It was bound to be tough for "Lost" to earn the same critical acclaim for its second season as the ABC hit did in its first year. The novelty of the plane-crash survivors' plight, the creative use of flashbacks, and the endless revelations of symbols and secrets might easily become tired. And some fans claimed that "Lost" had indeed become lost in its second season, that the writers were piling up red herrings and throwing in new mysteries with no hope of ever tying them all together.
But despite its share of bland episodes and frustrating new clues, "Lost" has seemed to rejuvenate itself just in time for its May 24 finale. In the May 3 episode , desperate dad Michael proved the catalyst for a culling of the cast that turned some of the show's plot on its head.
With that said, here's a look at some very subjective best, worsts, and other thoughts about this season of "Lost."
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BEST MAIN CHARACTER
Eko. Before he arrived, it was definitely Locke, who had an air of mystery, an unexplained past, and a weird fascination with the Swan station hatch. Eko has an even more giant air of mystery,
WORST MAIN CHARACTER
Kate. Charlie was a contender, but he's at least supposed to be dopey. Kate is supposed to be a criminal, a killer, a con woman, and yet she's horribly boring and fills all the worst female stereotypes, including sneaking after the boys and getting herself caught. Why couldn't she have been in the hatch when Michael opened fire instead of Ana-Lucia and Libby?
CHARACTER WHO NEEDS MORE SCENES
Sayid. Oh where have you gone, Iraqi torturer and all-around badass? Aren't there some spies you can tie up or some radios you can fix?
CHARACTER WHO NEEDS FEWER SCENES
Jack. Yes, he's the hero. But does he have to be so good and predictable and dull about it? Re-imagine this show if Eko (or Sayid, or Locke) were in as many scenes as Jack. A lot more would be going on, that's for sure.
BEST CHARACTER TURNAROUND
Michael goes bad and shoots Ana-Lucia and Libby , and lets Henry free. Sure, he was acting odd after returning from The Others' camp, but we never saw this coming, and it suddenly made the show's future feel freshened.
WORST CHARACTER TURNAROUND
Charlie. He doesn't understand why he's having visions and spooky dreams and waking up knee-deep in the sea holding Claire's baby. Neither do we, but the difference is, we don't care.
Ana-Lucia. Her murder came out of nowhere and completely woke up a sleeping audience.
Shannon. Who? If everyone's forgotten you this quickly, you must have made one heck of an impression.
BEST ANIMAL CHARACTER
Vincent. How about, as some Internet wits have suggested, a flashback episode from Vincent's point of view? We could watch him sniffing around the humans and, through his innocent eyes, see what the others (and the Others) do when no one but a dog is watching them.
WORST ANIMAL CHARACTER
We're done with the polar bear now, right? Good.
Without question, this goes to Eko's first flashback, in which, as a child in Nigeria, he's forced to murder a man and then kidnapped and forced into a life of war. Parts of Eko's flashback are brutal and hard to watch, but learning about the horrors of his life help explain both his steely strength and his devotion to his dead brother, a priest.
We get it. Charlie is a rocker, and a drug addict. Now, did we really need to see him and the rest of Driveshaft standing in a giant crib wearing diapers, filming a nappies commercial? We're laughing at you, not with you.
The discovery of The Pearl, a surveillance station where people apparently had to spy on those in The Swan and fill notebooks full of their observations. And you thought your job was boring.
So Claire was kept in a hidden Dharma medical facility by creepy Ethan, and given some kind of shot in her pregnant belly? With a mobile full of little planes? Eh, well, she doesn't seem too concerned about it, so why should we?
CLUE THAT THE WRITERS WILL NEVER RESOLVE
The numbers. 8 15 16...hike! Oh, you know the drill. The numbers started out as one of the more fascinating of the mysterious "Lost" elements, but that was before they started showing up everywhere, from Hurley's winning lottery ticket to the hatch itself. The writers are pretty much just throwing them in wherever they get bored now.
CLUE THAT THE WRITERS HAD DAMN WELL BETTER RESOLVE
The cool magnetic pull that was yanking Eko's cross forward. We know the Dharmites have researched magnetic issues. Have they somehow figured out how to interfere with the compasses on various crafts, thus sucking planes, boats, and even hot-air balloons into the island? Now there's a juicy plot we can sink our teeth into.
BEST UNEXPLAINED FLASHBACK EVENT
How did Locke get paralyzed, dammit? Explain, already! We bet it somehow involves that rotten dad of his.
WORST UNEXPLAINED FLASHBACK EVENT
Why did Jack's marriage break up? Was his father a factor? Was Desmond? Does anyone care?
BEST SAWYER NICKNAME
"Jabba," for Hurley. It's cruel, but now we're picturing Sawyer in Princess Leia's little gold slave-girl bikini.
WORST SAWYER NICKNAME
"Freckles," for Kate. That's a dog's name.
"We're gonna have to watch that again," as spoken by Locke, after watching the first Dhama initiation film. So good a line, it reverberated later in the season, when Locke and Eko found a film in The Pearl station. "Are you going to want to watch that again?" asked Eko.
"I'm sorry I forgot the blankets!" Hurley usually has one gem of a line every episode, but draped over a dying Libby, he referred back to the picnic they never had with an apology that was meant to be poignant, but just came off as weird.
BEST THEORY ABOUT THE SHOW
One reader suggested to us that the main characters represent the seven deadly sins. Disregarding the fact that there are more than seven characters, we love this idea, especially the matching up of the sins. Let's see, Hurley is gluttony, Sawyer is lust, Charlie is sloth...or is Sawyer sloth? And maybe the others match up with virtues instead. See, we could do this all night. This theory has legs.
WORST THEORY ABOUT THE SHOW
"It's Purgatory!" Ugh, no, that's boring and dull and been done before. No, it's not Purgatory.
Gael Fashingbauer Cooper is MSNBC.com's Television Editor.
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