Let us hope that "The Last Recruit" is "The Last Blue Balls" episode of the series. With only four hours of storytelling remaining, how much more can they procrastinate? Last night's offerings (and let's mention that title - who is that in reference to?) started strong. Flocke immediately took Jack aside and admitted to taking the form of Christian, and that yes, people had to be dead for him to take their likeness. He also tossed in some light trash talk regarding Jacob and Locke, yet from all that potential began nothing more than an uneven and mishmashed episode of multiple alt timelines and a reshuffling of the character deck.
When "Lost" looks to lose some time, the focus tuns to exploring the flashbacks or flashsideways. A secondary, less obvious filler is splitting up the groups and bringing certain people back together. Just as Jack, Hurley, Sun and the others meet up with Flocke (where's Ben? where's Miles?), Sawyer has them splitting off again to foil Flocke, himself getting double crossed by an earnest Jack. If you think about it, there was a lot of lateral movement in this episode, and a lot of time spent going over things we've already experienced (Jack and Claire finding out they are siblings, Locke being labeled as pathetic, Sayid loves Nadia, etc) - the episode should have been called "Sideways Deja Vu."
Shifting gears a little: In reviewing "Glee" this week, I muse about what that show really is. Often it doesn't seem to have a good grasp of itself. Is it a high school drama, or a musical farce? "Lost" has itself gone through several crises of identity. Is it "Survivor" with a narrative? Is it a sci-fi series? Is it aimed at comic book geeks or mainstream America? When "Lost," like "Glee," embraces one dynamic, it does its best work. In Season One when the survivors had to pull together to struggle against starvation and things that go bump in the night, it was an interesting portrait of social dynamics. In Seasons Two and Three it wandered more than too much, but still essentially boiled down to a mystery focused on something strange but tangible - the Dharma Initiative and the Others. In Seasons Four and Five it went all out into sci-fi time travel geekdom (which we were later told was all more or less a red herring ... great). We picked up the "adventure theme music" and a lot of extra characters, but the significance of the island itself blossomed from a strange little place with a lot of secrets to, apparently, a supernatural / celestial / otherworldly cork by which a supreme evil force is held at bay by a complex set of ancient laws.
But sometimes the social dynamics still matter. Who wasn't happy to see Sun and Jin reunited at last? (and who also feared they were going to get zapped by the fence?) We won't know what "Lost" really is or aims to be until all is said and done (much like the island itself), but as the end draws near, it's interesting to consider why we all care about it so much, and what makes an episode like "The Last Recruit" so disappointing. Are the best episodes when secrets are revealed, like in the Season Five finale when we learned so much about Jacob and the Man in Black? Or are the best moments still about the lives of our heroes, like in "The Constant"? Ponder and share, Losties ... we've got some time to kill!
In Two Weeks: "His soul has gone mad, MAD I tell you! From being alone!" I am really hoping there is some Man in Black backstory in two weeks.
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