Wednesday, February 17, 2010

LOST Latest Episode - Reviewed: Is That All You've Got?


- Okay, it's going to be difficult to talk about last night's episode of Lost. Because I am of two minds about it. Here's the thing: there were a lot of cool scenes / moments in this one. That's pretty much guaranteed when you have an episode that focuses in on perhaps the two best characters in the Lost pantheon - Locke and Sawyer - who also happen to be played by probably the show's two best and most charismatic actors. Terry O'Quinn was awesome, as always, in this ep. He sold every story beat like a champ. And he played two completely different characters with relative ease - alterna-timeline Locke, and possessed-by-the-man-in-black Locke. O'Quinn has always been the MVP of Lost, and he proved it again in last night's ep, bringing genuine emotion and pathos to the flash-sideways storyline of a still-wheelchair-bound version of Locke who was coming to grips with his own limitations. In this reality, the Locke who screamed "Don't tell me what I can't do!" in "Walkabout" had begun to lose some of his conviction. He came back from his Australia trip dejected, a beaten man. He's fired from his job and can't summon the nerve to call up Dr. Jack Shephard for a spinal consultation. He's engaged to Katey Segal, but has convinced himself that she has to suffer through his handicap. For longtime Lost fans, none of these themes were anything knew. This is familiar territory in terms of Locke's backstory. But again, O'Quinn sells it, and makes it all interesting and compelling one more time.

We saw something similar occur back on the island. I was pretty ambivalent about the overarching storyline involving Not Locke and his cosmic chess match with Jacob. But, I did get a kick out of Sawyer going back to his old, rebellious ways. Seeing the return of Sawyer: cowboy antihero was fun, as was seeing him act snarky and cavalier in the face of a powerful and potentially evil supernatural entity. I liked the little hints of Indiana Jones-style adventure - the precarious ladder-climb down a steep cliff, for example. But again ... all of that was cool, but, I am beginning to worry that the big-picture stuff is in just as precarious a position as Sawyer on that rickety rope ladder.

I just wonder whether the show is really beginning to collapse under the weight of its years of mysteries and mythology. I mean, I really only wanted two things from this final season. One: a huge, epic sense of scope and adventure as characters clashed and plotlines intersected - I wanted big stakes and big moments. Secondly, I wanted answers that didn't necessarilly answer *everything*, but that tied together the themes of the series in a manner worthy of the best Twilight Zone twist endings. with a few jaw-dropping, mind-bending moments thrown in for good measure. So far, I don't feel like Lost is urgently racing towards a giant-sized and epic conclusion. I feel like it's throwing a bunch of stuff at us that is pretty out-of-left-field. Just when the show should be tightening the screws, it feels like the plotline just keeps getting wider and looser. The sideways flashes feel like yet another opportunity to examine these characters, most of which have already been psychoanalyzed to death. The Jacob stuff just feels deflated from what it once was. It almost feels like the writers now have to be intentionally cautious about revealing story info simply because they know that the story they've worked out is nothing all that mind-blowing. Two cosmic entities playing a life-size game of chess with real people as pawns? That's what this all boils down to? And if that's the route you're going to go, at least make us feel like we are really in the presence of gods wielding awesome levels of power and knowledge. Instead, it's just a dude who looks like Locke battling for the fate of the universe with a blonde guy who looks like your average generic TV actor.

I just want a sense of grandeur, a sense that business is picking up, that five years of twists and turns have all led up to THIS defining, climactic moment. And yet, I'm still waiting for Lost's final season to deliver its first truly great episode. This was a really well-done ep taken on its own terms, a solid B+ and a big improvement over last week's ep ... but as a key chapter in the final volume of LOST? ... I want an A-level episode, and I feel like saying "come on, is that all you got?"

My Grade: B+

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