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Lost: Season 1, Part 1 Review

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It's TV's most talked about show, but where is lost going, asks Olly Richards

★★★★

Curiously truncated, this Part 1 release of TV’s current talking point is presumably to sate fans who would otherwise sniff out the full season already available on Region 1. Anyone tearing out their hair to find out what the hell is going on may want to stump up for the US disc, but be aware: you still won’t get many answers.

There should really be a question mark after that title, given the hundreds of “What the Flight 815 is going on here?!” conversations bubbling around watercoolers across the country. Few shows have confused, enticed and repelled with such strength as this Cast Away-cum-Jurassic Park-cum-The Prisoner drama. There are those for whom the lack of answers is a turn-off. But the fun of Alias creator J. J. Abrams’ show has been in piecing together a jigsaw of your own creation.

The passengers of the doomed flight who crash-landed on a mysterious island inhabited by roaring beasties initially seem a one-dimensional bunch. Dr. Jack is a corn-fed all-American hero, fugitive Kate a misunderstood angel, surly Sawyer a mercenary churl. However, as backstories are gradually exposed, the viewer is drawn in. Why are these people here? How do they connect together? Why does nobody grow more than three days’ stubble? You’ll get solutions to none of those. Yet. They’re archetypes to open up the thematic possibilities of the show, pieces to be shifted and switched in the game that the creators play with their audience. Nobody is really concerned over whether Kate chooses Jack or Sawyer, just what might be dwelling elsewhere on the island.

Currently, Lost is virtually interactive TV. Puzzle pieces are scattered steadily, a few fitting together but more often than not creating just further holes. But thanks to the tight scripting and slick production, viewers watch cheerfully in the belief they’re assembling the bigger picture, able to assign any number of meanings to the goings on, from the theological to the science fictional to the conspiratorial.

For now, any could be correct. But already US reviewers and viewers are losing patience — the season’s second half will offer death, baffling numerical symbolism and new and terrifying presences, though little catharsis. The creators claim to have eight years’ worth of plotting, but tricksy teasing can only last so long. Despite this first season culminating in a set-up that will have you bellowing for the next, Lost will need to find some clever solutions to reward the seduction or it risks being deserted itself.

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