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Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Lost: Episode Report Card

This'll be my last Lost post for awhile, I swear...

The Beginning of the End (aka The One Where the Losties Split into Two Camps): An exciting start to the season that picked up right where the last one left off, it set-up much of the season’s plotlines: the divide between Jack’s camp and Locke’s group in New Otherton, the notion of the Oceanic Six, and the presence of the freighter and its crew. A more than suitable beginning to an intense, dense season. B+

Confirmed Dead (aka The One that Introduces the Freighties): Probably the best introduction of new characters in the show’s history, this episode did for the main four Freighties what no episode did for Nikki and Paulo: made us either care about the newbies or be intrigued by them. By the end of the season, Charlotte, Miles, Frank and Daniel seem as much a part of the cast as many of the original Lostaways, and much of that groundwork was laid here. A-

The Economist (aka The One Where Sayid is a Suave Assassin): The flash forward story involving Sayid falling for a woman he’s been assigned to kill was enjoyable enough but the real significance of it was the ending, in which we discovered that Sayid was taking orders from an off-island Ben. The island story mainly served to get certain players into certain positions (Miles to Locke’s camp, Sayid and Desmond freighter-bound), though we did get the first concrete evidence of the time anomaly via Daniel’s missile experiment. B

Eggtown (aka The One with Kate’s Trial, Also, She’s Aaron’s Mom Now): Kate episodes are always a bit dull, and this one was no exception, though the surprise revelation at the end helped it rise above some previous mediocre Kate outings. The trial story itself was fairly routine, with a bit of intrigue thrown in (the first hints of the fake story the Oceanic Six concocted) but the business between Kate and her mother I couldn’t have cared less about. On the island, we had some fun interactions between Kate and Sawyer and more of Ben taunting Locke’s impotent leadership, but otherwise, a fairly average episode and one of the season’s weaker outings. C

The Constant (aka The One Where Desmond Time Travels): Easily the best episode of the season, and one of the show’s best overall. Not only is the character work compelling (Desmond and Penny’s tearful phone reunion is powerful, and far superior to their physical reunion at season’s end) but the overall plot is also advanced as Sayid and Desmond learn more about the creepy freighter, Daniel’s character is expanded on, and the narrative structure of the show is once again manipulated. This was Lost at its best. A+

The Other Woman (aka The One Where Ben Freaks Out About Juliet): There was no question that whatever episode followed The Constant would pale in comparison, but even given that, The Other Woman falls short. It’s saving grace was the flashback portion, which gave us another always appreciated look at life amongst the Others, as well showing us the depths of Ben’s obsession with and possessiveness of Juliet in particular and everything he believes he owns in general. The island story, involving Daniel and Charlotte’s attempt to neutralize the poison gas at a Dharma station, suffered from a lack of tension and plot-hammering; the entire story could have been resolved by a two minute conversation:

Jack: Where are you going?
Daniel and Charlotte:We’re going to neutralize a threat to the island?
Jack: Why?
Daniel and Charlottle: Sorry, can’t say.
Jack: Fine, whatever, we’ll still help, because you’re neutralizing a threat to everyone.

See how easy that was?

Plus, the whole thing was capped off with that perfunctory and utterly sparkless Jack and Juliet kiss that left us with the feeling that while Juliet may have escaped Ben’s possession, she was still being viewed as a possession by Jack, something he wanted because it meant Ben couldn’t have it. C-

Ji Yeon (aka The One Where the Producers Dicked Around and Made Us Think Jin Was One of the Oceanic Six): A lot of people seem to have loved this episode a lot more than I did. I didn’t dislike it, I just didn’t love it. And not just because they made us think the Jin flashback was actually a flashforward-I loved that idea. Playing with our expectations of the narrative structure is something a show like Lost can and should do more often than other shows. Sun’s tearful visit to Jin’s grave to introduce Jin to his daughter was certainly moving (especially in light of the events of the finale), but I honestly don’t recall much else about this episode. B-

Meet Kevin Johnson (aka The One about What Happened to Michael Since Last We Saw Him): Conversely, a lot people seemed down on this episode, but I kind of liked it. It certainly wasn’t the best lead-in to the strike-enforced hiatus and it would have been a horrible season finale had the strike not abated but every once in awhile it’s nice to have an infodump plot episode devoted to telling us “what happened when (fill-in-the-blank).” There are plenty of bothersome timing issues with the events presented herein (there simply isn’t enough time for Michael to realistically do everything he does in his flashback) but it was nice to see Tom again, and some interesting notions were introduced: Widmore faked the Oceanic 815 wreckage, maybe, and the island can exert some kind of protection over those who still have work to do. B+

The Shape of Things to Come (aka The One With All The Action): This was a straight up action-orientated episode, but there’s nothing wrong with that, from time to time. Alex’s death was a genuine surprise, and cryptic clues aplenty were dropped amongst all the fighting. The first episode back from a six week hiatus, there was a distinct energy to this episode that carried all the way through to the finale, as if to say “strap in; we’re heading towards the ending at ramming speed!” A-

Something Nice Back Home (aka The One Where Jack Has Appendix Surgery): Honestly, this episode’s biggest strength is that it didn’t suck more. Jack being foolishly stubborn, Future Jack having relationship and daddy issues, there’s nothing new here. And of course what little suspense Jack’s appendicitis would generate is nullified by the fact that in the same episode we see him in the future, hale and healthy. But things aren’t a total wash; the image of Christian Shepard wandering around Future Jack's life was intriguing, and the threat of his bursting appendix was really more about character development than suspenseJuliet really shines here, moreso than in her feature episode earlier in the season, taking charge and later quietly resolving the tedious Jack-Juliet-Kate triangle. B-

Cabin Fever (aka The One with Locke’s Secret Origin): A game-changing episode that developed characters, expanded the show’s mythology, and moved the plot forward. There’s no doubt that when all is said and done, this episode will be looked back on as one not only an essential Locke episode, but an essential episode of the show, period. A

There’s No Place Like Home part 1 (aka The One Setting Up the Finale): It’s tough to judge this, as it really was the first part of the finale, and thus did a lot of the setup work that the finale paid off. Still, it did that well, and the intensity of the previous episode carried over into this one, and from there into the finale. B

There’s No Place Like Home part 2 (aka The One Where Crazy Shit Happens All Over): Intense, exciting, action-packed, sad, questioning, this episode did everything a good finale should: it wrapped up the preceding season’s plot (Freighter: blown up, Mercenaries: Defeated, Oceanic Six: rescued, Locke: ascended to Other leadership) while laying groundwork for next season (why do the Six need to get back to the island? How did Locke die? Where’d the island go?). While the ending wasn’t as poignant as Charlie’s sacrifice last season, and the cliffhanger not as shocking as the flash forward reveal, it was still eminently satisfying and accomplished. A

What did YOU think?

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