Television Review: LOST

I caught up on the three most recent episodes (16, 17 and 18) of LOST last night. Unfortunately, there’s so much stuff on the TiVo right now (much of it owing to Laura’s vacation) that episode 15 — which I had not yet watched — was overwritten by CSI: NY or somesuch.

Potential spoilers follow.
LOST is an interesting show. As the survivors of a crashed plane struggle to stay alive on (and perhaps get off) an island in the middle of the South Pacific, the events the led them to be on the plane in the first place are told in flashbacks. On the island, an unseen creature tears through the jungle, a crazed Frenchwoman tortures one of the survivors, and someone else watches and threatens the stranded group. In flashbacks, one passenger travels to Australia to find his estranged father, while another seeks the man who destroyed his family. A third rushes to the aid of his sister, and one is desperately searching for the source of the curse that is slowly ruining his life.

It’s well constructed, and as more and more details are revealed about the survivors, they are cast in a different (be it favorable or unfavorable) light, secrets are revealed, and strange connections uncovered. For each new twist, each eye-opening revelation, new questions come to light and old ones may remain unanswered. What is the nature of the creature that shakes the trees in its passing? Why didn’t it kill Locke, and why hasn’t Locke told the others that he’s seen it (apart from proclaiming that he has seen the “heart of the island.”)? What is the strange hatch that Locke and Boone discovered buried deep in the jungle, and why is Locke determined to keep its existence a secret? What is the significance of Hurley’s numbers? What happened to Claire’s memories? Who was Ethan, and what did he want with Claire?

If The X-Files had taken place on an island in the middle of nowhere (and if Chris Carter hadn’t gone batshit insane by the end of its television run), it might have been LOST. As the story progresses, questions are answered and more questions asked. In a show like this, the creators must maintain the delicate balance between revealing too much and not revealing too much. The ratio of new questions asked to old questions answered must be carefully monitored, lest the audience grow bored or frustrated. This is where The X-Files stumbled but where LOST has so far succeeded. There are enough, “Oh, wow!” moments as connections between characters and the significance of events are revealed that the “What the hell?” moments (A polar bear? On an island in the South Pacific?) don’t become overwhelming. All, it seems, will be revealed in time, and the journey toward the truth will be an interesting one.

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