Thursday, 26 May 2016

The Lost Reviews: Part 12 - Season 3, Episodes 1-8

Welcome to the Lost rewatch project. I am currently rewatching all 121 episodes of the TV series which aired for six seasons from 2004 to 2010. This is very much a rewatch thread, with the show watched with knowledge of what is to come in later seasons. If you've never watched Lost before, you definitely do not want to read this blog series.

This entry covers the first eight episodes of Season 3. When Lost first aired on ABC, they mandated very long seasons (22-25 episodes). As used to be traditional with American network television, they would air batches of new episodes interspersed with several weeks of repeats. Although this model had been standard for decades, it became increasingly unsustainable with Lost due to the intricate and heavily serialised nature of the storytelling. For Season 3 the producers tried a new tack, airing the first six episodes of the season as a self-contained mini-series (of sorts), taking a three-month break, and then returning with the rest of the season. Although successful in this instance, the producers still experienced significant production issues with making so many episodes in so short a timeframe. During the airing of this season, they struck a deal with ABC to make three further seasons with a reduced episode count.

Without further ado, let us continue after the jump.

 The crash of Flight 815 is revisited from another perspective.


301: A Tale of Two Cities

Written by Damon Lindelof and J.J. Abrams, directed by Jack Bender

Airdate: 4 October 2006

Survivor Count: 48

Days on Island: 68 (28 November 2004)

Flashback Character: Jack

Day 1: A woman named Juliet is hosting a book club at her house. She burns some cakes in the oven, listens to some music and sets out chairs. The club is discussing Stephen King's Carrie, but not all of the group are impressed by it. A man named Adam derides the choice, as it has no metaphor and as science fiction is artistically meaningless. He says he's not surprised that "Ben" didn't come. Juliet says it's her favourite novel and she is delighted by the fact that Ben would hate it. She sarcastically remarks that she didn't think free will had been lost just yet.

Suddenly the ground starts violently shaking. Everyone takes shelter in a doorway until it passes. They then go outside. They are in a compound of pleasant yellow houses. Ethan Rom and Goodwin are present, indicating that is on the Island. "Henry Gale" emerges from another house. As everyone tries to work out what's going on suddenly they hear a roaring sound from above. Oceanic Flight 815 flies directly overhead and begins to break up, the tale section spinning off and crashing into the ocean nearby. The rest of the plane carries on to the very far side of the Island. "Henry" starts barking orders, telling Goodwin to ingratiate himself amongst the tail section and Ethan amongst the fuselage group. They depart at a run. "Henry" then sees Juliet with the book and sarcastically remarks that he must be out of the book club, since he wasn't invited. Everyone else goes back to what they were doing.

Flashbacks: Jack has become miserable following the failure of his marriage to Sarah. He desperately attempts to learn the identity of the man she was cheating on him with, but can't get any luck from going through her phone records. He tries to contest the divorce, but Sarah talks him into allowing it to go through. She refuses to tell him who her new man is, though. Jack keeps trying the numbers in her phone and discovers one of them is to his father. He becomes convinced that his father is sleeping with Sarah, to Christian's disgust, even going as far as to burst in on him as he attends an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting and punching him. He is thrown in jail. Sarah bails him out and Jacks sees her getting into a car with a stranger. She refuses to tell Jack who he is and they drive off together, leaving Jack bereft and alone.

On the Island: Jack wakes up in what appears to be a cell of some kind. The door is bolted and the intercom doesn't work. There is a glass partition across the cell and pipes and chains in the ceiling. Attempts to damage either the glass or the partition fail. Jack is trying to pull down the chains when Juliet enters. She introduces herself and asks him to stop messing with the chains, but he ignores her. Juliet gets a grilled cheese sandwich, but Jack refuses to eat it. Juliet asks him what he does for a living and he lies, saying he's a repo man. However, he does admit that Flight 815 took off from Sydney and that he went there to collect his father's body. Julie offers her condolences and asks Jack to trust her, but he refuses. She leaves, eating the sandwich.

Kate wakes up in a well-equipped shower facility. Tom (the Other formerly known as "Zeke") has prepared clean clothes and towels for her, and suggests that she wash up. Kate is bewildered, and worried that Tom will watch. Tom laughs, telling her she isn't his type. Kate finds that her new clothes consist of a nice summery dress. She is taken outside to where "Henry" is eating breakfast on the beach. He asks her to join him. Kate wants to know why he's treating her well, but "Henry" only says it's to make her feel nice because the next two weeks will be "very unpleasant".

Sawyer wakes up in an outdoor cell. The cell consists of a strange machine comprising a button, a handle and a switch in the floor. A young man, Karl, is imprisoned in a neighbouring cell. Sawyer presses the button twice. Karl advises him not to do it again and Sawyer refuses to listen. He gets blasted across the cell by an electric charge. Karl asks Sawyer where his camp is and how many people are there. He picks his cell door and escapes, telling Sawyer to go the opposite way to divide their pursuers. Sawyer doesn't make it far before being tasered by Juliet. Karl is also recaptured. Sawyer is stuck back in his cell and watches, bemused, as Karl is told to apologise to him by the other Others. They then take him away to an unknown location. Sawyer resumes work on the machine and manages to get a stone to hold down the switch. He throws his shoe at the handle and hits the switch simultaneously to get a reward: water and a fish biscuit. Sawyer realises that the cage was originally designed to hold a polar bear when Tom comes by with Kate, putting her in the other cage. Tom says that the bears figured it out in two hours, but Sawyer defends himself by pointing out there were more of them. He and Kate compare notes and Sawyer gives her a fish biscuit.

Juliet talks Jack into accepting food, but it's a trick so he can grab her and try to escape. He finds a massive hatch and tells her to open it, but Juliet says it will kill them. "Henry" appears and tells Jack to stand down, but Jack kicks open the hatch. It is actually an underwater access point and the hallway becomes flooded in a torrent of water. "Henry" escapes and Jack and Juliet take refuge in his cell's observation area. An emergency button on the floor flushes the water away. Juliet knocks Jack out and puts him back in his cell. When he comes back around he realises it's an aquarium, previously designed to hold sharks and dolphins. Juliet tells him they are in a DHARMA station called the Hydra. Jack asks if the Others remnants of the DHARMA Initiative, but she refuses to answer, saying that DHARMA was around a long time ago. She produces a stack of documents confirming Jack's name, his profession and where he works, as well as information on his family and ex-wife. Jack goes to ask who her new boyfriend is but stops himself. Instead he asks if she's happy. Juliet says she is. Jack finally gives in and lets Juliet give him food.

Outside in the corridor, "Henry" thanks Juliet for her good work. Juliet replies, "Thank you, Ben."

Major WTFery: Hey! The Others are all clean and live in totally awesome houses. We did kind of see that coming, but it's still weird that they portrayed themselves as dumb hicks for over a season.

All due respect to Juliet, but I don't think she could lay out Jack with a single punch.

Hindsight: This episode introduces both the Barracks (mentioned in ? but not seen) and the Hydra Station. It also introduces the character of Juliet.

The decision to put Sawyer in the polar bear cage came after the producers realised that people were still asking where the polar bears came from, even after the opening episodes of Season 2 made that clear. To their bemusement, the question would still come up even after these first few episodes.

The reveal of Juliet, using an apparently off-Island location and classic pop music before revealing the location is on the Island, is very similar to the reveal of Desmond in the Season 2 premiere, in one of the show's numerous deliberate uses of mirroring storylines.

We finally learn that "Henry"'s real name is Ben.

Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof are both Stephen King fans, which is why they chose Carrie to be the book at the book club. Stephen King was also a big Lost fan, regularly discussing the show online and in newspaper columns.

This is the only episode of Lost after the opening of Season 1 to involve J.J. Abrams in any capacity. Abrams had left Lost to work on Mission: Impossible III. Shorlty after this episode aired, Abrams would being development of a new TV series, Fringe, and begin development of a new Star Trek movie.
Review: Season 3 of Lost gets off to a surprisingly relaxed start. Oh, we see the crash from the Others' point of view, discover they live in sweet houses and meet a new regular character who will play a major role for the next three seasons, but there is very little that's really revelatory about the episode. None of our heroes seem inclined to ask the Others what the hell is going on (although to be fair they'd be unlikely to answer) and the episode seems more content to simply throw new plot coupons at the audience to see what sticks. So, a scene-setting and even fillery episode, down to the now-standardly redundant Jackback, but a watchable and interesting one. (****)

Sun takes a level in badass.

302: The Glass Ballerina

Written by Jeff Pinkner and Drew Goddard, directed by Paul Edwards

Airdate: 11 October 2006

Survivor Count: 48

Days on Island: 69 (29 November 2004)

Flashback Character: Sun and Jin

Flashbacks: As a little girl, Sun breaks an expensive glass ballerina that her father, Mr. Paik, bought as an ornament. Paik demands to know if Sun broke it, but she says no and puts the blame on the housekeeper. Paik tells her that if she will not take responsibility, he will have to fire the housekeeper. He asks her if she understands. She says yes.

Many years later, Sun's friendship with Jae Lee has turned into an affair. Ravaged by guilt, Sun says their relationship cannot continue. Jae gives her a string of pearls, suggesting that Sun leave Jin and the two of them could go to America and start a new life there. They are interrupted by Sun's father, who bursts in and tells his daughter to get dressed.

Paik summons Jin and gives him details about Jae Lee. He says that Jae stole something from him and must be permanantly punished. Jin goes home to Sun, who is anxious that her father told Jin about the affair. Jin instead only tells her that he has another difficult job to do for her father. When Sun suggests they could go to America instead, Jin angrily tells her that what he does for her father, he does for her. He confronts Jae Lee, who thinks Jin is going to kill him for the affair. Without learning the truth, Jin merely threatens him and tells him to leave South Korea. If he seems him again, Jin will have no choice but to kill him. Jin gets in his car to leave, but Jae Lee commits suicide by hurling himself out of his window. His body lands on Jin's car.

Paik attends Jae Lee's funeral, since Jae's father is a business associate. He is angry to see Sun watching from nearby. When she asks him if he will tell Jin, he says it is not his place to tell Jin and leaves.

On the Island: The Elizabeth is lying off the west coast of the Island near the Others' fake camp. Sayid has returned from his recon mission and confirmed that the camp is uninhabited. The signal fire is burning nearby, but Sayid is concerned that Jack might not be able to see the smoke as the western mountain range may be blocking it. He suggests they should sail further north and find a place to establish a second signal fire. Jin believes they should return to the main camp, as he thinks it is likely that Jack and his team have either turned back or been captured. Sun supports Sayid's plan, which irritates Jin.

At the Hydra, Juliet brings Jack some soup but he's not interested in talking. Juliet consults with Ben, but they are interrupted by Colleen, Danny Pickett's wife. Colleen tells them that Sayid scouted as the village, as was expected, but he arrived by boat, which was not. Juliet points out that they can't leave, they'll just sail around in circles, but Colleen points out that if they circle the Island they might find the Hydra. Ben decides it is imperative that they take the boat. He sends Colleen, Tom and a small team to capture it.

Sawyer and Kate are put to work on what appears to be a road. Kate is told to break rocks and Sawyer is told to take them away. When Kate asks what's happened to Jack, Pickett electro-shocks Sawyer as punishment. As they work, Kate is approached by Alex. Alex asks if Kate has seen the boy from the cages, but Kate replies she hasn't. Juliet arrives and tries to win Sawyer's trust by giving him water, but Sawyer pours it away in defiance. As work continues, Sawyer apparently becomes overwhelmed by passion and kisses Kate. Pickett and his men try to restrain them, but Sawyer beats Pickett bloody and knocks out another attacker. He only surrenders when Juliet holds a gun on Kate. Pickett beats up Sawyer in response and dumps him and Kate back in their cages. Sawyer and Kate immediately compare notes: Pickett is vicious and a bully but not a very experienced fighter. In fact, Sawyer doesn't think many of the Others have "seen action". The only thing he is concerned about is that Juliet would have killed Kate without question. Sawyer thinks that in a surprise situation, he and Kate can get the upper hand. They just have to wait for the Others to make a mistake. This amuses Ben, who is listening and watching in via video and audio feeds.

The Elizabeth sails up the coast and discover the Pala Ferry dock, from where the Others sent off Michael and Walt the previous day. Sayid assesses the dock and says it hasn't been used for some time and is heavily overgrown. He says it's an excellent place to set a fire. As they make the fire as big as possible, Sun asks him why he is lying. Sayid admits that he also thinks Jack has been captured, but that they can lure the Others into a trap. Sayid plans to kill all but two of those who attack, take them captive and use them to barter for Jack if necessary. Sayid says they should maintain the deception to keep Jin on side, but Jin says it's not necessary: he has picked up more English than they had thought and understands the plan. He insists on Sun being kept safe on the boat. Sayid agrees and tells Sun where he's hidden a gun on the boat.

The Others sneak onto the boat via the sea, bypassing Sayid and Jin's position. Sun gets the gun and holds Colleen at gunpoint as she comes belowdecks. Colleen is overconfident, saying that she knows who Sun is and that she's a good person, not a killer. When she takes a step forwards, Sun shoots her in the stomach. The other Others open fire, alerting Jin and Sayid. Tom takes command, sailing the boat away from the shore. Jin is horrified and swims after it, only to meet Sun coming the other way: she escaped via a rear hatch during the confusion. They head back to the main camp overland, Sayid reflecting that Jin was probably right all along.

Ben goes to speak to Jack and tells him that his full name is Benjamin Linus and that he has lived on the Island his whole life. He wants Jack to do something for him and he wants Jack to want to do it, so he agrees to make the same deal that Michael made: if Jack helps him, Ben will arrange for Jack to leave the Island forever. Jack is sceptical, saying that the Others are probably trapped just like the rest of them. Ben tells him about events that have unfolded in the outside world in the 69 days since the crash, such as actor Christopher Reeve passing away and the Boston Red Sox winning the World Series. Jack says that is preposterous, until Ben shows him a recording of the game.

Major WTFery: This episode creates some minor geographic confusion. Sayid's map appears to place the fake Others' camp at the south-western edge of the large bay on the west coast of the Island where the tail section crashed. However, the tail section never found the fake camp in two weeks of staying in this location. Although they - deliberately - did not explore far due to fear of the Others, it still seems implausible they did not locate this camp. One possibility is that the camp is a recent construction, having been built in the 6-7 weeks since the tail section survivors abandoned the beach. If we assume this is the case, it requires some changes to the maps of the Island putting the statue further south. This is all necessary because the Pala Ferry is shown, clearly, as being north of the fake camp.

Hindsight: Sawyer and Juliet's first meeting is antagonistic, which raises a smile when you realise they later spend three years together as a couple.

Colleen was a replacement for Ms. Klugh, created when the actress was unavailable. It was decided to make her Pickett's wife to give Pickett even more motivation for hating the 815 survivors.

Kate and Sawyer are, of course, working on the runway which will become critically important in Seasons 5 and 6. Ironically, they are working on the very thing which will one day save them both and get them off the Island for good.

Ryan, another Other security expert, is mentioned but doesn't show up for another 11 episodes.

This episode and Further Instructions were switched in transmission order. This may have been to allow for more time for the various submarines and boats sailing backwards and forwards and Jin, Sn and Sayid travelling through the jungle back to the camp.

Although it was insinuated from the dossier the Others assembled on Jack and their ability to send Michael and Walt home, this episode 100% confirms that the Others have the ability to travel to and from the Island at will. It also confirms that the days elapsing on the Island are elapsing in the outside world as well: some fans had suggested that only 69 days had passed on the Island whilst three years had passed in the outside world, so as to explain Walt's ageing should he return in a later episode.

Review: This is a pretty solid episode, especially as the "each side thinks they have the upper hand over the other" dynamic is realistically messy. Rather than the Others completely getting the drop on Team Sayid or vice versa, they sort of surprise each other even though they both expect the other group to be around. Sun also foreshadows her Seasons 4-5 arc by blowing away Colleen without too much trouble (and she seems rather unphased by it afterwards). A solid on-Island story is backed up by a well-played flashback. (****)

Crazy Shirtless Dream Sequence Alert.

303: Further Instructions

Written by Carlton Cuse and Elizabeth Sarnoff, directed by Stephen Williams

Airdate: 18 October 2006

Survivor Count: 48

Days on Island: 68 (28 November 2004)

Flashback Character: Locke

Flashbacks: Locke is working and living on a rural commune in California, some time after breaking up with Helen. He picks up a hitch-hiker, Eddie, and convinces the leaders of the commune, Mike and Jan, to let him stay. Locke says that the commune has provided structure and continuity in his life, as well as a sense of family after his real family screwed him over.

Weeks go by and Eddie notes that the commune keeps a large greenhouse secured and guarded. He asks Locke to be let in on whatever they are up. Locke agrees to discuss it with Jan and Mike. However, they've worked out that Eddie is an undercover cop trying to must their weed-growing operation. Locke agrees to "make things right" and takes Eddie hunting. He holds Eddie at gunpoint and gets him to admit the truth about being a cop. However, Eddie simply tells Locke he's leaving as he knows that Locke won't shoot him. Locke lets him go, knowing that he's lost another family and a place to stay.

On the Island: Desmond activates the failsafe key, resulting in the Swan Station imploding. Hours later, Locke wakes up in the jungle to find that he has lost the power of speech. He catches a brief glimpse of Desmond running naked through the trees before returning to camp. He urgently starts building a structure inside Eko's barely-started church. Charlie approaches to ask what's going on. Locke reveals he can't talk and, using hand gestures and a pen, says he needs to talk to the Island. He asks for Charlie's help, but Charlie helpfully reminds Locke that he beat the living hell out of him, which has not left Charlie well-disposed to him. Reluctantly, Charlie helps Locke set up a "sweat tent". Locke has a vision in which Boone appears to him and they both travel to Sydney Airport with Locke back in his wheelchair. Boone tells him someone needs his help. Locke sees Charlie, Claire and Aaron at the departure line but Boone tells him that they are fine, "for a while". He also tells him that Sayid has Jin and Sun's back, Desmond is finding his own path, that Hurley is okay, and that Jack, Kate and Sawyer do need his help, but not yet. Locke needs to find his own path first. Locke finds Mr. Eko's "Jesus stick" covered in blood and has a vision of a polar bear charging at him.

Emerging from the sweat tent, able to speak again, Locke tells Charlie that a polar bear has captured Mr. Eko and they need to help him. Charlie agrees to go with him. They head out into the jungle in search of the polar bear. Hearing something in the undergrowth, Locke throws a knife at it. Hurley emerges, holding his canteen up with the knife embedded in it. He tells Locke about Jack and co. being taken prisoner and is startled when Locke tells him he can't deal with that right now.

Hurley heads back to camp but encounters the still-naked Desmond. He gets some clothes for Desmond from the beach and relates his meeting with Locke. Desmond tells him everything will be fine, as Locke is going to go after Jack, Kate and Sawyer, like he said in his speech. Hurley, confused, asks "what speech?" Desmond, looking puzzled, wonders if he is more injured than he thought.

Charlie and Locke locate the polar bear's den in a cave. Locke goes in alone, using a deodorant can and a torch as a makeshift flamethrower. He recovers Eko and scares off the polar bear with the fire. The three of them head back to camp. On the way they pause for water and Eko tells Locke that he will reunite everyone because he always reaches his goal, because he is a hunter.

At the beach everyone regroups and the survivors angrily demand to know what is going on. Locke calms everyone down and says, with confidence, that he is going to go after Jack, Sawyer and Kate and get them back. Hurley looks at Desmond throwing stones into the sea and tells Charlie he feels a sudden sense of deja vu.
Major WTFery: The toy dump truck in the polar bear cave is never explained, although it's easy to imagine it belonged to someone in the DHARMA Initiative and was dragged in there by the bear.

This episode marks the first appearance of the infamous Nikki and Paulo, who literally show up out of nowhere on the beach but act as if they've been there all along. Subsequent episodes make a nod to the fact that the background survivors are getting antsy about the "A-Team" (Jack, Sawyer, Locke, Kate, Hurley and Sayid) and "B-Team" (Claire, Charlie, Rose, Bernard, Jin and Sun) running around and getting into trouble, but it's still rather weird seeing two people we've never once seen in fifty-one previous episodes suddenly popping up and taking a (relatively) prominent role in events. This led to a lot of irate fan reaction online, resulting in the two characters being written out of the show ahead of schedule in Expose.

Hindsight: Locke finds a toy dumptruck in the polar bear cave. He also finds skeletons bearing the DHARMA Pearl Station logo, suggesting the polar bear either killed DHARMA personnel or dug up the bodies from somewhere.

A deleted scene has a police taskforce raiding the compound when Locke returns. Eddie spots Locke but doesn't say anything, allowing Locke to escape.

Review: This episode represents Lost being so weird and randomly meta about itself that it teeters on the edge of self-parody in the sweat lodge sequence. However, it's also refreshingly straightforward: Locke tries some really random stuff that half the characters would have freaked out about for half a Season 1 episode but then it works and it's fine. Here they just cut to the chase and move on. The result is a rather barmy episode with some quite terrible polar bear CGI and an utterly pointless flashback, but the on-Island stuff moves reasonably fast and is entertaining. (***½)

Not in Kansas anymore.

304: Every Man For Himself

Written by Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz, directed by Stephen Williams

Airdate:

Survivor Count: 48

Days on Island: 70-71 (30 November-1 December 2004)

Flashback Character: Sawyer

Flashbacks: Sawyer is in prison as a result of the long con he pulled on Cassidy. Cassidy visits him and tells him that he has a daughter, Clementine. Sawyer angrily says he doesn't believe her. Angrily resuming his prison life he sees a new prisoner, Munson, being beaten. He is told that Munson stole $10 million but no-one can find it. Sawyer ingratiates himself with Munson, warning him that the governor will be trying to find it for himself and will go easy on Munson in the hope he gives it up. After Sawyer is proven right, Munson tells Sawyer where the money is in the hopes that he can move it for him. Sawyer reports this to the FBI to get the last six years of his sentence commuted and earning a reward. He tells him to put the reward in the name of Clementine Phillips. The prison governor congratulates Sawyer on having "lied and cheated your way out of prison."

On the Island: Juliet brings Jack food but Jack wants to talk to Ben, since he's in charge. Juliet bristles at this, saying that they make decisions together and no-one is in charge. Ben then bursts in and orders Juliet to come with him to help with Colleen, who has been injured. Juliet follows him, to Jack's amusement at apparently being proven right.

Pickett arrives at the cages to take Sawyer and Kate to "work", but hears about his wife Colleen's arrival on the radio. The Others march past with her on a stretcher. Pickett races off with them. Sawyer realises that their group must have been responsible for the injury and says they may have found a way back home. He uses the food and water dispenser to create a puddle and plans to use the electric charge on the food machine button to stun an Other when they open the cage. Ben arrives to question Sawyer, but his questions are odd: asking Sawyer his age and weight. Sawyer grabs Ben but finds the button doesn't work. Ben tells him they switched off, before beating Sawyer unconscious with a stun baton.

Sawyer wakes up in a room. He is strapped to the table and has an operating scar on his chet. Ben produes a bunny in a cage, puts it on Sawyer's table and screams at the bunny whilst shaking the cage until the bunny apparently drops dead. Ben tells him they put a pacemaker in the bunny and when its heartbeat reached a certain level the bunny was killed. He tells Sawyer they have put a similar pacemaker in his heart and if his heartbeat rises too high it'll kill him too. Sawyer returns to the cages, having been told not to tell Kate they are being watched or what has been done to him. In his absence, Kate has noted that the bars on top of the cage are further apart than elsewhere and she might be able to squeeze through. Sawyer suggests they lay low for a bit instead.

Back the main camp, Desmond tells Claire that he's spotted something wrong with the roof of her shelter. Charlie, overhearing, inspects it and doesn't see anything wrong. Desmond sees another survivor, Paulo, playing golf with fruit on the beach and asks to borrow a club. He builds a large tower-like object in the middle of the camp, with the club on top. A confused Hurley asks if it is art. Moments later a torrential downpour hits the camp and collapses Claire's tent roof. A lightning bolt then hits the camp, but is diverted to Desmond's makeshift conductor and grounds itself harmlessly. Hurley is shocked by what appears to be a second example of Desmond being able to see the future.

Juliet asks Jack to help them save Colleen, as Juliet's medical knowledge is insufficient. Jack, reluctantly, agrees. Whilst assessing Colleen's situation he sees X-rays of someone with a spinal issue, but Juliet tells him those are for someone else. Jack is unable to help Colleen, who soon passes away. In a fury, Pickett goes outside, drags Sawyer out of his cage and beats him senseless. He keeps asking Kate if she loves him, only stopping when she says yes. Kate later escapes from her cell via the roof and opens Sawyer's cage, but he refuses to escape. Kate also says that she only said what she said so Pickett would stop hitting Sawyer. Sawyer urges Kate to run, saying "It's every man for himself," but Kate replies, "Live together, die alone."

Jack tells Juliet that the X-ray showed a man in his forties suffering from a large tumour on his spine. He wants to know who he is there to save.

Ben takes Sawyer out of his cage and for a walk. He confesses they didn't really give him a pacemaker and shows him the bunny, alive and well. Sawyer asks how he is supposed to know if Ben's telling the truth and Ben, laughing, says he doesn't. Sawyer punches Ben in the face, which Ben seems to accept is fair. He takes him up a rise and shows him the truth: they aren't on the Island. They Hydra Station is instead located on a smaller island about twice the size of Alcatraz, located a few miles off-shore. He shows Sawyer this to make it clear that there is nowhere to run to.

Major WTFery: The bunny scene, which injects some pure Monty Python WTFery into the episode.
Hindsight: First mention of the submarine. It was named in the previous episode as the Galaga (barely discernible on the audio but confirmed on the closed captioning and later episodes).

Jack uses the Others' own tactics against them: just as Ben sowed discord between Locke and Jack in the Swan Station, Jack starts turning Juliet against Ben in a similar manner. Given that Jack usually has all the subtletly of jackhammer in a library, this plan works surprisingly well.

It seems rather unlikely that Cassidy, an accomplice to Sawyer's con-artist schemes, would have Sawyer arrested. In a later episode, Left Behind, it is confirmed that in fact it was Kate herself who talked a pregnant Cassidy into turning Sawyer in over her objections. This is also the first episode to mention Clementine, who finally appears in the Season 5 episode Whatever Happened, Happened.

This is the final Sawyer-centric episode until Season 5. An additional Sawyer flashback for later in Season 3 and another in Season 4 were likely planned, but abandoned due to the shrinking episode count (Season 3 being one episode shorter than Season 2) and the 2008 Writer's Strike (which shaved several episodes off Season 4's run time).

Review: A fairly entertaining Sawyer episode, with the crazy rabbit scene, the Of Mice and Men allusions and Desmond's future time predictions all spicing things up nicely. There's maybe the feeling that they could be moving things forward more decisively, but with the advantage of being able to watch the next episode immediately this definitely isn't as much of a problem as it was at the time. (****)

Smokie doesn't have a keen understanding of moral nuance.

305: The Cost of Living

Written by Alison Schapker and Monica Owusu-Breen, directed by Jack Bender

Airdate: 1 November 2006

Survivor Count: 48

Days on Island: 71-72 (1-2 December 2004)

Flashback Character: Mr. Eko

Flashbacks: As a young boy, Eko is caught stealing food for his brother by a nun and taken to the church to confess. Eko refuses to confess, however, saying that stealing the food was justified for his brother's well-being.

Decades later, Eko returns to his village immediately after seeing his brother being shot and collapsing onto the Beechcraft plane. He tells the villagers he will be taking Yemi's place, both in the village and then on his brother's sabbatical to the UK to continue his religious studies. Eko learns that when the village receives a vaccine shipment, they keep 20% of it and give the rest to a local militia leader, Emeka, who provides protection to the village. The latest shipment is late and Emeka visits the village to express his displeasure. Eko is unimpressed with Emeka, telling him he is not afraid of him. Emeka kills an innocent bystand and tells Eko that he will be back for the money.

Eko plans to sell the vaccine on the black market himself and makes enquiries. Emeka hears about this and arrives at the church. He says he won't kill Eko because he is a superstitious man, but has no compunction about chopping his hands off. Before he can do this, Eko kills Emeka and his two bodyguards. He emerges from the church bloodied and battered, shocking the villagers. They board up the church, telling him it has been defiled. Yemi departs, with one of the village boys asking if he is a "bad man". Eko says he doesn't know.

At the Hydra: Ben invites Jack to join the procession for Colleen's funeral. Jack casually asks Ben how long he has had the tumour and how bad it is. Ben is shocked and tries to pretend it's not him, but Jack doesn't buy it. At the funeral Ben angrily asks Juliet why she told Jack, but Juliet says she didn't. Jack must have guessed, and now Ben has confirmed it for him.

Annoyed, Ben tells Jack the truth: that he had a wonderful plan to break Jack down and get Jack to join them by exploiting the resemblance between Sarah and Juliet but that's now all gone out the window. He simply asks Jack to help him. He asks Jack if he believes in God, because two days after he was diagnosed with a spinal tumour, a spinal surgeon fell out of the sky and if that isn't proof of God, he doesn't know what is.

Later, Juliet tries to convince Jack to save Ben. However, as she talks a video plays on the TV in the background, with no sound and turned away from the hidden camera. On this video Juliet holds up placards telling Jack that Ben is a dangerous liar, that he has become a liability and that many of the Others want a change in leadership. She suggests that Jack let Ben die on the operating table. None of the Others have enough medical knowledge to know if it's an accident or deliberate. As the video plays, Juliet continues saying that Ben is a great man and Jack should save him. Jack tells her to get out, as the placards on the screen advise.

On the Island: Eko wakes up in a delirious stupour at the beach camp and sees his brother before him, holding a lighter. Yemi tells him it is time for Eko to confess. The tent then bursts into flames. Charlie and Hurley rescue Eko and leave him propped up against a tree as he keeps saying, "My brother!" Eko then disappears into the jungle.

The next morning, Locke hits on an idea to use the Pearl Station to try to communicate with the Others and see if there is a way they can get their friends back. He takes Desmond, who wants to see another hatch, and the recently-returned Sayid, whose technological know-how might come in handy. With the camp looking up to Locke as the guy in charge in Kate and Jack's absence, Locke decides to be a more open leader. He tells everyone what's going on and even asks if any of the other survivors want to help out. Nikki and Paulo, two of the survivors most frustrated with the "A-team" constantly romping off into the jungle inexplicably, volunteer to come along. Charlie and Hurley return from a sweep of the area and say they can't find Eko. They mention how he was talking about his brother and Locke realises that Eko must be going to the Beechcraft, which is conveniently located on top of the Pearl Station.

Eko stumbles through the jungle in a daze. He hears the telltale sounds of the Monster. Suddenly Emeka appears to him and Eko nearly kills him again before stopping himself, realising that this isn't real. He stops at a stream to drink, only to see the Monster appear behind him in the reflection. When he turns, the Monster retreats. Locke and company catch up with Eko and they press onto the Pearl.

As the rest of the party descends into the station, Eko takes a look in the plane and sees that his brother's body has disappeared. Locke suggests that it was dragged off by animals, but Eko seems unconvinced. Locke, suspecting that Eko has seen the Monster, tells him that he also saw it and it was beautiful, like a white light. Eko says that is not what he saw. He then says he will stand guard and Locke joins the rest of the party inside the station.

Inside the station Nikki re-watches the Pearl Orientation video whilst Sayid fiddles with the electronics. Sayid says that the signals are all incoming only, there is no way to send a signal out. However, Nikki points out that in the video it is said that the Pearl can spy on other experiments in other stations, plural. Locke berates himself for not noticing that. Sayid is able to power up another screen, this time depicting a station of unknown location. A man wearing an eyepatch appears, studying the camera that has (presumably) just suddenly become active, before switching it off. Locke says, "I guess he'll be expecting us."

Eko sees Yemi at the edge of the question mark clearing and follows him away from the plane. Yemi says it is time, but Eko says he does not want to confess. He was dealt a hard hand with his life, and he has played it the best he can, always doing what he could to survive and help Yemi to survive. He is not sorry for this. Yemi becomes enraged, saying, "You speak to me as if I were your brother!" before storming off. Eko also becomes angry and runs after him, screaming, "WHO ARE YOU?" Yemi disappears. Suddenly the ground erupts and the Monster appears. Eko recites the 23rd Psalm, hoping to protect himself, but to no avail. The Monster curls smoke around Eko's body, picks him and up and smashes him through the trees, breaking bones and causing internal injuries. It finally slams Eko into the ground before vanishing. Locke and the rest of the group find his body moments later. Before he dies, Eko has time for one last warning: "You're next."

Major WTFery: Given that the village is Eko's home and he visited there at least a few times before Yemi's departure, it seems implausible that no-one recognised him as Yemi's brother.

Aside from both being fair-haired, the resemblance between Juliet and Sarah is slight, at best. It may be that Ben's plan to "break" Jack is in fact saying that Jack has identified his plan already to lure him into a false sense of control.

Something that hasn't come up yet (though it will): if the Island heals injuries, afflictions and cancer (like Rose's), then how did Ben's tumour develop in the first place?

Hindsight: This episode seemingly confirms that the Monster requires the body of a person before being able to take the form of an exact replica of it, and may even be capable of reparing the dead body and walking it around in a possessed state. This was also apparently the case with Christian Shepard's body in Season 1. However, Seasons 5 and 6 seemingly confirm that, although the person has to be dead and the body on the Island, the Monster does not need to actually have possession of it (i.e. after both Locke and the Man in Black's physical bodies die, the Monster can appear as them both even after Locke is buried and the MiB's body is left at the caves). It is unclear why the Monster therefore needed to steal away Yemi's body.

Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje was originally contracted to appear on the show for four years, with a storyline the produces envisaged as developing between Seasons 2 and 5. However, Triple A (as he is known to his fans) was unhappy at the long filming time for the series and the separation this meant from his family back in the UK. He asked to be released early from his contract and the producers agreed. There were several attempts to bring him back for later episodes, but either scheduling clashes or disputes over pay prevented his return.

Sayid says that there is no way to send a signal from the Pear to other stations, although this is really the only plausible explanation for how the Others, posing as Walt, were able to communicate with Michael in the Swan (since they needed the Pearl's cameras to see when Michael was at the computer alone). It is possible the Others brought equipment with them and then took it away with them afterwards.

This marks the first appearance of Mikhail (i.e. "eyepatch guy") and, at least via a computer monitor, the Flame Station (although it had previously been mentioned on the blast door map in the Swan). The Flame appears properly later this season in Enter 77.

This episode would have made it clear that Sawyer and Kate were helping build a runway, but dialogue confirming it was cut for time. A new line was inserted into the Season 3 finale to confirm it was a runway, but not what for.

Review: A brutal episode, with the confirmation that the Monster is judging people on the Island and killing those it doesn't find worthy or who try to atone for their past sins. Eko's death is pretty unpleasant, and the writes even (almost) find a way of justifying Nikki and Paulo's existence. The flashbacks add a note of tragedy to the episode. The rising tension between Juliet and Eko is also nicely-handled, but it's difficult to work out who's playing who and at this point we haven't fully invested in Juliet as a character to get a sense of the stakes. But still, a watchable and rich episode. Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje's intense portrayal of Mr. Eko will, in particular, be missed. (****½)

Yeah, Nathan Fillion was in Lost.

306: I Do

Written by Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse, directed by Tucker Gates

Airdate: 8 November 2006

Survivor Count: 47 (-1 after Eko's death in the previous episode)

Days on Island: 72-73 (2-3 December 2004)

Flashback Character: Kate

Flashbacks: Kate is living undercover in Miami-Dade County, Florida, near Miami. She has taken the name "Monica" and has fallen in love with a police officer, Kevin, whom she marries. For a while she is happy, doing menial chores and cooking for taco night. She even rings the Marshal and tries to talk him into abandoning the pursuit, which he refuses to do. However, when Kate has a pregnancy scare and then Kevin books tickets for an overseas honeymoon in Costa Rica and advises her to make sure her passport is in order, Kate realises she can't live this life of deception any longer. She tells Kevin everything, including the fact she loves him, and knocks him out with a drug in his drink. She then flees.
On the Island: Locke and his group bury Mr. Eko near the Pearl, not wanting to spread more panic on the beach. Locke tells Nikki, Paulo and the rest of the group that Eko was killed by a polar bear. He and Sayid leave to get shovels and also take a detour to retrieve Eko's "Jesus stick", which is covered in scripture. Locke and Sayid briefly discuss the Monster. Locke ponders what greater meaning, if any, Eko's death stands for. Returning to the grave, he uses the stick as a marker. But when he looks at it, he sees the words "LIFT UP YOUR EYES AND LOOK NORTH" placed next to "JOHN 3:05".

At the Hydra: Jack examines Ben's medical charts in greater detail. He tells Ben that he needs to be in surgery yesterday to stand any chance of survival. After further consideration, he tells Ben he will not perform the surgery as he has no guarantee that the Others will free him, Sawyer and Kate.

Kate and Sawyer resume work on the runway but are interrupted by Alex, who tries to get them to escape. She demands to know where Karl is from Pickett, but is overpowered and dragged off. She tells Kate that they will kill "her boyfriend" like they killed Alex's. Kate is then taken inside the main Hydra Station and, after being brief by Juliet, is reunited with Jack. Kate tells Jack that the Others will kill Sawyer if he doesn't do the surgery. Jack angrily tells the security cameras that "We're done". Kate is returned to the cages. She opens Sawyer's cage and tells him to go, as Pickett has been looking for a chance to kill him and now Jack and Ben have given him an excuse. Sawyer refuses to go, telling her they are on a smaller island. They end up making love instead.

Jack finds the door to his cell open. He leaves, finds a gun cupboard near the monitoring room and tools up. When he checks the monitoring room, he sees Kate and Sawyer in their post-coital repose. Ben enters, saying that he figured that Kate would choose Jack. Jack holds him at gunpoint, but then thinks better of it. He tells Ben he will do the surgery the next morning because he needs to get off the Island.

The next morning Jack starts the surgery on Ben. As soon as Ben is out and everyone else is unconscious, Pickett sneaks off to kill Sawyer, telling the other Others that "Ford was never on Jacob's list anyway". However, Jack nicks an artery and tells everyone that Ben has roughly an hour to live. He wants his friends released and on their way, and confirmation of that before he repairs the damage. Pickett drags Sawyer out of his cage and prepares to shoot him in front of Kate, but Tom stops him over the radio. Jack talks to Kate, saying they have an hour's head start and need to run. When Kate hesitates, Jack yells at her to run.
Major WTFery: Locke tells Desmond, Nikki and Paulo that Eko was killed by a polar bear. Whilst it is certainly possible that Desmond completely avoided hearing the Monster from inside the Swan Station, Nikki and Paulo were on the beach after the crash when the Monster was first heard with the same sounds they heard from inside the Pearl in the previous episode. It seems unlikely they would buy the polar bear story.

Not matter how amazing a surgeon Jack is, it's not really plausible that he is able to injure Ben so precisely that he has exactly 60 minutes to live, no more or no less.

The episode's cliffhanger ending is pretty pointless: Jack has Ben's life in his hands, Tom is already cooperating and has stopped Pickett from killing Sawyer.

Hindsight: Kate confirmed in Outlaws that she was married, briefly, and in The Whole Truth that she once took a pregnancy test.

This is the first episode to explicitly mention the name "Jacob" as the unseen, overall leader of the Others. Fans assumed that Jacob was the "him" mentioned by Ben during his time in the Swan Station.

Later episodes would hint that the "Jacob" the Others know is in fact the Man in Black. However, the MiB has no real reason to build the runway which Jacob needs to bring the final Candidates back to the Island in Seasons 5 and 6, so the situation remains a little confused.

This episode marked the end of the initial six-week "mini-series" that opened Season 3. There was a three-month break until the next episode aired. The cliffhanger to the episode meant that this did not go over well with the fanbase.

Apparently Evengeline Lily got so carried away in the scene where she has to jump into Nathan Fillion's arms that she sent him crashing into the opposite wall.

Review: A fairly pedestrian flashback, Nathan Fillion aside, but the on-Island storyline ramps up another notch. It is a bit bizarre how it's being dragged out (with better writing, they could have condensed the Hydra storyline into five or six episodes max), but it remains entertaining. (***½)

Richaaaaaaard!

307: Not in Portland

Written by Carlton Cuse and Jeff Pinker, directed by Stephen Williams

Airdate: 7 February 2007

Survivor Count: 47

Days on Island: 73 (3 December 2004)

Flashback Character: Juliet

Flashbacks: Juliet is a fertility doctor who is trying to help her sister, who has cancer, get pregnant and have a child before she passes away. Bizarrely, Ethan Rom appears to be visiting Juliet's workplace. Juliet works in the same labratory as her ex-husband, Dr. Edmund Burke. Burke gets wind of her research and offers to let Juliet use their facilities to research her new treatment in return for a share of the credit. Juliet goes for a job interview with a company called Mittelos, based just outside of Portland, represented by Richard Alpert. Richard offers her tremendous terms to move and continue her research, but Juliet breaks down, knowing that the only way Burke will let her leave with her research is if he gets hit by a bus. Juliet discovers that her sister is pregnant, confirming the viability of her treatment and encouraging Juliet to take the new job. A few days later Juliet is talking to Burke in the street outside the lab when he is hit and instantly killed by a bus.

Juliet formally identifies the body and is approached by Richard Alpert again, with Ethan working as his aide. Juliet agrees to the job if she can bring her sister with her, but Richard says where they are working is very remote. It's "not quite in Portland."

At the Hydra: Jack continues to yell into the radio, telling Kate to flee. Kate and Sawyer overpower Pickett and another Other, Jason, with him, Sawyer taking pleasure in smashing Pickett's head against the food dispenser until he's unconscious. They lock the two Others in a prison cell and flee with their guns. Juliet calls Jack's bluff, sending more people after Kate and Sawyer. In retaliation Jack tells Tom that Juliet asked him to kill Ben. Tom sends Juliet out of the operating room to quiz Jack mor thoroughly, but Ben wakes up and overhears what's going on. He tells them to leave and Juliet to be brought back in so he can talk to her.

One of the Others, Ivan, releases Jason and Pickett. They chase after Kate and Sawyer and there is an exchange of gunfire, until Kate and Sawyer run out of ammo. Alex appears and leads Kate and Sawyer to her hideout. Alex agrees to provide them with a boat to escape Hydra Island in return for helping her rescue her boyfriend, Karl. He is being held prisoner in a building nearby. Kate and Sawyer agree. They find Karl in a Clockwork Orange-style room ("Room 23") being forced to watch a video full of strange images and sounds. They escape with Karl and head to the beach where Alex has hidden a canoe.

After Ben's talk with Juliet, she emerges and asks Jack to complete the surgery. In return she will help Sawyer and Kate escape. Jack agrees.

Pickett finds Sawyer, Kate and Alex on the beach and holds that at gunpoint. He tells Sawyer to get down on his knees and prepares to execute him. He is stopped by Juliet, who shoots him several times in the chest. She gives a walkie talkie to Kate, who confirms to Jack that they've been allowed to escape. Juliet lets Kate and Sawyer take Karl with them, but tells Alex that her father - apparently Ben - will not let her go as well. Alex, reluctantly, agrees to stay.

Over the radio, Jack tells Kate and Sawyer to leave and never come back for him. Kate tearfully agrees. Later on, after Juliet returns to the Hydra Station, Jack asks why she changed her mind and asked him to save Ben. Juliet says that she has been on the Island for three years, two months and twenty-eight days, and Ben promised that if she saved him, she would be allowed to go home.

Major WTFery: Continuing from the previous episode, it is highly doubtful that Jack could so precisely nick an artery that he knows that Ben will bleed to death in an hour, to the point of providing accurate countdown reminders. It's also rather unnecessary, as Jack is able to repair the damage with something like half an hour left on the clock.
Hindsight: This episode marks the very first appearance of noted immortal Other Richard Alpert who, contrary to fan opinion, didn't wear guyliner for the role. He just has naturally dark eyelashes. Richard goes on to be an important recurring character right up to the series finale, and gets his own flashback episode in Season 6.

One of the Others is reading Stephen Hawking's A Brief History of Time, a hint that weird space/time stuff is about to ensue in the show.

"Room 23" may be "the room" where Walt was imprisoned (mentioned in Three Minutes).

According to Juliet's dates, she arrived on the Island on 5 September 2001. Coincidentally, this would be quite close to the date that Desmond arrived on the Island in the Elizabeth.

According to Tom, it has not been possible to leave the Island since the sky turned purple (the Discharge). It is later revealed that the Discharged knocked out the underwater beacon at the Looking Glass Station, preventing the submarine from locating the Island again. Until it is repaired, the Others only know how to leave the Island but not return.

Review: A decent action episode with some nice twists, reversals, betrayals and counter-betrayals, interspersed with Clockwork Orange and Brief History of Time nods and Jack being surly yet self-sacrificing. In fact, it's not a bad episode to show as an encapsulation of Lost as a whole. One also cannot help but cheer when Sawyer and Kate finally escape from their prison. Juliet's flashback is also a little overdue (it may have been better in the Season 3 premiere), as we could have done with knowing her backstory and motivation before this point. (****)

Even by Lost standards, this episode is flat-out barking mental.

308: Flashes Before Your Eyes

Written by Damon Lindelof and Drew Goddard, directed by Jack Bender

Airdate: 14 February 2007

Survivor Count: 47

Days on Island: 73 (3 December 2004)

Flashback Character: Desmond


On the Island: Desmond returns to the beach camp and finds Charlie and Hurley ransacking Sawyer's stash, returning food and medical supplies to the rest of the group. Desmond asks them to come with him into the jungle, where they meet Locke and Sayid. Locke confirms that Eko is dead but they don't want to spread panic, fear or alarm. Desmond suddenly races off through the jungle, onto the beach and dives in the ocean. The others follow him, bemused, until they see him emerge with an unconscious Claire. She was caught in the riptide and dragged out to sea. Claire recovers. Desmond says he could hear her cries through the jungle, but Hurley tells Charlie about his own theory: that Desmond can see the future.

Charlie and Hurley get Desmond roaring drunk. Desmond and Charlie try teaching Hurley some British drinking songs. Charlie asks Desmond what happened to him after he turned the failsafe key and Desmond reluctantly agrees.

Flash: Desmond remembers turning the failsafe key and saying, "I love you Penny". There is a blinding flash of light and Desmond wakes up in his flat in London in 1996. He was painting the wall, fell off the ladder and knocked himself out. Penny helps him recover, but Desmond is freaking out because this isn't just a flashback: he can remember the Island, being in the Swan Station, the Discharge and everything. He calms down and goes along with what Penny is saying, that he's just suffering a mild concussion.

Desmond has an interview at Penny's father's company. He goes to the office and is unsettled when a delivery driver says he has a parcel "for 8-15". He goes through the interview - where Widmore seems unimpressed by his lack of a degree or military experience - but then tells Charles Widmore that he's really there to ask Widmore's permission to marry Penny. Widmore tells him he appreciates the noble gesture but he cannot agree. He thinks that Desmond is not a "great man" and doesn't have what it takes to become one. He is not worthy of Penny's hand. Desmond, angry, goes outside and sees a busker playing "Wonderwall" by Oasis. In a shock, he recognises the busker as Charlie. Charlie doesn't recognise Desmond and gets a bit freaked out by Desmond yelling at him. Desmond suddenly remembers that it's about to rain, seconds before a downpour takes place.

Desmond meets up with a friend, Donovan, who is a physicist. Donovan says time travel is impossible. Desmond remembers being in the pub before and excitedly tells Donovan what is about to happen: the team currently down in the football game playing on the pub stages an improbable recovey to win 2-1 and a man enters and attacks the barman with a cricket bat. Neither of these events happen, leaving Desmond feeling confused.

Desmond goes to buy an engagement ring for Penny from a shop run by a Ms. Eloise Hawkwing. Eloise shows him a ring and Desmond says that he will take it. Eloise looks thunderstruck and then says he won't take it. He's supposed to change his mind and walk out on the path that leads him to the yacht race, the Island and pushing the button. If he doesn't do that, everyone in the world will die. She takes him outside and identifies a man walking past with red shoes. Moments later some scaffolding collapses and kills the man. Eloise says that if she had tried to save him, he would have still died later on from a heart attack or falling in the shower. The universe always course corrects back onto its destined path, and Desmond will go to the Island. Desmond angrily rejects this, buys the ring and goes to meet Penny. On the way he passes a recruitment poster for the British Army.

Desmond and Penny go for a walk along the Embankment and have their photograph taken, the one Desmond keeps with him. Desmond suddenly realises that the future is pre-ordained and he has to do what was done before. He tells Penny that he loves her but they can't be together because of who he is. She runs off, crying, and he throws the ring into the Thames.

Desmond goes to the pub, where the football is playing, and tells the barman that he's made the biggest mistake of his life, again. Suddenly he sees the team that's down stage a stunning comeback. He realises that he got the dates wrong. A man enters the bar and goes to hit the barman with a cricket bat. Desmond tells him to duck and gets hit by the bat instead. He wakes up back on the Island in the jungle, just after the hatch implosion. He finds Penny's picture and begs to go back and change things again.

On the Island: Hurley and Charlie are taken aback by Desmond's story. Charlie helps Desmond back to his tent and Desmond tells Charlie that he's a good man and that he's sorry. In his flashes Desmond saw lightning hit the beach and kill Charlie, so he built the lighting rod to stop that happening. He also saw Charlie diving into the sea to rescue Claire and drown. He tells Charlie that he is fated to die and Desmond can try to stop it, but he won't be able to as the universe always course-corrects in the end.

Major WTFery: This episode is the first to feature Lost's application of time travel. Broadly speaking, later episodes the rule is that "Whatever happened, happened" and that time travel is a closed circle, so that some of the Others (like Richard Alpert) are already familiar with the Lost characters from their visits to the 1950s and 1970s although, from their perspective, those events won't take place for another two years. The rules also establish that events in the future from the POV of the fixed point in time can be changed slightly, but will also course-correct back onto the primary path.

This episode, however, has Desmond apparently changing things in the past (he confronts and yells at Charlie, which he didn't do previously, and has a long chat with Eloise Hawking which he also didn't do the first time around). It is possible that none of this happens - Charlie certainly doesn't seem to remember Desmond - outside of Desmond's mind and he was only aware of Eloise's knowledge of the future from the Island's influence, but the Season 4 episode The Constant (a sequel to this episode) seems to establish that it is possible to change the past in very minor ways by sending your consciousness back in time. This is not the case for physical time travel, where you are locked into repeating the same actions in the past. It again confirms that, due to Desmond's exposure to the Discharge, he has become a special case.
Hindsight: This episode features the first appearance of MacCutcheon whisky, which, like Apollo candy bars, is a fictional brand that goes on to appear intermittently throughout the rest of the show. It is noted as a very exclusive, very expensive brand of whisky. Like Apollo bars, it also goes on to appear in other ABC shows, such as Once Upon a Time.

This episode confirms the American misjudgement that "Wonderwall" is the only song by Oasis that anyone knows, which is really not true in the UK (although they were technically a one-hit wonder in the States, Oasis had quite a few hit songs in the British charts from 1994 right thorough to 2009). That said, "Wonderwall" is their easiest song for buskers to play and 1996 was the height of their fame, so it's not unreasonable that Charlie would be starting his music career by playing it. Oasis, of course, are the direct inspiration for Charlie's band, Drive Shaft.

Charlie is fated to die, and eventually this comes to pass in the Season 3 finale. However, Desmond keeps him alive long enough for his death to have a heroic meaning and paves the way for pretty much everything that happens after that point.
 
Review: There's a tremendous amount of humanity and pathos in Henry Ian Cusick's performance as Desmond. This helped make him one of the most popular and fan-favourite characters on the show, which otherwise would be odd in retrospect given his relatively late arrival on the series and his relatively limited number of centric episodes. This episode of Lost plays out like a particularly good Twilight Zone, throwing up time travel and paradoxes, ideas about predestination and fate, but rooting them all in the very human desires for love, respect and a place to belong. Ignoring some inconsistences with how the show treats time travel, this is an excellent episode. (*****)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Flashes is my absolute favorite Desmond episode (yes above The Constant), and probably a top 3 episode of the series for me after The Shape of Things to Come and Live Together, Die Alone. Good stuff.