I was going to entitle this review of The I-Land on Netflix, "Lost Opportunity." You know, that ABC series Lost, which had an excellent beginning, an absolutely out-of-the-ballpark brilliant third and fourth season, and then took a turn very much for the worse, with one of the worst series finales ever on television? Except ...
Well, although I-Land takes place on an island, with a group of disoriented people with various kinds of intriguing and lurid back stories, the slim seven-episode series has a completely different vector: a pretty strong beginning, an obvious middle, and a kick-in-the-gut and socially meaningful finale. And the story is very different from Lost's.
The people on the I-Land didn't arrive there by crashed plane (as in Lost), but via simulation. They're all prisoners on a death row in the future, and their simulated existence on the I-Land is a chance to redeem themselves. Unsurprisingly, very few do.
But the payoff comes in what happens to the central character, who turns out not to be guilty of the murder, for which she was sentenced, and is older than she seems. And in the real world, outside the prison, we see the changes that global warming has brought the United States, and its struggles with a growing prison population.
So the real subjects of this thriller are climate change and prison change, which is a lot more than you can say about Lost, whose real subject was some metaphysical, quasi-religious nonsense. In other words, see The I-Land, but don't expect Lost, which, at least as far as the ending, is a very good thing.