Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Why I Loved This Week's Lost (But Understand Why You Might Have Hated It)

Seems like Lost has been getting more and more divisive with the fans as it nears its conclusion. And this week's episode, which features none of the main characters in anything but a tiny cameo role, really pissed some folks off. For me, I thought it was as good, and as important, as the Richard Alpert-focused Ab Aeterno.

Spoilers, obviously.

There are still a *lot* of unanswered questions. And I think it's clear, with basically four and a half hours left, that we're going to have unanswered questions. Probably some big ones. And while I'm a bit worried we'll get the "It was all God, OK?" crap ending like Battlestar Galactica, causing me to recant any love I had for the series, it's a mild worry.

There were so many great thematic parallels going on in this week's episode that answered questions about why things on the island have been they way they've been. Echoes of things in past episodes. Like:

*Raised by another. Obviously, that's a big one. If Janney's unnamed mom hadn't dashed the brains out of the real mom with an "I'm sorry," the whole thing with Jakob and Smokey never happens. Maybe the Well of Souls remains unguarded from the corruption of man, etc. but most of the bad things that have happened to the characters we care about on the island never come to pass.

*Crazy moms in the jungle. Janney's character is the beginning of the archetype for Rousseau and for Claire.

*Black and white. They've been hitting this one pretty hard all season, but clearly Janney set up the dichotomy early, dressing the infants in black and white and introducing them to the game, playing them against each other to determine which was better suited as the guardian of the island.

*"You're special." Walt's specialness eventually disappeared down the memory hole, Aaron's specialness became less of an issue too now that he's back on the mainland being raised by Grandma, but there's still Ben, plus the "special" implied by being a candidate, and it's clear that such a thing either began here, or was being carried forward here. The notion of special children with a destiny, and what happens when they either fulfill it or rebel against it, has been part of the island's DNA from very early on.

There were also concrete answers to "Who are Adam and Eve in the cave?" which was never a mystery I really cared if they solved, but it was nice to get a concrete, emotionally resonant answer. And a pretty good explanation of who and what Smokey is, even if there are some pretty major gaps left to explain *exactly* what happened when Jakob pushed his brother into the golden light. And what exactly the argument is between Smokey and Jakob about people, whether they're good or bad, and why Smokey and Jakob can't kill each other.

So... lots of answers, great acting, and some nice thematic resonance with what Lost has always been about. Great episode for me.

That said... this whole season has been stop and start, pacing-wise, and they've wasted a lot of time on side stories that had little to no impact on anything, and this episode, like the Desmond episode, would have been just as effective three or four episodes in, when there was still plenty of time to explore the ramifications. As is, it does look like the last few episodes are going to have either an unfortunate breakneck pace or they're going to leave out a lot of the moments and answers we've all been waiting six seasons for.

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