DECEMBER 16, 2010
AIRED: JANUARY 31, 2008
Right off the bat, I sensed something was amiss with Season 4 of Lost, when I realized that “The Beginning Of The End” was a Hurley episode and not a Jack-centric one, despite being a season premiere. Jack had been at the center of the two previous season premieres, and was one of the ones to get a flashback in the pilot – he’s our premiere guy, dammit! It might even have been helpful to use Matthew Fox’s weight loss (he slimmed down for a horrible, horrible movie in between seasons) in a flashback, since it’s kind of jarring to see him looking so different in an episode that takes place directly after the S3 finale.
Now, 4 as a whole isn’t too bad, and contains one of the all time best episodes, but it also set in motion a lot of things that would cripple the show for me, including the dividing (pretty much for good) of the two camps. Locke, Sawyer, Hurley, and Claire (plus some other survivors no one cares about) would head off to the barracks, six of the others would become the “Oceanic Six”, and the rest would pretty much just wander around on the island, dying or doing whatever the plot required them to. I understand the need to split folks apart, but it should be a temporary thing. Hell, I’m not sure if Desmond ever even sees some of these folks again after this one (since he was sidelined during most of S5 and 6).
But let’s not get too far ahead of myself. I liked the bulk of this episode, particularly the few emotional scenes involving their reaction to Charlie’s death. I tear up every time when Desmond tells Hurley, and everyone sort of stops in their place as they realize how caught up they were with the “story” that they didn’t even notice. I also love Sawyer’s attempts to be a shoulder for Hurley to cry on; it’s probably one of his most humane moments ever (at least, that didn’t involve someone he enjoyed sleeping with; then again, they WERE roommates despite having a whole empty city to themselves...).
I also liked some of the things they set up, such as Abbadon and the idea of the Oceanic Six. With the flashforward structure essentially spoiling the fact that some folks did escape the island, it was a terrific way to keep the suspense afloat – who made up the six? We know three of them now, but who are the other three? Why just them? Why do they have to go back? Etc. It particularly tickled me, because I was always one of those cynics saying that their various attempts at rescue (the raft, a message in a bird’s foot, etc) would never work because then there wouldn’t be a show – it was nice to be proven wrong in a way I never considered. Granted, it didn’t exactly turn out for the best in my opinion, but I still applaud the concept.
The magic cabin shit just annoys me even more now than it did when it first aired. Why does it move? Who is in it? I guess we can sort of figure out why Hurley seems to be able to see it, but there’s a lot of baffling nonsense surrounding it that was never explained, nor was it even particularly interesting – it’s just the sort of thing that kept driving folks away (according to Lostpedia, this was the highest rated episode of the final three seasons – even the big finale didn’t draw as many people back). And while it was a nice surprise that Hurley was the one to watch over the island, I preferred Hurley as the guy who was just there offering moral support and levity to the situations at hand, not as a major player. If HE starts getting mixed up with all this hooey, is there ever going to be another fun moment again on the show? He can’t very well be making golf courses and such if he has to go on a trek to find Jacob and blah blah blah...
One final criticism about this episode/season – spoiling the identity of the “man on the boat” for the entire season by re-adding Harold Perrineau into the cast list. It’s bad enough when they spoil a surprise appearance by John Terry or whoever, but why add a recognizable name back 7-8 episodes before he even appears? Sure, it wasn’t exactly the biggest mystery in the world (once it became clear that it WAS a mystery, who else could it be? No one else had left without dying), but it was still rather stupid to not even allow us to theorize.
Oh well, again, this is to be discussed later. This particular episode is pretty good.
Where are we?