Cable TV news. Newspaper comics. Scarlet Johansson singing Tom Waits. There are certain things I avoid because I know they will only dissapoint and/or infuriate me. I now add another activity to that list: watching Lost. The "Stranger in a Strange Land" episode promised us answers to three big questions, delivered maybe one, and left me with a whole new set of burning mysteries. When exactly did this show become so terrible? How many more times will we have to suffer through new characters with tedious flashbacks and vaguely distracted facial expressions? How many more episodes will the writers prop up on the same Jack-Kate-Sawyer love triangle that peaked a year ago? (You know it's bad when even creepy, obsessive fansites stop updating.) At this point, the only thing I'd be shocked to see on Lost is a relevant plot.
The February 21st episode was the final straw for me. I seriously begrudge the writers for that hour of my life wasted on stomach churning, sappy dialogue and pointless plot meandering. In the words of my friend Jon, "Let's hope they get fired." Yes, let's. Not only did they make us slog through yet another predictable flashback, but it was more fake drama with boring old Jack. Jack used to be one of my favorite castaways. Although he got pegged as "the nice guy" next to Sawyer, he was dark and brooding, which made me wonder what he was really like when he wasn't being forced to take charge of all the lame soggy people around him.
But the answer to that question came as we were forced to watch Jack make an ass out of himself in Thailand. I haven't a clue why this backstory needed to happen, or what "big questions" it was supposed to have answered. Apparently, Jack has a weakness for women with thick accents and cartoonishly "dangerous" fashion. We found out what Jack's tattoo meant, but it was hardly a revelation. Jack's tragic hero complex has been written all over his mournful brown eyes since Season One. And to learn about it, we had to cringe through some of the most awkward dialogue ever written: "Put it on me!"
Even away from Jack, it became clear how flimsy all the characters really are at this point. Kate can't make up her mind about anything, and the writers push her between extremes of crying and acting tough under the guise of "pretty = interesting." Sawyer is clearly a robot or alien trying his damnedest to imitate a laidback Southern bad boy. He seems to have an endless supply of forced, cutesy names for everyone he meets, though it seems like he could save himself the effort and refer to everyone with, "Hey there, Grimy." The pair's ill-fated rescue mission to save Jack is pretty much inevitable, with the only question being how much bickering over who comes along, and stiff, wooden colloquialisms will pop up on the way. The Kate and Sawyer dynamic has always struck me as more sibling rivalry than sexual tension, so I find their whole romance plot pretty unbearable and forced.
And for the record, I just don't have the capacity to care about the plight of The Others. Juliet is probably evil, and she almost certainly will lead Jack and his soft, stupid heart into some kind of trouble. Maybe the musical scenes of Jack herding The Others into boats against a beautiful sunset will actually have meaning beyond making me laugh, and Jack will end up becoming their new leader. My only concern is over how excruciatingly long this will take. The show's writers haven't given us nearly enough to go on with our beloved first set of castaways, and then they introduced and slowly killed off all the interesting Tailies. Now, there's further stalling as they slowly reveal which of The Others will turn out to maybe be good people, as shown through moony/grungy teenagers gazing up at stars. Meanwhile, I still just want to know why Hurley saw Libby in the mental hospital, or if there was any point at all to Mr. Eko.
The more distractions and crazy new plots that are introduced, the more I can't help but suspect that the show is all a shell game. For all the new flashy deaths by bus, and sexy tattoo artists, there've been no developments with substance. For that, the writers keep relying on the stale love triangle aspect; so much so that they even tried introducing two insanely annoying Jack and Kate stand-ins, Nikki and Paulo. These vapid, lab-tested-attractive two seemed destined for their own Lost spin off sitcom about how all she ever cooks is coconuts, and he never cleans up around the tent, but dang if they don't love each other silly. I'm glad these two are gone for the moment, but I can't forget that the writers actually tried to go there. My faith has been shaken.
It's time for action, people; enough dragging it out. The show needs to be reined in and controlled. Let's get rid of certain options (say, the polar bears) and commit to going forward with other definite plot points to get some answers. I think it's time for a big moment. For instance, Hurley stumbles into a new hatch, a.k.a. "The Filing Hatch" and spends the episode reading all about The Hanso Foundation and perusing document after document about Ben and Company -- birth certificates, diaries, the works. Then, he emerges to tell the castaways what he's learned, as communicated in a lively musical montage set to "Takin' Care of Business" by Bachman-Turner Overdrive.
Or this Desmond guy is still looking like a promising character, especially with his ability to see the future. Now that they've revealed the power, let's hope the writers actually DO something with it. Maybe a one-on-one showdown between Desmond and the smoke monster in which Des's dreamy eyes/impassioned babbling combo finally wrestle it into leaving everyone alone, brother.
As it stands, Lost has left me with the sinking feeling that there is no big plan beyond a weirdly dysfunctional scientific cult that has watched A Clockwork Orange too many times. And for all their seemingly bold psychological experimentation, I'm thinking I can save them the trouble. Remember poor old Locke pushing the button in the hatch, trapped watching an endless cycle of repetitive action with only dubious, theoretical rewards? I know what I'd do in that situation: give up, and push the button to another channel.