Two weeks in a row now, “Lost” has started without a “previously on” montage. I’m guessing that’s because if you tune in at this point, and you haven’t been keeping up, there’s probably no way you’re going to figure things out in ninety seconds of clips.
I’m afraid to go read anyone else’s recap on this episode. Just watching my Twitter feed go by, I can see already that people are having polarized responses to this big fat plate full of exposition, all served up at once, a mythology download that explains a big chunk of the show’s mysteries all at once.
That’s a scary prospect for a show like “Lost.” The time to put up or shut up for this particular game, and this season has been a long slow fuse that is paying off now in ways that I never would have predicted as a from-the-start fan of the show. Part of me is glad that it’s really not doing anything I thought it would be doing at this stage in the game, and part of me is wondering what, exactly, it is that they’re actually doing. There’s one regular episode left, then the giant finale event. And that’s it. That’s all the time they have to wrap up the on-Island conflict, the flash-Sideways structure of season six, and everything else that’s brewing, and I don’t envy them the position they’ve written themselves into.
I’ve spoken to people who have intensely disliked this season’s contributions to the show’s mythology, and until tonight, I would have completely disagreed with them. I’m actually not sure what to make of the decision to tell an entire episode of backstory at this point in the game. This episode feels like something that we maybe should have heard at some point in season five as a myth told by the original Others on the Island, and it could have been much more valuable if it had been dropped on us then, if the show had been building to this longer. As it is, much of this year’s legwork feels like it’s been piled onto the top of the show here in the home stretch. Too much of it feels like it’s just now coming into play.
Overall, I think if you look at my recaps for this season, you’ll see a fairly upbeat take on this season. I still like most of what they’ve done, but tonight felt like a miscalculation to me. It felt like it killed the momentum dead that they’ve been building.
“Every question that I answer will just lead to another question.” Has there ever been a truer statement of intention than that one? Allison Janney is an actress whose work I like, a very striking and particular presence, and she made a striking figure on which to build this puzzle piece. The entire episode was told as a flash backwards to a time in the distant past. The episode begins with a hugely pregnant woman washing up on the Island. There’s been a shipwreck. The woman appears to be completely alone, and she staggers off into the jungle. She runs into a woman who offers her help and the pregnant woman introduces herself as Claudia. That woman, played by Janney, ends up delivering the woman’s babies, and just after wrapping the twins in blankets, one white, one dark, she beats Claudia to death with a rock.
And so are born our first candidates.
Janney, who is never called anything in the episode besides “Mother,” raises the twin boys on her own. She explains to them that they can never hurt each other because of something she’s done. She raises them believing there is no world outside the Island, that there is nothing across the sea. When they encounter men on the Island, it starts them asking questions that leads to a rift in this makeshift family. Over the span of 30 years, we see these babies grow into Jacob and the still-unnamed Man In Black, and we see them assume the roles that they’ve been playing on the Island in the season so far.
I find myself hard-pressed to offer up an opinion of all the information in tonight’s episode until I see how the next two play out. I suspect I may be a bit disappointed with the show’s final hours after seeing how the cards were revealed this evening. I thought the episode offered up answers, but it did so almost begrudgingly. “Okay, so let’s see… here’s why they can’t kill each other, here’s the building of the frozen donkey wheel… here’s the identiy of Adam and Eve… here’s the birth of the smoke monster” And I’m not sure I liked the way these answers tied things together.
I guess my problem is that so much of it happened in this one simple hour-long episode. There was too much information all at once, gracelessly delivered by a show that has proven over and over again that it is expert at the delivery of backstory. It landed in a way totally contrary to the way “Ab Aeterno” did earlier in the year. That Alpert-centric episode worked as drama regardless of how it handled its mythology. Tonight’s episode just sort of stood there, reciting this story about two demi-gods who have been battling on this Island for ages now. The ideas weren’t the problem… it was more about the execution.
Anyone else feel somewhat burned by the Adam and Eve reveal? It’s feeling less and less like our Lostaways are the main characters of the series. If you’re not going to pay off those bodies with ah time-travel paradox, what fun is that? And does anyone else feel more confused about the rules of the Island than ever before?
I’m not a whiner who is giving up on the show because I didn’t really groove on the creative choices they made this week, but I am a little surprised to find myself this ambivalent about an episode written by Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse this close to the show’s ending. I expected this would be a big fat lightning bolt to the forehead sort of week, but instead, I thought it wsa passable. Interesting. And a possible undermining of all the hours we’ve invested as fans.
I guess the next three and a half is where we’ll find out, eh?
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