Recently, one of this show's actresses, Evangeline Lilly who plays Kate, appeared on the David Letterman show. When asked to explain her complicated series, Lilly paused as laughter ensued. Letterman knew, as he himself said, the show is "satisfyingly enigmatic." It is the biggest and best mystery on TV. It probably wouldn't be as intriguing and so addictive if it weren't so overwhelmingly confusing.
Lilly along with her co-star Matthew Fox, who plays Dr. Jack Shepherd, made the cover of the Feb. 13 issue of Entertainment Weekly. In the article within, Fox is quoted as saying his show "was one of the most innovative, risk-taking, smartest shows ever." Of course, any actor is going to say that about his own program, but, in this case, I feel it's true.
I think by now everyone is aware of this show. Even those who refuse to watch because of its bewildering nature recognize how much of a phenomenon this show is. In the EW article by Jeff Jensen, the creators of LOST admit that they don't care if people refuse to watch. They're trying to tell the best story they can. The fact that they're not trying to cater to a mass audience is why I love and respect them.
As Doc Jensen wrote, LOST had a mass audience, but two years ago, 30 percent of that audience got lost and stopped watching. To answer critics and complaints that the show felt like it was going nowhere, the ABC network said the series must end in 2010. The network also said that instead of 22, each season would only get 13 episodes.
Knowing that they only had a limited time left, the creators realized that worrying if the mass audience would return, or if any new viewers would tune in, was pointless. This focused the creators, and last year, in Season 4, we saw the effects of that focus. It allowed the creators to give us the best season of LOST. It totally made up for the drag that was Season 2. The show for once felt like it had a purpose, as if the writers knew where they were going.
For those who need a recap, the show is about a group of survivors of a plane crash on a remote, uncharted, Pacific island. Dr. Jack Shepherd becomes the group's de facto leader. Kate is the fugitive girl with whom Jack falls in love while taking care of and leading the survivors.
Each episode focuses on one particular survivor, telling the story of how he or she is coping to life on the island. Each episode shows flashbacks to that particular survivor's life before arriving on the island, as to get a sense of their histories and motivations.
Almost immediately, the survivors realize that there's something powerful or magical about the island. The first person to know this is John Locke, played by Emmy winner Terry O'Quinn. Before coming to the island, Locke was paralyzed. Confined to a wheelchair for the flight, once he was on the island, Locke could actually walk again. It was a miracle.
From that point, Locke was all about unlocking the secrets of the island and learning the truth behind its power. For Jack and Kate, all they could do was look for ways to get off the island and back to the United States.
To both those ends, some of the survivors go exploring. At first, they think the island is deserted. Soon, they discover that there are other people on the island, other people who live there and who have lived there for a long time. The survivors call these other people simply, "Others."
The survivors learn that the "Others," some of them, are remnants of a secret government organization, known as the Dharma Initiative. Dharma was conducting experiments on the island as well as doing various things to understand and tap into the island's power.
By the end of Season 2, it had become obvious that these seemingly random survivors perhaps weren't so random, and there might be a deeper purpose, a higher reason that necessitates their presence on that island. By the end of Season 3, whatever that purpose is, it seemed that the Others and their origins would be the vehicle to explaining it.
Sadly, things were progressing or being revealed in a rate that didn't feel so progressive, or revealing. It felt slow and unsure. Then, the network issued its edict for the show's end date, and the creators all of a sudden kicked things into a faster gear. So, season 4 came out of the gate with this premise. The survivors get off the island.
For those who thought this would be a more serious and weirder Gilligan's Island where we would be strung along and teased with the prospects of the survivor's escape for years, we were shocked.
In Doc Jensen's article, the creators claimed that the idea about the show was never about escaping the island. It was always about staying and having these people deal with their issues. Season 5, which we're in now, is finally making that perfectly clear. We see now that it's not about escaping because they've now already done that.
For four years, the show has been rooted as a head-scratching, character-driven, mystery drama. As can be gathered from the first two episodes of Season 5, LOST is now an action-adventure, more plot-driven, science-fiction yarn.
I find it interesting. For the first three seasons, each episode featured a flashback where we learned about a person's history. Now, the people are literally flashing back in time. Yes, Season 5 is the season the survivors learn that they can time travel.
Unfortunately, the time jumps aren't good for their health. Nosebleeds are the first symptoms. Seizures follow. Death is more likely the result. Finding a way to stop the time jumps is crucial, but, in the meantime, it affords the survivors the opportunity to visit the past and perhaps get a better grasp of the island's history and why it's special.
It also affords the writers the opportunity to provide the basis or the groundwork for the next and final 2010 season that will eventually explain the mystery.
Yet, it may just be me, but the creators have also seriously ramped up the action in this series. They forecasted it at the end of Season 4, which included intense fight scenes, shootouts, a freighter exploding, and a helicopter crash. Season 5 so far has had fight scenes, shootouts, and chases the galore, as well as another bad plane landing.
In light of all this sci-fi and action stuff, the personal, human dramas have been lost in the shuffle. The Season 5 premiere tried to do something like that with the character known as Hurley, but even that was a stretch and felt more comedic than anything.
Regardless, the show is riveting. They're focusing less on the characters, so they can get through all this quantum physics, time travel, action craziness, but the characters are all still very compelling, distinct, and strong.
It's the only show where, after the airings, I'll go online and read the blogs and the EW message boards. It's gotten to a point where it's never boring. It certainly keeps me on the edge of my seat, and I will not miss a single episode. I'll be there to the end.
Five Stars out of Five
Running Time: 60 mins.
Wednesdays at 9 p.m. on ABC