Is Lost Losing its Way?

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The day I never thought would arrive has just busted down the door, punched me in the face, and called me bad names. Brace yourselves: Lost may be slipping, and is in danger of falling out of that must-see tier of shows with last night's episode "What Kate Does."

Let's get this out of the way first: We all have super-duper-sky-high expectations for Season 6, thinking it will be hand-delivered on a velvet-lined platter by a lingerie-clad Evangeline Lilly (or lingerie-clad Josh Holloway) and redefine everything we know about TV. That's an unfair assumption to put on anything, and because of that I blame myself for not liking last night's episode.

But what's going on here? So far, Season 6 of Lost looks nothing like the previous five seasons of the show, and that's a bad thing. When did Lost become a borderline fantasy program? When did these characters, once so fully fleshed out, revert to cookie-cutter stereotypes? When did the off-island "backstories" become so mundane? In previous seasons of Lost, if something was boring in one part of the show, you at least had the option of paying extra attention to another part of the show. For example, the on-island drama of Season 5 more than made up for the off-island banality of Season 5 (just get back to the island).

The problem so far with Season 6 is that there's little to care about on the island and little to care about in the alt-flashes (flash-sidewayses). Before, they used to work in unison, but in last night's episode, they seemed like individual stories with zero relation at all.

We saw Kate run from the law in an alternate timeline last night, but here's what we learned: Claire isn't the smartest woman in the world. Seriously, who gets in a car with the same person that just abducted you at gunpoint? You are going to make a horrible mother, Claire. Anyone can argue that there is some cosmic force making the Oceanic 815 survivors trust each other in this alternate reality, but to me it felt forced. I'm with TV.com user GiulioCaim, who last week wrote in the comments section that the parallel universe stories are potentially a great storytelling device, because it lets us see the characters without the influence of the island on their destiny. But so far, we're 0 for 1 on alt-flashes showing us anything.

NEXT: It's Always Sunny on the Island! >>

We also saw Rob McElhenney of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia reprise his role as the Other Aldo, and because he's such a big star now, get a much bigger role than his character had before. While it was good to see an Other with a bit of personality for once, it just seemed out of place.

The on-island drama remains as kooky as it was in the premiere, with goofy temples, hackneyed dialogue, and magic pills. This is my biggest problem with the current season. The writers have kept the temple and this other group of Others out of sight for five seasons (probably because it reveals too much when it comes to the show's mysteries), and now they're pulling the sheet off for the big final season. And to tell you the truth, I am pretty disappointed. It's kind of like figuring out that a magician pulls a rabbit out of a hat through a system of secret compartments... once it loses its mystery, it's not as fun to watch.

Also, Jack won't give Sayid the pill because he doesn't know what's in it, but has no problem swallowing it himself to prove a point? Ummm... okay. Also also, enough with the Doc Arzt cameos. Also also also, why on Earth would ABC use that footage of Claire popping out of the jungle with a gun (the episode's WTF moment) in a promo, thus spoiling the big surprise?

Enough complaining, let's talk about the one shining moment from the episode. Sawyer, who up until about 30 minutes into "What Kate Does" was just a repeat of his jerk self from Season 1, really nailed it in the scene with Kate on the pier. He made what otherwise would have been just a sappy scene incredibly watchable. Josh Holloway should have a long acting career ahead of him.

I've said before that it's the mysteries of Lost that keep me hooked on this show, and it's possible that I'm upset not only that the mysteries are being resolved, but that they're being resolved in a way that I'm not too fond of. I haven't given up on the show or anything, but I do have an eyebrow raised for the first time in my Lost-watching existence. I'm just frustrated, guys.

Of course, this could just be a case of the curse of Kate-centric episodes, which for some reason aren't always that exciting. But there is a trend in which the episodes that follow Kate-centric episodes are ridiculously awesome. "Walkabout" and "The Constant" come to mind. Here's hoping that trend continues and Lost bounces back next week.

The Lost Season 6 Episode Power Rankings
(I'll be keeping tabs on each episode, ranking them in terms of quality each week, right here.)

"What Kate Does": While the season premiere gave us TONS to think about, this episode was pretty bland, giving us very little to theorize on and pretty much nothing in the backstory/sidestory. I'm left thinking, "What was the point of this episode?" So it's off to last place for "What Kate Does," and I suspect it will stay there for a while.

1. "LA X (2)" Ep. 2
2. "LA X (1)" Ep. 1
3. "What Kate Does" Ep. 3

Theory update: No new information has derailed my theory from last week, so everything stays the same. Boring, I know.

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