After the whirlwind ride of Season 1, the second season of the hugely popular ABC drama/sci fi series goes a long way in answering many questions from the first outing, while raising entirely new ones that hint at a much larger plot and much deeper rabbit hole than ever seemed possible. (Spoiler Alert: Having only seen through the first two seasons, I can’t give anything away about the rest of the show. But be forewarned–if you have not watched the show through the end of Season 2, you might be hit with some information you might not want.)
As any high school English student knows, the first part of any story is the exposition: the introduction of characters, conflicts, setting, and plot. And while the first season of Lost was engaging and entertaining in its own right, all the events set up in those original 25 episodes were really just about laying the groundwork for the rest of the show. Season two expands on much of the original framework while giving fans all sorts of new twists and turns to speculate about around water coolers nationwide. The survivors of Oceanic Flight 815 begin to segregate into a few distinct groups, each discovering clues that served to unravel many strands of the larger mystery of the island. In what at first seems like an unnecessary subplot, Michael, Sawyer, and Jin find themselves washed ashore with the survivors from the tail section of the plane. But as the show’s tagline says, everything happens for a reason, and it’s not long before we realize how interconnected these people are with the rest of the survivors. Meanwhile Jack and Locke, while spending much of their time in the hatch, spend a good deal of time figuring out their own answers while also dealing with a man Rousseau caught in one of her traps who may or may not be one of the Others. Topside most of the regulars from Season 1 are back to form new relationships, embark on journeys to different parts of the island, and search for answers to some of the long-burning questions about the island.
It’s a fantastic testament to the brilliance of the writers that various events which seemed trivial and innocuous throughout the first season turn out to be of the utmost importance during the second season. Rather than throw distracting red herrings at the audience, there is hardly a single character, event, or object that is not steeped in meaning. Perhaps more than any other serial drama I have ever seen, Lost treats its audience and subject matter with the utmost respect and care, rarely resorting to cheap tricks such as killing off characters to solve a case of writer’s block or inventing contrivances to link current events to past plot points. There are much deeper themes at work here too, and every person on the island must deal with skeletons in his or her closet, confront personal demons such as drug addictions or marital conflicts, or rise to challenges of leadership and personal sacrifice. For instance Locke, who used to operate on blind faith alone, begins to question everything he once knew while virtually trading places with newcomer Mr. Eko, a priest who is sure of what he hopes for and certain of what he cannot see. It’s this multidimensional characterization, along with a seamless blending of science fiction, religion, and traditional drama that separates Lost from other dramas, and these ideas continue throughout Season 2 in masterful form.
There are a couple of low points of the season, though–particularly some strange choices made by Sawyer and Charlie in “The Long Con” that seem uncharacteristic and are never met with much follow-through. A few episodes seem like outtakes from Days of our Lives, and the he-said-she-said dramatic tension that surfaces a few times feels forced and out of place. The pacing is a bit slower this time as well, since much of the action takes place on the beachfront camp or inside the hatch, and the exploration is more of a personal than environmental nature. I am also a tad disappointed that Shannon and Boone were jettisoned so early on, to be halfheartedly replaced with the altogether uninteresting Rose and Bernard. But nitpicking these missteps is like dismissing the grandeur of Yellowstone National Park because of the mosquitoes. The hallmark of Lost is the way each answered question (Where did the other plane come from? Who is Rousseau? What’s the deal with Henry?) leads to a host of new questions, and while the character drama isn’t as interesting this time around, partly because the backstories of many of the survivors have already been explored, the new questions raised are as compelling as ever.
By the end of Season 2, which takes place over roughly three weeks on the island, the survivors aren’t in much better shape than they were at the end of Season 1. They are still stuck on the island, still scared of The Others, and Jin still can’t speak a lick of English. But they have far more food thanks to the hatch, and their attitude has shifted from trying to find a way off the island to finding a way to dig in for the long haul. And in a sense, so are we. At this point it’s clear there are far greater forces at work, with stakes that are infinitely higher, than what we knew when the show began. I’m not frantically wondering what will happen next like I was during the middle of the first season, though Season 2 does have its share of nail-biters to be sure, but I am simply awed at the spectacle that is beginning to unfold and eagerly awaiting the next season to see another chapter in how it will all play out.
Last 5 posts by Simon R.
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