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How the Strengths and Flaws of Lost Changed Television

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There is so much good television on right now. I am constantly hearing about new series that I should be watching. The range of entertainment has never been wider. Fantasy, sci-fi, horror, drama, whatever you want, you can find it and find it in good quality. As the options expand and the base quality continues to rise, it gets harder and harder to catch up on series that you may have previously missed, and inevitably some shows get lost in the shuffle.

Which is an apt way to describe my fear for Lost. I fear that Lost will get lost in the shuffle.

Not immediately, of course, as few shows currently draw such vitriolic opinions. Lost is still gripping our pop culture today whether through homage or insult; sometimes the hero and sometimes the punch line. I once told a buddy whom I had watched the series live with that my friend had started Lost and his only response was, “She’ll be disappointed.”

It’s a common emotion to have regarding Lost as a show: disappointment. I myself was disappointed by Lost in many ways, both on my initial watch during its original airing and on my recent rewatch. The show makes many mistakes in its run, but we cannot discount the impacts that it had on television and the culture surrounding it, and not in spite of these mistakes, but because of them.

The immediate impact of Lost is obvious. High concept shows exploded out in the years following its release (Flashforward, Heroes, Fringe). Production values went up. HD became standard. Exotic and beautifully shot locations became more prevalent. Acting talent skyrocketed, with major actors coming to television. Flashbacks and flashforwards, heck messing with time in general, became commonly seen on mainstream television (How to Get Away With Murder). And casts grew wider and more diverse. A lot of what made Lost stand out is less spectacular in retrospect because it popularized or made these aspects commonplace, with many shows surpassing it in some of these areas.

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Lost/ABC

That fact, along with the obvious mistakes Lost commits, makes watching it in hindsight a little less impressive. Not tiny issues, either, such as missed character beats or a few forgettable episodes. These are episodes and moments so bad that they are unforgettable. Pacing issues so horrendous that the network finally caved to the writers and gave them an end date. And then there is the finale.

The biggest “mistake” of the show that fans and nonfans point to is the finale. I’m not going to reiterate here what can be found being discussed in 4,815,162,342 places on the internet today, but I will talk about who is discussing it.

Lost revealed a type of fan that has pervaded the medium ever since. Discussion about a show had never before reached the levels of discussion when Lost was airing. How could it have? The internet was just beginning as a platform for social media, and Lost was the first show of the internet age to be so conducive to internet chatter.

Due to the unprecedented nature of Lost as the most discussed television show ever, the amount of investment viewers put into the series went well beyond the 44 minutes they dedicated to watching each week. And with investment comes a feeling of ownership. Viewers felt Lost owed them a good ending. Before 2010, most shows dwindled out of existence after years of decline in quality or were unceremoniously canceled before having the chance to grow. Endings for these kinds of shows were often accepted as “good enough,” or a “decent way to wrap up the series.” But when Lost came around, a shift took place from, “I sure hope this ending is good,” to, “This ending better live up to my expectations or I will declare the last six years of watching this show a waste of my life.”

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Lost/ABC – Photo by Mario Perez

The fans that were disappointed by the ending have carried that with them ever since. When Breaking Bad came to its finish in 2013, three years after the Lost finale, there was an army of fans who tweeted out about how Breaking Bad’s finale is “how you do an ending,” jabbing at Lost and its coolly received send off. They were vocal enough that Damon Lindelof (a writer and creator of Lost) wrote a column about the continued consequences of his finale. I think a lot of these fans felt that the shows were on even ground, and therefore it was fair to say how Breaking Bad outdid Lost.  They were not on even ground. Lost had to go first into the raving depths of the people of the internet and try to satisfy everyone. It was uncharted territory, and regardless of whether or not you think the finale was good or bad, it charted the map for other series to follow. Breaking Bad got to learn from Lost’s mistakes, so I sure HOPE it was better. It has no excuse not to be. (Sidenote – “The End” > “Felina.”)

Not only was Lost the first to dive into the “owed finale” age, but it also carried the disadvantage of being set up by a somewhat shaky foundation. With the amount of storylines that had to be created to extend the series and the number of mysteries that were set up, there was no easy way for the ending to pay all of that off. Being given an end date for a series was a privilege the Lost writers had to fight for. Subsequent series such as Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones were created with no intention to last forever. They may not have had the ending planned or decided years in advance, but they also didn’t have to spin their wheels for multiple seasons stretching out a story and then be forced to wrap up all those improvised storylines with the originally intended ones. They could successfully build to a single climax because they were planned to tell a story with a beginning, middle, and end. Yet the Lost writers had this to say back in 2004, “We’re in the dark ourselves in terms of how quickly to unfold the mythology. We don’t know if the show will go for four years or six years. The best way we deal with it is to not look too long term.”

So the wheels spun. On-the-fly storylines and mysteries were thrown in, and the show got messy. Yet the failure of Lost’s middling middle seasons paved the way for networks to start allowing shows to plan an ending.

So let it be known how much of this golden age of television has been brought to us by Lost’s inadequacies. Meandering storylines have been cut down with shorter episode orders, which are much more common today, and even shows with longer episode counts have learned how to pace their seasons better in the wake of Lost’s horrific Season 3 pacing. Mystery shows have a better balance of questions and answers. Some studios are more willing to allow creators to have some leeway. Series are created with the intention of an ending, and NOT to go on forever.

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Lost/ABC

Lost is also influencing the industry in ways that we can’t even consider, even in shows bearing almost no resemblance to it. Lost proved that a massive, 10 million plus count audience would watch something with a large cast of characters, subtitles, a ridiculously complex mythology, and ongoing serialization with multiple timelines that demanded complete attention, and that these audiences wouldn’t just tolerate but encourage these ideas and create discussion and interest. The influence of Lost isn’t just in what creators take from it, or the lessons they’ve learned; it is a subconscious effect that has pervaded the industry since its airing. Broader, genre-bending ideas have become more appealing to both audiences and studios. It raised the bar for production value on television, for directors and actors, and for the scope of projects put into production. No studio head today is saying, “Oh, I’m going to throw millions of dollars at this fantasy dragon show because Lost had a high budget and it was successful.” They say, “I’m going to throw millions of dollars at this fantasy dragon show because it’s a good idea.” But would they really think it was a good idea if millions of people didn’t tune in to watch shenanigans on a magic island for six years?

Yes, I am implying that Game of Thrones owes part of its success to Lost. Does anyone really believe Game of Thrones would have aired in the 90’s? What changed?

There were fantasy shows and sci-fi shows well before Lost. Lost very obviously takes ideas from these shows and series. But Game of Thrones level epics? Genre-bending shows like Westworld? I wish Firefly would have aired after Lost did because I believe it would have not just found a greater audience, but Fox would have been more willing to give it a chance and let the episodes air in the proper order.

Even currently, shows like Manifest are drawing close comparisons to Lost, not just for its airplane disaster premise, but for the interlocking mysteries, characters being drawn together by a greater force, and even recurrent numbers. Less similar shows, like The Good Place, draw from Lost’s sense of mystery and flashbacks. Wrecked is a parody of it. We could go on.

Lost can be a punch line today. It’s mocked for its finale, its sometimes grating characterization, and its plethora of unanswered questions (but come on almost everything was answered). But do we mock the Wright brothers for only getting a few feet off the ground on their first attempt? Especially when there were moments where that flight absolutely soared. When Lost is at its best, there is still nothing like it.

So for future generations, when and if they watch Lost, I hope they realize they are witnessing one of the first flights into the golden age of television. I hope they know that in all likelihood their current favorite show owes at least something to Lost. And I hope that they don’t dismiss the show based on its missteps. After all, Lost took the biggest steps into the new age of television and left a permanent footprint on the industry, even if those prints have since been covered by the many series since that have followed in its wake.

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Lost/ABC

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Chicago Med

Did Dr. Zola Ahmad Leave ‘Chicago Med’ Already?

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Did Dr. Zola Ahmad Leave 'Chicago Med' Already?

Chicago Med introduced a new third-year resident to the fold in season 9—Zola Ahmad played by The Wilds’ Sophia Ali.

Ahmad’s character was initially described as “impulsive” and a troublemaker who tends to cause “headaches” for her Gaffney Medical fellows, which we saw play out in real-time when her unconventional approaches rubbed Crockett Marcel (Dominic Rains) the wrong way.

Marcel tried to give Ahmad the benefit of the doubt on numerous occasions, and Sharon Goodwin (S. Epatha Merkerson) even acknowledged that she was taking a big chance by hiring her on a prohibitionary basis given her track record with previous hospitals—but ultimately, Ahmad’s behavior and decisions to overstep and not follow protocol got the best of her.

When Ahmad decided to declare a patient—letting the fact that he wasn’t a good man dictate her reasoning—dead prematurely (and then attempted to justify it), nearly killing him, Dr. Archer (Steven Weber) chose to suspend her. It was very obviously a fireable offense, so it’s a good thing that the series writers held her accountable. Plus, it seemed like the perfect chance for a teachable moment and a redemption arc, not to mention, there was definitely some chemistry with Ahmad and Crockett that could’ve been explored down the line. She had potential as a character at Med, if she just reeled it in a little bit—and that would’ve been interesting to explore on a more granular level.

However, by Chicago PD Season 9 Episode 9, it was over for Ahmad. 

Did Dr. Zola Ahmad Leave 'Chicago Med' Already?

CHICAGO MED — “A Penny for your Thoughts, Dollar for your Dreams” Episode 9008 — Pictured: (l-r) Sophia Ali as Dr. Zola Ahmad, Dominic Rains as Dr. Crockett Marcel — (Photo by: George Burns Jr/NBC)

The series seemingly listened to the Chi-Hards fanbase as Ahmad paid the ultimate price for her reckless decision; Goodwin very briefly (and in passing) informed Crockett that Ahmad was let go, something he called a “shame.”

And that was that. There was no further mention of it, nor is there any indication that she’ll return anytime in the future. Her final episode of the season was listed as Chicago Med Season 9 Episode 8—and it seems like she’ll just be a blip on the radar of the show’s long-running tenure. 

It’s a drastic decision for the series, especially after hyping up Ali’s character at the beginning of the season. Why wouldn’t they give her arc a proper conclusion? Many of the complaints from the fan base were that her character was written inconsistently—her intentions were good most of the time, it was the execution that suffered—and crammed into an already shortened season due to COVID, so they weren’t able to build her character up in a way that would’ve given her the necessary nuance; her portrayal was overly negative and it was hard to defend her actions or keep her around when each week, she was pushing buttons and creating unnecessary issues without having the tenure to excuse them or back her up, like her predecessors Will Will (Nick Gehlfuss) and Natalie (Torrey Devitto). When those two acted irrationally back in the day, they had a history with Med and Goodwin that allowed them to stir the pot. 

It seems that the writing was on the wall for Ahmad from the get-go—the lack of good character development in the writing sealed her fate prematurely and gave fans whiplash with her quick arrival and departure. 

Would you like to see her return to the series?

Vanessa Morgan Is Finally Getting the Recognition She Deserves With ‘Wild Cards’

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Editorials

Walker Season 4 Premiere Review – The Quiet

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Walker Season 4 Premiere Review - The Quiet

Walker returned to The CW for its 4th, and, likely final, season. 

Despite a 5-month time jump, the focus remained on serial killer Jackal, whom Walker and Trey were pursuing at the end of season 3, and the suspect that previously drove Cap. Larry James into a tailspin, effectively ending his marriage to Kelly before fate gave them another shot. 

Only this time around, Larry’s wife, Kelly, asks Cordell not to drag her husband down this road again—a promise he intends to upkeep, though, knowing Larry, he’ll figure out that his rangers are up to something and have no other choice but to get involved, especially since Trey’s tip for a detective reveals that Jackal, whose trail previously went cold for several months, is gearing up for “something big.”

This will be the overarching mystery of the season, while other weekly cases will also see our rangers getting into plenty of shenanigans, as they did with their pursuit of the Delmonico brothers. Also, props to all of them for taking part in a steak-eating competition and then jumping into a raid. It was bold of them, but it’s how Cordell wanted to spend his birthday, so I’m glad that despite the best-laid plans being uprooted, he was still able to feel the love from those around him.

A lot seems to have changed in the past five months, as evidenced by Walker and Geri’s steamy hook-up. Even when everything is going wrong, we can have faith in their love being a constant, which is what fans have been hoping for since season 1. 

There’s also Cassie, who blows back into town after taking a lengthy leave to go work for the FBI. She’s back with a newfound confidence about her abilities on the job, but she’s also struggling with a personal decision as she’s been offered a spot at Quantico, which means further uprooting her life and leaving behind her loved ones, er, Trey. 

Yeah, Trey and Cassie kind of addressed the elephant in the room—their feelings for each other—but neither of them was honest about it, so we’ll likely get something more truthful and heartfelt in the near future. 

Another lingering storyline is the break-in at Geri’s place that rattled Stella to her core. She hasn’t been the same since shooting and killing Witt, and it’s likely because she also lied to the police about having met him before. The officer who called her and Liam in over a “breakthrough in the case” said that the case was closed due to lack of resources, but the way he watched Stella sign the paperwork (and questioned if that’s “all she knew”) makes me uneasy—there’s definitely more to this storyline. What does he know that he’s not letting on?

As for change, I think that in the midst of all the “I’m Walker, Texas Ranger, you’re under arrest” in case you needed the reminder, we’re also continuing to see Cordell as a flawed human and a father coming to terms with the fact that he’s about to be an empty nester. It’s the next phase of his life—and one that brings about plenty of concern over the “quiet” that will allow his dark thoughts to flourish. Hopefully, Geri will be the light to cut through all of that. 

What did you think of the episode?

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Wild Cards

Vanessa Morgan Is Finally Getting the Recognition She Deserves With ‘Wild Cards’

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Vanessa Morgan Is Finally Getting the Recognition She Deserves With ‘Wild Cards’

I meant to write this post when Wild Cards first premiered on The CW, but time got away from me, and before I knew it, the season finale of the series was upon us! 

I’m not a huge fan of The CW’s decision to axe some of our favorite shows in its rebrand, but what does ease the pain of losing the likes of Nancy Drew is the addition of promising shows like Wild Cards

To be quite frank, Riverdale never did Vanessa Morgan much justice. She amassed a huge number of fans, who were mostly hoping to see her character Toni reunite with on-screen love interest Cheryl (played by Madeleine Petsch) in the later seasons, and while she was seemingly considered one of the “core” characters, she rarely got the storylines she deserved.

We knew she could act—but Wild Cards shows us the depth of Morgan’s talents. It lets her shine, dominate, lead,  and even carry the series, opposite her on-screen partner and potential future love interest, Giacomo Gianniotti’s Ellis. 

Morgan delivers with the role of Max, a whip-smart and very charismatic con artist who utilizes her special skillset to help a “down in the dumps” maritime officer get his mojo back—and, spoiler alert if you’ve watched the season finale, his badge and desk back. 

Despite his initial hesitation with the idea of her joining the force as a consultant, even Ellis comes around, amazed by her abilities and the way she’s able to navigate every crime scene and follow the leads to produce results.&nbsp

The two grow very close over the course of the season’s 10 episodes, largely due to Morgan’s delightful on-screen persona and presence. Even when it’s not clear whose side she’s really on (is she fully on board with helping the cops or does she have a larger-than-life plan up her sleeve to pull off her greatest con yet and help her dad George—90210‘s Jason Priestley—snag a “get out of jail free” card), you find yourself drawn to her and rooting for her because of her likable personality. 

Vanessa Morgan Is Finally Getting the Recognition She Deserves With ‘Wild Cards’

Credit: The CW

The series not only gets us invested in Max’s character—learning about her past—and what it entails for her future, but we also find ourselves rooting for Max and Ellis to finally get together… or even test the boundaries of that electric chemistry that they share (a moment that is, sadly, ruined when her husband Olivier (Dewshane Williams) blows into town). 

And it’s the mystery of Max that has all of us begging The CW to renew the series for a second season. We need more Max. We need more Ellis. We need more Morgan and Gianniotti. And we need answers. The good news is that Morgan told TVLine that season 2 of the quirky crime procedural is “very likely,” and trust that we put all our faith in her. 

As for the answers I mentioned we need, well, we need to know who killed Ellis’ brother, a murder that was the catalyst for him to get knocked down from his detective responsibilities in the first place. When he met Max, he was in a hard place, still trying to pick up the pieces of his brother’s death. And though he’s come a long way, surely, the fact that he can crack this specific mystery is one that he won’t be able to pass up. 

At the end of the finale—spoiler alert, again—Max convinced the authorities to help her pull off a heist that was two years in the works, hoping to frame her estranged husband Olivier after he steals a $33 million egg (he’s the one who betrayed her dad and landed him in prison), lessen her father’s sentence, and restore Ellis’ badge. However, there was a piece of the plan she didn’t share with Ellis—she swapped the real egg for a fake egg, and hatched a plan to disappear forever alongside Ricky and her millions. 

She didn’t expect Ellis to figure it out, though, this was one of the weaker points in the episode because she should’ve known him better than that by now, but she figured she’d be halfway across the country and it wouldn’t matter. What she didn’t anticipate in her plan is that Ricky, who was transcribing incriminating recordings from the mob as part of their safety-net policy, would find something on the drive about Ellis’ brother, namely, who murdered him. 

It’s at this moment that we see the biggest change in Max. She’s not the same person she was when the series first started. Her skills have become more valuable to helping than stealing, and she’s grown to care about someone other than herself and her father. She can’t, in good faith, leave with this knowledge and leave Ellis hanging. 

And that’s where we leave off—a promising cliffhanger on a promising series with two very promising leads. 

Your move, The CW.

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