As television shows go, Lost has had a pretty good ride so far. After drawing a massive audience with the mysteries of the first season, the show managed to hold on to most of them even through the sophomore slump, as showrunners attempted to change the dynamic of the series but still weren’t providing much in the way of answers. My biggest frustration with the end of the second season is that it pretty much neutralized the entire episode span. The new characters we were invested in were mostly dead. The hatch which had been made such a big deal of was gone. And for what? How about so the series could return for its third year bigger and better than ever, with answers for some of those long-asked questions, but, as always, with more questions to fill any vacancies.
If you haven’t kept up with the phenomenon that is Lost, here’s the quick rundown. Oceanic Flight 815 crashed on a deserted island, but many of those aboard miraculously managed to survive. Over the first season, as the major characters attempted different ways of finding rescue and battled it out over whether that rescue would ever come (or if it was better to start making the island their home), the viewer began to realize the title didn’t just apply to these characters being lost on an uncharted island. Instead, each of these characters was lost in life, and, frankly, the island was a way for them to discover (or come to terms with) who they really were. Add on top of that the idea that this island isn’t quite what it seems, with debates over what it is ranging between purgatory and an alien experiment, and you’ve got quite a dramatic piece.
The second season infused the cast with new members as the existing characters discovered the tail section of their wrecked plane, which crashed on the other side of the island. The tailies (as they became known) had been through a rougher time, coming into conflict with entities already on the island known simply as “The Others.” Our heroes had already known about the Others from season one, but the second season put everyone directly into confrontation with them, particularly their leader, a man initially known only as Henry Gale (Michael Emerson) who is mysteriously manipulative.
Each episode continues the show’s dynamic storyline, which in the third season focuses even more on the Others than before. Several members of the survivors, including leader character Jack (Matthew Fox), the roguish con-man Sawyer (Josh Holloway), and the connecting part of their love triangle Kate (Evangeline Lilly), had been captured by the Others, allowing us to finally see what their encampment is like. Through this storyline, part of the Others past is revealed, including Henry’s real identity (the name Ben Linus) and some of the real history of the island and the mysterious Dharma Initiative we heard so much about in the second season (the group behind the scientific base “hatches” around the island).
As the episodes continue the storyline, each episode also focuses on one particular character for flashbacks, giving their character some added depth. While season three continues to leap back into the history of some of the characters before they boarded Oceanic flight 815, a lot of the flashbacks show events that happened on the island that we didn’t get to see before. Is it possible the show is running out of pre-island history information on some of the characters? Some major mysteries finally get answers in season three’s flashbacks, such as the origins of Jack’s tattoos and how Locke (Terry O’Quinn) lost the use of his legs. Some of these are satisfyingly resolved considering the time we’ve waited for answers, others are not. I’ll leave it to you to decide which is which.
While the addition of the Others’ culture and history invigorates Lost with a lot of the same questions-without-answers mentality that made the show so great in the first place, the third season is not without its missteps. Particularly horrid is the show’s “mountain lion moment,” Paulo and Nikki (Rodrigo Santoro and Kiele Sanchez). A “mountain lion moment” is a joke among 24 fans (and a term I expect to eventually rival the concept of “jumping the shark” in television lore). When 24’s Kim Bauer had to face off with a mountain lion, it became clear there was nothing for the character to do. Lost faces the same problem with Paulo and Nikki, two members of the survivors who are suddenly (and randomly) brought to the forefront. After investing two seasons on a large amount of characters, it seemed ludicrous that viewers would suddenly be expected to care about Paulo and Nikki just because they were there. When the episodes originally ran, the two quickly gained notoriety among fans and their supposedly-tragic storyline was instead perceived as a welcome release from two characters nobody wanted around in the first place. Viewing the third season as a whole, it becomes even more clear the two were a huge mistake in Lost’s overloaded storyline.
The nice thing is that, despite its large scale story about a mysterious island, Lost remains a character based story, keeping us interested in the people on the island and uncovering the mysteries of the show through their own tales. Even after three seasons there are some characters fans can’t wait to find out more about, although some of this ins maintained by the series through the influx of new characters who have new stories to be shared. In season three Desmond (Henry Ian Cusick), the strange Scotsman from the second season, becomes a key example of this, with several episodes focusing on the character who appears to have picked up a precognitive ability. Juliet, one of the key members of the Others also gets some insight, as does Ben Linus, which is how some of the island’s history before the crash is revealed. The only downside of this is that some tried-and-true characters get stuck on a back burner. One of my favorites, the former Iraqi soldier Sayid, for instance, only gets one episode in the season, turning him into even more of a supporting cast member than he had already been stuck with in season two. The same is true of other fan favorites, such as comic relief Hurley (Jorge Garcia) and Sawyer.
The one major misstep of Paulo and Nikki doesn’t even come close to damaging the season as a whole, however, as the mythos of the island is expanded and rescue becomes even more eminent, leading up to the season’s epic finale which restores Lost’s status of remaining one step ahead of its audience and preparing the show to be reinvented again when the fourth season begins. Instead of the second season’s ending, which, as I mentioned above, got rid of a lot of the new things the season had added to the show, the third season makes it clear this show is not going to backtrack, and the storyline will never be the same again. Just because rescue is eminent doesn’t mean it’s a good thing, as some characters (like Locke) have been trying to say all along. It’ll be very curious to see where the show goes from here and how much the changing dynamic of the series will affect the relationships between characters we’ve grown to love, both for good reasons and for bad.
The third season release is dubbed “Lost: The Complete Third Season; The Unexplored Experience” and promises over six hours of bonus material with “answers revealed.” Don’t believe you’re going to find any more answers than the previous seasons revealed, however. There’s some pretty nice supplementary information here, but more is revealed about the making of the show than any real answers about the world inside of Lost.
The packaging carries on the beautiful tradition of the sets that came before and matches them perfectly. Along the package are a few little hints and teasers of things to come in the series, such as the logo of the hydra station on the side of the package or the little “Jacob loves you” text by the Lost logo, both which tie in to points of the show at some point or another.
The twenty-two episodes of the season are spread over six discs with a seventh disc comprising all of the sets bonus material except for the commentary tracks. Even deleted scenes are located on the seventh disc instead of accompanying the episodes they belong to. The commentaries are pretty interesting, typically involving one of the show’s producers, Carlton Cuse or Damon Lindelof and a couple of the cast members. What’s interesting is Cuse and Lindelof can offer a theoretical side, telling what was intended, but they are rarely on set since they are based in Los Angeles. That’s where the cast members come in handy because they can talk about what happened during actual filming. The combination is smart and results in some interesting and upbeat conversations.
As mentioned, there are a handful of deleted scenes and flashbacks on the seventh disc. None of them are absolutely groundbreaking and I have to admit after three seasons of deleted scenes I still don’t know what to make of this information. Are the deleted scenes canon to the show? Should they be considered part of what was intended, simply cut to match network’s demanding running times, or are they extraneous? I still can’t decide, but since nothing here changes much of anything, there’s not much need to give it too much thought.
One of my favorite aspects of Lost is catching all of the show’s literary allusions and other cultural references. The featurette “The Lost Book Club” looks at some of the literature that has been included in the show, from books just shown in passing to those directly quoted by characters. It’s a nice summary for those who have caught most of the references, or a good guide if you haven’t.
The key focus of the third season of Lost rapidly becomes the Others, and the DVD takes this into account with a featurette focused on “The World of the Others” which brags about secrets and mysteries revealed by cast and producers. As with the book club, most of this is information you could have (and probably should have) caught within the series itself, and nothing groundbreaking is exposed here. Again, it’s a nice summary, although I wish it was a bit more revealing.
Almost all of the other contents of disc seven relate to the making of the series. “Lost in a day” looks at the typical shooting day of the show. “Lost on Location” takes a deeper look at some of the filming locations of the series. There are even featurettes where Terry O’Quinn talks about the skill he’s learned in throwing knives (an important part of Locke’s character) and another one where Evangeline Lilly pays tribute unseen people who make Lost happen: the crew.
As with previous Lost DVDs there are a few easter eggs to be found pushing around on your controller in the DVD’s interactive screens. I found a featurette on the submarine used in the series and a wildly freaky Dharma informational video that I desperately wanted to see become something else – a look into the upcoming season perhaps? Like previous DVD sets, I was disappointed not to see any kind of promotion for the next season, and the easter eggs don’t carry much beyond the joy of finding them – at least none of the ones I found.
Let’s be honest: If you’re a fan of Lost, you’re going to pick up this set. I’m here to tell you that, like the previous two seasons, the DVD is well worth it and the series is a lot of fun to revisit, catching clues we missed the first time and pondering about the future. Unfortunately you’ll find no more answers here than the previous seasons, however. Still, isn’t not knowing the answers part of the Lost experience, unexplored or not?