it. In fact, if anything, my disappointment in the show stems from the fact that I once thought it could have been the greatest tv show ever, too. I wound up very disappointed by it as it crashed from that high place in my esteem, so if you didn’t suffer through that, that’s good. I don’t wish that on people.

      I will repeat my standard counter to the “It was about the characters” mantra. That’s a lot of bs. The show did have some excellent characters, and most of them were given great “arcs” that for the most part resolved themselves satisfactorily. But this show did NOT reach the heights that it did because people were watching it as some tv version of a “character study”. That was a contributory element to its success, sure. But it was “About” a plane crash onto a mysterious island.

      That was the reason it was so successful, and the writers knew it. The failure to resolve that promise to the viewers in a higher level fashion than they did equals a fail.

      It’s not an utter fail I suppose… There are a number of people like yourself who still hold the show in high esteem. But my friends, co-workers, family, etc are all pretty bitterly disappointed.

      Bet you’ve heard that too, or know your share of people, etc… So let me leave you with this. If LOST was a show that accomplished its mission… Why did it create so many haters?

      Which is more reasonable – that all of the people who hate how it turned out are WRONG (we missed it, we’re clueless, we don’t “get it”)? Or that all of the people who love it love it in spite of its flaws, and due to their fondness for it are willing to overlook glaring weaknesses?

      To me, the former makes more sense.

      Thanks for swinging by and posting up though, I hope you come back to see this. I love debating here (more movies though obviously), and I appreciate your taking the time to share your thoughts!

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