p. When ABC debuted a show in 2004 about survivors of a plane crash stranded on an island, many were understandably skeptical about the possibility of extending the concept into a series-length program. The cynics are biting their tongues now as everyone’s favorite castaways continue along their third season, still as stranded and confused as ever. It’s in this confusion that “Lost” has gained its strength and its viewership. The mysterious island raises more questions than it answers, and the loyal devotees who tune in week after week are on the edge of their seats waiting for the next unexpected plot turn.
p. The question now is how much longer people are willing to go without answers; what once seemed like carefully-calculated suspense now looks more like dropped storylines and an overambitious plot. With six episodes under its belt this season, some favorite characters from the hefty-sized cast have had mere minutes of screen time. We have yet to learn what happened to the desperate father-turned-traitor Michael (Harold Perrineau) and his son, Walt (Malcom David Kelley). The uber-attractive Korean couple, Sun (Yunjin Kim) and Jin (Daniel Dae Kim), starred in an action-packed episode that left them jumping out of a hijacked boat, only to return to the rest of the survivors without comment in the next episode.
p. Most of the camera time has gone to the captured survivors; Jack (Matthew Fox), Sawyer (Josh Holloway) and Kate (Evangeline Lilly). While most “Lost” followers must have enjoyed the steamy and much-anticipated scene where Sawyer and Kate got it on in a cage, many are no doubt clamoring for the entire ensemble to reunite and tackle the bad guys together. And, in a manner typical of creator J.J. Abrams, it is no longer clear who those bad guys are. The enigmatic “Others” have now emerged as co-stars of sorts for the original islanders.
p. While the show seems to be encouraging the audience to get attached to the new antagonists, whose serene voices and hippie-like communal living style make them seem like well-intentioned cultists, it’s hard to forget the fate of last season’s added cast members. The “tail-enders” who showed up from the other side of the island have nearly all met an untimely demise. Ben (Michael Emerson), the head hippie in charge and Other-formerly-known-as-Henry Gale, has already been revealed to have a deadly spinal tumor from which only his captured prisoner, spinal surgeon Jack, can save him.
p. In another almost too-convenient twist, Ben divulged to an escape-prone Sawyer that there are actually two islands, one on which the Others are holding the three survivors prisoner, and another on which the castaways are stuck without a clue. Back on the main island, the man of faith, ironically-named John Locke (Terry O’Quinn), seems ready to step into Jack’s role as leader, joined by formerly peripheral islanders who seem poised to be the latest additions to the cast. While viewers may be disappointed by the virtual disappearance of some favorite characters, they can at least find comfort in the return of some dormant plot lines, including the creepy black smoke that recently took the life of the Nigerian drug lord-turned-priest, Mr. Eko (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), as well as the occasional sightings of the likely daughter of season one’s psycho-deadly French woman, Danielle Rousseau (Mira Furlan).
p. The show’s direction is unclear, but fans are unlikely to tag along forever without some answers. Despite the potential of last season’s ending, hinting that the entire island might be explained by some magnetic anomalies, viewers were dumped right back into frustration when the show picked back up this fall. Last week’s episode ended with similar edge-of-your-seat anticipation as a widower Other held a gun at Sawyer’s head while a distraught Kate watched and a clever Jack maneuvered to gain the upper hand back in the operating room.
p. Fans of the hit television show will have more than enough time to let the suspense-filled cliffhanger of last episode settle in; the show will not air a new episode again until February. ABC will attempt to keep its viewers happy for 13 weeks with the new show “Day Break,” starring Taye Diggs, in which the main character wakes up every morning to the same day, a la Bill Murray in “Groundhog Day.”
p. The writers of “Lost” are toeing a fine line between creating enjoyable tension and cheating viewers. The cleverly drawn-out plot may be reaching its breaking point. The show might have been better off as a 13 week filler in the first place.