It’s been two years since Lost premiered, capturing TV fans’ attention and creating endless water-cooler discussions about the island mysteries and the survivors of flight 815.
Here’s a quick rundown of some of what we know:
--There is a list.
--Kate is not on the list because she is not “special.” She is, however, a fugitive.
--Locke’s dad is the real conman “Sawyer.”
--Locke’s dad pushed him out of a window and caused his paralysis.
--Jack is a good guy.
--Sawyer is a good guy, who sometimes does bad deeds.
--Jack “walks among them, but is not one of them.”
--Desmond sees the future and/or time travels.
--A scientific experiment, known as the Dharma Initiative, is involved.
--Hurley is not crazy, just unlucky, or perhaps cursed by his winning lottery numbers.
--Sayid is the brains of the group and once tortured people.
--The island could be purgatory.
--The Others are evil.
--The monster is actually black smoke that mutilates and kills people.
--Electromagnetic energy apparently crashed Flight 815.
--Walt has special powers.
--Claire is Jack’s half sister.
--Everyone is connected.
--The island has healing powers that cured Locke’s paralysis and Sun’s infertility, but oddly enough, not any of the other injuries that killed Boone, Eko and Shannon.
--Charlie kidnapped Sun because Sawyer told him to, in order to get the guns.
--Not entering the numbers in the computer caused weird electromagnetic activity.
After two years, we have some answers. But, apparently, not enough to keep viewers watching the way they once did. The pilot episode of Lost was two of the best hours of television ever produced and better than most films released in 2004, in terms of storytelling, cinematography and sheer edge-of-your-seat excitement. The ratings the first couple years reflected viewers’ fascination, as the show pulled in more than 21 million people on average.
Fast forward to 2007. Lost hit an all-time ratings low this week with just over 11 million folks watching. Why is the show bleeding viewers? It isn’t that much of a mystery, if you talk to some die-hard Lost fans.
Some folks blame the natural fickleness of the television audience. Shows that start out as ratings winners don’t always keep such large audiences. But, in Lost’s case, some — including me — believe the show got off course last year with the introduction of The Others, and it’s never recovered.
Here’s what we do know, Lost fans love the core group of characters we met in year one. We love their beach antics, their flashbacks, their foibles, their pride, their mysteries and how they interconnect. What we don’t love is watching them being captured, tortured and separated from their fellow Losties. (See the aforementioned ratings.) One of the best episodes this season involved Hurley finding a VW bus and enlisting Sawyer, Jin and Charlie to help him get it running. We were back to the beach, finally, with the folks we’ve come to care about.
Some fans tuned out last season because of The Others. Some left because they got tired of waiting for answers that never came. Some found the show “mentally exhausting” to watch because they couldn’t remember each character’s story arc details due to the sporadic way the show aired. Some simply lost interest.
I admit I tuned out last year when The Others took up screen time from my favorites. My TiVo stockpiled 12 hours of the show, before I finally caved in and watched. This season, things are better. The show seems like its old self again. Well, except for Jack playing football with the enemy like nothing ever happened. Um, note to Jack, these are the folks who hung Charlie, terrorized Claire, kidnapped Walt, and tortured your friends. (If you don’t think they tortured Sawyer and Kate, then you try eating a fish biscuit.)
The writers seem to understand viewers’ dissatisfaction with all the new faces and hilariously have written it in to Sawyer’s dialogue. When the two newest islanders were given a flashback episode this week, Sawyer voiced what many of us were thinking. “Who the hell are you?” he said to the new blonde gal on the beach.
Admit it, you were thinking it, too.
I have faith that Lost will return to its season-one glory. Yes, John Locke would be proud. The show may never recapture the monster ratings it once garnered, but hopefully the show creators will continue to unravel the mysteries of the island and entice those viewers who abandoned ship to come back. Even with its unsteadiness, Lost is still one of the best bets on TV.
And did I mention it stars Jack and Sawyer?