LOST Rewatch: “Exodus”, “Man of Science, Man of Faith” and “Adrift”
Posted by therebelprince on July 16, 2009
The great LOST Rewatch has already claimed the life of a few blogs with season one, and understandably. While it was a great opening chapter to this sci-fi/adventure epic, its relevance is obvious to anyone who has seen the show and its questions have almost all been answered (to some degree). As we hit season two, however, we’re going to start sinking our teeth into the mythos of the series, which should give us plenty of questions to ask.
(Below: A day in the life. Desmond picks a record.)
“I expected you to be halfway down by now.”
“I was waiting for you.”
– Kate and Locke, “Man of Science, Man of Faith”
As I briefly mentioned “Exodus” in last week’s season one post, I’m not going to explore it in much detail. Suffice it to say, the first season finale ends with a great adventure episode which neatly prepares us for season 2: the raft is taken, Danielle shows her true colours, Locke and Jack begin their battle over the hatch, and the Others’ shadow lurks around every corner.
When we pick up at the same instant in both “Man of Science, Man of Faith” and “Adrift”, we get the answers to some of the questions… which in turn lead to more answers, which await us further down the rabbit hole. Down the hatch is a man (Henry Ian Cusick) who captures first Kate, then Locke, then Jack as they enter – like the old lady sending the spider to catch the fly – one by one into the hatch to save each other. Why is he down here? And why must he enter numbers into a computer every 108 minutes?
Back on the beach, Shannon and Charlie struggle to be leaders of the remaining camp; and Michael and Sawyer find themselves alone on a slow boat to nowhere after Walt’s kidnapping and Jin’s disappearance in the destruction of their raft.
In all actual fact, next to nothing happens in these episodes. They’re character-centric, they’re atmospheric, and they’re great at increasing the tension. Really, what we learn comes down to this: Desmond is in the hatch but doesn’t appear to be part of the malevolent forces on the island; Walt – or something pretending to be Walt has appeared to Shannon; and there certainly are others on the island, who have tied up Jin and are now coming to do the same to his shipmates.
The best moments in these two episodes are those fraught with tension, primarily hatch-based. Terry O’Quinn and Matthew Fox bring their A-Game to these moments (so does Evangeline Lilly but she gets the least to do here), and Locke and Jack are pulling apart in ways which will never be rectified. Although we don’t learn much, the hatch is wonderfully constructed and the opening scene – where Desmond, unseen to us, prepares for his day while listening to The Mamas and the Papas singing “Make Your Own Kind of Music” – is delicious. Other than that, the storyline works because of its character relationships. As with the quote at the top of this review, the trio of adventurers here all understand each other more than any one of them would like to. It’s probably the reason Sawyer will end up with Juliet and not Kate: she may be a fellow outlaw, but in the end she’s always going to go back for the others.
The raft storyline continues along nicely, with Josh Holloway and Harold Perrineau proving an effective pairing. It’s buoyed down by too many flashbacks (which I’ll talk about below), and the shark tension seems a little manufactured given its fourth-act appearance (it’s nice to see that creative writing classes have paid off for these guys, but it’s a pity that for every clever in-joke and subtle piece of foreshadowing, we must sit through a thirty-second suspense gag) but it plays well and ends with the chilling discovery of the apparent “others”.
(Left: Creepy. And wet! Malcolm David Kelley as Walt, or something like him.)
Meanwhile on the beach, little happens of note, but we do get Shannon’s startling vision of Walt. It’s creepy, and I hope against hope that Walt’s importance is explained in the sixth season. (And I also hope they paid Malcolm David Kelley well for his patchy future with the show! I mean, I know he was aging and all and it wasn’t his fault that Harold Perrineau couldn’t work it out, but still, poor kid…)
So, you ask… what did I hate? Well, only two things really.
First, in the most egregious continuity error of all time: Charlie doesn’t believe in the Others!? I’m sorry, can I say that again? Charlie DOESN’T BELIEVE IN THE OTHERS.
Yes, that’s right. He appears to have forgotten his mid-season storyline from last year. You know, the one where creepy Ethan (William Mapother, whom I thoughtlessly forgot to mention in my season one review) kidnapped Claire, did god-knows-what to her, left Charlie for dead, and then himself ended up eating lead courtesy of our rockstar? I’m sorry, but I’d like to know: where exactly does Charlie think Ethan came from? I’m not surprised that this moment really turned me against the LOST writers first time around. It still does, really.
Phew… calm… Okay, the other thing that probably needs to be discussed is the use of the flashback. Here, we get two flashbacks that work very well on emotional levels but both of which cover ground that we’ve had discussed already – Jack’s meeting of Sarah (Julie Bowen), and Michael’s loss of his son to Susan (Tamara Lloyd). This isn’t an out-and-out complaint, and yes I acknowledge that we get the Desmond/Jack scene, but little else.
On a storytelling level, these flashbacks are both clever and effective. The reason we can cover so little ground yet feel like we’ve learned so much is because of them. But in the end, each of these flashbacks is indicative of the biggest flaws in the show’s structure. The first flashback in “Man of Science” is the stronger of the two. It’s always good to see John Terry as Jack’s no-good father Christian, and Julie Bowen is possibly the standout guest star up to this point as Sarah progressively sinks into depression, and then movingly is saved. But in the end, Terry’s appearance serves only to give us one of LOST’s trademark mental connection moments. You know, Jack’s father gives him some advice (here: “Tell them the 1% good news) which he then uses in an island situation. It’s smooth and dramatically logical, but it seems like this time could have gone toward our island characters. In truth, it’s not that I dislike this flashback. It’s that I dislike the show’s reliance on flashback during the first three seasons when, at times, they are entirely redundant.
Case in point: “Adrift”. Is there anything new learned from this? (Aside from the fan-pleasing moment of Michael giving Walt a toy polar bear?) Taylor and Perrineau are effective, as are Saul Rubinek and Jeanetta Arnette as their vicious lawyers, but this is a tale as old as time which needed no elaborating. It serves to show us that Michael has a stake in Walt’s future which we really should know from the writing, Harold Perrineau’s performance and our own experience of the first 26 episodes! I understand that this was a last minute replacement when a Sawyer storyline fell through, and I accept also that “two guys on a raft for 42 minutes” is a better idea in theory than in practice, but in the end it probably isn’t worth it if we have to sit through flashbacks when the answer is evident.
Anyway, closing thoughts from the hatch:
- It’s nice to see some continuity fairy work: Kate’s counting to 5 as she descends in the hatch, Shannon’s father Adam as the driver in Sarah’s car crash, and – in spite of my rant above – a better explanation of Susan’s removal of Walt from Michael’s life.
- The words change but the song remains the same: questions left unanswered still focus on Locke (why did The Monster want him?); Walt (why did The Others want him?); and Christian (what is he? Where did he come from? Does he do children’s parties?)
- A very strong opening to the second season, but this languid pace – while great fun to rewatch – was a risky gambit, even with 15 million weekly viewers.
Next week: meet the Tailies. They’re here to tie people up, leave storylines unfinished, and shoot some of our regulars!
(Below: the shape(ly vixen) of things to come.)
While you’re waiting for next week, check out a few of the LOST Rewatch bloggers:
This week there’s the very talented JoshMeister and his blog/podcast combo and:
And check out some nifty cartoon art of the man of science, man of faith by MS Wendy
See you next week!