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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 6 - 316

28 March 2012

Present: Eloise Hawking explains that the Dharma Initiative built “The Lamppost” to find where in time the island was. She explains that the next window is open on a flight to Guam in thirty six hours and the survivors need to recreate as much of their original flight as possible. Desmond curses at her and leaves but she says the island isn’t done with him. She gives Jack Locke’s suicide note and tells him to give Locke something of Christian’s so that Locke can be proxy for Christian’s corpse. Jack visits his Grandfather in an old people’s home and finds Christian’s shoes. He returns home to find Kate in his bed. She says she will come with him if he never asks what happened to Aaron. The next day he picks up Locke’s corpse because Ben was bloodily delayed. At the airport all of the Oceanic Six get on the plane including Sayid who appears to be under arrest. On the plane Jack reads Locke’s suicide note which says “I wish you had believed me.” We also discover that the pilot is Frank Lapidas. The plane suffers turbulence and a huge flash of light appears. Next thing Jack knows he wakes up in the jungle. Once he has fished Hurley and Kate out of the water a new looking Dharma van pulls up and out steps Jin, in a jumpsuit with a gun.

Flashback: Jack wakes up in the jungle in his suit looking confused. He rushes out on a large pool of water where Hurley is drowning. He jumps in, saves him and finds Kate unconscious nearby. Apparently they have just arrived back on the island.

The Good: This is the closest to an emotionally focussed episode we have had all season and yet I thought this was a huge disappointment. But first to the good.

While the focus is on Jack we get some really nice moments. Ben’s speech about St Thomas was a neat way to give Jack’s journey a meaningful comparison. Seeing Jack with his Grandfather was almost a shock because moments showing the Oceanic Six readjusting to normal life have been rare. But it’s definitely nice to see a sense of the life Jack leads and how he relates to his father’s father. When he finds Christian’s shoes it is clearly a sign that he is meant to return to the island (as Miss Hawking asked him to go find something of Christians). And Jack is consistently characterised on that point. Unlike Locke he has trouble accepting these signs as something more than a coincidence. When he puts the shoes on Locke he laughs at the absurdity and clearly resents the fact that here he is obeying instructions and admitting that Locke was right all along. Even as he prepares to do what Locke says he calls him “crazy”. Jack just can’t bring himself to give up on his evidence based mindset. The acting as you would expect is excellent and portrays Jack as conflicted, reluctant but ultimately determined.

The explanation for Christian’s tennis shoes is Lost at its best. When Hurley saw Christian’s feet in Jacob’s cabin (401) he was attired in suit and tennis shoes. This incongruous picture now gets a full explanation as Jack admits he didn’t think his father worthy of the expense of smart shoes when he was preparing to bury him. Now as Jack prepares to take Locke’s body back to the island we get this poignant reminder of how Jack is still dealing with Christian’s death. And why not? They worked together and clearly had an intense relationship which drove much of Jack’s decision making.

The sense that he is still coming to terms with Christian’s death feeds nicely into the feeling that all of the Oceanic Six are reluctantly admitting that they crashed on the island for a reason and they can’t fight that anymore. The episode definitely conveys this strange sense of tearful goodbye for the characters even when so many details are missing (see The Bad). The little touches which add to the recreation of the original flight are intriguing to see. Sayid is under arrest as Kate was, Hurley is clutching a comic and a guitar (which Charlie brought on flight 815) and Frank Lapidas is the pilot. Frank was meant to be the original pilot of 815 (see 402) and one wonders if that was engineered too. Ben’s pointed question to Hurley “Who told you to be here” implies that Charlie made another visit (401) to Hurley and convinced him to get on the flight with a guitar. Hurley trying to save lives by buying seventy eight seats was suitably sweet. And Ben was suitably callous about those who don’t affect the island when Jack asked what would happen to the other people on the flight – “Who cares?”

The Bad: I accept ahead of time that many of the questions which weren’t addressed here will be in future episodes. I am prepared for the next episode itself to provide context which was missing here. But I still feel for these forty minutes, much needed context was missing and robbed this episode of the emotional resonance which it could so easily have had.

The focus is on Jack and I applaud the clear and strict focus on his emotional journey. The problem is that so many details are absent that his emotions don’t come across as they should and we are left thinking Jack is an idiot.

First off why does Jack want to go back to the island? What is he hoping to achieve and does he think he is going back to stay there forever? Pretty important questions right? Jack claims that Locke told him that they needed to go back to protect Sawyer, Juliet and company (501) from dying. The problem with that as I have addressed before is that he didn’t seem too bothered about how they were getting on in the previous couple of years. In fact it bothers me that having claimed he would come back for the other survivors (313), no one really suggested helping those they had left behind. Then there is Ben asking Jack if he was prepared to never return from the island (502). If Jack really believes that he will never return, then shouldn’t he be a bit more open about that with everyone? He encourages Sun to come with him, yet he believes that they can never leave the island again. So shouldn’t he warn her that she will never see her daughter again? Or ask Kate something about Aaron to ascertain if she is going to be heartbroken when she learns she can’t leave the island?

Or let’s look at it another way. Jack is asked to believe that his best chance of getting back to the island is to recreate the conditions of flight 815 as best he can. If he really is motivated by trying to save Sawyer’s life then shouldn’t he be begging Kate, Hurley, Sayid and so on to come with him. Shouldn’t he be really fighting the corner of what he believes in?

Of course worse than his muddled intentions are the moments where he just looks dumb. He asks Kate if she is surprised by the coincidence of Hurley and Sayid being on the same plane as them? Umm, seriously? Are we supposed to believe that he doesn’t have a good idea of why they are there? In the previous episode Ben admitted that he sent lawyers after Aaron to flush Kate out and withheld Jin’s wedding ring to manipulate Sun into joining them. Why on earth wouldn’t Jack’s first response be to ask Ben what he did to them to make them get on the plane? Even if he had nothing to do with it, wouldn’t that have been a logical conclusion? Then he doesn’t ask Hurley or Sayid why they are there, which is infuriating if nothing else. Worst of all Kate turns up at his house just hours after storming away from him with Aaron in her arms. She asks him never to ask what happened to Aaron. So what should we conclude? That Aaron was taken from her? That he died? That Kate got rid of him? That he disappeared into thin air? Jack clearly cared deeply about Aaron at one stage (410) which makes his lack of questions more ridiculous than just the simple lack of logic in not questioning someone who might have just had her child stolen from her. Jack’s character was always demanding answers from people and if this is an attempt to show he has changed then it was buried beneath the irritation of this lack of normal human behaviour.

Even earlier in the episode Jack doesn’t ask Eloise for more details on why exactly recreating the conditions of flight 815 will help them get back to the island. No one bats an eyelid when Desmond claims that she sent him to the island. Surely someone should have asked how they knew each other and if Desmond really meant that in the crazy conspiracy theory it sounds like?

What these bits of annoying writing do is rob Jack of a clear emotional story. We don’t know what he is trying to achieve, how he feels about the others coming with him, what he expects to happen once he gets back to the island and if he thinks he will ever go home. Without those intentions clear in the viewers mind, his story just doesn’t come across as well as it should have done. We can’t imagine how he feels because we are so preoccupied with what is going on and why he isn’t saying obvious things.

Of course underlying all this is the sense that Jack’s true motivations are more to do with Christian’s appearances to him (410 again) and indeed whatever Locke really told him (which it looks like we may see next episode). But you only get one chance to tell Jack’s story here and by not knowing how he feels or why we just can’t get wrapped up in his journey.

Frank’s reaction to seeing Jack and the other survivors bothered me too. He realises that they are headed to crash on the island and yet reacts without anger or fear and then presumably goes back to flying the same course. But why would he want to go back to the island? And shouldn’t he be worried about dying? Shouldn’t he feel some responsibility toward his employers and try and avoid losing one of their planes? At least some more plausible reaction would have been nice.

Again I am not particularly thrilled with discovering that they make it safely to the island at the start of the episode. It rather squashes any tension that could have been built over what would happen once the turbulence hit. Jin’s appearance in the Dharma van also signals what we had begun to suspect might be happening on the island too. Linking Charlotte’s claims about Daniel (505) to Daniel’s own Orchid scene (501) we get the impression that when Locke left he unstuck the island in the 1970s (or so) when the Dharma Initiative were present on the island. Now when we see Daniel, Jin and company discovering their new surroundings that tension will be gone too because we already have an answer. Though perhaps that is not what is going on.

Ben’s retort (“My mother taught me”) to Jack’s question of how he could read was funny. But of course Ben’s mother died (320) while giving birth so it’s a weird remark (or bad writing). And as I complained heavily in the previous episode, Miss Hawking’s “God help us all” remark clearly meant little given her wishy washy comment that to return without all the Oceanic Six would be “unpredictable.” I also don’t understand why Ben lies and claims he didn’t know that “The Lamppost” was. He was taking them there to help them get back to the island, what did he think was there? It seemed like writing just to set up Hawking’s dismissal of him as a liar. Jack also seems needlessly shocked to hear that Locke committed suicide, considering he knew that was what the authorities claimed (323). We still have no explanation for Hurley being out of Santa Rosa. When the police dropped the charges (504) wouldn’t they have returned him to the institution which he escaped from (414)?

The Unknown: So do the Dharma Initiative just hire anyone who turns up? Why did a giant flash usher Jack and company onto the island? Do these windows protect people passing through them somehow? Hence why so many survivors managed to survive the plane crash unharmed? Why was Sayid under arrest? What caused Hurley to get on the plane? What happened to Kate and Aaron? What happened to Ben? From his description of what he was going to do and his phone call from the docks – could we assume he tried to kill Penelope Widmore? Miss Hawking claims the island is always moving, yet Widmore’s boat found the island seemingly static. Did the hatch implosion (224) somehow fix the island’s location? Is that why Jacob wanted the island to move again (411)? Who was the “clever fellow” who built the pendulum? It would seem that the people who chased Locke and company on the canoes (504) were indeed some of the people from this flight. Who is the man in first class on the flight who offered Jack his condolences? Eagle-eared Lost fans now believe that Hurley’s voice was the one reading aloud the numbers which Rousseau’s team investigated (505). If true we now know how that could be possible and I will save my pre-destination paradox rant for another day.

Best Moment: Probably Ben’s speech comparing Jack to St Thomas. It added some depth to Jack’s story and was a particularly un-Lost setting for a scene, which added to the novelty.

The Bottom Line:  Finally an episode focussed on a character’s emotional journey. But oh dear what a mess. The vagueness of what Jack is doing seems to be summed up by Miss Hawking when she says “Oh stop thinking how ridiculous it is and start asking yourself if you believe it’s going to work.” If that’s the writers talking to us then they fail. We don’t know Jack’s true emotions or motivations and so his journey falls flat. Alongside him are all his friends, scared, angry, under arrest. And he doesn’t ask anyone why? It’s Lost’s absolute number one worst habit exposed to a ludicrous degree. They may make things alright in terms of continuity in future episodes, but in the meantime this is bad television.

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