(Note to Lost fans: This is a spoiler-free post.)
My wife and I finally fired up the DVR last night to watch the season finale of Lost. Lost is about the only drama on network TV that actually engages me. In about season three, it began to drift, but then something unique happened: The network and the producers announced in 2007 that the series would end 48 episodes later, spread over three 16-episode seaons.
Knowing there is a definite “end” is an amazing thing. For works of fiction (as well as in business and real-life), it provides the focus necessary to stop padding the narrative with back stories and sub-texts. While I’m not personally familiar with how contracts work on network TV series, I assume that having and endpoint allows the creators the opportunity to lock down contracts with actors so that the story arc is not influenced by extraneous factors like side-gigs in movies and salary negotiations. Likewise, it provides the actors and other creative staff the opportunity to plan their next steps.
But having an endpoint that was three seasons and 48 episodes long has also provided the writers and directors enough creative flexibility to respond to things that “work” and those that don’t. Without getting too into the plot of Lost, it is clear the writers have discovered along the way that some characters and plot-points are more important to the story than they probably believed when the character or story line was introduced.
Such reaction likely led to a plot line where there is one character who is both alive and dead, and another who exists at the same age — 30 years apart.
So yes, I’m extremely happy with Lost on several levels: It’s over in 16 episodes. That means everything counts. Every string must be tied up. Every question answered. But the gap between this season’s end and those 16 episodes means there will be millions of words written by fans of the show, exploring every character and every scene from every episode.
But for me, the greatest thing it means is that Lost fans will have the next nine months to discuss the work of one of my favorite authors, Flannery O’Connor. That’s because during the season-ending finale, a heretofore never seen mystery god-like character is finally revealed and in one scene, he is sitting on a bus bench reading a collection of O’Connor short stories called, Everything That Rises Must Converge.
I don’t know if Jacob will do for theological-influenced southern gothic what Don Draper did for 1950s beat poetry, but I enjoy seeing TV writers do product placement for challenging literature — even if it’s only because the book has a title that describes nicely what Lost must do in the next 16 episodes.
Everything that Rises Must Converge, Google Books page.
“Everything That Rises Must Converge,” text of the short story. (Note: this link may not last long.)
Flannery O’Connor, Wikipedia entry.
Bloggers discussing “Everything that Rises Must Converge” (via Google Blog Search)
LostPedia The fan-managed Lost wiki<
Sidenote: If anyone reading this is a student at Belmont University or knows a student at Belmont University, the English professor Susan Tully has got to be the most enlightening and entertaining interpreter of Flannery O’Connor I have ever known — or hope to know. When I saw the episode of Lost last night, all I could think was, “I sure hope Sue Tully is a Lost fan so she can explain this to me.”