'Lost': Five missteps in Season 5
Last time out, I listed ten things I loved about the fifth season of "Lost." I contemplated doing a similarly numbered list about things I loathed, but decided against it for two reasons. One, no need to pile on the hate. I'm all about hugs and puppies as a general rule. Secondly, I realized that my problems with the season lay in five basic things. So, half the list, all of the complaints. It's win/win.
Those left behind. This takes two forms. First, the show had a difficult time in getting the Oceanic 6 back to the Island. Yes, we can take heart in knowing they didn't spend all season off the Island. But up until "316," off-Island action was stilted and paled in comparison to the on-Island activity. The second form? All the characters abandoned by the show this season, seeing little screen time and almost no character development. Sun, Jin, Des, Penny, Frank, Charlotte, our "Lost" nation turns its lonely eyes to you. Hell, even Locke and Ben were out of the picture for long stretches. Having an embarrassment of character riches is fine, but lack of focus on these characters was also a bit of an embarrassment.
The senseless life and futile death of John Locke. Maybe Season 6 will amend this. And I understand that on some level, making a central character this pathetic is a pretty damn bold choice. But Lord almighty, Locke fans have got to be PISSED at this point. Season 1's most interesting character, potential Island Savior, and man at the heart of the show's central conflicts? More like a man played like a fiddle from Day One. Maybe he was predestined to be the Island's Leader, only to fall prey to the machinations of Anthony Cooper, The Man in Black, Charles Widmore, Ben Linus, and a Nigerian prince who emailed him with a unique business opportunity. But as a fan, it's hard to think I've invested five years thinking about this man's life when all it led up to was his death in a shabby Los Angeles hotel room.
Lies, lies, lies. Until "The Incident," Season 5 centered around our characters at the seeming mystery of a three-way power struggle between Eloise Hawking, Charles Widmore, and Ben Linus. Potentially great stuff, except for one small caveat: we couldn't believe a damn thing any of them said. Best example? This exchange in "This Place is Death," after Sun asks Ben how he came into possession of Jin's wedding ring.
JACK: [Interjecting] You said John never came to see you.
BEN: That's true, Jack. I went to see him.
OK, so not only is that weak semantic sauce, but Ben also lies about the real circumstances under which he got the ring (taking it off Locke's dead body). Lather, rinse, and repeat a few dozen times for these characters and soon what they say turns into white noise: impenetrable, obtuse, and not worth analyzing. I stopped even trying to parse their intentions after a while, knowing the show would reverse course within a few episodes anyway. It's impossible to solve a mystery when you can't trust fact from fiction.
Inertia in the Initiative. On paper, going back in time to 1977 Dharmaville seemed like an awesome idea. I was totally on board with the concept. But setting aside the "whatever happened, happened" conundrum for a second, did a lot actually happen that was worth watching? The Dharma folk were largely pills, uninteresting at best or insanely grating at worst. As for the Lostaways that returned: since they spent most of the season unsure of why the hell they were there, which led to... lot of time talking about what they were supposed to do. Destiny might have called this season, but it also spent a lot of time on hold.
The reasons behind detonating Jughead. Season 5 was built towards certain milestones, and detonating Jughead was possibly the biggest. So why did that bomb give everyone on the show a case of the stupids? Faraday, King of "Whatever Happened, Happened," comes back to the Island to disprove his own theory and wanders into The Others' Camp with guns a blazin' to prove his point. Kate, Juliet, and Sawyer all come back to stop its detonation, but all relent for reasons that don't make much consistent character sense. And Jack? Jack, our nominal hero, wants to blow up the bomb on the off chance it gives him a second opportunity to be with a woman who will no longer know him. The show knew its cliffhanger months in advance, and yet botched its execution by installing artificial obstacles and sacrificing character for plot in order to achieve its OMG moment. Par for the course in most television shows? Absolutely. But "Lost" has managed to steer clear of such mistakes for so long that it was mind-boggling to see it sink to that level during its final hours of the season.
You've heard my gripes about the season; have any of your own to share?
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