Crumbs: Reviews » Dramas » Lost » Season 2 » The 23rd Psalm
Critical reviews of U.S. TV shows
and analysis of what makes them
good, bad, irritating and enlightening.
68
/100
Viewer
73
/100

Lost

Lost is a drama about a group of plane crash survivors. They land on an unknown Pacific island and have to learn to live together. ABC 2004-2010

67
/100
Viewer
76
/100

Episode 10 - The 23rd Psalm

21 March 2017

Present: Eko discovers Charlie’s Virgin Mary statue and demands to be taken to the plane where they came from. On the way there the “monster” reveals itself to Eko and Charlie as a huge cloud of black smoke. Eko cradles Yemi’s skeleton in his arms and then burns the plane. All the while Charlie is upset that Eko has revealed to Claire that he was keeping drugs. When he returns she kicks him out of her tent. Michael begins practising with a rifle and receives instructions from “Walt” on how to find him.

Flashback: As children Eko and Yemi are brought up near a Catholic church in Nigeria. Some guerrilla’s come and force Yemi to shoot an old man. Eko steps in and does it for him. Now an adult Mr Eko is a renowned criminal or gang leader. He buys heroin from some Moroccans but kills them when they say he has no soul. He asks Yemi (now a priest) to use the Catholic Mission planes to fly his drugs out of the country. Eventually Eko threatens Yemi’s church in order to persuade him to sign ordination papers making Eko and his friends’ priests. But as they are loading the plane Yemi rushes to Eko begging him not to leave. The military arrive and Yemi is shot. Eko loads him onto the plane but his friend betrays him and he is mistaken for a priest by the soldiers.

The Good: The structure of this episode follows the pattern of season one shows and it is stronger for that fact.

First there is the shift in our perspective of the character. So the silent, moral Eko used to be a brutal murderous gangster and drug dealer. This adds to our understanding of his need to repent for his sins (see 208) and constantly do the right thing by others (he even gives Charlie a Virgin Mary statue because he broke his).

Second there is the on island action where Eko and Charlie head off on a trek to find the plane. And third is the island mystery revelation where we actually see the “monster” for the first time. Eko becomes the second character (after Locke) to stand still and face the “monster” which we see as a cloud of black smoke. It seems to “scan” Eko as scenes from his life flash within the cloud. This is a major revelation and makes sense of the wisps of smoke which our characters have seen before (see 125).

Finally Eko (like Locke and others in season one) discovers that he was brought to this island for a reason. Or at least that it can hardly be a coincidence that he and his brother ended up in the same place. Through his flashback we learn who Eko really is and through his journey he begins to understand the island. The sight of Eko weeping over a decomposed skeleton is grim and touching at the same time. Certainly he and Charlie reciting Psalm 23 is a nice moment. It also allows the briefest of montages to show Jin being the nice guy he is and offering Ana Lucia a fish.

Eko’s story is a strong one and he is clearly a very morally grey character. The shocking start to the story where a gang bully him into committing murder while still a child is a powerful scene. Once he is an adult he doesn’t seem to revel in his criminality, but rather he argues with Yemi that he is doing good by smuggling the drugs out of the country. He is clearly still concerned with his once held faith. Not only does he debate sin and forgiveness with Yemi but he seems disproportionately provoked by the drug dealer’s suggestion that he has no soul. It would seem he has taken over his brother’s work and having saved his brother’s life once, he is now determined to fulfil his life work as a priest. It all makes Eko yet another admirable tortured soul for the island to “interact” with.

All of Eko’s flashbacks are filmed with a yellow tint on the lens which is a nice touch. It manages to make those scenes look that bit more distinct and so helps the viewer imagine he is watching Nigeria rather than sets in Hawaii.

It’s nice that Jack tells Michael that they will go after Walt when they can. It would be weird if no one had suggested that to him. Charlie’s addiction concerns grow as he stockpiles the drugs and Michael looks set to do something drastic alone to rescue Walt. Those stories are nicely building for future payoffs (hopefully).

The Bad: I’m afraid problems remain with season two of Lost. Rather like Ana Lucia’s flashback there is no real action or incident on the island. This is far from a big problem for the show but it simply doesn’t compare favourably with the way season one episodes managed to include plenty of action.

However the problems don’t end there. Eko and Charlie don’t seem remotely affected enough by their encounter with the smoke monster. Try and imagine how you would react to the appearance before you of a genuine supernatural force. Eko has the plausible excuse of being focussed on his brother’s remains but Charlie doesn’t. Even if he doesn’t run around and scream about what he saw he should at least grab Claire and other upon his return and tell them exactly what he saw. Just imagine if you saw a monster and imagine the possible wide range of emotions you would experience and then contrast that with Charlie and Eko’s lack of reaction.

Lost loses touch with reality when it presents a scene like that. I am aware of the irony of talking about a smoke monster and reality in the same sentence, but that is not the point. Presenting science fiction concepts is fine, but human characters have to react within context or the story loses its plausibility.

Claire’s treatment of Charlie is a bit harsh. He has never behaved in a way which might endanger Aaron and she doesn’t give him much leeway considering he is a recovering addict. She seems particularly unkind considering the huge scar (from where he was injured saving Aaron in 125) is still visible on his forehead.

The Unknown: What is the smoke monster? Why or how was it “scanning” Eko? Eko like Locke was unafraid of the monster and was not attacked by it. What does that say about them and the nature of the monster?

Best Moment: The smoke monster coming up to Eko. Charlie looks down on a huge cloud hovering a foot from Eko’s face and the camera pans around to show us images of Eko’s life flashing within the smoke. Finally the smoke clears and Eko looks up at the startled Charlie in silence.

The Bottom Line: It’s a strong episode because Eko is a compelling character. He plays it really well and his background is as gritty and interesting as you would expect. The smoke monster revelation is a big one and the plot does take a step forward on the Michael and Charlie fronts.

But rather like Jack, Kate and Locke not reacting enough (see 125) there is a serious lack of real human amazement at what Eko and Charlie have seen. That lack of reaction chips away at the credibility of the show.

('DiggThis)

Feedback

Add your comments on this episode below. They may be included in the weekly podcasts.

Post your comment

Comments

  • I really feel the need to put in my two cents here. I felt this is a very strong episode. With a strong story of Mr. Eko and many religious references. This is the second time I am watching Lost. And I remember my feelings from the first time. What I really liked about Lost were all these religious covers to offer an explanation for all the supernatural things going on on that island. And they found their peak in season two in the shape of the fascinating character of Mr. Eko. For me this kind of explanation is easier to believe in. Robin you have mentioned that the Biblical story by Mr. Eko from the last episode had no real purpose. For me the purpose is that it strengthens the possibilty that Lost has a religious ending at this time of the show. Additionaly, aside from the strong developments in Charlies and Michaels stories, this episode has a very tense scene when the black smoke is showing up. The whole build up with Mr. Eko sensing something is wrong is staged very well.

    I really hope we will read more in the future from you Robin. Your critics are very unique and they offer a new perspective on the shows.
    Best
    Chris

    Viewer score: 76 / 100

    Posted by Chris, 19/03/2017 6:11pm (6 days ago)

RSS feed for comments on this page | RSS feed for all comments