…Seasons One and Two of Lost.
Mixing suspense and action with a sci-fi twist, it begins with a thrilling pilot episode in which a jetliner traveling from Australia to Los Angeles crashes, leaving 48 survivors on an unidentified island with no sign of civilization or hope of imminent rescue. That may sound like Gilligan’s Island meets Survivor, but Lost kept viewers tuning in every Wednesday night–and spending the rest of the week speculating on Web sites–with some irresistible hooks (not to mention the beautiful women). First, there’s a huge ensemble cast of no fewer than 14 regular characters, and each episode fills in some of the back story on one of them. There’s a doctor; an Iraqi soldier; a has-been rock star; a fugitive from justice; a self-absorbed young woman and her brother; a lottery winner; a father and son; a Korean couple; a pregnant woman; and others. Second, there’s a host of unanswered questions: What is the mysterious beast that lurks in the jungle? Why do polar bears and wild boars live there? Why has a woman been transmitting an SOS message in French from somewhere on the island for the last 16 years? Why do impossible wishes seem to come true? Are they really on a physical island, or somewhere else? What is the significance of the recurring set of numbers? And will Kate ever give up her bad-boy fixation and hook up with Jack?
What was in the Hatch? The cliffhanger from season one of Lost was answered in its opening sequences, only to launch into more questions as the season progressed. That’s right: Just when you say “Ohhhhh,” there comes another “What?” Thankfully, the show’s producers sprinkle answers like tasty morsels throughout the season, ending with a whopper: What caused Oceanic Air Flight 815 to crash in the first place? As the show digs into more revelations about its inhabitant’s pasts, it also devotes a good chunk to new characters (Hey, it’s an island; you never know who you’re going to run into.) First, there are the “Tailies,” passengers from the back end of the plane who crashed on the other side of the island. Among them are the wise, God-fearing ex-drug lord Mr. Eko (standout Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje); devoted husband Bernard (Sam Anderson); psychiatrist Libby (Cynthia Watros, whose character has more than one hidden link to the other islanders); and ex-cop Ana Lucia (Michelle Rodriguez), by far the most infuriating character on the show, despite how much the writers tried to incur sympathy with her flashback. Then there are the Others, first introduced when they kidnapped Walt (Malcolm David Kelley) at the end of season one. Brutal and calculating, their agenda only became more complex when one of them (played creepily by Michael Emerson) was held hostage in the hatch and, quite handily, plays mind games on everyone’s already frayed nerves. The original cast continues to battle their own skeletons, most notably Locke (Terry O’Quinn), Sun (Yunjin Kim) and Michael (Harold Perrineau), whose obsession with finding Walt takes a dangerous turn. The love triangle between Jack (Matthew Fox), Kate (Evangeline Lilly) and Sawyer (Josh Holloway), which had stalled with Sawyer’s departure, heats up again in the second half. Despite the bloating cast size (knocked down by a few by season’s end) Lost still does what it does best: explores the psyche of people, about whom “my life is an open book” never applies, and cracks into the social dynamics of strangers thrust into Lord of the Flies-esque situations. Is it all a science experiment? A dream? A supernatural pocket in the universe? Likely, any theory will wind up on shaky ground by the season’s conclusion. But hey, that’s the fun of it. This show was made for DVD, and you can pause and slow-frame to your heart’s content. Just try and keep that head-spinning to a minimum.
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