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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


Episode 23 - Through the Looking Glass (2)

30 March 2012

Present: Ben confronts Jack but doesn’t convince him not to leave the island. Charlie turns off the jamming equipment and makes contact with Penny. Just as he does Mikhail floods the station and Charlie chooses to die to protect Desmond. Hurley uses his van to attack the Others and Sawyer kills Tom, despite his surrender. Alex and Danielle are reunited. Naomi contacts her boat but is killed by Locke who can’t bring himself to kill Jack. Jack makes contact with the boat.

Flashback: Jack’s dependence on alcohol and oxycodine get worse. He begins stealing from the hospital and embarrasses himself there and at a pharmacy through his intoxication. He goes to a funeral for an unknown person, where no one else is present. Finally he makes contact with Kate and tells her that he is tired of lying and that they must go back to the island.

The Good: The flash-forward is a shocking idea because the concept of flash-backs had been deeply embedded in the show for every episode we have seen. Once the season was over we discovered from the producers that they had never wanted to become restricted by purely looking backwards but without knowing how long Lost would be commissioned for, they had had to sit on this device until they knew how long they had. The announcement that Lost would get another forty-eight episodes after this one meant the producers could finally pull the trigger on this concept. What is so impressive about this idea is that the producers recognised the limitations of their format and were happy to break it. Other shows like 24 or The Simpsons have run their format for so long that it has ceased to have the same impact which it once did. The producers of Lost freely admitted that parts of season three had been filler as they waited to discover the fate of their show. Now they claim, every episode will have a strict purpose as they look to finish the show in three seasons time.

The clues are all there in Jack’s story and yet it is still a shock to see him and Jack refer to the island in the past tense. In the future Jack has become like his father, not just with the substance abuse but with the superiority complex which he used to defend himself (111). The writers are pretty clever in making reference to the (presumably) dead Christian Shepherd because it sounds like the past until you realise the confused and delusional state Jack is in. Like Locke, Jack almost commits suicide because he believes he has somehow forfeited his destiny. His meeting with Kate and his visit to the funeral parlour raise huge intriguing questions (see The Unknown) which ideally setup season four and beyond. The final scene really fires the imagination and demands that viewers come back next season to find out what could possibly go so wrong that Jack would want to go back to the island. Again this story is so strong because it fits into the undeniable theme of the whole show, which is that the survivors aren’t meant to leave the island. The island is where they are meant to fulfil their destiny.

Jack telling Kate he loves her in the present also feeds into the flash-forward. We assume Kate has been waiting to hear that and Jack’s casual way of saying it makes sense because he thinks she is with Sawyer. With Juliet kissing Jack it will be interesting to see how the various relationships play out in the future. And indeed why there is so much tension between Jack and Kate at the airport.

The flash-forward also suggests certain things about what is happening in the present: namely that Ben and Locke know Naomi’s boat will bring nothing good. Ben’s confrontation with Jack is good drama and Jack plays his guilt well over letting Sayid and company die in order to get everyone off the island. There is more action at the beach and Sawyer’s execution of Tom is a really good bit of writing. Amongst the Hurley heroics this death has a very different tone. It is quite a shock as Tom is defenceless but Sawyer’s justification (Walt’s abduction in 125) is a good link to the wider plot and he seems like a new man after killing Cooper (319). It will be interesting to see how his character changes now that he should have got revenge out of his system.

Charlie’s death is pretty sad and in the end he makes the choice, rather than fate, to save Desmond. His death has a purpose because now Desmond can tell the survivors that the boat coming is not Penny’s. The shot of Charlie crossing himself in the water is beautifully filmed and is a suitably heroic farewell.

Rousseau finally meeting Alex has been a long time coming and is a reward for loyal viewers. Her stated desire to stay on the island is interesting. Even she recognises that the island is where she is meant to be. Similarly seeing the radio tower at last and turning off her message is a nice link to the pilot episode.

The Bad: Again Ben’s refusal to give any details makes his persuasion very limited. Quite why he expected Jack to listen to his vague claims of danger is not clear. Then Locke’s first murder is a shocking moment. But having killed Naomi, he won’t kill Jack or even shoot him in the leg to stop him making the call. It seems inconsistent for him to make this huge effort and finally kill someone (which he refused to do four episodes ago) but let Jack make the call anyway. It feels a little like the murder was written in for dramatic effect without considering the consequences.

Rousseau asking Alex to help her tie up her father is a bit of an odd first question. Hurley becoming the hero feels a bit too fan friendly but I don’t have a big problem with it.

Charlie knowing how to type Good Vibrations stretches credibility a bit. He could have failed to get it right a few times to make it more plausible. How did he know what the keys were before he started pushing them? Let alone which part of the song to play. I don’t have a problem with him closing the door on Desmond but many fans think it was poorly filmed as he seems to have enough time to save himself as well. And of course he rather tempted fate by going back into the room in the first place.

The Unknown: In flash-forward Jack mentions his father as if he is alive. Although this is presumably just him being intoxicated, it does lead to a serious question. Was it a device by the writers to keep making you think this is the past or has Jack seen his father in some form or another since the present?

We know that some of the survivors will get off the island, but who and at what cost? Who is in the coffin? Who is Kate with? What are they lying about? What happened to Jack that led him to this miserable state? Is Mikhail finally dead?

Best Moment: The final scene near the airport. Especially when Jack grabs Kate and the affection between them is still clear. “We have to go back!” he cries and suddenly the show has changed our perspective once more.

The Bottom Line: The twist ending is typically stunning Lost, on a par with Desmond in the hatch (201) or Locke in the wheelchair (104). Charlie’s death is a nice change from the swift death of Shannon (206) or the slow suffering of Boone (120). His death is important to keep the survivors sense of loss and misery at the forefront of our minds. The destruction of the Others and the arrival of the boat open season four up to once again redefine the whole show. The fact that the producers have once again managed to change our perspective on what the show is, is hugely impressive. The ability to genuinely surprise your audience after three seasons is what marks Lost out as a great show.



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