LOST: only 11 episodes left in this series -- we are now heading toward the inexorable season finale. This was a strong episode that alludes to and revises a key moment in J. J. Abrams earlier project, Alias. (I will have a note on this with spoilers in the comments). The story is strong, we learn how John Locke lost his legs, and it ends with one of the great insane twists that would be just stupid on any other show: Lost has built a mysterious context where the audience has to simply accept whatever left turn the show decides to take. That is all the fun.
We also see in this episode another great example of what makes this show work: the illusion of change. Most often, in order for serial narratives to survive, they cannot change too much because the audience will reject the show -- they want the same thing week after week. This is what keeps Law and Order on the air. But the ostensible purpose of narrative is to see what happens next, what is going to change in the lives of the characters we care about. One of the best ways of dealing with these conflicting demands is to cater to both -- make it look like you are changing things but keep everything the same, or keep returning to the beginning. The best example of this is on Alias -- at the end of season two Sidney is knocked out, and when she wakes up it is two years later. That seems like a big change -- the lives of everyone she knows has changed. But it works to keep things the same. Over the first two seasons she got closer and closer to Vaughn but if they get married it is going to take all the dynamic out of their relationship. With the two year gap they are back to square one -- he has married someone else and now they begin the long journey back to each other from the beginning. On this week's episode of Lost the submarine is the equivalent of the two year gap -- it looks like a big exciting change, but it smartly works to keep thing the same. Lost is genius.
That is the only television show I am going to talk about this week, but this is the place to talk about this week's television.