You know what the creators of epic, multiyear-arc television shows need? They need a novelist or two on staff. Or a playwright. Somebody who understands that an epic tale needs to be planned in advance, that plot is not something you work out after you’ve already written 90% of the story, that you can’t just throw a bunch of kicks and clues into individual chapters unless you have some idea what they fucking mean. It doesn’t matter how gobsmacking your twists are, or how effectively they entice your viewers to tune in next week: the reason we come back is because we want to see how all these intrigues fit together, what the payoff is. These guys can be absolute geniuses when it comes to microwriting: why haven’t they figured out that you gotta use that arsenal you’ve assembled on the mantelpiece, sometime before the end of the tale?
I’m not going to go on at much length about this, because I’ve already invested too much time in this. I’ve invested six years in a story that rationed out numerical sequences and high-energy physics and time travel for all the world as if they fit together somehow, as if they were carefully-constructed elements of a thousand-piece puzzle whose completion would reveal — if not an elegant thing of truth and beauty — at least a coherent story. I’ve wasted too many words, endured too many pitying glances as I insisted that no, J.J Abrams wasn’t Ronald D. Moore, he stated way back in first season that there would be no supernatural cop-outs in his science-fiction world-building, that all these other shows may have let me down but this one was different…
What a sucker I am. Hurley’s numbers: unexplained. The keyboard sequence in the hatch: unexplained. The ceiling hieroglyphics, the time jumps, the sudden appearance of that temple cult in the last season, the very nature of the island itself: unexplained unexplained unexplained unexplained.
The Smoke Monster: you call that an explanation?
Loose ends hung off the whole damn arc like cilia off a Paramecium. It was BSG all over again, and for pretty much the same reasons, so I’m not going to rehash them here. Check out my past rant on that show if you’re interested: or Brad Templeton’s far more comprehensive, rigorous, and lucid analysis. Squeak’s also got a thoughtful piece over on her blog and on io9, although I disagree with one of her points. I don’t think the invocation of gods reflects the conservative religious leanings of the US viewing audience at all; I think it’s just a convenient brand of lipstick the writers slather onto the pig after feeding it through whatever malfunctioning transporter serves up the steaming pile of mangled viscera we get when we order “epic narrative” from the menu.
I invested a greater number of years in a much less ambitious series whose relatively-modest finale hit the screens the very next day. I ended up a lot more satisfied. At least Jack Bauer didn’t spend eight years teasing my cock with meaningless clues before the clock ran out.
Oh, my. I guess I kind of have gone on at too much length. And I still have my taxes to do.
I guess I’ll have to tell you about the other stuff tomorrow.