Wednesday, February 22, 2006

The New Yorker recaps LOST, as the 15th episode of the season airs tonight

***Correction, it has come to my attention that ABC is actually reairing the full two hour pilot tonight, and will be airing the fifteenth episode "Maternity Leave", next Wednesday.

Last season there were twenty four episodes of LOST, which includes the two parter pilot and the two parter finale –so it was more like twenty two original episodes. Tonight will mark the fifteenth new episode of LOST during its second season; so we’re past the mid point of the season and heading quickly towards the two thirds mark.

It’s no secret that I’ve been growing increasingly frustrated with this show. I thought last week’s episode “One of Them” felt heavy handed and sluggish. It was once again an instance within the trend of trying to marginally expand upon information we already learned last season. First of all, I could not STAND the way they brought in Rousseau’s character for such a brief and irrational moment at the start of the episode. I actually love this character, but the fact that she had been gone all year, and then magically reappeared to tell Sayid about a prisoner she’s captured is ridiculous. Wouldn’t she have been caught if she had been lurking so close to camp, especially now that there are more survivors and they are more on their gaurd? If she is so terrified of the Others, wouldn’t she have just killed the guy in the net? If she was trying to ingratiate herself back into the favors of the survivors wouldn’t she have stuck around to take the credit for trying to protect them? They should have just had Sayid find the guy in the jungle on his own –why bring back Rousseau at all if they were going to shoo her away again so quickly?

Now I know what you little LOST minions are thinking. “Oh well, see it’s all going to pay off because…..blah, blah, blah” Because that is the battle cry of the LOST faithful “It’ll come back around.” “It’s all connected.” And sometimes it is, and sometime’s its great, but often the lines between the dots are too far apart. When you wait too long to spring your payoff you loose some of the effect.

But back to last week’s episode. We already knew Sayid had a history of brutal militancy and torture. OK, so now we know where its roots began –via the U.S. army. Not a particularly great revalation there, because the character’s emotional parameters remain the same. Sayid has the fortitude and the grit to carry out torture when necessary (as he did with Sawyer last season), but he hates himself when he does it, and more so he hates that he is able to do it. I don’t think this theme was especially enhanced in last week’s episode, there was just the added backdrop of his grief for Shannon which was a given. There was no climax in this episode, and if you think I’m counting that foolish moment when the Hatch’s countdown system suddenly started to go haywire, only to turn back, then you are wrong. That my friends is what we call, a cheap stunt, not a dramatic climax. I would have liked to see some real drama unfold with the man they found in the jungle. They could have built up the entire episode as a guessing game about that balloonist’s true identity. Have him momentarily escape or emotionally connect with another survivor, or something besides him cowering in front of Sayid. It was just ---boring.

Now a friend pointed out to me, that the Colonel who took Sayid and forced him to torture his captian, was Kate’s step father, whom she visited in the episode earlier this season after killing her real father. He noticed that the photograph the Colonel was looking at longingly in the truck, was a picture of Kate as a child. Isn’t it cool how everything is connected?! Isn’t just so clever how the lives of all the survivors are woven together! Wow!

Well extemporaneous cutesy B.S. like that will only fly for so long. If you ask me, at this point, the writers/creators are working to build nothing more than a tower of babble, where corners are malformed because walls miss each other, and certain construction plans are dropped all together.

I thought that this season got off to a rollickingly good start. The season opener which finally allowed us to delve down into the Hatch was terrific. The discovery of Desmond, the sole inhabitant of the Hatch, who knew Jack from another life was both shocking and intriguing. But already things were feeling a tad bit familiar. In the season premiere we learn about Jack’s miraculous surgical work with his future wife to be, Sara, helping her to walk again after a debilitating accident. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen the theme and instance of someone regaining their legs after paralysis; i.e. Locke. But alright, I let it slide, ‘cause it was still a great episode, and because back then I too convinced myself it was all part of a master plan, that there were no coincidences on LOST.

In the second episode, we caught up with the folk on the raft, Sawyer, Michael, and Jin. The shark was exciting, and the dynamic of Sawyer and Michael is an interesting one, but the flashback, which revealed more backstory about Michael and Walt felt stale. It dealt with the court proceedings of Walt’s custody battle, and Michael’s eventual surrender to Walt’s mother outside of court. We got the gist of this situation last season, but what was emotionally poignant and riveting in the first season, began to feel like old hat when they touched upon it again in the second season.

The third episode dealt more with the hatch, and the constant countdown of the numbers, as dictated by the outdated computer. This as well as the discovery of the film by the Dharma Collective was very interesting, and while it opened a can of proverbial worms, I was fascinated by the direction the show was going in, suggesting the island might be the site of some sort of interdisciplinary scientific study. The flashback during this episode was one of Locke’s –and again in comparison to the episodes that focused on him in the last season was a little disappointing. Basically all we learned was that he had had a girlfriend and an anger management problem. OK, and? It’s right around here where I thought the season began to plummet. The episode titled “Everybody Hates Hugo” was the fourth of the season, and I thought it was weak. The connection they tried to draw between his being put in charge of the food and winning the lottery was forced and clunky. And nothing of consequence happened on the island.
Episode five? Sun and Jin’s backstory, which revealed the very first time they met. It was sweet and all, but I was more concerned with what was going on as Jin, Sawyer and Michael tried to cross the island with the other survivors. Obviously the reveal that there were survivors in the tale section of the plane was huge, but hadn’t this been hinted at all last season? Ana Lucia and her fellow survivors kept referencing “The Others’, but they are all loathe to talk about who or what they are. Everyone is cagey as hell.

In the next couple episodes, Sawyer’s gunshot wound becomes worse, and the Ana Lucia survivors get closer and closer to the Jack survivors. Shannon is also accidentally shot by Ana Lucia, and as shocking as this was meant to be, it seemed like a fucntion of a tactical career move on Maggie Grace’s part, not a story move on the part of the writers. Shannon’s final flashback was inconsequential at best. We learn she wasn’t always a gold digger, then she dies. The recap of the “other 48 days” had terrific potential, but instead felt rushed and haphazard, I would have liked to spent more time with these folk and their adventures on that side of the island. I find it hard to believe that they did nothing but sit and wait inbetween raids by the Others, while on the other side of the island, a baby was born, people were kidnapped, people died, a golf course was set up, people paired off, and huts were built, etc.

Episode eight. Virtually nothing happens on the island, as we learn that Ana Lucia was a cop with a vigilante streak. Her capture of Sayid was trite and lacked tension; we all knew they weren’t going to kill each other. Ana Lucia’s backstory was interesting and I like Michelle Rodriguez, but there was very little action going on in the present to accurately mirror her past, and the connection between the two was nearly non-existant.

Episode nine. The saving grace of this episode were the scenes between Locke and Mr. Eko. Their conversation about bible stories and the subsequent reveal of the missing pieces of film were enough to carry me through. But this was only the B plot. The A plot dealt with Kate seeing horses in the jungle, and us learning she killed her birth father, which is what caused her to be on the run in the first place. The backstory was unengaging, and the one big gasp-worthy event, --Kate and Jack finally kissing, was played oddly, and swept under the carpet too quickly.

Episode Ten. We learn about Mr. Eko’s past, and a connection is made between the body of the priest found in the jungle last season and Eko himself. This was a terrific episode. But even so, very little forward movement happened on the island. Eko faced off with the black smoke and proved he was not afraid. I really enjoyed this episode but it still didn’t move the island story forward.
Episode Eleven. Jack tries to stop Michael from dashing off alone to save Walt. I’ve already commented on this episode on this blog, but basically another redundant backstory (we’ve already seen plenty of Jack as miracle worker surgeon) and more stalling on the island. The brief run in with the Others accomplished nothing.

Episode Twelve. Charlie freaks out and think Claire’s baby is going to be taken away. Possibly my least favorite episode of the season. Again, we already knew that Charlie had issues with his brother and keeping his band together. We learned it last season. More melodramatic nonsense on the island, with no new information to move the story forward. I was not at all captivated by the tension between Charlie and Claire. Though it was cool to watch him be punched by Locke, I suppose.

Episode Thirteen. We learn even more about Sawyer’s history as a con artist. Even though this was another example to me of the show’s inability to introduce new facets of the character’s past lives this seasons, I still really enjoyed it. I thought it was structured cleverly, so that at first it appeared the episode was sluggish and then at the end you realized you had just been conned into thinking that. I liked that Sawyer took control of the guns and that Charlie had been involved. A solid episode, because although nothing was revealed about the island and its secrets, it did add an interesting change in the island survivor dyanamic, which I hope they keep.

And now we’re back with where we started. I guess I felt the need to go through all the episodes, because I’ve found that when I look back at them on a whole, there are only four or five episodes that I think were really great. That’s out of fourteen, so that’s only about 30% - 40%. Last year, I felt strongly about more than 50%, more like 70% of the episodes. In some ways I have become the junkie who just keeps going back for more, hoping they can recapture that high they used to get that was so amazing. I won’t stop watching the show, but I don’t enjoy it nearly as much as I used to. The writers have approximately eight more episodes to go. I hope they step it up. Although realistically speaking, my hypothesis is that they will drag things out till the season finale where they will end with another huge cliffhanger, having answered basically nothing all season, except what’s in the hatch. (And though we literally know what’s in the hatch, we still don’t know what we’re dealing with. Let alone the others.)


Blogger Mike said...

The show suffers from what I deem "Just F****** Ask" syndrome (JFAA). So many of these mysteries are so frustrating because they could be cleared up by simply asking a question or two. It's not good writing - it's painful. Why can't Jack just ask some straight-forward questions to Ana Lucia? Or Sayid to the French chick? JFA!

Incidentally, tonight is a rerun of the pilot, not a new episode

3:15 PM  
Blogger The New Yorker said...

WHAT! NO! I thought it was going to deal with Claire's flashback of what happened to her when she was kidnapped. (It's about time they dealt with that)

And yes, i agree about the JFA.

3:20 PM  
Blogger Scooter said...

Mike's right, the pilot is re-airing tonight. I think the Claire episode is next week.

3:24 PM  
Blogger The New Yorker said...

D'oh, you're right.

3:39 PM  
Blogger DoorFrame said...

Hey, you know what I just realized. His name was Sawyer, and he was on a raft! There's really no reason for this to suddenly get me excited, but I am.

That being said, I was beginning to hate the show by the end of last season due to the total lack of interest in moving the plotline forward. I was furious that the season ended without actually going into the hatch. I was halfway convinced we were going to spend this entire season watching the characters s.l.o.w..l.....y descend the ladder.

They won me back with the first couple episodes, but now I'm getting annoyed/bored again. We'll see if they can pull anything off.

5:47 PM  
Blogger The New Yorker said...

At this point I mostly watch just to hear Sawyer's funny/mean comments. Like: "you just keep on ranch dippin'..."

5:57 PM  
Anonymous crazymonk said...

It's not even the series-length arc that's boring me about the show -- it's the episode to episode writing. I thought several episodes last season had a Twilight Zone kind of feel. This year, there's only been a few good moments.

Like Alias, I expect this show to be essentially not worth watching after the second season. Unfortunately, I wasted my time watching the 3rd season of Alias -- the show became utterly unwatchable by the 4th. Perhaps Lost will be the same.

6:30 PM  
Blogger The Moviequill said...

they hired someone to play Rousseau's kid so she is just being re-introduced to us again, remind us she is around

7:14 PM  
Blogger The New Yorker said...

Crazy MOnk --I concurr, the overall character development and episode to episode story has gotten sloppy.

Moviequill --so they want to remind us she exists, fair enough --doesn't mean they had to do it so shoddily

10:51 AM  
Blogger The New Yorker said...

Aha! But unlike Bush, I do believe in the power of true democracy, let the majority rule! And look at the other comments racking up on this thread --most agree with me!

12:37 PM  

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