Thursday, March 24, 2016

Lost: Season 4 Recaps

We are currently doing a weeklong tribute to my favorite TV show (or thing in general), the television series Lost.  For more articles about Lost week, click here.

(Editor's Notes: These episodes are judged on a curve.  Lost is my all-time favorite show and even at its worst, it's still better than pretty much anything I've ever experienced on television.  Additionally, Lost is a show that is built off of its mystique and mystery-if you haven't seen these episodes, SEE THEM NOW as they are the part of the best series ever put on television, and then come back and discuss because spoilers, they are a-coming).

The Beginning of the End (#4.1)

Review: Season premieres are always a tricky business on Lost.  Cliffhangers are rarely, if ever, resolved (at least not conventionally), and usually we get introduced to a barrage of newer and more difficult to track mysteries.  This is certainly the case with Beginning, which is, let’s face it, the weakest of the six premieres.  Hurley episodes are almost always fun experiences, but he doesn’t quite have the gravitas to hold together and opener, particularly when he had little to nothing substantial to do with the previous season’s finale.  That isn’t to say that he doesn’t have a lot to offer-Garcia is a fine actor, and the basketball scene (and the Claire scene) are the highlights of this episode.  I love the way the castmates plausibly split, particularly with Sawyer going with Locke, a highly likely scenario.  That said, I wanted more from such an emotional high the previous season, and this acted more as filler than anything concrete.
Get Out the Kleenex: Hurley, telling Claire that Charlie had died.
Hurley Dude Count: 8
Desmond Brother Count: Just one
(Still) Unanswered Questions: What is the deal with Matthew Abaddon?  How does he have so much information about the Island? 
Best Line: “So you better treat him real good when we get back,” –Rose, to a scandalized Sun and Claire (but you know she would have), to be followed by “well, technically he didn’t,” –Ben, about John killing Naomi
Best Moment: Jack, pulling the trigger on Locke and proving all of that bravado wasn’t bluster.
Episode MVP: Hurley, who gets to shine with the enigma, and has an emotional and concrete epiphany.

Confirmed Dead (#4.2)

Review: Now we’re talking-on Lost, it’s always a good time when they decide to introduce a troupe of characters.  In this case, Charlotte, Frank, Miles, and Daniel all give enough sugar-and-spice to make for an interesting season.  I love the way that they intertwine the characters once more, giving us the purpose of the freighter (looking for Ben), they give us our four new mysterious “scientists” and we are essentially given the plotline for the rest of this short fourth season.  Character introductions are Lost’s specialty, and getting four in one episode is a delight.  There are some issues (I think it was a little convenient that magically Sayid and Juliet showed up in the middle of the jungle), but overall this is one of the best episodes of the early season.
Hurley Dude Count: 1
Sawyer Nickname Alert: Colonel Kurtz, always a fun and apt one for Locke.
Really?!? with John: Who the hell gave Karl a gun?  And how did anyone not see Ben lifting it off of him?
(Still) Unanswered Questions: All of the other members of the freighter that were sent early to the island (Miles, Daniel, Charlotte, and Frank) have either been to or were supposed to be on the Island-what’s Naomi’s story?
Best Line: “Karl, if you’re going to be sleeping with my daughter I insist that you call me Ben,” –Ben, quick with a joke and a light of your smoke
Best Moment: Ben, reciting the roster of the helicopter at the end, proving that even when he’s tied and at gunpoint, and presumably in the dark, he still has a trick up his sleeve.
Episode MVP: Charlotte, whose story is the most compelling (at this juncture) on and off Island.

The Economist (#4.3)

Review: Before I get to this solid episode, I want to get to what may be the first time someone other than Locke really mentions how good some of these people have it.  One of the most convenient aspects of the plane was that the likes of Kate, Sawyer, Sayid, Jack, Hurley, Sun & Jin-they all were largely better off on this Island.  Really, is there anyone whose life was considerably better if they had landed in LAX?  Something to ponder as we get into “The Economist,” a powerhouse play by Naveen Andrews as he takes a further step into the hell that is his existence, killing and murdering for hire (we find out at the end that he is hired by the above man in glasses).  On-island, not too much is advanced, aside from that wonderful scene with Sawyer and Kate, and the fact that every other mystery is brought up as if to remind the viewers (yes, Ben has someone on the boat, yes, there’s a picture of Desmond & Penny, yes, they have “other” reasons to be here).  But the off-Island punches, where we have discovered person Number 4 of the Oceanic Six, that’s where the kicks are.
Hurley Dude Count: 2
Desmond Brother Count: Not so much as a bro.
(Still) Unanswered Questions: Just who is the Economist?  Is it Widmore? Ben? Abaddon?  A figment of our imaginations?  One of those small mysteries that's never actually answered (I feel like the writer's strike may have cost us this answer)
Best Line: “Oh awesome, the ship sent us another Sawyer,” –Hurley, upon Miles calling him Tubby.
Best Moment: Ben and Sayid, in the Marathon Man-inspired surgery room.
Episode MVP: At long last, it took four seasons, but the final of the eight characters who have been above the title for the entire series gets his due-hats off to you, Mr. Jarrah.

Eggtown (#4.4)

Review: Partially due to the episode’s weird title, and apparently due to fanboys hatred of Kate once Juliet entered the scene, this episode has enjoyed a bad rap.  And part of that, I have to say, is true.  In a season that was basically waxed in enigma, this is the one where the enigma holds thinnest (how on Earth did Kate get out of a crime she confessed to without jail time, for starters?), but it still has some treasures to offer.  Sawyer is at his swaggering best in this episode, flirting with Kate (and slightly more deliciously, Claire), and Locke is getting further into the Heart of Darkness.  We get an audience with Ben, who doesn’t seem to have his next move quite planned out yet, but you know it’s coming.  And you get that head-turner of an ending, with Kate raising Aaron (the rest of her storyline on the Island would rest on this decision).  Not a truly great episode (like the one after it), but not the Strange Land travesty it is made out to be.
Hurley Dude Count: Just once
Sawyer Nickname Alert: Bruce Lee on the freighter, for Miles, and Montezuma for Hurley
(Still) Unanswered Questions: How does Ben have so much money if he’s spent his entire life on this island?
Best Line: “You just totally scooby-doo-ed me, didn’t you?” –poor Hurley, always conned by everybody
Best Moment: Locke, putting that grenade in Miles’s mouth (apparently, someone grew a pair).
Episode MVP: Locke, who manages to finally take charge and give out a little punishment to go with the crime.

The Constant (#4.5)

Review: When discussing the “best” episodes of Lost there is probably only one episode that consistently shows up on every person’s list, and it is this one.  There is no question about the brilliance on display here, and the trust that the writers have in the audience.  For starters, we abandon the back and forth, and the story is told almost entirely in linear action, and we get an explanation of what may be happening on this Island, and perhaps more than any episode, we get an explanation of what this Island could be capable of.  This is, perhaps, the turning point in the series, where it goes from a quest to getting people rescued and the mysteries of the Island to what their purpose in life is.  It’s complex science on network television, and the show never shies away from it.  And it gives us the most satisfying moment in my personal favorite love story on the show, that of Penny and Desmond.  The episode really seems to have been an entire season’s worth of memories (the new freighter team, the auction house, the explanation of time travel), and the fact that it happened in 44 minutes, well, that’s just icing.  When all is said and done, when I think of the reasons that I love Lost, this episode remains MY constant.
Get Out the Kleenex: I won’t call for eight years.
Desmond Brother Count: 6
Best Line: “I won’t call for eight years,” –Desmond, pleading with his beloved Penelope
Best Moment: Desmond and Penny, finally reconnecting on the phone
Episode MVP: Desmond, who manages to fly between time and realize on his own that the only constant thing in his life, the only thing that he can cling to in any world, is Penny.

The Other Woman (#4.6)

Review: It’s hard coming off of a high like The Constant, but it was a decent idea to have it coupled with someone as compelling as Juliet, who can hold her own in the pantheon of Lost characters (heaven help us if they’d followed it up with a Michael episode).  This episode is really Juliet’s swan song, and you kind of get the feeling that the producers knew it-she would never have another centric episode, and it seems to fit perfectly-this woman never really could leave the Island, in a way that Locke and Jack never should have left the Island.  She became too intertwined with the people, and with Ben in particular.  The flashbacks leading up to the final one are incredibly repetitive of a storyline that we basically had to have assumed at this point, but the last one made up for them in a way.  The rest of the storyline was just treading water, particularly the lack of reveal between Ben and Locke.
Really?!? with John: Kate, the woman just had a gun to your head sixty seconds prior, and now you turn your back on her when you know they’re up to something forbidden?
(Still) Unanswered Questions: Who was the man who Widmore killed?  Was it (as is popularly assumed) Nathan?
Pause for Station Identification: The Tempest, and finally, they don’t destroy it when they come across it, though they never go back to visit.
Best Line: “You’re mine,” –Ben, at his creepiest, to poor Juliet, who realizes that she will never leave this Island
Best Moment: Juliet, mourning over Goodwin, and getting a horrifying response from Ben
Episode MVP: Ben, who proves that fear never goes out of fashion on this island.

Ji Yeon (#4.7)

Review: I must admit, there are times when I see exactly where Carlton and Damon are taking us, but this one threw me for a loop, and I have to admit that I totally spent the entire episode thinking that Jin and Sun were the last two members of the Oceanic Six (assuming there was no way they could ever leave each other), and it actually took me weeks longer than this before I realized that it was Aaron and not Sawyer who was the sixth person.  That said, this is a wonderful episode, particularly since the ending is one of the best damn moments of the season, and because the Juliet reveal is such a killer.  It’s slightly hard to watch this, knowing that the Sun-and-Jin storyline wouldn’t be this compelling for over a season, but it reached one heck of an apotheosis.
Get Out the Kleenex: It doesn’t matter that I know that he’s not dead, that he sees the child, that they reunite (and then I sob again uncontrollably when I realize that Jin will not, in a twist within a twist, ever hold his daughter)-I always sob like a baby when Sun has to bring her daughter to Jin’s grave.
(Still) Unanswered Questions: What was up with Regina jumping off the boat?  Why do certain people get the sickness and others don't?
What the…?: There were about sixty different expletives that came out of my mouth when Juliet broke Sun’s confidence and told Jin about the affair (and I must admit, I watched, and cheered for that slap more times than I care to admit).  I’ve grown to love Juliet, but that moment was probably the tops of how much I’ve hated almost anyone on the Island (except for, of course, Michael).
Best Line: “I miss you so much,” –Sun, breaking every single person’s heart
Best Moment: It’s got to be Sun at the graveyard.
Episode MVP: This is the finest hour of Yunjin Kim in this series, so it’s fitting that she wins this one by a mile.

Meet Kevin Johnson (#4.8)

Review: Michael?  Really?  Couldn’t the spy have been someone else…like Mikhail?  I know that the reason that they needed him was likely due to having someone who was “supposed” to be on the Island being there, but wouldn’t Miles and Charlotte both have been sufficient to getting them back, as they were both born on the Island?  I suppose this provided closure with him, but after the murders, I just don’t think he deserved it.  On the plus side, we did get a lot of great mysteries and even an answer or two-how is Ben controlling the freighter (Michael), why is it that certain people can’t die (they have a purpose), and where exactly is the constantly-appearing Walt (still alive, with his Grandma, off-island)?  I also love the realistic reaction of Sayid when he completely gives up Michael.  All-in-all, not as bad as I’d probably make it out to be, but not a welcome return.
Things that Make You Go Hmm…: Who knew that Nalgene bottles weren’t indestructible?  Come to think of it, how did they get a Nalgene bottle on the Island?
Signs of Things to Come: Michael is unable to kill himself…and the Temple is the last safe place
Best Line: “Wait, wait, don’t, I’m Ben’s daughter.  I’m his daughter!” –Alex, showing either cowardice or shrewdness, but at the very least damn fine television
Best Moment: Sadly, we have a far too swift death of Danielle (and Karl), but the look in Alex’s eyes as she gives herself up is amazing
Episode MVP: I know she’s only in one scene, but I’m going with Alex, as that’s the first thing I remember about this episode.

The Shape of Things to Come (#4.9)

Review: I want to start out by saying that, though it’s not the “Best” Moment of the episode, Hurley throwing that chair through the window to save Claire and Sawyer (Ben be damned) was pretty darn awesome.  The rest of this episode is pretty darn awesome, too.   In fact, this is one of the best episodes of the season-it has mystery, action, and some twists no one saw coming.  For example, who actually thought we’d see Alex gunned down as Ben looked on?  Or, that the Smoke Monster could in fact be “controlled”?  We got one of the best twists when Ben finds Widmore, and says that he changed the rules, and he’s going to hunt down Penelope and kill her in return.  The episode could have been a failure (Ben going into cartoonish villain territory is always a risk), but it succeeds on every level.  And, though this is saying something, this may be Emerson’s best episode.
Hurley Dude Count: After four episodes without (the longest of the entire series), Hurley gives us a sole dude.
Really?!? with John: All right, I love me some Daniel, but after he’s been caught lying again, I was with Jack on pinning Faraday against the wall to get some answers.
(Still) Unanswered Questions: One of the biggest ones, and perhaps the most infuriating one-what are “The Rules" and how are they enforced?
Signs of Things to Come: Ben having to ask what the date is.
Best Line: “You harm so much as one hair on his curly head, I’ll kill you,” Sawyer, realizing that he loves these castaways now, even if he won’t admit it
Best Moment: There are multiple ones, including when Hurley threw the chair or Sawyer becoming uber-protective of Claire and Hurley (I loved that) or when Alex is gunned down by Keamy, but I guess I have to end with Ben and Charles, together for the first time onscreen.
Episode MVP: Ben (and Michael Emerson in general), who just owned every second of this monster of an episode.

Something Nice Back Home (#4.10)

Review: There’s a few things to love about this episode, in particular the super-protective Sawyer to Claire (I didn’t see this coming, and I ate every second of it up), but there’s a bit to dislike.  After the emotional roller coaster of the previous episode, it’s a little bit of a letdown to go into Jack’s considerable emotional baggage.  One of the problems when it comes to Jack is that he waits until Season Six to let go of the bulk of his issues.  Unlike John or Sun or Sawyer, his character doesn’t quickly adapt to his new surroundings, but instead stays exactly where he is.  Which is why when he finally does in Season Six, it’s such a welcome release.  That said the surgery and lack of movement on the beach is made up for by the truly scary tricks in the tent, as Claire, sweet, innocent, never-hurt-a-fly Claire is brought into the Heart of Darkness.  Sawyer shouting for his lost protectee is spine-tingling.
Sawyer Nickname Alert: Donger, for Miles (return of the redneck)
(Still) Unanswered Questions: Why did Claire abandon Aaron? Was it the sickness, or did her father promise her something?
Best Line: “It’s way too early for Chinese,” –racially insensitive Sawyer, to Miles
Best Moment: Sawyer, shouting in the dark for Claire (what a spooky way to end an episode).
Episode MVP: Sorry, Jack, but Sawyer is by far the best thing to recommend this episode.

Cabin Fever (#4.11)

Review: As I’ve noted multiple times, the episodes that directly precede the Season Finales usually have a bit missing, as they’re setting up all the reveals for the last episode.  This would be one of those cases.  Unlike those episodes, however, we get to see a little bit more of Locke’s mysterious background, always a delight.  In detail, we see the man who is abandoned by his mother, and then is tracked down by Richard Alpert not once, but thrice.   I thought the on-Island storyline was pretty much dullsville (Jack is resisting recovery to be a hero-there’s a shocker), though the on-boat stuff was actually quite entertaining, as we encounter the monster that is Martin Keamy.  As it is, though, this could have been just a little bit more, particularly something additional from Claire in that cabin.
Hurley Dude Count: 4
(Still) Unanswered Questions: What was Claire doing in the cabin?
Best Line: “He wants us to move the Island,” Locke, leaving even more enigma in our hands
Best Moment: In the cabin, Locke encounters the anti-Jacob, though he doesn’t quite realize it at the time.
Episode MVP: Martin Keamy, the devil on the freighter, who is willing to sacrifice anything in the name of…well, we don’t know his principles (followed closely by Frank).

There’s No Place Like Home, Part 1 (#4.12)

Review: In a sharp-shot sort of episode, we see some high-flying action and some rapid information on what happened immediately after the Oceanic Six became the Oceanic Six.  The press conference is a wonderful introduction to the lies that they told, and we get a succinct portrait of where they went afterwards.  I also loved the story of Locke, Ben, and Hurley hunting for the Orchid, and the reemergence of the Others (you knew that this ultra resourceful group of Island natives knew exactly where it was supposed to hide-perhaps, the Temple?).  I liked considerably less Jack’s insistence that he go trekking off into the jungle when he’s bleeding and could be dying, as well as Michael trying to justify that he’s now made up for what he’s done.  But all-in-all, a very decent prologue to the genius to come. (B)
Get Out the Kleenex: Whether it’s over Hurley’s mom hugging Sayid, Sun’s mom crying, or Kate not having anyone to greet her, it’s hard not to tear up when they all arrive in Hawaii.
Hurley Dude Count: 4
Pause for Station Identification: And so we show up at the Orchid, a station that I don’t believe can be destroyed (in any time)
Best Line: “When are you ever, entirely truthful?” –John, countering Ben’s “I wasn’t entirely truthful line.”  Truer words were never spoken.
Best Moment: The moment we’ve waited four seasons for, the safe return of our Castaways, though the return of the Others kind of also rocked, as did the music on that kicker of an ending, everyone marching off to their own destiny (except for poor, missing Claire).
Episode MVP: In a first, I’m going to be giving this to Sun for a non-Sun centric episode, as her answers in the press conference combined with telling off her father (and the icy stares at Michael) made for solid viewing.

There’s No Place Like Home, Parts 2 & 3 (#4.13)

Review: And so there were six.  At the end of the previous episode, quite frankly it was difficult to see how the six would be sorted out from Jin, Michael, Desmond (well, it turns out, not so much Desmond), Juliet, and Sawyer.  It turns out some people would have to die, some would merely be left behind, and some would be presumed dead.  It’s interesting to see, after all the work people did to get off, that the only people who were truly happy at the end of this episode were likely Miles, Charlotte, and Locke, all of whom stayed on the Island.  I also think it’s interesting that a season that largely gave us a bridge between the first three and final two seasons gave us so few answers, and yet was ridiculously entertaining.  Like The Two Towers, it doesn’t say where we’re going or how we got there, but it’s a portrait of what the world (in this case, the world of the Island) is completely capable of reaching.  Brilliant on every level.
Get Out the Kleenex: Sun screaming to go back for Jin.
Main Character Body Count: We were meant to think Jin, but in reality, only Michael would perish, and sacrifice himself to save the friends he betrayed.
Hurley Dude Count: 7
Desmond Brother Count: 1 (though Jack mimics it)
Sawyer Nickname Alert: Kenny Rogers, for Frank (who knew the pilot would be such a great source for nicknames)
Best Line: “I’ve been having regular conversations with dead people-the last thing I need is paranoia,” –Hurley, after Sayid breaks into his room
Best Moment:  A cavalcade of moments, including Rose fighting with Miles over the peanuts (even as they are leaving), Ben moving the Island, Sun screaming for Jin, the reveal on Bentham, but the top moment has to be the disappearance of the Island.
Episode MVP: Strong cases for Ben, Jack, and Sawyer, but I’m going with Sun for those screams and her challenge to Widmore.

Best Episodes

1. The Constant
2. There's No Place Like Home, Parts 2 & 3
3. The Shape of Things to Come
4. Ji Yeon
5. Confirmed Dead

Worst Episodes

1. Eggtown
2. Meet Kevin Johnson
3. Something Nice Back Home

Multiple MVP's

1. Sun (3)
2. Ben (2)

Best Moments

1. Desmond and Penny, On the Phone (The Constant)
2. The Island Disappears (There’s No Place Like Home, Parts 2 & 3)
3. Sun at the Graveyard (Ji Yeon)
4. Bentham Revealed (There’s No Place Like Home, Parts 2 & 3)
5. Sun Screams for Jin (There’s No Place Like Home, Parts 2 & 3)
6. Ben and Charles-the Rules Have Changed (The Shape of Things to Come)
7. Ben Moving the Island (There’s No Place Like Home, Parts 2 & 3)
8. The Oceanic Six Land (There’s No Place Like Home, Part 1)
9. Alex Giving Herself Up (Meet Kevin Johnson)
10. I Won’t Call for Eight Years (The Constant)

Have So Far Received MVP Status Every Season: Hurley, Sawyer, Locke, Sun
Number of A+/A Episodes: 3 (The Constant, The Shape of Things to Come, There’s No Place Like Home, Parts 2 & 3)

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