"Stranger In A Strange Land"

NOVEMBER 26, 2010


The date that "Stranger In A Strange Land" aired, I was celebrating my 5 year anniversary to my wife (not of being married - of dating). Excellent juxtaposition, then, since while we were celebrating ongoing love and all that good stuff, Lost was airing the episode that threatened to end my (and many others') affection for the series once and for all (luckily, the next episode turned out to be one of my all-time favorites, making everything OK - not sure about everyone else). It's also kind of funny that I already planned to skip watching an episode on Thanksgiving (not a horror movie though!), because I knew I'd be getting backed up on reviews and folks are barely reading this site anyway, so they sure as hell wouldn't be looking on a holiday. And thus I was even happier with this decision when I realized what episode was next - I'd have hated to spend part of my holiday suffering through this shit.

I never knew that this was the episode that prompted ABC to finally set an end date for the show (I just read it now on the Lostpedia entry), so I guess it's got some value after all. Also, if you hate Jack, he gets one of the most savage beatings of the show's history at the end, so that was probably enjoyable on some level. Otherwise though - Jesus Christ. Jack's fucking tattoos. I mean, seriously, who gave a shit to begin with? With all the half-assed and throwaway explanations we got for things that actually mattered, did we really need an entire episode about Jack getting his tattoos? Especially one that skips over the most baffling part of the whole episode - why the hell was he in Thailand to begin with? It's not even entirely clear where this part of his history took place in the timeline - it's post-divorce, apparently, but when did he have the time to up and go to Thailand for a while? Seems like he was always tailing Sarah and butting heads with his dad.

The present day stuff isn't that much better, especially in retrospect. There's some nonsense about Juliet getting "marked" and thus more stuff that makes the Others look like some sort of cult, neither of which are ever explained in any satisfactory way. Plus, they build up the character of Isabel like she's someone important... and then we never see her again. I don't even recall if she's ever mentioned in future episodes.

Really, the only part of this entire "A story" that I like is when Tom brings Jack a sandwich and Jack gets all annoyed that it's not grilled. Tom's odd fondness (attraction?) for Jack is one of those rare things that never really goes anywhere but I like anyway - the scene of them playing football in an upcoming episode is hilarious. It almost seems born more out of Matthew Fox and M.C. Gainey being pals and throwing in some extra business in their scenes together. But I mean, as much as I love the combination of humor and sandwiches, one good scene does not make an episode worth my while.

The Kate and Sawyer story is SLIGHTLY better, because Sawyer gets to make a Jaws reference and he has a nice "father/son" chat with poor Carl, who misses Alex because they used to name stars together. Sawyer's clearly not really doing it because he's a hopeless romantic, but it's an amusing subplot all the same, mainly because Carl is just so damn goofy. But even this stuff is problematic - why do him and Kate bicker so much, a day or two after they made love (and even spooned!)? It just seems kind of out of nowhere.

Perhaps not too unsurprisingly, the writers for this episode are Christina M. Kim and Elizabeth Sarnoff, who also wrote "The Hunting Party" and "The Whole Truth", episodes which were also filled with go-nowhere subplots and stuff that sticks out as "wrong", such as Sun telling Jin she never had an affair in "The Whole Truth" when we find out like 8 episodes later that she did. But at least those episodes (and most of their others) are actually GOOD, overall. This is just a waste of 42 minutes. It was, however, the only episode ever directed by Paris Barclay, so at least there were SOME consequences from this drivel.

And again, fan reaction was apparently so bad that it prompted ABC to decide to schedule an end date, so that Damon/Carlton/etc could make sure that they got to tell their story in its entirety and guaranteeing fans a real ending (as opposed to an abrupt one caused by sudden low ratings), while also inspiring them to get focused knowing exactly how many hours they had left to tell their story, and hopefully not waste time on shit that didn't matter like this. As we all know, it wasn't an entirely successful plan, though as much as I was disappointed by 5 and 6, I never completely lost interest the way I did for say, The X-Files, which ran about 3-4 seasons too long and eventually became something I watched in the background. I always paid attention to you, Lost!

Where are we?

1 comment:

  1. This episode was particularly egregious because the commercials for it promised that "two of the island's biggest mysteries will be revealed!" (or something along those lines). This of course ended up being the mystery behind Jack's tats and...nothing that could possibly be construed as an answer to anything. Shameful.