Thursday, 22 October 2009

Icon #30 Lost

Today's topic was Iconic Time Travel Movies or TV shows. I could have gone for 'Back to the Future' but really wanted to go for a less obvious choice. Although 'BttF fans' I was very tempted and will probably find an excuse at some point to write about one of my favourite films. The topic was chosen by Jen, she has two more weeks of control and then I hand topic choosing over to @WH1SKS.


Lost began in 2004 and next year will see its final season air in the States and the UK. For those of you that jumped ship after season three you'll probably be wondering why on earth I'm writing about it as a time travel show at all. Indeed it wasn't until last season (five) that the time travelling came to the fore.

Season one was a stunning achievement for a TV show. It was utterly compelling stuff. A plane crashes on a deserted tropical island, way off course and the survivors all have slightly dodgy/interesting pasts. The island appears to be inhabited by polar bears and a mysterious monster that seems to be made of dust. Factor into that the mysterious 'others', that live there, who seem hell bent on kidnapping/killing the survivors and you have one very strange mix. There was also the mysterious hatch in the ground.

The trouble was that by season 2 we wanted answers. Well some did anyway. But Lost wasn't interested in answers, just more confusion. The 'numbers' came into play after the opening of the hatch and the tension between the 'others' and our survivors continues to grow. Some questions are answered but not as many as are posed and the mystery of what Lost was about continued to grow.

Now I could go and talk about every season but to be honest all you really need to know is that after some of the survivors escape (they later come back) a small group are left behind and stuck on the Island. Now that doesn't sound that important but after one of the characters uses a portal (was it a portal?) to get back to the real world the Island moves.

Yep that's right 'moves'. Season 4 basically ended with one of the characters looking out of the window of a helicopter at the Island, except it was no longer there. It had moved somewhere else. Seriously.

Of course you can't move an Island without some kind of side effects. For the first half of season six the cast that our stuck on the Island are jumping through time. And then finally the time jumping stops (it was pretty ineffective as a plot device until this point, apart from killing a pretty red head) and they end up stuck in 1974. Stuck and living with their former enemy the 'others' who at this point appear to be a fairly tame scientific research team trying to figure out what the Island is.

What I liked about this spell of the show is that instead of us seeing how the survivors ingratiate themselves with the others the show skipped on three years and let us see how happy they were in 1974. Living together in some cases and generally just getting on with there lives under new identities. Sawyer, one of the 'love to hate' survivors has amazingly transformed himself into a new man who dotes on his woman and enjoys his new found status and responsibility. They are happy and for the most part we just hadn't seen them like that before.

Ok so the character stuff in Lost has probably been the thing that has kept me watching more than the plot. Indeed the plot is now so convoluted that next years final season could just be a sixteen episode 'plot thread tying up thing'. Time travel is a theme that if scrutinised, in any show or film that has used it, usually reveals massive plot holes that never quite make any sense. Star Trek recently avoided that by simply using it as a way to create a completely new Star Trek universe, which will no doubt leave us with a legacy of several new TV series that adhere to JJ Abrams' vision and not Roddenberry's. Lost went about dealing with time-travel in a much more sensible way. Sure, there's this crazy Island that has moved. Sure there's a bunch of strangers on a plane with weirdly interconnected lives. Sure there was a polar bear. But time travel they deal with sensibly. Yep.

Let me explain. Nothing can be changed. It doesn't matter what they try and do they can not change the future. So trying to kill the man who torments them later when he's still a boy doesn't have any impact. Sure he gets shot, but doesn't die. It's a nice trick and one that still leaves you with the feeling that something bigger is pulling the strings.

Do I have a 'Lost theory'? I think I did around season three. It involved them all actually being dead and living in purgatory. This wasn't right. I'm hoping that the writers will confound and delight everyone that has stuck with the show but I have completely given up trying to second guess them.

Lost is bonkers but I loved last years 1977 plot twist. Putting the characters in another situation and another time let the series breathe again. That they had no control and had no idea where they would end up and that added to the brilliance.

There is still one characters time travel journey in the previous season that I haven't mentioned. 'The Constant' was episode five of season four and saw Desmond fighting for his life whilst jumping through time. It is the best episode of Lost in my opinion and I've discovered tonight that Time magazine described it as the best television episode of 2008. It's one of the most genuine feeling episodes of the whole show. Clever and confusing, of course, but brilliantly romantic as Desmond struggles to find his 'constant', Penny, in order to save his future self.

Lost is Iconic largely for season one when it really did feel like something new and special. But for those of us that stuck with it the fifth season was equally unmissable. But that sweet lovely episode from season four was a brilliant bit of TV that I will never forget watching.

Desmond: I love you Penny. I've always loved you, I'm so sorry. I love you.
Penny: I love you too.
Desmond: I don't know where I am, but..
Penny: I'll find you Des..
Desmond: I promise...
Penny: No matter what...
Desmond: I'll come back to you...
Penny: I won't give up...
Desmond: I promise.
Penny: I promise.
Desmond/Penny: I love you.*

Tonight's post is dedicated to @KatyHarwood01 who today made her suggestion via facebook.

*Yes I am a romantic old fool but I fricking loved this bit alright?!