The sophomore season of Lost is not for the impatient. Whereas the first year's story line was executed with crack precision every twist and turn expertly time-released there are moments in the season 2 collection that have a distinct ''When do we get to the good stuff?'' feel. Viewers hoping for a climactic showdown between the survivors of Oceanic flight 815 and the creepy, child-obsessed Others are instead treated to a slow-burn sociological study of the island's deteriorating group dynamics, as the castaways' already touchy relationships begin to splinter and crack even further. This necessitates plenty of put-'em-on-the-couch character flashbacks, some intriguing (like Kate's patricidal past), and some of which seem like string-along stopgaps (do we really care about Rose and Bernard's pre-accident courtship?). Wisely, J.J. Abrams and his team throw in some tantalizing big-picture clues (a tattooed shark, a decrepit medical facility), and the actors (especially Terry O'Quinn and Yunjin Kim) shade their characters with intriguing ambiguity. But until the momentum picks up in the last half-dozen or so episodes, the Lost: The Complete Second Season feels dangerously unfocused.
And yet, Lost's messy expansiveness is perfect for one-after-another DVD viewing, as moments that may have seemed extraneous on a week-by-week basis are given more weight when watched as part of the program's roots-deep lore. The set has a good eight hours of add-on material, most of it mixing behind-the-scenes production info (including a lengthy script-to-screen breakdown of a single episode) and dot-connecting data (there's a nifty interactive family tree that demonstrates how the characters' lives overlapped before the crash). The deleted scenes, meanwhile, don't move the story beyond its already established parameters, but there are just enough tiny details to encourage armchair conspiracy theorists to update their blogs. The only real letdown is the commentaries, which too often veer into what-a-great-day-of-shooting territory, and wouldn't satisfy even the most entertainment-needy island dweller.
As for season 3, there's no real information on what will happen next on the island though at one point, co-creator Damon Lindelof slips and mentions that the show will become spoiler alert! ''incredibly exciting.'' Over these seven discs, perhaps the most important revelation about the show's future comes from a writer who reassures us that, despite all the left turns and dangling threads that occur in season 2, Lost's ultimate course ''has been thought out it's not just something being made up.'' In other words, they're not going to keep us stranded forever.