Lost S1E15: Homecoming

by thethreepennyguignol

Damon. Damon, baby. Damon, I have questions

This episode of Lost, Homecoming, was the first one in a while to have only creator Damon Lindelof listed as a writer. And I was genuinely looking forward to it, because most of the reason I came to this show in the first place was because I so fucking adored Lindelof’s most recent show, Watchmen. That, for my money, is one of the finest, most crisply-written shows of the decade, and surely, the man behind that could at least hitch Lost out of the mediocrity it’s been hanging around in these last few weeks, right?

And the answer is: well, almost. The A-plot this week, back on the Island, as Claire returns and wanders about a bit with some plot-relevant amnesia and Ethan threatens what remains of the survivors in order to get her back, is great stuff. There are real stakes here, a real sense of forward momentum – relationships that have been the center of episodes for development, such as those between John and his twinky lover Boone, as well as Kate and her currently-on-hiatus-thank-fuck love triangle, are starting to pay off. In order to have your team band together against an outside threat, we’ve got to understand what they’re overcoming to come together, and I feel that in this story this week.

And then, for some reason – Charlie flashbacks. I mean, we already know from The Moth that this is bad news, but these flashbacks are honestly some of the most bafflingly ill-advised pieces of storytelling I’ve seen the show do so far – and we’ve had some spectacular mis-steps as it is. The B-plot follows Charlie, back in England, trying to scam a rich woman into falling in love with him so that he can nick her stuff and sell it for drugs.

It’s a strangely lopsided tone to match to the hyper-serious story on the Island – we’re talking some goof-heavy nonsense back in England, with the additional treat of Americans trying to write for British characters (please note: no adult says “bloody” unless they want to say “fucking” but are, for some reason, in front of their grandparents), while Ethan’s compatriots rise like monsters from the deep to murder random members of the crash survivors. One of these things is not like the other. And I have no idea why Lindelof tried to fit them into the same episode.

And it’s a shame, because Homecoming has the makings of a really strong episode. Any episode that puts John Locke at the centre of things is already off to a solid start, and pointing everyone at such a direct threat gives things a sense of momentum that we’ve been lacking recently. Even our brief glimpses of S*wyer are actually useful, and William Mapother and his lovely, strange face are a welcome, if brief, return. I get that a lot of Lost so far has been about the grand existential threat of being removed from a life they’ve lived for so long, but it’s good to have a tangible one actually waving a knife around, you know?

And telling the episode from Charlie’s point of view would have worked even without the flashbacks – after all, he’s the only person who seems to actually remember his victimisation by Ethan (Claire and her Handy Amnesia is eye-roll worthy, but I’m too bored by it to delve more), and we didn’t need the hefty, boring, totally tonally irrelevant flashbacks to confirm that. Damon, baby, I just want to know why! Why would you mess up a perfectly good episode with your grindingly unnatural attempts to write British dialogue? Why? Why do this to me, Louise, personally? The cruelty! The cruelty!

Ahem. What I’m saying is, I wish Lost trusted us enough to believe that, fifteen episodes in, we’re actually invested in what’s going on Island-ward. I don’t need silliness to keep me invested. In fact, I want the show to take itself seriously for a while. This far in, I need something in the realm of at least an answer – an answer that isn’t obsfucated by Claire’s failing memory, at least. And I’m not going to get those answers if the show keeps ducking out to tell half-stories that don’t matter instead of focusing on the ones that do.

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 The AV Club)