Today’s Pet Peeve: LOST

lost season 5 cast pic

Showrunners need to stop using the tired “[insert number of hours/days here] earlier” trope because it’s the television equivalent of having the end of the book spoiled for you at the exact moment you were about to sit down and crack it open. Take last night’s installment of LOST for example. All of the excitement one felt upon learning that Jack, Hurley and Kate had finally made it back to the island (after a long 21 months away) immediately dissipated upon learning that in reality, we’d have to wait until next week’s episode to find out what happens next! I mean really people, and by ‘people’ I’m of course referring to the mighty television showrunners we all hold in such high esteem. It was clever and original on ALIAS, almost a decade later, not so much.

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  • MikeV

    I have to respectfully disagree with this post. Lost is by far the best show on television and I feel it has done no wrong this year.

  • MikeV,

    Don’t get me wrong. It was a really interesting episode, which brought up as usual, a ridiculous amount of questions (Where’s Aaron? What happened to Ben? Why did Lock kill himself? Why did Hurley change his mind? Was Sayid detained by the FBI and Why? to name a few). I’m just tired of the overused TV trope!

  • I agree! It is my least favorite story device ever. I really can’t stand starting from the end. I wish they would stop doing it.

  • TVFan

    Totally with you TVA even though last night’s episode rocked. Especially Frank Lapidus’ line delivery, “We are not going to Guam are we??” Quote of the Week for sure!

  • I wasn’t exactly bothered by the use of the “## hours earlier” device, but I was conscious of the fact that it wasn’t exactly necessary. I think it is now a part of the show’s new format. Seasons 1 – 3 used flashbacks, season 4 switched between flashbacks and flashforwards (one time both in the same episode), and season 5 uses time jumps for the island folks and a past or future prelude for the Oceanic 6.

    If a show, no matter how good it was, used the “## hours earlier” device a little too often it was The West Wing. Sometimes it worked perfectly; sometimes it seemed like an excuse to make the filmed content of an episode shorter by showing part of it twice.

    I totally predicted that Frank Lapidus would be the pilot about 10 or 15 minutes before it was revealed.

    A few questions to add to MikeV’s list: How will Aaron’s absence affect the “mission”? What is in Hurley’s guitar case? Does Hurley have a guitar case because he was visited by the “ghost” of Charlie? What has everyone so spooked (they’re acting like they were scared into getting on the plane or that they’re scared of Jack or both)? Did Locke truly kill himself (I hope not; I’m getting tired of suicide stories in recent movies & TV episodes)? Will going back to the island “revive” Locke? How did Jin & Faraday manage to sneak into the Dharma initiative in the past?

    As far as everyone being spooked… I’m wondering if the other four of Oceanic 6 were visited by island “ghosts.” Or, maybe just one. Maybe Christian communicated with them somehow, revealing that he’s Jack’s father, and that’s why everyone looks at Jack so funny.

    One thing that impresses me so much about this season is that no show and not many movies have ever used time travel (in addition to flashbacks & flashforwards) as much as this show, yet the excessive time jumps in season five have made total sense and have actually helped to *clarify* things rather than muddle them up. When’s the last time that time travel ever did that to a story?

  • Nick

    I’m with MikeV: As I’ve said since Season One and never wavered, LOST is the best show in television history. Period, and end of discussion. πŸ™‚ It can do no wrong, and I don’t care how the producers choose to tell the story, as long as they’re tellin’ it.

    Faraday’s mother is one of the most intriguing characters ever on the show. I certainly hope we’ll be seeing much more of her.

  • Linda B.

    Funny you mentioned Alias. Whenever i see one of those ### hours earlier things, I ALWAYS think back to Alias. I guess that’s one of the first shows I noticed doing that trick alot.

    Also, good theories on the possible ‘ghosts’ showing up to people. I wonder if Sayid is in custody to recreate Kate originally being in custody?

    I have an early submission for Quote of the Week:

    – Jack “How can you read?”
    – Ben “My mother taught me.”

    But, Ben’s mom died at childbirth, so this was a lie. Or was it???

  • Mario

    I remember the first time they used this on Alias. It was Phase 2 in season 2, the episode where they took SD6 down… i gave a standing ovation to my TV set at the end of that episode. and i respectfully disagree, that TV device of [..] hours earlier still keeps me at the edge of my seat…

  • Hil

    Yesterday’s episode and next weeks episode are aired out of order. So if there is any extra confusion as to what happened it could be because the networked flip-flopped them in their schedule.

  • Hil

    >But, Ben’s mom died at childbirth, so this was a lie. Or was it???

    Ghost!Mom could have taught him or he could have just wanted to be an ass to Jack right then. Sometimes it is hard to resist a setup like that. My personal favorite – “Why is it dark in here.” “The lights aren’t on.”

  • MikeV

    As far as how the “device” was used last night, I really enjoyed it. It got me thinking:
    1. Are they really back on the island?
    2. Why is Hurley there?
    3. Why is Kate there?
    4. How did they get back since there is no apparent plane wreckage?

    All of this within the first 5 minutes. If they would have started the ep with the meeting with Faraday’s mom, I wouldn’t have been thinking any of that.

    If the “device” is that bothersome, I’m pretty sure “According to Jim” would never use it πŸ™‚

  • Forrester

    Agreed re: the XXX hours earlier pet peeve!!! I can’t stand it. It usually signifies an episode with a really weak plot that had to be punched up with some gimmicky backwards storytelling.

    Then again, this was almost the most boring Jack episode ever. If we didn’t see that the O6 got to the island this week, I bet a lot of people would have changed the channel halfway through.

  • Vanessa

    Hil: You indicated that the episodes for this week and next were aired out of order, which is true. However, according the Damon and Carlton on the Official Lost podcast, it was their decision as showrunners to change the order of the episodes. They said that airing this episode first actually made more sense. Just thought I would throw that out there!

  • Hil

    Ah. I heard it was the network wanting the episode that was the “better cliffhanger” play next week as we are going on a week’s hiatus after that. Either way, I am thinking that the way we received information last night was still out of order from how it was originally written to air. No matter who authorized what after the fact. Some of the stuff that didn’t have as much impact to me as it seemed to warrant (Jack’s note in particular) might have stood out more if we had gotten Locke’s episode first.

  • Linda B.

    Now see i found it rather shocking for Jack to learn that Locke hung himself. I don’t think i would’ve felt the same way knowing about it before hand. I’m glad they aired the episodes in this order. Although after seeing next week’s I guess i could change my mind.

  • bws

    Swapping the episodes won’t matter since (I believe) they are both stand alone episodes, ie pretty much one linear story. And like Vanessa said, it was Darlton’s choice. They also said they were essentially written concurrently which happened only one other time in the history of the show sometime in season 1. The wouldn’t say which episodes.

    As far as the topic of this post, I don’t really mind. Yeah, it was done on Alias. But since JJ Abrams is attached to both, I think it’s ok. And really, it’s one of LOST’s overall gimmicks. They have always showed things out of order or broken scenes in half over multiple episodes. They are doing more of the “hours earlier” and “years later” type stuff this season just because the they did want some of time travel stuff to be a little more accessible. I guess i would have been just a little happier if they didn’t announce the time on the screen.

    But in the end, it’s just a way to grab you by your collar and shake you and announce, “Hey you TV viewer. I bet you thought that was going to happen later… nope. BOOM. THAT. JUST. HAPPENED. Now we’re going to show you how/why it happened after you catch your breath.”

    Starting the episode with Jack’s eye opening was the real reason since this episode had to mirror the Pilot episode in about 108 ways. And they had to reveal Jin at the end. So they had to split the scene. It actually makes perfect sense within the show’s structure.

  • I’m torn on this one. I liked that it started with the eye, etc but I think I didn’t like the card that said 46 hours earlier. Part of what makes lost intriguing is trying to figure out the passage of time and lately they’ve been using the “46 hours earlier” “3 weeks later” “2 years ago” cards too much.

    But the pacing and questions/answers of this season are blowing me away. I thought we wouldn’t see the O6 back on the island til the end of the season and here we are ep 6 and they’re already back.

  • MikeV

    Absolutely agree with Shannon on the pacing of this season. I really thought the final image of this season would parallel the initial image of the show with the O6 returning to the island.

    And instead of Locke rising from the wheelchair, he could open the coffin and begin eating the islanders brains.

  • Nick.C.

    Tv Addict,why don’t you go watch Terminator or Heroes then..

    I swear you all suck…..

    Alias,are you kidding me.

    This site is off my favorites…

  • I didn’t know about the two episodes being aired in reverse order, and if next week’s episode is a “stand-alone” Locke-centric episode, then I don’t think I would have noticed the difference if Hil hadn’t mentioned it here.

    I believe they did this effectively in ER with Anthony Edwards’ character Mark Greene. In the episode before Edwards’ “last” appearance, the ER staff got the note from Elizabeth about Mark’s death which happened off camera. It was in the next episode that we go back and see Mark’s last days right before he died.

    With all the time travel that’s going on this season, I would have assumed that explaining the nature of Locke’s death before showing it was an intentional choice from the beginning. In fact, when watching last night, I thought Locke’s suicide was something that had already been mentioned and that I had just forgotten it.

    And, again, I *really* hope Locke didn’t commit suicide. I’m not even a big Locke fan any more; I just don’t like suicide subplots. Hopefully, the suicide is a fake out like so many other things on this show. My guess: Ben killed him.

  • bws

    And everyone’s grand theory that LOST would end would Jack opening his eye to find himself back on the Island can probably rest easy now. It happened in the 6th episode of season 5. Just like we all thought that getting off the Island was the endgame in season 1. WRONG. The writers are 5 steps ahead of us.

  • Ken

    Agreed on this instance. As soon as the episode started I thought “well that seemed easy…” and I felt that way the entire episode. Good lines though.

    And there was nothing clever about ALIAS unless you view it as comedy, in which case it is unparalleled.

  • I can’t believe no one else mentioned “Grand Dad”. I couldn’t get past the idea of this guy being Christian’s dad. Not even sure he was old enough to be Christian’s older brother.

    Bad casting and clumsy story-telling jump to deliver a pair of shoes.