Unofficial "Lost" power rankings
It's one thing you can't help but notice about a show with an ever-expanding cast -- how certain characters become more important than others over time, and how rampant speculation over someone's death (ahem, Claire, ahem) is largely the result of inactivity.
With those parameters in mind, I thought it'd be fun to rank the Top Ten "Lost" characters currently on the show, not necessarily according to their face time, but rather, according to the level of intrigue, excitement and importance they'll provide as layer after layer slowly peels away in upcoming seasons.
Feel free to disagree -- in fact, I encourage you to do so and leave a comment -- but ultimately, my Top Ten reveals a heavy bias towards a few morally ambiguous characters and a rather obvious boredom with love triangles (or squares? rhombi?) of the Jack-Sawyer-Kate-Juliet variety.
1. Desmond Hume: When Desmond arrived in Season Two as a paranoid hatch dweller listening to Mama Cass, few fans could have imagined his rollercoaster storyline from shipwreck victim to naked island savior to confused Royal Scot to nose-bleeding time traveler to ... man, who knows where he'll end up next? Either way, if it's a Desmond episode, be prepared to buckle up and enjoy the wild ride.
2. Ben Linus: If brutal beatings were the only criteria, Ben would be a shoo-in for the top spot. But as his face continues to heal, Mr. Linus has also transformed himself into a sympathetic, often hilarious figure -- the rare misunderstood villain who never seems to lose power even when he's at his most vulnerable. Or maybe some fans continue to see him as pure evil -- he's a master manipulator of Locke, after all -- but there also seems to be real fear of impending doom beyond those bulging eyes.
3. John Locke: You're either a Jack fan or a Locke fan. And it's still unclear even in the wake of the coffin reveal and Jack's island withdrawal if "Lost" fans can have it both ways. But even Locke has his doubts -- remember what happened when he kept Eko from pushing the button -- and he's still allowing Ben to pull the strings despite his Moses-like attempt to save his crew from the Freighter Four. Still, his communion with the island is riveting. You can't help but love what Baldy brings to the table.
4. Charles Widmore: Does Widmore really want to keep Desmond away from Penny? Or does he know that Desmond is ultimately the one who brings him to the island in some capacity? A Widmore-Ben showdown is being teased, but since so many questions have yet to be answered, his seemingly sinister role on the show should only continue to evolve. This dude has some serious layers.
5. Jacob: "We all answer to someone, John." So far, it's all in the eyes for the enigmatic Jacob. But if Ben is getting his cues from ol' Cabin Boy, then he'll definitely hold some pretty important cards in the future. Either way, it's masterful seed planting by Team Darlton.
6. Sayid Jarrah: Having been dragged down by puppy love during Shannon's redemptive arc, Sayid appears close to getting his torturer edge back. He's also at the "heart" of some catastrophic episode that was briefly teased in "The Economist." Oh, and he's killing for Ben in the future. Go figure.
7. Daniel Faraday: Like Desmond, a rare new addition that fans have immediately embraced. Too twitchy and naive to be a hardcore "bad guy," Faraday also remains a huge mystery -- particularly his deja vu-like experience when he's seen crying at footage of the Oceanic 815 wreck. A fellow time-traveler? Likely. Just keep giving us more crazy physics experiments and we'll be happy.
8. Jack Shephard: The good Doc has "lost" some thunder in Season Four. Still, his "We have to go back!" exclamation at the end of Season Three will continue to reverberate throughout every episode until his desperation is adequately explained. Truthfully, as the heart and soul of the series so far, it's about time he took a bit of a backseat. But he'll be at the forefront again ... grizzly beard and all.
9. Michael Dawson: His return was a bit anti-climactic, but the revelation that Michael can't kill himself "because of the island" is bigger than anyone probably realizes. Plus, it's always good to throw in some more tension -- Sayid turned him in to the freighter Captain at the end of "Meet Kevin Johnson" -- though we'd like to see his son, Walt, get some more airtime now that "Kev" is back.
10. Hugo 'Hurley' Reyes: No longer a comic relief character, Hurley even pulled a devious bait and switch on Sayid and Kate in Season Four. Finally, his character has some teeth -- and not just for munching on Apollo candy bars. Some type of disastrous Oceanic Six split occurs, and Hurley is at the center of it. An intriguing place to be for the show's lighthearted moral conscience.
-- Thomas Rozwadowski, firstname.lastname@example.org