Tonight was one of those times when I wished I had this whole season of ''Lost'' to watch at once, whether because I had stored up all the episodes, or had the DVD, or someone made the whole thing available at VOD. Then this would be another chapter in a skein that I could watch unravel instead of a semi-event -- the return of a show after weeks of absence, the resumption of a narrative that had been interrupted, like a book you start on a trip, then leave on the plane and don't get around to resuming until much later.
If I could watch this as that single chapter, then I might feel less dissatisfaction. After all, the idea behind the episode -- to show us the saga of ''Lost'' from the point of view of the other flight survivors -- was an intriguing one. And in most respects it was superior to having the characters verbally recap their side of the adventure in the sort of clumsy expository speeches you find on lower-quality soap operas. (''Well, Jean, it's so good to see you again after so much has happened, what with Eric's amnesia and Vita's affair with the pool boy and the shooting that came about when Lyle found out about Vita, and decided to have an affair of his own ...'')
An interesting idea, yes, but not so interesting in execution. We were still spending just an hour trying to get to know new characters, when we had had an entire season to get to know the original ones. The resulting shorthand made a lot of the people seem, well, dull. I wondered if the makers of ''Lost'' had exhausted all their best ideas for survivors when they conceived the series, and some of these were rescued from the reject pile. And extending the episode with a final sequence that went over ground that had already been covered was less of a dramatic device than a way of dragging us along into the next hour.
But when I try to think of this as a single chapter, without the weight that a New Episode! must bear, it feels pretty good. Lots of information, lots of hints -- the stuffed bear, another glimpse of the bunker, the insight into the real Others (smarter and more sophisticated than they at first seemed), mysteries surrounding characters -- and some nice touches, like Mr. Eko's mourning period (or so I saw it) and its conclusion. So I wasn't disenchanted as much as impatient. I'm ready to turn the page, and ''Lost'' hasn't let me yet.