Lost Patience

On the commercial breaks during tonight’s episode of Lost, "Every Man
for Himself," I was thinking that the show is on the brink of its capacity for
meaningful ties between characters, and the small container that is prime time’s
43 minutes per week isn’t quite enough to do justice to the complexity
Abrams and crew have concocted. This, of course, is compounded by Lost‘s
signature single-character
back-stories as well as the new layers of character information, from the
originals, to the Tailies, to the Others. The back-stories alone, although
they do introduce coincidence and depth, whittle each episode’s real-time action
to less than 30 minutes. What does all of this add up to? I’m beginning to feel
less patient with the appearance of fill-ins. I mean, who was the fella whacking
coconuts into the sea with the golf clubs? I find myself impatient with non-load-bearing characters for the spare seconds they sponge from
those who’ve been there–and been developing–all along.

So while some folks are attracted to the complexity and find complex
programming to be far more stimulating, it comes at a price, especially when
forced into the tightly constrained mold of 43 minutes for a solitary prime time
episode. Just like the feeling I get when my Bloglines account tips above
120 feeds, I suppose it’s not preposterous to consider the applicability of
thresholds: a kind of Dunbar number for the cast. Too big? Too unstable!
Really, the trouble is that when a character is simply abandoned rather than
overtly killed off, we can’t be sure when to relieve the wondering. Maybe that’s
it: I could use some relief from the wondering.

I’ll continue watching. I’m as hooked/attached/invested as ever.
But unlike any other show I can think of (not that I’m the sort of TV buff who
can list examples much beyond Gilligan’s Island and The A-Team for
comparison), Lost is testing the limits of cast complexity, and it
demands a patience unlike any other show I can think of. Okay, tha’sit.
Time to lay off. My heart rate is approaching 140.

Quickly, just two more things about tonight’s episode (I’m tempted to check
the forums, but must avoid the time-trap):

  • Was the beach Sawyer looked toward from "prison" island the same beach
    where the plane crashed? The beach where the smoke signal was lit in
    Season I? Was this off-shore island not visible from the beach?
  • And what is Hugo doing chunking up a fruit salad (with such fine
    presentation!)? Why isn’t he more distressed? The base camp seems
    too calm to be believed, given the uncertainty about Sayid, Sun, Jin, Jack,
    Sawyer, and Kate.


  1. Yeah, I’ve been a little surprised so far. Four episodes in, and other than a little precog weirdness with Desmond, there hasn’t been much to recommend new viewers to the show. After all the hype leading up to the new season, I would have thought that they’d try a little harder, but I’ve heard that Abrams is stretched really thin right now.

    Considering how quickly Alias jumped the shark when he started working on Lost, I’m not surprised to see Lost now taking a back seat to his other shows. Used to be “one creator, one show,” but the networks are so desperate to replicate success that I can hardly begrudge him the opportunities.

    They’re promising a lot over the next two weeks, and considering that they’re then taking the rest of the year off (I think), they’d better deliver or they’ll return to a much smaller audience.

    (Not that I won’t still be part of it or anything.)


  2. I had to miss last night’s episode and am now completely frustrated in my attempts to watch it online. It just stalls and won’t restart. I have to miss next week’s episode, too, so I have a feeling I’m going to be out of the loop. Guess I’ll have to drop $4 on iTunes. The swine.

  3. “Was the beach Sawyer looked toward from ‘prison’ island the same beach where the plane crashed? ”

    Or just part of the overall theme of the con? Jenny says she agrees, and I do – to a point. I like the ways, however, the show continues to push thematic patterns (dads, wealthy dads, deception, health, etc.). In that, I find the complexity still alive. But – the show does need to start “doing something”; it’s sputtered a bit this season to get going (yes yes we get the point…Sawyer and Kate are in the zoo…maybe they love each other, maybe they don’t, now what?). Let’s get moving with the plot.

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