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February 11, 2008 |

By Daniel Carlson | Lost Recaps | February 11, 2008 |

My roommate and I discussed the various complexities and frustrations of “Lost” shortly before the second episode of Season 4, “Confirmed Dead,” aired the other night. He looked at me and said, “This show is really irritating me right now. … I don’t know. Maybe if I watched it more…” and then he trailed off into a communicative silence. I nodded in understanding, if not agreement. “Yeah, it’s a pretty demanding show,” I said, and it is. “Lost,” more than any other serialized drama out there, requires a pretty rigorous commitment to viewing. But it also requires a slight recalibration as to what constitutes progress or development or what have you. “Lost” unfolds pretty slowly, both to enhance the mindset of being stranded on a desert island and to let the mystery evolve at its own pace. And answers do come along every episode; it’s just that they always bring more questions.

“Confirmed Dead” opens with an undersea rover exploring the ocean floor while the remote operators chat over the radio. The camera’s POV comes across the fuselage of a jet that turns out pretty unsurprisingly to be the wreck of Oceanic 815, and it’s weird how undramatic the moment is. Didn’t Juliet or Ben (or someone) tell Jack (or someone) that everyone back home already figured the passengers of 815 were dead? Granted, seeing the wreck is pretty cool, but it only works in the sense that it makes you wonder who put the wreckage there, and why, since for some reason the wreck’s existence already seemed like a sure thing. Anyway: The action cuts to a Massachusetts household to where Daniel Farraday (Jeremy Davies) is watching news footage of the discovered wreck and weeping, though he admits to his wife/girlfriend that he doesn’t know why he’s crying. Aside from being the first time that title cards have been used to set the location in a flashback, it’s also a downright Tralfamadorian blast as far as timelines are concerned, since it’s a flashback to events (obviously) after the crash, which hasn’t happened that often. Soon enough, the story jumps back to Daniel on the chopper as it flies over the island, looking for a place to land. An electrical storm threatens to wreck the helicopter, so Daniel parachutes out and lands near Jack and Kate, who run up to meet him. He says to them, “I’m here to rescue you,” and that’s it. From a story standpoint, we’ve learned a little about Daniel, but we’ve only moved forward maybe 45 seconds in the total narrative. Them’s the breaks.

Jack and Kate march through the jungle with Daniel to try and find the rest of the chopper’s crew — three more people, including the pilot — when Jack notices that Daniel’s got a gun casually tucked into his pants. Davies is predictably unsettling in the role, and his casting is damn-near pitch-perfect: Everything about him is edgy and nervous, ensuring Jack and Kate won’t even get a few moments of peace with their supposed rescuer before suspecting him of sinister motives. (Which, of course, he kinda has.)

Locke and everyone that sided with him are trudging through a different part of the island where the sun has come out and it’s raining, and Locke uses his weird connection with the island to know when the storm will stop. Sawyer, last week’s moody statements about survival notwithstanding, has gone back to being a rifle-wielding smartass, and he pesters Locke to fess up about a plan, at which point Locke admits that his ideas came from Walt, who appeared to him while he was lying in a pit and almost dying from a gunshot wound to the gut courtesy of Ben. Locke lifts his shirt and shows the wound in his side to Sawyer, at which point everyone turns to glare at Ben, who’s still bloody and beat up and looks like he’s just going to get pummeled in every episode. Hurley slips and admits to knowing about Jacob’s Ghost Cabin With Teleportation Abilities, which makes Locke curious and Ben deeply wary. Ben will now probably try to kill Hurley or get info from him in the future.

Back on the beach, Sayid — who’s gotten royally screwed over as far as character development and screen time since the first season — hangs with Juliet and watches for the boat. She plays right into his fears about the rescuers, and tells him they should be ready. Back in the jungle, Kate, Jack, and Daniel find some gas masks and biohazard gear from Daniel’s chopper, which he tries and fails to lie about. He tells Jack the masks were a “precaution,” and when Jack presses, Daniel says, “Rescuing you and your people? Can’t really say it’s our primary objective.” This also isn’t much of a surprise, since Charlie in fact died to warn everyone that the boat was not, in fact, Penny’s. Again, the point isn’t so much what Daniel reveals — which is known — but that he reveals it, and it finally starts to sink in with Jack that things could turn out pretty poorly, which is par for the course on Hell Island. Daniel gets a buzz on the satellite phone that helps him locate Miles (Ken Leung), one of fellow crewmembers, but when they arrive at Miles’ location, they discover that Miles is one twitchy, trigger-happy little bugger. He pulls a gun on Kate and asks about what happened to Naomi, and Kate’s face pretty much gives up her knowledge of Naomi’s death. Kate absolutely sucks at lying.

Miles’ flashback, set in Inglewood, reveals him to be some kind of con-man/ghostbuster, though he’s really just a psychic and a douchebag. He visits a woman clearly grieving a dead grandson so he can exorcise the boy’s room, but once he’s up there, he just plugs a hand-vac into the wall, sits on the bed, and asks the kid where “it” is. A noise reveals a hole in the wall with a big wad of cash, which Miles pockets before promptly splitting. He gives some of his fee back to the grandmother, but still: Douchebag. Back on the island, he’s running around and screaming and looking awfully close to emptying a few rounds into Jack and Kate.

Back to the Lockies: Ben starts to screw with Sawyer’s head in re: Sawyer’s hidden love for Kate and his fears that she loves Jack, so Sawyer starts to beat the hell out of Ben, again. Locke stops him, Sawyer stalks away, Ben looks whipped. Meanwhile, Miles, Daniel, Jack, and Kate go to Naomi’s body, where Miles kneels and does some kind of whispery mumbo-jumbo that apparently lets him know that Naomi was indeed shanked by Locke. The phone buzzes again, but Jack and Kate refuse to go. Miles, who’s far too excitable, threatens to kill them, but Sayid and Juliet come out of the trees with guns blazing and turn the tables. It would’ve been nice to see Jack pistol-whip Miles for being an ass, but unfortunately, he keeps his cool.

The third flashback is easily the most incredulous: Charlotte (Rebecca Mader), also on the chopper, barges into an archaeological dig in Tunisia, where (a) the skeleton of a polar bear has been unearthed, and further (b) the bones come with a leather collar emblazoned with the Dharma Initiative logo from the Hydra station. And here I thought Walt was just manifesting the bears out of fear. How the hell a polar bear made it to Tunisia, and how the collar remained intact, is beyond me, but there’s so much going on with the rest of the story that I’m just letting this one go. Back on the island, Charlotte dangles from a tree in her chute before freeing herself and coming across Locke’s crew, who regard her with worthy suspicion in a great little mutual interrogation scene. “How many of you are there?” she asks. “Why do you wanna know?” Hurley responds before telling her what she wants to know. Locke cuts him off, but Charlotte keeps asking questions. Locke starts asking her the same questions — how many rescuers are there, where was the pilot trying to land, etc. — and though Charlotte seems to be doing okay, the rest of the islanders clearly don’t trust her. It’s a great “Lost” moment because everyone seems to be telling the truth, and most likely is, but that’s still not enough to make people trust each other. Locke decides Charlotte is coming with them, and when she argues that this will hinder the rescue, he says, “That’s the thing. We don’t wanna be found.”

Jack et al. march toward Charlotte’s presumed location, while Sayid tries to find out more about Daniel and Miles. Daniel admits to being a physicist, but Miles threatens to break Daniel’s fingers if he keeps talking to Sayid. Miles, I should repeat, is one angry little douchebag, and will probably pay the price for it; personally, I’m hoping the smoke monster gets him. The signal from Charlotte’s transponder gets closer, but it turns out to be tied to Vincent’s collar, as the dog bounds out of the woods toward Jack. (With no Walt or MercutioMichael in sight, the writers only remember Vincent is around when they need a handy plot device. If you see Vincent running around in the beginning of the episode, rest assured he’ll do something important by the end.) Jack just nods. “Locke’s got her,” he says, making Charlotte the 937th thing to come between Jack and Locke in their battle for island leadership.

Fourth flashback: Frank Lapidus (Jeff Fahey) is a pilot living in the Bahamas, and you can tell he’s a grizzled older man because he’s grown a scruffy beard and staggers around his office. He sees the footage of the Oceanic 815 wreck on the news, which features a shot of the dead pilot’s rotting corpse that’s easily too gruesome for daytime news but makes sense for the sake of the story. The camera lingers for an unusually long time on the corpse’s left hand, still propped on the plane’s steering equipment, and seeing it, I thought, “No wedding ring. I guess the real pilot was married.” Which, sure enough, is exactly the case, as Frank tells the operator on the Oceanic hotline when he calls to report that the wreck footage is wrong. How does he know this? Because — wait for it — Frank was supposed to be flying Oceanic 815 that day. No wonder he moved to the islands and started drinking.

Back in the present, an injured Frank staggers out the bushes and runs into a cow — did Mikhail have cows? Someone remind me — before firing off a flare that’s sighted by Charlotte. Locke refuses to go check it out, and while everyone is arguing, Ben grabs Carl’s gun and puts two in Charlotte’s chest, leading to his second beating of the episode at the hands of Sawyer. Charlotte, however, was wearing a bulletproof vest, which is admittedly weird for a rescue mission, but it saved her life. Before Locke can ask about it, the action shifts back to Frank, who’s passed out in a field, where Jack and the rest find him. They ask about the chopper, and Frank points over the hill, where the helicopter is parked. Jack, Sayid, and Kate are too taken with the sight of the chopper and the potential of rescue to wonder how it could be in such good condition while Frank is badly cut and bruised. Did he land easily enough, then trip and fall down a cliff? What the hell?

Final flashback: Matthew Abaddon, the creepy guy who visits Hurley in the mental hospital in the future and who’s named after a demon from Revelation, is seen helping Naomi assemble the team that will eventually fly to the island. Naomi balks at the team, saying that they’re embarking on a “high-risk covert op in unstable territory.” She asks about finding survivors, and Abaddon shuts her down, though it’s clear they both know that people from Oceanic 815 are alive and (somewhat) well. “Don’t ask questions, just do what you were hired to do,” Abaddon says.

Back on the island, Sayid announces that the chopper is totally flyable, while Miles uses the sat phone to call somebody named Minkowski for help. Juliet patches up Frank, but when he learns her name, he yells out to Miles that Juliet wasn’t on 815. “She’s a native,” he says, causing Miles to completely lose it and run up to Juliet shouting, “Where is he?” Miles whips a photo out of Ben out of his pocket, saying, “I’ll tell you why we’re here. We’re here for Benjamin Linus.”

Meanwhile, Sawyer is about to kill Ben, but Locke insists on his right to pull the trigger. Ben starts to weasel out of an execution with a promise of information, but when Locke asks him to reveal the secret of the black smoke monster, Ben just says, “I don’t know.” However, just before Locke can pull the trigger, Ben rattles off a bunch of biographical information about Charlotte, which her startled reaction reveals to be true. Ben tells Locke he was right to suspect the rescuers, and when Locke asks just how the hell Ben knows all this — which is a good questions — this week’s kicker ending comes down: Ben looks back at Locke and says simply, “I have a man on their boat.” It’s the quintessential “Lost” plot point that provides information just as it leaves you waiting for more. Who’s Ben’s man on the boat? How long has he been there, and how did he get there? Is there anyone who doesn’t want to kill Ben? I have no idea where things will go from here, but I also know that it’s worth sticking with the show, demanding though it might be, to find out.

Daniel Carlson is the managing editor of Pajiba and a low-level employee at a Hollywood industry magazine. You can visit his blog, Slowly Going Bald.

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