Solarbird (solarbird) wrote,

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a day late and a dollar short

I'm one of the relatively few defenders of the Battlestar Galactica finale, but I was left cold by LOST, and that's relevant...

...and I don't want to write a lot here, so I'll try to keep it brief:

Everybody Is Dead Everybody Is Dead Everybody Is Dead Dave. Fine, everybody's dead. Eventually. Everybody we cared about? Dead. BSG did it. LOST did it. LOST's altworld is purgatory, which I was hoping I was wrong about three episodes back, but I wasn't.

Here's the thing: DEAD IS NOT INTERESTING. DEAD IS BORING. HAPPY DEAD IS PARTICULARLY BORING. I DO NOT CARE. So why do I defend Battlestar and not LOST, here?

I'd originally been hoping - back in Ye Daye - that the Dharma initiative had been trying to implement Karma as part of creating a better world. And I'd kinda hoped they'd partly succeeded. I'd wanted the whole Numbers and the whole fate equations thing to matter. Instead, Dharma were just another pack of fuckups, and that possibility tree was cut down a long time ago, and is a whole different story, and that's all really too bad, but somebody can write that story if they want to; it'd be interesting.

So let's back up a second and ask: why does really good fantasy work? Why does JRR Tolkien work? Sure, all the character bits are awesome, and sure, the worldbuilding is fantastic, and the writing is marvellous, but how does it really work?

Think about this: I had this hopeful theory that the altworld was Jacob's reward for all the hell he put these people through, and that Jacob's plan wasn't just to find a replacement and off his brother; I wanted Jacob to be freeing himself and his brother and the whole world from the tyranny of the Island cycle. Think of it as leaving the wheel of suffering (Dharma initiative, anyone?), a liberation from the fate equations. Even if it had just come down to Jacob/Smoky/Fuck the Island thing, and all the earlier bits hadn't mattered, that would've been okay in the end, because after all that happens and the Island is ended and the wheel is broken, the world is changed. Tolkien got it, and worte it, in Lord of the Rings: "the world is changed - I feel it in the water, I feel it in the earth, I smell it in the air."

In Galactica, they kept this. Everybody picked up on the fact that the Cylons were really screwed up. Most people did not pick up on the fact that the way the humans were systematically fucked up - even in pre-war flashbacks and I'm still seeing it in what I've seen of Caprica - was important. I did. They were screwed up in relevant and opposite ways to the Cylons. So by bringing them together in the end and starting over, what do you have? You have the world is changed. The cycle may be broken. The greater arc - the metaphysical plot of the universe, if you will - advances, rather than repeats. I don't think BSG did it as well as they could've - way too many smart people I know didn't pick up on it - but they did it, and it was on the surface, even if the run-up to it wasn't so clear. They kept the core principle intact: the world is changed.

LOST didn't do that. And they could've. Right up until the finale they could've - but they didn't. The world is not changed. A new iteration of the wheel is started, but all they did was shuffle around the main characters and the world is the same. And in a character drama, that's just fine! In a murder mystery: no problem! None of that's the point. But if you're gonna move fundamental forces around like checkers? You'd better have a goddamn cosmic payoff. You'd better change the world. And they didn't, even though they could've, so very easily.

It was right there waiting for them to pick it up, and they didn't.

I presume they had their reasons. But really, all I can think is just... that's too bad. That's just too damned bad.
Tags: f&sf
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