I didn't like this episode.
Part of this (a lot of this) is my fault. I came into this episode in a bad mood from the instant that I saw last week's promo for this episode. If you didn't see it, the general message was "There's going to be nothing in this episode but answers and ass-kickings!" I just knew we were going to get "Stranger in a Strange Land"ed last night. If you don't remember that episode, it was the one in Season 3 when ABC was promoting it by saying "Learn the answer to three of Lost's biggest mysteries!" and then they proceeded to tell us about Jack's tattoos and burn Juliet.
This episode wasn't nearly that bad, in fact I wouldn't call it a bad episode at all. But it did sort of just feel like they mailed it in for 45 minutes and then spent the final 15 having the smoke monster kill things. But I think the biggest reason I just didn't pee my pants over this episode has to do with something I'd like to take a moment now to address. My local ABC affiliate sucks. HARD.
Disclosure: I live in Amarillo, Texas. We are served by our ABC affiliate KVII-TV. I won't get into the LOL terrible news coverage from KVII (Ok I guess I just did), but they are the worst station in America to have to rely on when it comes to watching my all-time favorite show. I've literally cringed for the last two years thinking that the Lost series finale - the most anticipated television event for me in my lifetime - rests in their hands.
To make matters worse, last night was primary election night in Texas, which meant that KVII was also going to try to juggle airing election returns during Lost. That means that the most pompous characters I saw last night weren't Dogen or Locke Monster, but rather anchor Lisa Schmidt and reporter Mitch Roberts. So every so often during Lost, I would have half my screen filled with results of the election and an advertisement for a local bank. I wouldn't bitch about it (oh yes I would) if it didn't mean that they had to turn their HD feed off to do it. They lack the capability to put up their graphics on the HD feed, so I'm forced (oh the humanity) to watch standard-def on half a screen while they air the results of a rural county treasurer. And then there are times - in this case the last 10 minutes of the episode AKA THE BEST PART OF THE ENTIRE THING - in which KVII will just forget to switch back to their HD feed.
I know it sounds like I'm bitching about small stuff, and in the grand scheme of things I am, but this is now the third episode (out of five) that they have basically butchered as an affiliate. We literally all started sending e-mails during my premiere party this year.
Ok, I'm sorry but I just had to get that off my chest. To be honest, I really need to catch this episode again online so that I can watch it without being pissed off. It's hard to feel positive about an episode when you spend the entire hour watching it on a half-screen and in a bad mood. Maybe I'll love it as much as you all did...
That said there were things to be discussed about this episode so I guess I better get to it. For as much as I loved Jack's story (and particularly the scar) in the LAX timeline, I thought that this episode sort of reverted back to the same pattern of the first couple of episodes. Seemingly irrelevant story, but look we made Keamy an ass and put Jin in a closet. Cool, huh? I still have faith that they're going somewhere with it, and that I'm gonna look like a fool at the end of the season for saying that the LAX timeline was boring but it's just not doing anything for me. This is hard to believe, but do you realize that we're now one-third the way through this final season? Six hours down, twelve to go. I think that the LAX timeline is eventually going to work itself out so that all of these people end up together anyways, and the sooner they can do that the better. Because the resolution to that story I think will kick ass.
Ok, one thing that I did truly love out of this episode: is there a better actor playing his role on television than Michael Emerson playing Ben? I was thrilled when he won his Emmy last year and truly admire his work on Lost. And I don't even know anything about acting. That look of horror on his face when Sayid said "not for me" was brilliant. And as for Ben himself, I'm really intrigued by the way he, Lapidus, Sun, and Ilana came storming into the temple to save people. Keep in mind that the last time we saw these four together they had nothing in common. Really the only "alliance" would be Sun and Lapidus, just because they're in the same boat of not having a clue what's going on. The fact that all of these four are acting in unison without any questions being asked show that things are getting pretty serious and stopping the monster's quest is pretty damn important.
One of the more interesting conversations from last night was Dogen explaining to Sayid how he came to be on the island, and the deal that Jacob made him. It was obviously a carbon copy of the deal that the monster tried to make Sayid, and was the same deal that Ben made (perhaps on behalf of Jacob) to Juliet to get her to come to the island. So here's my theory that plays well with my current narrative of Jacob being evil. We learned in Lighthouse that Jacob has a way of monitoring people and sort of controlling things that push them in a certain direction in life. So what if Jacob not just offered them a deal to come to the island, but also put them in that situation. In other words, what if Jacob influenced Dogen's job promotion, knowing that it would cause him to celebrate, drive drunk, etc.? I still maintain that both Jacob and the monster are evil and self-serving.
Things are pretty interesting now that basically everyone but Hurley and Jack are teamed up with the monster right now. So I guess I did like this episode more than I thought, and I look forward to the rewatch online. But as for now I'll pass the torch over to Pearl and maybe I'll add more in the comments section or in an additional post. But until then, here's to more happy Lost Tuesdays!