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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

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Episode 7 - The Other 48 Days

30 March 2012

Present: Nothing.

Flashback: We see the entire last fourty eight days from the perspective of the tail section survivors. Ana and Eko leads the survivors out of the water and do their best to look after the sick and the frightened children. That night the Others take three of the young men but Eko kills two of them. He subsequently refuses to speak. A few nights later the Others return and take nine more, Ana kills one of the Others. She finds a list in the girls’ pocket which has the names and physical description of who to take. The survivors move into the jungle to find another place to stay. Ana believes there is a mole amongst them and her suspicion falls on the creepy Nathan. She digs a pit and leaves him in it. When she tells Goodwin that she is going to cut off his finger, Goodwin kills Nathan. The survivors move on again and come across a Dharma storage station with a radio in it. Goodwin offers to take it to higher ground and Ana goes with him. She realises he is an Other and kills him. Bernard makes contact with Boone using the radio but Ana believes it is the Others again. She cries and Eko finally speaks to her. He kept silent for fourty days as penance for committing murder. We catch up to events we have seen as the survivors encounter Jin, Sawyer and Michael and finally Ana shoots Shannon.

The Good: Good grief! Every time I issue a challenge, Lost finds an answer. It’s difficult to relate the huge impact this episode has when you have watched every Lost episode previously with no clue as to what is coming. The episode breaks from the established format of the show, essentially being one long flashback. It’s an episode featuring only characters who weren’t in season one. It presents the Others as threatening and mysterious and the survivors’ lives as brutal and tragic. It is a shocking, exciting, unexpected and brilliant piece of television.

Where to begin? The format is a superb change of pace. I had just complained that the flashbacks of season two seemed to be devoid of the kind of revelations which made the season one versions so interesting. And so the producers show an admirable flexibility in presenting us with a continuous story instead. It’s ironic that this story is so dramatic and compelling. After all Lost built its reputation on its flashback formula, getting away from the straight chronological narrative of practically every other television show ever made. So when it goes back to the straight forward it seems shocking and innovative.

The pace of the episode is breathless, as you would expect from a story cramming fourty eight days into fourty two minutes. The opening shot of the plane crashing into the water is well created and the next eleven minutes are non-stop action. The “Day 1” and “Day 2” tags are a very simple and effective way of demonstrating time passing and make you wander what was happening on the other side of the island at that moment.

The brutal and tragic lives of the tail section survivors is brilliantly drawn. Again my complaint about our survivors has been the lack of urgency and excitement at each supernatural development or strange hatch they have found. Here the writers get everything spot on. With no supplies and no Jack the wounded all die one by one. Under attack from the Others paranoia and suspicion spread. Ana’s decision to dig the pit is exactly the kind of drastic action that would be needed under a war-like situation. Ana Lucia says a line toward the end which sums up what you assume one would have to conclude after all the trauma they have been through “This is our life now. Get used to it.”

Ana Lucia is the undoubted star of the proceedings. Many of Lost’s hardcore fanbase disliked her from the start. It’s understandable as new characters often have trouble winning over audiences who have a passion for existing stars. Her rude and dismissive treatment of Michael and Sawyer won’t have endeared her to anyone either. But surely watching this episode will win her some new fans. The parallel with Jack is drawn immediately when her first act upon reaching others is to perform CPR (just as Jack did in the pilot). But from there she craves the leadership role in order to keep everyone safe, in a way which Jack didn’t have to. Her paranoia over Nathan is understandable, not just from the stress but from his strange behaviour.

Her guilt over allowing Nathan to be killed and her own grief at killing Goodwin is beautifully acted. When she cries, it is a great release, both for her and for the audience. She has bottled up the trauma and it has taken fourty days for it to finally overwhelm her. Eko hugging her is such a wonderful moment and effortlessly explains the trust which the two have displayed throughout the previous few episodes.

Eko too gains much character definition. If Ana is their Jack, then Eko is clearly their Locke. Like Locke his character is built around faith. In his case a religious Christian one. It’s another daring move from the producers as most major Western television characters are not overtly religious. His poignant decision not to speak for fourty days is cleverly handled as we spend the whole episode wandering why he won’t talk. His morality shines through as he looks after the children and then drags the dead from the water. He even feeds Nathan when he is trapped in the pit. Libby uses her clinical psychology skills to distract a wounded man, just as she did to Sawyer in the previous episode.

The Others appearing by the fireside before they take the children is an incredibly creepy visual. The complete shock and ignorance of the survivors to who the Others are adds to their scary appearance. We learn a lot more about them in this episode. Goodwin presents their face in a much more friendly light than Ethan did (back in the middle of season one). So they are clearly North Americans or some of them were. The American army knife might hint at their origins. But the creepy comments from Goodwin about the children being “better off now” and Nathan not being a good person hint at some kind of fascist or cult-like morality which is very intriguing (see Best Moment).

The end of the episode is clever as the show avoids replaying scenes which we have already sat through. The ending is dramatic and leaves you feeling like you completely understand why Ana would shoot Shannon. The show has done a terrific job of ensuring that we understand that Ana doesn’t deserve blame for this unfortunate accident. She is as much a victim as Shannon is.

The Bad: There is only one line that doesn’t work. As Goodwin and Ana are walking up the hill with the radio she asks why “they” are attacking them. Goodwin speculates that “Maybe they aren’t attacking us.” There is no reason he should say this, other than to remind the audience that he is one of them. It is a stupid and incriminating thing to say because it is an inarguable fact that they have been attacked. When Ana points that out he says “Good point.”  As if he had somehow not taken the abductions into account. It’s a rare moment of poor writing in this episode.

Nathan’s excuse for his absence on two occasions was that he was going to the toilet. Had it been revealed that he had IBS or something similar, it could have served as a suitably convincing explanation for his odd behaviour.

The Unknown: The Quarantine sign on the inside of the other Dharma station is another intriguing clue. What exactly were the Dharma Initiative scared of?

Who are the Others? Where have they taken the children? Why did they parade their teddy bear around on a rope? How do they judge who good people are? How long have they been on the island? Are they connected to the Dharma Initiative? How did they get an old US army knife? Why is there a glass eye in the Dharma station and what was it used for?

What did Ana Lucia do for a living? Or Eko for that matter?

Best Moment: Ana and Goodwin heading up the hill. Now that we know he is one of the Others every action has more significance. The director milks the tension of them handing the knife back and forth as Ana questions him. The revelations about the Others and the speculation which rushes off from each reveal are a backdrop for the impending fight that you know is coming. Ana kills him and his story is complete. Throughout the previous episodes it had been implied that Goodwin was one of the survivors who was killed by the Others. The twist that he was an Other was all the more shocking because of that clever implication. As Ana walks back down alone she simply says “We’re safe here now.”

The Bottom Line: It’s so rare when television or any art form can truly shock, shake, grip, inspire, excite or engage you. This episode is capable of doing one or all of these to the viewer.

It’s entirely possible that if you were watching Lost episodes one after another on DVD that you wouldn’t have been as engaged by the story. It’s conceivable that after all the hints that had been dropped about the tail section survivors, that you wouldn’t have been so gripped by their flashback. It is understandable if you just don’t warm to the silent Eko or the tough as nails Ana in the same way you did to Jack, Kate, Sawyer and friends.

But those caveats aside, I believe this is stunning television. Breaking from the format completely unexpectedly, this is a relentless action packed story. It’s full of drama, intrigue, suspense and a deep sense of hopelessness and tragedy.

To me the story is everything which Lost should be about. While the beach survivors have presented us with television fit for American prime time viewing, this episode presents us with what Lost couldn’t do. The show couldn’t have been as depressing, as tense, as paranoid and as tragic as this is. To me Ana Lucia comes out as the true hero of the show. Her breakdown into tears means more than any of the other survivors sobs. She has held the weight of other people’s lives on her shoulders for fourty relentless days before finally leaning on someone else for support and comfort. In that moment Lost created a beautiful and complete piece of television. The heroin brought to her knees.

It’s tough to imagine Lost topping this.

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  • Funny that this is the top rated episode. It was good, but bearing in mind that 90% of the "tailies" are killed off, this episodes renders totally irrelevant when you get to Season 4.

    Posted by David, 01/02/2015 10:23am (2 years ago)

  • I understand now.

    Posted by Rosie, 09/12/2011 10:57pm (5 years ago)

  • I feel like we are miscommunicating a bit :-)

    In the review I pointed out that the way Michelle Rodriguez plays Ana Lucia's guilt over Nathan's death is really good. As she was the leader of the group and put him in the hole naturally she would feel responsible for imprisoning the wrong guy. Her actions were understandable and you're right that the rest of the group should feel some responsibility too because they let it happen.

    Of course Goodwin is literally responsible for Nathan's death. I'm not arguing that he was right or wrong to do it. I was just trying to clarify my use of words in the review.

    I hope that makes things a bit clearer.

    Posted by The TV Critic, 07/12/2011 8:32pm (5 years ago)

  • You're making an excuse for Goodwin? I don't care what his point of view was. He is mainly responsible for Nathan's death. He could have easily allowed Nathan just to stay away from the other Tailies.

    Also, Libby, Cindy, Bernard and Mr. Eko's actions or lack of them also played a part in Nathan's death, along with his behavior.

    In my opinion, ALL OF THEM - including Ana-Lucia - is responsible. But the main blame lies on Goodwin's shoulders.

    Posted by Rosie, 07/12/2011 3:41pm (5 years ago)

  • She allowed him to be killed in the sense that she was responsible for putting him in that vulnerable situation. Even if you didn't directly do something you can still feel guilty about your role in it.

    Goodwin was protecting his secret identity. From his point of view there was a pressing need to protect his own life.

    Posted by The TV Critic, 03/12/2011 1:04am (5 years ago)

  • Ana-Lucia didn't allow Nathan to be killed. She didn't even know he had been killed, until her final confrontation with Nathan. And to be honest, the final fault lies with Goodwin, not Ana. I thought it was unnecessary for him to kill Nathan in the first place.

    Posted by Rosie, 01/12/2011 11:49pm (5 years ago)

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