11 years later, Andrew Allen deciphers Lost.
By The Andrew Allen
About two weeks ago I, on a whim, decided to take another look at the television series LOST. Now LOST has long been one of my favorite series, my favorite, most likely. But I have only ever seen it all the way through one time about four years ago. Recently, however, I felt the urge to dive back into it again and give it a second look all the way through, and, since this is a rather sizeable undertaking, I figured I’d put pen to paper and review the show season by season as I made my way through. Hopefully y’all will get a kick out of it.
Next up: Season Two.
Hot off the shocking and thrilling season one finale, LOST manages to keep it’s momentum going. For awhile at least. While season two is still an excellent season of television, the cracks in LOST’s formula really begin to show over this second batch of episodes. What felt almost constantly fluid in season one feels a bit more constrained and mismanaged here. The big change? Stakes and scope. After The Others took Walt and The Hatch door got blown off it’s hinges at the end of season one the game forever changed for LOST. It just took a bit for the show to actually figure that out.
Most of the second season revolves around The Hatch and the mysterious button it contains. For the duration of the season the characters debate the Hatch and the button’s purpose, and the conflict over it’s mystery becomes a catalyst for the show to delve, once again, into the concepts of fate and faith. To the show’s credit, this season may contain the series’ best, most nuanced discussions about faith and what it means to have it. Faith and purpose could very well be considered the thesis terms for LOST, and a show being able to nail it’s central themes on the head this thoroughly is nothing to sniff at.
On the other hand, The Hatch and it’s central conceit ultimately end up exposing the fundamental problem with the format of LOST and the format of network television in general at the time. There’s just too much. Too many episodes to fill. While The Hatch and the stories within it would have felt tight and compelling in a thirteen episode season, the LOST writing staff is forced to drag this story arc out for a full twenty four episodes. Ultimately, the show rights this issue in the abbreviated latter three seasons, but not before season two (and, from what I remember, season three as well) drag on far too long for their own good.
An interesting wrinkle to this problem is that it seems to affect the actual episodes only very minimally. For the most part, LOST maintains it’s quality from the first season. For instance, one story arc that takes up almost a third of the season is the capture of the suspicious Henry Gale. A man claiming to be another crash survivor, but who the protagonists fear to be one of The Others. On their own merit, most the seven episodes that this arc plays out over work excellently. The problem is that the arc doesn’t really merit seven whole episodes. There’s only so many times you can interrogate one character and still end your episodes with little to nothing new revealed about him. It’s a great fortune then that the LOST writing staff is so excellent that even their narrative thumb-twiddling is still considerably more interesting than it has any real right to be.
Another element that keeps the season largely afloat is the influx of new blood to the cast. The aforementioned Henry Gale (or rather, Ben Linus) played with an incredibly nuanced creepiness by Michael Emerson, as well as the Tailies (tail-section survivors), Eko, Libby, Ana Lucia and Bernard, played by Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Cynthia Watros, Michelle Rodriguez and Sam Anderson, respectively. As the show chugged into season two it became very clear that there was very little more for us to learn about the original characters. There’s only so many times you can learn that Jack is controlling and needs to “fix” people. Only so many times you can learn Kate is finnicky and non-committal. That Charlie is an irresponsible drug addict. The addition of new characters offers welcome reprieve from the original castaways, the new characters coming into play more multi-dimensional and fully realized than the first batch were when they were originally introduced in the first half of season one. It’s moderately tragic, then, that the show opted to kill not one, but two of the Tailies before the season ended, with extenuating circumstances ending a third Tailie’s tenure on the show only five episodes into the following season. Only a little over a season after their introduction and only a single Tailie remains by the midpoint of season three. It’s an unfortunately cheap move by the writers to kill off the newbies and a waste of some of the show’s strongest characters (Ana Lucia and Libby were merciful exceptions to the irritated-female syndrome that permeated season one). Still, they were welcome additions while they lasted.
While LOST won’t top itself on a seasonal scale for another whole season (if my memory serves me right), the show’s second season it still excellent television despite it’s issues. Top-notch character work and complex storytelling stay true to the LOST established in season one, and the shows manages to pack a couple killer gut-punch moments that will leave unsuspecting audience members reeling for days.
2.23 & 2.24 “Live Together, Die Alone” (A+)
2.10 – “The 23rd Psalm” (A+)
2.14 – “One of Them” (A)
2.18 – “Dave” (A)
2.04 – “Everybody Hates Hugo” (A)
2.01 – “Man of Science, Man of Faith” (A)
2.21 – “?” (A)
2.05 – “…And Found” (A)
2.13 – “The Long Con” (A)
2.03 – “Orientation” (A)
2.14 – “Maternity Leave” (A-)
2.08 – “Collision” (A-)
2.11 – “The Hunting Party” (A-)
2.19 – “S.O.S.” (A-)
2.06 – “Abandoned” (A-)
2.16 – “The Whole Truth” (B+)
2.07 – “The Other 48 Days” (B+)
2.20 – “Two For The Road” (B+)
2.17 – “Lockdown” (B+)
2.02 – “Adrift” (B+)
2.22 – “Three Minutes” (B+)
2.09 – “What Kate Did” (B)
2.12 – “Fire + Water” (B-)
Andrew Allen is a television and film writer for Action A Go Go. He is an aspiring screenwriter and director who is currently studying at the University of Miami. You can check him out on Tumblr @andrewballen and follow him on Twitter @A_B_Allen.
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