So, where were we?

Oh yeah.

Buffy is queen of raising the stakes.

We were talking about stagnation, story arcs, Buffy raising the stakes season after season, and the ripples this ‘stakes raising’ made in TV production ever since.  Outrageous story-lines are fine, as long as they are not impossibly outrageous within the universe you establish your story in.  In fact, if you have good writing, the more outrageous the better…

I don’t think studio execs would have ever accepted the drastic changes Lost went through from season to season, if Buffy the Vampire Slayer hadn’t set the precedents it had.  Up to that point, TV audiences had not been exposed to a show that was willing to up the ante in such an insane way, or conduct game changing tactics that completely shift the focus of the show, say to 1977 or an alternate universe.  The major difference being, Buffy was reacting to not being cancelled each season, and was continuing from where they left off last, and Lost does in fact have a larger plan.

LOST: UPPING THE ANTE –

When you start a story with 40 or so people surviving a midair catastrophe that ripped a plane in two, your work is going to be an uphill battle.  How do you top that in terms of excitement?  For starters, you establish that the plane was hundreds of miles off course.  Then you introduce strange ominous ghost-like whispers emanating from the jungle.  If you toss in a strange smoke monster that drags castaways to their apparent doom, then you are almost there.  The last two elements immediately established which elevated the stakes were the mysterious Others and the hatch.  Season one culminated with the first attempt to escape the island being thwarted by the others face-to-face on the open water.  They destroy the castaway’s raft, and kidnap Walt, a child.  Meanwhile, on the island, Locke blows open the hatch.  There is no Denouement.  This is a cliffhanger in every sense of the word.

"The boy is coming with us"

Season two offers a game change.  Every season is a game change actually.  The Losties have a hatch now.  They have food, laundry facilities, a shower, beds, of, and a button that needs to be pressed every 108 minutes or the world will come to an end.  I have some crazy thoughts on that here if you are interested.  This season introduces wonderful pseudo-sciences that the majority of the losties have no chance of understanding.  Faith and science collide as characters come to terms with personal reason as to the “Why” the button needs to be pressed every 108 minutes.  The explosive finale leads to the loss of the hatch, the deaths of two castaways, and the capture of three castaways by the Others.

Season three does the only thing it can do to continue upping the stakes.

Fate is a jerk sometimes

It gets crazier.  Desmond can ‘see’ a constantly changing future that he constantly attempts to thwart.  Locke is told the strange analogy of the island having a room that is a box… and whatever he wants can be in that box.  A boat is on its way to the island, and it might be there to rescue them.  Charlie needs to press another button, or switch, or something in an underwater base that is worthy of a Bond Villain in order to open communications with a freighter that is looking for the island and might provide rescue, all the while avoiding a possible future in which Desmond saw Charlie dying in said underwater base.  Whew!  That is crazy!  Crazy Awwwwwesome!

Season four.  The freighter has arrived with new cast members, and lots of new dangers! These new characters force every character on the island to choose what side of a line hastily drawn in the sand they want to be on.  The ‘B’ storyline takes place three years in the future where we discover that Jack. Kate, Sayid, Hurley, Sun, and Aaron got off the island!  A writers’ strike causes an abbreaviated season, but not before we see a freighter explode, a raft adrift, Desmond re-uniting with Penny in the middle of the ocean, and a magic wheel… in a frozen cave… that moves the island?    Okay.  I buy it.  I’m cool.

Season five.  Time travel.  Quantum Physics. Wormholes. 1977. Mythology. Hydrogen Bombs. Murdered by your mom before you were born!  Un-aging Lackeys.  Jack discovers Faith.  A really big explosion…. And here we are in the very metaphysical, super-science, theoretical and hopefully comprehensive Final Season.  And hopefully the denouement won’t be too heavy handed; I like to be left with something to think about.

It has been a great ride.  Lost, Buffy, Twin Peaks, Carnivale, all the shows I’ve ever loved have come to an end.  Some ended before their time, some ended right on time, and some stumbled into cancellation.  I’d make my own show, but I like to be surprised.  (I actually did do a TV pilot about a year and a half ago…  maybe I’ll share it one day.)

More Buffy / Lost Connections:

  • Sunnydale is destroyed in the finale, swallowed by the Hell-mouth
  • It looks like the Island is going to sink/ be destroyed…
  • Buffy’s mom – Joyce Summers – A fan of the occasional whiskey on the rocks, more than once throws a glass at the wall when upset with her daughter’s demon fighting career choice.
  • Jack’s dad – Christian Shepherd – heavvvvvvy drinker.  Operates drunk.  Lost license
  • Joyce and Christian Die suddenly, alone, and without closure with their children.
  • Both shows feature elaborate alternate reality storylines – Buffy has the ‘Willow became a vamp’ universe, and Lost has sideways.
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