OCTOBER 27, 2010
AIRED: OCTOBER 5, 2005
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?