Written Post“Cause That’d Be Ridiculous!” — More Thoughts on Lost Season 6

“Cause That’d Be Ridiculous!” — More Thoughts on Lost Season 6

I received a lot of response to my post last week in which I discussed my disappointment so far with Lost‘s sixth and final season.  Some people vehemently disagreed with my assessment, while others were pleased that I had come around to their way of thinking.

Here’s my more specific episode-by-episode run-down of the season so far:

6.1/2 — “LA X” — A strong start to the final season!  All the stuff on the plane was a lot of fun.  Here in this initial installment there was nothing but promise to the alternate-universe story, and I was intrigued to see where that half of the story is going.  (Sadly, after ten episodes, it seems to be going nowhere…)  Glad to see that Boone is still a numbskull in any universe, and I was pleased to see Jack again desperate for a pen to help with a medical procedure.  The dude should just start carrying a couple in his pocket at all times.

I was also pleased to see several mysteries get addressed right up front, such as the Locke/smokey revelation (which I called before the show aired, thank you very much, no applause, just throw money).  I was also intrigued by the Other Others inside the Temple, particularly the Dennis-Hopper-in-Apocalypse Now translater dude.  Is the asian Other Other related in some way to the enigmatic Alvar Hanso?  I would love to learn that Hanso had once spent time on the island, the way Charles Widmore did.  (Sadly, we have so far gotten little-to-none of the backstory of this Temple-dwelling group of Others.  One more unanswered mystery to add to my list…)

Why did all the time-jumping castaways on the island stay in the positions/locations they were in at the end of last season when Jack dropped the bomb, except for Kate who was suddenly up in a tree?

6.3 — “What Kate Does” — After a strong start with the premiere, season 6 took a big nose-dive in this, one of the worst episodes of the entire series.  Aside from the title, which was a clever play on the title of the season 2 episode “What Kate Did,” there was nothing of interest happening here.  The Claire/Kate stuff, which was supposed to be the dramatic centerpiece of the episode, was absolutely ridiculous.  I guess we’re supposed to understand that there’s some sort of connection between the two women, even in this alternate timeline, and that’s why Claire trusted Kate.  But it didn’t really work for me.  Plus, why weren’t there a thousand police cars following Kate out of the airport??  Why didn’t Claire call the police after getting out of the cab, rather than just waiting patiently at the bus stop?  Why didn’t the cops who had figured out that Kate was with Claire at the hospital put a guard or two by the door to Claire’s room, or by the hospital entrance?  Why did the mechanic dude cheerfully let Kate out of her cuffs even after she a) threatened him with a gun, and b) admitted that she was wanted for murder?  None of it adds up at all.

While I’m at it, where the heck did Sawyer get an engagement ring on the island, and why didn’t he take it with him when he thought he and Juliet were leaving the island forever on the sub last season?  It’s also pretty convenient that none of the Others who had been living in that house since 1977 found Sawyer’s ring…  The whole thing was under-cooked and amateurish.

6.4 — “The Substitute” — A terrific episode, and the highlight of the season so far.  It was fast-paced and interesting, with LOTS of fun connections to Lost lore.  My favorite moments include:  The weirdest damn funeral ever.  Seeing Jacob’s list at last.  Hurley’s commiserating with Locke about Locke’s boss (since attentive Lost fans know that the douchey Randy was not only Locke’s boss back in season 1’s “Walkabout,” but also Hurley’s boss at Mr. Cluck’s in season 2’s “Everybody Hates Hugo”!!)  Rose.  Science-teacher Benjamin Linus.  Alternate-universe Locke’s alarm clock, which sounded quite a lot, to my ears, like the alarm in the hatch.  Sawyer again discussing his favorite book, Of Mice and Men (which, as I recall, he last discussed while trekking with Ben to be shown that he was being held prisoner on an entirely different island, back in season 3).  The return of Locke’s long-held “don’t tell me what I can’t do!!” mantra, along with the return of Helen.  That John Locke, Lost‘s “man of faith” has, in the alternate universe, become a man of science (teaching biology, and denying the existence of miracles), the position long-held on the show by Jack.  The return of the numbers.  But my favorite moment in the episode, the one that made me giggle with glee, was the glimpse of the black & white rocks in Jacob’s cave.  Back in season 1, Jack found a black and white rock near the Adam & Eve skeletons, and I’ve been LONG WAITING for that particular plot point to be referenced again.

6.5 — “Lighthouse” —  While not as unwatchable as “What Kate Does,” with this episode the show sunk back into mediocrity.  The on-island stuff was OK (I enjoyed seeing more of Rousseau-Claire), but the Jack off-island story just didn’t grab me.  It was watchable, but not nearly as compelling as Locke’s yarn last week.  I also thought the “breakthrough” moment with his son was ridiculous.  No kid actually talks like that, explaining to their parent exactly what their deep internal issue is.

The key to the success of the Locke story in “The Substitute” was, I think, that this really was a DIFFERENT Locke that we saw (as evidenced right away from his reaction of LAUGHING, rather than being angry, when the jammed door threw him out of his van), and it was interesting to see whether he would fall back into “our” Locke’s usual pattern of anger and bitterness, or somehow turn out differently.  That was a storyline I invested in.  But Jack this week was the same old Jack, even though he had a kid.  The Locke episode also was chock-full of lots of fun references and connections, while all we got this week was a glimpse of the Temple Other dude at the kid’s recital, and they didn’t even tell us who Jack’s son’s mother was.  Disappointing.

6.6 — “Sundown” —  How could an episode called “Sundown” not be about Jin and Sun??

I was totally bored by Sayid’s story here.  Why?  Because the writers have removed any dramatic stakes by not explaining to us whether this is really the Sayid that we’ve come to love over the course of the show, OR some sort of mind-controlled evil version of him.  Without knowing that key piece of information, I couldn’t invest in the story.  If this isn’t our Sayid at all, or if he’s somehow being controlled or otherwise influenced, then there is no impact to the decisions that we see him make.  The drama is totally undermined.

6.7 — “Dr. Linus” —  After a couple of poor episodes in a row, we finally get another engaging installment.  In this episode there was actually a compelling dramatic storyline both on the island and in the alternate world, as both Ben Linuses were confronted with tough choices.  I couldn’t care less about whether alternate Sayid was going to shoot Keamy in the kitchen, but I did invest in the story of whether or not the alternate Ben would value his own power over all else.  And it was great to see Alex again.  That’s another thing this episode had going for it (as did “The Substitute,”, which is pretty much the only other episode this season that I’ve really loved) — lots of little nods to past events and continuity (Arzt, the diamonds buried with Nikki and Paulo, etc.) and pay-offs to other story-lines (verification that Richard Alpert arrived on the Black Rock, Hurley admitting to having visions of Jacob, Ben owning up to his murder of Jacob, etc.)  This story felt to me like the culmination of three years worth of Ben’s story as we see, finally, that there may be some hope for him.  I also LOVED the scene with crazed Jack and suicidal Richard in the Black Rock.  It reminded me of the scene with Tom Friendly and Michael in the alley, when Tom gets Michael to realize that the island won’t let him die.

However, the reference letter threat that the principal holds over Ben’s head was weak in the extreme.  (If the principal resigned and then Ben became principal, couldn’t he just call up the college and say “disregard the crazy things my predecessor wrote about our top student”???  Stupid.)  But because I was engaged by the episode (in the way I haven’t been for the past several weeks), I went along with the story.  Also, it was awesome to see William Atherton guest-starring.  During the climactic scene in his office, Ben should have just turned to Alex and said: “It’s true.  This man has no dick.”

6.8 — “Recon” —  Aaand we’re back to lames-ville.  In season 5 Sawyer was the most interesting character on the show.  But I really didn’t care at all about mopey Sawyer on the island or mopey Sawyer off the island.  (Though it was fun to see him paired up with Miles again — that was the episode’s only saving grace.)

6.9 — “Ab Aeterno” —  Things are looking brighter, as this spotlight on Richard Alpert was pretty good, even though they glossed over some rather enormous issues (such as how the Black Rock wound up in the middle of the island, and how exactly a wooden ship could break a stone statue).  I loved the way the MIB set up Richard the same way that now-dead Temple dude did Sayid, and I enjoyed seeing the MIB tell Richard “nice to see you out of those chains” as he would again, over a hundred years later (in Locke’s body).  I liked seeing white/black stones again.  Nice to see that obscure first season plot point getting some play.

Frankly, the jury is still out on all of this backstory until we get more of an explanation about the natures of Jacob and the MIB (who I like to call Esav).  Just what sort of entities are they, really?  Can Jacob change shape the way the MIB can?  Why or why not?  What stopped the MIB from killing Richard?  (We’ve seen the MIB unable or unwilling to kill “candidates” — was Richard a candidate?  How does one become a candidate?  If the MIB can just kill everyone who Jacob brings to the island, then a) what’s the point, and b) why didn’t he/it kill all of our castaways the second they crashed on the island, as it did the poor pilot in the pilot episode?)  I also thought the explanation of Richard’s role of intermediary was WAY too easy.  Jacob doesn’t want to get involved… but in a flash he decides it’s OK as long as he gets involved through someone else?  I don’t buy it…

This really is an episode that we should have gotten much earlier in the run of the show, I think, maybe during season 4 or 5.  Putting it off until the final run of episodes put undue pressure on the episode to be the BEST EPISODE EVER to make it worth the long wait — and it definitely wasn’t.

6.10 — “The Package” — We’ve had two watchable episodes in a row, which in this mediocre season is cause for rejoicing.  With the exception of Sun’s ridiculous amnesia/ephasia/whatever (which sort of sums up the show’s stubborn insistance, since season 1, on having its characters unwilling/unable to communicate with one another) I thought this week’s episode was pretty solid.  It was nice to see Mikhael, and his ultimate fate was pretty poetic.  (Guess the alternate-universe Mikhail doesn’t have as many lives as his island counterpart…)  I liked Sayid’s Apocalypse Now moment at the very end.  It was also nice to see room 23 again, although the woman’s line about it being used for subliminal messaging experiments is the type of frustrating confirmation-of-things-we-already-knew-rather-than-addressing-the-larger-questions sort of answers that we’ve been getting so far in season 6.  Like the Richard Alpert episode (which confirmed a lot of the guesses that attentive fans of the show had made, but didn’t really tell us anything startlingly new), it was pretty obvious when we first saw room 23 in season 3 that it had been created for mind-control (or at least mind-altering) experiments.  But to what END?  WHAT were the Dharma folk trying to accomplish in that room?  How did that connect to the other work they were doing on the island??  THOSE are my questions, and they remain unanswered.

The first time the “package” was mentioned, I turned to my wife and said “I bet it’s Desmond, but I really really hope it’s Walt.”  Then I patted myself on the back when I saw the “revelation” at the end.  But come on, how much cooler would it have been if it had been Walt??  Bringing his superpowers to bear against the smoke monster?  (Who’s now in the form of his former season 1 mentor, Locke!)  That would have been awesome.  Sigh.

Six more episodes left.  I am bracing for disappointment.  What about you all?