Wednesday, February 07, 2007

LOST: Philadelphia Weekly Feb 7, 2007

Watching Lost is like befriending the new girl in school. It all began so well.
When Lost moved into the neighborhood in the fall of '04, you were the first to get to know her. Unlike other shows you'd seen before, she was willing to delve into her past with endless detail—via flashback, of course. She talked openly about her problems with dad (Jack), the trouble with boys (Kate) and how she loved to get high (Charlie). There were episodes when seemingly nothing happened, but that was good, right? When you were with Lost, time stood still.
And then that got old. The boar begat the mysterious smoke, which begat the polar bear, which begat the French lady, which begat the “Others,” which begat the hatch, which begat the numbers, which got boring. Or frustrating, at least. So what went wrong?
Like the new girl in school, Lost was bound to make friends. As her popularity and ratings soared, she made friends who had money (advertisers) and friends who wanted to make more of it (ABC, presumably). Any time we got close to an answer, lost teased and turned. It extended without explaining. Were Hurley and Libby both in the same mental institution? Bam! She's shot by Michael. Was Shannon really seeing Walt? Bam! Shot by Ana-Lucia. Did Mr. Eko know more than he was letting on? Bam! Killed by a monster.
Which brings us to today, the return of the third season after a scant six episodes last fall. Jack holds the fate of Ben's life in his surgical hands while Kate and Sawyer plan their escape to and from an island.
It's taboo to reveal too much of what'll happen, but the wait is worthwhile. Maybe the expectation of learning nothing new has altered the viewing experience, but the plot moves. People make decisions. We see the results. In a moment of levity we learn the name of that guy with the fake beard.
But this could all be a ruse. Next week we could be treated to an expose on Locke's sudoku obsession. Or maybe the tide is shifting. It's possible Lost's producers began to feel a bit too Keyser Söze-like in all the misdirection and deceit. It's possible they've been watching 24. And it's possible that if and when the show jumps the shark, it will involve an actual shark.