"A Tale Of Two Cities"

NOVEMBER 17, 2010


Shortly after “A Tale Of Two Cities” aired, I met actor Brett Cullen (Goodwin) in an elevator in Hollywood, and told him how my mind had been blown by the opening scene of the episode, which revealed that the Others actually lived in a little suburban “town” on the island (and that Ben doesn’t like Stephen King, making his earlier reference an ironic joke). He said 'thanks' and then my floor came up so I got off without asking him about his work with Meat Loaf. Oh well.

Anyway, great opener, especially now that I’ve gotten over my initial annoyance that we didn’t see anyone besides Jack, Kate, and Sawyer. Give us our Hurley, goddamn you! They could have at least shown him making his way back to camp; it would be better than the pointless escape attempt from Sawyer, who gets tazed by Juliet. Though that little bit kind of made me smile, since this is the first time I had watched the episode since seeing the episodes showing that they eventually hooked up. Since their reunion in the afterlife was one of the few times I was “moved” in the series finale, it was nice to see how it all began: with her shooting him in the neck with electricity. Aww.

I certainly never complained about Kate’s usage in the episode. It’s almost like an apology for the Hurley/Locke/Desmond/etc lackage – she showers, puts on a nice sundress, etc. Good stuff. Oddly, I was reading the Lostpedia entry on the episode, and apparently the scene where Ben offers her breakfast was seen to be a hint at things to come by some fans, and they’d constantly pester Lindelof about it. I never saw it that way at all, personally – it was just a guy who really wasn’t all that evil offering a beautiful woman something to eat. I was never one to really read into every little thing on the show; sometimes I was just happy to enjoy the scenery and action at face value. And I don’t regret it; I’d hate to be one of those psycho fans who come up with elaborate theories for things that just turn out to be honest mistakes by the prop guys.

Hell, I’m such a casual fan that I never even noticed that JJ Abrams actually co-wrote this episode, the first time he had done so since the pilot. I always figured he had no real involvement (despite his listing as a producer) after S1, so this was a sort of surprise. Of course, by now the show had been going on for a while without him, and Lindelof is credited with the story and the other “teleplay” credit, so how much he contributed is unknown to me.

Whoever wrote the scenes with Sarah deserves a smack though – why can’t she just tell Jack the guy’s name? Whatever his failings as a husband may have been, HE LITERALLY PERFORMED A MIRACLE FOR HER. I think that’s earned him a “His name is Phil and he works at an accounting firm” or whatever. I mean, she obviously still cares about him a little if she’s calling his dad and bailing him out of jail, so this plot contrivance has always annoyed me.

They make up for it with the little detail about Christian being sober for 50 days, only for Jack’s behavior to knock him off the wagon again, and seemingly for good. There is no definitive time placed on the episode, but it seems not too long before the crash – after all, if Jack STILL didn’t know the guy’s name it couldn’t have been too long later, and in a general sense it seems like he and Christian were never on good terms again. So while Sawyer bought the drinks, it is indeed, albeit indirectly, Jack’s fault that he drank himself to death. Ouch.

It’s interesting that S3 started and ended with two of the bigger “holy shit” moments in the show’s run, since so much of the season was a lot of forgettable time-wasting. As the creators didn’t know how long the show would run, they were forced to dick around instead of propelling the story forward, and it shows at times. Silver lining though – this meant a lot of focus on the characters, right before they either forgot about or ruined most of them in the following seasons.

Where are we?

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