"Because You Left"

JANUARY 3, 2011


Hey, Lost producers – if you’re trying to make us think a character is dead, it’s probably a good idea to remove his name from the opening credits. Jin wouldn’t appear until the 4th or 5th episode of the season, but his name is still there in “Because You Left” and the following episodes, pretty much spoiling what little suspense there was to that subplot (nice try with keeping Daniel Dae Kim off of the most commonly used S5 promotional photo though).

S5 is my least favorite season of Lost, and that is due to the time travel, which is the main focus of this episode (the worst season premiere ever). Maybe some folks dug it, and I can see how they almost had to go to the time travel well in order to make sense out of the stuff in previous seasons (Ben asking what year it was when he arrived on the mainland, for example), but I personally am just not a fan of this concept in anything. Apart from maybe Back to the Future, I can’t think of a single time where a time travel element was used without causing major plot holes, and Lost is no exception. So then we got the temple, which was a deus ex machina introduced to fix all of the problems caused by previous deus ex machinas.

I mean, Christ, the episode has not one but TWO scenes of Daniel trying to explain what’s going on by using a common world example – first a record skipping and then a street. Shouldn’t that be a pretty big indicator that your storytelling has gone off the rails when you need two scenes in under forty minutes where someone has to dumb things down in order for it to make sense? Or keeping a handsome cast member shirtless for half the episode in an (admittedly hilarious) attempt to keep it watchable?

The biggest problem is that there’s no central character to the episode, which just makes it feel aimless (and in hindsight, it's fairly telling – no characters, just story). It seems like they should have gone the way of S3’s early episodes and focused on a different set of folks each episode instead of trying to cram them all into one, because it’s just too busy of an episode. Let’s see, you get Sayid’s crazy action hero antics, Sun’s dealing with Widmore, Jack and Ben plotting their next move, Kate on the run (again?), Locke off on his own and getting shot by Ethan, Sawyer’s quest for a shirt and some answers, Daniel and Desmond’s “exempt” time travel matters... oh and we find out Marvin Candle’s real name is Pierre Chang (I think this is the first time we’ve seen that anyway), and that he has a little son and that Daniel was in the past with him. Christ, I’m surprised they didn’t give Vincent some business of his own or maybe cut to the producers of Expose trying to find an actress that could loop Nikki’s lines for her final episode in her absence.

I was also confused by how the time travel worked. Their camp is gone because “they hadn’t built it yet”. But do the animals on the island go back and forth through time too? It seems not, because it doesn’t even look like Ethan or Richard are “displaced”. But if it’s just our survivors, why are they in two separate time periods (three if you count Jin)? Why would something so niche be so inconsistent?

Guess it’s just best not to think about it. Kind of weird for a show that has been telling you to read obscure Irish novels and the histories of various 17th century philosophers, though.

When are we?

P.S. Richard gets the best moment in the entire episode, when Locke asks him what the compass “does”. “It... points north, John.” Hahahaha, classic Alpert.

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