How did one of the most imaginative shows ever to grace our TV screens become such a predictable bore? If I hadn't committed to watching the final season with you guys and to commenting on it for Slate, I'd probably bail on Lost right now. At this rate, it's starting to make AMC's wretched remake of The Prisoner look good. Perhaps Lost's creators could fashion a third timeline and send the characters tumbling into the desert town where The Prisoner was set and the two shows could merge.
But instead of turning off my tube, I've decided—yes—to become a zombie. I'll watch the next 13 episodes without emotion and reflect on them in this space without any rancor. Instead of railing against the awfulness that Lost now embodies, I'll merely catalog it. And no pill (did Lost's writers steal that from The Matrix or are they paying homage?) will restore my faith in the show. So please Seth, if you're making any drug deliveries, make mine Adderall.
In last night's episode, "What Kate Does," the writers staged what must be the 172nd, 173rd, 174th escape scenes: James skedaddles from the Temple, Kate and Jin ditch their chaperones, and over in the LAX timeline, Kate continues her flight from the authorities. (While we're on the subject of the Temple, allow me to point out that Lost has never inflicted upon its viewers a more cheesy, B-movie set than the Temple. Where did these guys learn set design? The Temple's "healing waters," all bubbling and red, look like a Jacuzzi into which somebody has dumped the contents of a bloodmobile. And while we're on the subject of B-movies, let's send Lost's writers to the pillory for devising the "inscrutable" Dogen, who is one part Asian villain and one part Karate Kid sensei. He'd fit very well in this promo for 1967 version of Lost that's going around the Web.)
Now, as an action-movie enthusiast, I'm all for chase scenes and running gun battles and daring leaps off cliffs into churning waters. But Lost has violated my trust by amping up the dramatic volume with an escape, a capture, and a re-escape too many times. Was there any drama in Kate and Jin's escape from their chaperones last night? Of course not. Did anybody sit on the edge of their seat chewing their fingernails as they watched Kate elude her captors in the Los Angeles timeline? Seriously, how long would it take for an LAPD helicopter or even LAPD squad cars to spot a stolen yellow cab driven by a young women in the vicinity of LAX? She'd make it all the way to Brentwood and then the hospital without getting nabbed? C'mon!
And while I'm on the subject of stupid plot devices, how about zombie Claire shooting the two Temple chaperones in the torso? Last season I dropped an e-mail to Chad about the extraordinary number of deaths-by-torso-gunshot in Lost. I think I got up to 34 or thereabouts. I love gun battles. I swoon at screen death. But this effect is about as engaging as watching—yes—zombies being killed in a video game.
Which brings me to my conclusion, which I intend to deliver in dispassionate zombie style. (I am a slow zombie, not a fast one.) Lost's fantastical elements, like the donkey wheel and the vanishing island and smokey and time travel, were once offset by the plausible-yet-surprising non-fantastical plot lines. This balance made the show somewhat palatable. But now the equilibrium is off because the relatively realistic bits are so predictable—run, Kate, run! So I give up. I'll leave it to Chad to fill in the many dotted lines of parallelism. Sayid the torturer now gets tortured! Ethan is back! And he's giving drugs to Claire again! And Claire is the new Rousseau, stalking baddies on the island and blasting them with her rifle! And Claire is pissed like Rousseau because her baby was stolen (remember, Ethan helped the young Ben steal Rousseau's daughter)! *
Please excuse me while I chew on a mass of my own rotting flesh.
Previously on Lost: What Kate Does
Correction, Feb. 10, 2010: This article originally stated that Rousseau's baby was stolen by Ethan. The child was stolen by Ben. It also referred to Rousseau's child as her son, instead of her daughter. ( Return to the corrected sentence.)