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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 2 - The Lie

28 March 2012

Present: Hurley drives an unconscious Sayid around and Ana Lucia’s ghost tells him to go somewhere safe. He returns home and his father takes Sayid to Jack. Hurley tells his mum the truth about the island. Jack revives Sayid at the hospital. Ben leaves Locke’s body with someone for safe keeping. Ben comes to take Hurley back to the island but he runs to the police and confesses to Sayid’s murders. Kate takes Aaron to see Sun who seems to blame her and Jack for Jin’s death. Ben heads to see Miss Hawking who tells him he has seventy hours to get all of them back to the island or “god help us all.”

Flashback: We see Jack convincing the Oceanic Six to agree to lie. Hurley is angry and doesn’t want to lie.

On the island Neil Frogurt points out the hopelessness of the survivors situation and is killed by a flaming arrow. The arrows rain down on the survivors forcing them to flee into the jungle. Sawyer and Juliet are captured by soldiers who threaten to chop her hand off. Locke intervenes to save them.

The Good: It’s another action packed, fast paced episode.

On the island the attack by flaming arrows is exciting and the production of it effectively demonstrates the real danger the survivors are in. It would seem to be the weaponry of pre-gun ownership Others which is definitely one of the scenarios which will have crossed viewers minds when the jumping time travel was introduced. The soldiers who attack them could be a lost unit from the Second World War (as very briefly alluded to in 207), a pre-Dharma search party of some kind or indeed something altogether different. The fact that they call it “their” island supports the latter theory. Daniel’s quest to find a new bearing off the island gives him a clear mission and Charlotte’s worsening symptoms are intriguing.

The best moment in the episode belongs to Sun (see Best Moment) whose acting is terrific as she keeps us in suspense about her true feelings over Jin’s death.

The final scene is pretty fascinating for long term viewers (but may confuse anyone else). Miss Hawking, who mysteriously counselled Desmond (308) and then was pictured in another flashback (317), clearly has much knowledge of the island and appears to be triangulating its position in the world. The nature of her work and relationship with Ben should be fascinating to discover. It certainly seems to position Ben as the good guy, working with those who are trying to save the world.

The Bad: I found myself longing for a flashback in this episode. Or at least some way to slow down the action and locate the moral centre of the show. Its absence I put down to confused writing. Clearly Hurley is meant to be the hero of the episode trying to do the right thing. The title of the episode is referring to the lie which the Oceanic Six have been telling and which Hurley didn’t want to go along with in the first place.

That’s my biggest problem with the episode. The emotional heart of the episode is Hurley telling his mum the truth and tearfully claiming “We shouldn’t have lied.” While Hurley’s simple morality and fear that fate is punishing him are consistent with his character, there isn’t much logic to why lying has caused them problems. The episode opens with Jack pointing out that if they tell the truth Charles Widmore will continue his search for the island and prepare to kill their fellow survivors. It doesn’t seem to dawn on them that Widmore might continue his search for the island regardless, but Jack has something of a point. Jack doesn’t argue the more logical fear that Widmore might torture them for information on the island’s whereabouts if they let on that they crashed there. But even with those holes on one side, Jack’s convincing point is that who would believe them if they told a story about a magical island which disappeared into thin air. Certainly if anyone did believe them it would provoke a search for the island. Which brings up another point – shouldn’t Jack be giving some thought to rescuing Sawyer, Juliet and company? Wasn’t that his plan when the Others were going to take him home (313).

I’m getting far off track here but you can see my issues with their lie in the first place. So here Hurley argues that they can make people believe them if they all tell the truth. It’s just not clear why he thinks that would be preferable or what advantage it would get them. If he meant because their friends on the island might find rescue that way, then he needed to say it. As it is stated he seems foolish for ignoring Penny’s warning about the futility of reasoning with her father. Then Hurley harshly turns on Sayid for not supporting him. It seems very un-Hurley to make a threat like that and why should Sayid bare the brunt of his unhappiness when all the others agree about lying? It’s an unclear bit of writing and it affects the whole episode.

Instinctively we assume Hurley must be the good guy in this situation but at every stage his story lacks emotional resonance. He seems to be guided by the island as Ana Lucia pops up to push him in the right direction. But her callous “Oh Libby says hi” doesn’t make “the island” seem a very sensitive guardian. There is a false sense of tension the whole time Hurley rushes around with Sayid. Does anyone really think Sayid will die from a stun dart or indeed Hurley get arrested? Indeed his situation with Sayid should be pretty dire with (presumably) Widmore’s thugs closing in on him. But instead of the action reflecting that tension we get plenty of silly Hurley humour surrounding him and his family which jars against the fast paced life or death presentation of his dilemma.

His relationship with his parents is confused by the question of whether they think he is sane or not. We saw him voluntarily check himself in to Santa Rosa (401), so we know he isn’t crazy. But we have no idea of what they think. They seem unfazed by his appearance so they clearly aren’t worried that he might be a lunatic. Yet his Dad asks if maybe he is crazy. Did he think he was? Did Hurley’s parents want him to come home if they thought he was sane? When Hurley does tell his mum the true story it does sound ridiculous. We know Hurley has been haunted by ghosts telling him to go back to the island and that is where he feels he should go to stop being tormented. But he then chooses Sayid’s warning (from the previous episode) over trusting Ben and confesses to Sayid’s murders. Again the writers crack jokes as he confesses (he gets the number of murder victims wrong), dampening the dramatic impact of what is going. If indeed there is much dramatic impact. No one watching can believe that Hurley is going to go on trial for murder so this plot feels like a waste of time anyway.

It’s not only Hurley whose motivations are confusing. By not knowing what Ben has done or intends to do his actions are a mystery. Ditto Sayid and Jack. We know Jack wants to go back to the island to save his friends, but why is he suddenly happy to never see the real world again (he says “Good” to that statement from Ben)? Does he suddenly hate the real world? We got hints that he had been haunted by ghosts (410) but we never fully understood why his substance abuse had got so out of control. Won’t he miss baseball and his mum and everything else he fought so hard to get back to? Its not explained. Nor do we actually know if those were Widmore thugs after Sayid or perhaps Ben’s people. Sayid seems to be desperate to keep Hurley out of Ben’s clutches and we don’t know why. Ben is portrayed as trying to save the island and the world as a result (he even tells his associate to cut Jack some slack). His creepy, disingenuous smile to Hurley keeps us suspicious of him but it’s difficult not to assume he is telling the truth after Miss Hawking’s dire warning. In its proper context the mystery of who is telling the truth would have been fine but in this episode the confusion over who was in the right or what their true motivations were removed any emotional context for the viewer. Who were we supposed to invest in and why?

I see Jack still has no questions for Ben. It looks like they shared a room. I wonder if Jack asked Ben anything about the smoke monster or the Others or anything else that might be, you know, kind of interesting to know.

Sun seems to be implying that Kate should kill anyone who tries to take Aaron from her. “What kind of person do you think I am?” Kate asks. Umm. Even if Sun didn’t know that Kate killed her own father (209) and shot up some people in a bank (112), she may have heard how she helped gun down an Other (224) or threatened to blow a guy’s knee off (307). It seems like Kate shouldn’t be so quick to mount her high horse.

Finally I hated Arzt being killed off (124). He was presented as mean and unhelpful and arrogant. The writers seemed to be saying that he somehow deserved to be killed. I’m sure they didn’t mean to say that but that’s how it came across. Now they pull the exact same trick with Neil Frogurt (only mentioned previously in the show in 219). He complains so unreasonably and craps on all those around him that it feels like he is being killed off for having a bad attitude. If that is part of the islands brutal justice then I would have less of a problem if he had been around longer. As with Arzt it feels like he was only given screen time to provide an interesting death. Which makes death seem like a cheap dramatic moment which it should never be.

The Unknown: Who is firing the arrows? Who are the soldiers? What is happening to Charlotte? Why is Jack happy to wave goodbye to his life? Does Sun blame Kate and Jack for Jin’s death? Are the people Ben is working with Others? Is Miss Hawking? What is the origin of her underground basement and what does it do? What will happen if the Oceanic Six don’t get back to the island?

Best Moment: When Kate asks what kind of person Sun thinks she is, Sun coolly replies “The kind of person who makes the hard decisions when she has to” as we flashback to her aborted attempt to get Jin on the helicopter. Kate cries and Sun reassures her in the most wonderfully enigmatic way “You did what you had to do and if you hadn’t we probably all would have died instead of just my husband.” You sense that hard woman inside Sun (not so different from her father) holds a grudge and wants to make her pay. But that 1% of doubt from her reasonable demeanour makes it so much more effective. Without a smile Sun continues “So, how’s Jack?”

Unlike the other confused behaviour in this episode, Sun’s mysterious comments are terrific television. We don’t know if she does blame Kate and Jack for not fetching Jin when they left the freighter. But either way her true feelings will have a big impact on the plot and Ben’s attempt to get her back to the island.

The Bottom Line: This isn’t a good follow up to the furiously paced season opener. I did almost want Hurley flashbacks to slow the pace and bring the emotional focus of the episode onto him and his decisions. But instead I felt confused by his logic and put off by the strange blend of tension and humour. I felt there was too much action to allow the big plot points to sink in. I have no fears for this season of Lost though, this feels like a bump in the road for a show which knows exactly where it is headed.

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