More than a decade ago, Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse closed the book Missing. The action television series, which blends elements of science fiction and light fantasy over the years, spanned six seasons on network television from 2004 to 2010. It survived after writer’s strike of 2007 and became one of the most popular network shows of its time. and ushered in a seismic shift in television, with viewers beginning to switch from cable subscriptions to online subscriptions just as the versions of Netflix and Hulu evolved then.
Twelve years later, Lost exists as a rare hybrid of a gripping TV series and a so-called “mystery box,” a word sometimes used to describe the way JJ Abrams and his disciples write. His writers, like the hosts of Lost, have a tendency to throw a bunch of unanswered questions at the audience, sometimes before the writer knows the answers himself. The Lost author’s messy but endearing treatment of this aspect of the show helped popularize the online theory-making fandom that today can be found behind any popular mystery box show. any. As the internet and social media were going mainstream in the middle of the think years, people were talking about their water coolers out of their respective offices and onto forums like podcasts. , Reddit, IMDb, or in this particular case, Lostpedia.
In the years since Lost aired, many shows have been seen as its obvious heirs – Flashceed, Dark, Stranger Things, The Event, Castle Rock, The Leftovers, etc. Most recently, Yellowjackets share the same a catalytic event of a plane crash that leaves survivors stranded. No shortage of efforts, but only now do I see we finally have a Lost in HBO sequel Westworld. The sci-fi action movie checks all the boxes for what makes Lost so special, and most of all, it’s because it’s such an adorable mess.
To be the next Lost, a series needs to meet several requirements. First and foremost, it has to be an episode-by-episode show. The Netflix model of pouring an entire season into the audience’s lap is not conducive to shaping the next Lost. As the network or the waiter, you leave the audience with no time to theorize. As soon as a new season ended, many fans rushed to end it, completely avoiding popular forums where fandom gathered between episodes. Perhaps logically, this format doesn’t seem to offer fans a memorable experience. It just gives them something to consume. Like beating a bad video game or reading a lousy book, sometimes the act of starting something and getting to the end just feels good. Netflix and others know this, but to be the next Lost, breathing space is crucial.
To be the next Lost, a show also needs to carry the mysterious box in the hands of compelling characters. Lost’s approach is to dedicate each episode to a single character. We’ll take a look at their latest developments on the island they landed on in 2004, but we also regularly relive their lives before the crash. This gave an insight into the massive cast of characters, and it’s odd that no show seems to advance this approach.
But Westworld has sometimes come quite close, such as when one of the first season’s major revelations was that the characters William and The Man In Black (sound familiar?) were alike, and the events we’re in. saw them play out over the course of the season were actually from two different periods in William’s life decades apart. Like Lost himself and his brother Jacob’s Man In Black, William’s arc touches on the dark and light duality of humanity.
In a way, Lost’s centered format gave William a season-long treat. Through time jumps or similar perspective shifts, we’ve come to know Dolores, Bernard, Maeve, Charlotte, Caleb and many more of the Westworld crew, and because they’re so intriguing, the mysterious box can survive and thrive. A show doesn’t need these time jumps to be the next Lost, but it does at least need a long list of great characters, and Westworld certainly has that.
While the mystery box needs to be organized in a weekly format and the characters are compelling – without the latter a show could be cancelled – a good mystery box series thrives on one element other: clutter. Losing all its accolades and accolades, often a mess. What are whispers? Who really is the smoke monster? Why is the island able to move around the Earth? These and more, much other questions are often asked by writers who want fans to consider the answers, but often when the show gives us definitive answers, fans feel unsatisfied.
In one Season 6 example, we learned that smoke monsters couldn’t directly kill “candidates,” a term for the island’s future defenders, but three seasons earlier, we had saw the smoke monster take down Mr. Eko instantly, and we learned from the show that Mr. Eko was, at some point, a candidate. Was he no longer a candidate when the smoke monster killed him? It’s a reasonable canon, but the show never actually explains it. I love a show that doesn’t feed certain things, but even as a Lost fan, I can point to half a dozen mysteries that have been given answers that clearly don’t coincide with some previous events in the series.
Westworld has a similar problem, but mind you, I wouldn’t say that either program “gets” messy. What does it take to kill a host? What is Sublime really? Why does Maeve have her emerging, almost supernatural abilities that no one else has? Perhaps the writer intends to answer these questions in due time. However, across three seasons and then several seasons, the internal logic hasn’t always been consistent. Some hosts die when fatally shot, others do not. We’ve jumped for seemingly years to see William replaced by his own master clones, but how long in the future, and does it matter? Sometimes a series about the mystery box can get so caught up in the puzzles that we forget to find the solution.
Like Lost, it makes sense to want – and even expect – answers to every question the writer raises. But series is rarely fully planned ahead of time. Even a timer like Breaking Bad is largely made up of as it happens – quite remarkable when you consider how tightly it all comes together. But it’s a show about ordinary people. Lost is a piece of science fiction. Westworld are all sci-fi movies. Keeping things tidy and satisfying answers for half a decade or more as a show’s lore bible is constantly being rewritten to include things like time travel, robots, smoke monsters, and chaos. imagining the future is simply a more difficult task because writers do not exist in our world, they are building a new world.
This is especially difficult when you have countless fans searching every inch of an episode for clues like it’s the Zapruder Movie – a lesson the Westworld crew learned live as fans on the subreddit. pretty much correctly predicted the entire first season’s worth of events after a few episodes.
Such fervent enthusiasm for a show’s plot, themes, and characters hasn’t really been seen since Disappearance, and it only exists now because the show airs episode by episode, because the characters deserve to be known and because of a messy mystery that makes for a fun fandom.
Westworld exists in a much more fragmented TV landscape, so it doesn’t attract 10 million viewers like Lost did on ABC, but I estimate the space where die-hard fans seek out Theory is based on the latest stills – Dolores’ computer screen frames were rendered even better than similar spaces in 2009 when Lost fans tried to figure out who Jacob was . I hope Westworld hits its natural end, like Lost did, because with shows like this, I’m not forced to simply finish something I started. . With shows like this, the messy and exciting journey with like-minded fans will always pass the destination anyway.
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