Those who know me and Bear know that I have excellent taste in romantic partners but unfortunately, my discerning judgment doesn’t extend to television shows. I have had deplorable luck with the two to which I’ve been (slavishly) faithful: first The X-Files and now Lost. I have come to hate both shows in ways I could never even begin to dream, yet I kept watching them to the bitter end. Lost, of course, is not yet finished and rest assured, I will stick this relationship out (because I am monogamous, apparently), but I simply cannot stand it anymore. I have been manipulated and confused so many times that I’ve essentially given up.
When I first started watching Lost, the relationship had been new and intriguing and mysterious. A number of seemingly unrelated persons crashland on a deserted island which may or may not be in the South Pacific. But what? There are hints that maybe the island isn’t deserted after all, that maybe there’s a vast conspiracy, and there’s simply mystery after mystery after mystery to be solved.
(The first season still kicks all the other seasons to the curb.)
But once I’d been with the show for a few years, the lustre began to wear off. What I thought was mysterious was merely wallowing in angst and pandering to what it thought others wanted of it. The first half of season three was particularly excruciating, especially with the stupid introduction of that goddamned fucking love polygon THAT WOULD NOT DIE. I told Lost I was bidding it farewell, that at least it gave me a good two years, but maybe we ought to seek other shows/audiences. But no, it told me it would pick itself up by the bootstraps and change, become a better show. I was skeptical until the finale of season 3. What? What? They’re off the Island now? Holy fuck is this a FLASHFORWARD?
A lot of people would probably disagree with me, but I thought season 4 was the best since the first two. Because for the first time, we see hints of an endgame. That six of the original Oceanic 815 flight members made it off. That it was confirmed that every single one of them crashed on the Island for a reason that they (and we) are yet to know. That we see glimpses of the future, but have no idea how the characters got there. And for once the show actually showed me how the Oceanic 6 got off! I was riveted and once more enthralled (that and I’m a sucker for non-chronological storytelling). Okay, Lost, I forgive you. Just…don’t let me down again.
WAY TO DROP THE BALL ON ME, LOST. I have been consistently underwhelmed by season 5 and the season finale simply summed up everything I couldn’t stand about this year’s episodes. The issue of time travel I could deal with. That the Island is slightly askew from our “normal” conception of the space-time continuum, I can accept. Sure, questions have been answered, but the answers weren’t satisfying; in fact, they were fairly inane and dull and suffered too much from deus ex machina, or “god from the machine”—excuse me, “Jacob from the foot”.
Take for instance, the issue of Ben. (This season has done nothing but confirm for me that Benjamin Linus is my Island’s true love. I ♥ you, Benry!) Shot as a child! In the heart! By someone whom he thought he trusted! And that person was Sayid. Oh god, what does it say about the adult Ben that he’s able to keep so cold and ruthless and then callously use someone who tried to kill him as a boy? OMG IT JUST MAKES BEN EVEN SEXIER THAN BEFORE.
Nope. A case of “Jacob from the Foot” strikes again, although in this case, I suppose it’s “Smokey from the Temple.” They erase Ben’s memory of the incident. Which then emasculates Ben. In a way that isn’t as adorable/character-revealing as his dorky stalkerish obsession of Juliet (“I baked you a ham!”), his unexpected soft spot for children, and his driving desire for a father figure’s approval—Jacob, in this case. These “emasculating” incidents only seem to deepen my love for Ben because they further move me to pity. Erasing his memory of Sayid’s attempted murder? DUMB. It smacks of the writers going, “Oh shit, we forgot about that. Eh, the Temple can fix things and selectively erase Ben’s memory.” This sums up most of my feelings about this season: as though the writers kept consistently taking the easy way out of things.
So why do I keep watching? Hell, I’ve given J.J. Abrams and Carlton Cuse five years of my attention, might as well see it through to the end. I’d like to see if they answer any more of my questions (of which there seem to be growing instead of diminishing number), but more than that, I’m invested in seeing the resolution of a few characters: Ben (as I have mentioned before), Sun and Jin, and Sawyer/James. I’ve ceased to care about anyone else.
What keeps someone watching a show after it’s jumped the shark? (And honestly, I felt Lost jumped the shark somewhere in season 3.) Characters you care about, of course. Part of the reason I felt this season fell so flat is because I got practically nothing about the characters I adore (except Ben). Writers of Lost, I don’t give a shit about Jack or Kate. I know that they are your contracted leads. I am fine with that. I will admit wholeheartedly that Evangeline Lilly is really easy on the eyes. But I also want her character to die in the most awful, pointless way. She ruins everything. Jack I bear less hatred for, mostly because I think he’s just a whiny angst muffin. “My dad didn’t love me enough!” (sob) “He was unnecessarily harsh to me!” Boohoo, assmonkey. Suck it up. It ceased to be sympathetic a very, very long time ago. “Wah, Kate doesn’t love me!” (In this instance I do feel sorry for him, mostly because Kate can’t seem to make up her own fool mind.)
Kate is unlikeable for a myriad of reasons, the chief and foremost being that seems to be a black hole of love angst. Sawyer and Jack have been circling her for 5 years now, slowly getting spaghetti-fied into annoying saps. But more than that, Kate is obnoxious because she is ostentatiously the show’s moral compass. “We must do this because it is right!” Listen, lady, you’re a criminal on the run. Just saying “we must do this because this is right” isn’t going to cut it. (Note to self: fix this about your female protagonist.) This is where the writers shot themselves in the foot with her: she’s proven in her flashbacks that she’s amoral and cares only about herself (until Aaron comes along and even then, she conveniently used him to cut her sentence). So positioning Kate as your moral judge is a terrible, terrible idea, and one that won’t sit well with an audience not enamoured by Evangeline Lilly’s beautiful blue eyes, gorgeous hair, and aristocratic nose sprinkled with adorable freckles. Or even those who are.
For now, I will return to reading my one trashy YA novel and my other not-trashy-at-all YA novel (recommended to me by Russ) and let my bitterness stew. Carry on.