A good friend pointed out to me this evening that years from now, those of us who watched Lost will likely look back on this age of waiting week-to-week and season-to-season for the next episode–and for answers–as halcyon days. I can’t imagine that people who are “waiting until the whole thing is done to just watch it on DVD” are going to get the same fullness of experience out of the show that those of us who are “watching it live” are getting, if only because the wait between episodes and seasons gave us the chance to think about all of the philosophical and spiritual implications of what we’ve watched before the next twist left us with new questions to ponder and new information to process. Will a college student kicking off her summer with a Blu-Ray binge really have the chance to think about the way “Flashes Before Your Eyes,” “Catch-22,” “Through the Looking Glass,” “The Constant” and the entire first third of season 5 serve as progressively more interesting commentaries on the nature of narrative and subversions of the show’s own structure? Will the parallel openings of “LA X” be as surprising or meaningful to someone who hasn’t spent nine months wondering whether or not “it worked?” Heck, will the short relationship between Juliet and LaFleur even mean as much to someone who blew through it in a couple days as it was to those of us who lived with it for an entire season?
This is all to say, I’m going to write about Lost quite a bit for the coming few weeks, in an attempt to wring every last bit of fun out of the show that I can. Don’t worry, though, I’ll try to write about other things, too.
Following tonight’s explosive episode, I had a conversation with There Will Be Blog‘s Saul Sudin (whose writing can also be found on Chud.com) on the episode and the way the final season is shaping up as the show moves into its endgame:
Saul: Good episode. I wish there were more than five or six episodes left.
Me: Me, too.
Saul: Things are getting really exciting.
Me: There were a lot of explosions
Saul: Yeah, Ilana got Arzt’d–
Me: That was so disappointing.
Saul: –and bye bye Black Rock.
Me: As Ari pointed out, there were at least three moments of “shocking violence” this episode–four if you count the Black Rock blowing up.
Saul: What did you think of Desmond the Pedophile hitting Locke with his car?
Me: [Laughs] Well, I kind of loved seeing Locke struggle up a hill in his wheelchair. It was a nice touch.
Saul: Personally, I’m amused that no one seems that angry about Ilana blowing up. It’s like a normal thing to everybody now.
Me: “Whatevs. That’s been happening since Arzt.”
Saul: Richard cared more about the boat!
Me: Well, he had a pre-standing relationship with the boat. The thing that gets me is that it’s only been about three days since the end of season five, and yet we have Jack saying, “Ever since Juliet died.
Saul: Yeah, I don’t think that’s a big deal. I thought Jack’s monologue was one of the big turning points. It was something that we needed to hear as the show winds down.
Me: Richard saying, “A while back, Jacob told me what the Island is,” was also a nice line.
Saul: Man, I love this show. I’m sad to see it go. I’m trying to figure out who will be the focus of the next few episodes, and so far I have no clue.
Me: I know the focus of the second-to-last.
Saul: Well, don’t say.
Me: I won’t.
Saul: I just mean in terms of the fact that every main character has had a flashsideways now. We’ll see what’s next.
Me: I’ve given up expecting that they’re ever going to give us a satisfying understanding of what the ordering logic of everything is–who wants what, etc. I really hope the flashsideways aren’t the epilogue, that this isn’t about the characters in the sideways world learning to remember what they went through on the Island so that they can be happy with their new lives. I think that that would be tremendously unsatisfying.
Saul: Well, I’m expecting every somewhat significant character from the entire series to return. Right now I’m waiting on Walt and Eko and Shannon.
Me: I could care less about Shannon, but I am waiting for Walt and Eko. Good luck getting Walt to Los Angeles in a believable way, though.
Saul: [Laughs.] Maybe he will appear on the Island and punch that Bloody Kid in the face.
Me: Truth be told, I hope we never see that kid again or get an explanation about him. I mean, I know we will, but I would love for that to just be an open-ended bit of atmosphere.
Saul: They’ll explain it. They have to: he was introduced this season, and he’s the only thing that scares Smocke. I love Desmond’s new “Whoop-de-doo” attitude, by the way. I fully expect him to sit at the bottom of that well, twiddling his thumbs and whistling.
Me: And the dichotomy between him showing absolutely no agency on the Island and being the puppet master off-Island is interesting.
Saul: Right. Because he knows he’s getting things done no matter what happens to him on-Island. I wonder how he decides who to have fall in love and who deserves to be hit with a Mercedes while sitting in a wheelchair in a high school parking lot.
Saul: We also got introduced to our third spinoff show tonight, after Straume and Ford: LAPD and The Teachers, we have Pushing the Right Buttons, which follows the adventures of Desmond Hume, a man after his own destiny who must reunite lost loves. Or hit people with a mercedes while sitting in a wheelchair in a high school parking lot while trying.
Me: “Sir, you’ve been sitting here for hours. Staring at the children. And this is a school.”
Saul: Is it weird that the final season is legitimately giving us so many spinoffs? And is it a meta-wink at other shows that do the same?
Me: I’d say “fun” rather than “weird.” And I don’t know if it’s intentional or not. I mean, they’ve always liked dabbling in other genres within the show when they can. I don’t think they meant this to be an Arrested Development-like statement on the concept of a TV show.
Saul: Also, Minkowski needs to drive Desmond around more often, because Desmond has a terrible driving record right now. It only calms down when Minkowski drives.
Saul: What’d you think of the whispers reveal?
Me: I thought it was unnecessary. Had it not been for the occasional mention on Back to the Island, I wouldn’t have even realized that it was still a mystery: I thought they had hand-waved the whispers away in seasons four and five as the Others’ whispering to one another when spying on people in the jungle. What did you think?
Saul: It definitely didn’t seem to make total sense.
Me: Frankly, if it was still a mystery, the fact that they shoehorned an answer into the story in such a manner worries me. I don’t need an answer to everything, partly because an answer to everything would rob the show of a lot of the atmosphere and intrigue that I love, and partly because I accept the fact that the writers didn’t know what everything was as they were writing the beginning of season one. I’m here. I’m willing to roll. Let’s just move past the things that you don’t know how to fit in, and roll with the things you do.
Saul: Well, it explains why so many dead people pop up, but it wasn’t necessary.
Me: See, it doesn’t explain why dead people pop up. At all.
Me: We know that Hurley can talk to the dead. And it’s been hinted so far that other dead people that other people who aren’t Hurley see are some form, projection, manifestation or tool of UnLocke/The Smoke Monster/The Man in Black. Does saying the whispers are “people who can’t move on” explain why some dead people can talk to Hurley and some can’t? Maybe. But why can he talk to Eko, who was seemingly at peace, and was in fact killed by the Smoke Monster for being at peace with himself? Trying to shoehorn in an explanation for that–which I’m not convinced was part of the ordering logic for it in the first place–is just frustrating to me because it’s distracting and it feels like obvious fan service.
Me: Just tell the story you have. Reveal whatever under-plot you actually have, as much of it as you want to, and in a way that’s more interesting than Eloise giving a lecture in the Lamppost.
Saul: It’s a definite mis-step.
Me: I’m willing to look past some things, or just enjoy them for the atmosphere of it all, without demanding that they become key parts of the endgame. They’ve earned that from me. I just hope that the writers don’t write these last six hours as though they are an apology.
Saul: No, I think it will be fine. All the elements are in place, and like it or not, this is what the final season is. With a few surprises yet in store, I’m sure.