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Lost on the Decline?

Lost LogoBy Bert Ehrmann
February 16, 2007
I've been a big fan of the television series Lost ever since I saw the pilot episode of the show back in the summer of 2004. To me, Lost was a bit of a revelation – a well-written drama that wasn't on HBO. I evangelized Lost to my friends. I gushed over Lost in previous columns and on my web site. I told everyone I knew just how good of a show Lost was. As the series progressed, I found myself to be more and more excited about Lost, and waited in anticipation for each new episode.

Lately though, this excitement has begun to be replaced with questions about the series. My main question?  Where is Lost heading? I hate to admit that over the last few months I've found myself liking new episodes of Lost less and less.

To be honest, I never figured that the quality of Lost would last forever. Most television shows begin the inexorable creative decline around the fourth or fifth season. At that point, series writers usually begin to run out of new ideas and begin repeating old ones – like how many times has a person with a gun threatened the staff of ER? And that's what I expected from Lost, that after 100 or so episodes the series would begin the decline and I would begin filling my Wednesday evenings with other things.

Lost CharactersExcept here we are just under 55 episodes into the series run, and Lost is feeling like it's already on the decline. Which is surprising since the second season of the show ended on such a high note last spring. We've gone from the height of drama last season to some surprising story choices at the start of the new season three. Honestly, it almost seems as if we're watching a different show written by different writers.

Warning, the following contains spoilers on season two and the first six episodes of season three of Lost.

Weird story choices have occurred this and last season where new characters have been introduced to the show, given complex storylines only to be killed off a few weeks later. What purpose, other than their deaths, did these "red shirt" characters serve to the storyline? I realize that the island of Lost is a dangerous place, but surly the island wouldn't discriminate against killing new characters versus old?

Worst of all, established characters in place from the start seem to be sidelined this season. What's going on with Hurley, Claire and Charlie? Apparently, other than a few lines and glimpses of them on the beach, not much.

Lost PosterAnd don't get me started on all the mysteries in Lost that have been established over the last few years only to be ignored to keep the plot moving forward. What about the radio signal at the end of season two, Charlie turning evil, Sawyer hiding the guns, Jack seeing the (apparent) ghost of his father, the Polar Bears, the kids from the tail section of the airliner, the crashed drug-smuggling plane, the stealthy and super-strong Others, the French woman… The list of truncated plots goes on and on and there are no answers in sight.

I'm starting to think less and less that Lost is actually leading towards some grand finale, and rather that all these mysteries are in place to keep the show moving forward. Frankly, this all reminds me a lot of the television series The X-Files. That show also started with a large, overlying mystery that was pushed aside again and again simply to keep things moving forward. Solving the mystery would end the show, and who wants to do that when lots and lots of money can be made if the series keeps moving ahead?

But all hope is not lost. Lost creators have recently said that the show is working towards a conclusion and the writers will end the show after five seasons. Still, what are the odds that ABC is about to bench its cash cow in just a few years time rather than nine or ten? Hopefully, I'm wrong about Lost and my problems with the show are just some aberrations. Lost airs Wednesday nights at 10:00 P.M. on ABC.