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May 13, 2006 |

By Seth Freilich | TV | May 13, 2006 |

I am a patient man. As I learned on prom night, sometimes you need to invest some valuable time and hard-earned money to get what you want. Of course, I also learned that at the end of the night you may find yourself sitting in an empty hotel room eating a pair of crotchless panties off your own body. Entertaining? Sure. But not exactly what you were hoping for.

After this season’s first two episodes of “Lost,” I’m starting to get that same feeling again, that the show isn’t going to put out and I’m going to be left high and dry, with nothing but a raspberry flavored g-string to show for my efforts. Like most fans of the show, I came into this season with high expectations because I loved the first go-round — and I didn’t just tell the show I loved it because I was trying to get it to wear some crotchless panties. I really loved the hell out of that first season. In fact, just before last May’s three-part season finale, I actually re-watched the rest of the first season just to try to pick up some new stuff “knowing now what I didn’t know then.” That’s not to say that I thought the first season was without flaws, it’s just the show’s flaws were always trumped by the good things.

Now that season two has started to chug along, however, I’m getting a bad feeling in the pit of my gut that the blemishes may start taking over, leading us down the same road J.J. Abrams took us with “Alias.” Before I go on, I should note that I won’t be talking about any episode that hasn’t aired yet, but I will be talking about the first two episodes of the new season — so if you haven’t seen them and don’t want to know about them, consider yourself spoiler warned and go read about Jessica Alba’s ass instead.

Trying not to be a complete Negative Nancy, let me start by saying there was some good stuff in these two episodes. I thought the season’s opening was fantastic — starting off like a flashback and suddenly hitting you with the oh-shit-this-dude’s-in-the-hatch moment. The folks in charge made good with their fairly well-publicized promise that we wouldn’t get strung along waiting to find out what was in the hatch (not that I have any idea what’s really going on down there yet), so big ups to them for that. And the scenes in the first episode between Jack and Hurley and in the second episode between Locke and “Hi, my name is Desmond and won’t you please take your shoes off in my hatch?” were both strong.

But within this silver lining, I’m afraid the clouds were gray.

My biggest complaint is that — let’s not mince words — the flashbacks fucking sucked (and not the good kind of prom night sucking). Last season, there were flashbacks that I certainly enjoyed more than others, but I felt like even the weaker ones still helped develop the characters and give some understanding to their pre-Island motivations. Well, except for the Boone/Shannon episode — I just don’t get what is supposedly so shocking about schtupping your step-brother. I mean, if I had a nickel for every time I [Removed by editor — Man alive, Seth, I may be from Arkansas, but that’s some fucked-up shit right there!].

So yeah, these first two flashbacks were junk. The first episode’s Dr. Jack story was basically worthless. Sure, we got to see a fantastically terrible Charlie Salinger wig; but as for the story itself — we already knew that he met his wife because she got wrecked in a car and he fixed her pegs up! Personally, I didn’t care about the specifics of that little story before it was revealed, and I still don’t care now that the specifics have been revealed. I understand that they had to give us this backstory so that we could be “shocked” by the revelation that Jack had met this Desmond dude in his previous life (and maybe to raise the question that the wife-to-be’s leg-healing and Locke’s leg-healing could somehow both be tied to Desmond or some such). I imagine the backstory was also intended to show how Jack saw this “miracle,” yet still is not a man of faith, unlike his counterpoint Locke (something which I hope they play up more throughout the season, actually). And the writers even threw the close-watcher a little bone by making Shannon and Boone’s pappy the other accident victim (the dude who Jack let die in the ER so he could save little Ms. Now-She’s-Paralyzed-Now-She’s-Toe-Wiggling), which will likely be a plot point that is drawn more into focus down the road. But when push comes to shove, this flashback didn’t really do dick for me in terms of the story itself.

The second episode, with its Michael story, was even worse. We saw how his crotch of an ex-wife took the soon-to-be-spooky son away but we didn’t really learn anything here that we hadn’t already been privy to in last season’s flashback, except to see that Michael tried to put up the good fight to keep Walt. Of course, if I were writing the show, I would’ve had him try a little harder by getting one of his former “Oz” inmates to shank the bitch Schillinger style, but maybe that’s just me.

Despite this, both of these episodes could have been saved with some solid non-flashback stuff on El Isle de Mysterioso. And the first episode did this well enough. As mentioned above, it had a great opening, we got to see some of what is going on down in that bloody hatch, we got to see some more instances of the numbers, and we had a pretty decent — though not entirely unpredictable once Jack met Desmond in his flashback — conclusion.

But the second episode’s non-flashback scenes? Oy vey. The aren’t-we-so-clever-because-we’re-showing-stuff-in-a-non-chronological-order bit felt like a cop-out, because half of those scenes were things we had already seen. And while some of these repeat scenes provided a “new perspective,” they didn’t really add much except to see that Kate almost got her head blowed off — and the other half of those scenes were the same exact fucking scenes we saw in the first episode! They even concluded the hatch part of the story with the same “cliffhanger” they ended the first episode with. Garbage! The only saving grace was the above-mentioned excellent bits between Desmond and Locke.

And the raft bit would’ve been good, except I just didn’t find the dialogue or attitudes between Michael and Sawyer to be all that believable. They felt like a convenient writer’s tool to build conflict for the sake of conflict. And then there’s the shark. You remember it — the one that wanted to chomp on Michael and Sawyer’s gooey bits and then got itself shot? So the careful observer out there might have noted that it had a tattoo on its tail fin of the same symbol that has been showing up down in the hatch. Seriously?! A tattoo! Suggesting that it’s some sort of project shark? Maybe a super smart shark?! I hope to hell that at some point Sam Jackson shows up on the island, not just because he could go Jedi Bad-Ass-Motherfucker on The Others, but so that we could get to see one of these experimental sharks eat his ass! Absent that, I’m not very excited about the shark prospect, and it just begs for a “jump the shark” reference.

Two quick mini-rants here while I’m in full-on bitch mode, and then I’ll wrap it up.

Mini-rant the first: You know those numbers that keep showing up everywhere (in fact, go check out TV Squad for an interesting little tidbit about them)? While it’s fun enough to throw the numbers around so they show up here, there, and everywhere, it’s just as easy for a monkey to throw its feces around. I sure as hell hope that the men behind the “Lost” curtain know what they’re doing and actually have some solid plan for these numbers that make sense.

Mini-rant the second: Note to producers — Scary music and shots in the dark of night or in dark tunnels do not a suspenseful scene make! For example, in the second episode, when Locke was slowly creeping down the hatch hallway, with scary music and whatnot; since we had already seen all of this last week, there was no suspense. Stop using the equivalent of smoke and mirrors to try and create suspense where there isn’t any, and put more effort into the script being solid enough to give us legitimate suspense.

Look, ultimately my point is this. If my 80-year-old Jewish granny taught me how to do anything, she taught me how to do two things — [Once again, depravity has been removed by editor.] and how to worry. And right now, since I’m sitting down, I’ll have to be content with worrying.

Let’s put it this way: The original draft of the show’s pilot had Jack dead five minutes in and Kate — minus the fugitive back story — supposedly becoming be the leader. If they can make these apparent drastic changes to the plot structure on day one, do they really know where they’re going with this? Or are we in store for another show that plods and mish-mashes its way from season to season, not really sure where the hell it’s going and thrashing around like a dude on prom night trying to eat crotchless panties off his own body?

For now, I’ll be like Locke and go on faith — even with these complaints, “Lost” is still better than most of the other crap polluting my beloved television; but if this season doesn’t right itself, I may end up kicking “Lost” out of the hotel room and putting those crotchless panties on my sweet, sweet “Veronica Mars” (now there was a good season premiere!).


Seth Freilich is Pajiba’s television columnist. He lives in Washington, D.C., and couldn’t be happier that summer “intern season” is finally here.

The TV Whore / Seth Freilich

October 13, 2005

TV | May 13, 2006 |

Seth is a Senior Editor and sometime critic. You may email him here or follow him on Twitter.

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