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In an effort to reignite fan interest before the fourth season returns in January, the creators of "Lost" unveiled a new facet to the island drama: A 13-part series of webisodes, or "mobisodes" as they're billed to the sneak-peak Verizon Wireless crowd, debuted online Nov. 12.
What can viewers expect from the two- to three-minute snippets of "Lost" that are collectively called "Missing Pieces"? Those looking for a taste of the dark mysteries they've missed since last season may be disappointed. Despite the promise of newly produced material, the webisodes feel like the stuff of DVD extras.
Here's a rundown of the pieces so far and how they fit into the "Lost" puzzle.
'The Watch'This first webisode belongs to the season one story "Do No Harm," when viewers learn of Jack's fiancée, Sarah. But rather than dealing with Jack's Sarah woes, it's all about the usual daddy issues, which are multigenerational in the case of the Shephard family.
Papa Christian offers Jack a watch his father gave him and then tells his son the story of what a jerk Grandpa was. See, Dad never wore the watch because Gramps delivered it with a message about how Christian screwed up by marrying Jack's mom. Jack wonders if the senior Shephard is saying much the same thing by passing it to him. Alas, no. Christian says his boy has "made the absolute right choice." The end.
"The Watch" is basically pointless.
'Hurley and Frogurt' The second vignette focuses on a character no one knew existed: Frogurt (yes, Frogurt), a character who never showed up in the series. Sure, he was mentioned in season two and a few podcasts, but otherwise? Nothing.
This webisode fills a space in "Two for the Road," when Hurley plans his date with Libby just before her date with a bullet. And it seems to serve no other purpose than injecting a little Hurley humor.
The big fellow fetches some vino and bumps into his rival-in-love. See, Fro wants to put the moves on Libby, too. "Look, Tubby, you're holding up the line," he snarks. "You and I both know you're not going to get past doing laundry with her. Soooo, how 'bout you back off and let a real man show her what's what?" A battle of "am too!/are not!" ensues with Hurley getting the final one up.
The humor doesn't work. Neither character gets any worthy zingers, and besides, the Hurley ha-has here rely on viewers forgetting the not-so-funny fact that Libby's about to die.
'King and the Castle'
Back to Jack, but this time Ben's around for a face-off set during Jack's season three captivity in "The Man from Tallahassee." This time the theme centers on building some retrospective foreshadowing.
Ben and Jack rehash the escape-by-sub plan over a game of chess, with the big baddie saying he intends to honor their deal. Jack hits on the semantics and asks, "Intend to or will?" Ben all but moustache-twirls that the decision isn't his alone, the island will have its say. Not buying into the idea of landmasses disabling a sub of their own volition, Jack eyes Ben warily.
This webisode almost satisfies, not due to the story (which makes one wonder why Jack ever thought he'd leave via sub in the original episode) but Ben's deadpan dastardly presence.
'The Deal'Michael's back, somewhere between the second season's "S.O.S." and "Two for the Road," being held by the Others. It's time to get into his head and figure out how he later justifies killing some good guys.
Joined by Juliet, who engages him in a "trust Ben" talk, Michael listens as she retells how Ben saved her sister's life. "What's the point of saving her life if you can't be with her?" Is Michael really that stupid?
"Wouldn't you do anything to save Walt?"
So that's his motivation? In a single line, Juliet makes him realize people you love are important, and therefore it's OK to plug Ana Lucia and Libby if it comes to that. It boggles the mind.
'Operation Sleeper'The most useless of the webisodes, "OS" takes place between last year's "D.O.C" and "The Brig," and offers nothing new.
Confessing to Jack that she continued to work for Ben even after joining the beachcombers, Juliet assures him that seeing Sun's baby-to-be changed her plans. The conversation then turns back to the failed escape. Juliet berates herself for being naïve enough to believe Ben would really let them leave. But when Jack reminds her that Locke blew up the submarine, she gives him a knowing look and gasps, "Did he?"
Juliet's initial allegiance to Ben and her subsequent confession to Jack were well established without this scene. Who doubted Ben was the mastermind behind the sub plot anyway?
'Room 23'If there's any promise to be found in the "Missing Pieces," it's in episode six. The events occur sometime during the second season and feature a concerned Juliet and a befuddled Ben trying to sort out the mystery of Walt outside of room 23 of the Hydra station.
"He did it again," Juliet informs Ben. Later she points to a hefty collection of bird carcasses residing below Walt's boarded window.
If nothing else, this confirms that an angry Walt has power over the aviary community. But most fans were keen to that when Walt's frustration with his mother led to a songbird's demise. The best part is that this hints at why the Others allowed Michael to take Walt away — the freaky tyke freaked them out!
The problem with all these morsels of plot shown via V Cast and ABC.com is simple: New "Lost" mysteries and meaningful reveals aren't likely. That would alienate the TV-only audience. Instead, the creators fill gaps that don't need filling. The installments fail to form a cohesive stand-alone arc, leaving viewers with little more than a series of fragmented scenes, presumably no better than those left on the cutting-room floor.
Ree Hines is a regular contributor to msnbc.com.