Catherine Stine's IDEA CITY

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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

LOST, a study in brilliant and sometimes lazy writing

The last mega episode of LOST aired a few days ago. I already feel very nostalgic for it, even though I thought the end was a demonstration of lazy conception and writing.
Before I describe the reasons why I thought the ending was less that it should be, let me backtrack.

I learned much about good plotting from this show, which had a bevy of out-of-the-box writers, such as the amazing graphic artist and writer of EX MACHINA, Brian K. Vaughan. I learned that plot should have breakneck pacing, unexpected twists, poignant moments of backstory, exciting love affairs, and inventive details.

After all, Lost brought us smoke monsters, magnetically-charged islands, hippie communes a la BF Skinner gone incredibly sour, sideways universes in gritty Los Angeles, and the flash forwards that inspired the new show of the same name: Flash Forward.

LOST writers took inspiration from so many hi-brow literary and lo-brow TV sources it boggles the mind. To name a few: Alice in Wonderland, Lord of the Flies, Cast Away, Gilligan's Island, and the ancient myth of Pandora's Box. I learned that it's okay to cull inspiration from other sources as long as the resultant material is not too derivative.

Okay, now for that ending. After devoting years of my TV viewing time to LOST, I found out that the characters were already dead, lurching around in a kind of puragtorial head-space where they worked out personal dramas with the members of the doomed Oceanic flight. Hey, I guessed that ending about three years ago! Plus, it's too close to the ending of Jacob's Ladder--too derivative. Too easy. Too flat.

Still, there was some comfort in seeing all of the couples who had been torn apart by death or estrangement, magically rediscover each other. I guess certain cheeseball plot devices are appreciated. Which proves that audiences, at least in part, want their preconceptions affirmed.

Float on into the sideways, topsy-turvy, mad universe that belongs only to you, LOST, and where we can find you just a wormhole away.