Thursday, February 22, 2007

"I'd like to go back to my cage now": Lost

After two sterling episodes, anything Lost did this week would have felt like a bit of a letdown, but this was a bigger letdown than many were expecting -- all build-up and no payoff. After being promised by ABC that this episode would definitively answer some burning questions, we instead got a few half answers to some not so burning questions. While it was nice to see Cindy the flight attendant again (and creepy to see how readily she had become a part of the Others after, what, 30 days time?) and also nice to see the kid with the teddy bear, my enjoyment of the show wasn't decreased by not knowing the answers to the questions of their existence. Plus, after going back to the beach for last week's riveting episode, we were back with Jack, Kate and Sawyer (though it seems we've left Alcatraz for the time being), and it felt wrong to not be among the other characters.

Still, as a friend points out, this was a nicely dark-hearted episode of Lost. Most Lost flashbacks deal with the pains of true love; this one dealt with Jack falling into a bleak sexual relationship with a woman in Thailand (played by SDD contributor Tram's favorite, Bai Ling, which. . .we'll get to in a moment). Similarly, we got a nicely chilling scene where it looked as if we might lose Juliet to the "eye for an eye" moral code of the Others (which is oddly comparable to the show's moral code, and, hell, the moral code of much of television). As much as people complain about the Others, I wouldn't trade Ben or Juliet back. The two are utterly fascinating characters, and I'm interested to learn more about them, especially now that Juliet seems to be on Jack's side, however tentatively.

But those darker elements weren't enough to salvage the whole episode, which featured the first boneheaded decision by a Lostie in a while -- Sawyer deciding to let Karl go without setting up a plan to track him. I sort of get that he thinks he and Kate are safer that way, but they didn't even question the poor kid. At the very least, the writers could have made it obvious that Karl knew nothing -- I would have bought that, and it would have allowed them to keep stringing out the mystery. Instead, we got a lot of non-answers and a weird little scene about chasing after the one you love.

Which brings us to Bai Ling, mystical tattoo artist. I really think that the concept behind Jack's tattoos unveiling a secret truth that even he doesn't know could have been a good one, but Ms. Ling just couldn't sell her character's deeper mysteries. This pushed Fox to try harder, and the flashbacks, which should have been oh-so-dramatic, verged on the laughable, especially in the scenes where Jack was trying to force his lover to give him a tattoo (no, really).

Besides that, though (and the weird scene with Cindy and the children watching Jack), there wasn't a lot going on in this episode, to be honest. It concluded with a nicely stirring (and handsomely shot) montage of everyone trying to make their way home (and some nice music from Giacchino). Another friend insists they wouldn't have wasted that lovely bit of scoring on an episode with little to do with the grand scheme of things, so I'm guessing that this is all building up to something. Still, it felt like so much sound and fury.

And, again, Bai Ling?


Tosy And Cosh said...

Just felt compelled to chime in with more praise for Giacchino. Is it just me, or does his work just completely lap any other TV composers' right now?

David Sims said...

I don't think Giacchino's music was supposed to signify anything especially significant, but it was beautiful and it almost redeemed the episode for me. But not quite. Waaaay too meandering and stally for this point in the season. Really, they should have not just focused on Jack/Sawyer/Kate, I feel, but included some other storyline, maybe let us know what Sun & Jin & Sayid are up to, or something.

Bai Ling was...bad. End of story.

Todd VanDerWerff said...

Structurally, this comes at a point in every Lost season where there's a meandering Jack flashback, so I'm willing to forgive it that, but, still, at least in season two, they just dropped in some weird shit in episodes where nothing happened.

Todd VanDerWerff said...

I will say that I love Diana Scarwid, and she was well-cast here.

But who hears "mysterious tattoo artist" and thinks Bai Ling?

Anonymous said...

Bai Ling!!!