Ok, I admit I have been in the middle of a really unproductive cycle for the last couple of weeks. I’m not talking about work. I’m talking about the other 50% of my life, or more specifically the 50% of that 50% that is available for liesure, and which for some strange reason I can’t explain continues to be devoted in large part to watching old episodes of Lost. I can’t stop. I need help. There is no reason for me to be watching this show. Actually, I did have a sort of rational goal in mind, which was to catch up before the start of the final season. But I’m not sure I’ll make it.
Lost has a great premise, but a tough one to get a long run out of. Gilligan’s Island only made it for three seasons, and that feels like some sort of cosmic constant because I have just started in on Lost’s fourth season on Netflix and it’s just getting ridiculous. There must have been at least some members of the cast and crew looking at those scripts each week and thinking “what the hell?” So far my favorite example of how ludicrous it gets involves the “Looking Glass” underwater station.
First, and maybe funniest, is the moment when Sayid unfurls a blueprint of the station at the Beach Camp, and the title on the document is “Looking Glass Hatch.” Why is this hilariously stupid? The blueprint was created by Dharma, and is a document that pre-dated the castaways’ arrival. The castaways referred to these installations as “hatches” because the first thing Locke found was a metal hatch. The rooms below it then became known as the hatch, and the other rooms they found were by extension hatches. There’s no reason to think any of the original builders would have thought of an underwater habitat and lab as a “hatch” or labelled it that way on a blueprint.
Then there is the whole series of events leading up to Charlie’s checking out. If the Looking Glass station were the source of the jamming signals don’t you think that, before paddling out and trying to dive on it and get inside without SCUBA equipment, you might try, oh, I don’t know, cutting that fat cable leading down to it from the beach? Yes, there could be backup power. It might not work. But I would try it before I got wet, and so would any other rational person. As an aside, what builder sophisticated enough to create an underwater habitat and lab would just leave that cable lying on the damn beach?
Then we get to Charlie in the communications room, where he has just turned off the jamming signal. He knew he was supposed to drown there, and it looks like he has cheated fate. But wait! The Russian guy who got shot in the chest with a speargun is swimming outside the porthole, and he has a grenade! The grenade goes off, the porthole shatters, water is pouring in. What does Charlie do? Does he step through the door he is standing right next to and pull it shut after him? No, he closes it and locks himself in the room. Yea, I get to die!
This is just bad writing. It’s lazy writing. You could rewrite that entire sequence of events, preserve every ounce of drama and mystery, and have it all make sense from start to finish. But to do that you have to think about it, and maybe that’s a luxury television writers don’t have anymore. Or maybe the absurdity itself has some larger meta-purpose that I don’t get yet. I have no idea. But it’s hard to imagine people watching this stuff without laughing.