“Lost” is at the midway point of its final season, so it’s time to check in on what’s working and what’s not as the ABC drama prepares to unleash the island endgame.
Things that work:
—The mythology and the “answers” can be fun to speculate about, but we want each episode of “Lost” to work as an hour of TV, not just as part of a vast jigsaw puzzle. Episodes centered on characters with complex personalities and motivations have worked best this year. Season 6 hours starring Ben (Michael Emerson), Sayid (Naveen Andrews), Locke (Terry O’Quinn) and Sawyer (Josh Holloway) had a lot of poignant and entertaining moments, in both the Island timeline and the so-called Sideways timeline. Given excellent material, these actors ran with it, and even if we’re still scratching our heads over the Sideways scenarios, when they effectively reflect or amplify a character’s struggles, choices and history, they work.
O’Quinn, in particular, is doing his best work as both the calculating “Smockey” (that’s Locke + Smokey) — who may be just trying to survive, may be very bad news or both — and as the somewhat content but still-struggling Locke of the Sideways timeline. As for Emerson, “Dr. Linus” proved again that he’s one of the best actors working today.
Maybe we didn’t need to spend that much time at the Temple of Doom, but we can’t dispute that creepy Sayid, he of the dead eyes and strange demeanor, is chilling in a very intriguing way. Maybe Sayid’s dip in the Temple’s mystical waters wasn’t such a good thing.
—What’s really working is the emerging idea that the final season isn’t about Jacob or Locke and which one of them assembles a “winning” team of acolytes. It may be about the Lostaways banding together to escape those battling entities’ clutches and charting their own course off the island.
Things that don’t work (or only partly work):
—When the “Flash Sideways” scenarios feel like “what if” timelines or “Choose Your Own Adventure” scenes and they spotlight characters who feel mostly or partly played out (i.e. Jack and Kate), they’re much harder to connect with or care about.
—A passive Kate (Evangeline Lilly) is being tossed around the island like a shuttlecock. Sun (Yunjin Kim) is mostly missing in action. Juliet (Elizabeth Mitchell) is dead. Ilana (played by new series regular Zuleikha Robinson) has barely gotten any screen time. One of the characters we’ve seen most on the island, Claire (Emilie de Ravin), is bat-guano crazy — effectively so, but why are the women on the margins this season? It appears that they don’t exactly have epic or cataclysmic roles to play in the proceedings. That’s a bit of a letdown.
Things we want to see:
—More Hurley (Jorge Garcia), Miles (Ken Leung) and Lapidus (Jeff Fahey). So far, they’ve offered great comic relief (“We’ll be in the food court if you need us”) and a good occasional scene, but we would be quite happy to see whole episodes about them.
—Charles Widmore (Alan Dale) always brings villainous goodness, and I confess (again) to my fondness for Pierre Chang (Francois Chau) and anyone from the old-school Dharma Initiative crew. Return visits from Charlotte (Rebecca Mader) and Faraday (Jeremy Davies) would be delightful also. And we can’t forget Michael (Harold Perrineau) and his son “Waaaaaalt!” (Malcolm David Kelley) — or are those characters gone from the show?
—Finally, I am dying to see Desmond (Henry Ian Cusick) and Penny (Sonya Walger), the couple I most want to have a happy ending, and it’d be nice to see where things end up with Sun and Jin (Daniel Dae Kim) as well. Also, anything involving Richard Alpert (Nestor Carbonell) tends to be mythologically delicious.