I’ve been thinking about writing more substantial (translation: longer) entries on this blog, not because I am convinced there are scores of people out there dying to read my words, but because, as I’ve said from the beginning, I think blogging is a good way for me to work on my writing. For me, blogging is so interesting because it’s somewhere between private writing (journaling, etc.), letter writing, and academic writing (scholarly articles and books). This liminality (not quite the right word?) invites me, as a writer, to make important decisions about audience, topic, and even self-presentation. At the same time, I want to write about things that I enjoy—that are fun for me to think and write about and that I might not write about in more conventional genres.
So I thought I’d write just a few posts that are reviews/commentaries on some of my interests outside of work/school and family, beginning with TV, particularly the rewards of watching an exceptional show again on DVD. Specifically, I want to consider Season 3 of Lost, which I just finished re-watching over the weekend in anticipation of tomorrow’s Season 4 premiere.
There isn’t much I can say about Lost that hasn’t been said by other people before—and better than I could have said it myself. But I will say what a genuine pleasure it was to re-watch these episodes. Some shows that have complicated mythologies are a thrill to watch during their first runs, as we are on the edges of our seats waiting to see what happens next. Once you are done with them, though, you feel no compelling reason to re-watch particular episodes. I am reminded here of The X-Files, which I really did love, but whose mythology became just too complicated for me to keep up with over the years. Now when I watch re-runs of the show, I am drawn to the stand-alone episodes, as opposed to the mythology episodes.
With Lost, (like with my Buffy, Angel, or Veronica Mars DVDs), though, it was such a pleasure to re-visit each episode. Why? Well, for multiple reasons—the rewards of making connections between characters and storylines, an even deeper appreciation for how amazingly the characters’ plots interconnect, the same great feeling we get when we re-read a beloved book even when we know what’s going to happen.
In the end, for me, it’s about character, a point I’ve been trying to make in my ENG 102 classes. Character, in most cases, is what takes a work with a great plot and lifts it to another level. This isn’t any great revelation, of course, but it is such a treat to see it so well-executed on television. That’s what you get with the amazing writing and acting on Lost. For instance, re-watching Charlie’s arc in Season 3--knowing all along that he would end up sacrificing his life to get the others off the island--broke my heart all over again. No lie: I re-watched “Greatest Hits” and found myself tearing up in a way that I hadn’t the first time through.
Other episodes of note:
“Flashes Before Your Eyes”: An episode that confused the heck out of me the first time around and only makes just a bit more sense now. As I went back through Season 3, I grew more interested in Desmond, whose love for Penny is so moving, and whose ultimate inability to save Charlie is so heartbreaking.
“Tricia Tanaka is Dead”: Just when we think Lost is nothing but serious and depressing, they give us this episode. When Hurley got that van running and he, Charlie, Jin, and Sawyer went joy-riding (complete with Dharma beer!), I couldn’t stop smiling. Plus, we meet “Roger Workman,” although we don’t find out who he is until much later.
“The Man From Tallahassee”: Holy crap! That’s how Locke got paralyzed? And his father’s on the island? Even on re-watching, it’s still very powerful.
“Expose”: I didn’t hate Nikki and Paulo the way lots of other folks did, but man was this an awesome way to get rid of them.
“The Man Behind the Curtain”: I mentioned that Juliet is one of my favorites, but I would be remiss not to mention Ben and the fabulous work Michael Emerson does in this role. From his first appearance in Season 2, you knew this guy was trouble. I am reminded of that scene in the end of “One of Them” (I think that’s the episode) where he can hear Jack, Locke and Sayid arguing over how to treat him and he gets this tiny grin on his face knowing that he’s breeding dissension among them—and letting us know that he was, in fact, a “bad” guy. Gave me chills!
“Through the Looking Glass”: What can I say about this one that hasn’t been said? I would like to state, though, that (like other viewers, I know) I saw Jack’s phone in those “flash-back” scenes and thought, “Hmmm...that looks like a pretty new phone. How could he have had that in 2004 (or earlier)?” No, I didn’t realize that they were, in fact, flash-forwards, but at least I was on my way, right? By the way, of all the episodes, this one took on the most poignancy when I re-watched it, knowing all along that you were seeing how miserable post-island Jack was, especially given how desperately he’s trying to get off the island.I'll end by saying that I'm not the kind of fan who spends hours exploring all the Lost websites out there or reading every book that pops up in an episode. I don't pour over message boards discussing every hint or clue. I only say this because you don't need to do that to love the show, another testament to the quality of the writing. (But I did watch all twelve of the "Missing Pieces" segments on ABC.com, and thought they were great.)