It didn’t take a genius to predict that once Locke got back to the island, he’d be coming back to life (especially once it was made explicit last episode that he was Christian’s ‘surrogate’ on the plane) but as with many of Lost’s recent major developments, the revelation was met with a mixture of appreciation (of a plot so well-laid out that it’s predictable), and disappointment (that it’s become so easy to guess). Who among us can honestly say that they didn’t know that Ben was going to end up killing Locke the very moment he turned up in the final scene?
Still, if predictability is a problem, at least Lost’s writers have proven they can still go to town on the actual production. Who cares about knowing the destination when the journey is this good? The entire episode was a virtual portrait of a man unravelling – someone who, on the island, knows that he’s special – but back in the real world, has a hard time convincing anyone else that he’s anything but delusional, and finds that the only person who ever thought he was worth something is dead. It’s easy to follow (and believe) Locke’s downward spiral, and the return of the character to a wheelchair for the duration serves to further underscore the thematics of the episode. And, if you’re an X-Men fan, it gives us the amusing image of what the team might’ve been like had a certain other bald, wheelchair-using gatherer of men been slightly worse at giving compelling speeches.
Bookending Locke’s time on the mainland are sequences set on the island, introducing us to what is hopefully our final group of refugees. After the Paulo and Nikki debacle, Lost has been very careful about how it introduces new characters, and this latest plane crash is a reasonably good example of that – Ilana and Caesar were already featured in a prominent shots last episode, as Flight 316 was being boarded, so it’s not jarring to find them both making some prominent appearances now.
Anyone following the recent Lost discussions here at Den of Geek will be aware that we have a baseless and unreasonable grudge against Matthew “Speed Racer” Fox, but if you ever needed it illustrated why he’s is such a weight around the neck of this show, simply use this episode for reference. Witness Terry O’Quinn’s studied, intense yet nuanced performance throughout, then compare that with Matthew Fox’s single scene in the episode, where he attempts to convey Jack’s deep inner-turmoil by going wide-eyed and quivery and pulling about fifteen faces a second. The two men, despite vying for lead billing, are barely even in the same league as one another. O’Quinn can convey a wide range of emotion using the subtlest movements and intonation – on the other hand, if you saw someone tweaking like Fox, you’d probably call an ambulance, if not the police.
After a couple of wobbly weeks, it’s hard not to see this episode as a return to form. Lost’s current status is like a jigsaw, so nearly complete, that whenever you see a new piece it’s obvious where it goes, but it has to be said, it’s still fairly satisfying when you get to see one more slot neatly into place.
Check out a review of episode 6 here.