Television Review: “Lost” Season 3, Episodes 1-11

My history with television is slightly strange. I only really started getting into television after the first two seasons of Community had aired, so I have a lot of catching up to do. Luckily The A.V. Club has its “classic” reviews that give me a chance to catch up on things I’ve missed. So when Todd VanDerWerff announced he was covering Lost last year in May/June (then when he moved to Vox, Myles McNutt took over), I was glad of the opportunity to catch up. I had seen the first half of the pilot, the first Kate episode, “Numbers”, “Every Man for Himself” and “Flashes Before Your Eyes”. That’s a strange bunch of episodes to have seen. Last week saw the beginning of The A.V. Club‘s season 3 coverage, and because I was home by myself on Thursday, I ended up watching ten episodes instead of two.

I understand that fans weren’t fond of the first part of season 3, but I didn’t think it was too bad. Admittedly, when I binge on a television show I watch it less critically than when I’m watching it week to week. Furthermore, from what I’ve read about the way the episodes aired, there were six episodes, then a three month break before the rest of the season, which is just bizarre. Given the way that television writers tend to build arcs through various parts of a television season (the second season of Scandal is the best example of this, with the brilliant “Defiance” arc over the first 13 episodes, then dedicating the back 9 to another storyline), this is what should have been done with Lost in this scenario. I can understand why people complained about stalling, because that’s what happened. If it had just been a 6 episode arc in which Jack, Kate and Sawyer tried to escape from The Others’ island, that may have worked. Given the size of the cast however, we had to go back to Sayid, Jin and Sun as well as the rest of the castaways on the beach, and sadly not all of it worked.

I liked The Others’ separate island that wasn’t part of their island camp, and I want to know where they got their information about the survivors. How did they know that Jack was a spinal surgeon, and basically everything about his life? It explains why they only want to take people ‘pure of heart’ (at least that’s what I think Goodwin told Ana Lucia last season), but there also has to be more of that, and it’s impossible to call some of the actions The Others have taken against the castaways ‘pure of heart’. They need Jack because he’s a spinal surgeon and can operate on Benjamin Linus. Why did they want Sawyer and Kate? Ben was particularly interested in Locke last season, and I want those two to have more scenes together. The least interesting aspect of this storyline was the love triangle, and I am constantly amazed that Kate even thinks there’s a choice between Sawyer and Jack. Admittedly Kate doesn’t get to see Jack’s flashbacks, but if she saw them she’d choose Sawyer in a heartbeat. And how can a straight lady not choose Josh Holloway over Matthew Fox? Despite my biases in this post and in The Good Wife, I really do hate love triangles. I just also manage to get sucked into them.

As far as the castaways on the beach go, not much has happened. Mr Eko died even though Locke tried to save him; Hurley got an old car to work (that was a great episode, especially when he bribed Sawyer with beer); they went to visit the Pearl station, and when Kate and Sawyer got back, Kate went to find Jack with Locke and Sayid. Also Nikki and Paulo appeared, and while I don’t hate them the way long-time Lost fans seem to, or even dislike them, I am wondering why they’re there. I mentioned above that I’d seen “Flashes Before Your Eyes” previously, and I had no idea what was going on, because it was the fifth episode of Lost I’d ever seen, but I remembered it as soon as the lady pointed out the man in the red shoes. One of the reason why Desmond episodes work so well at this stage is because we’re learning more about him, and his flashbacks aren’t treading over familiar territory (don’t even get me started on the story of Jack getting a tattoo). Also Desmond’s ability to travel through time are quite fascinating, and it’s interesting that the show foreshadowed (or exposited) Charlie’s death before it happened (I know he dies, but not how or when). Even though many of these early season three episodes were problematic, like all well-made television, they made me want to watch more, and on a basic level, that’s all I ask for from television.

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