"Meet Kevin Johnson"

DECEMBER 23, 2010

AIRED: MARCH 20, 2008

Maybe it's simply BECAUSE they are different, but I tend to really like the episodes of Lost that break the traditional structure of going back and forth between past and present (or present and future, or present and the weirdest version of purgatory ever). Like "The Other 48 Days" and "Flashes Before Your Eyes", the past part of the story in "Meet Kevin Johnson" is told in one long segment, depicting how Michael got to be on the freighter, as well as the fate of Walt.

Michael was never one of my favorite characters, but it's hard not to feel bad for the guy here - he did these horrible things just to save his son, only to end up losing him (it's not really made clear, but the idea is that he told Walt what he did and the kid stopped speaking to him). His mom seems to hate him too, and since it's Christmas that's even more tragic to me. And worse, the island won't even let him kill himself! But he's still a selfish jerk - there's a great moment where Ben (correctly) points out that he won't kill an innocent person, and Michael asks about Ana Lucia and Libby. He actually thinks that's Ben's fault? All he had to do was tell Ana Lucia to go outside while he "killed" Ben. Dumbass.

The scenario also allows us to see Tom again. I would have liked a better showdown between the two - he IS the one that took Walt, but I liked seeing him dress and act like a guy on an all expense paid business trip. M.C. Gainey clearly enjoyed the change of pace too - it's one of his most humorous and showy performances. Good ol' Tom.

The structure keeps the Island stuff to a minimum (neither Jack or Kate even appear - very rare for just one to skip an episode, let alone both). The episode begins with Locke gathering "everyone" to tell them the plan, and by everyone I mean the credited cast members. There are a half dozen or so other survivors who have joined their camp, but they apparently just sit in their houses and do nothing - Locke can't even be bothered to tell them that they're in danger, I guess. Kind of funny.

Most of this stuff focuses on Ben, which leads to my only real problem with the episode - Rousseau's death. Now, she's never been a main cast member, but she has been a presence on the show since early in the first season (she was the first "other" Island resident we met besides Ethan), and her role had been expanded so far this season, now that she was reunited with Alex (who looks exceptionally cute in this episode, I want to point out). So to gun her down so quickly, while a nice shock moment, seems a bit lame to me. Killing Karl like that was already enough of a shock for the scene, did they have to kill her so quickly too? She got shot in the right lower side of her torso, it seems to me she could have lived a few minutes, maybe drag it out to the next episode. And in keeping with the "tradition" of this season, no one ever seems to care she died either.

When this episode aired, it was as a sort of "cliffhanger" because of the writer's strike, which halted production, shortened the season by 2 episodes, and caused a break of about a month or so. I can't recall for sure (I will tomorrow!) but I seem to remember thinking that the NEXT episode would have been a better "mid-season finale", but the specifics why escape me for the moment. At any rate, the strike hurt a lot of shows (24 was off for the entire season as a result), and Lost seemed to be one of the few that weren't effected much for a while (besides the break), but the season finale felt very rushed, which I think is where the strike effect finally took hold. I'll talk about that more in that episode's review next week, but for now I'll just point out that they ended up getting extra episodes in the 5th and 6th seasons, so overall, it evened out. Barring actor availability, since they knew they had 16 episodes per season for 3 seasons (ended up being 14, 17, and 17), it seems to me that they cannot blame the strike for any shortcomings the show had on a narrative level.

Speaking of which, I just remembered/realized that Richard has been absent for this season - that was due to Nestor Carbonell taking a leading role on the show Cane, which was a victim of the strike - it finished up its first batch of episodes, and then the strike happened, CBS had some mid-season shows to launch, and it sort of got left in the dust despite decent ratings (not as good as Lost's however). If memory serves he does make an appearance or two at the end of the season though. Also, if you type out Nestor Carbonell on Google, "Nestor Carbonell Eyeliner" is the first thing that pops up under his name. Poor sod (it's not eyeliner, he just has dark ringed eyes).

Where are we?

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