"...And Found"

OCTOBER 29, 2010


As promised in yesterday's review, "...And Found" is an episode that hit home for me, albeit a few days later. The episode has a few plots, but one of them is about Sun losing her wedding ring, with a big part of the problem being that it's something she's just so used to having on she became unaware of it. I didn't think much of it at the time, but 4 days after it aired, I was in an insane panic, because I myself lost my ring.

At that point I had been married for 4 months (almost to the day) and thus had started getting used to having it on. And I remember the date because I was packing up my car in order to leave for Los Angeles the next morning*. While taking the final bag out to my car, I noticed my ring was gone. So I ran back into my room and looked on the desk where I kept it at night (I don't sleep with jewelry), in my pockets, around the floor, etc. Then I became convinced that it was packed, so I tore apart every bag in the car (luckily, my wife wasn't home at the time, so I didn't have to pretend I was looking for something else to keep her from killing me). Then the worst thought came - I had taken a bag of trash out to the dumpster... it might be in there! Into the damn thing I went, taking every single bag out (and, let's face it, a lot of stuff was not in bags) and disassembling my own, used snot rags, not-totally-empty microwave meal plastic trays, fruit peels... the works. Flash-forward a disgusting half hour or so later: still no ring. I was devastated, and began debating whether to tell my wife or do like Jack did and get a replica. As I went to start typing an email (or something), my keyboard wobbled, as one of the little stands on the back had become closed. I picked it up to fix it... and there was my ring. Somehow it had slid under the board, and in my panic, despite it being an obvious place to look, I skipped over it.

Long story short - upon repeat viewings, I felt myself sympathizing with Sun more than any other single event/character in the show ever. Glad she found hers too!

Even without the personal connection, this is a damn fine episode, because a lot of it is built around the relationships these folks have formed over the last 50 days. You got Jin risking his life to find Michael on one side of the island, and Kate, Hurley, Locke, and Jack (separately) each having a nice moment with Sun about her ring (Hurley's story about "A buck thirty-five in nickels" is a particular highlight), each offering their own brand of comfort. And then in the flashbacks, we have the story of how Jin and Sun met. It could have been a mess to essentially have two episodes' worth of flashbacks in one, but the writers make it work without short changing anyone.

Basically, they're both simple but important stories - we learn about the pressure Sun was getting to find a mate, and we also learn that Jin has his pride but also does not forget where he came from and will stick up for someone in need. And of course, had he not quit his job after his boss berated him for helping a poor man not unlike himself, he might not have met Sun, so that's a damn good/lucky quality to have. And we know Sun will end up nailing that bald dude eventually, so I guess she got to have her cake and eat it too.

Jin's English is starting to improve as well - he can convey simple ideas ("Walt." "Go." "Fish.") and seemingly understand the other folks in general terms. The scene where he fishes is pretty awesome, not just because it proved he was smarter than the others, but he also got to upstage Ana Lucia in the process. Our hero!

The episode also contains one of the show's most memorably unsettling moments, when Jin and Eko (whose name we finally learn in this one) hide as the Others pass. First of all, none of them have shoes, which is weird, but the shot of that teddy bear being dragged along with them is mega spooky. We also get a glimpse at (dead) Goodwin, who we'll learn all about in two episodes, and will provide the final link to prove that Lost is a show after my own heart, albeit in a Kevin Bacon-y way.

Where are we?

*I chose this particular week partially because Lost wouldn't be on and thus I wouldn't have to worry about missing it while on the road. Keep that in mind for my review of tomorrow's episode!


"Everybody Hates Hugo"

OCTOBER 28, 2010


Now this is how you do a "telling us stuff we already know" flashback. When "Numbers" showed us that Hurley won the lottery, they didn't show that he sat on the ticket for a few days, not telling anyone and seemingly trying to avoid actually cashing in the dough (a far cry from me - if I hit 2 bucks on a scratch ticket I practically run back into the store), which is what we see in "Everybody Hates Hugo". Yes, we know that he will collect his earnings, but the episode shows us that Hurley, above all else, wants things to stay the same and doesn't want people to resent or use him, which is something we DIDN'T pick up on from the other episode.

It's also the first (I think?) instance of a flashback being cut rapidly back in forth with the island stuff. As Hurley breaks down to Rose, explaining how everything is going to change and he will be hated, we cut a few times back to the night his "secret" was revealed, with his friend looking betrayed and Hurley practically crying as the reporters swarm around him. Obviously, the flashback structure would be modified and experimented with a lot over the show's run, and this was sort of the baby steps of that process (in a couple weeks, we'd get an episode that was basically one long flashback, and later in the season, we'd get flashbacks to stuff that occurred a few days before on the island out of sight of our heroes).

You notice I mentioned Rose - she returns here! It's her first appearance since she helped snap Charlie out of his shell about halfway through season one, and her role here is very similar, being all calm and level-headed while helping one of our heroes get through a sticky spot in their journey. But it's no mere coincidence, she had to come back this week in order for the closing scenes of the show to work, when we learn that her husband, Bernard, is indeed still alive despite everyone besides her assuming he was dead. It's a real "happy" tear-jerker of a scene (and not the only one in the episode either - the peanut butter kills me), topped only by their actual reunion a few episodes later. It's a testament to how good the writing is (was) on this show, and how good the actors were, that a supporting character who we've never seen can hear good news about a character we've barely seen, and still make us feel something.

Speaking of which, it's the rare episode with a happy ending. Usually the ones that seem to be happy end on a down note (Hurley's batteries dying, for example), but this one's all uplifting. Bernard's moment, Hurley delivering food (and everyone eating happily, forgetting their situation for a bit)... even Sun burying the bottle of messages is sort of an "up" moment - she's essentially protecting the optimism of everyone else. And setting the stage for next week's/tomorrow's subplot about her losing the ring, something that touched a nerve for me (I'll explain in that review!).

This episode helps further our hatred of Ana Lucia as well. While Libby is warm and even Mr. Eko is rather friendly toward them, she's still throwing rocks at Sawyer's head, smacking him around, yelling... she truly is one of the most hateful people ever on this show. Even Widmore had some mild sympathetic nature about him. If not for the fact that she killed one of the show's other annoyances, I'm not sure if she ever would have displayed a single sympathetic trait on the island (her flashback is tragic, yes, but again, she was totally friendly and charming at the airport bar, so she obviously got over that).

Also, the scene where Jin speaks English creeps me out. Definitely one of the odder moments on the show, especially in this early stage.

Where are we?



OCTOBER 27, 2010


Another name for “Orientation” could be “ANSWERS!”, as this is actually a pretty big revelatory episode of Lost, opening up and moving the story further along than pretty much any episode thus far. We meet Marvin Candle, learn the exact (ish) nature of the Hatch (now to be known as the Swan Station), how Desmond ended up in it, that the tail section has its own survivors, and that Locke used to be kind of a jerk.

Yes, in our first flashback of the episode, Locke is at a support group of some sort and he first mocks and then yells at a girl who was robbed of 30 dollars. He selfishly turns the spotlight on his own problems and how they are more important and tragic than the other folks, but like, dude, you VOLUNTEERED to give your kidney up, and you probably should have figured out that your dad was an asshole being that you’re like 45 years old and the guy never contacted you despite seemingly living next door. Also I’m flat broke, so I sympathize with the poor girl. If someone stole 30 bucks from me right now I’d be livid.

But ultimately, we feel pretty bad for Locke. The scene where Cooper basically tells him he doesn’t give a shit about him is a total gut-punch, and you can’t help but pity him later on (on the island) when he pleads with Jack to stay with him in the computer room and help him, only for Jack to dismiss him like he barely knew him (let alone someone he owes his life to). And in retrospect, it’s even MORE heartbreaking, because we know where Locke’s curiosity and faith (and the writers’ seeming lack of respect for the guy) will lead him. And Katey Sagal is such a warming presence, you really pull for him to get his shit together and work things out with Helen in the flashbacks, even though it’s obvious that they end sour (despite the hopeful conclusion to this particular episode, we know he eventually has to pay $89.95 an hour to talk to a fake Helen on a sex line).

We also get our biggest showcase yet for Desmond, which of course makes me happy, since I find him endlessly fascinating. His manic, Cliff’s Notes version of how he ended up in the Hatch is an award-worthy moment, especially with his hilarious capper: “The end!” I honestly think this is one of my all time favorite line readings in any form of filmed entertainment: the look on his face, the way he says it, the fact that he says it for no real reason... it’s just awesome. According to the lostpedia, this was originally going to be his final appearance on the show, but fan response resulted in him being brought back. And in a way, it sort of backs their “everything was planned” claims, because if there was one character who got short-changed in S5 and 6 (when they were getting to the things they would have had planned out), it was definitely him. Yet he was a huge force in Season 3, which was also the loosest, least essential season for the most part, as they were trying to drag things out because they didn’t know how long the show would run for. When in doubt, give the new guy that everyone loves a lot to do! So good call fans, without this “outcry” there might not have been “The Constant”.

As for the “Others”, at least they don’t drag it out too much. Once we see Ana Lucia we know that they’re not the people who took Walt, and once she pulls Sawyer’s gun and calls to be let out of the prison pit, we can pretty much assume that the “Others” are just the other tail survivors. But I’m baffled why it took another 4-5 episodes to show their story from their point of view, because you essentially have 1/3 of the season devoted to people we’re supposed to like being antagonistic toward our heroes. Once their personal tragedies are explained, their tough exterior makes more sense, but it would be a long time before we really came around on Eko or Ana Lucia (if ever, in the latter case). Also, getting to that sooner would have resulted in the quicker death of Shannon, so win-win.

The episode also has the first appearance of “The Third Policeman”, which allegedly was a major influence on the show’s course and contained answers to some of the mysteries. Well I read it back then and couldn’t figure out how the hell it connected at all, so maybe I’ll give it another read (I barely remember it, though I did enjoy it) to see if that was true or just a bunch of bullshit. Speaking of reading, I used to be a fiend for Lost related reading material – I read every issue of the magazine, the tie-in novels, “Bad Twin”, some of the episode guides, a book of essays and theories... you name it, I gave it a look. After a while I gave up, though since I am currently a member of the LA bus crowd due to my dead car, I picked up one of the books I bought and hadn’t read, and it’s kind of funny to read theories and questions from 4 years ago. “How did Locke end up in the wheelchair?” “What did Kate do?” etc. The book also makes mountains out of molehills with regards to mistakes or things that are just poor decisions – such as a background extra who appeared as a survivor but also as the doctor in the morgue during “White Rabbit” – “Why was he on the plane?” He wasn’t, they just were using up the bulk of the Hawaii extras union and weren’t counting on people being so obsessive. I never noticed, at any rate.

Where are we?



OCTOBER 26, 2010


The weirdest thing about “Adrift” is that it was originally a Sawyer flashback episode, but they changed it to be about Michael during production, likely resulting in having to go back and make sure they had enough held shots of the other actor that would be long enough for the whooooooooooosh sound to play. I can see how it could be an episode from either man’s perspective, since it’s just the two of them on the raft arguing most of the time, but it’s kind of odd all the same, and seems to be the only time in the series’ history that sort of thing happened.

It’s a pretty good episode, though the flashback doesn’t really help advance the plot any, since it just details what we already know – Susan left with Walt, with Michael giving custody rights away. Sure it’s touching and all, but again, we already know this stuff, as his previous episode was pretty much all about how he got screwed out of having a life with his son. I don’t think giving more examples makes his current situation any more or less upsetting. We know he loves the kid and lost him before; why deprive us of Sawyer action just to tell us again? Female fans must have been livid.

The rest of the episode largely deals with showing more of what happened when Locke and Kate went down the Hatch, which I believe is the first time in the show they’ve basically had flashbacks on the island, since the bulk of it takes place before the events we saw in the previous episode. I love Locke in this episode though, he has no concern for the crazy guy with a gun, and just asks him about a million questions (and assumes he is “the guy”, despite not having any clue what Snowmen say to each other). And it’s hilarious when he convinces Desmond to tie up Kate instead of him. “She’s a fugitive!” The “fuck you” look on Kate’s face is priceless.

And we meet the Others! Or so we think. As we now know, the “Others” were just the tail section survivors, but damn that was one intense moment to see Eko and the other folks charging after Jin after Sawyer and Michael washed up on the beach. I also never noticed that save Eko, the other actors were clearly NOT the ones who would actually play those roles (Bernard, Libby, etc), which is the 2nd time the show employed a “temp” actor (Jack’s dad being the other). Also, I notice now – this wouldn’t be the last time Jin washes up on a beach and gets taken prisoner by terrified non-Korean speakers.

The Dharma logo also comes into play more, both in the Hatch and on the shark that menaces Sawyer and Michael (as Walt predicted!). It would get kind of silly over the years, how much stuff Dharma put their logo on (the fish biscuit being the low point), but at the time it was pretty cool, hinting at this corporation. All the great sci-fi properties have evil corporations involved – OCP, Weyland-Yutani, Skynet... we all hoped Dharma would fall in line. Sadly it was mostly just a bunch of hippie scientists, but still, they’re KIND of evil – who has the balls to brand a goddamn shark?

Also, Sawyer’s “We’re home” is one of the most heart-breaking moments on the show ever, in my opinion. You really feel for the poor sap at this moment. Especially after he spent so much of the episode being badass - dude pulled a bullet out with his bare hands! AND out-swam a shark! A hero.

Where are we?


"Man Of Science, Man Of Faith"

OCTOBER 25, 2010


As I learned today on the Lostpedia, “Man of Science, Man of Faith” is actually the highest rated episode of Lost ever, attracting around 23 million people (the lowest was a S5 episode with only 8 million viewers. Of course it would be those numbers). I can’t help but wonder: if the episode was a little more satisfying, would that have remained the case? Because while it’s a perfectly good episode in the grand scheme of things, not a lot happens in this, and so some of these new viewer might have been like “this is what I’ve heard about? Screw this!” and then resumed CSI or whatever they found more compelling.

Really, all that happens in this episode is our three main characters go into a hole and meet a guy. We don’t know anything about the raft, or the Others, or why Michelle Rodriquez had been added to the main cast. Future season premieres would follow this mold, unfortunately – the finale would have three cliffhangers, but the premiere would only address one of them. It’s one of those things that made even die hard fans a bit antsy, so it’s easy to see why the numbers started dwindling from here on out.

Even the flashback is anticlimactic. Will Jack make this woman walk again? Um, yes, because already heard the bulk of this story in his last episode, which detailed their wedding. Not that it’s bad – it’s nice to have Sarah’s “I will dance at my wedding” take on a new meaning, and Julie Bown and Matthew Fox have terrific chemistry together (we also get another one of those prized civil moments between Fox and John Terry, with Christian trying to get his son to be a bit more optimistic), but for an opener, it doesn’t really charge out of the gate.

Plus, the biggest revelation (besides that Sarah's accident involved Shannon's dad, something I missed the first time around) is that the guy in the hatch is someone Jack met before, but this moment arrives so late in the episode (and Henry Ian Cusick is too good of an actor to not stick out a bit anyway) that it comes across as a bit clunky. They would have done better to make him more of a presence throughout the flashbacks, so we could just think he was a good actor in a guest turn (like Evan Handler in Hurley’s upcoming “Dave” episode). But it’s near the end of the episode and this guy suddenly takes center stage in Jack’s flashback – of COURSE he’s the guy in the hatch!

I also like the little callbacks to previous episodes (Kate counting as she went down the rope), and I LOVE that Locke sat around waiting for her, because he knew she would come. It’s in this season that we really start to get a sense for how well these people know each other; we feel that they actually have a life outside of the events of an episode. I also love Hurley’s conversation with Jack about his terrible bedside manner. Hurley would become a more fully rounded (pun not intended) character this season, and I couldn’t be happier about that.

One thing I noticed as I watch everything back to back (though yes, you may have noticed I took a day off between S1 and S2 – I’m swamped here! Have you seen my new column at Badass Digest?) – Rose was pretty much completely absent throughout the season. She was never a fulltime cast member, but they usually included her in premiere/finales. However she is nowhere to be found, and I can’t remember if she does appear again until Bernard appears in a few episodes. I’m not sure if L. Scott Caldwell ever got any acting nominations for her role here, but if not she was robbed. I always loved her wonderfully optimistic and yet to the point, no-bullshit missives toward the others. Seriously, was any moment on the show as awesome as when she told them to leave her and Bernard (and Vincent!) alone because they were sick of dealing with all their nonsense? Amazing.

My memories of season 2 are probably my weakest, because it’s been about four years since I watched it. Also, Season 2 is the only one I didn't rewatch before rewatching the season that just came to DVD (usual tradition for DVD was to watch the previous season, i.e. if Season 4 was coming out on DVD, I'd rewatch Season 3 before rewatching Season 4 to prepare for Season 5). So it’ll be fun seeing all of the adventure again with less than fresh memories. I do recall that the season had more action (and sex!) than the others, so that’s good. Also, pretty soon: Ben!

Where are we?


"Exodus: Part 2"

OCTOBER 23, 2010

AIRED: MAY 24, 2005

I made the mistake of watching the season finale, "Exodus: Part 2" with some friends, which is something I wouldn't do again until the FINALE finale (because for that one I was promised mini-wieners). It's just too hard to not talk while watching stuff with friends (at least, for me), and Lost isn't something you want to talk during (AFTER, of course, is a whole other ball game). So I had missed a lot of the little moments here and there; I remember not knowing how Charlie got the cut on his eye, for example.

Since it's a direct continuation of part 1, it's a lot more action packed, since so much of part 1 was about getting everything set up. The smoke monster "chase", the boat attack, Charlie and Sayid's mad dash to find Rousseau and Aaron, the various goings on with the dynamite (poor Arzt... and poor Jack, with "some Arzt" on him)... this is a pretty Bruckheimer-ian episode, compared to most others (including some of the other finales). I love when the smoke monster drags Locke (even more so now with later developments in my head), prompting Jack to do an awesome dive to save him (and then blow the thing up). I just wish that Locke had a little disembodied smoke tendril on his ankle when he got pulled up, that'd be amazing.

And yet, true to form for the first season, it never loses sight of the characters. It's not as tear-jerky as part 1, but there are a lot of minor little bonding moments throughout the episode, such as Michael and Sawyer discovering their mutual love of Bob Marley, or Locke and Hurley discussing Twinkies. Hell even Jack and Locke get in a brief moment, discussing the game Operation (with Locke displaying some of his dry humor again - "Zzzt"). However, the most memorable is probably with Claire, Sun, and Shannon in the caves, trying to cheer each other up. I never really noticed before, but the women on the show never really had much interaction with each other on a one-on-one basis the way the guys did. I can't think of one female/female relationship on the show that I'd consider as strong as say, Hurley and Charlie, or Sawyer and Myles even. Kate and Sun probably come closest, but even that was fairly limited.

Speaking of women not getting as much to do as the guys, I never noticed - Claire doesn't get her own flashback in either part of Exodus. Every other character has one (and some appear in others'), but Claire gets screwed, other than the final, silent montage of everyone getting on the plane.

Another thing I noticed in this one goes back to what I was saying in the review for "Born To Run", as we have another instance of not knowing that something was still a secret when it becomes an issue. Sayid brings Charlie to the plane and literally throws heroin at him - I figured by now his junkie status would have gotten around (especially since he told Hurley, and we've been led to believe Hurley cannot keep secrets). And even if not, Sayid's a pretty smart guy - he never noticed Charlie's obvious withdrawal symptoms?

The episode also includes one of the series most oft-mocked moments, Harold Perrineau's "Darth Vader finds out Padme has died" level outburst of "WAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLLT!". It's not even so bad in context, it's just that it was part of like 17 'Previously, on Lost' clips, it began to drive spikes into my brain (as did Kate's "I OWE him that!" concerning going back for Jack in Season 3). Some DVDs give you the option of skipping the "Previously" things, though I don't think Lost is among them. If so, I definitely would, especially on episodes like this episode where they are THREE minutes long.

As we all know, the episode ends with Jack and Locke staring down the hatch, cutting to credits before we know who or what is in it. All summer long folks were asking "What's in the hatch?", though few ever came up with "A guy named Desmond". As future seasons came and went, interest would dwindle, and such cliffhangers would often infuriate rather than intrigue. So it was nice to go back to the capper for what was the closest to a perfect season the show ever had.

Really, there were only 2-3 weak episodes this season (its longest, for the record), and no outright stinkers, something future seasons couldn't claim. The pacing was perfect, the ratio of answered questions to reveals of new ones was quite satisfying, and all of our characters were given plenty to work with. Take Season 6, for example - Desmond only appeared in like 3 episodes. Obviously some got more time than others, but it never felt like they were completely abandoning a character for long stretches. Also, it never felt like they were just dilly-dallying; there was a sense of urgency to the season as a whole, whether it was the search for more food or the race to find Claire or whatever, things were always on the go. Later seasons would include Claire trying to attach a message to a bird's foot, or Charlie building a church. Riveting. So it's a shame that the show never lived up to this first season (IMO), but it's a testament to how great it was that it retained my interest until the end - I felt I owed it to the folks behind it as a thanks for doing something so great here.

Next up: Season 2! Eko! The Hatch! Ben! DESMOND!!!

Where are we?


"Exodus: Part 1"

OCTOBER 22, 2010


I had initially planned to watch both parts of "Exodus" today, to try to start playing "catch up" after my unexpected hiatus, but I forgot both parts together equaled over 2 hrs, and didn't have the time. Oh well. It's a shame, because the two episodes are essentially one long whole (no time whatsoever passes between them), and it's been so long that I actually forgot some of what happens.

But just from this part I can guarantee that it was the first or second most satisfying season finale ever, wrapping up some of the mythology and character storylines (ones that didn't need to be dragged any further lest they lose their impact), while opening up the story enough to make you want to come back for Season 2. Only Season 3's finale, with its mind-blowing twist, measured up to this one, in my opinion.

The number of tear-worthy character moments just in this first part are staggering. Sawyer finally telling Jack about meeting his dad, the emotional goodbye at the raft (Vincent trying to swim after the raft destroys me), Jin finally making peace with Sun... seems like I'm fighting back the waterworks every 5 minutes in this one. Partly because the show was a big hit - you knew that they wouldn't get rescued anytime soon, and now that they've proven that they have no qualms about killing off main cast members (Boone), it's very possible that Sawyer, Michael, Walt, and/or Jin would die out there, and that this really WOULD be goodbye (for Walt it pretty much actually is, and I don't know if Michael ever saw a lot of them again, can't remember).

It's also one of the last times we see everyone together, both in the appearance of the black smoke and in the launching of the raft. One thing I didn't like about future seasons is that it seemed they were always finding ways to keep people apart, with some characters almost never interacting with certian others again. Christ, Season 3 started off with an episode where we only saw Jack, Sawyer, and Kate (and the new cast members). It's one of the things that made them better to watch on DVD, because you would only be an hour from seeing your favorite character(s) again, instead of a week or more.

Speaking of new characters, we're also introduced to Ana Lucia, aka the bane of many fans' existence. It's odd though, she seems to be playing a completely different character here - not bitchy, not abrasive, and even kind of flirty. At the time, she seemed like a good addition (despite the fact that I'm not a fan of the actress period). She appears in Jack's flashback, which is one of many "right before the plane" based flashes we see in the show, all focusing on a different character. Some of them are pretty eye-opening when you consider how much things have changed since then; i.e Walt hating Michael, Shannon being pretty racist towards Sayid, but Ana is the only one who appears to have had a complete 180 turn in personality (i.e. Shannon is still a bitch).

I haven't mentioned Michael Giacchino's music in a while - the piece where the raft takes off is pretty much the greatest cue I've ever heard on a television show. As much as I miss Lost, I'm sort of glad it's over and will thus free him up for more work, hopefully in film. I think he's going to be one of the all time greats.

This episode's also a good showcase for my favorite extra, the bearded guy that I call Roger (see above). When everyone is saying goodbye, he's always finding a way to be in the shots, even though no one is talking to him. Love that guy. I wonder if he made more than typical extra pay. The beard alone is worth an additional 500 per episode.

Where are we?


"Born To Run"

OCTOBER 21, 2010

AIRED: MAY 11, 2005

The last episode before the 2 hr season finale, “Born To Run” finally answers one of the most pressing questions Lost fans had – “What is the meaning of Kate’s stupid little toy plane?” Oh wait, I’m sorry – I got that backwards. It answers one of the least interesting questions Lost fans had. In retrospect, it’s sort of foreshadowing Lindelof and Carlton’s approach to Season 6 – answering pointless shit no one really cared about while leaving other mysteries unresolved.

It’s fitting then that this episode provides our strongest evidence yet of Walt’s “powers”, which were also never explained. Somehow he knows about the hatch, and also that it shouldn’t be opened. Granted, he’s right (other than the fact that it provided Desmond, one of the show’s most endearing characters), but how did he know? Does he have ESP? If so, why is it so intermittent? Well, Malcolm David Kelley grew nine inches, so we’ll never know.

Speaking of characters knowing things they shouldn’t, I love that Hurley freaks out over not knowing who knows what. It always seemed odd to me that folks never caught on about certain goings on – it’s not like they’re spread out really far or have much else to do with their time. So when Kate makes her big “reveal”, it’s sort of anticlimactic – I figured everyone knew by then anyway (I assume Hurley’s scene with Locke was put in just to remind us that it was still a secret, but it still fell flat, especially since she didn’t tell us what her crime was).

Nitpicks aside, it’s a decent episode. You know I love Kate, so I’m happy to have her in the flashbacks as well as on the island. And I feel for Tom, the dude who was obviously sweet on her but she never returned the affection in a way that mattered (you can tell she’s jealous that he got married). Been there, dude! Though those girls never got me shot while trying to escape the cops after seeing their dying mother. So I can’t really relate to that part of his arc.

And it introduced Arzt! I love that guy. Daniel Roebuck is one of the nicest actors I’ve met since moving here (in fact, my first “Hollywood” job was as an extra on Navy NCIs, where he was the guest star of the week), and he’s a big nerd as well, collecting old Universal Monster memorabilia and such. It’s a shame they killed him off two episodes later; I would have loved to have him around for a while. It’s also the first major instance of introducing another survivor (not counting Ethan) who everybody seems to know even though we’ve never seen him/her before. It’s certainly the most successful – future folks (Nikki and Paulo, Froberg) would be major distractions because the show had been around for so long at that point. Here it had only been 20 episodes, so it wasn’t as jarring. And he’s lovable enough to welcome the addition.

I also liked the interplay between Jack and Locke, with Locke questioning Jack’s presumption that he’s in charge and Jack mocking Locke’s tendency to hide things. But ultimately, they both wanted to open the hatch (much to Sayid’s dismay), so I like that they were tentatively allies again. Forgot about that. Another little moment I forgot about is when Jin protects Michael from Sawyer – amazing how building a raft with a guy can really make you forget how much you wanted to kill him a week or so ago.

Where are we?


"The Greater Good"

OCTOBER 20, 2010

AIRED: MAY 4, 2005

Lost returned from another “brief” hiatus with “The Greater Good”, which is annoying even under normal circumstances, but even more so when you consider that the episode takes place later on the same day as “Do No Harm”. It’s been a month for us but they’re just burying Boone now and Claire still hasn’t named her baby? So this is definitely an episode that works better when watching them all back to back.

Because it’s not a particularly good episode, because half of it surrounds on something you know isn’t going to happen (Sayid or Shannon killing Locke – he can’t die til we know why he was in a wheelchair, dammit!), and the other half revolves around cutesy Three Men & A Baby antics. These sort of things are fine, again, in back to back viewings, but they were pretty cruel to come back after a month with this sort of nonsense. I do like that the baby only stays quiet when he hears Sawyer’s voice – I wonder if Kate ever told Jack that when they were fighting in the future. Would have been a good burn.

Sayid’s flashback, as before, is about Nadia, and we learn how he got on Oceanic 815. It’s kind of a bummer moment, because he changed his original, presumably non-crashing on a magic island flight, in order to help bury his friend, thinking it was the least he could do after selling the guy out and causing him to pull a Radzinsky right in front of him. Otherwise the flashbacks aren’t of much use, mostly just telling us stuff we already know. It’s a shame so many of Sayid’s flashbacks revolved around his involvement with the Republican Guard - he seemed like he could be one of the more interesting characters but they always focused on this sort of stuff. And with each character having roughly 7 centric episodes a piece (except for Jack, who got like, I don’t know, 46), in the long run I wish they had opted for a little more variety, knowing how few they’d have for everyone.

My favorite scene of the episode is probably the lone stand-alone bit, with Walt asking Michael about the raft. It’s the sort of scene they wouldn’t bother with after a while, where they give the non-involved characters a bit of business in order to justify their paycheck. But in retrospect, it’s kind of telling – Walt asks about sharks (they encounter one), if they’ll die on the boat (both Michael and Jin DO die on boats, albeit not that one – Sawyer is not actually in the scene), and if it will tip over (well, no, but it will get blown the hell up, and the mini-rafts they make out of it tip over a bunch). Every now and then, they either prove that they did have everything planned, or watched the episodes over and over to build plot elements out of throwaway dialogue. Either way, makes it fun to watch again.

And we have a beach fight! It’s been a while. Doesn’t amount to much, since everyone runs in to break it up, but it’s fun to see Jack go apeshit for once and tackle Locke. It’s not as amazing as his diving punch in the finale, but for a while it was definitely one of the best “Action Jack” moments.

Where are we?


"Do No Harm"

OCTOBER 19, 2010

AIRED: APRIL 6, 2005

If you don’t like Jack, or Jack episodes, then “Do No Harm” probably pissed you off, since this makes his third (fourth if you count the pilot) while most folks had only gotten one (and Shannon hadn’t even gotten that much!). But I am on team Jack, so I was perfectly OK with it, especially in retrospect, as its one of his few relatively happy episodes, detailing his wedding to Sarah (Julie Bowen, as lovely as always), a stark contrast to the island stuff, where he spent the entire episode making the “Jack-face” as he tried to save Boone (for some reason).

It’s also one of the even fewer (only?) times he and his dad have a nice, conflict-free scene together, sharing a drink and discussing Jack’s inability to pen his vows. It was a bummer for me to watch, since my dad died shortly after I got engaged, so it was the first time since his funeral that it really hit that he wouldn’t be there at my wedding (which was about 3 months from the time this episode aired). Not that we’d share a drink (my dad did not drink! Smoked like a chimney though – hence why he wasn’t with us anymore. Don’t smoke, kids!), but it would have been nice to have him there, obviously. Way to bum me out, Lost.

On that note, I had to laugh at his cutaway during the actual wedding. Jack and Sarah kiss, everyone applauds, Christian smiles... and immediately looks off to the side. My guess – he was planning his route to the bar.

The point of his flashbacks was to illustrate Jack’s inability to let go and fix things, which of course plays a big part in pretty much every decision the guy will make over the next six years. Granted, we’ve already sort of learned this from the other ones, but it’s nice that they found a way to depict it in a rather happy manner, instead of the usual angry outbursts and fighting that permeates most Jack-isodes. And I like that Boone, moments from death and probably in some pretty unbearable pain, had to be the one to tell him not to use the makeshift guillotine to amputate his leg, because Jack refused to listen to Sun or anyone else. Hilariously enough, it had been so long since I had seen the episode that I couldn’t remember if he actually went through it or not, so these scenes were kind of suspenseful all over again.

Speaking of Sun, they never really explored her role as a sort of 2nd doctor on the island, with her herbal remedies and more level-headed approach to things. I wish they had done more with it, though then again I can’t really think of too many extreme situations like this – pretty much everyone else that died on the show died instantly (well, except for Paulo, the poor bastard).

Jack shouts “Don’t tell me what I can’t do!” at one point, which is cool but I think sort of premature in the grand scheme of things – it would have been more of a “moment” if we had gotten further into the Jack vs. Locke “war”, one that basically started in this episode. Up until now they had been casual friends/allies, but from here on they would more or less constantly be at odds for some reason or another.

The other big thing is that Claire finally has her baby, despite looking ready to pop when they crashed 40 days ago. It’s a pretty typical TV moment to have a baby delivered in a less than ideal place by a non-doctor (Michael Giacchino’s score basically seems to be mocking it), but it plays well, and it’s worth it for Jin’s reactions to Charlie throughout the process. It’s the first time that Jin has been warm and friendly to another character; even when he’s doing something helpful (like building the raft) he always seems pissed off. Good ol’ Jin and his inexplicably fast-growing hair. I also like the bit where, for once, he communicates with Sun as translator – it’s underplayed, but it's pretty much the first time they’ve really spoken civilly since he found out she spoke English.

And this is the first time I’ve watched the episode since it became a “thing” that Kate would raise Aaron. So that takes on a nice little bit of extra meaning. You can even go deeper – Jack refused to help deliver him, just as he would later shun the chance to have any contact with him (and going even deeper than that – it’s your nephew, dude!). LEVELS, man.

Anyway, RIP Boone. May you appear in several random flashbacks over the next five years.

Where are we?


"Deus Ex Machina"

OCTOBER 18, 2010

AIRED: MARCH 30, 2005

We’re back! Due to the Screamfest film festival, I had precious little time for anything else, so Lost had to be put on hold until it was over. But I sort of like the irony, because when "Deus Ex Machina" originally aired, it was after a long break from the previous episode ("Numbers"), which of course I had no recollection of, 5+ years later. It was these sort of long breaks that would ultimately lead to the show airing nonstop in the 2nd half of the season instead of throughout the year like a normal show. Lost is not a normal show.

Good episode. It’s the type that I loved the most, where we had two plot lines going on, one important to the island mythology, and the other character based (and often humorous). The character one is Jack trying to help Sawyer with his headaches. It’s a real showcase for Jack, because he gets in some great lines (“I’m just going to get a one-liner for my trouble. And maybe if I’m really lucky, a brand new nickname.”), and delivers one of the all time best paybacks when he forces Sawyer to admit he’s got STDs and slept with hookers in front of Kate, even though that information has nothing to do with the diagnosis he already made (Sawyer’s got vision problems). In a way it’s sort of mean spirited of Jack, since Sawyer hadn’t really done anything to him in a while and had been being fairly civil to him to boot (the “insurance rant out” line, for example). But I like that when he tells Kate he helped him for her, it seems like he’s being the bigger man, but if you think about it, he did all of this to let her know that the guy she wanted to boink (and eventually did) has the clap.

Also, we see Jack shaving. That settles one mystery of the show – why no one ever grew an amazing beard. They took the time to shave. Me, even if I didn’t have a beard, that would be the first thing I put in the “pros” list when debating life on the island. Shaving sucks.

As for the real story, it opens up a lot more of the plot then it initially seemed on its first airing. The drug plane would continue to be a focal point for both mythology (“?”) and character stuff (Charlie has a new stash!), the priest corpse would turn out to be related to a character we haven’t even met yet... Plus, the light in the hatch not only proved someone was inside, but we eventually got the story of why he turned the light on in the first place. And most of us probably didn’t think Boone was going to die from his injuries, especially since we just found out about his nanny-murdering ways.

The flashbacks follow suit – despite the way the episode ends, this would most certainly not be the last we see of Anthony Cooper, nor would he be Locke’s exclusive burden to bear. And I like how the episode plays with the audience’s anticipation of how Locke got into the wheelchair – there is NO reason for him to get hit by a car in the opening scenes other than to mess with us. Bastards. Speaking of screwing with the audience, sometimes they get a bit too goofy with the numbers – why would a toy store keep Nerf footballs 7 aisles away from the “regulation” ones? They should have just said aisles 15 and 16, if they had to get the numbers in there somehow.

I also like that Locke gets to show off some of his dry humor. “I don’t even know how to spell trebuchet”, Boone says. “It has a T at the end,” Locke replies. Heh. It makes up for the never explained nonsense about him losing the ability to walk whenever it became convenient to the plot. Seriously, that was one of their dumber moves, even if it does sort of work in an ironic way with regards to the episode’s title, as it’s sort of a reverse Deus Ex Machina (out of nowhere, something happens that... totally screws the character over).

It’s weird, I thought Boone died earlier in the season than this, but there are only four more episodes to the season (and thus, 3 after he died, since we don’t get to experience the joy of that until next week/tomorrow). Sorry, Boone fans – I wasn't exactly sad to see him go.

Where are we?


Taking A Quick Break...

Hey folks, just a quick heads up - I will be taking a one-week break from Lost Episode A Day, due to the Screamfest Horror Film Festival here in LA that is taking up a good chunk of my time. More movies to review, interviews to transcribe, more traveling... it's just too much. So we'll be back on October 17th - sorry about that! In the meantime, keep up with my adventures over at HMAD and on Twitter.



OCTOBER 8, 2010

AIRED: MARCH 2, 2005

Finally, a Hurley episode! “...In Translation” gave us a pretty tantalizing clue about his past (since I assume most, if not all, folks figured his $83,000 debt with Walt wasn’t something he could actually cover), but “Numbers” explains it right off the bat – Hurley is a multi-millionaire, thanks to some peculiar numbers coming up in the lottery. So we also finally get confirmation that all of the 4s and 15s and 23s on the show so far weren’t just lazy number-writing. This shit MEANS something!

Seriously, if anyone who ever watched Lost disliked Hurley, they are the worst person in the world. Jack’s expression when he hands him the battery at the end of the episode just sums it up so perfectly – the guy is just an endless source of surprise and joy. Sometimes they would use him in a bit too meta of a way, but for the most part he was just delightfully laid back and awesome, and I wish he had gotten more centric episodes over the course of the show. I also got to thinking – since Hurley was sort of our “voice” on the show (he’d often repeat things that were brought up on message boards and such), was it intentional that he (us) would be the one to guard the island after everyone left? Like, the show is gone but it lives on through us, or something like that?

(There’s probably about 900 pages worth of discussion on this on one of the Lost sites, but for the most part I never really went on those – too easy to lose an entire day reading theories and such. I always chose to more or less let the show speak for itself. Also, if you haven't guessed yet, the mythology stuff wasn't as interesting to me. I kept coming back for the characters.)

I also like that it’s one of many “trek” episodes, with a few of our folks going off to rescue/find someone or whatever, because we haven’t had one for a while. I always liked these (particularly in the earlier episodes) because it gave the characters a chance to bond a bit on one-on-one terms. That or they just remind me of Stand By Me. Either way, I’m always happy to have one.

The subplot with Locke building the cradle for Claire is also very sweet. It seems like for a lot of Season 1, Locke was there to more or less guide or offer advice to each character individually, without having too many plots of his own. So here it’s Claire, last week it was Shannon (and Walt, a bit), Sawyer before that... he’s like NBC’s “The More You Know”, but with knives. Next week (so, tomorrow) he gets his own episode again. I feel Locke was the least consistently written character on the show, and given the lamest possible death, so going back to episodes like this just reminds me of how much that pissed me off. Casually killed by Ben in a hotel room somewhere instead of on the island... so friggin weak.

Where are we?


"...In Translation"

OCTOBER 7, 2010


Unwanted reminders of an over-praised Oscar bait-y bore aside, “...In Translation” is another rock solid episode of Lost, effortlessly combining island drama, back-story, and character relationships into a cohesive whole, each element complementing and strengthening the others. It’s a balance not every episode achieved, and even fewer achieved so well. It’s also another strong example of how there was nothing else like Lost on television, since nearly half the episode is in Korean.

It also brings back an element that’s been missing for a few episodes – people beating each other up! I wonder if there’s a site online somewhere that has all the fight stats from the show. Is there any combination of male characters (save the peaceful Hurley) who never had a physical altercation over the show’s run? I can’t recall Charlie ever fighting Ben - that might be about it. This one offers another go around between Michael and Jin, though Michael has the upper hand this time. Sawyer also takes a few shots at him. Looking back, it’s kind of funny to think how some of these folks were the best of friends just a few weeks later. Sawyer’s kicking Jin in the side and tying him up here, but in about 20 island days, he’ll be teaching him the most important things to say to a woman.

Another thing it brings back is Hurley’s Discman, which was a mini-tradition in the early episodes, where he’d be listening to a song over a montage of everyone doing their thing. It would have gotten annoying if they did it in every episode, but I like that they actually gave it a sendoff (his batteries die) instead of just phasing it out. So for those keeping track: the fucking Discman gets a proper final scene, but most of the characters do not. But it’s an oddly sort of grim moment, depicting their hopeless situation in a very unexpected yet perfect way (and there’s no “DONNK” over the final “Lost” title card, which just adds to the uneasy feeling).

We also have the rare instance of a mystery being introduced and resolved in a single episode. They could have dragged the “who burned the raft” thing for a few episodes, but we find out who it is by the end of the 42 minutes, even though Locke is the only one on the show who knows. Speaking of Locke, he gets some great moments in this one despite not having his own little subplot. In addition to his man-to-man with Walt, where he drops the first hint about his father, he also gets one of his funniest lines ever when Shannon gives him a rambling message for Boone (“Should I be writing this down?”).

Back to the Korean thing – I just want to point out a few episodes back I said something about doing a show from Jin’s “perspective”, not being able to understand them. I had completely forgotten about the scene where they did indeed give us a taste of what it was like for him (with everyone basically speaking backwards). You know, it would have been really grating for an entire episode, so my idea was stupid. This was better.

And Sun finally reveals she can speak English! Not sure why she had to hide it for so long once someone knew – she didn’t want Jin to know, but how would he? Someone going to tell him? He wouldn’t understand that either. I also don’t quite get why he’s so angry about it – if he wants to get her off the island, wouldn’t this be beneficial, since now he will have a way to communicate with Michael for the raft-building? Maybe they give a good reason in a few episodes, I can’t remember.

Speaking of their fight, according to Lostpedia, this would be the day (roughly) that Jin and Sun conceived their child, as detailed in Season 3. They chalk it up as a blooper, saying that they had no time, but after she defends him against Michael (during the early part of the day) they go off for a bit, and then apart from when she talks to Michael later, they’re unaccounted for until the raft burns in the middle of the night. – plenty of time for them to get it on. So it fits, even if it was probably just something whoever wrote that later episode didn’t really give a shit about. I know I’d want to put the moves on my wife if she just punched Harold Perrineau in my honor. HOT.

Where are we?



OCTOBER 6, 2010


I think “Outlaws” might be one of my favorite episodes of the first season. It has everything I could want from a Lost episode – some juicy backstory for one of the main characters, some odd humor (the line from Kate – “I’d say you’ve been following Boone for the past hour” kills me), a big “connection” revealed, and Kate tossing back shots. And it all surrounds Sawyer, who is one of my favorite characters and has inspired my current haircut.

And it’s certainly my favorite “this was a good idea” occurrence, because HOLY SHIT, I never realized that Sawyer was basically the one who killed Christian by buying him drinks when he was already obviously drunk. I’m not sure if I have watched this one again since the episode where he pals around with Ana Lucia, so I don’t feel TOO guilty about it (since you’d have to know the whole timeline to make that connection), but damn, what a kick in the ass. Now the question is, does Sawyer ever realize it? They’re all in Lost Heaven together, you think Christian ever looked at Sawyer and gave a sarcastic “thanks for the booze”?

This also makes Sawyer the sort of Kevin Bacon of the show so far, since he know has a a pre-flight connection to both Jack (through Christian) and Boone (at the police station). Later we learn that he crossed paths with Ana Lucia, and he also had one-step-removed connections to Locke (the “real” Sawyer) and Kate (Cassidy). Maybe more, but I can’t remember right now.

The episode also alludes to a “Tampa job” that is never expanded on, which is a shame, as I was hoping to see more of Robert Patrick on the show. I think he’s an underrated actor, and a good meaty supporting role on a show like Lost could have done good for him, not unlike Jeff Fahey in the later seasons. Oh well.

It’s also a bit of a frustrating episode, because there are two instances where you want Sawyer to open up to someone, only to withdraw. The first is with Sayid, which isn’t too important, as it regards the noises in the jungle and it’s not like either one had the answers to the other's question anyway. But man, how bad do you want him to tell Jack he met his dad? Especially after a cute little moment where Sawyer is actually nice to Jack instead of antagonizing him (the “stick em up” bit). I don’t know about you, but I always wanted these guys to become good friends. I loved the bit in Season 3 where they play ping pong together, and other assorted moments, but their bond never really lasted. And most of S6 they hated each other, so that’s a bummer.

As for the assorted other stuff, nothing too special. I like Hurley’s theory that Ethan would become a zombie, and it’s nice to see the raft come together, but there isn’t much in the way of plot advancing. Nor are there any unanswered questions (though I still don’t know what the hell Charlie is building when Claire tries to talk to him – it doesn’t look anything like the tool he uses to shovel Ethan’s grave to me), so that’s good.

One thing about watching them back to back like this – the eye thing at the beginning of most episodes gets kind of annoying. I’m glad they cut back on it as the show went on.

Where are we?



OCTOBER 5, 2010


According to the Lostpedia, Damon Lindelof considers “Homecoming” (which he wrote) the worst ever episode of Lost. Now, I assume he couldn’t pick one that someone else wrote, but even among the ones he DID write, I’m not sure why he singled this one out. It’s not a particularly great episode, no, but it’s not a BAD one by any means. You get Jack kicking some ass, Charlie going all Charles Bronson on Ethan, a nice Office shout-out, and an 815 reference (the copier) that I just caught now on my 4th viewing. Not too shabby.

My guess would be that the episode does have some plot contrivances that exist to keep the Others from being unveiled too early. We get that Charlie is pissed, but shooting a guy in cold blood does seem a bit out of character. And it also robs us of Ethan, who was always one of the more interesting Others (which they obviously agree with, since they kept working him into flashbacks – he appeared in more episodes after he died than he did before).

Also their new clothes are largely ill-fitting. Sawyer’s bright blue shirt and Jack’s black one just don’t look right on the characters. It’s an odd thing, yes, but I dunno, it bugged me for some reason. However, I highly doubt that was one of Lindelof’s issues.

Otherwise, what’s not to like? Hurley delivers one of the show’s all time best eulogies (“Sorry I kept calling you Steve.”), Vincent returns, Jin gets to have another “conversation” with one of the English speaking folks (Charlie, who tells him he’s lucky to be so ignorant – it would have been cool if they had figured out a way to do an episode from Jin’s perspective, without understanding a word), and Jack gets one of his rare good insults directed at Sawyer.

As for the flashbacks, like the best episodes (which again, this is not), we learn more about the past of a character while understanding what drives them to do what they are doing on the island. Here it’s Charlie being turned down by a woman he cares for, telling him he will never be able to take care of anyone. It’s a sad moment, and ties in perfectly to the island stuff, which a few of the recent episodes weren’t as successful at doing (such as “All The Best Cowboys...”). I remember one season 2 episode, they actually changed who the episode was “about” by swapping in someone else’s flashbacks, but that doesn’t seem like it would be possible with this one. It’s totally a “Charlie” episode (hell, it’s not even HIS worst one, now that I think of it - the one where he has flashbacks about doing a diaper commercial was way worse).

Then again, Mr. Lindelof thought dedicating half of the final season of the show to some temple that no one cared about was a good idea, so why listen to him?

Where are we?



OCTOBER 4, 2010


I’ve seen “Special” at least four times, and I still cringe at the shot of Michael getting hit by a car in one of his flashbacks. It’s easy to spot the edit where the stuntman replaced him, but still, THAT GUY got hit, right? And there’s no padding on the ground to cushion him. It’s a pretty epic hit. Puts that digital Brad Pitt in Meet Joe Black to shame.

This occurs in one of the many flashbacks in this episode. In fact, I’d guess that this one has the closest flashback to island ratio of any season 1 episode, because there’s a lot of story to cover (plus two characters to focus on). Since we’ve learned so little about Michael on the island, it’s up to the flashbacks to reveal his desire to be a dad, the reason he wasn’t, and how he became one again. But we also have to learn that Walt is really special, which will play a major part in-

Oh wait, right. Walt’s abilities and “special”ness never really paid off, did it? The actor got too big and rather than recast him (something they only did with Claire’s mom, and obviously Aaron, throughout the show’s run, which is pretty impressive), they just wrote him out and left pretty much everything about him unresolved. Apparently he’s in the “New Man In Charge” thing that’s on the S6 DVD (I haven’t watched that yet – saving it for my sole “fresh look” review!), but it still leaves a lot of his backstory unanswered. He can make birds kill themselves and appear as a wet ghost – that’s about as much as we ever really learn.

Michael is one of the show’s more polarizing characters – on one hand, we see that he really does have Walt’s best interests at heart (lying to him about why he was taking him, for example), and you can’t help but feel for the guy when he realizes his ex never gave the kid any of his letters. But on the other hand, he’s always up in Locke’s face just for talking to the kid, and he’s a jaywalker. He gets more “villainous” next season, obviously, and I’m not sure his redemption was really full-fledged (since most of the other survivors didn’t even know he was on the boat), but until then it was fun sort of trying to gauge whether or not I liked the guy.

And hey, we get another polar bear attack! It’s a pretty sweet sequence, and the effects aren’t even that bad for a TV show. Plus it allows Michael and Locke to kind of call a truce, which is the sort of thing I always like. Not sure I liked Boone becoming a crazy “guard dog” for Locke though – last week (or, yesterday, in the show’s timeline) he wanted to kill the guy himself. I guess you build up an insanely high loyalty to a guy once he convinces you not to try to nail your sister anymore.

The inception of the raft is also here, though of course it would be the first one that gets destroyed by Walt (because he’s special!), not the real one they actually use. It’s kind of weird that it took almost a month for someone to think of making a goddamn raft while they were on an island, but I guess thinking of it in episode 14 is better than episode 15. And unlike Tom Hanks they didn’t have to wait for a porta-potty to get a move on. Just a shame they didn’t figure out how to open the hatch before they made it, Desmond probably had way better tools.

Where are we?


"Hearts & Minds"

OCTOBER 3, 2010


Back in the early 00s, MTV had this show called Undressed, that was supposedly really risqué for basic cable. I never watched it, but one night after the bar we had retreated to one friends’ townhouse dorm and someone put it on while we continued drinking*. And it was a marathon, which meant I watched a few story threads unfold in their entirety (it was sort of an anthology show, with weaving stories that would last 3-5 episodes). One of them was about two teens whose parents had recently gotten married, making them step-siblings, but they were still attracted to each other (they had dated prior to the parents hooking up). So when the parents planned to go out of town, they decided they’d finally screw around, and for like 4 episodes they teased and flirted, all building toward the night when they’d have the place to themselves... at which point they decided not to go through with it.

I bring it up because Lost had no such qualms, and had their step-siblings totally do it in "Hearts & Minds", even with the added ickiness of them having been brother and sister since they were children. Also, this was primetime major network TV, not cable at 2 am watched only by drunks.

(I also just learned that Damon Lindelof was actually one of the writers on that show, though not the step-cest storyline. Weird.)

So I think it’s safe to say that this is where Lost proved that it wasn’t too concerned with being conventional or presenting its protagonists in the most flattering light. I mean, they had guys like Sawyer being kind of a dick, but then his flashbacks revealed he was a good guy at heart. Or you'd have Jack selling out his dad, but again, it was to potentially save lives. But this? You just don’t have a lot of network shows featuring siblings, blood or not, going at it. Or episodes where other “hero” characters drug one of those people and put them through mental torture just to get them to stop wanting to nail their sister for a 2nd time, as Locke does.

Needless to say, good episode. You get a huge character revelation, some minor advances to the Hatch storyline, and a lot of great comedic interplay between Hurley and Jin, as the former tries to learn how to fish, much to the amusement of the latter. And the scene where Hurley steps on a sea urchin is another classic bit (another thing you don’t see in too many network shows – one man asking another to pee on him). And then Kate discovered Sun can speak English, which is a nice little “about goddamn time” moment, since Michael being the only one is a bit useless since he can’t even go near her without Jin getting all worked up. It also introduces her garden, which makes several appearances throughout the show – it would eventually be the only sort of “this is what they’d have to do to survive” thing they kept going. Everything else would just be chalked up to “they got it from the Hatch/Othertown”.

I’m not too big of a fan of “it was all a dream/hallucination/whatever” storylines, but this one works, because it’s rooted in character and also tipped off right from the start (if Locke had this “healing” mixture, why hadn’t he used it before on other people’s injuries?). Boone’s struggle to get the knife is pretty painful to watch, and the smoke monster chase scenes are the best we’ve gotten yet. We also see them hide in a banyan tree, a moment that would inspire one of the more ridiculous and annoying parts of the mostly terrible Lost: Via Domus game (see below). Thanks, episode.

This was the first episode written by Carlton Cuse, who would go on to be just as important as Damon Lindelof in the show’s execution. This was due to JJ Abrams more or less leaving the show to work on Mission Impossible III, never to fully return (he’d be credited as a producer for the entire show’s run, but it was more of a ceremonial credit than anything). The other guy, Jeffrey Lieber, would continue to have diddly-shit to do with anything on the show in any way shape or form, yet still makes more in a year than I will in ten for being one of the writers on the ABC-commissioned pilot (which was heavily rewritten by Abrams and Lindelof). Not a bad gig, huh? Hey, I’m a lousy writer too – maybe I can get a gig writing something that gets rejected/rewritten into something really popular! I can live as a king!

Where are we?

*I hope “Rose” from HMAD has followed me over here.