I’m on a quest to re-watch every episode of Lost, one per day. As I polish off each DVD, I’ll post my thoughts on the episodes contained therein—even if they’re a few days late!
“The Cost of Living”
SYNOPSIS: Recuperating in a tent, Eko has a hallucination of his brother Yemi, beckoning Eko to follow him. The tent catches fire, and Charlie and Hurley rescue Eko, but EKo then disappears. The following morning, Locke announces his intention to go to the Pearl to try to communicate with the others. Charlie and Hurley say that they couldn’t find Eko but that he was mumbling something about his brother, so Locke deduces that Eko is headed to the drug plane on top of the Pearl. He, Sayid (returned from his sea voyage), Desmond, and two other Losties named Nikki and Paulo head off in that direction. In the jungle, Eko has more hallucinations and then sees the Monster—just before the search party finds him. Together, the group reaches the Pearl. Eko finds that his brother’s body is not in the plane. Inside the Pearl, Sayid fiddles with the wiring and group happens upon another security feed, showing a bank of computers and a man with an eyepatch who seems to notice their surveillance. Above ground, Eko sees his “brother” again and follows him into a field, where his brother asks for Eko’s confession—but Eko says that he regrets nothing and did what he did to survive. But this seems to anger his brother, who stalks off. Eko tries following him but comes face to face with the Monster, which fatally attacks him. Hearing the commotion, the search party finds Eko, and Eko dies in Locke’s arms. Locke says that Eko’s dying words were that they’re “next.” On the Hydra Island, the Others have a funeral for Colleen, and Jack tells Ben he knows that Ben needs spinal surgery—and Ben eventually confirms this claim. Juliet, however, shows Jack a videotaped message in which she holds up placards asking Jack to kill Ben during the surgery. In the flashback, Eko takes Yemi’s place as priest of the village but is confronted by militia men who swindle away most of the Red Cross supplies. He kills the men but, in so doing, loses his credibility as a priest and realizes that those militia men will only be replaced by others.
THOUGHTS: Rest in peace, Eko. I hate that this narrative decision was dictated by behind-the-scenes necessity: actor Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje asked to be written off. But the man must have had his reasons, so I’ll let it go. Again, Eko is like Shannon in that he spent one season on the show and was then killed off shortly into the next season, so part of me says, why bother bring him back? But if you look at the series as a continuous story without season breaks, it matters not. And this was a great story for Eko. His monologue of non-repentance is probably one of the best of the shows. And we see the Monster again as the terrifying and malicious force that it is, not just as the curious observer it seemed to be in its previous run-ins with Eko. Also, I want to address Nikki and Paulo, two characters who were doomed from the start. They’ll be killed off soon because the producers realized how little any of the audience liked them. However, as one who is sympathetic to television writers, I would have given them a shot… but I do think that they were introduced sloppily. It would have been better, I think, if they were introduced as near-strangers to our band of Losties, not people whom they knew all along and whom we’re only just meeting. But getting back to the story at hand, I think the Hydra Island stuff was the most interesting storyline of the episode. Jack showing off how perceptive he is to Ben, Ben denying it, Ben confessing his master plan and how it was ruined, Juliet revealing her duplicity—all very intriguing and delightful drama. Next up: the mid-season finale, in which these Hydra plots will come to a head.
SYNOPSIS: Jack talks to Ben about his spine situation and that he needed surgery “yesterday.” Ben says he’s ready for immediate surgery, but Jack says he never agreed to do it—he doesn’t think Ben will hold up his end of the bargain. At the construction site, Alex ambushes the Others as Kate and Sawyer continue breaking up rocks: she’s looking for Karl. The Others capture her and drag her away. Juliet arrives and tells Kate to convince Jack to do the surgery or else they’ll kill Sawyer, and she takes Kate to deliver the message. Kate does so, and the ploy angers Jack. Back in the cages, Kate demands to know why Sawyer is so defeated and Sawyer reveals that they’re not on their Island. Even despite their desperation, the two kiss passionately, which leads to, uh, other passion. Meanwhile, Jack manages to escape from his tank and spots Kate and Sawyer embracing on the surveillance feed. Ben walks in on him, and Jack says that he’ll do the surgery if Ben can get him off the island. The next morning, the surgery begins with Jack operating, Juliet assisting, and Tom watching. Pickett takes this chance to kill Sawyer, and he holds Sawyer at gunpoint as Kate pleads with him not to do it. Jack then cuts Ben’s kidney sac as leverage and demands that the Others release Kate and Sawyer. He tells Kate over a walkie-talkie to tell him a story he told her when they first met when they get to the beach so that he knows that they’re safe. Kate is reluctant to leave without Jack, but he yells at her to run. On the Island, Locke, Sayid, Nikki, and Paulo hold an impromptu funeral for Eko in the jungle, and Locke spots what seems to be a message to him engraved on Eko’s walking stick. In the flashback, Kate tries settling down with a husband in Miami, and the U.S. Marshal pursuing her offers her immunity if she can truly settle down, but she reveals her fugitive status to her husband and flees.
THOUGHTS: I don’t think it was a hare-brained idea to air six episodes in a row during the fall and then the rest in a row during the spring since it gave Lost addicts a fix, but damn, if this episode didn’t leave on a (awesomely) frustrating cliffhanger. Will Kate obey Jack and leave him on the Hydra Island—possibly forever—or will she try to rescue him? Well, we know now that she’ll do the former, but it seemed at the time like she could go either way. That final scene was probably the best and most intense of the episode. But there were two runners-up: the scene in which Jack taunts Ben and mocks his plight and the scene in which Kate realizes why Sawyer has given up trying to escape and that he was looking out for her morale. The flashback provided a nice foil to Kate’s on-Island flight-or-fight dilemma, and it’s especially good because of the addition of one Nathan Fillion of Firefly fame. But anyway, it’s a good thing I don’t have to wait three months for the next episode, eh?
“Not in Portland”
SYNOPSIS: Kate and Sawyer run, and Juliet calls Jack’s bluff and orders the other Others to hunt down Kate and Sawyer and kill them if necessary. Angered, Jack tells Tom about how Juliet wanted Jack to botch the surgery, and Tom makes Juliet leave the room. At the beach, Kate and Sawyer are helpless without a boat, and the Others catch up to them, but Alex arrives and helps them elude the Others. She offers passage to the main Island in exchange for their help rescuing her boyfriend Karl. Meanwhile, Ben awakens and overhears the whole situation. He asks to speak to Juliet alone. They converse privately, and then Juliet asks Jack to finish the surgery; in exchange, she’ll help Kate and Sawyer escape. Kate, Sawyer, and Alex go to a different part of the Hydra compound, overtake the guard, and find Karl undergoing some sort of brainwash experiment. At the beach, Pickett finds the escapees loading onto Alex’s canoe and is about to shoot them when Juliet emerges from the jungle and shoots him dead. She lets the escapees go, but holds Alex back, saying that Ben would kill Karl if Alex went along. (By this point, we assume that Alex is Ben’s daughter.) Juliet gives Kate a walkie-talkie, and Kate tells Jack to story he told her, signaling that she’s safe. He tells her never to come back for him. She, Sawyer, and Karl depart for the main Island. Jack finishes the surgery and later asks Juliet what Ben said to her to make her help him. Juliet tells him that she’s been on the island for more than three years and Ben told her that he’d finally let her go home. In the flashback, Juliet’s brilliant fertility research helps her cancer-stricken sister conceive, and she attracts the attention of one Richard Alpert from Mittelos Bioscience in Portland who tries to recruit her. Her only impediment is that her controlling ex-husband (and boss) won’t let her leave, but he is suspciously hit by a bus shortly thereafter. We get the idea that Juliet takes the job and that’s how she arrived on the Island, especially when Alpert tells her that their facility is “not quite in Portland.”
THOUGHTS: Coming back from the mini-hiatus, we get an episode that’s as action-packed and dramatic as any season premiere. And our first glimpse into Juliet’s past and how fate—or, perhaps more accurately, the machinations of the Others—brought her to the Island. (Can we definitely conclude that the Others had a hand in the “accident” that killed Juliet’s ex? No. But it does seem like too much of a coincidence to ignore.) This episode ratchets up the tension significantly, seeing as how now Ben knows about Juliet’s plot to kill him. It’s surprising that Juliet ordered Kate and Sawyer captured or killed and that Jack revealed Juliet’s plot. Perhaps Juliet was playing along or perhaps not, but in any case, Jack’s counterattack is just pure spite. There’s a whole lot of moral ambiguity to go around in this episode! And, as a bonus, we first meet Richard Alpert, who will play a significant role in the second half of the series.
“Flashes Before Your Eyes”
SYNOPSIS: Desmond retrieves Hurley and Charlie from the camp to talk to Sayid and Locke in the jungle. The latter explain that Eko is dead and that Charlie and Hurley need to ease the camp’s panic. Just then, Desmond seems to get a premonition and runs toward the beach. Arriving there, he finds that a woman is being swept out to sea. It turns out to be Claire, and Desmond rescues and resuscitates her. Charlie is curious to know how he knew she was drowning and how he knew about the lightning bolt, so he and Hurley conspire to get him drunk. They do, but Desmond keeps mum. Charlie calls him a coward, and Desmond attacks him and recalls what he experienced following the Swan implosion. And what he experienced turns out to be time travel back to 1996 when he was happily dating Penny and contemplating marriage—but in this iteration, he keeps getting flash-forwards to his Island life. He tries to ask for Charles Widmore’s permission, but Widmore says that Desmond will never be a good man. (Seeing the boat model in Widmore’s office reminds Desmond of the boat he’ll own later, the Elizabeth.) On the way out of the office, Desmond sees Charlie playing guitar on the street and recognizes him from his flash-forwards, but Charlie doesn’t recognize Desmond. He meets a physicist friend of his at a pub, who denies any possibility of time travel. Desmond tries to prove it to his friend by predicting what would happen in the soccer match playing on the television, but the game doesn’t go as he predicts. He goes home to Penny, who comforts him. The next day, he tries to buy an engagement ring, but the lady behind the counter—Eloise Hawking—refuses to sell it to him because he’s not meant to marry Penny. She explains to Desmond how the universe has a way of “course-correcting” and that everything that is meant to happen will happen somehow. Later, he breaks up with Penny, claiming to not be the man he’s not to be. Penny calls him a coward. Desmond drowns his sorrows at the same pub and then watches the events he predicted unfold during that night’s soccer match. Then he realizes that he just had the wrong night in mind and that he can still master his own destiny, but just then, he ends up in the middle of a bar fight and is knocked unconscious. It’s then that he wakes up naked in the jungle. Back in the present, Charlie takes Desmond back to Desmond’s tent, and they both apologize. But then Desmond explains that it was Charlie who was going to be struck by lightning and Charlie who was going to drown trying to save Claire, and that no matter what happens, Charlie will die.
THOUGHTS: Here’s the first of Desmond’s mind-blowing time-travel episodes. On paper (or on blog, rather), it might sounds completely bonkers, but on screen, it’s so cleverly constructed that you have to applaud the writers for their creativity and dramatic know-how. Not only does this episode deal with revising the past (in a It’s a Wonderful Life kind of way), but it also deals with some pretty heady concepts dealing with determinism—the old “fate versus free will” debate. And it’s Eloise Hawking who introduces these concepts, a woman who will continue to play an eerily prescient role in the remainder of the series and who is very much connected to Charles Widmore. This episode is unique because up until now, we haven’t seen one uninterrupted flashback that takes up most of the episode. The on-Island events are really just bookends. That last scene, however, is certainly a doozy: all this time we thought that Desmond was saving Claire, but no, he has actually been saving Charlie. And now he thinks that he can’t save Charlie forever. If he weren’t drunk at the time, I doubt Desmond would have told Charlie all of that, because that’s a serious bummer of which Charlie should have been blissfully ignorant!