Sunday, 1 May 2016

The Lost Reviews: Part 5 - Season 1, Episodes 17-24

Welcome to the Lost rewatch project. Over the next few months I plan to watch 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.

Without further ado, let us continue after the jump.
An excellent character-redefining moment.

117: ...In Translation
Written by Javier Grillo-Marxuach and Leonard Dick, directed by Tucker Gates
Airdate: 23 February 2005
Survivor Count: 45
Days on Island: 32-34 (23-25 October 2004)
Flashback Character: Jin

Flashbacks: In South Korea, Jin meets with Sun's father, Mr. Paik, and asks him for permission to marry his daughter. Mr. Paik agrees on the condition that Jin work for him. He asks what Jin's father does and Jin replies that his father is dead. Some time later Paik sends Jin to deliver "a warning" to the Under-Secretary for Environmental Safety, who is blocking one of Paik's businesses from opening. Jin complies, but only delivers a verbal admonishment. The secretary is so please at being let off a beating that he gives Jin a puppy (the dog Jin later gives Sun). Paik is displeased with Jin's timidity and sends Jin and a hitman back to kill the secretary. Jin runs ahead, bursts into the house and beats the man senseless, telling him to allow the business to open and that he has just saved the man's life. The hitman agrees this is sufficient and lets the secretary live. This is the night that Sun catches Jin covered in blood and fears that her husband is a murderer. Jin is distraught and goes to see his father, who isn't dead but is living a quiet life as a fisherman. Jin is ashamed of his humble beginnings and begs his father's forgiveness. He tells his father that Mr. Paik has told him to deliver antique watches to Sydney and Los Angeles. His father suggests that he comply, but afterwards he and Sun should stayin the United States and build a new life together there. Jin agrees.

On the Island: Jin and Sun quarrel on the beach. Michael intervenes but Sun slaps him for his presumption. Later she warns him that Jin can be violent and she hit him to protect him. That night Michael's under-construction raft is burned down and destroyed. Furious, Michael blames Jin, who has burn-marks on his arms. Sawyer, who had swapped some construction cable he'd salvaged from the plane crash in return for a place on the boat, takes Jin prisoner and drags him back to the beach for interrogation. Michael and Jin duke it out, with Sawyer preventing Jack from ending the fight. Michael wins the fight but Sun begs him to stop, telling him that Jin was not responsible. Jin saw the boat on fire and tried to put it out, but was injured. Locke intervenes, suggesting that the mysterious "Others" mentioned by Danielle Rousseau may have been responsible. Jin is horrified to see Sun speaking English. Counting this as a betrayal, despite it saving him, he moves back to the beach camp and tells Sun their relationship is over. He decides to leave the Island as soon as possible, agreeing to help Michael rebuild the raft in return for a place on it.

Shannon and Sayid become closer. Sayid tries again to reach out to Boone and make sure he is okay with the situation, but Boone tells him that Shannon will simply use him for protection and then cast him aside when it is convenient to her. Sayid starts having second thoughts about the relationship. Shannon realises that Boone has interfered and goes to find him, instead stumbling across Locke. Locke tells Shannon that the Island gives everyone a second chance and a new life. Maybe she should start living hers? Shannon kisses Sayid and convinces him that they should be together.

Locke asks Walt why he burned the raft. Walt replies that he doesn't want to leave as he likes it on the Island. Locke agrees and says he likes it there as well. Walt realises what he did was wrong and volunteers to help his dad rebuild the raft (without confessing that he burned it).

The batteries on Hurley's discman run out, severing another link with the world of technology.

Major WTFery: Nothing too major, except that the existence of the "the Others" is now widely known to all of the survivors, even if there is still some scepticism. Oh, and if you look at the Korean scenes closely you may catch a news report with Hurley on it! This is explained in the next episode. There's also a Lord of the Flies reference which hints that the survivors are going to get all ruthless and bloody on one another (as some early fan theories suggested), but this appears to be a bit of misdirection.

Hindsight: Locke says that his dad is "not cool" and we find out why in just two episodes - his dad tricked him into getting in touch just so he could con Locke into a kidney transplant.

Review: A pretty good episode because it inverts what we thought we knew about Jin from House of the Rising Sun and develops his character in a convincing way without being implausible. I'm not entirely convinced by him pitching in to help Michael just after the guy beat him up, however. There's also some funny scenes, such as Michael trying to get Walt excited about architecture by explaining the awesome design of the Flatiron Building, to Walt's bemusement, and Shannon hinting to Sayid that there might be some BDSM on their first date. Also, it's good to see the slightly saccharine practice of ending episodes with MOR pop songs come to an end with Hurley's discman dying. (****)

The same facial expression you'd make if you'd just won tens of millions of dollars using freaky magic numbers from beyond time and space.

118: Numbers
Written by Brent Fletcher and David Fury, directed by Daniel Attias
Airdate: 2 March 2005
Survivor Count: 45
Days on Island: 35-36 (26-27 October 2004)
Flashback Character: Hurley

Flashbacks: Hurley wins the state lottery by using six numbers: 4, 8, 15, 16, 23 and 42. After he recovers from the shock, he promises to buy his mother a house and allow his grandfather to retire. But his grandfather dies almost immediately of a heart attack and his mother's new house burns down. Shortly afterwards he is arrested for being a drug dealer in a case of mistaken identity. With some wise business investments (including buying a box company is Tuscon, which is the one Locke works at) and police compensation, Hurley doubles his wealth value to $156 million. But he becomes convinced that the numbers are cursed and he is spreading bad luck all around him. His business manger is sceptical, even when someone chooses that exact moment to jump to his death from the building's roof.

Feeling the situation is getting out of control, Hurley goes to the mental institution where he spent several months. He talks to one of his friends from there, a man named Leonard. Leonard keeps repeating "the Numbers" under his breath, as he has done for years, and was where Hurley got the idea to enter the lottery. When Hurley tells him he used the Numbers to win the lottery, Leonard becomes cogent but also angry, telling Hurley that he has "opened the box". Leonard is led away, but not before telling him that he heard about the Numbers from a guy called Sam Tooms, who lives in Australia.

Hurley finds Sam's house in the middle of the Outback, as far from civilisation as possible. Sam is dead but his widow Martha tells Hurley what happened. About sixteen years ago Sam and Leonard were working in a listening station monitoring radio transmissions in the Pacific Ocean when they suddenly heard the Numbers on a frequency coming out of nowhere. Sam used the numbers to guess the numbers of beans in a jar, winning a significant amount of money, but like Hurley he found bad luck following him around. He moved himself and Martha (who lost a leg in a freak accident) to the middle of the Outback but bad things kept happening. In the end Sam shot himself. She tells Hurley that the Numbers are not cursed and that people are responsible for their own fates.
On the Island: Michael and Jin's new raft is taking shape on the beach but they lack a battery to power a transmitter they can use to call for help. Locke asks Claire to help him in building something out of wood, curious, she agrees.

Sayid is pouring over Danielle Rousseau's papers and maps. Hurley takes a look and freaks out when he sees the Numbers amongst the notes. After grilling Sayid on Danielle's location, Hurley grabs some supplies and takes off. Sayid, guessing what Hurley's doing, enlists Jack and Charlie in helping him follow and stop Hurley. They catch up, but can't dissuade him. The party is separated when a rope bridge they find in the jungle collapses: Charlie and Hurley make it over but Jack and Sayid have to circle around to find them. They find Danielle's camp, but she's rigged it with explosives to destroy it if anyone comes close. Charlie and Hurley make contact with Danielle, but she starts shooting at them. Charlie runs off but Hurley stands his ground and begs her for help. Danielle relents and tells Hurley that, sixteen years ago, her scientific expedition heard the Numbers being broadcast on a frequency. They changed course to investigate, ran aground and became shipwrecked. They found the transmitter broadcasting the numbers and changed it to a distress call. Hurley tells Danielle that that Numbers are cursed. Danielle points out everything that has happened to her since and says she agrees. Hurley is so relieved that someone believes him that he hugs her. He regroups with the others and heads back to the beach. He even managed to get a battery from Danielle for the raft.

Claire tells Locke that it's her birthday, but she didn't want to make a fuss. Locke wishes her a happy birthday and reveals what he's been building: a crib for her baby. On the beach Charlie confesses that he used to be a heroin addict. Hurley reciprocates by telling Charlie that he's worth $156 million. Charlie thinks he's taking the mickey and storms off, to Hurley's bemusement.

The hatch in the jungle is revealed to have the Numbers emblazoned on its side: 4, 8, 15, 16, 23 and 42.

Major WTFery: Apparently Sam "used the Numbers" to guess the number of beans in a jar to win his money. It's not divulged how he did this, as presumably there weren't 4,815,162,342 beans in the jar (that requiring 1. a big jar and 2. more than a century to count them). Of course, the Numbers are main part of WTFery for this episode, although we are given an explanation (kind of) later on. See below. Oh, and it's now possible to get from the beach camp to Danielle's camp and back in less than a day, which seems a bit implausible given how long Sayid was gone previously.

Hindsight: The Numbers are established in this episode as being a key piece of the Lost mythology, as intended by the writers. However, the writers later neglected the Numbers and decided to explain their relevance and backstory in an alternate reality game, The Lost Experience, which aired between Seasons 2 and 3. This annoyed some fans, who expected them to be explained on the show instead. After Season 2 the Numbers became only sparingly referenced and played no role in the resolution of the series, although they would continue to appear in the background and as Easter Eggs throughout the run of the show.

According to The Lost Experience, the Numbers form the variables in the Valenzetti Equation. This equation attempts to determine how long the human race has before it destroys itself through one of several self-inflicted means, including nuclear war, technological overreach, climate change or resource depletion (among others). One of the DHARMA Initiative experiments involved trying to adjust the Numbers as a means of saving the human race from extinction. Exactly how this was to be done was unclear. However, the inference is that the Numbers are part of the fabric of the universe (like pi) and fiddling around with them may - somehow - be responsible for some of the craziness on the Island. There may also be a link between the Numbers and the real-life, bizarre phenomenon of Number Stations, radio stations of unknown origin broadcasting lists of numbers for possible intelligence-based reasons. Lost's sister series Fringe also features Number Stations.

Review: Well, that was unexpected. A comedy Hurley episode is the most mythology-heavy episode of the series to date, expanding on the Numbers and setting up the radio transmitter (although we don't actually see it until the Season 3 finale) and Rousseau's backstory (which we finally get to see in Season 5). The result is a very fun, relatively action-packed and busy episode of Lost anchored on Jorge Garcia's excellent, funny and very human performance as Hurley, and the best episode of the series so far. (*****)

A plane in a sub-optimal flight configuration.

119: Deus Ex Machina
Written by Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof, directed by Robert Mandel
Airdate: 30 March 2005
Survivor Count: 45
Days on Island: 39-41 (30 October-1 November 2004)
Flashback Character: Locke

Flashbacks: Locke is working in a toyshop. He meets a woman, Emily, who claims to be his mother. Locke was given up for adoption as a baby and was raised in foster homes. His mother claims that Locke was "immaculately conceived", to Locke's consternation. Locke hires a private investigator who confirms that Locke's mother has been in and out of mental institutions all her life. He also tracks down Locke's father, a man named Anthony Cooper. Locke goes to see him and Cooper confirms that he is his father. They form a bond and Cooper teaches Locke how to shoot and hunt. Locke arrives early one day and finds his father hooked up to a kidney dialysis machine: Cooper is dying of kidney failure. Locke volunteers to donate a kidney and Cooper agrees. But Locke wakes up to find that Cooper has vanished, refuses to return his calls and has his security bar his house to him. Emily tells Locke that his father befriending him was a scam to get Locke to give up his kidney. Locke breaks down, feeling utterly betrayed, distraught and humiliated.

On the Island: Locke and Boone have built a massive trebuchet to smash open the hatch, but it doesn't even dent it. A wooden splinter goes through Locke's leg and he doesn't even feel it. Locke becomes concerned that the Island is revoking the healing of his legs due to his lessening faith as he fails to get into the hatch. Locke has a weird dream in which Boone says, "Theresa fell down the stairs" and a small aircraft flies overhead and crashes nearby. When he asks Boone about it, Boon says that Theresa was a nanny who died at his house in a freak accident when he was little. Locke decides to follow the path of the plane he saw. Along the way they find a skeletal corpse of a man dressed like a priest and carrying a gun.

On the beach, Sawyer is having painful headaches and starts getting worried since his uncle died of a brain tumour. Jack investigates and realises that Sawyer is long-sighted. He and Sayid fashion Sawyer a pair of glasses out of the pairs they find in the luggage of other passengers.

Locke and Boone find the plane, which is a light aircraft caught into the jungle canopy overlooking a cliff. Locke's legs are fading and he can't climb, so he asks Boone to go aboard. Boone climbs up and finds small statuettes of the Virgin Mary filled with heroin, along with maps of Nigeria. Boone gets the radio working and makes a distress call by saying "We are the survivors of Flight 815." But someone on the other end says, "We're the survivors of Flight 815" in a confused voice. Suddenly the plane falls down the cliff and crashes on its roof, crushing Boone. Locke manages to get his leg working and, with effort, gets Boone back to the caves where Jack tries to save him. Locke tells Jack that Boone fell off a cliff. Before he can give Jack more information, Locke runs to the hatch and starts beating on it, demanding to know "why" the Island has done this to him. Suddenly a light comes on in the hatch, as if the Island is rewarding Locke's faith.

Major WTFery: Locke's healing being linked to his faith in the Island feeds into his "man of faith" stance going forwards. A Nigerian plane winding up on a Pacific island is a mystery that the show does - eventually - explain.

Hindsight: The flipside of this episode is seen in the Season 2 finale, when Desmond hears someone banging on the hatch and he turns the light on, but it's too far up to see out and he decides not to risk it being someone who is hostile. However, this does beg the question of, if this is the first time Desmond discovers there are other people out there, why didn't hear the massive racket of the trebuchet hitting the hatch earlier in the episode.

The origin of the "other Flight 815 SOS" is revealed in the episode The Other 48 Days.

The backstory of the Beechcraft is revealed in the Season 2 episode The 23rd Psalm, namely that the plane belonged to Nigerian drug smugglers. How the short-range plane got to the Island is unclear, as the Island's current position is about 9,000 miles to the east of northern Nigeria. However, this is explained in later episodes where it is confirmed there are "windows" allowing people to travel to the Island from other places on Earth and also that the Island itself movies in time and space. The plane likely fell through one of these windows by chance to crash on the Island. We later find out (in ? and Expose) that the crashed Beechcraft is located very close to the Pearl Station.

Review: A pretty good follow up to Locke's first flashback episode. Terry O'Quinn delivers a typically excellent performance as his faith is tested and found wanting, and the battlelines are drawn in future showdowns between Locke and Jack (even if - unfortunately - the science/faith struggle ends up becoming muddled and thematically incoherent). The Sawyer storyline is a bit throwaway (aside from an amusing Harry Potter reference) but it actually explains Sawyer's rather inconsistent aiming abilities: nailing a polar bear at a distance in the pilot but missing the Marshal's heart at pointblank range in the next episode. (****)

Jack's face mirrors the audience upon realising this was going to be another Jack flashback episode.

120: Do No Harm
Written by Janet Tamaro, directed by Stephen Williams
Airdate: 6 April 2005
Survivor Count: 45
Days on Island: 41-42 (1-2 November 2004)
Flashback Character: Jack

Flashbacks: Jack is getting married to Sarah, a former patient he "fixed" after a major car crash. He has difficulty writing his speech, but his dad gives him some advice and Jack is able to express his love for his wife eloquently after all. Erm. That's it.

On the Island: Jack tries furiously to save Boone, with Sun stepping in as a temporary nurse and assistant. Jack is able to stop the immediate bleeding but needs to perform a transfusion. However, it turns out to be for nothing because Boone's leg has been crushed rather than broken, resulting in the blood pooling in his shattered limb. The only chance is to cut off Boone's leg, but Boone stops Jack before he can proceed. He points out that Jack simply doesn't have the medical equipment he needs to save Boone and he should let him go peacefully. Boone dies, but not before telling Jack about the Beechcraft and the hatch.

Sayid takes Shannon up the beach for a romantic dinner. Shannon tells him that she and Boone are step-siblings and that Boone is "sort of" in love with her, but she doesn't have those feelings for him. Sayid is pleased.

Kate collects medical supplies for Jack from Sawyer at the beach, but on the way back to the caves comes across Claire, who has gone into labour. Using Jin as a go-between with Jack, Kate delivers Claire's baby. Jin and Charlie assist (kind of). At the moment Boone dies, Claire delivers a healthy baby boy.

The next morning Sayid and Shannon return to the beach and learn the tragic news. Jack, furious at Locke for lying to him and resulting in Boone's mistreatment, sets out into the jungle to find Locke.
Major WTFery: Pretty much none, aside maybe from Jack's overconfidence that he can carry out a major medical procedure in a cave with instruments made of bamboo and sea urchin spikes.

Hindsight: Not a huge amount, beyond the fact that Boone's death proves to be a pivotal moment for the development of the antagonism between Jack and Locke, for Locke's faith and spirituality and for Shannon's growing independence.
Review: This is a good episode for its medical drama as Jack works hard to save Boone, past the point of what is sensible or reasonable. However, the flashbacks are completely and totally pointless. They don't provide much insight or development of Jack's character and the fact that Jack was once married does not really play into the story going forwards. Boone's death is a major shock for the show and does change up character dynamics going forwards, and it's good to see Sun taking charge of the situation. (****)

Locke removes himself from Sayid's circle of trust.

121: The Greater Good
Written by Leonard Dick
Airdate: 4 May 2005
Survivor Count: 45 (Boone died in the previous episode but Aaron was born to offset the count)
Days on Island: 42 (2 November 2004)
Flashback Character: Sayid

Flashbacks: Sayid is picked up by the CIA when he flies into London. They offer him a deal: if he helps infiltrate and expose a terrorist cell in Sydney containing some of his former associates from Iraq, they will help him find his lost love, Nadia. In Sydney Sayid quickly gains the trust of his old comrade, Essam, who has volunteered to take part in a suicide bombing. However, Essam has serious doubts as he has a family. Sayid is sure he can convinced Essam to turn himself in, but he is told by the CIA that Essam must at least head out on the mission so they can identify the target, recover the explosives and arrest his collaborators. Sayid waits until the mission is underway before warning Essam. However, Essam is furious with Sayid's betrayal and commits suicide on the spot. Angry and blaming the CIA for escalating the situation until Essam's death was inevitable, Sayid demands they allow him to bury Essam before flying to California, where Nadia is living. This delay means that Sayid ends up on Oceanic 815.

On the Island: Jack heads out after Locke, but after being up all night and having donated blood to Boone, he is in no state to do so. Kate encourages him to return to the beach for Boone's memorial. The survivors struggle to find words for this loss, so Sayid praises his attempt to rescue Joanna, who drowned on the sixth day on the Island. Locke suddenly appears and confesses that he and Boone had found the Beechcraft and Boone was trying to radio for help. He says that Boone died a hero. Jack, furious with Locke for lying, tries to attack him but is stopped by the others. Kate forces Jack to take some rest by grinding up sleeping pills into a drink for him.

Locke attempts to explain himself to Shannon, saying that Boone was very brave. Shannon is unconvinced and asks Sayid to take care of Locke for killing her brother. Sayid forces Locke to take him to the Beechcraft. He interrogates Locke carefully as he investigates the plane and salvages what he can from the radio and other electronics. He asks Locke what Boone meant by "the hatch" and Locke tells him clearly Boone meant one of the hatches on the aircraft. As a sign of trust, Locke also gives Sayid the gun he found on one of the bodies from the plane and confesses to being the one to knock out Sayid when he was looking for the transceiver.

Claire is also exhausted and needs rest, but is paranoid about something happening to her baby. Charlie offers to look after "Turniphead". Charlie feeds and changes the baby, but he keeps crying. Hurley is unable to help, but bizarrely Charlie finds that the baby is mollified by the sound of Sawyer's voice. Sawyer, reluctantly, agrees to help put the baby to sleep by reading to him from a car magazine that was on the plane.

Sayid tells Shannon that he can't do anything more to punish Locke. Shannon steals the key to the Marshal's gun case from Jack when he's asleep and sets out to kill Locke. Jack, Kate and Sayid stop her, Sayid deflecting her aim so the bullet only grazes Locke. A furious Shannon storms off and tells Sayid to leave her alone. Sayid wonders if he's made a mistake. Later he tells Locke that he doesn't trust him, but considers him an asset to their chances of survival on the Island. However, this is conditional on Locke not lying and taking him to the hatch, immediately. Locke agrees.
Major WTFery: Again, the weird takes a bit of a back seat this episode.

Hindsight: This episode marks the deterioration in the other survivors trusting Locke, who up until this point had enjoyed near-universal respect and even awe from the others for his survival skills. Jack remains suspicious of Locke and his "faith" in the irrational pretty much for the rest of the series after this point. Sayid is also distrustful of Locke, but adopts a more pragmatic line, willing to work with Locke to gain intelligence about the Island. This attitude continues in future episodes.

Shannon knowing about the Marshal's guns appears to be a major continuity error, give the secrecy with which Jack and the rest treated them. However. the Season 3 episode Expose (which flashes back to events from across the first two-and-a-half seasons) reveals that knowledge of the guns became more widespread after Charlie killed Ethan and Shannon was able to learn the gun case's location prior to this point.

Review: Sayid episodes are usually pretty decent and this one is fairly good, although the flashback story is a rather simplistic exploration of the issues involved. The story on the Island is more compelling, with the survivors' willingness to work as a team eroded. Shannon grabbing the gun to threaten Locke does feel a little bit too melodramatic and an artificial excuse for some drama. (***½)

Seriously, enough with the plane already.

122: Born to Run
Written by Javier Grillo, Marxuach, Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz, directed by Tucker Gates
Airdate: 11 May 2005
Survivor Count: 45
Days on Island: 43 (3 November 2004)
Flashback Character: Kate

Flashbacks: Kate is still on the run, but learns that her mother is suffering from a terminal illness. She visits an old friend from her childhood, Tom Brennan, who is a doctor at the same hospital. Tom and Kate retrieve a time capsule they buried together on 15 August 1989 and find Tom's toy plane in there. Tom helps Kate see her mother, but her mother becomes fearful of Kate and starts screaming for help. Kate has to knock out a security guard and escapes in Tom's car. Tom tries to talk Kate out of fleeing, but a police officer opens fire and shoots Tom dead by accident. Kate runs off on foot, leaving Tom and the toy airplane in the car.

On the Island: The raft is nearly completed but another survivor, Dr. Arzt, a high school science teacher, suggests they leave sooner rather than later. Monsoon season is approaching and should last for three to four months. During that time the winds will shift from heading north to south, and will push the raft towards Antarctica. The raft needs to leave as soon as possible to have a hope of heading north into shipping lanes and towards other land.

Charlie is feeling cheerfully upbeat, believing that they will be saved by the raft crew. He gets a haircut from Claire and starts writing a new album, apparently a concept record inspired by their adventures on the Island (Track 2 is called "Monster Eats the Pilot"). He points out to Kate that once they are rescued they'll all be incredibly famous. Kate is disturbed by this. She decides her best chance of escaping capture is to pose as one of the other survivors, Joanna (who drowned on the sixth day), and deliberately damaging her passport to obscure her face. She tries to convince Michael to let her join the raft expedition, citing her superior sailing experience to Sawyer. Michael refuses to go back on his word to Sawyer. However, when Sawyer starts complaining about the construction of the raft Michael ponders if Kate was right. Sawyer realises that Kate is after his spot and tells her that he knows she was the Marshal's prisoner, but her secret is safe with him.

Sayid reveals the existence of the hatch to Jack and Jack asks Locke why he kept it a secret. Locke says that he used his judgement, but Jack deems this unacceptable when it is something that has ramifications for the whole group. They return to the beach, where Michael has fallen ill. Inspecting Michael's water bottle, Jack realises that he was mildly poisoned, deliberately. Michael blames Sawyer. Hurley accidentally reveals that Kate was the prisoner to Locke, causing Locke to throw Jack's words back at him, as Kate's criminal nature certainly has ramifications for the group. Michael throws Sawyer off the boat, but Sawyer then reveals Kate's criminal past to the whole group, who then shun her. Michael isn't sure who poisoned him but reluctantly reinstates Sawyer. Walt tells Locke it wasn't him who poisoned him, but is suddenly seized by sudden urge to tell Locke not to "open that thing." Locke is confused.

Jack tells Sun that he knows it was her who poisoned Michael; she was actually trying to poison Jin to get him to stay, but mixed up the water bottles. He agrees to keep her secret. Sun tells Kate that Jack knows, but not that it was Kate who suggested it (so Sun would get Jin back and Kate could take Jin's place). Meanwhile, Walt confesses to his dad that it was him who destroyed the first raft. Michael forgives him.

Major WTFery: This episode marks what appears to be a major continuity error. We see the tide is turning and that the Island is heading into monsoon season, which tracks with the South Pacific wet season running from November to April (roughly). However, after the start of Season 2 this is never mentioned again and the remainder of Seasons 2-4, which take place over an additional two months after this point (up until the start of January 2005, 108 days after the crash), feature mostly clement weather, including several further trips by boat (powered and sail) and even helicopter without adverse effects. This can be put down to the general bizarrity of the Island but it then begs the question as to why the monsoon is starting to take effect in this episode. The conclusion originally was that some freak local weather event took place and Arzt put it down to the monsoon, unaware that the Island's strange nature would shield them from it. Of course, pretending that the next three seasons of the show take place in a monsoon would have created serious production problems the team would have liked to have avoided. The error is eventually cleared up in the Missing Pieces "mobisode" Tropical Depression (released between Seasons 3 and 4), in which Arzt claims he made up the monsoon story to get the raft launched as soon as possible.

Walt seems to know about the hatch and that opening it is a really bad idea from Locke just briefly touching him.

Hindsight: This episode continues to mark the deterioration in inter-team relations. Sayid distrusts Locke, Locke and Jack distrust each other, everyone now distrusts Kate (apart from maybe Jack and Sawyer), Michael distrusts Sawyer briefly and so on. Damon Lindelof noted in his Season 1 retrospective that he would later miss the continuity and coherence of having everyone based in one location with people ranging out from it. Seasons 2 and 3 would fracture the survivors into different locations (the caves, the beach, the hatch and the Others' camp) and this episode and the prior one arguably mark the end of that period of mutual trust and camaraderie after the plane crash.

Review: It has to be said that whilst the story of Kate going on the run, what crime she committed and so on is generally quite well-handled, the subplot about the toy airplane is rather unconvincing, especially as it now spans three sets of flashbacks (Whatever the Case May Be, this episode and her mini-flashback in the finale). The amount of emotional significance that Kate puts into the inanimate object is rather strange, and that the Marshal would use it to bait her feels unconvincing. The on-Island story is more intriguing as things start to fall apart amongst the survivors even as they try to pull together to launch the raft. (***½)

"Let's power up our trusty death raft and get the hell outta here!"

123: Exodus, Part 1
Written by Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse, directed by Jack Bender
Airdate: 18 May 2005
Survivor Count: 44 (4 November 2004)
Days on Island:
Flashback Characters: Walt, Jack, Sawyer, Kate, Shannon, Sun

On the Island: Danielle Rousseau arrives at the beach camp and tells the survivors that the Others are coming. She heard the whispers in the jungle saying as much. She warns them that, prior to the Others coming to steal away her baby daughter, Alex, Danielle saw a column of black smoke on the horizon. Claire fears for the safety of her baby, but the survivors as a whole fear that they all may be taken. The news hastens the launch of the raft, but the first attempt fails due to a mistake from Sawyer causing the mast to snap. Sawyer, feeling underappreciated, goes out into the jungle to cut a new mast single-handed.

Jack shows Danielle the hatch, which surprises her as she has no idea what it is. Jack suggests that they use the dynamite she used to destroy her camp to open the hatch, as it can be used as an emergency refuge. As the hatch cannot be opened from the outside, Locke rationalises that there is a "normal" entrance somewhere they have not been able to locate, which suggests that the underground facility must be reasonably large. Danielle concurs and agrees to take them to the "black rock", which is where she found the dynamite. Jack, Kate, Locke, Hurley and Dr. Arzt (who knows how to handle explosives) form a team and head out. Jack meets Sawyer before they leave to give him a gun to help defend the raft. Sawyer tells him about meeting his father in Australia.

The raft crew prepare to launch. Walt suggests that Shannon can look after Vincent, and Sawyer collects letters from the survivors for their families. Sun and Jin reconcile and tearfully say goodbye. Sayid has installed a short-range range-finder (salvaged from the plane) and a radio powered by the battery given to them by Danielle to help with finding another ship, along with the plane's flare gun. The raft launches and they head out to sea. Black smoke has appeared on the horizon, so as part of their contingency planning Sayid and Charlie begin organising for the rest of the survivors to take shelter at the caves.

In the jungle, Jack's party hears the sounds of the Monster in the distance. Danielle tells them that the Monster is actually a "security system" designed specifically to protect the Island. They finally reach their destination: the Black Rock, a 19th Century wooden sailing ship registered in Portsmouth, England according to the lettering on the hull. Danielle departs, feeling her work is done.

Flashbacks: In the hotel before leaving for the airport, Michael gets annoyed when Walt switches on the TV at 5.30am. Walt storms out but Michael reigns him in.

Sawyer is arrested and taken to a police station in Sydney. They know that he is a conman but not a murderer. They know that Sawyer was in a barfight but the man he headbutted was the Australian Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry. Sawyer is deported from Australia and banned from re-entering the country.

At the airport bar, Jack gets talking to a young woman who sits down next to him, Ana Lucia Cortez. They share a drink and Jack confirms that he is divorced. They chat and realise they are on the same flight. Ana Lucia suggests they have another drink on the plane and tells Jack she will be sitting in Seat 42F, in the tail section.

The Marshal checks in his weapons before taking Kate on the plane. The security officer at the airport asks why he needs five guns. The Marshal tells him about Kate's escapades. Kate becomes so annoyed at the Marshal's account of the story that she attacks him and nearly escapes before he subdues her, saying that's why he needs five guns.

Sun and Jin drink coffee at the airport. Sun becomes upset when she hears an American woman telling her husband that Asian women are subservient to their husbands and spills her coffee over Jin. Jin goes to get cleaned up.

Sayid leaves his bag on a seat in the waiting area, asking his neighbour (who turns out to be Shannon) to keep an eye on it. Boone arrives, telling Shannon they can't get an upgrade to first class. Furious, Shannon storms off, telling Boone he can't get anything done. When he asks her if she can, she promptly tells a passing security guard that an "Arab-looking guy" left an unattended bag in the waiting area, apparently just because she can.

Major WTFery: As the survivors themselves start debating, it's rather unclear how the Black Rock ended up several kilometres inland. In the next episode Dr. Arzt concludes it may have been some kind of tidal wave, which actually turns out to be right. However, there are apparent continuity errors here, with the invention of dynamite coming far after the banning of the slave trade by the British Empire (we find out in the next episode that the Black Rock was a slave ship). Future episodes confirm that the Black Rock was built in England and launched from there, but was later decommissioned and sold to private individuals, but they still mess up the dates with the discovery of dynamite.
Hindsight: The Black Rock plays a major role in several future episodes before being destroyed by Hurley (apparently fed up at it being used as a constant source of death-dealing supplies) in the final season. At this point it appears that the writers hadn't quite decided on the origin of the Black Rock, but future episodes tie it together quite nicely with other, long-running mysteries on the show: the Black Rock was also responsible for bringing Richard Alpert to the Island and destroying the Statue of Tawaret during a massive storm.

Ana Lucia Cortez, of course, is a major character in Season 2. Getting Michelle Rodriguez, who was clearly a rising star at this time (just to feel old, the first two Fast and Furious movies were already out by this time), was a bit of a coup for the show and there's some nice groundwork-laying here for the second season.

This episode marks the beginning of one of the most event-intensive periods on the Island: no less than five episodes take place over the course of the next two days (leading up to Orientation, the third episode of Season 2) and other episodes flash back to this period as well, most notably The Other 48 Days.
Review: The season finale kicks off with a surprisingly slow-paced episode that sacrifices on-Island story momentum for a lengthy series of flashbacks moving between the different characters. These vary in quality (Shannon's slowly-melting on-Island character development feels a bit undone by showing her selfish past self, whilst Ana Lucia meeting Jack is quite well handled) but do help fill in the last missing pieces of how the characters came to be on the plane. All-in-all, it's setup but quite well-done setup. (****)

No, we don't find out what's in the hatch in this episode. Fortunately, you don't have to wait four months like we did back in 2005.

124: Exodus, Part 2
Written by Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse, directed by Jack Bender
Airdate: 25 May 2005
Survivor Count: 45
Days on Island: 44 (4 November 2004)
Flashback Characters: Jin, Charlie, Michael, Hurley, Locke

On the Island: Kate, Jack and Locke explore the Black Rock and find the dynamite, whilst Dr. Arzt and Hurley sit outside. Arzt complains about the "A-team" continuing to run around and get into adventures whilst forty other people are back on the beach trying to survive, and how they don't always appreciate that. He examines the dynamite and suggests wrapping it in wet blankets to try to carry it safely. Unfortunately, this doesn't not prove sufficient and Arzt blows himself to pieces. The others draw lots and it falls to Kate and Locke to transport the dynamite. They take precautions such as packing in clothing to muffle the movement of the sticks as much as possible and walk in staggered formation.

On the way back, Kate and Jack both see wisps of black smoke floating through the trees in an odd manner. Suddenly the group is attacked by the Monster and scatters. Locke stands his ground as he did once before, but what he sees is not the same as before (in Walkabout) and he becomes afraid and runs. A tendril of black smoke drags him through the jungle and almost into a pit, but Jack grabs him. Locke says that Jack can let him go, but Jack gets annoyed and throws in a stick of dynamite. There is an explosion and for a split second a massive cloud of roiling black smoke moving in an unnatural manner becomes visible before suddenly dissipating. Jack angrily asks why Locke almost committed suicide, but Locke tells him that the Island was merely testing him. He tells Jack that he is a man of science, but Locke is a man of faith and on this Island that may be more important. He also tells Jack that Boone had to die as a sacrifice to the Island. Jack becomes disturbed by Locke's fervour and tells Kate that if Locke continues to put people in danger due to his "faith", they're going to have a problem. Kate agrees and tells Jack that she has his back.

Sayid is getting the survivors off the beach and up to the caves. Claire and Charlie are bringing up the rear when Danielle catches up, saying she needs Sayid. Charlie rushes off to grab him, but when they come back they find that Claire has been attacked and Danielle has run off with the baby. Claire has confused memories of scratching Danielle and realises she encountered her after being kidnapped by Ethan. Charlie and Sayid tool up and head after Danielle, who has gone towards the black smoke on the horizon. Claire begs them to succeed, revealing that she has decided to call the baby Aaron. Charlie and Sayid pass the Beechcraft on the way after Danielle. They pause for a drink, Sayid (who is unaware of Charlie's past) casually mentioning that the plane is full of heroin. Charlie struggles with temptation. They carry on after Danielle and encounter a trap which wounds Charlie. Sayid cauterises the wound with gunpowder, to Charlie's evident agony. They finally catch up with Danielle at a massive pyre she has built on another beach. She wanted the Others to come so she could swap Aaron for Alex. Sayid and Charlie take Aaron back, realising that the Others are not coming for the survivors of Ocean 815 after all. Danielle is confused, since she heard the whispers saying that they were coming for "the child" and "the boy". Charlie and Sayid return to the caves and Shannon and Sayid are reconciled. Claire thanks Charlie for getting Aaron back, but Charlie has stashed one of the Holy Mary statues filled with heroin in his bag.

Jack, Kate, Hurley and Locke reach the hatch and set up the explosives. Hurley drops a torch. When he picks it up, he sees the Numbers on the side of the hatch. He realises they cannot open the hatch and screams at Locke to leave it alone. Locke instead triggers the dynamite and blows open the hatch. When the dust clears, Locke and Jack peer down and see a long shaft with a ladder in the wall and no sign of what may be down there.

Out at sea the raft makes good time, sailing northwards up the west coast of the Island. Walt points out that the Island is huge and Michael becomes confused as to how a place this big could have never been discovered before. By the time night falls Michael estimates they are 15 miles north of the Island. They turn on the rangefinder and locate a contact. They launch the flare and soon a motor boat pulls up next to them with four crewmembers on board. Initial jubilation turns to confusion when the bearded man in charge of the boat says, "We're going to have to take the boy." They shoot Sawyer when he tries to pull his gun on them and he falls into the water. Jin jumps after him. The Others board the boat, take Walt by force, knock down Michael and chuck an explosive onto the raft. Michael jumps clear as the raft explodes and the motor boat disappears into the distance.

Flashbacks: At the airport, Jin is irritated at Sun spilling coffee over him, but quickly mops it up. In the bathroom, Jin is approached by a man who works for Mr. Paik. He tells him that Paik expects Jin to complete the job in Sydney and California. However, he also knows about Jin's plan to stay in the USA with Sun and warns him that this will not happen.

Charle stays up most of the night drinking and taking heroin with a girl he met in a bar. He hides his last bit of heroin, evading her trying to attack him, and heads to the airport.

Sayid is released from airport security after his bag was found unattended.

Michael rings his mother from the airport to ask her if she can look after Walt: Michael's hours and living conditions are not conducive to raising a child. Michael realises that Walt has overheard and now doesn't feel wanted.

Hurley wakes up late for his flight and makes a mad dash for the airport. His hire car breaks down, he goes to the wrong terminal and buys an electric scooter from an old man for $1600 to make the plane in time.

The airport staff can't find the wheelchair they use to load disabled passengers on the plane, so have to manhandle Locke on board. He maintains his dignity. The other passengers get on board: Hurley gives Walt a thumbs-up, Dr. Arzt helps Claire load her baggage compartment and Jack takes his seat next to Rose.

22 September 2004: Oceanic Flight 815 prepares to take off for Los Angeles.
Major WTFery: Where to start? The Others stealing Walt (who was their primary target all along, not Aaron), the Monster being apparently revealed as a free-moving cloud of smoke (although this is not fully confirmed until The 23rd Psalm, ten episodes later) and the hatch being revealed as the entrance to some kind of massive underground facility. In terms of plot holes, it does seem implausible that Danielle (who has maybe half an hour's start on Sayid and Charlie at best) had time to rig up elaborate traps to try to throw them off the scene. Also, the Others don't seem to have had a very good plan for finding the raft: if they hadn't had a rangefinder and launched the flare, the Others wouldn't have found them. That said, the Others know the raft couldn't have gone very far from the Island (due to its Field of Weirdness) and would have probably eventually found them anyway.

Hindsight: An interesting question arises here. Since the Smoke Monster is the Man in Black, what was the Man in Black up to in this episode by trying to abduct Locke, especially having already judged him once? Given the smoke monster's incorporeal nature, why would it be concerned about dynamite? It does feel that the writers at this stage were thinking of the Monster as a security system, possibly consisting of nano-robots, using the holes in the ground (Cerberus Vents, as they are named in Season 2) to move around. This idea does not appear to have been abandoned until at least Season 3, possibly even later (given Ben's ability to summon the Monster using a secret room in the Barracks in Season 4), as the Man in Black does not appear until the end of Season 5.

The role played by Danielle role in Clarie's abduction is explained in the Season 2 episode Maternity Leave: she found her in the jungle after escaping Ethan and helps Claire get back to the beach.

This episode crystallises the Locke/Jack rivalry that's been building since Boone's death: Jack is the Man of Science, who believes in rational explanations. Locke is the Man of Faith who believes that there can be spiritual or even supernatural explanations for things that defy rationality. This becomes the core thematic struggle of the rest of the series. To the dismay of some fans, that battle seems to be resolved in favour of faith, although Locke does not survive to enjoy this semantic victory, which seems to muddle the message a little.

Hilariously, it turns out that Hurley's guess about what's down the hatch (Twinkies and TV dinners) isn't that far off the mark.
Review: Lost has a (sometimes unfair and sometimes not) reputation for drawing out mysteries and storylines too long and for doing a huge amount of set-up for often limited pay-off. However, it does do very good season finales and they deliver a rapid-fire killer series of cliffhangers here. Charlie finding a new source of drugs is slightly tiresome - even Damon Lindelof admitted that they spent too much time on Charlie as the "drug addict" guy and didn't explore other aspects of his character - but the raft getting blown up, Sawyer being shot, Walt being kidnapped and the hatch getting blown open are all killer moments. We even get our first glimpse of the Monster thrown in on top and Mira Furlan gets to do what she does best on this show, making Danielle crazy and weird and unpredictable but also sympathetic. By establishing a core thematic rivalry between Locke and Jack the show also gets a new central conflict that it rides - perhaps a little too heavily - all the way to its end. Arzt's little meta-commentary on how there are 31 other guys aside from the main characters on that beach and the A-team could show a bit more interest in them is also amusing, if a little too lamp-shady. Overall, a great finale that makes you want to come back for more. (****½)


Oh crap.

No comments: