“Have we told you that we write ‘Lost’? And that we’re pretty smart guys?”
First, a report from Tad Smith that last night’s episode and next week’s episode ( “The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham”) were originally supposed to show in reverse order. Meaning, whatever happened last night and whatever happens next week are mutually exclusive. Somehow, this knowledge — but more so the fact that “316” was co-written by Mr. Cuse and Mr. Lindelof themselves — had us pretty psyched.
Did this contribute to the fact we were pretty disappointed with the episode? Maybe. But it was also just a lackluster episode. Very talky. Lots of exposition. Lots of gaps (presumably these will be filled in). It felt a little bit like a “Lost” parody of itself. Eloise Hawking gives a science lesson for ten minutes to expound on all the theories the writers are juggling. (And aren’t those writers pretty smart?) Ben gives a homily on doubting Thomas and Jack is confronted once again with his skeptical unbelief. Kate shows up teary-eyed at Jack’s apartment and they get it on. It all felt clunky, heavy-handed and a little too self-aware.
There were a few bright spots. The beginning — Jack, in a suit, waking up in the jungle, hearing screams in the distance … have we gone back to the start? — and the reveal that at least three of the Oceanic Six have now returned to the island was well done. The literary references sprinkled throughout — The Lamppost station evoking Narnia once again, Ben reading Ulysses, Hurley reading a Spanish translation of Y: The Last Man — were enjoyable. And the reunion with Jin at the end raising the question of when exactly Ajira Flight 316 landed presents more perplexing but promising questions.
But what of our other questions: How exactly did everyone end up at the airport for the same flight in such short time? Who’s escorting Sayid on board? Who bloodied Ben? And what exactly is that disturbing commercial featuring the woman with flowing armpit hair riding a bicycle supposed to be advertising? We were too busy dry-heaving to notice.
Yes, last night’s episode surely laid the foundation for future episodes to flash back to and fill out, but it felt like it was written backwards, as if the writers said, “We know where all these characters will end up, so let’s write an episode that’s intentionally fragmented and opaque so we can juice you with some surprises down the road.” Maybe you go for this kind of thing. We found it too clever by half.
The one spiritual reference we liked last night was maybe the most subtle: “316” evoking John 3:16, a gesture toward Locke’s sacrificial death for Jack, the Oceanic Six, and the island itself. The lighter the touch with these things, the better.
Enough griping. We hope next week is a return to form.