Lost season 5 episode 3 examined

Oh brother, another Other. The one US series with a definite end planned continues to blow Daniel's mind...

So, now that Lost is up and running into its fifth season, I should be used to the all this new time-travel-hot-flash-gizmabob structure. Well, call me a prude, but I’m not quite on board yet. Jughead, had all the makings of a great Lost episode: the intriguing politics of the Others, Desmond, “wha?” reveals, Desmond, explosions, pretty cool revelations, Desmond. However, something stopped me from getting into this episode – maybe it is the totally new structure of the show. Without the familiarity of the flashback-to-present/flashforward-to-present structure, some moments just don’t seem as dramatic as they should be. Last week’s Mrs Hawking cliffhanger moved us ten steps forward; this week we dawdled a bit. So, yeah, Desmond’s going to L.A., so he can join Team Let’s Get The Band Back Together. And yeah, Charlotte’s inching closer to spasmy, Constantless death. Look, we already know this stuff will happen – it’s just how TV shows work. So then how did this mostly unsurprising episode try to surprise us?

Widmores! Penny! Turns out that Henry Ian Cusick’s little slip about a little Desmond in last week’s Iain Lee-hosted special weren’t lies at all, as Miss Penelope gave birth on a boat circa 2005. The name: Charlie! Awww. And Penny, as Desmond’s better half, was there to remind him of how potentially stupid it was of him to initiate Mission: Find Faraday’s Mum and go fishing in the Thames with her son. And, er, that’s about it. Oh, and she said she’s good to go for a visit to L.A., even if her super-powerful dad is making everything more dangerous for the Hume clan.

And talking of her super-powerful dad… Charles Widmore was seemingly everywhere this episode. Of course, he popped up in the present day, depicted for maybe the first time as something other than a rogue. The story goes as such: Desmond, upon snooping around in Oxford University, found out that Daniel fled Oxford due to a shameful discovery: not that he had experimented on animals but on a human. Theresa Spencer, a woman who seemingly went through the same time-travelling shenanigans that Daniel’s mice had gone through (judging by a framed picture Desmond found, Daniel was close enough to her to go ahead with the experiments) – hence, a bedridden young lady, caught between her childhood and elsewhere but never entirely lucid. An accidental time-traveller, but one without an anchor – kinda like Minkowski. Where does Widmore come into all this? Oh yeah, he’s only paying for all the medical bills!

Oh, but he also helped fund Daniel’s research so… them’s the breaks, Theresa.

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Anyhoodles, Des stormed into Widmore’s office, demanding to know the location of Daniel’s mother, and after some banter, he got it. (Anybody notice just how little Desmond and Widmore actually seem to spar? And how it’s usually over people’s secret addresses?) However, Widmore gives Daniel a spooky warning: keep hiding, because there’s a war going on that Penny can’t afford to get into. Which sounds promising.

As does the episode’s big revelation: Widmore was an Other! And he snapped necks! And he had a problem with Richard Alpert’s leadership! Now we’re talking. I hope we see him at highly dubious work soon, even if the Island’s jumped in time again. Shucks. This is juicy, juicy stuff. I bet you that the Widmore/Linus war is all just the result of next-door neighbours arguing with one another. Or maybe Ben took Widmore’s place in the Others upon joining them? Hmmm. Like I said: juicy.

You Ess Ayy! You Ess Ayy! You Ess Ayy! When our former Freighter Folk are captured by the Others (1954 model), Miles lets us in on a little ghostbustin’ secret: they’re walking on fresh graves and they contain American soldiers. That Daniel convinces Charlotte and Miles to pretend that they’re working for the United States military is all blasé-blah – the whole deal about trying to deactivate the Jughead bomb left by the military kinda went nowhere and left with seemingly very little impact due to the erratic powers of Island Sun Tan – but what’s interesting here is how the island was being used by the United States as a testing facility for (what I’m guessing were) nuclear weapons. Given that Jughead had radioactive qualities (proven by one of Alpert’s right-hand men, who had both right and left hands affected), could the US abuse of the island have had anything to do with the weird levels of… well, everything on the island? Could a nuke have just turned everything on Craphole Island into something odder and weirder than it originally was? And was the Dharma Initiative a self-conscious plan to make up for these mistakes? And finally, how interesting would it be if Lost ultimately was a classic science-fiction environmental lament?

Look at John, makin’ plans! In his quest to get dead or die tryin’, Locke approached Richard Alpert, piquing his curiosity by claiming that Jacob had sent him: 1-0, Team Locke. After claiming that he was the future leader of the Others, Locke essentially made sure Richard would monitor him as King of the Others from his youth, keeping everything important and on a massive loop: 2-0, Team Locke. He then tried to weasel information out of Alpert on how to get off the Island, but then Island Sun Tan struck again and he was left without a clue. Because I don’t care for traditional scoring systems, I’m calling it 3-2, Team Guyliner.

So, there was cool stuff in this week’s episode – maybe I was being a bit hard on its more obvious elements because this is my last recap for a few weeks and I greedily wanted something incredible. Y’see, I’m off to Peru, where it’s pretty damned hard to watch Lost with the same regularity we’re doing over here with Sky1, but I’ll be back pretty soon with, preferably, some thicker, brain-hurty analysis. So here are my questions for the week:

  • Concerning the official podcast from last week, how evasive was Damon Lindelof’s answer concerning whether it was the island moving or the people moving?
  • Does Daniel’s relationship with Charlotte creep you out after you saw what happened with Theresa Spencer?
  • Will you even pretend to be surprised when Daniel’s mother turns out to be Mrs Hawking?
  • How much must it suck to be a redshirt on this show?
  • And one for the in-jokey podcast fans: will season five ever get round to those deck collapse flashbacks?

Until about a month from now, I’m Lost. (In Peru. Woosh.)

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Den Of Geek  List of Lost

4 February 2009