'Lost' Faith
05/21/2010 - 19:12
Anonymous

So, "Lost" is over and it turns out all the characters are dead, and have been for some time. Did they die in the initial plane crash or at some point later on?

That's one of the many unanswered questions we're left with after a six-year investment in ABC's suspense thriller, a disappointment to those who have shown an almost religious devotion to the show. I've heard more people question their faith in God during the show's run than doubt that "Lost" would eventually deliver a satisying conclusion to all the mysteries on that bizarre island.

But although I've seen every episode, I considered myself more of a spectator than a fan. Somewhere around Season 2 I began to suspect that the only thing clever about the series was its ability, with each episode, to take viewers further away from any kind of revelation, and still hold our interest, probably largely due to strong cast performances by actors such as Matthew Fox, Terry O'Quinn and Evangeline Lilly. It made me wonder if the producers themselves knew where the series was going when it started out, and at what point they put all the final pieces together. Plot devices and characters that emerged as crucially important often turned out to be not important at all. New characters regularly appeared on the island, and we learned their backstories only to see them killed off or disappear. Michael Emerson, who played the now-central character Ben Linus, has said in interviews that his was originally intended to be a three-episode guest role.

I have no problem with delayed gratification in suspenseful entertainment, but I know I wasn't alone in suspecting there was simply no neat way to tie this meandering series up in a way that wouldn't leave major questions unanswered.

For many of us, it was sheer curiousity, rather than attachment to the characters, that drew us to the finale. Almost without exception, no one episode of "Lost" made sense in and of itself. Instead, everything points toward an ending where All Will Be Revealed. That placed a heavy burden to deliver on the producers to reward those who have invested in them a level of faith that seems unprecedented in the history of mass entertainment. As many of us growl at the result, there may be a lesson about our growing trend toward blind faith.

Last winter a couple traveling from Montana to Nevada followed their GPS device through a blizzard to road where they were trapped in a snowbank for three days. Had they asked a human being for directions they might have been told to avoid that desolate road with spotty cell coverage. In April, hundreds of thousands of people lined up to become early adopters of Apple's first generation iPad device, notwithstanding the fact that there were no product reviews about it. On "Saturday Night Live," Seth Myers joked that the iPad ushered in a new era of  "people buying things to find out what they are." 

And every day is another news story about a politician who rose to power on the shoulders of dozens, if not hundreds of volunteers, staffers and donors, only to starkly disappoint them as clay feet implode and they fall from grace in scandal.

Given my own six-year investment, I hoped Sunday night's "Lost" finale proved me wrong. But it seems increasingly clear that in an age that calls for being more suspicious, we are more willing than ever to hand over our money, our faith and -- our most precious resource of all -- our time without listening to our better judgment.

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Wes Headley wes@actualsystems.com http://actualsystems.com

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