Lost S1E14: Special

by thethreepennyguignol

I was scammed before with the promise of a Naveen Andrews episode, which ended up a total let-down and more focused on this whole “mythology” thing that I’m sure the show’s going to lose interest in soon enough, but this week, I have finally been gifted with a killer platform for a great actor that the show actually seems to want to do something with.

And that is Harold Perrineau, better known as Michael, and his son Walt. As the only parent-child situation on the island – well, the only parent-child where one of them isn’t in the womb situation, anyway – I’ve been really looking forward to seeing what Lost will do with a dynamic that they can’t spear on the pointy end of another fucking love triangle.

And it’s…good. It is. I always have some complaints about Lost, but this is actually a pretty competent episode. The new dynamic brings a poignant new edge to the storytelling, and there’s some genuine directorial flair that doesn’t just revolve around shaking the camera so hard that it makes me feel as though I’m the one in the fucking plane crash.

At the core of this episode, there is something solid. Harold Perrineau is a terrific actor, and watching him try to navigate a whole lifetime of fatherhood in a matter of minutes somehow doesn’t feel as painfully compressed as other flashbacks have in the show so far, thanks to the emotional depth that he brings to it. There are moments of pure, solid perfection here – Michael’s confrontation with Locke towards the start of the episode, when he tells the older man to stay away from his son, is the first time that we’ve seen Terry O’Quinn have any sort of wobble in confidence since he’s been on the island, and, even though it’s just a flicker, it’s a powerful moment.

But what comes around it is just such utter nonsense. Because in order to get these solid emotional moments, everyone has to act like such a raging idiot to twist circumstances to fit the outcomes that the show needs to reach. Walt’s mother is comically awful, taking Walt to Amsterdam without Michael’s permission, getting married to someone else, and cutting Michael out of his life with such brutal reasoning that it almost seems cartoonish. I understand that custody battles can often be weighted culturally in favour of the woman, but she essentially throws up the double birds and tells Michael to get fucked because Michael needs the character development, I guess.

And then, back on the island, Michael needs to prove himself to Walt, so Walt, despite sticking around with the sensible John all this time, wanders off into the jungle to get hunted by polar bears. It serves a solid moment between the two of them at the end-up, and perhaps it could be argued that it’s Walt’s childish attitude that caused him to act so irrationally, but once again, the show has failed to lay down this groundwork first.

Hurley makes a comment at the start of the episode about Michael seeming to hate being a father, something that has just not been indicated thus far in. It makes a solid arc for the episode, but you don’t just get to rewrite your characters every week to fit what you need them to do, okay? Pretty much every episode begins with someone proclaiming the starting point of the featured character’s arc, which has often come wandering out of the jungle like another fucking polar bear, just so the episode can put a pin in it at the end. God forbid they sew the seeds of that through consistent characterisation instead, huh?

At least the meat of this episode is actually given to good characters – Michael, Locke – and the only glimpse we get of S*wyer is in yet another “He has taken An Item that someone wants and will now proceed to be a low-level cunt about it!” plot for what has to be at least the fourth time in the last ten episodes. Claire comes clattering out of the forest, looking like me going for a piss in the middle of the night, and Charlie is actually, somehow, slightly charming again. Maybe because he punched Sawyer? Yeah, maybe that, actually.

Boone and Locke are continuing to have what everyone at the camp can only assume is a torrid homosexual affair. I mean, vanishing off into the jungle, claiming to hunt, coming back with nothing, while Locke knocks up potions that look a whole lot like makeshift lubricant? Less Christopher and his Kind, more Christopher and his Knife. You’re not fooling anyone, Lost. God, I wish they would have actually gone with this plot. It might have made one of the romance arcs remotely compelling.

I did like this episode, overall, because, no matter what the machinations the show bends into to get there, Harold Perrineau is a great performer, and he makes the emotional moments really stick. But I just want Lost to have a little consistency here – and preferably lean in to that age-gap gay relationship that would make this season so much more interesting. What are you waiting for, twenty years ago, you cowards? Do it!

If you liked this recap, and want to see more stuff like it, please feel free to jump into some of my other recapping projects – the Fifty Shades of Grey book series, the first Harry Potter book, Doctor WhoGame of Thrones, and American Horror Story, to name a few. I also write about movies with my brilliant co-editor over at No But Listen. If you’d like to support my work, please consider supporting me on Patreon, or buying my books!

(header image via IMDB)