Thursday, March 20, 2008

"Lost": Half-Time Analysis

If life here at the ISTV Global Stronghold has taught me anything about sports, it is that real team loyalty is an emotional rollercoaster. The highs are in the stratosphere, and the lows send your heart down to the molten core of the earth (where the Lava Men reside, I assume). Also, there is a LOT of violent cursing at the TV.

So I guess “Lost” is my local sports team. Fortunately for me, they’ve been doing very well this year.

We’re a little past the halfway point of season 4, taking a strike-necessitated break before the next half picks up in late April. So it’s time for an examination.

Last year, frustration had set in when it appeared that the show was seriously lacking in forward momentum. We got an episode showcasing Matthew Fox’s tattoo, and another solely devoted to killing off two unpopular late-entry characters. Rough stuff.

But the show was rejuvenated after that, helped by the announcement of a planned end-date, along with newfound frankness from the producers about the mysteries. Even better, by the start of this season, the overarching plot began to take shape. The audience finally had just enough details to make informed guesses on the real nature of the story.

Turns out, audiences couldn’t have possibly figured out the story, because characters absolutely crucial to the narrative had only barely been introduced 40-odd episodes in.

The Big Picture seems to revolve around a secret war being waged between bastard industrialist Charles Widmore (giant asshole) and island-native-wannabe Ben Linus (skeevy weirdo with possibly noble intentions). And caught in the middle is Desmond Hume, whose desperation to get back to his lost love has begun to form the emotional core of the series.

Desmond’s spotlight episode a few weeks back, “The Constant,” was easily the best of the year so far, and on the short list for best of the series. I won’t lie: Desmond and Penny’s phone conversation at the end was the most heart-wrenching moment of the series for me (the eyes, yes, they got a bit watery). For all the time-jumping and island weirdness and vague answers to straight-forward questions, we got to see what the stakes really are: “Lost” is a star-crossed love story. Romeo and Juliet stuck in “The Tempest.” (Thanks, English degree!)

Thus far, the only real misstep this year was Harold Perrineau’s loudly-announced return, six episodes before his “shocking” actual appearance (which kinda killed a dramatic reveal). But I think that’s offset by the show’s newfound ability to introduce new characters without them feeling tacked on or irrelevant (COUGHAnna-Lucia-Paulo and Nikki-Mr. EkoCOUGH). The squirrelly Jeremy Davies and gruffly languid Jeff Fahey characters have become two of my favorite reasons to watch the show.

So good for you, “Lost.” May you continue on this path to greatness, and not give us any more retarded flashback episodes that don’t mean a good goddamn. I’m rooting for you.


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