The Great LOST Rewatch – Season 3
It’s been a while since I’ve managed to write something here, thanks to a combination of grad school, moving, and a new job. We won’t get into too much detail here. Instead, let’s dive back into the blogosphere with something else I’ve been putting off for a few months: LOST.
If you’re getting here late, here’s the run down: I hate LOST. But because I’m insane, and know a lot of people who really REALLY love it, I’ve decided to go back over the series to figure out exactly why I hate it so much, and maybe learn to appreciate it … a little. Maybe. You can read my recaps/discussions of season 1 and season 2.
But today, we’re talking season 3, which is actually leaps and bounds better than the previous season, at least in certain regards. This season has a more cohesive story than previously, has some decent character stuff, and definitely does a better job at setting up the enemy. Then again, it’s also where the flashbacks become completely unnecessary, the Jack/Kate/Sawyer triangle becomes tiresome, and there’s a lot of confusion about the Others vs. the Dharma Initiative. Probably my two biggest complaints lie in the flashbacks, and in the confusion. I’d pretty much given up on J/K/S after the last season.
Let’s break it down.
Up until this point, the flashbacks mostly added to the overall narrative, providing context for events and actions that were much easier to show than tell. After season one, they started to get a little thin, though we had new characters to add new meat to the flashbacks. But then season 3 rolls around, and suddenly we’re diving into backstory that feels almost entirely unnecessary. Seeing Kate’s husband humanized her a little, but wasn’t something we didn’t already know about her. Same with her little adventure with Sawyer’s ex to see her mom. What did that add except to introduce more weird character past crossover? How about Jack’s Thailand flashback? Or Locke’s weird hippie period? Or Sawyer’s daughter? None of these things ever come back, nor to they have any real bearing on the story at hand, which just makes them feel like a waste of time we could have spent with the characters in the present.
There are good flashbacks too, of course. Basically every flashback involving Desmond was at least a little useful … or adorable. Flashes Before Your Eyes is a brilliant episode, if only because it is a wonderful character showcase for Desmond. Same can be said about what Greatest Hits does for Charlie. The difference though is that those flashbacks supported damn good episodes. Most of the others just fill space between real story.
Speaking of flimsy storylines, let’s talk about the Dharma Initiative and the “Others” or “Hostiles” or whatever you want to call them. Season 3 pretty much spells the end of any real Dharma Initiative story. I know they come back in seasons 4 and 5, but they’re more of a setting than actual story, if I remember correctly. What was set up so heavily in the first two seasons becomes nothing more than a shrug of the shoulder. There’s no real delving into what they were doing on the island, no explanations of the hatches, no real indication of why the food and supplies kept coming even though it had been years since any of them really lived there. Season 3 seems to be the point where the writers realized they had to pick between the “mystical island” and the “sciencey Dharma folks,” so they doubled down on the mysticism while shunting the things they spent two and a half years setting up to the side.
But inconsistency is pretty much the name of the game. Walt’s weird magic powers, Locke’s “communion with the island,” the smoke monster, the freaking POLAR BEARS. None of that stuff ever really pays off, and it’s used sporadically, not as part of a cohesive mythology or story.
But perhaps I’ve focused too much on the negative. As I said at the start, I actually like season 3 when compared to the rest of the series. There are moments or episodes that bother me, yes, but there are also episodes I genuinely love. The Desmond/Penny ship gives me a relationship to really enjoy, and Charlie’s death is one of the few that is built up over the season, and paid off in a way that was heroic, heartbreaking, and true to character. I’ll even give you the flash forward at the end. It was a really good storytelling decision, since the flashbacks really couldn’t continue past this point, and it sets up a really intriguing point going forward.
It’s just too bad they don’t pay it off as well as they could have.