Saturday, October 05, 2013

Television Script Review: LOST "Two for the Road" Season 2, Episode 20

Premise: Previously on Lost (the word epic is overused and misused... but this has to be one of the most epic lines in the history of television) we saw Ana Lucia commit a murder in a flashback. On the island, Michael left the camp, looking for Walt, and disappeared. At the end of the previous episode, Jack and Kate went out to the territorial line that they're not supposed to cross, to tell the Others that they have Benjamin Linus captive. The episode ends on a shocking revelation... they come across Michael, who stumbles out of the bushes.

Written by: Elizabeth Sarnoff & Christina M. Kim

The writers of this episode were nominated for the Writers Guild of America (WGA) Award for Best Episodic Drama at the February 2007 ceremony, for writing this episode.

Technical: 58 pages. Final Production Draft (April 3, 2006)

Lost is famous for its addictive quality. I have heard it compared to crack, numerous times.. Watching Lost for the first time was very, very addicting. But a while back, for whatever reason, I re-watched the entire third season. And the second time around... Lost was different. It wasn't as addicting, or thrilling, as I remembered it. There were moments that were still great to watch a second time, and it was still kind of enjoyable... but it was not like watching it for the first time. Maybe it was because I hadn't started from the beginning; the momentum has not been built. But I suspect another explanation.

It is curious, the comparison of Lost to crack. The comparison almost always has a positive connotation. But like crack, after the initial highs of Lost... it becomes less brilliant over time. After you've watched Lost once,  the largest revelations are already known. You know who lives, who dies. You know that at the end, there are almost no answers or explanations to anything, which, in a way, makes the entire experience meaningless. And even if some decent answers were included... it was the guessing, and the waiting, that was the most fun. Clearly, one of Lost's greatest assets is the cliffhangers, the mysteries, the twists, the suspense. That stuff... basically made the whole show. But once that is taken out of the equation (once you see it all once), there is little repeat value.

Other popular shows, like Breaking Bad, or Game of Thrones, might not have the severe level of addictiveness that Lost carries... but unlike Lost, those shows do have repeat value. They have so much more depth, and have so many more layers, and so much more complexity, that they have tremendous repeat value. Like so many other things in this day and age, Lost provided immediate, instant gratification... but was meant for one-time use, and pretty much fell apart after that, and became useless. When I think of Lost now, the word "disposable" comes to mind. You always hear about/see people, like, re-reading the Harry Potter books, or watching great films a dozen times. But I have never once heard someone talk about
 re-watching Lost. Perhaps because there isn't much of a reason to?

On to the script.

The writing is very articulate; clear, explicit, and potent.

But the writers, constantly, use the word "fucking" for emphasis. Is this lazy? Yes. Does this show a lack of creativity? Yes. Is this unprofessional? Yes. It is especially distracting, and does make me aware that I am reading a script.

Page 16:

I was on my way here, John, because
I was coming for you.


LOCKE! Get out here!

ON HENRY. Laid bare. Not a shred of the Lecter bullshit --
he’s as GENUINE as we’ve ever seen him.

ON LOCKE. Head SPINNING. Doesn’t know whether he’s being
fucked with or he’s just been given the meaning of LIFE.

The language... however juvenile it is... is effective. It definitely does provide emphasis, here. When I read Henry's shocking revelation, I did feel the "holy fucking shit". But there are two important points to consider.

One: Just because the language it is effective, is that necessarily a good thing? No. Just because the writing is effective, that does not make it good writing, or does not justify its usage. The Nazis were effective at killing Jews. But does that make it a good way to treat other human beings? Does their effectiveness justify their actions? No. There are many different ways to do one thing effectively. 

Point two. When Henry says his shocking line, I truly am shocked. But then... is the writer writing "HOLY. FUCKING. SHIT." not redundant?

If there is a shocking moment, the reader will recognize it. Or they won't, because the writer didn't clearly convey something. In this example, the script is written the way the show is produced. The reader/viewer is endlessly spoon fed. They don't have to think; they just have to absorb. Nothing is left open to interpretation.

At the end of all this, while I can't exactly say I am unimpressed, I can say with certainty that I am not moved. Despite the razor sharp writing... there is just nothing to it all, a second time. It wasn't very interesting, knowing what was going to happen. 

As for how the script relates to the show itself? Well, reading the script made me realize how neat and tidy it all is. Lost is nothing like reality. People don't talk this neatly, or act this neatly. Everything is too well written, too perfect. The subtext, the actions.

And it's as well-written... as phony can be.

Jack, Kate, Locke, Sawyer... these are all definitely characters... but do they seem like real people? Absolutely not. 

Lost is not based in the real world. It was produced by some well off, Caucasian, heterosexual, Western males, greedy for ratings. Racism, sexism, homophobia, mental illness, whatever, the issues of the world are never dealt with. The show has a very, very limited perspective. 

With the future of television and film making the slow but sure transition into gritty realism, Lost has, and is, dating very, very quickly. And that is no surprise, as the show is nothing special.

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