Thursday, March 29, 2007

"Is there a forensics hatch I don't know about?": Lost

OK, look.

I know that everyone's all, "Blah, blah, blah answers" and "Blah, blah, blah characters we like" and "Blah, blah, blah Nikki and Paolo are Satan," but I liked this episode. Even if I'm the only one on Earth who did (and, honestly, Libby wasn't enthralled with it at all, so I'm probably all alone out here), I liked just how weird the whole thing was, how meta and how self-loathing it was.

At this point, Lost's main mystery is such a huge tangle that the producers either have to drop it entirely for weeks at a time or just resolve the damn thing. Since they're going to run for at least another season, they've got to do the dropping it thing. Hence, we get the episode where Hurley fixed up a van or weird morality tales (ripped from the Twilight Zone) like this one. I'm not sure this is a particularly GOOD episode, but it's at least something different. It's odd that in a season when everyone's bemoaning just how serialized shows have gotten, the show that made everyone go serialized is aiming at being less serialized (though that doesn't seem to have been popular with fans).

I'm not sure I like how the show blatantly inserted Paolo and Nikki throughout its history (though I have to admit the effects work in inserting them into the crash sequence was pretty
seamless), but I'll wait to see if they do anything more with it before declaring it an outright dud (and would Ben really lie out his entire plan like that for Juliet -- I don't think it's very likely at all). It just seemed. . .odd to have Paolo and Nikki discover all of this stuff before the regulars, but I think it was also a weird commentary on both fan fiction and the way we make ourselves the centers of our own stories. Paolo and Nikki just didn't think to tell anyone because they were the only two they cared about.

Random note: Kiele Sanchez looks very nice in a bikini top.

Back to the commentary.

I don't want Lost to suddenly turn into the standalone show, but I think hours like this are necessary to keep the central mystery from becoming any more labyrinthine. The hour didn't necessarily rehabilitate Nikki and Paolo (who were doomed from the start, even though they were introduced the exact opposite way of the Tailies, whom fans also hated), but it did put them in a new context (though if spoilers a friend told me are accurate. . .I don't even want to think about it).

Anyway. Being buried alive is one of my greatest fears, and here was an hour that built to it with a nicely chilling ending that effectively made the regular characters the villains of the piece. It wasn't perfect storytelling, but it was good junk food TV.

Or, as Alan Sepinwall pointed out, it was better than the tattoos episode.


Jon said...

I honestly thought this might be the best episode this show has had this season.The Desmond episode and last week's were more important to the show as a whole, but this definitely had the ambition of both those two and pulled it off very well. I like the idea of Nikki and Paulo essentially being the Forrest Gumps of the island, witnessing multiple major events and knowing the secrets before everyone else. It was ridiculous, but it worked.

I read the writers were going to just have them appear in this one episode, but thought they should get throw them in at the beginning of the season. I think that had they gone with the original idea of having them be one-episode characters people would be less hostile towards it, if that makes sense.

And the ending good God. Being buried alive is also one of my greatest fears, so the idea of getting buried alive by perfectly fine people and not being able to anything about it - absolutely creepy-perfect.

Yeah, I really enjoyed this.

Todd VanDerWerff said...

Yeah, that was a great Twilight Zone-y ending. Only complaint: she just had one shovelful of dirt over her face. She couldn't have yelled? But, then, that's missing the point.

I'm more favorably disposed to this the more I think about it. I don't think it's the best of the season or anything, but it worked well for what it set out to do.

And I agree they would have worked better as one-off characters. Then everyone wouldn't have worried about their purpose all season.

Jon said...

Yeah. Without all the "What's their point?!" build-up, it would've been a lot easier to swallow for most. By making them mostly pointless for the first half of the season the writers unknowingly built up some prejudice against them that people just weren't able to drop.

David Sims said...

My guess is that function had returned only to her eyes, not her whole body, or even her vocal cords.

This was a cute episode, funny in the Rosencrantz & Guildenstern outsider-looking-in aspect, but the characters were just too irritating for it to completely work for me. I didn't have a problem with the characters before this (I actually thought Nikki was kinda cute) but, really? Diamond thieves? Couldn't they have been a little more normal? I think the episode would have worked better then, although the ending would have been too cruel in that case.

Moses McCluer said...

Say what you will about Lost's abilities to develop their characters, but the show has always built up the idea of how the castaways' new life on the island has affected them. It's the main premise of the show. Locke feels reborn. Charlie struggles with falling back into old habits. Jack begrudgingly assumes his destiny as a Great Man. Ana-Lucia tries to become the mother figure she never got to become.

Yet, Paolo and Nikki have no interest whatsoever in becoming a part of the island or its community. Unlike other characters, whose island problems reflect their pasts, Paolo and Nikki spent their 80 days on the island wrapped up in the same precise situation they were in when before the plane crashed. They showed no concern as to how they would live on the island or even how to get off it. They just wanted to make sure they were rich when it happened.

I find it fascinating that, in a show that pulls in its fans by building up the mystery of its setting, that we would get a quick peak at two people who don't really give a shit.

Moses McCluer said...

Also, Sawyer called the presumed dead Nikki and Paolo "jabronis"! I'm glad that we're still getting great Sawyerisms despite the wager he made with Hurley.