Sic Transit LOST

Tonight is the series final of Lost, and what a long strange trip it’s been. Lost was a rare bird in the mindless wasteland of network television; a series that not only didn’t insult the intelligence of its audience, but also challenged it.

To often, what passes for smart on TV is mere style. Case in point, Mad Men. Once you get past the atmospherics, (“Oh, look it’s the 1960s! They’re smoking! The men are keeping women in their place. There’s a closeted gay guy!”) there wasn’t really much meat on them bones, storywise. And most TV doesn’t even rise to that level, like Family Guy’s constant, juvenile stunts to shock the decent folk. (“Oh, Look, a Vietnamese man mocking US veterans We’re SO edgy! {We won’t make fun of Mohammed though.}”)

Lost was smart and literary, not just in superficial ways, like naming prominent characters after different philosophers: Locke, Rousseau, Bakunin… but also in its structure, it’s use of symbolism and allusion, and in taking on questions fate, destiny, redemption, and human frailty. In an age where intelligent debate has been replaced by Democrats dancing around in chicken suits, Lost was a little island of smart in a stupid, stupid world.

Yeah, there were occasions of moonbattery intruding into the plot… like Sayid, the sloe-eyed Iraqi who only became a torturer because evil Americans soldiers made him into one. But not nearly to the degree of Battlestar Galactica’s entire Iraq-War bashing second season, or every stinking episode of Law and Order for the past 15 years.

This past season, more than once, I turned to my son and said, “Did I just hear what I think I heard?” in response to something a character said. One such occasion was when Jacob, the character who sort of represents Good (more or less), was asked why he didn’t directly help the people he brought to the island. He answered with a beautifully simple statement encapsulates centuries of philosophy about the relationship between God and man .

“I wanted them to help themselves. To know the difference between right and wrong without me telling them. It’s all useless if I have to make them do anything. Why should I have to step in?

Goodbye, Lost. Television will be much dumber without you.

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1 Comment

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One response to “Sic Transit LOST

  1. Derp

    Eeer… Lost was pretty damn stupid if you ask me, I cant remember to much of it, since i stopped watching it after like 8 episodes and only watched sporadic episodes since then, but I clearly remember how up it’s own ass it was about showing some story on the island and then having a ridicilous grabbed out of the air story about the character’s past. I bet the writers were like, “oh yeah, this clips provide background story and further motivate the characters actions one the island”… What a fucking “röv-smör”, that is SOO dumb, spoon feeding the audience all the details just because they fail to make original or even believeable characters. I for one have stopped watching new movies and series because everythings so goddamn dumb. I read comics instead, the comic dudes really have to have artistic talent and be really good with story structure. By the way I know I spell like a retard, and that is because I am retarded- DER!
    (But you are more retarded for watching that show though)

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