Idol Chatter

I’ll admit it, I was initially resistant to the charms of “Lost.” A plane gets ripped in half mid-air and crashes? Undiagnosed vertigo and living in New York City post-9/11 are enough to make that one of my top-10 fears–no need to actually see a dramatic rendering of it on TV. And yet, I found myself tuning in, undoubtedly because of the involvement of David Fury (late of “Angel”), and getting hooked on the sheer insanity of every episode.

Questions, questions, questions in every show: Are they in purgatory? Why did the plane crash? Who were the Others? What was that smoky thing? A polar bear in the tropics? What’s in the hatch? Who’s that Australian guy? Locke is paralyzed and then unparalyzed and then reparalyzed? Is the Hanso Foundation good, bad, or just scientifically objective? And what about those infernal numbers? (I always knew math was evil.)

I loved the sci-fi fantasy elements and the brilliance of various takes on classical literary elements: the irony; the purgatory theory, that the survivors were essentially trapped in their own personal nightmares that would torment them until they learned their lessons; appearance vs. reality, the symbolic geography of the exposure of the beach vs. the safety of the cave; the faith vs. reason struggle among the survivors (especially the clash between Locke and Jack); the crime-and-punishment structure that was revealed as we were given glimpses of each character’s story, and above all the suspense over what unpredictable thing would come next. Knowing that no character is safe from week-to-week gave the whole thing a kind of Stephen Kingy feel, which in my book is a really good thing. I liked being surprised–it seemed more real.

But with this season, it seemed that there were suddenly too many questions. Why do Kate, Sawyer, and Jack suddenly seem to be on Isla Sorna (Jurassic Park’s Site B)? Kate and Jack? Kate and Sawyer? Sawyer eating fish pellets and getting fake pacemakers/explosive devices implanted in his chest? Where did Walt and Michael go? Why isn’t Hurley losing weight? Why hasn’t Sayeed managed much airtime this season? Is “Benry” really evil, or do his eyes and bunny-tormenting just make him look like the serial killer from The Practice? (Ah, Michael Emerson, who looks so normal and plays such psychos.)

At some point, the show seemed to cross a line between “I have to tune in next week?!” and “What’s the point in tuning in next week if there’s no progress in my understanding of what’s happening?!” And then there was the infuriating process of trying to determine whether each week was a rerun or not. (Although it did give rise to one of my favorite sites, which always makes me laugh in admiration of its brilliant simplicity:

What are my hopes for the new “mini-season”? First of all, I hope to actually remember what the bejeezus happened in the last episode (this TVSquad recap‘s a big help), and to avoid any spoilers online or in the evil pages of Entertainment Weekly (which triumphantly trumpets “CAST MEMBER Killed on ’24′” before I’ve seen the episode in which the character in question suddenly died). I hope that “Lost” doesn’t try to find itself with a new, upbeat, ’80s-style theme song. I hope that Kate and Sawyer don’t get eaten by velociraptors. I hope there’s a really good explanation for that Smoky thing, or that it vanishes completely. I hope they don’t find anymore hatches or Hanso outposts.

I hope that Kate, Sawyer, and Jack are really on the same island as all the survivors we know and love. I hope to find out if Juliet is really evil and playing Jack, or if she’s sincerely hoping for the death of Benry (that’s Ben, who used the alias Henry, for those of you not obsessed with all things “Lost”). I hope that the end of the show won’t be Jack waking up from a nap in the Sydney airport and concluding that “it was all a dream, and there’s no place like home.”

Most of all, I’m hoping to enjoy this show again.

All published reports indicate that although there will be more intrigue and head-scratching, the “Lost” producers and writers are working toward an end point, both for the current story arcs and for the series itself. It seems that answers–and storylines for the abandoned castaways like Hurley, Claire, and Charlie–are on the horizon, like a random boat being piloted by Sun and Jin and Sayid… it’s just out of sight, but at least you know it’s there, somewhere. And with new episodes coming every week from now until the season finale in May, hopefully, “Lost” will find whatever it’s been looking for.