I have made it to the other side of LOST season 2! Hurrah! If you're not following, I've been rewatching and analyzing each season of the hit show in an attempt to understand just why it is that I loathe it so, and to perhaps find something to enjoy about it.
I think the best part of season two might be that it makes me appreciate season one a little more.
And also Desmond. But we'll get to that later.
One of my biggest issues with this season is the way it treats most of the characters. The first season did a halfway decent job of developing the characters into more than just caricatures, and it did so in a surprisingly balanced manner, at least in comparison to the second season. By season two, characters begin to be boiled down to baser components, filling archetypal roles rather than becoming fully realized people. Jack becomes the pissed off, put upon leader who doesn't share information with anyone, Sawyer returns to being an asshole that no one trusts, Locke is the obsessive, probably crazy, definitely unhinged spiritual-esque worst version of his first season self, Kate virtually stops interacting with anyone other than Jack and Sawyer except when the other female characters need a lady to talk to, Claire and Charlie are heavily sidelined, as are Sun and Jin, really.
Let's discuss some of the issues here:
Jack and Locke
This season becomes very much a Jack vs. Locke season. It's the core argument from season one, Science vs. Faith, but done in a manner that is more than a little obnoxious. The big artifice of this is, of course, the button, and the question of whether or not to continue to press said button. The endeavor makes Jack ever more ornery, and Locke ever more manic, neither transition very subtle or slow, but all at once and within the first three episodes.
Sawyer is the character I felt got most screwed over. In the first season, Sawyer started out as an asshole and a con man, but he at least started to show other sides of himself. He worked with the other castaways, however reluctantly, and seemed like a human being who just had some sort of personality disorder. Come season two, and once he rejoins the castaways he almost immediately conspires with Charlie to attack Sun, set off a paranoid frenzy throughout the camp, and steal the guns and meds so he's back in power ... sorta. At least, so now everyone hates and mistrusts him because he's obviously still an asshole, and that's all he'll apparently every be (more on that once we hit season 5, I think).
Uuuuuuuugh! I will always and forever hate any ship that results from these three, but in season two they switch everything into overdrive. Starts off simple: Jack and Kate actually flirt for the first time! Then things start to get weird as they amp up the melodrama, and turn every scene in which the three of them appear into some sort of pissing contest where no one wins and everyone smells like pee. Kate even actually asks if she should get a ruler at one point.
The other major failing of the second season is it's lack of subtlety episode to episode, like the season is approached one piece at a time rather than as a whole, ongoing story. Parts of it work, which I'll talk about in a second, but most character development happens all at once, with no set up and no real continuation of that story.
Take Kate, for example. In the episode "What Kate Did", Kate very suddenly starts to freak out, breaking from reality a little, and facing down her big demon, and a random horse. But the entire conflict plays out in that one episode. There's no indication that it's coming, no fleeting glances of a horse she thinks only she sees, no weird flashes of her (step)father when she sees Sawyer. Nothing. Just a sudden random horse, lots of hallucinations, a the proverbial cliff that the J/K/S ship takes a running leap off of. And then it's over. No more horse. No more mention of her father. Nothing but the ship, which sucked to begin with.
This happens with basically everyone. Sawyer in "The Long Con", Charlie in "Fire + Water", Claire in "Maternity Leave", and on and on.
But the season isn't completely without merit. The whole storyline with the tail section passengers was well set up in the first season, and very well played out in the second (for the most part, though Libby's death was a cop-out). Most of those characters adds something to the story, and Anna Lucia has one of the few really earned deaths on the show, playing out a complicated character arch that ended the only way it could have, and spurred on the final act of the season.
Then, of course, there's Desmond, or as I like to call him "the only thing I really really love about this show I abhor." We haven't learned too much about the character at this point, but even in the few episodes of time we get with him, it's enough to introduce a fun and interesting character, and the most interesting romantic relationship on the show.
After all is said and done, season two was a far cry from season one, as flawed as that season was, but I know it's still not as bad as what is to come. For now, though, at least I have season 3 to look forward to.