I did get a chance this weekend to get caught up on “Lost.”
After rewatching the entire series up to this season’s premier, I can’t but be struck by how much the show has changed since it started. The first season was really to let the audience get their bearings. A few weird things happened, but mostly the season’s events fell within the common expectations of what life stranded on a tropical island might be like. Then in season 2 they expanded what we knew of the island while still raising more questions than they answered. I rather enjoyed season 2 with the hatch and the “button”, it was like one of those Existentialist plays from fifty years ago–some absurdity of modern life writ large and characters trapped by it.
Season three was a bit of a disappointment to me in that they really started showing the “man behind the curtain.” I kind of liked things better when they were surreal and unexplained. Putting a face on a mystery is always bound to disappoint a little, no matter how much you want the answer when there is still only mystery.
I think this show has to tread lightly not to experience the “X-Files” syndrome, where a show builds its popularity on growing a mystery, and then in the end, supplies the answers to that mystery that are not as well thought out ahead of time as they could have been. Sometimes writers and producers don’t want to the know answer to their mysteries until the last minute, either, and that ends up creating an incoherent narrative. I know this from experience because I want to write my current story as a supernatural mystery of sorts, one that starts out showing a more or less mundane, normal set of characters living their lives and then slowly peels back the layers of this hidden world amongst them. But when you drop clues about the mystery, you really need to know what the clues signify. You need to know the whole iceberg, as unromantic as that is.
The flash-forwards of season 4 were a refreshing change from the flashbacks of previous seasons. It was a little confusing at first, because they were showing the future of the off-island characters while showing the present on the island, where the Oceanic 6 were still living at the time, and you wondered what was happening on the island during the subsequent three years. But time is a tricky thing on Lost Island, as we are learning now. Also, it’s odd watching the characters we’ve come to know on the island going about their lives back in civilization. Season 4 also made us realize that after everything we’ve learned, we still know next to nothing about the original “Others.”
I am not going to speculate about what the new season will bring, because this show keeps bringing on the unexpected, which is why it’s fun.