Thursday, October 20, 2005

TV Review: Lost: "...And Found"

So...what happened in last night's episode of Lost? Well, Sun lost her wedding ring (but found it...) and Jin saw the dirty, scabby ankles of the villainous "Others" as they walked by him in the jungle and he hid behind a bush. Did I miss anything?

If you've been reading my reviews of Lost, you know that my love for it is large. I enjoy the heck out of it. And I keep tuning in. But remember last week when I noted that I have a friend in Chesapeake who would probably call the show a cocktease? Well, this week's episode "...And Found" was again closer to the cocktease, further away from the brilliant science fiction show Lost can be.

Last week, I advised the makers of this series to drop the flashbacks, or at least curtail them severely. I hold by that opinion. With a vengeance. This is the third time (between "Adrift," "Everybody Hates Hugo" and "...And Found") that the flashbacks just add a big fat zilcho in terms of characterization or momentum. I like Sun and Jin as much as the next person, but we have already had splendid and touching flashbacks last season about how they met, how they fell secretly in love, and how working for her father nearly destroyed his soul...and created a distance between the couple. So now we have to see a flashback of the time before they first met? Is that really so important? I look forward to the flashback (coming soon...) in which Jin and Sun almost meet in a grocery store, but pick different express lanes and tragically don't yet meet. I mean, come on!

The same criticism holds true of the Hurley flashbacks last week. They were okay/interesting, I guess, but we already knew all this about Hurley. Just as the flashback about Michael in "Adrift" really didn't add much to our knowledge of the character. We already knew he had lost Walt.

Here's the problem as I see it: Lost did a great job with flashbacks last season. A great job. We learned everything we needed to know about where the characters had been prior to the accident to enjoy them being "stranded" together on the mysterious island. In most cases, we even got to see how the characters got to the airport and boarded the doomed plane, bringing us right up to the present. Now, be honest, who cares about stuff that takes place before all that? We already know what we need to know. This is the deal about writing a novel (and editing a good television show), there are certain things we just don't need to see. I don't really need to see Hurley quit his job at a fast food restaurant, or ask a girl out, or lose a friend to "get" the nature of his character. I don't really need to see Michael fighting for Walt in a legal case, because from his very actions, I understand that he loves his son, and feels guilt over losing him (twice). It's clear. The flashbacks don't add anything to the narrative, and in fact, simply hold it back. We're treading water here, folks.

What remains much more interesting on Lost than the tiresome and redundant flashbacks, is what's occurring in the present. Think about it! This season alone we've got the new hatch/bunker and all the new equipment that comes with it (like a washing machine and dryer...). We've met another camp of survivors. We've even (very, very, very briefly...) met the apparently barbarous Others. It seems like the creators of this show could construct some very fine storylines from those ingredients, without having to forage around deeper into the backgrounds of all the dramatis personae.

So come on Lost, stop living in the past. I love you like a brother, but my patience is wearing thin now. Come back to the present, end or curtail the flashbacks, and get down to the business of telling us some compelling and frightening human stories about the survivors of the crash and where they are now.

Not where they were. That's all a given now. We get it...

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