Thursday, September 17, 2009

Lost: Second Impressions I

The rewatching of Lost has begun. An opportunity to compare my early reviews with my memories of the first season's episodes, and filter all of that through my understanding of what's going on up to the end of Season 5.

Surprisingly, the first three episodes actually aren't as 'reality' based as I remembered. They've set up the basic structure of the show: that there are big questions to be answered and weirdness to be understood - the monster and the polar bear are chief among them. Rousseau's distress message that's been playing for 16 years is another.

Lost is also quite sophisticated in the way it reveals some of these things: 'The Island can heal' has huge ramifications, immediately establishing that the show is 'not quite real', but it's totally implied - never stated explicitly - in Locke's episode: Walkabout

There's an emphasis on Jack and Kate in these early episodes that seems ... disproportionate to where the show ends up going. Two things that come out of that though are that Kate is great in these early episodes - proactive, gung-ho, involved with everyone. I really want to know when she lost her energy as a character.(*) Also the first meeting between Jack and Kate, when she sews up his wound, is played in such a delightfully off-beat way that it actually set up the possibility of a time loop, that she's travelled back in time to re-experience this moment ... which was the first of several exciting 'Did the writers know what they were doing right from the start' moments in these first 10 episodes.

(*) It's an energy that the writers seemed to want to restore to her, halfway through Season 5 when we learned why she actually went back to the Island.

For instance, there's an enormously interesting moment between Locke and Walt, where Locke explains backgammon to Walt. That there are 2 players - one light and one dark. The significance of this is huge, given what we learned in the last two episodes of Season 5.

Here's what I said originally about the third episode
Later eps of Lost feel like a TV show. This feels like just watching interesting stuff happening. It's not doling out too many plots twists or starting to over-dramatise more than a few characters by involving them in soap-opera issues. The show's just letting people be people.
There a joy in seeing these characters are going to evolve. Michael (who in about 10 episodes time will reveal himself to have a satisfyingly consistent attitude towards Walt). Rose's faith that other people have survived the crash. It's also odd to see so many characters established who disappear in later episodes: Charlie, for instance, and Boone and Shannon (who are both playing much better for me now)

There's also a joy in reconstructing the history of the characters and the objective timeline of the show. For instance, Locke's insistence that he has a destiny, that he HAS to go on the walkabout actually comes from an episode (in Season 4?) when Mr Abaddon visits Locke in the hospital.

My major concern so far is that there's no subtext no story happening below the surface (the stuff that I enjoyed so much when I rewatched Buffy Season 3 recently.) There is a grand game happening below the surface of the episodes, in the background, and in the past ... but I'm not sure that's enough to keep me rewatching. My fear is that, basically, Lost will turn out to be a story about interconnections and conspiracies and grand philosophical ideas ... and maybe not so much about people ...

Previous Lost reviews
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