Thanks to our Netflix subscription, Melanie and I have finally jumped on the Lost bandwagon, watching the first two seasons of the hit ABC television series over the last couple of months. For those who don’t know, the basic plot of Lost is this: in flight from Sydney, Australia to Los Angeles, California, Oceanic flight 815 strays two hours off course before breaking apart in midair and plunging into the water below. Approximately 50 survivors find themselves stranded on an island that appears, rather eerily, not to be quite as deserted as it initially appears. As I recall, when the first season originally aired, many viewers were immediately gripped by the show. I somehow missed the boat (or plane) and never watched it. Upon watching it on DVD, however, I am slowly coming around to appreciate its plausibly addictive nature … emphasis on both slowly and plausibly. I’m definitely not addicted. In fact, having just finished up season two, I am not particularly eager to see what happens in season three. I’m curious, and I fully expect to enjoy it when I do watch it, but I’m not against taking a break from it. Which says something.
My thoughts on the show so far are these: while season one fostered a sense of mystery about the show, season two has proven much more action-based. Normally, I would take that to bode well for season one, but I personally didn’t feel genuinely gripped by the show until the first few episodes of season two. Season one just wasn’t mysterious enough for me, I guess. It made me curious, but I was never on the edge of my seat at the end of an episode. That being said, season two really takes a nosedive at about the middle of the season. Rather than consistently developing the story, several episodes seem to do nothing more than help fill the quota for episodes produced that year. (When an episode focuses primarily on one character having a day of low self-esteem, that is just lame; I am hardly exaggerating.) Perhaps as a result of this, certain key characters in the show temporarily seem unlike themselves, without any plausible explanation being given or even implied. This is also to the detriment of the show’s appeal. Still, by the very end of season two, things are picking up again, even if the season finale is not as compelling as you would hope it to be. I’ve heard from an avid fan of the show that season two is considered a low point in the series, so I’ll happily stick with it and see where it goes. But I remain a bit iffy and far from totally sold on it.
Some further thoughts: it is admittedly ridiculous how these characters carry on. From the get-go, none of them really seem all that bothered about being stuck on an island. Fairly quickly, they act almost as if nothing has happened, which is absurd. The background action is particularly laughable at times, as it seems there is always a person or two just strolling along the beach, as if on vacation. I guess you want something going on in the background to add to the show’s depth and realism, but one can’t help but wonder what all these people are always doing and where in the world they’re always going. The characters also maintain an unbelievably high standard of hygiene, given their circumstances. They are constantly wearing different clothes, their hair is never too crazy, and the women always have their makeup on. The show makes room for this via the surplus of luggage that is left strewn about the beach in the first episode, but would these people really go to such lengths to remain attractive? I’m skeptical.
Complaints aside, I am enjoying the show. Fortunately, basically every episode weaves a story taking place on the island “today” with something from the past, providing us glimpses into the lives of these characters before they boarded the fated flight and thereby giving us a peek at their psychological seams. If you thought the show was all island, all the time, you are as mistaken as I once was. If that was a turn-off for you, don’t let it stop you from checking out the DVDs. The character development provided by way of flashback adds substantial richness and texture to the show’s otherwise sensational narrative. And, if you’re a philosopher like me, you’ll get a kick out of the show’s unabashed nod to philosophy, with characters named after prominent figures in the history of philosophy (e.g. John Locke, David Hume, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau—though any other allusions to these philosophers is far from obvious, at least to me. Then again, political philosophy, which was a common interest among these philosophers, is not my strong suit. There is probably more going on than meets the eye—which would be true to the show’s spirit).