"Lost" and the pacing of mystery
The problem for me is pacing, which must be distinguished from gravitas. Galactica plays its scenes with
tremendous weight, yet still manages to move the story along at a gallop compared to Lost's inching tempo.
24 sometimes suffers from uneven pacing; the writers there grapple with the problem of fashioning a story that
must end when the season ends. To do so, they sometimes stretch or compress the unfolding of events, or introduce
inconsequential subplots to pad the story. Lost and Galactica are open-ended (for as long as ratings
remain strong), so they can hurtle forward (Galactica) or languish atmospherically (Lost) without
threatening to end early or late.
The "23rd Psalm" episode was some kind of last straw for me. In all these shows there must be a balance of deepening mystery and crackling resolution. Lost has tipped way over to the murky allure of mystery, almost completely forsaking the bracing effect of solution and movement. The show is mired in its own preciousness, and the terror that infused early episodes is waning. I recognize that the writers are painting on a small, confining palette: the show is set on a freakin' island. Galactica roams outer space by way of startling contrast, and 24 leaps about without inhibition.
Because of its scenic restrictions, Lost is forced to rely on back stories, and this week's episode proved (if proof was needed) that it over-relies on flashbacks. The most gradual and irrevocable aspect of my slow detachment from the drama is my diminishing interest in pre-crash history. This week we learned quite a bit about a character I've barely had time to develop caring for. Perhaps an example of quick pacing, then, you might assert. But I think it's a cop-out, and that the incessant historical diversions simply mask the show's reluctance to give us real story, to move the damn drama along.
Nothing progressive happened on the island this week. Sawyer got his hair cut, Charlie reveals a surprising statue stash, and Claire kicks him out of the tent. That's not enough to get me thinking about the show over the weekend, wishing Wednesday would come quicker. The black mist? Frak me. That's got to be the most disappointing payoff to a publicized teaser in years.
Pick up the pace, Lost. You're losing it.