Friday, March 7, 2008

"Rabbit again?" LOST - Reviewed!

On last night's LOST ...

So like I said yesterday, it was pretty inevitable that last night's LOST would feel like a bit of a comedown after last week's *ridiculously amazing* episode. In addition to the mere difficulty in following up that creative triumph, this one had a few things potentially going against it from the outset ...

The first problem is Juliette. At first, she quickly became one of my favorite characters on the show - she was skillfully portrayed by Elizabeth Mitchell, mysterious, intriguing, and that first flashback episode of hers helped to give her a really interesting backstory to boot. But over time, she went from intriguing to annoying. That constant smirk, the constant switching of allegiances, the never knowing what side she was on to the point where the character became a total cypher, the forced tension between her and the other castaways, and the half-hearted romance with Jack that never quite felt right. It all added up to turn Juliette into a bit of a mess.

Then there is the whole problem of The Others. Let's face it - Lost has often been at its most absurd when it tries to delve into the dysfunctional society of those mysterious island-dwellers who for some reason refer to themselves as The Others. I mean, the whole concept to me has always been one of the show's lamest. And after all this time, it's still a bit confusing who these guys even are. When we first saw them, they seemed to be a kind of tribal group that was overtly evil. Then they were just these yuppie intellectuals living in suburban-style houses and having book club meetings. Then there are one or two of them who seem to have some kind of supernatural bent - Ethan Rom's superhuman-seeming abilities, and that other guy who apparently doesn't age. Curiouser and curiouser. Now, the Others appear to be a strange mix of intellectuals, scientists, James Bond-style villains (hello, Patchy), and hired muscle. Then further complicating things, we had that one Ben flashback ep where we saw the Others in conflict with a second group of island inhabitants - The Hostiles. Suffice to say, the whole Others myth-arc has been one of the show's strangest and most confusing so far - so while some of the individual characters are cool, it's all a bit headache-inducing.

That said, last night's ep was a solid look at Juliette's first few days amongst The Others, one that further painted her as kind of enigmatic and manipulative. Within days of arriving, she's already sleeping with the one married guy on the island, and already doing the whole vulnerable / don't mess with me passive-aggressive thing. The one big takeaway from all this is the new insight into Ben's relationship with Juliette - we see that he is scarily obsessed with her, and we are offered more proof that no matter what his status as "good guy" or bad guy", Ben is undeniably one creepy, manipulative, and at least somewhat evil dude.

In the present day - this episode really suffered from some muddles storytelling. After last week's episode, in which Faraday went all-out to help Desmond, it was annoying to have he and Charlotte thrust back into the role of potentially untrustworthy adversaries. Unless I missed something - we never found out why the Tempest station was about to release deadly gas all over the island, how Faraday knew about it, and what it was he did to stop it. Furthermore, given that a bunch of deadly toxin was about to be released, why didn't Daniel and Charlotte just explain what had to be done, rather than sneaking off? Basically, a lot of the conflict in this episode felt pretty forced, and even the basics of what the characters were doing, and why, never felt very clear. I mean - why was Juliette supposed to stop them? Why did she ultimately decide not to? And um ... how did Ben send a spectral version of one of The Others to Juliette to enlist her help - and why did Juliette even consider helping him in the first place at this stage of the game?

There just seemed to be a casualness to this episode that saw it kind of nonchalantly gloss over a lot of plot and character points. I'm hoping future episodes might help to clarify some of what we saw here ... but all in all there were way too many "huh - wtf?" moments.

Still, give huge credit to Michael Emerson as Ben Linus. He was superb in this episode - funny, creepy, and the recipient of all the best lines. He made that final moment of the ep - what could have been a very nothing cliffhanger - into a fairly chilling endnote, with Ben now set free and apparently in some type of alliance with Locke. I was also intrigued by the scene with Whidmore - although I hope he is fleshed out more than simply being the cliched businessman who wants to exploit the island for his own benefit.

In any case, there were some great performances here, and some great scenes. But after last week's intricately-plotted but masterfully-executed episode, it was a shame to see Lost regress a bit back to being too messy for its own good.

My Grade: B

- Alright - here's hoping for a fun weekend - back next week for more, until then - PEACE.

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