It was greater than a decade in the past that Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse closed the e-book on Lost. The serial action-drama, which blended in parts of science fiction and lightweight fantasy because the years went on, lasted six seasons on community TV between 2004 and 2010. It survived the 2007 author’s strike as one of the vital in style community exhibits of its time and unfolded throughout the seismic shift in tv, with viewers starting to maneuver from cable to streaming subscriptions like then-burgeoning variations of Netflix and Hulu.
12 years later, Lost exists as a uncommon hybrid breed of compelling serial drama and so-called “mystery-box,” a phrase generally used pejoratively to explain the way in which JJ Abrams and his writing disciples, like Lost’s showrunners, have a penchant for throwing a bunch of unanswered questions on the viewers, generally earlier than the writers know the solutions themselves. The Lost writers’ messy however lovable dealing with of this side of the present helped popularize the web theory-crafting fandom that right now might be discovered behind principally any in style mystery-box present. As the web and social media had been going mainstream within the mid-aughts, individuals took their water cooler speak out of their respective workplaces and onto boards equivalent to podcasts, Reddit, IMDb, or, on this particular case, Lostpedia.
In the years since Lost went off the air, many exhibits have been billed as its heir-apparent– Flashforward, Dark, Stranger Things, The Event, Castle Rock, The Leftovers, et al. Most not too long ago, Yellowjackets shares the identical catalyzing occasion of a airplane crash leaving survivors stranded. There’s been no scarcity of makes an attempt, however solely now do I discover we lastly have the subsequent Lost in HBO’s Westworld. The sci-fi action-drama checks all of the bins of what made Lost particular, and most of all, that is as a result of it is type of a lovable mess.
To be the subsequent Lost, a sequence wants to satisfy just a few necessities. First and foremost, it must be a present that releases one episode at a time. The Netflix mannequin of dumping a whole season on the viewers’s lap is not conducive to forming the subsequent Lost. As the community or servive, you permit the viewers with no time to theory-craft. As quickly as a brand new season is out, many followers rush to the top, completely avoiding the favored boards the place the fandom dwells between episodes. Perhaps cynically, this format would not appear to be about giving followers an expertise to recollect. It simply provides them one thing to devour. Like beating a nasty online game or studying a awful e-book, generally the act of beginning one thing and attending to the top simply feels good. Netflix and others know this, however to be the subsequent Lost, that respiration house is crucial.
To be the subsequent Lost, a present additionally wants to hold its mystery-box within the fingers of compelling characters. Lost’s method was to dedicate every episode to a single character. We’d watch their newest happenings on the island they crash-landed on in 2004, however we would additionally flashback routinely to their lives earlier than the crash. This gave good perception into the huge ensemble solid of characters, and it is nonetheless odd that seemingly no present has lifted this method wholesale.
But Westworld has come fairly shut at instances, like when occasion one of many main reveals of its first season is that the characters William and The Man In Black (sound acquainted?) are one in the identical, and the occasions we noticed taking part in out for them throughout the season had been truly from two completely different durations of William’s life many years aside. Like Lost’s personal Man In Black and his brother Jacob, William’s arc touches on the darkish and lightweight duality of humankind.
In a approach, Lost’s centric episode format was given a season-long remedy for William. Through related time-jumps or perspective shifts, we have gotten to know Dolores, Bernard, Maeve, Charlotte, Caleb, and extra of Westworld’s ensemble simply as effectively, and since they too are so compelling, the mystery-box is ready to persist and thrive. A present would not want these time jumps to be the subsequent Lost, but it surely not less than wants an extended record of nice characters, and Westworld definitely has that.
While the mystery-box must be held up by a weekly format and compelling characters–without the latter, a present could also be destined for cancelation–a good mystery-box sequence additionally thrives on one different issue: disarray. Lost, for all of its awards and plaudits, was routinely a multitude. What had been the whispers? Who actually was the smoke monster? Why can the island transfer throughout Earth? These and lots of, many different questions had been typically requested by writers who wished the followers to contemplate the solutions, however typically instances, when the present gave us definitive solutions, followers felt unfulfilled.
In one Season 6 instance, we realized that the smoke monster could not instantly kill “candidates,” a time period for potential protectors of the island, however three seasons earlier, we noticed the smoke monster demolish Mr. Eko immediately, and we all know from the present that Mr. Eko was, at one level anyway, a candidate. Was he now not a candidate when the smoke monster killed him? It’s cheap head-canon, however the present by no means actually defined it. I like a present that does not spoon-feed some issues, however at the same time as a Lost superfan I can level to half a dozen mysteries that got solutions that clearly do not mesh with some earlier occasions within the sequence.
Westworld has an identical drawback, however thoughts you, I would not say both present “suffers” from being messy. What does it take to kill a bunch? What actually is the Sublime? Why does Maeve have her rising, nearly supernatural, skills and nobody else does? Perhaps the writers plan to reply these questions in due time. Through three seasons after which some, nonetheless, the interior logic is not at all times constant. Some hosts die once they’re fatally shot, others do not. We jumped forward seemingly a few years to see William being changed by host copies of himself, however how lengthy sooner or later, and what’s it matter anyway? Sometimes a mystery-box sequence can get so caught up within the puzzles, it forgets to plot out the options.
Like Lost, it is cheap to want–and even expect–answers to each query propositioned by the writers. But sequence are not often plotted out in full forward of time. Even an all-timer like Breaking Bad was largely made up because it went along–pretty exceptional when you think about how tightly all of it comes collectively. But that is a present about common individuals. Lost is part-sci-fi. Westworld is all sci-fi. Keeping issues neat and solutions satisfying throughout half a decade or extra when a present’s lore bible is continually being re-written to incorporate stuff like time journey, robots, smoke monsters, and futuristic dystopias is just a harder activity as a result of writers aren’t current in our world, they’re constructing a brand new one.
This is particularly arduous whenever you’ve obtained legions of followers wanting over each inch of an episode for clues prefer it’s the Zapruder Film– a lesson the Westworld crew realized firsthand when followers on the subreddit precisely predicted just about the whole first season’s value of occasions after just a few episodes.
Such nerdy fervor for a present’s plot, themes, and characters hasn’t actually been seen since Lost, and it solely will get to exist now as a result of the present is aired one episode at a time, as a result of the characters are value attending to know, and since a messy thriller makes for a enjoyable fandom.
Westworld exists in a way more fragmented TV panorama, so it would not pull within the 10 million viewers that Lost as soon as did on ABC, however I’d estimate the areas the place the diehard followers hang around to craft theories primarily based on the newest still-frames of Dolores’ pc display screen are even higher populated than related areas had been in 2009 when Lost followers tried to determine who Jacob was. I hope Westworld will get to satisfy its pure finish, very like Lost did, as a result of with exhibits like these, I’m not compelled by merely ending one thing I’ve began. With exhibits like these, the messy and thrilling journey with like-minded followers will at all times outshine the vacation spot anyway.
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