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Reviews? What are those? Hibbs Hibbses On

Brian Hibbs

Let’s start with TV!

Hm, I think I’m going to go on and on and on, so let’s hide it behind a jump to keep the “front page” cleanish…

LOST: “The End”:

So, yeah, I was pretty unhappy with the end of LOST.

It’s not that every metaphysical question didn’t get answered — I no more needed to know what the island “was” that I needed to know what was in Marcus’ briefcase in PULP FICTION. A McGuffin can certainly be a McGuffin. I’m cool with, say, not telling us how the OtherMother got on the island or shit like that, because that’s sort of beyond the point.

But there were a few mysteries that needed to be revealed in a lot clearer than they were — mysteries central to previous seasons like “what was up with Fertility on the Island?” or “Why was Walt ‘special’ and what did that mean anyhow?” and “Yeah, while I get that Dharma was ‘exploring the island’ or whatever, why did they build the things they did in the manner in which they did?” — I’m thinking of shit like the 108 minute timer flipping over to hieroglyphics at the end. WHY did that kind of shit happen? because those aren’t Mysteries of God, they are Mysteries of Men.

I’m also OK with some relatively ambiguous things that can spawn further questions — like given that Jack was sprawled out like (the unnamed bother) after encountering The Light, are we meant to infer that he becomes the new “smokey”?, that kind of thing. I like things that can make us ask questions about what it meant.

But I don’t like having my time wasted; and I don’t like sloppiness.

I commented several times this season to Matt in our weekly deconstructions at the store that I thought LOST was having a lot of problems this year with Needing a Second Draft. Individual scenes of dialogue, or conceptual underpinnings that were *almost* “there”, but were off for one reason or another. One example might be Sun and Jin’s final scene — where neither of them even mention their child! A Second Draft would have helped immeasurably in fixing those kinds of glaring gaffes.

Ultimately this season was pretty half-baked — close to half the run time of the season was devoted to the flashes to what we now know was (presumably far “future”) Limbo, and it seemed like the first third of the year was devoted to such not-importants as The Temple and a bunch of characters who didn’t actually have anything to do with the conclusion (including Widmore’s people — did Jacob have any point in getting them to the island, except to be slaughtered?)!

Ugh, and all of the slow-motion flashbacks in the finale — by the second or third one I was horribly, horrifically sick of them, and they kept coming and coming between it seemed like every character, ugh!

When I watch a “mystery based” show, I want the “mystery” to be “fair” — no, I’m probably not wired to solve it myself, but when there’s an explanation, I want it to make sense, for me to go “Hah, yeah, right, that’s perfect!”

But now I no longer think that TV can actually do that kind of novelistic twisty storytelling. I’ve been burned twice now in the conclusion — and that’s not counting the various shows along the way that started off, but never actually made it to the “conclusion” due to cancellation — between this and BATTLESTAR: GALACTICA, and I’ll be damned if I’ll sit for it a third time.

Some people have said “Well, it’s really about the characters!”, which makes this ending even more kind of weak and maudlin — like how is there any sacrifice or loss from Sun & Jin if they all go off happily ever after with everyone else?

Emotionally, the ending “worked”, but not in the context of the shape of the season — frankly, I think 2.5 hours of Nothing-But-Limbo *could* very well have worked as the Finale, and probably would have blown people’s minds incredibly, but the long-slow build-up to Limbo all season long wasn’t “playing fair” with the concepts of the show.

Here’s the thing: The show wasn’t suddenly canceled. They knew TWO YEARS (or was it three?) in advance that the ending was coming, and exactly when, so to take that kind of a weird non-sequitur swerve in the last season is not only cheap, but it’s a frickin’ cop-out.

I wanted explanation — take “the rules” that Jacob and Smokey were operating under. How did that work? By this I mean: how was it that Jacob could, seemingly, freely leave the island, but Smokey couldn’t? How could Jacob seemingly deflect the destinies of scores of people with a simple touch? When Jack becomes “just like me”, there doesn’t seem to be any kind of a importation of knowledge or power — Jack is meandering around the island without any real clue, just guesses, about what is going on.

Why isn’t there any conversation about what a horrific douche bag Jacob was? I mean, as I read it, he’s brought at least one plane full of people (and, it is implied many many more) to the island, mostly to die in horrible and unhelpful ways. He’s clearly lied to his most faithful lieutenants — Richard and that Ilana chick, not to mention Locke. If Smokey had been forced to “stay in Christian’s Body” how would have the ended parsed any differently? And, really, wouldn’t it have been kind of thematically better with Jack’s Daddy issues that would have happened? Jacob was pretty much wrong about everything — in fact, Smokey HAD to manipulate the Losties to “turn off” the “Vending Machine” so that he COULD be defeated. That’s pretty much the opposite of what Jacob was saying all along, isn’t it?

I didn’t actually think that they’d “get it right” in the end, but at least they could have tried a LITTLE harder — and it really wouldn’t have taken much. 15-20 minutes of exposition, maybe? Though, apparently there’s going to be an “extra” 15-20 minutes on the DVD, which, sort of, pisses me off more than almost anything else — that’s a real “double dip” “FUCK YOU” to people who have already invested their time into this series.

But, like I said, I didn’t really think they’d resolve it all in the end — it was clear from the first couple of years that they were making shit up as they went along, and it is human nature to try to impose order on an irrational world. At least it wasn’t QUITE as bad as BATTLESTAR where EVERY EPISODE said “they had a plan”, and that “plan” turned out to be “A Wizard Did It”. At least LOST never *promised* us some sort of rational resolution; we just inferred it.

I resent that 120-ish hours of my life were “wasted” with this show. While I “enjoyed” the ride, that enjoyment as predicated on it meaning something, anything, and in the end, it didn’t.

LOST was, as the Bard would put it, “a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”

And that makes it CRAP, sorry.

Because A Wizard Did It.

*************

What about comics, then?

Some quick and nasty thoughts on recent stuff (because I seem to have shot most of my wad above)

From last week:

AGE OF HEROES #1 and ENTER THE HEROIC AGE #1: Mostly these seem to me to be Blatant Cash Grabs trading off to whatever Good Will you might possibly have to SIEGE or the AVENGERS relaunches (do you have any?) — AGE OF HEROES is sort of 2/3rds CANCELLED COMICS CAVALCADE, focusing on DOCTOR VOODOO and CAPTAIN BRITAIN AND MI13, if you were desperate for some sort of Coda to those two series, with a one-page filler Spidey story and what I thought was a really misguided misfire of a JJJ tale — JJJ isn’t a power-mad opportunist, is he? I always thought he’d do ANYthing to sell papers, but not because he wanted to exploit tragedy. ENTER THE HEROIC AGE is a semi “issue #0″ intro to the new Status Quos of ATLAS, THUNDERBOLTS, AVENGERS ACADEMY and so on.

Neither one was bad, per se, but at $4 a throw, I need more than “not bad” — and these were pretty EH

ATLAS #1: I really kind of don’t get Marvel. In the last 16 months this will make the FOURTH try with a new #1 to get people to buy into ATLAS. What’s funny is that issue of WHAT IF? with the “50s Avengers”, and being one of the very few “What If?” stories that actually happened, is one of my favorites, but trying to fit these characters into the modern age has been a very awkward fit. But, it seems clear to me that the audience really isn’t that interested in these characters, and I wouldn’t say that it seems logical that they have any real spin-off potential (ie, movies, rides, whatever). So why keep trying? And MORE IMPORTANTLY, why keep trying four times in 16 months? Why keep launching books that are almost certainly going to get canceled before issue #12? All they’re doing is to make people more skittish about trying new books… This was OK, at best.

AVENGERS #1:  It suffers from the usual Bendis-isms, and I don’t think JRJR is the best suited artist for “big brightly colored action”, but I’m a little tickled with the “old school” nature of this book — it’s refreshing after the last 5-7 years to actually read an Avengers comic where they’re heroes being heroic above board. Solidly OK, I guess.

LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES #1:  I dunno. I was a massive Levitz Legion fan, but it’s almost like too much has passed for me to re-engage with these characters as they were back then. I’m more than willing to give it a couple of issues, however (though I’m utterly underwhelmed by the idea of TWO LSH books running side-by-side — it would have been smarter to have put ADVENTURE on hiatus for a while to confirm this redo is “working”, but what do us retailers know?). I also think DC was dunderheadly stupid to have not to attached a LSH ring to this comic.

Really my biggest problem with this book is the art — it’s pretty “DC House Style”, and I think LSH either needs to look super-clean and super-sleek (Give me Chris Sprouse, and I probably would have loved this), or super-hyper detailed (Can you imagine Ryp drawing LSH? That would be keen…), and, instead, it is just kind of… there. I don’t know, I’m going to go with a very low GOOD, but that my be my nostalgia talking more than anything else…

ZATANNA #1: Hey, nice, pretty, and reasonably fun. Z is maybe a touch too insanely powerful and in control, but I can totally see following this book to see where it might lead. My biggest complaint? Petty, but it feels like “movie” San Francisco, rather than the real one. That’s just cuz I live here. Anyway, i thought it was pretty GOOD.

From two weeks ago:

HULK #22: just under 2 years worth of issues to get to the reveal, sigh. But riddle me this: where does the mustache go when he’s hulked-out? EH.

TITANS VILLAINS FOR HIRE SPECIAL #1: Jesus, fuck, what a horrible comic book. I expect my TITANS sales to drop to subs-only within 3 months now. Who wants to read about these characters? And who wants the kind of bullshit hacked out death that appears here? Completely CRAP.

I’m hoping I’m back up to speed tomorrow, and I’ll start in on THIS week’s books…

As always, what did YOU think?

-B

46 Responses to “ Reviews? What are those? Hibbs Hibbses On ”

  1. “I resent that 120-ish hours of my life were “wasted” with this show. While I “enjoyed” the ride, that enjoyment as predicated on it meaning something, anything, and in the end, it didn’t.”

    This is why I’m perfectly happy to sit out on stuff like this until it’s over and become old news :)

  2. “What else, anything? LOST ends this Sunday. I haven’t watched the show much since I stopped working on it around the middle of season two. Still, I’m interested to see what kind of a rabbit they pull out of their hat at the end. I knew what the rabbit was once, it’s probably been many rabbits since then”

    http://kingofbreakfast.livejournal.com/

    I think that comment by Paul Dini nails the problem with LOST: there was talent that made it very interesting, but that talent didn’t inform the ending, or much of the narrative in the later seasons. So we had a perfunctory ending that had some emotional payoff, and more loose ends than Crazy Mamas weaving projects.

    What ABOUT the fertility thread, down to the statue of the Egyptian fertility goddess? What about Kate’s horse? What about Mr. Eko? Hell, what about Aaron and the Kwon baby being significant to all the goings on? What about all those books -“The Third Policeman”, the Salman Rushdie and Kierkegaard made obvious this last season?

    Nevermind that, because there’s a White Lantern in a cavern, and that’s Really Important now? Oy…

    Why the coyness about the Sideways continuity, which never made any sense, as it never actually followed the Flight 815-doesn’t-crash fork in the road? To wind up with an “Owl Creek” pastiche, with a serving of Alan Moore’s “For the Man Who Has Everything” re: David Shepherd— I suppose at least it was better than having Faraday and David and Ben plink out “Ebony And Ivory” —but not by much.

    There was really good work in LOST, from the pilot to “The Constant” to “The Economist”, but, finally, a tale full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

    I just wished I’d seen the rabbit, when Paul Dini knew what it was, rather than the one Lindelof and Cuse’s pulled out of their backsides just because it was scheduled. There was so much to like in LOST, which was ill served by the “Oh, look, they’re sitting in pews, just like they did on the plane”. But WAIT, look, wreckage with no survivors- was the whole magilla REALLY a nested “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” homage after all?

    Sayid, Kate, Desmond, Jack, hell, Vincent deserved better, as great characters. We, the audience, deserved better.

  3. I just watched the final final episode of Life on Mars/Ashes to Ashes, and the payoff didn’t just work, it lingered for days.

    Which was all the more impressive considering how obvious it was that each season began at “Holy crap, we got renewed again; now what can we come up with?”

  4. I resent that 120-ish hours of my life were “wasted” with this show. While I “enjoyed” the ride, that enjoyment as predicated on it meaning something, anything, and in the end, it didn’t.

    LOST was, as the Bard would put it, “a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”

    Same reason I stopped buying comics from the Big Two.

  5. Brian, I’m sorry that ultimately the end of Lost didn’t work for you. I quit watching it some time ago because they just kept on adding mystery after mystery, which is kind of like all the teases a lot of superhero comics do without there being any real payoffs. Thanks for convincing me that I don’t need to watch the rest of Lost from when I stopped. I would love to see the writers of that show read your comments and hear their replies.

  6. Brian,your Lost, review was spot on! I figured out it was Purgatory in the 4th season. I learned from the Matrix movies, that anything that seems real interesting story wise always gets dumbed down in the conclusion, lazy writing for lazy people I guess.

  7. Wow. Wasted 120 plus hours? That’s a bit dramatic.

    “If Smokey had been forced to “stay in Christian’s Body” how would have the ended parsed any differently?” Well, he wouldn’t have been able to get in and kill Jacob for one thing. Through using Ben, through the time skipping, Smokey set up Locke as someone special who could get access to Jacob.

    “apparently there’s going to be an “extra” 15-20 minutes on the DVD” No, there’s going to be a “DVD extra.” That solves all the mysteries for all you Roy Thomas footnote needing mother fuckers. These magical supplemental materials that have been around for a few years now. (Women miscarried cause of “the incident” – Roy.”

    Rob, its not purgatory. The sideways world was. It’s clearly stated. “Lazy writing for lazy people”? Cause blanket statements aren’t lazy at all.

    Seve, plane wreckage had footprints. No Owlcreek reference here. Just a reminder that there’s no one left out of all those survivors. Or did Jack have time to change out of his plane suit before he died amongst the bamboo?

    Here’s how I took the finale. The island action: They defeated Smokey, ended Jacob’s game. Because of Jacob’s game, they weren’t able to work out the issues that made them flawed and why Jacob brought them to the island in the first place. So, (maybe with the help of the bomb)they were able to create the sideways universe to live their lives without “The Wizard.” So a wizard didn’t do it. People did it. They beat the game, they had free will.

    As for Jacob being a douche, yeah, we were left to see that for ourselves this season. Did you need Hurley to say “Dude, Jacob’s a douche?”

    I’m sorry. You guys didn’t like it, fine. But to claim you “enjoyed the ride” and then dismiss it as crap is just fanboy bullshit. Not everything was outright stated on the show. I’m not saying go read all the batshit theories on LOSTpedia, but Jesus, pay a little attention. The “rules” for Jacob, Smokey, Ben and Widmore? I was confused about that until we learned it was all fairly arbitrary in “Across the Sea.” Who knows how much Smokey could or couldn’t do simply because he had been told what he couldn’t do? Who knows how crazy the religion of The Others was based on third hand rules passed down from whoever was leader, passed down from Richard, passed down vaguely from Jacob(yes, he is a douche). This doesn’t take away meaning from the show, it adds it.

    (Brian, I’m sorry I’m taking out all my finale-hater-hate on you. I like your HULK #22 review and love the site in general.)

  8. Lost finale was not good. I likely will not watch anything these creators do going forward as they have wasted my time (same is true on BSG).

    I would have picked up LOSH 1 if that art had interested me. It wasn’t bad but I am going back through my collection and thinking about what I enjoy reading over and over, and the art just has to be interesting to me. Rereading Alan moore’s swamp thing and Ennis’ Punisher and just loving them. Both are great teams of visual storytellers. On to Morrison/Case Doom Patrol

    Not feeling it with a lot of DC titles lately and dropping a lot of stuff (JSA, Green Lantern, JLA, Doom Patrol). Still enjoying B&R and buying Flash for the great art. Booster Gold by old JLI team was pretty good. Not bothering with Brightest Day. Looking forward to Cornell and JMS on the Superman titles as I haven’t read these in a while and willing to give them a try.

  9. “But now I no longer think that TV can actually do that kind of novelistic twisty storytelling. ”

    The Wire did it better than most novels.

    “At least LOST never *promised* us some sort of rational resolution; we just inferred it.”

    I’m pretty sure I read a Rolling Stone interview where they did promise a rational one, though that was back during the first season.

    “I also think DC was dunderheadly stupid to have not to attached a LSH ring to this comic.”

    Especially with that cover.

  10. Re: Lost

    Brian, I agree 100% with everything you said about the series and the finale.

    I could feel Lost going off the rails from the early episodes this season… nobody was doing much of anything; it was like everyone was sitting around waiting for the finale, and nobody was explaining anything or even bothering to ask questions. When Dogen was telling Jack that Sayid had been “claimed,” I was wondering why Jack didn’t ask him what that meant… who had claimed him? How was he claimed? Why was he claimed? Nobody’s volunteering any information, and nobody’s asking.

    We still don’t really know who the “Others” were, or what their function was on the island, who they were taking their orders from, whether it was Jacob or the Man in Black in that cabin…

    I find it troubling that being told the characters are the most important thing is becoming a blanket excuse for bad writing. You know, things like characterization, plot, theme, and mythology aren’t mutually exclusive. Good writers can juggle all of these things and tell a satisfying story.

  11. Paul:

    “Well, he wouldn’t have been able to get in and kill Jacob for one thing. Through using Ben, through the time skipping, Smokey set up Locke as someone special who could get access to Jacob. ”

    Yeah, I dunno, it seems to me that Smoky was perfectly capable of setting up a long-game con (witness the whole thing with the Sub), and there could have been a dozen other ways to achieve the end without using (f)Locke.

    Hell, it probably would have been more direct to use Alex to do THAT, really…

    Or actually, it probably would have been most direct to just appear to the Losties on Day One saying “Look, I’m trapped on this island, and you’re trapped here with me because of the machinations of this evil bastard called Jacob… could you guys help me kill him?” :)

    Ultimately I think the writers chose Locke to get them out of the corner they had written themselves into, so they could keep him on the show, rather than there being any good plot reason for it, but C’est La Guerre.

    (Actually, and this is something I should have put in the original piece, but LOST kinda reminds me of stories that my six year old will tell me “And then this happens and then that happens and then this happens and then…” — the events aren’t really causally connected, but they SOUND wicked cool.)

    “Women miscarried cause of “the incident” – Roy.”

    Heh!

    But, yeah, that’s a possibility, though my personal recollection was the fertility stuff was discussed like it had always been there, rather than “relatively recently”.. and this was, I thought, reinforced by the OtherMother killing to get the kids, rather than, say, seducing one of the “intruders” and having her own kid.

    (Plus… how does an incident something over 30 years before cause such a specific thing as miscarriage [but no other negative effect that we're aware of] in women who just arrived in the last month or two?)

    I submit that the fertility stuff was a major mystery and threat of the first (2?) season(s), and to sweep it away as “doesn’t matter” is cheap. If you introduce a gun in the first act, you HAVE to fire it before the third…

    “So a wizard didn’t do it. People did it. They beat the game, they had free will.”

    Yeah, I don’t actually buy that — I didn’t see Jack making a CHOICE, I saw him being led to the Only Possible Conclusion by the forces at work.

    Meh. LOST had several great moments, there’s no doubt, and individual episodes that are probably total classics (I’m a big fan of “The Constant” — though, really, that appeared to ultimately be irrelevant except w/r/t Limbo) (though, actually, if that Limbo was formed by the island people because of the experience they shared [as was stated]… why was Penny there?, She’d never been to the Island…) but my enjoyment of the entire series, as a series, was predicated on it making *some* sort of ultimate sense, and I don’t think that it does.

    YMMV, but the ending now colors all of my thoughts of the series before it, just like I can no longer bear to watch BSG, even though that first season is one of the greatest sci-fi first seasons ever. Endings matter to this viewer.

    —-

    Ben Lipman:

    “The Wire did it better than most novels.”

    Sorry, I should have clarified: I meant specifically into sci-fi/fantasy/genre work. Satisfying twisty novelistic storytelling is easier when it is based on things far-too-real.

    By far, I believe THE WIRE was the best show ever on television.

    -B

  12. Just time for a quick kvetch and comment.

    First, the kvetch: I wish you had decided to review “Lost” in a separate post. That way I wouldn’t have had to scroll past your review (actually not much of a problem, since it was all in one block) and, more important, to scroll through the comments simultaneously looking for comments on the comics and trying NOT to read any spoilers about the show.

    The comment: I felt similarly to you about LOSH. I was very fond of the old Levitz Legion, but at least for the moment this doesn’t feel like that. I’ll probably give it a few issues. But an additional big problem for me was that the Legion is, for me, essentially a book about teen-agers: generally optimistic young people with powers trying to help the world while having some adolescent fun and growing pains. If the FF and the X-Men represent families, the Legion is more of a club (or gang, in the Our Gang sense). So the adult Legion just doesn’t seem like the Legion to me. So maybe things will work better for me in Adventure.

    In addition, even though I’m not up at all on the recent LOSH continuity, I could see that the idea of forcing Earth-Man into the LOSH was ludicrous.

    As for the art, I also found it underwhelming. But it’s funny to hear you describe it as “DC house style.” I initially felt optimistic looking at the art, because it reminded me of good old straightforward storytelling art of, say, the late ’70s/early ’80s. Although it’s somewhat hard to say why, the reasons included there being naturalistic figure drawing, a good amount of background drawing, inking with real ink, and, especially, (relatively) flat color. (I admit I don’t read a huge amount of DC’s output, and there are some similarities to to the art in the Green Arrow preview – but the color there is certainly more modern.)

    But ultimately I decided it just wasn’t very good art of that type: it reminded me of some mediocre art Pablo Marcos did on, for example, Secret Society of Super-Villains. Then again, I’m an “art guy,” and an old art guy at that.

  13. Disagree on Lost.

    Not everything makes sense but… Anytime I see other people’s lists of what answers they needed, I always find myself going “Really? You wanted to know that…?” My favorite probably being, “Where did Allison Janney come from?” Really? So: I have my own list of things I would have liked to have been clearer, but my list would probably invite a “Really?” from someone else.

    Most of your questions just– I just don’t agree with the questions, or I think the show actually DID answer them.

    I just disagree that some things are mysteries. Walt, for example– Walt has psychic powers, but so does Miles, so does Hurley; so does Man in Black. That was the show you were watching– one of the premises of the show since the first season was that some people have psychic abilities and that’s one kind of person the island attracts to it. (And I think it’s implied that the source of those powers is the island, but…) So: I don’t remember what else anyone wants explained about Walt.

    Or other things like complaints that there wasn’t more Mr. Ecko— you know, they hired an actor who didn’t want to be on the show LOST, and who people apparently didn’t get along with. I would have been much angrier if that show had stopped along the way to info-dump answers to lingering Ecko questions from 4 seasons earlier.

    Or there’s a lot of assumptions being made. For example, “how does an incident something over 30 years before cause such a specific thing as miscarriage [but no other negative effect that we're aware of] in women who just arrived in the last month or two?” What women are you referring to…? I don’t remember LOST showing any arriving on that island post-Incident. And the Others didn’t exactly seem big on recruiting from outside of the Island– they always seemed like they had major league trust issues.

    I felt like they explained a lot, and they provided enough raw material that you can construct a reasonably satisfying answer for a decent portion on the rest. The character arcs worked reasonably well for the most part, and I disagree that the show doesn’t “mean” anything because … I think that show actually was pretty fun to look at thematically. I’m not even sure I agree with all the themes (I’m not a big faith guy) but I feel like that was one of Lost’s bigger strengths throughout its run.

    Like: “Hell, what about Aaron and the Kwon baby being significant to all the goings on”– like… I don’t see that as a mystery as much as just plain old thematic content, I guess.

    No, it wasn’t perfect (goals within the two hours were a little too unclear– the significance of that stupid rock really could have been a little clearer, I think). But put me down for satisfied. I don’t feel like I wasted 120 hours. I don’t feel like it was anything resembling a BSG level unmitigated/hilarious disaster.

    Plus, that episode with Richard in the boat was really pretty great. It’s hard for me to hate a season with an episode like that in it.

  14. Lost…

    I disagree as well. I think a lot of things were left open to interpretation that didn’t need explaining and that includes a lot of these. Like a book or comic that doesn’t explain everything, I can put my own explanations in place based on the evidence they did put there.

    Why an Egyptian Goddess of Fertility? She’s also a representation of life force and renewal. The McGuffin seems to represent life and protection…so I accepted that there.

    Why all the miscarriages? I took it as Smokey preventing any other potential protectors being born on the island. His view is that EVERYONE from outside is tainted and corrupted, therefore, to me, the only REAL protector could be born and insulated on the island in Smokey’s view.

    The Dharma project? They talk about the wells being dug on the island as men search for the source of the mysterious energy and life…it would seem to me that Dharma was just a more modern attempt at digging the wells. I thought that was fairly specifically shown with the Hatch station.

    The island WAS real. They even had a direct explanation/exposition to say “Island real! Sideways ‘waiting room!’ Other people lived LONG time after island.” Directly. Dialogue saying exactly that. But people missed that somehow.

    None of this is from any heavy thinking or theorizing. Just stuff that occurred from paying attention and connecting dots as they went along.

    Walt? Beats the heck out of me. Dead end storyline that they pruned off.

  15. Brian, couldn’t agree more with your take on Lost. Well done.

  16. I got the impression for a while that the creators of Lost were just making shit up as they went along and hoping it would work out, and nothing supports that feeling better than the bomb at the end of season 5 and Jack’s son in deadworld.

    Because what did the bomb end up doing? Nothing. It didn’t change anything and it didn’t create an alternate reality. A bomb that originally hadn’t blown up in the past then blew up in the past and everything was the same.

    And what was the point of Jack’s son? To make us think it was an alternate reality, which it wasn’t. It was just the creators fucking with us.

    I think deadworld only turned out to be purgatory because everyone else had already guessed that the island was, and they changed their original plans to be less predictable.

    Yeah, it was less predictable, but also less dramatic, because it means nothing in the deadworld scenes mattered at all – everyone was already dead!

    And as to what Desmond’s role in the last season was (living Desmond, that is), I have no fucking clue.

  17. RE: Atlas–I think Parker and Hardman are making some highly entertaining comics together, and I’m glad that Marvel has stuck with Agents of Atlas as long as it has. Usually, people complain when Marvel or DC drop a book within a year without giving it a chance to find its audience. Now Brian is complaining that they’re foolish for trying to give a non-marquee property multiple chances. What are they supposed to do? Only launch more Avengers titles? I can see where you might feel that way as a retailer, but as a reader, I’m glad to get a few more issues of a low-selling book I enjoy.

    If nothing else, Marvel’s willingness to keep the title afloat through backups and minis led me to Incredible Hercules, which I love–and which puts another $4 of my dollars in my retailer’s pocket every month.

  18. The only problem with LOST is that fans try to make it out as more than a piece of entertainment. If you just think of it as a roller coaster ride, then the experience is all that matters. When you start pretending it’s art with something serious to say, then you need to have a more meaningful response to its very basic flaws with more than “that didn’t bother me”.

    Mike

  19. “Now Brian is complaining that they’re foolish for trying to give a non-marquee property multiple chances. What are they supposed to do?”

    Four #1 issues in 16 months is pretty ridiculous. It’s one thing to stick with a series that’s struggling and try to figure out how to make it more successful. 4 relaunches in a year and a half is nothing more than trying to squeeze as much money as possible out of the small and getting smaller ATLAS fanbase.

    Mike

  20. But those *weren’t* four “relaunches”; it was one actual relaunch after a couple of mini-series designed to introduce X-Men and Avengers readers to the concept. Aside from whether it worked or not, I don’t see anything wrong with that strategy.

  21. “The only problem with LOST is that fans try to make it out as more than a piece of entertainment.”

    In fact, I think it’s this very treatment by fandom that has contributed to Lost’s problems. As I said, I believe the creators directly respond to the audience’s reactions and interpretations (how else did they end up with such stupid names as the Man in Black and the Others?), so when fans responded to something have such meaning or mystery or – ugh – ambiguity, I think the creators decided to specifically leave the elements at the center of such debate alone.

    So when it ends and such elements aren’t explained, their – shudder – ambiguity multiplies exponentially.

  22. Re: LOST

    Although there were unanswered questions aplenty, those didn’t bother me.

    What did bother was the half-assed tonal shifts of the last 5-6 episodes. The pretty significant shift in the story in the last third of the season–the one where Jack is all angry about the lighthouse and smashes the mirrors. Suddenly, next episode, he was the “everything happens for a reason” guy. I didn’t see how that rather HUGE change happened. Not that it couldn’t happen, but they had it “just happen”.

    Re: purgatory/sideways. The first episode of this season, the triggering of the H-Bomb leads to the sunken island which leads to the removal of Jacob’s manipulations from the character’s lives which leads to the safe landing of Oceanic 815 which leads to us seeing the sideways world. If neither the sunken island nor the explicitly stated safe passage of the plane were shown, I might buy the sideways/purgatory twist–except that these oh-so-clever writers never once gave us any clue through the entire season, “Sixth Sense” style or otherwise, that this was the case.

    In the sideways world, we see sideways-Desmond jogging memories of island life (whether through near-death experiences, or by sending them on dates) leading the gathering at the concert. We simultaneously see island Desmond pulling the “cork” that keeps evil or hell or anti-life bottled up. The convergence of the stories/worlds continues, with the triggering of memory reaches a fever pitch with everyone, save Jack, remembering.

    In the last 15 minutes though, it becomes about sideways-Jack letting go and moving on? I thought Jack had already done that when he agreed to become the island’s new guardian, then went down into the cave knowing he would die. On pure faith and for the good of the world, he sacrificed himself. He then goes to purgatory and has to do it again?

    Jeph Loeb must have come back and written this out-of-left field conclusion, as his wrap ups have little to do with what preceded in the rest of the story.

  23. The point of Jack’s son was the show him correcting the “patterns” of his life. How he wouldn’t turn into his own father and repeat the cycle he seemed headed for prior to the crash.

  24. We saw Ethan’s birth during the Dharma flashback last season, so children could be conceived and born on the island up to the mid to late 1970s, which lends weight to the incident being the cause.

  25. I could totally buy the bomb going off as “the incident”, leading the hatch being built, etc. I could see the unleashed electro-magnetic energy causing birth problems. Everything that happened in 1977 with the time-travelers led to their own 2004-2007, so it seems that them setting off the bomb in 1977 that eventually leads to their plane crash in 2004 is consistent, reasonable and cool. I mean, Sayid shot Ben which made Ben evil…

    Except that they showed us the bomb, then they showed us THE SUNKEN ISLAND. Seat of their pants, writing, it is.

  26. I do have to chuckle at the anger that the Lost topic raises. It’s nearly identical to the Final Crisis or other Grant Morrison debates: “I like it, anyone that doesn’t understand it is a moron who JUST DOESN’T GET IT!” versus “I hated it, anyone that likes it is being pretentious and making up reasons to like it!”

    I’m of the camp that enjoyed the ending. I thought the questions that were answered were answered adequately enough and that things that weren’t directly answered were easily enough inferred.

    That said, I had a (in my opinion) MUCH better explanation for the sideways world: it WAS a separate timeline that everyone was ‘escaping’ to (that was Desmond’s purpose…to foster the connection) and that the end would be the MIB escaping the island/destroying everything and being left alone in an empty world. It’s the theory I’d been percolating with all season. I’m a geek…when provided with a ‘mystery’ to solve, I try to create a solution.

    I think the writers had a couple of different plans to take and chose to take this one. There was enough play in the storyline to go a few different ways.

    Again, I felt it a decent and likable enough ending, if a bit emotionally manipulative.

  27. “The point of Jack’s son was the show him correcting the “patterns” of his life. How he wouldn’t turn into his own father and repeat the cycle he seemed headed for prior to the crash.”

    Uh, but he didn’t turn into his own father in the “real” world. And apparently the “real” world was the one in which he made the right decisions, and the dead world was where he was living in denial.

    So the point of the son still doesn’t exist.

  28. Paul McEnery: Yeah. That Ashes to Ashes finale managed to have surprising developments, *and* make complete sense in context with the series and the conclusion to Life on Mars. The more I think about it, the more it works. So that’s neat. (I’m also glad it made it to air before the Lost finale).

  29. Gotta agree on the Life On Mars/Ashes To Ashes finale….there was a show that had basically the same elements as Lost and pulled it off. I was literally choked up at the end of it, even with The Guv’s welcoming of the new arrival and his LOST I-phone, and with Lost, all I wanted to do was break my TV set.

  30. Although it was fairly obviously written ‘on the fly’ and not planned from the beginning, the last few episodes of the 90s fantasy series ‘Forever Knight’ wrapped up the series in a way that resonated emotionally while also being accepting of the continuity of what had gone before.

    God, I loved that show.

  31. “Because what did the bomb end up doing? Nothing. It didn’t change anything and it didn’t create an alternate reality. A bomb that originally hadn’t blown up in the past then blew up in the past and everything was the same.”

    The show’s model of time travel was that whatever happened, happened, and that no one could change the past. The bomb ALWAYS went off in 1977. That WAS the incident. It’s mind-boggling that there are people who don’t get this. It’s like saying someone who walks up to you and says, “Hi, I’m Bob,” didn’t bother to introduce himself.

  32. “The show’s model of time travel was that whatever happened, happened, and that no one could change the past. The bomb ALWAYS went off in 1977. That WAS the incident. It’s mind-boggling that there are people who don’t get this. It’s like saying someone who walks up to you and says, “Hi, I’m Bob,” didn’t bother to introduce himself.”

    No, the bomb blew up the hatch. You know, the one they were insane during season 2.

  33. Wow, I wrote “insane” when I meant “in,” but I think it’s a very appropriate Freudian slip.

  34. The hatch blew up at the end of season 2. The bomb had nothing to do with it.

  35. The problem with giant arching stories in television, particularly mystery ones like Lost and BSG, is that they are very much at the mercy of the studio. Extend the show? Shit, time for more mysteries and some eye stabbing slow-motion fillers. Cancel the show? Time to speed the action up, maybe skip a few years (Dollhouse-style) and cut straight to the ending. I tend to favor the ones that get canceled but still finish their story, because it’s what they should have been doing anyway. ;)

    I say stick to limited episode shows like The Wire, or shows that have a distinct storyline every season. (Like Heroes, which while having turned terrible, is enclosed enough that you can watch one bad season and then ignore the rest) Too bad more shows don’t do this, but I guess money is an appealing factor in keeping a story running past its due date. (Hi, Fables)

    Btw, the Cylons did have a plan, as evidenced by their movie “The Plan.” It was just a really bad plan and foiled by their pathetic human emotions. I wonder, if the major downfall of all robots is their emotions, why don’t they all just emulate psychopaths?

  36. “The hatch blew up at the end of season 2. The bomb had nothing to do with it.”

    No, the site of the bomb incident in 1977 was at the construction site of the hatch. The Dharma guys were building the hatch. Then the bomb went off and destroyed it – in 1977, with no effect on the present/future.

    It had appeared that dead world was at first an alternate reality created by a lack of a hatch (since the electromagneticism couldn’t have caused the plane to crash), but dead world turned out to have no purpose either.

  37. “No, the site of the bomb incident in 1977 was at the construction site of the hatch. The Dharma guys were building the hatch. Then the bomb went off and destroyed it – in 1977, with no effect on the present/future.”

    There is absolutely nothing presented onscreen to suggest that the bomb destroyed the hatch, or that the hatch was not built after the bomb went off in 1977. The incident took place, the bomb went off, the hatch was completed, and blew up at the end of season 2.

    Whatever happened, happened. This is the simplest and most elegant model of time travel imaginable, so I don’t understand why people have so many problems with it.

  38. “In an attempt to prevent the station from ever being built, and thus, to prevent Flight 815 from ever crashing on the island, Jack dropped the “Jughead” bomb’s core down the drill shaft at the Swan site, where it was later detonated by Juliet.”

    The Swan is where the hatch was.

    They destroyed the Swan station and prevented it from being built.

    Except they were inside it in season 2.

    Oops.

  39. Again, there is nothing at all that indicates that the incident prevented the station from being built.

  40. The fact that all the parts to the Swan, like the hatch cover we actually see in season 5, are blown to bits? Or the fact that all the people who are supposed to build it are blown to bits?

    I think you need to rewatch the series.

    Anyway, the bomb had no purpose as far as season 6 was concerned. When season 6 opened with the shot of the island underwater, we were to believe that the bomb had sunk it, when it fact it had nothing to do with dead world.

  41. “The fact that all the parts to the Swan, like the hatch cover we actually see in season 5, are blown to bits? Or the fact that all the people who are supposed to build it are blown to bits?”

    We don’t actually see either of those things.

    “I think you need to rewatch the series.”

    I think you need to watch it, full stop.

  42. If you don’t believe me, read every single synopsis available online.

  43. Why would I do that when I’ve actually watched the show in the first place?

  44. Because somehow you failed to understand this very obvious and essential point.

  45. That’s rather rich from someone who is imagining seeing things that never appeared on screen.

  46. I was never convinced the bomb went off. You don’t actually see it blow; you just get the flash-to-white with a “whoosh” sound to suggest an explosion. But in the next season’s opener, nobody’s blowed up, not even Juliet.

    I think The Incident was what happened when Radzinsky sent the drill down and the surrounding 100 yards or so collapsed like an electromagnetic black hole. That alone necessitated the building of the Swan Station and the button, and released enough weird energy that it fucked with fertility and childbirth. Or else it pissed Jacob off and, struggling with Mommy issues already, he decided to make it a Rule.

    I feel like a great deal of the show’s weirdness was explained in a shadowy way with one line in “Across The Sea,” when Jacob sits down with his brother at the primitive game board and asks why the rules are what they are: “Because I made the rules,” the brother says. “Someday, YOU’LL be able to make the rules be whatever YOU want.”

    So, later, when Jacob is a fratricidal demigod with glowy cave powers, he can set and change rules as he sees fit. Hence all the “you can’t kill them,” “you can’t change shape,” “you can’t have babies,” etc. rules of the show being so arbitrary. In a sense, the POINT is that these rules are arbitrary and confusing, because Jacob is such a failed god. He’s in charge and he messes with people’s destiny and he sucks for that. Hence Ben’s line, “Maybe there’s a better way to do this.”

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