Cleolinda Jones (cleolinda) wrote,
Cleolinda Jones

The day after

So, I'm still thinking about Lost. Yes, we're still on that. You want me to go back to talking about Twilight? Because we can do that.

Yeah, that's what I thought.

One of the defining things about the show is that we would have a major paradigm-shift every season or so--it would continue to redefine what the show was "actually" about. What it was "actually" about was, of course, the people and the weird island that threw them together, even though at times the show was "primarily" about one or more of the following: 1) people trying to get rescued from a simple plane crash; 2) people trying not to get killed by a mysterious group of hostiles and/or polar bears, 3) the secretive, experimental Dharma Initiative, which also involved a weird feud between two leaders who wanted to kill each other's daughters for some obscure reason; 4) the future, which we thought was the past, in which the Oceanic Six were desperately trying to get back to the island; 5) the '70s; 6) even more time travel; 7) parallel universes; 8) some weird temple that we'd been hearing about for six years, now with new characters, who we didn't actually care about but spent half the season with anyway; 9) Jacob, Samuel (GUYS! HE HAS A NAME!) and the Glowcave of Humanity; 10) Jack's daddy issues. Again. And every season or so, the show would wrench the focus ninety degrees and go, "NOW it's about Dharma! NOW it's about getting off the island! NOW it's about going back! NOW it's about the future! NOW it's about the past! NOW it's about a side universe! ARE YOU SHOCKED YET OR WHAT."

Don't get me wrong, I really appreciated that. I didn't get a whole lot of TV that was willing to blow my mind, or at least attempt to do so, on a regular basis. I still think the single best moment of the show was Scarybeard Jack shouting, "KATE! WE HAVE TO GO BACK!" even as everyone was finally rescued, something I didn't even think would happen until the end of the series, and suddenly everything we all, characters and viewers alike, had wanted the whole time was turned on its head. You could actually feel the show turn on its axis at that moment.

What I got out of the finale (which I did like), though, was a final readjustment of, "None of those paradigm shifts individually were important; it was about the people and their time on the island as a whole." And it's hard to hear that the things they made us think were important--Walt being "special," the necessity of Claire raising Aaron, the Numbers--either weren't important all along, or the showrunners just said, eh, to hell with it. They're not going to tell us the deep inner workings of Dharma or the statue or the glowcave (™ snacky) or even the Sideways Afterlife, and on one level that kind of sucks, in a "Good job biting off more than you could chew" way, but I'm willing to forgive that because of the last shot of the show. There was a thematic unity--the show ended the way it began. There was a wholeness of vision there. I can respect that, no matter what I thought of the various balls they dropped along the way--they had a vision, and maybe they didn't entirely pull it off, but so help me, they tried. As NPR's "'Lost' Is The Most Important Show Of The Decade. Why? Because It's Doomed" puts it,

Going forward with a show, raising question after question after question, asking people to be patient about a monster for five-plus seasons, knowing that it's all going to get you a kick in the teeth from your own adoring fans someday because you have taken on more than you will ever be able to really explain? That's audacious. [...] It's been done with love and attention and the evident and ceaseless passion of true, red-blooded nerds, and in the end, it's going to leave holes, because it has to, because what they bit off is just that big.

This is a show that swung for the fences--and whiffed a number of times. (I can forgive The Paulo and Nikki Episode as being a goof on the level of--what was that Xander-centric episode of Buffy, one of the few I actually saw? "The Zeppo"? As a similar exercise in departing from the usual perspective, once the showrunners realized we didn't care about Paulo and Nikki's insertion into the overall storyline. The Bai Ling Tattoo Episode? Yeah, to hell with that. I don't think Cuse and Lindelof will ever stop taking shit for that one.)

What I'm getting at--what I'm getting out of this--is that, as a writer, I'm taking some hope and encouragement from this. Because I started reading over my drafts this weekend and I got really, really scared. Not because my vision is too big and grand and no one will understaaaaaand me--the opposite, rather, which is that I'm scared that these drafts are kind of crappy and small and insignificant. I'm not saying we should all try to emulate the outsize crazygonuts complexity of Lost--the doomed complexity that the show itself perhaps couldn't live up to--but rather, to swing for the fences. Because Lost put it all out there, and you may think it succeeded or you may think it failed, but even if it failed, it had a damn good time doing it, and I had a damn good time watching it, and even at its most frustrating, people loved it and were engaged by it. Which is to say, if I can't guarantee myself that I can succeed--if this is what failure looks like, I'd rather fail big than fail small. 

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Tags: lost, lostnesday, tv discussion, writing

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