Thoughts on the Breaking Bad Finale

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(Note: This post will contain spoilers.)

Immediately following the conclusion of the Breaking Bad series finale, I texted a friend of mine (the same friend I called when I thought my cable went out at the Sopranos series finale). I asked my friend a simple, three word question.

“Greatest finale ever?”

The answer, of course, is that a question like that can’t be answered immediately after the fact. The episode must be given time to settle. The initial reaction must subside to make way for the nitpicking to begin. Then, after the last nit has been picked, the true value of the finale (and sometimes the series as a whole) begins to shine through. The whole process usually takes about a week. After the Sopranos, I was viscerally angry for about two days. I couldn’t understand why David Chase decided to end his show in such a jarring way. I felt that I had been promised something that had not been delivered. That was the initial reaction. The nitpicking process, it would turn out, revealed the brilliance of Chase’s work. Was the ending befitting of the series as a whole? Probably not. I think that’s why people are still so angry about it. Was it a bad episode? No.

As it turns out, the first question is more important than the second. A finale must first suit the show it completes. Everything else, including whether or not the episode itself stands alone as great television, is secondary. It can be a fine line, and some shows will fail to stand on the right side of it.

It’s been three days since Breaking Bad ended. The initial reaction has washed away. The nitpicking, in some corners of the internet, has already begun. The general consensus among television writers seems to be that the finale was satisfactorily fitting of its series, but that it wasn’t a particularly great ending. And I probably agree with that. The episode will not be transcendent, nor did it lift up Breaking Bad to any heights it had not already reached. Breaking Bad was a top two or three show of all time before the finale, and by the time Walt lay there, dead, as Bad Finger’s “Baby Blue” played us out to the credits (with the lyric “I guess I got what i deserved,” no less) nothing had changed. Breaking Bad will always be on the pantheon of the greatest television series of all time.

But there were some nits.

In a way, the flaw with Breaking Bad’s finale is that the story wasn’t resolved in its contained episode. Rather, the final three episodes (“Ozymandias,” “Granite State,” and “Felina”) were the series’ denouement in three acts. Had AMC decided to air the final three episodes as one, three-hour event, it may very well have been the greatest anything in the history of ever. “Felina” wasn’t so much a resolution of the series as it was the resolution of the resolution of the series.

While we’re examining the dental records of the horse Vince Gilligan so generously gifted us, we were denied some of the catharsis we had been seeking ever since the point in the series where it became clear that Walt probably wouldn’t survive to the closing credits of the finale. I’m speaking, mainly, about the conversation between Walt and Jesse, the one where everything got laid out on the table. It never happened. So much time had been spent with these two characters tolerating, liking, and eventually hating each other, that a simple nod between ex-partners seems like it wasn’t the proper send off to that relationship. It seemed as though, in its final season, the relationship between Walt and Skyler replaced the one between Walt and Jesse as the most important of the series.

In fact, Jesse’s entire final season seemed all too brief. The little time we did get with Jesse was spent with him in a catatonic state that he only really snapped out of for about an episode (when he realized that Walt poisoned Brock). I wouldn’t go so far as to say Jesse seemed like an afterthought to this season, but he certainly felt like a nuisance the writers had to keep paying attention to.

There were other problems (Why would anyone leave the keys to their unlocked car behind the visor? Did Walt memorize Badger and Skinny Pete’s phone numbers? How did Walt get the ricin in Lydia’s stevia packet? How did Walt know where Lydia would sit in the cafe (It was a table she’d never sat at before in the show)? Would Uncle Jack really take the time to trot Jesse out in front of Walt, when the whole point all along was to kill Walt in the next minute anyway? Why do Elliott and Gretchen still live in New Mexico? Does the DEA just not stake out the rear entrances of houses?) but to flesh them out seems petty, especially when the amount of chance and luck involved in making Walt’s plan work was pretty much in line with every other master plan Walt’s ever needed to work throughout the duration of the series.

This isn’t all to say that “Felina” wasn’t a great episode of television. It was. The conversation between Walt and Skyler, when Walt finally admits to her, and to himself (not to mention all the Walt-ophiles who supported his every action because “he was doing it for his family”) that he did everything for himself, because he liked it, and because it made him feel alive was, for me, the crowning moment of the final episode, and maybe the entire series. I’ve read some critics say that Walt’s sudden self-awareness didn’t feel earned, but I think he’s known all along who he built his empire for. Notice, it was only when he was afraid he might die of cancer that he ever invoked his family. When he was no longer afraid of his fate, the shroud of his greatest lie fell away.

So, “Greatest finale ever?” No.

As far as finales go, “Felina” was satisfying, well-made, brilliantly acted, and in line with the rest of the series. And that’s good enough. Vince Gilligan didn’t abandon the qualities of the show that made it worthy of following to the end in the first place, which can’t be said for all series finales. The final eight episodes of the series are quite possibly the best eight episode run by any series in the history of television, and “Felina” did nothing to bring that run down. I have the sneaking suspicion, however, that four or five years from now, we’ll remember flashes of this finale – Walt’s “I did it for me” speech, the Rube Goldbergian M60 making Swiss cheese of Jack and his merry band of Nazis – and little else.

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Film Review: Contagion

As an appreciator of zombie films, I can tell you that their horror rarely resides in the zombies themselves.  Usually, it is not the zombies that are the villains, but people.  That’s what makes zombie films so scary – they shed light on just how fragile civility – and to a greater extent humanity – is.  Husbands will leave their wives to die, mothers will smother their children in a twisted attempt to spare them, best friends will kill each other in the streets over the last shotgun when society is introduced with a destructive element such as the undead.

In many ways, Contagion, the new film from director Steven Soderbergh, is a zombie film in its purest form.  The story is a mosaic centering around a few disconnected protagonists all dealing with the same villain, a new form of super-virus for which there is no vaccine.  What starts off as a few isolated cases turns into global pandemic too quickly for the world to withstand it, and the very fabric of society – civility, communication, even physical contact – falls apart.  The only thing separating this movie from Dawn of the Dead, really, are zombies.

The film supposes what all zombie/monster films suppose, that in the wake of impending doom, mankind will turn to the animalistic, survivalist aspects of its nature.  In short, when the choice is dignity or death, dignity goes right out the window.  It’s not the “what if?” of societal meltdown that scares us, it’s that it reminds us of the times it’s actually happened in the real world.  Remember Hurricane Katrina?  How quickly did the narrative shift from people trapped on their rooftops to looters in the streets?  How many horrible (perhaps apocryphal) stories of murder, rape, and general mistreatment of other human beings leaked out in the days and weeks following the flooding?

This year marks the tenth anniversary of the attacks on September 11.  While the media would have us remember the nation coming together under one flag like the old Mighty Ducks and the new Mighty Ducks at halftime against Iceland and uniting to pick ourselves back up and rebuild our way of life, I won’t ever allow myself to forget the racism that befell every person of Middle Eastern or South Asian descent, let alone the positively abhorrent discrimination against everything Muslim.  Society, in an attempt to defend itself, became uglier and less human than it had been previously.  Japanese internment, slavery, the genocide of…really any genocide will suffice.  Contagion reminds us all too well of the atrocities we are all too capable of committing against each other.

Aside from being a classic zombie/Cold-war era monster movie, Contagion is also the third of the Steven Soderbergh mosaics about one overriding topic.  The first of the unofficial trilogy was Traffic, a film that served as a meditation on the holes and hypocrisies in the American “War on Drugs.”  Next, Soderbergh executive produced Syriana, written and directed by Stephen Gaghan (who also wrote Traffic).  Syriana takes a look at the oil industry in much the same style that Traffic examined the drug industry.  Contagion is a meditation on the fragility of civilization, and an essay on the bureaucratic, opportunistic, often racist, and inherently flawed system(s) we have in place to fight global pandemics.

There are few directors as in control of their film-making faculties as Steven Soderbergh.   His technical brilliance, aligned with his always pitch-perfect aesthetic give his films a sort of binding signature.  That being said, there are three Soderberghs.  The first Soderbergh is the original.  It’s the “shoe-string-budget-and-it-feels-like-it” Soderbergh.  Think Sex, Lies, and Videotape or Bubble.  Soderbergh tends to become more invisible in these films and allow the performances to carry the show.  The second Soderbergh is super-stylized and profoundly cool (Ocean’s 11, Out of Sight).  In this case, Soderbergh, by way of his cinematography, edits, and score, is as much a character in the film as the actual characters in the film.  The third Soderbergh, and my personal favorite, is the perfect blend of the two others.  Like the first Soberbergh, the third allows actors to fully realize their characters by way of improvisation or by simply letting the performances breathe in longer shots.  But like the second, there is also more visible editing at hand, as well as a strong score.  The third Soderbergh’s aesthetic is all his own, however, and often the scenes will end with wide shots to allow the heavy dialogue, the scope of the story, and the viewer some relief before delving into the next intense scene.  This Soderbergh is the one who made Erin Brockovich, Traffic, Che, and, alas, Contagion.  Soderbergh is so on top of his game here that every instance of human contact between two people, every handshake, every surface touched, every pat on the back, is as ominous as any blood-riddled, “made you jump” moment from a run-of-the-mill horror film.

The performances in Contagion succeed such that the characters all seem to be from the same universe experiencing the same events, albeit from totally different vantage points.  There is no over-the-top military guy whose priorities are predictably out of whack.  Nor is the everyman character a living saint who won’t give up on the sick around him at the expense of his own life.  Everyone seems real.  Laurence Fishburne seems more normal than I can ever remember him.  Usually he’s some sort of all-wise mentor or some hyper-realized stereotype of black men in America.  In this film, Fishburne is a doctor at the Center for Disease Control.  A lesser script would have made him the authority on viruses with the answer for every question, but that’s where Contagion differs.  He doesn’t know everything because people don’t know everything.  He isn’t driven by hubris or vanity as so many doctors are in films, but by the desire to do his job, nothing more.  The realistic palate of his character is typical with the rest of the characters in the film.

All in all, Contagion is a great movie that will unfortunately suffer two fatal flaws.  The first is that a movie is only as memorable as its villain, and technically the “villain” in this film is a virus that can’t be seen by the naked eye.  The second, and I actually prefer the flaw, is that the people (Read: the stupid, stupid masses) generally want the predictable plot with the over-the-top military guy (Dumb.) and the know-it-all doctor (Dumber.) and the saintly everyman (Ridiculous.) and maybe even let’s throw in a shot where the virus actually physically first infects the person at the microscopic level (Stupid.) and while we’re at it (Oh no.), why doesn’t this disease just turn its victims into zombies (Please stop.), or better yet, vampires (AHHHHHHH!!!), yeah (No.), ’cause vampires are in this year. (They’re not still in!)  When you market a film as an action film, and the best way I can think to describe is a meditation on blah blah blah, you’ve marketed the wrong product to the audience, and the film will fail to live up to (or down to) expectations.

Final verdict: If you’re looking at the showtimes and can’t decide if you want to see Contagion or Bucky Larson, just go see Bucky Larson.  If you enjoy masterful directing, great acting, and thought-provoking socio/political drama, Contagion is right up your alley.

Breaking Up With Entourage

This summer marks the 8th and final season of HBO’s Entourage.  As a bro, I’m sad to the show go.  As a tv enthusiast, I’m sad the show never really arrived.

I got in to Entourage as it was about to enter its second season.  Having heard good things, I watched the entire first season in a day thanks to an HBO marathon.  I was hooked.  Here you had a show about four dudes hanging out, being bros.  No petty who-slept-with-whose-boyfriend drama. (I’m so glad Laguna Beach and The Hills are over.  It taught a nation of girls on the cusp of becoming women how to turn every empty relationship in their lives into a soap opera.) No real conflict driving the season.  Watching Entourage was like having a fantasy football draft every Sunday night.  A bunch of bro-bonding in the form of hanging out, partying, and making fun of each other.  It was a fantasy-fulfillment show for dudes, our Sex and the City.  On top of it all, the show was also taking a satirical look at the chaotic, morally bankrupt, superficial lifestyle of Hollywood players.  I was a 22 year old film student when I started watching Entourage.  It felt like the show was literally made for me.

Season 2 didn’t disappoint.  The boys came back, weak characters were replaced with stronger ones (Most notably Lloyd, Ari’s assistant/whipping boy.)  and they even  peppered in a Mandy Moore love story and the real goal of Vince finally becoming the Will Smith-level movie star by trying to land the title role in James Cameron’s Aquaman. (Even this major plot point is a sarcastic nod to the superhero movie craze Hollywood had just begun to experience.  They turned DC’s lamest superhero into the largest grossing movie of all time.)  In fact, the penultimate episode of the second season, titled Sorry, Ari, may be the series’ best.  The show reached new heights and an immense level of popularity, quickly giving it a premature importance that it promised to pay off by the end of its run, like some sort of pop-culture status payday loan.

But, as with payday loans, the show’s demise was too much interest.  Raising the status of Entourage to the level of even slightly-better-than-average shows like Sex and the City was expecting too much of it.  The show is a glorified cartoon, with characters who don’t grow, are never really in any turmoil, and who have no truly powerful enemies.  Most of these issues stem from the fact that, like their committment-phobic characters, the creative powers in charge of Entourage never made a real commitment to the show.  It became difficult to invest in the characters when the creators and writers weren’t invested themselves.  I’ll elaborate.

Ari had a son in one episode in the first season who was subsequently not mentioned again.  Now, it is perfectly fair game to dismiss the details given by any show in its first couple of episodes.  That’s the time when the show is still finding its footing, and most anything can be changed.  What’s jarring about the disappearance of Ari’s son is that he wasn’t mentioned again…until he  suddenly reappeared in approximately season 6.  We’re given endless scenarios of Ari at home, we see his daughter and even have some subplots with her as the star, but we never see his son for 5 years?  Strange, but ultimately forgivable I suppose.  Less forgivable was the relationship between Johnny and Vince.  Johnny and Vince Chase are established as half-brothers in season one.  In season two, it’s further layered in that Vince and Johnny share a father but have different mothers.  (In the episode where Johnny wants calf implants, he refers to Vince as having his mother’s legs, while he “got dad’s.” They share a father and have separate mothers.) In season 3, to fit the plotline of exactly one episode, the relationship is changed and Johnny and Vince share a mother.  I have two half-brothers.  We share a father.  I understood that dynamic and identified with it.  To turn it on its head such that these two brothers were now raised in the same home by the same mother changes their dynamic, and doing so in season 3 shows a laziness with details that better shows never seem to fall prey to.  There are countless other instances, which, to be fair, get a little nit-picky.  Ari mentions his dead mother in one episode and mentions meeting his mother for dinner in a later episode, stuff like that.  The list goes on.  A tighter show, like L O S T or The Sopranos or Arrested Development wouldn’t have this problem.

Season one established the characters and gave us the beginnings of Eric (The show’s main character.  No, it’s not Vince.) transforming from an ex-Sbarro’s manager to a true Hollywood player.  Season 2 gave us the series’ three best plotlines: Vince’s pursuit of Aquaman, Ari’s all-out war with Terrence, and the Mandy Moore saga.  Everything after that has been the equivalent of running in place.  Feigned character growth just the smokescreen of constantly moving the group from one mansion to another luxurious penthouse to another mansion. (Seriously.  These guys move about twice a season.)  Ari became so ridiculous that he’s now just a caricature of his original self, which was actually just a caricature of real-life super-agent Ari Emmanuel. (Yes, he’s Rahm’s brother.)  Vince and Eric, whose best-bro relationship is supposed to be the emotional center of the show, barely speak to each other.  For a few years, every episode followed the formula of Ari having some news for the guys which forced the guys to break off into pairs. (They always break up in the same pairs: Eric and Vince, and Turtle and Drama.  Eric and Drama have never shared a subplot together alone.)

I wish I could compare Entourage to Shaquille O’Neal, a great player who could have been the best but wasn’t as commited to getting better at basketball as he was making movies wherein he plays a genie.  Unfortunately, even that comparison gives Entourage too much credit.  For that comparison to have been apt, Entourage would have needed more seasons like season two.  Instead, Entourage compares more the NBA player who was great for a span of time much shorter than the rest of his career. (Jalen Rose and Tim Thomas come to mind most immediately)  Fans, writers, teammates and coaches waited desperately for those players to reach the potential they flashed once, only to be disappointed more often than not.  That’s Entourage.

All in all, Entourage was the bro you knew in high school or college who you were sure was going to make it in the world on his charisma alone, but who now works part-time at a car wash.  It’s the guy you know who peaked in his senior year, who was prom king and the star quarterback and never mind that he wasn’t the best student or all that deep.  Entourage is just like every meathead bro you know.  Fun to hang out with, but ultimately empty inside.

Don’t Stop [Cut to Black]: A Defense of the Ambiguous Ending

On June 10, 2007, Tony Soprano died (probably).  At least, that’s my interpretation of the series-ending moments and sudden cut to black before the credits.  The fact of the matter is, the ending was received and interpreted in a variety of ways.  Perhaps the show ended just as Tony’s daughter,  Meadow, entered the restaurant, signifying the moment we had been waiting for since the premiere, wherein Tony’s family finally comes back to him (like the ducks).  Maybe it was just David Chase messing with us. (The least likely explanation.  Why would the man want the memory of his legacy-defining creation to be that the final moment was an “eff-you” to the audience?)  In any event, if you watched Sopranos enough to “like” it on facebook, you no doubt were forced to decide once and for all how you felt about the show in its dénouement.

It seems that more and more stories, whether they be books, films, or television series, have opted for the ambiguous ending.  In some cases, this ambiguous ending is the cynical route.  (If we never show the protagonist dying, it leaves us open for a sequel!)  In others, this is the effect of misguided narratives running on concepts or characters not strong enough to carry through to any satisfying ending, like those Saturday Night Live sketches about the weird lady who works the register at Target.  There are the afforementioned Sopranos-esque ambiguous endings, wherein the author has given you everything you need to understand the events that transpire short of just showing you the event transpiring.  Finally, there are the endings that only seem ambiguous because the action hasn’t ended even though the story has. (Memento, Inception, No Country For Old Men) Anyone who’s taken an English class in the past 20 years has heard someone say “I think it’s left open for interpretation”, which may be true in about 5% of all written works, but has now become a crutch (Read: cop out) for people who don’t want to do the heavy lifting of thinking critically about the material.

There is overwhelming evidence that suggests Tony Soprano met his demise in the final moment of The Sopranos (The Man in the Members Only jacket suspiciously walking into the restroom ala Michael Corleone, Tony being startled twice from behind in the final episode as a foreshadowing to his vulnerability to an attack from behind him, Tony remembering his conversation with Bobby about how you probably don’t even hear it coming when you get shot, the list goes on), yet people still needed to see Tony’s bloody corpse to believe this was the case.  In fact, this is the only support to the “Tony isn’t dead” theory.  This is entirely valid and understandable, but not seeing Tony’s death doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. (Was that a triple negative? You’re damn right it was.)  The fact is, David Chase had a definitive ending in mind when he wrote and directed the final episode, and he supports it with mounds of hints and clues along the way.  That the clues weren’t clear enough is a fair criticism.  That the ending is open to interpretation is not.  (Of course, this can quickly turn into the cynical type of ambiguous ending should David Chase ever decide to write a Sopranos movie.  This is all based solely on the idea that the cut to black is the final moment in the Sopranos canon.)

More interesting are the endings that seem ambiguous because the action hasn’t stopped even though the story has.  The best case of this type of ending in recent years is the film Inception.  The film’s final moment shows Cobb, Leo DiCaprio’s character, spinning his top hoping it will stop spinning and he’ll know his dream of seeing his children again is at last a reality.  When he hears his children’s voices, he steps away from the spinning top and goes to them.  The camera stays on the top as it continues spinning, starts wavering, and, just when it’s about to fall (or about to keep spinning longer than would be naturally allowed by the laws of physics) the film ends.  In this case, there is no definitive clue one way or the other letting us know what’s real and what isn’t.  You could defend your argument equally well whether you believed the whole movie was a dream, only the second half of the movie was a dream, or everything was real or dream as the characters told us it was.  In fact, I’d encourage you to watch the film three separate times with either of these beliefs in mind.  You’d find that the film is grey enough to support all arguments.  Then why doesn’t that count as a cop out?  Because figuring out whether or not the film is all a dream sequence isn’t the point of the film.  When Cobb abandons the spinning top to be with his kids, the story is over.  Cobb’s arc has come around from a man who was very strict with the rules of dream invasions so as to always keep his grip on reality, to a man who didn’t care if he was dreaming anymore, so long as he was happy (with his children).  Story over, the end.  Interpretation of the setting of the final scene is left to you, but you cannot argue the meaning of it.

No Country For Old Men, both the book and the film, also seems to end on strange terms.  The climactic shootout between Josh Brolin and Javier Bardem’s characters, one that the whole film had been leading up to, happens off screen.  Bummer.  After that, the movie sort of dwells on Tommy Lee Jones’ character, scoping out the crime scene, being too afraid to enter the hotel room, and retiring.  The final moments of the film show the him recounting two dreams he’d had the night before.  Both dreams involve his (deceased) father in some capacity, and one of them is about he and his father traveling by horse on a mountain trail, his father pushing ahead of him to set up camp and wait for him there.  Of the three or four major themes running throughout No Country For Old Men is the idea that “you can’t stop what’s coming (death).”  The sheriff’s dreams reflect just that.  The sheriff knows he’s getting older and, in an attempt to stop what’s coming, he’s retired from the force.  He won’t die for a world he no longer understands.  That we never see what happens to the villain is irrelevant.  The sheriff’s story is done.

The very point of art is that the artist has something he has to say to the world.  What are the odds anyone’s message would be “What do you think I have to say?”  We live in a “let’s give all the kids a trophy” age of self-esteem over actual accomplishment.  Everyone’s so afraid of hurting a kid’s feelings that we won’t tell them they’re not thinking critically enough.  This has led to my generation and those after me to feel every work of art has been left open for his or her interpretation, that there is no wrong answer.  Bullshit.

There Won’t Be Another L O S T (until the next one)

I miss Jack.  I miss Sawyer and Hurley, Desmond and Ben.  I miss Locke.  I don’t miss Kate.  I miss the Numbers and the polar bear and the Smoke Monster.  I miss the mythology of L O S T as much as I miss the characters.  Every time I start moving on from losing one of the greatest network shows ever, I get reminded of its greatness by all of the terrible, cynical imitations the networks throw at us every 4 to 8 months.  Persons Unknown. The Event.  Flash Forward.  Heroes. (Yes, Heroes counts.  It debuted the season after L O S T.)  These (and I’m sure other, more forgettable) programs have taught me what made L O S T work. (Hint: it has nothing to do with the statue having four toes.)

Television, like the NFL, is a copy cat league.  If one show about vampires gets its 15 minutes of fame (or an NFL team wins 16 games based on a new offensive idea), guess what you can expect the networks to trot out next season. (True Blood begot Vampire Diaries, the much less successful The Gates, and is at least partially responsible for Mtv’s “why does this even share the same name with…?” Teen Wolf.)  This fall, NBC’s got a show set in the sixties about the Playboy Club, while ABC’s got one set in the sixties about Pan Am (which is cleverly titled, wait for it, Pan Am).  I’m sure this coincidence has nothing to do with the critical acclaim of a little indie program you may have heard of called Mad Men, a show in which the sixties is as much a theme as it is a character as central to the story as Don Draper himself.

But is it the very act of copying another show’s formula that makes the replica worse?  The answer is a resounding “yes and no.”  If the creators of Pan Am sat in a room and said, “Mad Men‘s set in the sixties.  We need a show set in the sixties.”, that show is doomed before it even started.  That only serves to copy the show’s “hook” rather than the show’s essence.  A good hook in and of itself isn’t enough to sustain a full 23 episode season.  Mad Men is set in the sixties, but that’s not why it’s good.  Likewise, mystery and mythology is not what set L O S T apart from the rest.

Benjamin Linus is one of the most dastardly, sinister villains in the history of television… and by the end of the show’s run, we pitied him (even liked him).  He ranks among the most complex characters ever.  John Locke has one of the most fascinating character arcs ever presented on network tv. (From wheelchair-bound toy store employee to evil yet sympathetic demigod. True story.)  Even the vanilla-by-comparison Jack dealt with his own demons (substance abuse, undead father walking around on the island).  L O S T was more than numbers and hatches.  It was about characters.  Somehow, the fine folks at ABC and NBC (And from what I hear about The Killing, AMC) overlooked characters and character development when creating their knock-off versions of it.

In Persons Unknown, the characters literally spell out which cardboard archetypes they each fulfill. (This is not an exact quote, but the dialogue was literally along the lines of: “What do I know?  I’m just a bratty socialite.”)  By the third episode (once I’d realized there would be no attempt to flesh out these characters), I no longer cared.  At that point, the only thing driving the story were the seemingly unanswerable mysteries.  I’ll admit, I watched another three episodes based solely on trying to figure out the big pay off.  But without characters and relationships that I could buy into and invest in, the contrived, sometimes (Read: every time) ridiculous twists and turns held no weight.  L O S T was about a bunch of castaways on a ever-moving, all-healing, wired for time-travel island.  One time an atomic bomb exploded on it.  These are ridiculous plot points and concepts, but they were just the scenery on the ride.  It was always the characters and relationships that were driving L O S T.

Trying to synthesize the next L O S T in a lab is a pointless endeavor.   After all, by the logic of network execs, wouldn’t L O S T itself have to come from some other idea?  The show was an original, which is why whatever takes its place will be nothing like it.  The next L O S T will most likely not be set on an island. It probably will not be centered around a rag-tag group of flawed saints and sympathetic miscreants thrust together in a cryptic, dire situation. (I’m talking to you, The Walking Dead.)  Trying to figure out the mystery at hand will not be the driving force of every moment of every 42-minute (when you take out commercials) episode, even at the expense of developing relatable (likable) characters. (Cough cough, Flash Forward.  Excuse me.  Something in my throat.)

The next L O S T is going to be from somewhere we never saw coming, just like the Original.