Television Review: Lost, Season 3 (and some of Season 4)

Now that I have Netflix, I’ve found that it’s much easier to find time to watch things. I no longer need to put in a DVD to watch Lost legally, and since my 30 day free trial is up today, I also haven’t had to pay anything just yet. I watched the first half of Lost’s third season very quickly when I had a day off work, and from what I can understand, that was much better than having to go through the ordeal of those first six episodes weekly, then a long break before the good stuff even started. It also meant that the Nikki and Paolo episode felt out of place, but it was just the episode that was on after the stunning “The Man From Tallahassee”. Like the “Jack’s tattoo” episode (which stands out as the least essential episodes of all of Jack’s flashbacks) coming just after “Flashes Before Your Eyes”, “Expose” came after another great episode of the show. Maybe they should have switched those around, I don’t know.

One thing I find really interesting about Lost is that it’s really good at romance. I’m delving slightly into season 4 territory here (I watched “The Constant” on Wednesday, and it is absolutely one of the best episodes of television I’ve ever seen, so I’m letting it sit a bit before I watch the next one), but the established romantic relationships on Lost are much better than whatever’s going on with the Jack/Kate/Sawyer love triangle. A couple of days ago, when I was still on season 3, I remarked that Kate’s inability to make a decision was frustrating, especially since Jack is pretty much the least interesting character on the show. Basically I’d choose Sawyer if it was a choice between the two, but I’m starting to think that Jack and Kate deserve each other, I’m invested in the two of them an equal amount. Compare that to the couples that to the couples that existed before they ended up on The Island: Jin and Sun, Rose and Bernard, and of course Desmond and Penny. Jin and Sun’s relationship started out so strained, but when they reunited (as Rose and Bernard did) in the second season, tears were streaming down my face, as they were in the Rose and Bernard flashback episode and “The Constant”. I also thought the Sayid and Shannon relationship was done quite well, and apparently that’s something the writers put in because they realised that the actors had chemistry.

The plot of Season 3 didn’t really kick off until “The Man From Tallahassee,” where we got the killer pairing of Ben and Locke (and the beginning of Locke’s douchebaggery – if you don’t want to leave The Island, just don’t leave! Don’t prevent other people from getting home), and Ben started his plan to have Juliet (a great addition to the regular cast) infiltrate the castaways’ camp. I really liked the addition of Juliet and it was a no-brainer to make Michael Emerson a regular. His scenes with Terry O’Quinn are especially fantastic, and it’s no surprise that both actors have won Emmys for their work on this show. Now that I’ve seen the first five episodes of season 4 however, I have more questions about The Others. Okay, they killed the Dharma Initiative and joined forces with Ben. That’s an interesting story, and “The Man Behind The Curtain” was another standout episode of the season. Then there’s everything that goes on with Ben, Locke, his father and Sawyer (by the way, I totally called it that Locke’s father was the original Sawyer), as well as his infiltration of the castaways’ camp. Ben took Alex up with him to the radio tower and he sent ten men, including Tom, to the beach where they were all killed. When Locke meets up with the rest of the gang they all go to the barracks. But where are all the Others who weren’t on the beach? Are they just hanging out on that other Island with the polar bear cages? I think one of Lost‘s biggest problems is the size of its cast, which wasn’t helped by the addition of four new regulars in its fourth season. Yes, the flashbacks had diminishing returns, and the flashforwards were welcome, but there have still only been three major deaths to date on the show, of Boone, Shannon and Charlie.

A quick aside on Charlie’s death: I didn’t actively dislike Charlie the way some of the Lost fandom did, I was kind of indifferent because no one was as bad as Jack. But “Greatest Hits” was an incredibly moving episode of television, and Charlie’s choice to give Desmond a warning as his last act was incredibly brave. Hurley telling Claire that Charlie was dead was devastating and because I’m a very emotional persion, I’m near tears just writing about it. Lost is a show that does some really interesting character work, and because of the way the Lost fandom felt about the series finale, I’ve tried to distance myself from getting too involved in the mythology of the show.

Then Jack said “We have to go back” at the end of “Through the Looking Glass”. I just want to mention how it’s a great title for the episode first. Looking Glass was the name of the underwater Dharma station, but the reference to Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking-Glass was perfect. All Jack wanted to do was get off The Island, but looking back, he’s changed his mind. And we don’t know why yet, but his desire to get back has led to his most recent relapse into alcoholism and oxycontin addiction. Such a role model. Then I had several questions, first of all: how did they get off the Island in the first place? I can’t actually remember what the other questions I had were, but I’ve seen a few more flash forward episodes. What I noticed in the Season 4 premiere, which focused on Hurley, is that the events in that episode occurred before the flash forward of “Through the Looking Glass”. Hurley kept seeing Charlie and was convinced it was a sign they had to go back to The Island, and he got himself institutionalised again. In “Through the Looking Glass”, Jack is abusing substances and flying across the Pacific every weekend with the hope that the plane will crash.

The third season of Lost started slowly and had some episodes that were awful. At the same time, we had great character driven pieces like “Flashes Before Your Eyes”, “The Man From Tallahassee” and “The Man Behind the Curtain”. And then there’s the finale. It’s not quite a perfect season of television, but the second half is obviously going somewhere.

Other thoughts:

  • I’m so confused that Jack (and Claire’s) dad isn’t dead in the flash forwards.
  • We see in a flashback that Juliet was sleeping with Goodwin. What was their relationship like and was she upset at all that he died?
  • What is Lance Reddick’s role in all of this?
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