Monday, January 23, 2006

LOST feels Lost

I figure by now, anyone who is an avid watcher of Lost (is there any other kind?) has seen last week’s episode, titled “The Hunting Party.” In this episode, Michael runs off to find Walt and we get yet another peek at Jack’s past life as a surgeon.
I thought it was one of the weakest episodes I’ve seen yet in a series which I’ve always touted as being remarkably strong and elegant. I’m not sure if it’s a sophmore slump or pressure from the network, but I cant’ shake the feeling that the writers behind Lost, are feeling lost themselves.

The week before last, the episode, “The 23rd Pslam” aired on January 11th, and went into the backstory of the solemn and enigmatic character Mr. Eko, one of the “new” survivors”. This was the first new episode that the show had aired since November 30, which was almost a month and a half prior! Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, the actor who portrays Mr. Eko, has been a solid addition to the cast, and I think he is terrific actor. Akinnouye-Agbaje has a subtlety to his mannerisms, and a gentle intensity that fills up the screen with power. I was intrigued by Mr. Eko’s former days as an African warlord, and these scenes felt surprisingly authentic, as they told the story of his unfortunate childhood and the difficult decisions he was faced to make once grown. I thought the writers did a clever job of weaving together story elements from last season and the current season; explaining the origin of the priest’s corpse which had been found by Jack and Locke hung up in a tree last year, and the plane wreck in the middle of the jungle that led to Boone’s death. I liked that they were once again able to tie up the fate of one of the new survivors on the island, with the fate of the other survivors. “The 23rd Pslam” even featured a guest appearance by the ever elusive “black smoke”, with its mechanical, clanking sounds, as it faced off Mr. Eko in a clearing. As peculiar and menacing as the smoke is, my response to it has dampened. The first time I saw the smoke in last season’s finale, I was shocked and perplexed, but now I feel somewhat jaded, because I feel certain that nothing about it will be explained. It’s like a dog who smells the delicious aromas of cooking wafting through the screen door of a kitchen. He will anxiously wait for someone to step through the door and feed him, drooling and pawing at the metal mesh seperating him from the food. But after a while of waiting, he will give up hope and walk away from the door, certain the a meal is never coming.

This metaphor is fairly accurate in describing how I’m beginning to feel about LOST. “The 23rd Pslam” was a good episode because it highlighted some of the inherent strengths of the show, --creating characters with depth and intrigue, and weaving together new plot elements with old ones, these are the things that LOST can be so good at. But as well done as it was, it still didn’t really advance much of anything in terms of the story on the island.

“The Hunting Party”, was an egregious stall tactic episode if I ever saw one. It felt like recycled themes, and continued the show’s recent knack for opening up can of worms upon can or worms. The characters on the island must be up to their eyes in figurative earthworms, no wonder they can’t get anywhere. First off, even though, the first episode of the season was months ago, I felt like we’d JUST seen a Jack flashback episode. Especially since the flashback scenes in this episode were so familiar and predictable. Once again we saw Jack as a surgeon, doing spinal operations, struggling with his role as a doctor/miracle worker, and letting people down. I felt like we saw similar elements in the episode “Man of science, Man of Faith” (season 2 opener). The only difference is that in one case, he succeeded in his miracle, in another he did not. As for his relationship with his wife, there was too little interaction between them to surmise what was really going on, and his act of kissing the Italian woman was deflated by his wife’s admission that she was already having an affair. We already knew from last season that Jack was divorced, to learn that the cause was nothing more than some standard workaholic tendencies and textbook infidelity was kind of disappointing. Futhermore, the link that the writers always make between the action in the flashback and the action on the island was especially weak in this episode. According to his wife Jack, “always has to try and fix things” –this sentiment is mirrored somewhat by Locke, who accuses Jack of doing the same thing by trying to chase after Michael, who has absconded to find Walt. This felt like a like more than a bit of a stretch to me. Jack doing his job and trying to save a man’s life, and Jack deciding to give his marriage a second try, are not that comprable to his control issues on the island.

While I think its creepy and interesting to have Walt purportedly typing to his father, Micahel, at an unknown computer at the island, I think the writers of the show have chosen a very bizarre way to play the scenario out. First of all, it seems HIGHLY unlikely that Michael would be so surreptitious about the fact that he was talking to Walt over the computer. Especially if Jack walks up to him, (as he did in the episode “The 23rd Pslam”) and brings up Walt, and how he and the other survivors haven’t forgotten about saving him. Why wouldn’t Michael tell him immediatley what was going on? It seems like a natural response for Michael to get up screaming from that chair in the Hatch, and tell anybody who would hear him that his son is alive and that they must figure out where he is. Furthermore, I don’t think they’ve fully justitified why Michael would go out on his own to go collect Walt. Maybe Sawyer, or Kate would do something like that, but Michael has always been painted as a more logical and rational individual, a smart man who wouldn’t unncessarily throw either himself or his son into danger’s way. Knowing what he does know about the Others, he seems completely crazy to go after them by himself. Even if he did suddenly snap, and go AWOL on account of his son, I think the way to do it would have been to make it a Michael or a Walt flashback, and center it around their story, rather than making Jack the focal point, when it really has little to do with him.

On the subject of The Others, I thought the scene where that creepy old sea billy walks out of the trees was certainly unnerving, as was the instantaneous lighting of the torches at his command. But we still didn’t get anywhere with anything! There was no real information divulged about the Others, such as how they got there, what their M.O. is, and why they took Walt. Is this “Others” racquet getting old to anyone else? Not to mention the fact that it feels like there are too many main characters on the show. What the hell happened to the French Woman? Desmond? And has Hurley done anything but make his occasional wisecrack for the past several episodes? It’s time for them to kill more people off or have some sort of real event occur on the island. They go on hiatus for a month and a half, and this is what they come back with? The only thing right now that is kindling my hope, is the last line of last week’s episode, where Jack asks Ana Lucia how long it would take to train an army. Now that’s what I’m talking about.


Anonymous Snakes on a Blog said...

I miss Arzt.

Also, when are they going to get around to opening the hatch! How long do I have to wait?

3:09 PM  
Blogger jeremybgg said...

i actually thought it was a very strong episode. i hate to be one of those people that gives too much credit to the writers -- but keep in mind that as of right now, we have no idea what "walt" and "michael's" correspondences consisted of. most likely, we're going to find out, and i distinctly get the feeling like it included things like "don't tell anyone where i am, they will kill everyone," etc. in which case, clearly, it is not walt.

also, you (and many other people) have completely given in to the idea that Crazy Sea Captain (possible deGrute?) and his merry band are The Others.

have we seen any evidence that would cause us to believe that Ethan, Goodwin (and possible Nathan?) are in any way connected to Crazy Sea Captain?

i know he "acknowledged" Ethan's name, but he did not indicate any relationship.

i tend to think we are dealing with many, many, many different groups and factions.

12:43 PM  
Blogger The New Yorker said...

I'll give you that about Walt saying something along those lines to Michael via the computer, but I still think MIchael would have confided in somebody about it, even if he did decide to sneak off alone afterwards. Also, it still doesn't explain the half-a**ed Jack flashback.

2:08 PM  
Blogger jeremybgg said...

oh yeah, i forgot to school you on that. i understand how the jack-back seemed pointless. but think of two things:

1. now that we know jack isn't so much of a "miracle worker," it lends more creedence to the idea that somehow desmond (or the island) was involved in helping his wife walk again.

2. notice his wife didn't say the name of the man she was seeing when she left jack? yeah, cause that's never gonna come up again.

2:47 PM  
Blogger The New Yorker said...

Aw plz, so his wife was sleeping with Desmond? With another survivor on the island? Who cares! Just another connection in a network of bizarre coincidences and links among the survivors. But to what end I ask, what end!

3:03 PM  
Blogger The New Yorker said...

and as an addendum....


3:03 PM  
Blogger jeremybgg said...

oh yee of little faith. and me of far too much faith.

i have not given up on this season. i have never been afraid of "different," and that's all this season is: different. different in scope, different in style, different in pace.

come on, you're not psyched about the Eko and the black smoke/security system? that was awesome!

8:11 AM  

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