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Thread: Lost Fan's Season 6 Review

  1. #1

    Default Lost Fan's Season 6 Review

    For anyone who's a fan of the show (or was... at some point), here's a substantial review from a very disheartened fan -- yours truly. SEASON 6 SPOILER WARNING. TL;DR version: Lost sucks now i'm sad :'(

    Receiving incoming wall of text.

    Lost Season 6: This Has Potential

    That should have been the tagline. Everything about Lost shows -- suggests -- promise in its final season. The end is nigh and the upcoming confrontations are the talk of the town, even in-show. Major players like Jacob, the artist formerly known as John Locke (aka, the Smoke Monster, aka the Man in Black), and Widmore are trying to claim their respective corners of the chessboard. Guns are pointed, dynamite sticks lit on fire, plot devices smashed to pieces, and lives threatened in all sorts of nasty ways -- sometimes all the way through to the dark and gruesome conclusion -- on a regular basis. Epic, defining stories that will forever shape the legacies these characters leave behind are in the process of being told. The set-up is there for something greater than great, something that has never been seen on television to date. So why does it all feel so wrong? Directly compared to previous seasons, episode-for-episode, moment-for-moment, line-for-line, the show simply does not stand up to what came before. Frankly, it isn't even in the same ballpark.

    The answer lies not with the ideas and stories that are being tackled, but the way said tackling is being done. Episodes are laden with blatant exposition that the writers make no attempts to cover up, ie. "The Substitute," where the only conflict the writers could come up with for a 42-minute episode was Sawyer ALMOST falling to his death from a random cliffside. Phew! We were so worried he might really bite it! But it's true, some of Lost's finest offerings have been verbal sparring matches, like the chewing out Widmore gives Desmond in Season 3's "Flashes Before Your Eyes," which is painful to watch no matter how many times I've seen it, or, a few episodes later, Locke's "The Man From Tallahassee," where Locke and Ben play an episode-long game of one-upmanship with no more than their wit and the hands the island deals them. Lost's proven time and time again that talky episodes are nothing if not their forte.

    In Season 6, these moments are few and far between. In "LA X," Terry O'Quinn's menacing turn as the Man in Black is perfectly juxtaposed with the humility displayed by a broken old John Locke who has to be carried out of his seat on the plane. The dialogue hits home, and it hits hard, in both scenes. But there is no follow-up -- no TMFT to "LA X"'s FBYE. The next attempt is Ben's monologue during his search for redemption (more on this later), and I emphasize 'attempt,' because it is sabotaged by the predictable re-use of the Alex plot from "The Shape of Things to Come" as a crutch, its total lack of subtlety, and finally, a performance by Zuleikha Robinson that didn't deserve to grace the cutting room floor. Her "I'll have you," may be the most underwhelming line in the series' history, seemingly a malicious attempt to undercut Michael Emerson's efforts with dialogue that is desperately above-par -- but only that. Ms. Robinson, or whomever was responsible for the final cut if indeed that was one of many takes she offered, should be ashamed. She didn't need to carry the scene. She didn't even need to do a good job. All the scene needed was for that one line to not fall completely flat on its face... and it did just that. It's difficult to pinpoint who's to blame for such a monumental screw-up; the character has had absolutely zero personality ever since she landed on the island, and yet she was engaging and charismatic in Season 5's "He's Our You," which details her meeting with Sayid off-island. I was watching her because she was an interesting character. Now I watch her because the show insists that she's an interesting plot device.


    "I've been trapped for so long, I don't even remember what it feels like to be free. Maybe you can understand that. But before I was trapped, James, I was a man, just like you. I know what it's like to feel joy, to feel pain, anger, fear, to experience betrayal. I know what it's like to lose someone you love," the Man in Black tells Sawyer as they're traipsing through the jungle. It's an understandably uninspired performance by Terry O'Quinn; what did the writers honestly expect when they gave him instead of a speech, a laundry list of emotions that aren't attached to anything we've (or he's) ever seen?

    But slow, generally unsubstantial episodes that are character-driven aren't new either. Season 4, critically acclaimed and praised for its tight writing and a general "return to form" following the inspired Season 3 finale, "Through the Looking Glass," had a little episode called "Something Nice Back Home" that told us nothing we hadn't already seen, or heard, before. But Season 4 had something Season 6 doesn't have, as much as it likes to pretend that it does: a sense of urgency and impending danger. A sense of stakes.

    I say 'pretend,' because the characters on the show insist time and time again on reminding me how high the stakes are. "Dr. Linus," a plodding mess very nearly redeemed by Ben's own redemption, closes with a shot of Charles Widmore, who, having finally found the island after more than twenty years of searching, has decided to appear in person. "Recon," a generally enjoyable if predictable ride, closed with Sawyer telling Kate they would let the two 'bad guys' - Locke and Widmore - duke it out. Jack is for the first time since the detonation of Jughead convinced of his significance. Ilana is out for blood. Jin and Sun are about to be reunited. Yet it all feels distant and insignificant. Here, the complexity of Lost's plot works against it. I don't know whether I'm supposed to be terrified of Widmore (he sent Season 4's freighter, with Martin Keamy on board) or cheer for him (Jacob seems to like him; and he, in turn, liked Locke last we saw the two in "The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham"). In the end, I feel absolutely nothing. The idea of making Widmore's antagonism in Season 4 being a misperception had great... potential... and yet if the writers wanted that, they had to demonstrate his heroics dramatically and in a way that actually explains the misperception -- BEFORE he got to the island. Because they didn't, Charles Widmore's arrival -- once the most dreaded thought imaginable, and what should have felt like a momentous scene in Lost history -- feels no more than a footnote on a larger canvas. The same is true of the Man in Black. It's not clear whether the writers want us to be scared (he humiliated Ben, has no compunctions against lying when he says he's telling the truth, and seems set up to be the Big Bad if ever there was one) or on his side (his reasons for rebelling seem plausible and relatable, all of his murders were easily preventable by the victims; he only kills douchebags). Season 4 benefited from a clear antagonist who loomed over the show and existed solely through his merciless agent, Keamy. From the moment Keamy was introduced, it was clear that the confrontation we wanted would come, and every moment he was on the show built towards that confrontation. Widmore and Locke, however, suffer from a severe case of mistaken agendity.


    "Guy named Widmore set up camp on the beach. Got a whole team with him, guys with guns. They're here for Locke. I'm gonna let them fight it out." Unfortunately for the show, I am no more emotionally engaged in the conflict than Sawyer.


    Conceptually, I believe what Sawyer says is true; there will be a confrontation of sorts. There has to be. Emotionally, there's no reason to buy into any of it. The antagonism rises and falls unevenly; the agents are far too ambiguous to pose a genuine threat to my favorite characters. In "The Lighthouse," Jacob told Hurley, "Someone's coming [to the Temple]. Someone bad. We can't warn them, Hugo. I'm sorry. It's too late." A startling moment of clarity and urgency, clearly setting up the conflict in the subsequent "Sundown." The problem? Once we got to that conflict, the only discernible reason for its taking place seemed to be Dogen's obstinate stance on compromising; the massacre, ably (even if untruthfully) justified by the Man in Black, seemed entirely warranted. But since the Island didn't explode the moment Dogen died, I can't very well tell if the Man in Black's agenda is more devious than he lets on, now, can I? Once again, the writers directly sabotage their efforts by deconstructing any tension they've managed to build up.

    The writers forget something else that is very crucial. Season 4 was able to cheat thanks to incredibly ominous flashforwards. Even episodes that seemed to stall managed to feel as though they were getting us closer and closer to the inevitable. From the revelation that the Losties did escape, to the subsequent reveal that Jack is bitter and suicidal (why?!), to the reveal that one of the Losties is dead (who?!) to the reveal that Hurley believed it was a mistake to have gone with Locke (why?!), to the reveal that Jin is dead (how?!), and so on, and so forth. All of these helped paint a clear (distressing, in the best way possible) picture of where the show was going, and every episode felt like a puzzle piece clicking into place. Halfway through Season 6, I have no idea where the show is going, and this isn't a good thing. Episodes that seem to stall... feel like just that. There is nothing emotionally inevitable about the conceptually inevitable confrontation between Locke and Widmore. There was no reason for him to arrive on the Island precisely when he did, as opposed to sometime during Season 5, or five episodes from now. His appearance was random and anti-climactic, and it turns out that the set-up for Lost's potentially most epic conflict is a haphazard mess, tripping over itself every step of the way.

    Speaking of poor planning, whose idea was it to give Sawyer's episode to Kate? I'm talking, of course, about "What Kate Does," which is Sawyer's story of coping with the loss of Juliet, for some bizarre, inexplicable reason told through Kate's eyes. Did the writers forget the reason for having centric episodes to begin with? They are meant to show us something interesting and insightful about a given character. So, all enjoyment of "Recon" aside, why in the world would they not take 42 minutes to show us Sawyer's self-destruction with a side-story involving Kate doing what she does worst? One of the character's pivotal moments is glossed over, as opposed to making a true show of it. How much sense would it have made to tell "The Constant," Desmond's time-hopping adventure that lands him that phone-call with Penelope after many years apart, through Sayid's point of view? Or "The Shape of Things to Come," which deals with Ben's choices and the consequences Alex pays for them, from Locke's? The potential was there for the Lost writers to show they were still at the top of their form. They didn't even try.

    The same thing happened with Richard. Over the 3 seasons we've known him, he has probably been the most consistent character for acting... well, in-character. He has been cool, calm, and collected in the face of bald-headed time-travelers, guns pointed at his face, nukes being pointed at his island, and all manner of general weirdnesses. ...And now we're supposed to buy into his instant transformation into Jack-on-the-bridge (just add dead Templites!) when we didn't even get to SEE IT? Gee, I don't know, sounds like something with a lot of potential, doesn't it? Something that might have been fun to watch in progress, something that might have been fun for the very able Mr. Carbonell to act out... ...and wouldn't have made his subsequent appearance seem so glaringly out of character. And wouldn't have made his return to form at the end of that very same hour make me throw my hands into the air in exasperation at how ineptly the story had been told. Watch this. "Ab Aeterno" is going to come around tomorrow, and it's not going to tell a single Richard story, in the present, that is nearly as interesting as watching his reaction to the Temple massacre would have been. Just how bad is this? Remember Locke's crisis of faith late in Season 2? Now imagine if we didn't hear Ben telling him the button was meaningless. Imagine we didn't see the tape he and Eko found in the Pearl, which suggested the Swan staff were simply under an experiment. We just jumped from the first scenes of Lockdown straight to the finale, where Locke would appear suddenly, inexplicably out of character and then 80 minutes later have his original beliefs vindicated. And then the next time we saw him, he was acting completely in-character (kind of like "Further Instructions") and had no interesting stories to tell (kind of like "Further Instructions"). There's a reason that story wasn't told that way, and unfortunately for Lost, the circumstances are far more analogous than desirable.

    Speaking of characters that have gone missing when they shouldn't have... Sun has become the show's running joke, her screentime reduced to a single appearance every 3-4 episodes, in which she predictably demands to know just Where Is Her Husband?! She has been so marginalized, in fact, that in these 8 episodes (and many that came before) she is demonstrably outshined by Leslie Arzt's scene-stealing performances in "Dr. Linus." Hint: it had something to do with the lines he was given, and the lines she was not. The show insists time and again that she is important by bringing up that "Kwon" is one of the few un-crossed out names in the caves, by making Ilana take her under her wing, and so on... but not for one moment does it make us believe it. Sound familiar? And yet, the development Sun underwent as a result of Jin's "death" -- and the startlingly icy acting elicited out of Ms. Yunjin Kim in her scenes with Widmore in the Season 4 finale -- should have made her a central player and a formidable foe. Too bad they forgot. Desmond, whose ties to Widmore and Ben should have ensured him a key role and a performance to rival "The Constant" in gusto, has been written out simply because the writers couldn't come up with things for him to do. What's with the blatant anti-matrimony? Married people can have fun, too!

    So where does that leave us? Talky episodes that contain no remarkable dialogue of note, and conflicts which are too ambiguous to feel involving. A general lack of planning that has resulted in character arcs that deserve attention being condensed, and stories that don't deserve to be told taking up valuable space. (I'm not against Kate having episodes. I'm against Kate having episodes that don't deserve to be told.) Sounds pretty bad for being halfway into the final season... but wait, there's that word again: "potential." It keeps coming up, because truth be told, there's plenty of intriguing ideas floating around Lost Season 6, and with more planning and a clearer agenda, they might have been truly great.

    -The use of flashsideways to tell an interesting story, when taken advantage of. Jack and Ben both received incredibly focused, tightly-scripted flashes that felt both fresh and true to the characters at the same time. Neither contained an extraneos, unnecessary moment. Kate's and Sayid's, on the other hand, were simply more of the same old, same old, "What Kate Does" actually going so far as to literally replay an island event (Aaron's birth). I can just see the ideas converging... "The usual Kate we have in the regular 2004 timeline is no longer interesting... the usual Claire we had in the regular 2004 timeline wasn't interesting (which is why we stopped being able to write material for her and wrote her out!)... now if only we had some excuse to not be bound by the stories we've told, and to give these characters interesting, unusual moments... Oh, I know! Let's make a whole episode revolve around them both! That will solve EVERYTHING."

    -The conflict between such key players as Jacob, the Man in Black, Widmore, and the Losties caught in between. Should have been the greatest thing since sliced bread, even (especially?) during the set-up. Turned out more like a piece of toast that landed buttered-side down.

    -Ben's redemption. As mishandled as the episode's island story might have been, the idea of Ben seeking redemption with such humility, after all he's done, is heartbreaking. On the other hand, the idea of Ben starting this search in episode 7 out of 15, and then presumably not appearing in numerous episodes afterward (he was a no-show in "Recon"), is inexcusable. This should have been a Season-long arc, and instead his reduced screentime prompts a Cliff's Notes version condensed to fit in a single episode halfway through the season. It is unworthy of both the character and Michael Emerson, whose efforts to make the 'arc' play out so much more competently than it's written are admirable and almost, almost, almost succeed.

    -And of course the increasingly game cast at the writers' disposal:

    --Terry O'Quinn's delicious monster -- which instead turned tame and lame. Compare his supremely staggering confidence in "Dead is Dead" or "LA X" when he humiliates Ben, to the excuses and ramblings he makes in "Recon." Is the problem that he now has no characters to humiliate? Well, hell, we've resurrected Mikhail once before... and if John Locke had no problem beating him up at a moment's notice, the Man in Black should have a field day.

    --Michael Emerson taking on the humbled and redemptive Ben -- who has received as much screentime this season as Ilana, whose lack of personality makes the Man in Black look verifiably human by comparison, or Frank. I've got nothing against Frank. But when his one-liners are coming at the expense of Ben's character-defining moments, I'm going to second-guess that Season outline.

    --Evangeline Lilly's subtle efforts to make Kate seem vaguely human -- and being sabotaged by the writing every step of the way. "The writers have admitted they can't write women," is no excuse. Just watch reruns of Battlestar Galactica. Or pretend they're men. Hey, it worked for Ana Lucia!

    --Ken Leung, whose Miles has finally achieved the dream of all young wooden characters -- the right to proudly boast, "I'm a real character!" -- through his genuine affection for Sawyer. Sure. It's taken him two and a half seasons to be good for more than his snarky wit and usefulness as a plot device and NOW you stop giving him screentime.


    Sawyer: "Hey Miles, you mind hanging back?" "You got it, boss." I cared more about Miles in this one scene (that is completely not about him) than all of his other appearances -- including his own episode, "Some Like it Hoth" -- before, or since. Well, "since" is easy enough, since he's had like 3 of them.

    --Josh Holloway, whose portrayals of Sawyer's self-destructive urges were the high-points of the one and a half episodes in which we saw them. Speaking of which, for all the drama that surrounded his 'transformation,' what did it change, really? Yeah, he's with evil Locke, and-- wait a second, he's not really with evil Locke, he's with Richard! But wait, he's not really with Richard, is he? He's genuinely convinced by Locke, who seems to be a reasonable smokey being! No, no, he's actually posing as Locke's trusted lieutenant to give him up to Widmore at the first opportunity. Unless... he's really leading Widmore into a trap. Yes, a trap -- a trap for BOTH, while he leads his friends to ESCAPE! And that's obviously the actions of a completely upredictable, dangerous Sawyer still reeling from Juliet's recent death. Because the Sawyer of seasons past wouldn't, y'know, con everyone in sight to save his friends. Ever. Except if they were all stranded in 1977 or something. But otherwise, no.

    All of these things keep insisting that the next episode could be the big one, the one that resolves all of this set-up and makes it all worth-while. And the episodes keep ticking away, turning in a decent if unremarkable product by Lost's high standards. Anyway. All this talk about potential seems now somehow deceptively optimistic. So let's conclude with a final failing demonstrative of Lost's uninspired story-telling come Season 5... and now, unfortunately, 6:

    The Alex crutch. Or should I say, the Alex hammer (the better to hit us over the head with). I agree with the writers, Alex's death was a significant moment both for the show and for Ben personally. But when it's used as it was in "Dr. Linus," simply to save time for a monologue that would have otherwise taken genuine effort to write (might have even been forced to turn it into a conversation!)... we have a problem. The writers should have learned their lesson with "Dead Is Dead," which was an outstanding episode save for the title, the death of Caesar (who was infinitely more interesting in his four scenes than Ilana has been over both seasons so far), the anti-climactic flashbacks, and the anti-climactic climax. Well, OK, it might have been just the Ben and 'Locke' scenes that were any good. But the point is, the judgment over Alex's death was built up as this huge thing, and it turned out to be no more than a replay of things we've already seen, with a 10-second cameo by the Smoke Monster in the form of the Man in Black in the form of John Locke in the form of Alex Rousseau. And it didn't even take. What makes this redemption any more definitive? Absurdly enough, I'm almost happy this is the last season. I'm not sure I'd be able to take another episode where I successfully predict that Ben will make yet another earnest (oh, but so much more earnest than last time!) effort to redeem himself, for the umpteenth time in a row, just to demonstrate how difficult it is for some people to change their ways. I'm not sure I could stand to see one of Lost's finest reduced into a Kate.

    But "Ab Aeterno" is just around the corner. Little birdies tell that it's going to reveal some of Lost's biggest mysteries -- those secrets that go to the show's very heart. Talk about potential, right? And it's great. It sounds like there's so much they could do with that.

    You know... in the future.

    -pW


    If you read all of this, you are my hero. <3
    Responses here and/or on blog much welcome.
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  2. #2

    Default Re: Lost Fan's Season 6 Review

    I'm torn. On the one hand, I love reviews and exposition. On the other, I love a good mystery/intrigue story, so I'm hesitant to read before I watch Lost. On yet another hand, I don't know whether I want to dump so much time into a show that, from what I hear, reveals nothing until the last episode.

    Hmm...
    Aaand sold.


    Be it through hallowed grounds or lands of sorrow
    The Forger's wake is bereft and fallow

    Is the residuum worth the cost of destruction and maiming;
    Or is the shaping a culling and exercise in taming?

    The road's goal is the Origin of Being
    But be wary through what thickets it winds.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Lost Fan's Season 6 Review

    Quote Originally Posted by Visions of Khas View Post
    On yet another hand, I don't know whether I want to dump so much time into a show that, from what I hear, reveals nothing until the last episode.

    Hmm...
    Haha! Well that varies by individual fans' expectations. If you watch it primarily as a sci-fi/mystery show, it can be pretty darn slow. If you watch it for the character drama, excellent storytelling, and imaginative use of everything TV has to offer -- which INCLUDES loads and loads of mysteries and plot twists -- it's super-duper.

    But, loathe as I am to say it, I would advise against reading this review. It really would give too much of the good bits away... Lost is in many ways about the journey, not the destination. But sometimes knowing the destination marginalizes the adventure.
    http://img687.imageshack.us/img687/7699/commun1.png

  4. #4

    Default Re: Lost Fan's Season 6 Review

    Mm, good advice. I'll hold off for now. I loved Battlestar for its character development and drama, so I suppose I'll give Lost a whirl when I get the time. =]
    Aaand sold.


    Be it through hallowed grounds or lands of sorrow
    The Forger's wake is bereft and fallow

    Is the residuum worth the cost of destruction and maiming;
    Or is the shaping a culling and exercise in taming?

    The road's goal is the Origin of Being
    But be wary through what thickets it winds.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Lost Fan's Season 6 Review

    You know....I was thinking about giving my take on some GAMES with the C&C4 thread of the feedback...now with THIS thread...I think I just might do that. Good review.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Lost Fan's Season 6 Review

    Lost is on thin ice with me personally. It just keeps heaping mystery upon mystery. Now we're essentially watching a soap opera about the lives the passengers would have lived had the plane not crashed. Sure it's all going to tie together but at this point I'm thinking we're going to get a very glossed over explanation for everything that's happened up until now and much of the why and how will never be revealed.

  7. #7
    Maul's Avatar Member
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    Default Re: Lost Fan's Season 6 Review

    Man that took awhile to read.

    While I do agree with some of the things said, I really want to wait and give it a go before I judge it. Who knows, everything might get wrapped up nicely in the last 3 episodes. But so far this season is moving slowly with only 1 or 2 secrets being revealed per episode, and these "secrets" may or may not be reality.

    Urgh!
    I really need to change this...
    Check out my maps: Maul's Spirial Turret Defense and Maul's Risk: Bel'shir

  8. #8

    Default Re: Lost Fan's Season 6 Review

    Quote Originally Posted by SinsWage View Post
    Lost is on thin ice with me personally. It just keeps heaping mystery upon mystery. Now we're essentially watching a soap opera about the lives the passengers would have lived had the plane not crashed. Sure it's all going to tie together but at this point I'm thinking we're going to get a very glossed over explanation for everything that's happened up until now and much of the why and how will never be revealed.
    I think that's the very reason everybody is watching it,and can't wait for the other episode to come out,and the other,and the other..etc

  9. #9

    Default Re: Lost Fan's Season 6 Review

    Hey, we DO have some Lost fans in the house! All right!

    Thanks for the comments guys, and please make sure to bump it up on Digg if you get the chance!

    Any more thoughts?
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  10. #10

    Default Re: Lost Fan's Season 6 Review

    Quote Originally Posted by pure.Wasted View Post
    Any more thoughts?
    LOST is the only TV series I've ever watched consistely. I'm just not a TV person, but this show is absolutely thrilling and my wife and I look forward to it every week. It's just so brilliantly put together IMO with all the cross timelines, character development and subtle easter eggs. Can't wait to see how they're gonna end it!

    I do recommend watching the series if you've not done so yet. It's certainly great entertainment.

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