“I think it’s clear what needs to happen. We need to buy a gun.”
We owe you an apology, dear reader. Here we fancied ourselves at least serviceable “Lost” commentators — Doc Jensen-wannabes, Vozzek hacks, Zap2it impostors — and we never, not once, knew that Mac from “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” appeared in the season 3 episode, “Not in Portland.”
So when Mac — er, Aldo — popped up last night as Kate’s woefully overmatched jungle escort, we couldn’t stop laughing. I mean, could you take this guy seriously as a baddie after you’ve seen him plead to put a baby in a tanning booth “just to get a base”?
No. We couldn’t either.
Moving on. We submit that last night’s episode is — we’ll be blunt — everything we hoped this final season of “Lost” would not be. We have two main complaints against it.
- It was a Kate episode. Kate, never our favorite character, is still running from the law no matter what alternate timeline you construct for her. She ran in the past (season 2’s “What Kate Did”); she’s running in the future. She’s running on the island. She’s perpetually choosing between Jack and Sawyer, meaning she’s never chosen. She wants a baby. She’s tied to Aaron. She’s plugging L’Oréal. (When she hijacked the taxi, Erin said, “I really like her eyeliner in this scene.”)
- The Others remain — and will always be — condescending, autocratic, cattle-branding meanies who jerk around Jack et al. Give “Lost” points for consistency since it’s been that way from the beginning, but last night we just found ourselves a little tired of the whole shtick. (Especially since Mac Aldo and his buddy Justin had a nice Laurel and Hardy routine going. How can The Others’ Leadership Team be so smart and their front line employees so dumb?) Different faces, same story.
Of course we know that the “Lost” universe will never end. It’s unimaginable that the writers could conceive of anything that summarily ties up what has become a mammoth plot line of time travel, redemption, parallel universes and supernatural, possibly Revelational, conflict. However “Lost” ends, it will not be a stopping point. We get that. We like that.
But what felt so tired about last night’s episode is how familiar the sideways-flash technique already seems. How was this really any different than a flash forward episode for Kate? No matter where or when she goes, the island has its claws in her. Claire, Aaron and Ethan just as surely reside in her future as they do in her past. So, the point of this new narrative technique was…?
The point, you might be saying, is that you’re missing the nuances. Pre-island Kate cared only about herself, right? But alternate timeline Kate sees the contents of Claire’s emergency bag (was that a noticeably long glimpse of the plush killer whale or what?) and goes back for her, then cabbies her to the M.I.A. adopters (note: it’s always a red flag when the couple who wants to adopt your baby fails to show at the airport because they thought you were arriving on a different day) and on to the hospital once her contractions start. New Kate. Different future. Right?
We’re probably being harsh. Maybe we should just write last night off to the second episode slump. We didn’t see any of Locke, who promises to have the most fun of any character this season. We didn’t see Ben or Richard either. (Or BOONE! or DESMOND!, for that matter.) We needed an episode to catch our breath, to see Sawyer move from rage against Jack and the world to rage against himself over Juliet’s death. (When he threw the ring into the ocean, Erin said, “Go back from whence you came, ring!”) And we at least had the sublime pleasure of watching Voldemort Melissa falling below the red line on “The Biggest Loser,” ensuring her exile from The Biggest Loser Ranch. Hallelujah.
But what if the straightforward, underwhelming “What Kate Does” is all we can expect from the new sideways-flash format? We don’t buy that the new alternate timeline (if Oceanic Flight 815 had never crashed) is merely an entertaining “What If?” scenario, and we doubt any “Lost” fan would be cynical enough to view it as such. The two worlds have to be connected in some way. But how? And why? What does that connection mean? (Doc Jensen posits that it may be reincarnation.) If it’s just to keep introducing the same characters in new, ironic circumstances (Ethan stole Claire’s baby on the island — now he’s delivering it!), then … that’s it? This was a poor exhibit A for the new format.
Other notable moments:
- When informed that Dogen (Maura Tierney, doing an amazing Hiroyuki Sandana impersonation) is known as the “Harrison Ford of Japan,” Erin launched into a series of disgustingly inappropriate double entendres, among them, “I’d let him raid my Lost Ark,” “I’d let him find my Holy Grail,” and “I’d let him plunder my Temple of Doom.”
- Miles gets in the best line of the night: “As you can see, Hurley’s assumed a leadership position, so, that’s pretty great.”
- Milford School District announces a two hour delay!
- Sayid gets “tested” in a manner which sure resembles “torture.” Lennon tells him he passed, then remarks to Dogen, “I just lied to him, didn’t I?” (Sayid suspects as much in his heart-to-heart with Jack next to the Fountain of Youth.)
- Jack schedules a consultation with Dogen over Sayid’s treatment plan. Dogen informs Jack that Sayid is “infected” and must take a pill. He asks Jack to give it to him. Jack refuses unless he knows what’s in the pill. Dogen says he should trust him. Jack responds, “I don’t trust myself, how can I trust you?”
- Second best line of the night, from Sayid, who must be ecstatic he gets to, you know, act again this season: “I don’t care about what fixed me. I only care about who I trust. So if you want me to take that pill, Jack, I’ll do it.”
- Jack takes the pill, and Dogen karate chops him in the stomach. Turns out the pill was poison. Whoops! They have tea.
- Jack asks why they would poison Sayid. Dogen expounds on the infected theme, saying that Sayid was “claimed” by something dark. Oh yeah, he adds — the same thing happened to your sister.
- On cue, Claire turns up on the island to kill Aldo and Justin. She is the new Rousseau (and she’s starting to look like her too). Meanwhile, Jin’s foot is caught in a bear trap.
Questions: Who (or what) claimed Sayid — MIB/Nemesis or Jacob? Is Jack finally — yes, please! — getting his mojo back? Were all the zombie references just for fun or is there really something there? What did Aldo learn from Stephen Hawking way back when? If Miles can talk to dead people, then, uh, why doesn’t someone ask him about Sayid?
The preview for next week looks a great deal more promising. We’ll keep our fingers crossed.
UPDATE: Doc Jensen on how “Island Kate inspired Sideways Kate”:
The Sideways-Island relationship is a metaphor for our relationship to fiction. It’s about how fantasy redeems reality. Like last week’s literary reference Haroun and the Sea of Stories, Lost is telling us a story about the redemptive value of storytelling itself. Haroun asks, What’s the use of stories that aren’t even true? Lost answers, They teach us how to make the real world a better place.
We can buy that. Several of our friends have theories about Haroun and how it relates specifically to the character who was reading it last week: Desmond. We’ll let them sound off on that if they so desire.