The Problems With Being LOST
SPOILERS LIE AHEAD (I swore I’d never write those words)
It’s not a stretch for people familiar with VoteSimpsonHemstead to know that we’re not huge fans of LOST. And by “we” I mean “me” but I’m writing this so you’re stuck with my opinion.
I watched all the seasons, more and more becoming entrenched in the idea of watching yet another of J.J.’s shows built upon an awesome premise spiral out of control into absolute narrative lunacy. And now in the wake of the highly divisive series finale I’d like to try and shed some light on why you who feel betrayed by LOST have these sensations.
First and most importantly: It’s just a GD tv show. Stop making it a destination in your lives and go outside and play for frak sake.
Okay, we all knew that one, and we all know that none of us are going to heed that advice, so let’s figure out why LOST’s series finale was such a muddled disaster: J.J. Abrams.
Let’s be clear here, I’m not being catty, I’m simply stating fact. J.J. Abrams is the cause of all your woe. He’s a brilliant idea man. He knows how to grab Americans by the short and curlies and say “we’re going on a ride.” The problem is, he never mapquests out his route; that is to say, he has no idea where his stories are going and, like the viewer expects it to shake out along the road. As a result, his first acts (or first seasons) are usually very engaging and well-done, but the more he has to live up to the promises of his ideas, the more he falls apart. This is true of Armageddon, which he penned. The first half is an engaging wash of, “Picture this, an asteroid is headed toward earth and only a team of oil rig workers can save the world.” Awesome. Then we launch them into space, and the second half of the movie… THE PART THAT TAKES PLACE ON THE ASTEROID HURTLING TOWARD EARTH, is boring and disjointed feeling. So, how do we fix that? Let’s kill someone, that makes it poignant and makes you regret feeling frustrated by the sudden lack of concern for anyone in the movie.
Now we go to Alias. Awesome first season. Who is this? Who is that? Who will live, who will die? Is he good? Is he evil? What does this mean? INTRIGUE! HOT CHICK! SH*T GETTIN’ SHOT!!!! And then we hit second season. It all starts falling apart as J.J. tries to live up to the exciting premises established in season one, he can’t do it. It’s all falling apart and now seasons don’t make sense with one another, so let’s throw in a bunch of misdirects and random chance that act as shiny things to distract from the fact that we’re no longer even in the same character arcs. How do we solve this problem in the finale? Let’s kill someone and make it poignant.
Let’s look at his most highly applauded film venture; Star Trek. “Throw out the canon by having a time traveling Romulan (in a ship that looks almost exactly like the asteroid in Armageddon) kill Kirk’s father and create an alternate timeline so we can run amok with the show canon.” Cool. A fresh look at the Star Trek universe. The only way to screw this up now is to throw so many misdirects and muddled thought at the second and third acts that there’s all the tension and conflict between characters can be casually wiped away behind an explosion or a mind-numbing 10 minutes on an ice planet that just HAPPENS to have the one person on it who can save the day, and the one engineer who can save the ship… and NO ONE ELSE. Everyone meets again, through random chance or previously mentioned misdirects. We need a McGuffin though, something so ludicrous and never mentioned once ever in Star Trek that we can center the entire muddle plot around: Red Matter. WTF is it? “Eh.” WTF does it do? “Blows shit up real awesome like by creating supernovas.” WTF are you talking about? “Dude, I just destroyed Vulcan! I JUST DESTROYED VULCAN! THIS IS HAPPENING!!!! THIS IS POIGNANT!!!!!!”
Now LOST: Amazing first season. What is that scary monster? How did polar bears get on a tropical island (much less survive so many years), why does cripple-pants walk here? Who are all these people and how did they survive? A three-toed statue, that’s plain crazy!!!!
Then second season happened. Rather than answering anything of value, they just added MORE characters and more mysteries. Answer one ancillary question to keep you interested, but on the whole ignore anything you really cared about learning and distract you with new people to follow. Fans start tiring of the gimmick of flashbacks. “Oh yeah? Flash FORWARD MUFFUKKERS!!!!! DEAL WITH THAT!!!”
Well no, there’s nothing to deal with, you’re still not answering your questions you posed to us, you’re just distracting us with a temporary plot line in the third season to distract us from the first two seasons. “Shit, that ran it’s course, now what? How do we distract people now? FLASH THE F@CK SIDEWAYS!!!!”
What? Sideways? An alternate timeline that throws out show canon? Where did I just hear about this? Right. Star Trek. Christ. Now you’re distracting me with ANOTHER reality just using the same characters with no rhyme or reason. Oh, you’re answering 1 of the questions from season 1 that pretty much no one really cared about, and you wasted an entire episode, that raised 5 new questions, to accomplish it, but dammit, you showed me some flashbacks designed to make us think you knew all along how this incidental little season 1 mystery was going to play out.
I don’t buy it. Every time you’ve gotten into a narrative mess, you simply just flash a different direction, create an alternate timeline and try to distract the audience into ignoring what’s happened thus far. Wait, hasn’t that happened before? Shit, Star Trek again.
Do you think I’m being too critical of the predictable narrative shortcomings of a very predictable writer who is fast out of the gate, but goes lame before the second turn? Here’s an excerpt from a review of Star Trek with all the proper nouns crossed out. Doesn’t it essentially sum up your frustrations with LOST?
That’s the basic gist of the story, and certainly the first half of the movie is worthy of the Star Trek LOST title. But that’s when everything falls apart. What was already a time-laden plot line becomes convoluted with absurdities that expose a gaping hole of amateur writing and directing. It was easy enough to accept one time traveling character, because Nero The Island/Jacob is essentially the central conflict of the story, but when you decide to have two time traveling characters, one of which literally has no business being there at all other than to provide a pointless, meaningless sidetrack for Kirk The LOSTIES to follow, you’re flirting with the edges of continuity. In fact, the second time traveling character has no purpose being in this movie other than to provide the writers/directors an easy out, a way of getting past the difficult hole they dug themselves into by making Spock Any Character and Kirk Also Any Character practically sworn enemies, to shove in a character who probably should have been there earlier (was referencing Scotty, but The Man In Black, and I’m sorry but him being the smoke monster is ridiculous as it makes so much of what happens in seasons 1 and 2 make no sense), and a way of inserting Leonard Nemoy Allison Janney into the movie so he can go off on a big flashback where he tells us everything (And at the same time, nothing. And the central conflict of both of these convoluted and frustrating flashbacks are Red Matter/The Light at the heart of the Island. The glowing McGuffin.) . And I do mean this literally that after the halfway mark the plot of Star Trek LOST becomes less about furthering the story and more about finding ways to dig oneself out of a hole with cheap tricks and illogical idiocies that make one wonder whether there was any point at all to the whole thing.
And how, at the end of this series of misdirects, convoluted science and dead ends should someone of J.J.’s storytelling acumen end it? Let’s kill ’em all. Now it’s poignant.