The Closet Moderate: Lost Premiere, or "Why Time Travel Ruins Everything."

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Lost Premiere, or "Why Time Travel Ruins Everything."

So, at the request of a friend, I agreed to sit down at watch the premiere of Lost. I watched the first season religiously. The second season was just a hodgepodge of bullshit, and by the time I finally got around to turning on season 3, Sawyer and Kate were trapped in white slavery and dealing with it by having sexy makeouts while Jack watched on CCTV. Creepy.

(I really hate Lost's cheap intellectual cock-grab of naming characters after philosophers and scientists. John Locke, Jeremy Bentham, Faraday, Rousseau, etc. I don't think I'll get over this until homicidal maniac "Freddy" Nietzsche shows up and starts blowing away the characters I don't like.)

Anyway, this season kicks off with that most atrocious of SciFi tropes, the time-travel narrative. Now, everybody is allowed to set their own rules about time travel, and to Lost's credit they immediately rule out the "let's go kill Hitler" plan. The problem is that they address the issue by setting a fundamental rule about time travel, which is that "you can't change anything that's already happened." The problem with that rule is that when you're skipping around in time "what's already happened" loses its coherence as a concept unless you fix "the present" at the point at which the last season ended and/or suppose a time-space continuum in which everything is predetermined (or, in effect, has already happened).

So, either island-bound time-travel enthusiast Faraday is wrong about time travel or the writers have just stripped the series of any potential dramatic tension. I suspect the former, as that's the less idiotic writing decision and would also go a long way to explain why, for example, Desmond didn't remember his past meeting with Faraday until after Faraday jumped back in time and met him. The other problem with time travel is that you end up having to write obnoxious descriptive clauses like that one.

However, in a more promising vein, Sawyer seems to be both the leader of the remaining island people and the conduit for my frustration with the time travel plot. He keeps trying to change the past, solve his problems through violence and--upon arriving shirtless back on the island after jumping out of a helicopter last season--steal people's shirts. If he beats the shit out of Jack and throws Kate into shark infested waters when they inevitably return to the island, I might give this season a passing grade.

1 comment:

Silent Cal said...

I don't watch Lost, and the addition of time travel ensures I never will. As a plot point, it requires such suspension of disbelief that only the best writing and acting can overcome this objection, i.e., the cinematic triumph known as the Back to the Future trilogy.