Looking at Lost: Five Bets the Show Shouldn’t Have Made

TV’s history is littered with tons of examples of different risks that have played out in many ways. A singing competition with a sometimes-cranky British judge? Good idea. Jay Leno at 10:00PM? Bad idea. With Lost about to sign off, speculation has reached a fever pitch about how the finale will play out and whether it will give justification for many of the plot points the producers have asked us to believe based on faith alone for the past 6 years. The jury is still out on how the flashsideways storyline, Jacob/Man in Black connection, and lots of other unresolved plot points. However, we can certainly evaluate the risks the show has taken in the past 6 years and decide which worked and which didn’t. Considering we don’t have much else to go on, it may be the only indicator of what we can expect from “The End.”

No one cared about their "Expose" via Tubular

THE WORST DECISIONS

5. The Dharma Initiative (?) – Right now, this is simply ranked at #5 because it’s still pending. Beginning with the discovery of the hatch at the end of season 1, it became clear that the island’s past would be the key to the castaway’s (and the show’s) future. Some of the most thrilling moments in Lost history came from the slow revelation of details about the Dharma initiative (remember watching the Swan Orientation film for the first time?). However, as the show increasingly reveals that the true heart of the series is the relationship between Jacob and the Man in Black, the Dharma back story has fallen to the wayside. If they are the real heart of Lost, why did producers distract us with Dharma for four seasons and not even introduce Jacob until season 5? What a waste of time.

4. Bai Ling – Season 3’s “Stranger in a Strange Land” may be the show’s ultimate nadir of fan morale. After a choppy seven-episode run in the fall, the show returned in February after a long break. As expected, fan anticipation was high for the show to regain its mojo. Unfortunately, that wouldn’t come until later in the season and we were forced to sit through pointless storylines such as Jack’s flashback romance with Thai prostitute Achara (unfortunately portrayed by “actress” Bai Ling). Both Jack and the show hit a true low point that night.

3. Going out of control with time travel – With so many storylines, flashbacks, flashforwards, and characters existing at different points in the island’s history, viewers knew the show would eventually have to explain the island’s past to tie the plot together. How did it do that? By sending the castaways on a confusing, frustrating, and (still) semi-unexplained trip through time. When travelling back on Ajira flight 316, why did the survivors end up at different points in time? Why did they get nosebleeds from the time travel? And why did a donkey wheel somehow stop this all? Those are all good questions, and ones the show probably didn’t ever need to create.

2. Introducing Nikki & Paulo – Season 3 was truly a dark time for Lost. I guess one of the difficulties of telling a story about castaways on a lost tropical island is that you can’t really introduce many new characters too organically. Sure, it’s easy to kill them off, but once they’re gone, Lost doesn’t really have the benefit of a revolving cast door like other shows do (Grey’s Anatomy, ER, Law & Order). So, when fans were expected to believe that new cast additions Nikki and Paulo had been on the island all along, but never seen in seasons one or two, things didn’t quite click. Viewer reaction was so negative that producers killed them off before the season even ended.

1. Killing Danielle, Alex, and Karl – One of Lost’s most enigmatic characters is Danielle Rousseau. As the sole survivor of a French expedition that crashed on the island in 1988, she survived 16 years on the island in search of her abducted daughter, Alex. In season four, Danielle is finally reunited with Alex in the show’s fourth season. Very shortly afterwards, Danielle and Karl are killed in a gun battle, leaving Alex alone (only to die later in the season). While other characters have had some resolution in their stories, this plotline was cut short way too early and will probably never be clarified.

Check in tomorrow to see the five BEST decisions Lost has made.

-MK

Contact the author at mksmogger@gmail.com.

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3 responses to “Looking at Lost: Five Bets the Show Shouldn’t Have Made

  1. To say that the dharma initiate is not important to the overall story of lost is just outright ridiculous.
    Without mentioning the fact that the majority of the mysterys of lost, and therefore a large part of the shows enjoyment, have come from the dharma initiate or related events/places/characters/whatever – there have actually been dozens of crucial plot points that have arised due to the dharma.
    Think about what we would be missing if the dharma initiative never existed:
    – many characters are on the show because of dharma related things (ben, desmond, miles, charlotte, etc)
    – without the dharma there would be no incident, which we are to assume is responsible for the flash-sideways universe (ie the most important thing of the entire season 6).
    – without the incident, we would have no hatch, which was a fairly major character development device for both locke/jack in season 2 with the whole man of science / man of faith and locke deciding not to push the button and jack wanting to do it etc
    – probably most importantly of all (behind not having the flash-sideways): without the incident, we would have no hatch – and without the hatch we would have no flight 815 crashing on the island (desmond caused the plane to crash by not pressing the button).
    I could literally go on and on about all the things we wouldnt have without the dharma – but the simple truth is: without the dharma, there would be no lost.

    • I think you missed my point entirely. I’m not saying the Dharma Initiative didn’t advance the show’s plot or help with introducing characters – it did. What I am saying is that the producers could have just as easily used any other excuses or plot devices to introduce the characters you mentioned or any other plausible excuse to cause the plane crash. My point is that ultimately, once you see the projection of Lost’s storyline, you realize how meaningless Dharma is to the overarching story. Season 6 has revealed that the entire series has been the manipulations of Jacob and the Man In Black. Why weren’t they introduced in season 2 like Dharma was? Why did the show decide to distract us for 3 years by implying that Dharma held the meaning of the show within it. If you need any further proof of how little Dharma has had to do with the show, look at its role this season. Last night, it wasn’t even in the episode at all. If it is really that important, how could it be completely left out of the PENULTIMATE EPISODE of the series?

      I agree that finding out about Dharma was one of my favorite parts of the show, and undoubtedly some of the most climactic material the show has provided. But, ultimately, I feel ripped off. Shifting the heart and soul of the show from Dharma to Jacob/MIB so late in the game was a cheap move and completely devalued the entire Dharma storyline. Unfortunately, that decision left the Dharma subplot about as interchangable as any of flight 815’s extras.

  2. I’d at least add the numerous deaths by people who wanted out of the serious. I mean, just how different would the last episodes have been had Libby, Shannon, Boone, Charlie or even Arzt had lived. Were their deaths planned or inconveniences worked in along the way?

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