Thursday, March 19, 2009

Lost, but not lost...

Four and a half years ago, almost to the day, I and about eight of my college friends crowded into the 5 foot by 7 foot living room/office of my apartment behind the South 14th Street Discount Market to watch the premiere of a little show called Lost. It was a memorable episode that launched a two hour long discussion of the many weighty philosophical questions raised, including: "Where did the polar bear come from?", "What was Kate's crime?", "What's in Sawyer's letter?", "What is the monster?", and "Who is the French woman?" 93 episodes later, have these questions been answered? Yes, yes, yes, sort of, and yes, respectively, but dozens more have been raised in their place — and that's just the way we like it.

Lost is now in its fifth season, and has mastered and then reinvented the art of answering questions with questions. Far too many shows attempt this; Lost achieves it in a way that fascinates and so completely defies prediction that I have long since stopped trying. What other show could lead four grown men to spend four conversations in a single day pondering the revelations produced by a ten year old boy bringing a sandwich to a prisoner in a jail cell?

Lost's other great skill is its ability to deliver on the promises it makes to the audience and the questions it makes them ask (thus inspiring confidence that the questions that haven't been answered yet will be answered eventually). Last night's episode, the ninth of the fifth season, is a perfect example. The previously mentioned sandwich delivery shed more light on several questions, some from as far back as the middle of season 2, while ominously foreshadowing other events that we saw happen in season 3. The rest of the episode tied in perfectly to briefly mentioned events from seasons ago, added yet more insight into the histories of long-running minor but pivotal characters, deftly juggled two plot lines separated by decades and, of course, raised yet more questions. The best part? Even if you didn't catch on to any of these connections, it was still great TV.



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