Thursday, 9 June 2016

The Lost Reviews: Part 15 - Season 3, Episodes 21-22

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.

I am using the Lost plot summaries from Wikipedia, sometimes fleshed out. I'd previously written each one myself but to be honest the time it was taking to do this had become unsustainable. Wikipedia permits the re-use of such material if the original source is linked as follows: Greatest Hits (Through the Looking Glass I wrote myself).

Without further ado, let us continue after the jump.

Brace for feels.

321: Greatest Hits

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

Airdate: 16 May 2007

Survivor Count: 45

Days on Island: 90 (20 December 2004)

Flashback Character: Charlie

Flashbacks: Faced with the reality of his own mortality, Charlie decides to put together a list of the "greatest hits" of his life. Revisiting these moments, he writes them down on a list for Claire:

  1. The first time he heard "You All Everybody" on the radio, when he was feeling despair and wanted to quit the band.
  2. When his father taught him to swim at Butlins Holiday Camp.
  3. The time when his brother Liam gave him their grandfather's ring, which was inscribed "DS" for his name (Dexter Stratton). This inspired their choice of band name.
  4. When Charlie saved a woman - who turns out to be Sayid's former love, Nadia - from being mugged and was called a hero.
  5. The night following the crash of Oceanic 815, "The night I met you."

On the Island: Returning to his camp - and refusing to explain his absence or what happened to Locke - Ben orders ten of the Others to go to the survivors' camp to kidnap any pregnant women that night, a night earlier than scheduled. Alex, overhearing the plan, alerts Karl who has been shadowing the main camp of Others and is hiding nearby. Karl grabs the outrigger and paddles down the coast to the main camp.

Jack guides most of the survivors out into the jungle where Danielle has rigged a tree with dynamite from the Black Rock. Demonstrating that it is still lethal, Jack explains his plan: they will lure the Others onto the beach and detonate dynamite in the tents to kill them. Back on the beach Danielle shows the survivors how to rig the explosives with wire from the wreckage, but they are finding it tough to get enough wire.

Naomi tells Charlie that his band Drive Shaft released a successful greatest hits album after the crash of Flight 815. Charlie is delighted, and this inspires him to start writing the list of his own personal "greatest hits". Desmond tells Charlie about his latest premonition: Claire and Aaron will escape the island via helicopter if Charlie flips a switch in a DHARMA Initiative station and drowns. Charlie is disturbed by the thought of his own death, but doesn't hesitate to say he will do it if it means that Claire and Aaron are saved.

Sayid tells Jack that they may be able to communicate with Naomi's freighter, but they need to disable Rousseau's distress signal from the DHARMA radio tower. Juliet tells Sayid that this plan will not work because all outgoing transmissions are being jammed by the Looking Glass, a DHARMA Initiative station located offshore and underwater. Sayid realises that the cable he found seventy days before connects to this station. Looking through the papers he took from the Flame Station, he finds references to the Looking Glass and how to disable its communications equipment. According to Juliet, the station was flooded and there isn't enough time to get down, flip the switch and swim back up again. Whoever goes down may end up suffocating. After a moment of doubt, Charlie volunteers, saying he can hold his breath for four minutes. Desmond later asks him how long he can really hold his breath and Charlie asks, "Does it matter?"

Karl arrives on the beach to warn the survivors of the imminent attack. Jack realises that they cannot rig the explosives in time. They improvise a new plan: Danielle will guide the entire group of survivors to the radio tower whilst the best shots - Sayid, Bernard and Jin - stay behind and manually detonate the explosives with rifle fire. Charlie and Desmond will take Karl's outrigger to the Looking Glass. Charlie will dive down and deactivate the signal. In order for this all to work, it has to happen as close together as possible.

Charlie assures Claire that he will be fine, kisses her goodbye and leaves his "DS" ring in Aaron's crib. Desmond and Charlie paddle out to the Looking Glass and debate what to do. Desmond volunteers to take Charlie's place, suggesting that the Island or fate or whatever will be satisfied with his death instead. "What about your girl?" Charlie asks, about Penny. "What about yours?" Desmond asks, about Claire. Charlie accepts Desmond's magnanimous gesture, only to knock him unconscious with an oar. He puts the list in Desmond's pocket before diving down. He enters the station through a moon pool, but is surprised to discover that it isn't flooded. However, two Others named Greta and Bonnie arrive in the moon pool with guns aimed at Charlie.

Major WTFery: An underwater station seems a bit of an odd place to generate a jamming signal from. In fact, the jamming signal would have been stronger if it had originated either from the Flame or from the radio tower itself.

Given all the attention paid to Charlie's list, it's rather odd that Desmond never gets around to giving the list to Claire. According to the producers, the cutting of this episode and the next one made it look like Desmond still had the list on him when he dove in the water. Rather than explaining that he'd left it in the boat, they simply assumed it had been ruined or destroyed when he dove in the water.

Hindsight: The woman Charlie saves in London is, of course, Nadia.

The flashback scene with Charlie in London shows Charlie playing "Wonderwall" by Oasis, just as in Desmond's scene in Flashes Before Your Eyes. However, from Charlie's POV it appears that Desmond never shows up. This seems to violate the principle that "Whatever happened, happened" and that time is circular. However, it is also possible that it was raining on and off all day as Charlie wandered around London busking.

This episode features an unusual flashback structure where Charlie deliberately evokes several completely unconnected memories and then refers to them in the present day.

It is also the 70th sequential and last episode to feature flashbacks. Flashbacks will continue to appear, but much more rarely than before.

Rose and Bernard make their first appearance since the end of Season 2. Both actors had been busy with other projects, and the producers had also had some issues juggling the expanded cast this season, with even major characters sitting out several episodes in a row. However, the producers decided to make up for their absence by giving them a key role in the defence of the beach camp.

Review: This episode feels like an extended apology from the writers and producers to Dominic Monaghan and the character of Charlie. After some good material in early Season 1 and the development of a very sweet relationship with Claire, the writers didn't seem to know quite what to do with him and leaned too much on his junkie backstory (later admitted by Damon Lindelof to have been a mistake). It's only in the latter part of Season 3 that he's had more stuff to do, with the foreshadowing of his death. The result is an episode which focuses on Charlie's heroism, his love for Claire and Aaron and the positivity in his life, and it works very well indeed. (****).

The moment viewers had waited 71 episodes for.

322: Through the Looking Glass

Written by Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof, directed by Jack Bender

Airdate: 23 May 2007

Survivor Count: 45

Days on Island: 90-91 (20-21 December 2004)

Flash Character: Jack

On the Island: Charlie is imprisoned by Greta and Bonnie and interrogated, but he refuses to say anything. See the radio switch and the flashing light mentioned by Desmond, Charlie realises that he is going to die...but not before the switch is pulled. This makes him cocky and overconfident. Disturbed by his presence and manner, Greta and Bonnie call Ben who is likewise bemused by how on earth the survivors could know about the Looking Glass. He orders Mikhail to take charge of the situation. Realising that Juliet has betrayed them, he calls Tom and the rest of the assault team, but it's too late. They've switched off their radios for security.

Jin, Sayid and Bernard have placed three bundles of dynamite at key points in the camp. They successfully detonate two of the bundles, resulting in two massive blasts that the other survivors can see from miles away. They fail to detonate the third bundle. Seven of the ten Others are killed. The other three, including Tom, take Jin, Sayid and Bernard prisoner. They radio Ben with the news that the camp is empty and Ben realises that the survivors must be trying to make contact with the freighter (Mikhail having told him about Naomi). He orders Richard to take the rest of the Others to a location known as "the Temple" whilst he cuts across the Island to intercept Jack and the other survivors, alone. Alex volunteers to accompany him, hoping to find Karl, and to her surprise Ben agrees.

Having only seen two explosions and with Naomi still unable to clear the Looking Glass's jamming signal, the survivors assume that their plan has failed. Jack urges them to have faith and convinces everyone to press onto the radio tower. However, Sawyer, Juliet and Hurley decide to double back to see what's going on. Sawyer tells Hurley that he will slow them down and suggests that he hang back, to Hurley's annoyance and upset.

Locke, still suffering from Ben's gunshot wound, wakes up in the pit of dead DHARMA survivors. He finds a 30-year-old revolver and plans to kill himself but is stopped by an image of Walt which appears at the lip of the pit. Walt tells him to stop feeling sorry for himself as he "has work to do".

Desmond recovers in the outrigger, but is then fired on by Mikhail, who has arrived on the shore. Desmond dives down and enters the Looking Glass surreptitiously, taking cover in a supply locker. Mikhail follows him down in scuba gear and angrily wants to know where he is. Mikhail is also annoyed that Greta and Bonnie are there, as Ben told him they'd gone on assignment in Canada. He talks to Ben over the radio and Ben tells him that he must eliminate Greta, Bonnie, Desmond and Charlie, and apologises for the deception. Mikhail is uncertain whether to follow the order, but then his soldier's instinct for obeying orders kicks in. He kills Greta immediately and shoots and injures Bonnie. Before he can finish her off, Desmond bursts out of the supply locker and gut-shoots Mikhail with a spear gun.

Ben and Alex meet Jack's group near the radio tower. Ben uses his walkie talkie to communicate with Tom on the beach. Ben tells Jack that Naomi's boat is not at the Island to help the survivors and their true purpose will get everyone - 815 survivors and Others alike - all killed. He tells Jack to get Naomi's satellite phone and give it to Ben. Jack refuses. Ben then says he will order Tom to kill Sayid, Jin and Bernard. Jack still refuses to give in, and they hear gunfire over the radio. Jack freaks out and beats Ben senseless. He drags him back to the group - where a shocked Alex has met her mother, Danielle, for the first time - and they resume the trek to the radio tower.

Juliet and Sawyer reach the beach and see Tom angrily wondering why Ben told them to fire their guns into the sand rather than actually kill the prisoners. Juliet and Sawyer debate tactics considering that they aren't armed, but suddenly the DHARMA Initiative van repaired by Hurley bursts onto the beach, running over and killing one of the Others immediately. Sayid manages to get one of the other Others in a headlock with his feet and snaps his neck. Tom surrenders. Sawyer considers for a moment and then shoots him, saying "That's for taking the kid off the boat." Hurley points out that he was surrendering but Sawyer says that he didn't believe him. They radio Jack and give him the good news that Jin, Sayid and Bernard are still alive.

In the Looking Glass, Charlie talks to Bonnie, who realises that Ben has betrayed her. She tells Charlie how to switch off the jamming signal before dying, which he does. Surprised at still being alive, Charlie and Desmond prepare to leave the Looking Glass with scuba gear they find on board. As Desmond gathers the equipment, Charlie hears a new signal coming through. Penelope appears on the screen and Charlie talks to her, telling her that Desmond is nearby and they have met Naomi and heard from Penny's boat. Penny is bewildered, as she doesn't know a Naomi and hasn't sent out any boat. Charlie is distracted by a sound through the porthole: the injured Mikhail has managed to get outside the Looking Glass with a grenade, which he clearly plans to use to destroy the station. Charlie slams shut the radio room door just as the grenade goes off. Mikhail is killed and the communications room breached. Charlie manages to write on his hand in waterproof ink (the same pen he's been carrying around since the crash), "NOT PENNY'S BOAT." He shows it to Desmond, making sure he understands. Charlie then makes the sign of the cross before drowning.

Jack's team reaches the radio tower just as the satellite phone picks up a clear signal. Naomi relays the good news to Jack, but they can't make a call until Danielle's signal is shut down. Danielle does just that, feeling odd at shutting down the signal she set up sixteen years earlier. Emerging from the tower, Naomi goes to call her freighter but is stabbed by a knife hurled by Locke. Locke holds Jack at gunpoint, telling him to give him the phone (presumably so he can destroy it). Jack refuses. Locke tells him he won't hesitate to kill him to protect the Island. Jack ignores him and makes the call. Locke, reluctantly, lowers his gun, telling him of course he could never hurt Jack after everything they've been through together.

The call is picked up by a man, George Minkowski, on Naomi's boat. Jack tells him that "We are the survivors of Oceanic 815," and asks him to lock onto his signal.

Charlie's last thought is for his friends.

Flash: A bearded Jack is on a flight about to arrive at Los Angeles. He is drinking heavily. When he tries to get another drink, the stewardess gives him a paper instead. Jack glances at it and sees an obituary for someone he knows. He becomes upset. Driving back from the airport, he stops on a bridge and tries to call someone, who doesn't pick up. Jack jumps onto the side of the bridge, apparently planning to jump. Before he can do so, there is a car crash behind him. He immediately lends aid, and is feted for saving two people from burning to death in the accident. Jack takes an interest in the survivors and a new surgeon at the hospital, Dr. Hamill, agrees to keep him informed on their progress.

Jack goes to the funeral of the person he read about in the paper. He is surprised and sad to see that he is the only person present. After paying his respects, he leaves, again trying to make a call and failing to connect. At the hospital Dr. Hamill tells him that the driver has recovered and said that she crashed the car after being distracted by the sight of someone about to jump off the bridge. Hamill realises that Jack was planning to kill himself, but Jack becomes angry and irrational, suggesting that he get his father down to talk to him, which confuses both Hamill and the nurses present.

Jack's call finally connects and he arranges a meeting at the airport behind the runway. Another car arrives and someone gets out: Kate. Jack says he'd hoped to see her at the funeral, but Kate is incredulous, as why would she ever go to the funeral? Jack tells her that he's been flying a lot, using the golden pass ticket that Oceanic Airlines gave everyone. He flies back and forth across the Pacific, hoping that the plane crashes and he can get back to the Island. He tells her they made a mistake leaving, but she angrily disagrees. She says she has to go, as "He," is waiting for her. As she drives off Jack shouts after her, "We have to go back!"


Major WTFery: In one of the most glaring continuity error in the series, the 815 survivors walk off up the beach with the sea to their right, heading east, but in the next scene they are walking along with the sea to their left, heading west. Given the radio tower is straight north it is unclear why they are walking along the sea at all, unless it is to avoid any possible route of approach by the Other assault team, or Danielle knows a way around the mountains that allows for easier travelling.

Hindsight: Jack's storyline in this episode caught many viewers by surprise, as they had assumed it was a series of flashbacks showing Jack in despair after his divorce or after his earlier, dysfunctional relationship with his father. This was subtly reinforced by him calling for his father in the hospital, but the reaction from the hospital staff clearly shows that they know that Christian is dead and are fearing for Jack's sanity. The final revelation - that we're seeing a flashforwards rather than a flashback - was widely applauded as the most impressive paradigm shift in the show's history. Lost is very much two stories being told back to back - before and after the rescue - and this is the moment it all spins around.

The producers did subtly place several clues earlier on that this was a flashforwards rather than a flashback. Most tellingly with Jack having a map of the Pacific on the wall with pins in it. Prior to the crash, Jack had no interest in the Pacific Ocean. Jack also has a Motorola KRZR mobile phone, a fairly trendy and identifiable model that was only released in 2006 (i.e. two years after the crash).

Similarly, the paper Jack reads is a copy of the LA Times dated 5 April 2007, although this isn't readily legible on screen. Later episodes will confirm that the flash-forwards in this episode takes place in 2007, between two and three years after the final scene on the Island.

Viewers would have to wait until the Season 4 finale to confirm who it is in the casket (Locke), and for the seventh episode of Season 5 to find out how he died (murdered by Ben).

This episode marks the final appearance of the present-day Others in force until Season 6: however, the 1970s incarnation of the organisation plays a major role in Season 5. At Comic-Con, the producers noted that in the "war" between the Others and the 815 survivors, Team 815 performed excellently, killing multiple named Others over the course of the season (Mikhail, Ms. Klugh, Colleen, Pickett, Tom, Bonnie, Greta and all ten of the team that attack the beach) and convincing others to switch sides (Juliet, Karl, Alex) as well as taking Ben prisoner, leaving just Richard Alpert and Cindy as named, known Other characters at large.

Given that keeping track of geography is not the show's strongest point, this episode actually does a pretty good job of it. It establishes the Others' camp as being located near the eastern mountains of the Island, which actually makes it extremely plausible that both Ben and Alex could reach the radio tower (on top of the western mountains) and Mikhail could reach the Looking Glass (off the eastern coast) relatively quickly.

This episode confirms that Kate and Sawyer were helping to build a runway, "for the aliens".

The vision of Walt that appears to Locke apparently is a projection of Walt himself. It can't be the Monster, as the Monster (as later seasons confirm) can only appear as someone who has died.

This episode is the first to mention the Temple, which some viewers assumed was yet another DHARMA station. It actually turns out to be a literal temple in Season 5.

This episode also confirms that forty people died in the Purge. Season 5 revealed that there were a lot more people than that in the DHARMA Initiative on the Island, but most of the women and children evacuated prior to the Incident in 1977 and most of them (like Charlotte and Annie) never returned before the Purge in 1988.

Sawyer promised payback to "Zeke" (Tom) several times over the course of the series before finally delivering it here, two years later for viewers.

Review: Very few shows can pull off a paradigm shift, a complete and total inversion of the show's format and what the viewers are expecting from it, because destroying the premise of a TV series is generally not a good idea and very few shows can actually make what comes after as good as what came before. Lost arguably pulls off such the greatest such paradigm shift seen in an American TV show to date, spinning the series onto a completely different path whilst - after two and a half seasons - effectively wrapping up the Others storyline. We also get a moving death scene for Charlie and some great moments of comedy, action and drama. Locke's outright murder of Naomi feels a bit out-of-character, but motivated by the fear of death and Weird Ghost Walt, it's forgivable enough. Probably not the best episode of the series (The Constant is superior and maybe one or two others), but definitely up there as the show at the very peak of its powers, with an ending that is still brilliantly handled (*****)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Absolutely loved the end to Season 3, and would have loved it more if I hadn't accidentally run into spoilers about the season finale. Season 4 actually has my favorite scene in the series, which is "the scene" in The Shape of Things To Come.