Remember in the Matrix how it involved the search for THE ONE, but then there was a moment where maybe it seemed like Neo was not THE ONE, but you totally never bought that for a second because of course Neo is THE ONE — he is the protagonist! A lot of Hollywood fare revolves around finding THE ONE, but the deck is almost always stacked — you know who THE ONE is; you just wait for everyone else to figure it out. I feel like Lost is maybe a fun twist on this kind of story, spending 6 years in a search for THE ONE, with the added fun that in an ensemble show it really could be a number of people. That does not have anything to do with tonight’s episode; it was just something I was thinking about today on the phone with my friend Brad.
In tonight’s episode Sawyer is sent by The Man in Black to do recon on Hydra Island where he discovers a bunch of dead bodies from the Ajira flight and some survivors who turn out to be not survivors at all, but part of Widmore’s team. They are setting up pylons to keep out the smoke monster and get Sawyer to agree to lure The Man in Black there; but Sawyer cons them, and tells the Man in Black everything they said not because he is concerned for the Man in Black but because he thinks while they are fighting it out he can steal Widmore’s sub and get him and Kate out of there. In a subplot Claire tries to kill Kate and the Man in Black has a little talk with them both. In the Alt U Sawyer and Miles are cops, but Sawyer has a secret (he is after the man who killed his parents); Miles susses it out of him in part by getting Charlotte to sleep with him and look through his stuff. Then Sawyer runs into Kate, running from the cops.
First off, and this has nothing to do with anything at all, the Last time Widmore was putting a crack team together he got Miles, Charlotte, sexy Naomi, Keamy (the most evil man in the world), the dude from The Wire, Fischer Stevens and Zoe Bell (who didn’t have much to do because of the writer’s strike, but still) and Jeremy Davies. This time he has a poor man’s Tina Fey, and Chip from Kate and Allie and yoghurt commercials (seriously, check imdb.com). Widmore is going to have to make up with Michael Emerson to even think about having a team with the acting chops to take on evil Terry O’Quinn.
The alternate U continues to expand toward some things that will matter soon: a larger sense of how it is connected to the Island U. Charlie’s brother in the police station and Sawyer meeting Kate not as much as Miles mentioning the museum where his dad Chang works with Charlotte. Dharma leaders and Faraday — the one man on the show with the potential to cross universes — cannot be far behind.
I loved that this episode set up two ways of getting off the island — the plane and the sub — and that neither one was magical in nature. This is going to be in part a straight up fight for resources which seems appropriate for a story about people stranded on an island. Not that I don’t want to see what happens if you move that donkey wheel one more time; I just like how simple a thing we have on the board. That whatever the Man in Black is he moves around like the rest of us.
Speaking of which the real star moment of this episode was The Man in Black telling Kate that he was a person, and that he had a mom, and that his mom was crazy, and he has been working through that for a long time. He earlier mentioned to Sawyer that he was a man once. Now we get however small a part of his backstory. Off the top of my head I have no idea what it means — if this is going to turn out to be biblical I don’t know my bible well enough to guess who he might be. But I like it, and I like how the “bad mommy” thing is one more iteration of bad-daddy island — the show has always been about kids dealing with bad parents, which may point to it being about God and his Children. The Man in Black continues to be wonderfully persuasive — I adored his simple explanation to Kate of how things went wrong with Claire and that he took responsibility for what happened, and how, for Lost, he is so straightforward, admitting to Kate that he is not Locke, and telling Sawyer that he “is that Smoke thing” so matter-of-fact-ly, in the best line of the night.
For all that I liked though the episode felt like something closer to filler, in part because I am getting tired of the Alt U a bit — the principle of Everyone is Someone gets old fast. I am ready for it to coalesce into something more complex, something that will interact with the main U, something that will bleed through or whatever. It’s getting there, but as on the Island U Act 2 involves a lot of moving the pieces into position as a set up to the endgame. It’s part of how TV works, and I don’t know what else they are supposed to do, but I am very eager for that endgame.
My hope is that the next episode, focusing on Richard, will be a game changer. This is what I was talking about last time — people on the island know things, but no one ever asks them anything, or they never volunteer information. The Man in Black keeps saying he will explain everything, and Terry O’Quinn sells it — I really believe he will. But an episode focusing on Richard — I don’t see how they are going to do that and NOT reveal a whole bunch of new stuff, especially given the “flash-diagonally-sideways” structure (which I guess they could break, but it would be so much better if they didn’t). I mean if anyone can figure out how to stall and not give information it is the Lost writing staff, but I hold out hope. This is the moment for the show to turn one more time as it approaches the end.
[UPDATE: minutes after I went to bed I remembered that John Locke, rather than The Man in Black, was the one with the crazy mother, which was surely what the Man in Black was referring to when he spoke to Kate. I mean it is still possible that the Man in Black also had a crazy mother — this is Lost after all, and the exchange was ambiguous — but in any case I was supposed to remember that when he spoke, and it slipped my mind somehow. I don’t know how I forgot about Swoosie Kurtz. I love Swoosie Kurtz. Sorry.]