Michael Emerson as Ben Linus, or as Sawyer
calls him: “That Bug-eyed Bastard!”
This article from yesterday details the final schedule for ABC’s “Lost”. The “100 episode” and “5 season” run has been mentioned several times, but now they seem to have set an exact timeline for the life of the show: 48 more episodes that will span three seasons of 16 uninterrupted shows. I would have preferred two more seasons with 22 episodes each, the first and last episodes each season being two hour specials for a total of 48 hours, but this is tolerable.
When LOST came back on the air after that ridiculously long layoff I have to confess I was losing interest. I caught the first few episodes and after a few glimpses into Juliet’s background we quickly returned to the kind of episodes that really frustrated fans in later season two and early season three… long on intense looks and reiterating character concepts but short on moving forward in understanding anything significant. The Hurley flashback episode almost broke the bank for me. It was clearly a ‘let’s take a break’ type short story episode that offered very little except comic relief. Having a little self contained mini-story arc like that is not a bad thing, but it has to be engaging. It wasn’t, and we didn’t even learn anything more about Hurley that we already knew or could have guessed. My interest was at an all time low and the episodes started piling up on TIVO unwatched.
Last week I finally sat down and watched the last five episodes back to back. I lost a little sleep as it was late one night, but I got through them all. It seems that either by instinct or by design the writers of the show realized they were losing their audience and finally started returning to the gripping storytelling and fits of plot advancement along with the tying in of previous back-stories of the individual passengers that made LOST so intriguing in the first place.
First off, after complaining about the ‘taking a break’ Hurley episode you might be surprised to hear that I thought the ‘taking a break’ episode showing the back-story, present and eventual fate of Paulo and Nikki… two castaways who have been there all along but suddenly invited themselves along on the excursion to the Pearl station that ended with Echo’s death, to be the best episode of the year. I thought it bizarre that these two would suddenly be along with the main characters in that Echo episiode, but it turns out the writers were planting scenes later to be given new meaning with this episode. What was great about it, unlike the Hurley “hope springs eternal” episode, was terrific storytelling. It reminded us that there are many other souls on this island other than the ten or so we are always seeing, and they all have a story as well. The whole murder, theft, loss of the diamonds and the resulting action, told in back-story from pre crash through the entire 3 months on the island was brilliant. Scenes from season one and two were given new perspective from Nikki and Paulo’s eyes. The ending was very “Tales from the Crypt” like and a great way to wrap it all up nicely.
Moving on, we are finally beginning to see some progress toward what this island is all about. The “Purgatory” theory that was among the first discussed when the show got rolling was handedly dismissed by the creators. I remember distinctly them saying unequivocally that it was not correct. It sure is looking like it right now, though. When Locke’s dad showed up after ‘dying’ in a car crash he was convinced he was in hell. Personally I think the island has some supernatural connections and it’s inhabitants can cause things in the outside world to happen based on their faith in the power of the island. Locke seems especially in touch with the island’s powers, having healed himself from his wheelchair and being able to seemingly bring his father from the outside world by merely wanting it. I think the Others, and especially Ben, understand Locke is special somehow, and what him on their ‘side’ to help accomplish whatever it is they are trying to do. Michael’s son Walt was also special somehow, for similar reasons. No doubt they will be back at some point. The reappearance of the supposedly dead Mikhail shows us that the healing powers of the island might even bring back the dead?
There is plenty to discuss, but the point is that the show is getting back on track after floundering for too long in season three. Maybe it’s just that the end of the season is so near the writers feel the pressure is off and they can spill some secrets and advance the plot knowing a long break is coming and they can regroup for the fall. Now that they’ve established an end date, I hope it will allow them to backtrack from the ending and fill in between with meaty plot advancement. Maybe the relief of seeing a finish line will keep the writers more focused and allow them to deliver the kind of storytelling that makes the show so great when it’s on it’s game.
In the meantime, if you plan to have a LOST season finale party, be sure and include some home made Dharma fish biscuits with the offered fare!
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779 New profile pic courtesy of my self-caricature for the Scott Maiko penned article “Gotcha! Mug Shots of Common (but Despicable) Criminals” from MAD 550
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