There’s no denying that ABC’s hit drama LOST is one of the best shows to hit the airwaves in many a moon. But while pondering the show’s twists and turns during this mid-season break, one can’t help but notice that while the reigning Emperor of cult TV isn’t wandering around in a bathing suit trying to convince us it’s fully dressed, some of the material is starting to wear a little thin.
For example, as much as it’s great to meet new characters, should it really be done at the expense of ones we’ve come to love? Why did we spend last season investing in Charlie and Claire’s romance if this season, they would become little more than background players? For that matter, why did we bother investing in the “tailies” only to have their major players be killed off?
There are those who say that the killing of “major” characters such as Mr. Eko create a sense of peril which extends to the other characters we know and love. “If they can kill off (Eko, Libby, Boone, Shannon, insert your favorite dead character here), then they can kill anyone!” But that isn’t really true. None of the characters killed were, in fact, “front-burner” players. The blink-and-you-missed-it romance of Shannon and Sayid was thrown into the mix for no other reason than to give us the scene where she dies in his arms. The same was true of Libby’s pre-demise flirtation with Hurley. The characters killed thus far are basically the island drama’s equivalent of STAR TREK’s infamous red-shirt brigade, and that’s just cheap melodrama, kids.
Worse, the weekly flashback sequences are becoming predictable and repetitive. Where originally we were taken by surprise by each installment’s O. Henry-esque twist, we now know that each will involve one of two things: redemption or the character in question making a bad decision which will impact either their life or that of someone they love.
And sure, the opening moments of this season gave us the jaw-dropping sequence in which the book club meeting was revealed to be happening in an island compound inhabited by The Others, but what of last season’s equally shocking final moments? You know, that whole thing with the guys in the snow shack who were speaking Portuguese and then called up Penny Widmore, aka Desmond’s lover.
From a storytelling standpoint, it’s not enough to keep piling mystery upon mystery without ever providing answers. Let’s not forget a little cult TV hit called TWIN PEAKS which made that same fatal error. Rather than addressing the primary mystery of season one (“Who killed Laura Palmer?”), that twisted soap opted to turn Nadine into a superwoman and explore the twisted mind of a psychopath named Windom Earle. Season two became such a mess that the show quickly went from brilliant to cancelled. LOST — which has given us polar bears and black clouds, each rather poorly digitized — is far from having to worry about that scenario at this point, but how long until viewers begin to suspect that the drivers of the bus don’t have a clue as to where they are going, let alone a map?
Various interviews have indicated that the creative forces behind LOST are taking this season in a more action/adventure direction, as well as playing up the romantic relationships. And that’s great… but let’s not forget that before you run off into the future, the audience is going to expect a few answers about the past.
It bears repeating that LOST is, without a doubt, one of television’s best written, acted and directed offerings. But the powers that be may want to be careful that they don’t leave passengers who’ve signed on for the ride thinking, “I should just get off at the next stop before this thing crashes.”