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"A Tale of Two Cities," "The Glass Ballerina," "Further Instructions," "Every Man for Himself," "The Cost of Living," "I Do," "Not in Portland," "Flashes Before Your Eyes," "Stranger in a Strange Land," "Tricia Tanaka is Dead," "Enter 77," "Par Avion," "The Man from Tallahassee," "Exposé," "Left Behind," "One of Us," "Catch-22," "D.O.C.," "The Brig," "The Man Behind the Curtain," "Greatest Hits," "Through the Looking Glass"
by Walter Chaw By now, "Lost" is resolving as an interminable adaptation of that old PC puzzle game "Myst": lush environments, episodic brain teasers of medium intensity, and a mystery revolving around the failed construction of a society that suffers from a paucity of real forward momentum. The rate at which new characters are introduced accelerates rapidly in Season Three as Jack, Kate, and Sawyer are taken by the Ben-led Others to a neighbouring island on which the Others have built a quiet little bedroom community complete with outdoor cages, a surgical theatre, and a book-club. (This month's selection? Of all things, Stephen King's Carrie.) It's all very "Days of Our Lives"--particularly that show's supernatural stint from a decade or so ago which saw purportedly massacred citizens of Salem actually spirited away to the secluded island of Melaswen. Is "Lost" the further adventures of our Melaswen castaways? Why not. It's ultimately not more preposterous than this framework set for returns from the dead, alternate timelines, and suggestions that that glimpse of "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge" in the hatch in the middle of Season Two will finally bear middle-school fruit in the show's dedication to slack foreshadowing and Gen-X/pomo 101 pop-culture references piling up thicker than desiccated corpses on the main island. If it bugs you that the characters periodically take breaks from worrying about their continued, casual existence amid polar bears and carnosaurs to do shtick on "Skeletor" and Thundercats while hot-wiring a VW bus to play Three Dog Night in an episode that blows the dust off Cheech Marin for a cameo as Hurley's no-account daddy (why not have him light up a spliff and shove his arm elbow-deep up a horse, too?), phew, then you're not the right audience for "Lost", a series that now averages one slo-mo musical interlude per episode to match its pace of introducing new people and storylines.
By Season Three, "Lost" is also getting self-referential in commenting, snarkily, on its detractors--by, for example, dropping Kate (Evangeline Lilly) and Sawyer (Josh Holloway) in a literal Operant Conditioning Box that dispenses fish-biscuits to our hillbilly whenever he hits a button. (Too, the problem with the herky-jerky, serialized plot rollercoastering seems to be referenced in the season opener's title, "A Tale of Two Cities.") But self-aware doesn't mean good, as the resolution to last season's double-cliffhanger (one white trio abducted, a second trio consisting of Locke (Terry O'Quinn), Mr. Eko (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), and Charlie (Dominic Monaghan) imploding the hatch) finds that of all the people who could have/should have died, it's only savage giant/drug lord/priest Eko who does. As part of his eulogy, quasi-holy man Locke thanks poor black Eko for facilitating the resurrection of his faith, in part through Eko's death, marking the character as yet another example of a minority martyred for the greater development of bwana. I guess I don't much care about that, though, nor about the episodes recounting Eko's violent past and deep regret for getting his saintly brother killed, whether or not that progression sort of mirrors The Emperor Jones in playing at strength while being similarly unable to resist that moment when this neo-Robeson, representative of the possibility of the Negro male, is portrayed as the proverbial beast in the jungle. And how 'bout the quick exit of Ms. Klugh (April Grace), or Rose's terminal condition, or Michael's intimate betrayals? I guess the truth is that I don't care overmuch about "Lost"'s dedicated annihilation of every black cast member thus far because I'm tired of discussing race in mainstream entertainment. If you don't acknowledge a problem you're part of the problem, either an instigator or a consenter. More likely I'm just preaching to the choir and the choir don't care, anyway.
After all, nothing is more odious than the continued treatment of Hurley (Jorge Garcia) by the show's creators as a very specific variety of WWII comic relief. Hurley's featured Season Three romp (3.10, "Tricia Tanaka is Dead") is entirely at his expense; his isn't a character arc so much as a repugnant joke at the expense of the ugliest, fattest, lamest cast member. It's tempting to give Hurley a brain and a heart and some courage, but it's too fun to see him flop around, afraid of his tail, accidentally setting off snares and shooting off flares and sweating through Wardrobe's arsenal of XXXL T-shirts. Of course Cheech is his dad. Of course Cheech as his dad is a deadbeat gold digger. And of course the central joke is that Cheech is so desperate to get at Hurley's lotto millions that he's willing to pop his well-into-her-dotage ex-wife, to the disgust of Hurley. "Lost" is a terrible drama, let's agree. At the rate of about once a season so far, it's also a legendarily bad comedy. Before devotees rally and declare that Hurley is a hero in the next episode, note that he's a hero in the first season for playing golf--and a hero in this third one for playing ping-pong. It sets the stage not for spinal surgery and airplane engineering, but rather the discovery of a bowling alley somewhere down the line. Hail the hirsute, bloated, conquering hero--quick with a quip and discreetly offscreen when there's sex or bravery involved. If it's no longer interesting to talk about how we hate and fear black people, it's still interesting to talk about how we hate and fear fat people. Maybe it's because that while it's highly unlikely outside of a James Cameron (or Neil Blomkamp) movie that one will wake up black, Asian, or Hispanic if one is not already, it's only too likely that a few second dinners down the road some of us will become Hurley. Rationale herein for why it is that almost nothing is ever made of his Mexican heritage (hence the importance of Cheech's burlesque as a reminder), because fat is the minority that trumps all others.
Key new cast member is Juliet (Elizabeth Mitchell). Or maybe Naomi (Marsha Thomason)... Nah, it's Juliet. Certainly not Nikki (Kiele Sanchez) or Paolo (Rodrigo Santoro), both of whom take centre stage for exactly one episode in which deleted footage is repurposed, Gump-like, to make it seem like these two chuckleheads were in the background of every major event since the first season. Their flashback identifies them as diamond thieves and their time on the island is consummated in this episode ("Exposé") as a particularly tired instalment of "Tales from the Crypt". A poisonous spider is involved, as well as some Edgar Allan Poe premature-burial bullshit, and if this one-off baloney is going to become a trend, then I can't wash my hands of the series soon enough. Juliet, however, is part of the major mythology. She's a fertility doctor, natch, because the series is essentially only interested in who's fucking whom, who's pregnant, and who's the dad. What her character explains is why the Others are so eager to kidnap babies and pregnant ladies. More intriguing is the appearance in Juliet's backstory episode of Robin Weigert, "Deadwood"'s Calamity Jane, just as previous (and later) episodes guest-star Kim Dickens, "Deadwood"'s Joanie, as Sawyer's ex and the Louise to Kate's Thelma. Add a brief cameo from "Carnivàle"'s Clancy Brown, and what you have is this definite trend of "Lost" doing its best after culling its main cast from underwear catalogues to plug some holes with the cream of HBO's crop. We'll discover this season that Claire (Emilie de Ravin) and Jack (Matthew Fox) are half-siblings and that Desmond can see the future, and we'll gain further insight into how Sun (Yunjin Kim) and Jin (Daniel Dae Kim) are Celestials deeply into shame and honour. Give it this much: when a moment arrives in which Sawyer--freshly resuscitated into a sympathetic figure--is offered the opportunity to kill someone he really wants to kill, he kills him...er, them. Never mind that one of the victims is almost as relentlessly odious as Ana Lucia from last season: here's a true glimpse at what the show could be if it didn't spend the rest of its time terrified of disturbing its perch atop the populist pole. See, there's weight to Sawyer's decision to murder; too often in "Lost", murder's cheap, exciting, and/or long been the public option.
Unable or unwilling to hold on Sawyer's heart of darkness, "The Man Behind the Curtain" (3.20) discloses a childhood-on-the-island for Ben (Michael Emerson), who's anointed the leader of the "Dharma Initiative" following a lethal purge by hippie revolutionaries. Or is the leader really a poltergeist named "Jacob"? The idea is proposed, too, that the island is Hell, although that explanation only explains our torment, not theirs. The season ends with Charlie making the ultimate sacrifice for his intensely boring Aussie girlfriend and her can't-get-stolen-fast-enough baby (if only there were dingoes on the island!), leading to a season cliffhanger wherein we're promised the introduction of several dozen more characters. Time to raise another issue with the series, one that it shares with "The X Files" at around the same point in its comparable development: "Lost" seems interested in answering the small questions (indeed, overly interested)--so much so that it keeps raising small questions its audience just isn't interested in. It keeps dropping clues to the bigger picture like breadcrumbs--some embedded in episode titles (the two-part conclusion to this season, for example, is called "Through the Looking Glass"), the rest provided in flashbacks that establish either that it's a small world, or that the producers have so fallen in love with the idea that their show is best served by presenting a grand-tapestry view of karmic fate that they've lost sight of the fact that their show seems like a parody of those same issues of predestination and synchronicity. It's soap-opera obfuscation at its best, a cloud of twins and resurrections and daddy issues and pregnancies and sex that somehow flies under the radar for most people who believe that "Lost" is this great genre experiment. It's ultimately "Desperate Housewives" on an island, except the neighbourhood keeps expanding. And there's a smoke monster. And an Iraqi. That said, consider "Left Behind" (3.15), where Kate is handcuffed to Juliet and a tussle lands them in a giant puddle of mud. Which is my way of saying that the show is quite bad, but sometimes it offers insight into why people keep watching it.
THE BLU-RAY DISC
The bevy of supplementals begins with four audio commentaries. The first, for "A Tale of Two Cities," teams creator/executive producer Damon Lindelof with actress Mitchell for a frankly bland chat about how people were disappointed with the season in the earlygoing and how Lindelof and his partners switched gears to try to be more pleasing to their larger audience. It's symptomatic of the problems of the show, I'd offer, that it does its best to anticipate what its audience desires when, let's face it, how many would have desired "Lost" prior to its successful debut season? Giving people what they want guarantees mendacity and a great deal of this minor problem-solving bullshit to which the series has fast succumbed. Mitchell is quiet and charming, mind, despite that her contributions are mainly limited to overpraising her peers and the show proper. I like her, mud-covered or not. 3.6, "I Do," pairs exec producer Carlton Cuse with Holloway and Lilly and mainly establishes that they all like each other, that Lilly is giggly, and that Holloway appears witty to a lot of people. Most of this yakker amounts to the futile pursuit of explaining the story through the end of Season Three without delving too deeply into the mythology of the series. There's nothing to say, really, is there.
"Exposé" (3.14) is graced with a yakker, too, featuring writers Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz. Proof positive that the last thing writers should do is deliver a commentary track for anything they didn't also direct, it's pointless at the very least. Kitsis and Horowitz do the usual writer thing by explaining why they wrote it, what they put in it that didn't make it to the final product, and why those decisions are A-OK by them. They claim that the idea for a one-off with ancillary characters was something they wanted to do from the beginning and deny that the reason they were pushed to kill off these two characters (Nikki and Paolo) is because audiences didn't give a shit about them. That's belied by the fact that, at one point, a line of dialogue has Sawyer asking, "Who's Nikki?" over her corpse in a bit of mordant, self-reflexive humour. "Lost" truly puzzles in that it appears to know itself while being incapable of fixing itself. Maybe that's why we watch: because it's like that relationship you can diagnose but can't cure. Finally, on "Man Behind the Curtain" (3.20), Emerson joins Lindelof and Cuse for the most interesting of the quartet of commentaries. The trio discusses interpretations from script to performance in addition to how suggestive visual tricks are utilized to implant feelings of unease or foreboding in the viewer.
"'Lost': On Location" (58 mins., HD) is much like previous "On Location" docs in focusing on location shooting and production design, paying particular attention to the small suburb (nicknamed New Otherton by the producers) erected for this season. It's loaded with junket soundbites from cast and crew, most playing out along the lines of how nice it is to be beautiful, rich, and getting richer playing pretend on a beach somewhere. "Crew Tribute with Evangeline Lilly" (7 mins., HD) is exactly what it sounds like, and as our hostess is completely clothed and not covered in mud, it's immanently skippable. "Lost in a Day" (26 mins., HD) is boardroom melodrama as producers bemoan the struggles of making the world's most expensive television series from air-conditioned luxury trailers with the full retinue of craft services on call. Also, it's a drag to be based in the pleasant climates of Hawaii and Los Angeles. "The 'Lost' Flashbacks" (6 mins., SD) are three deleted flashbacks from three separate episodes that generally deepen character interactions. "Deleted Scenes" (18 mins., SD) presents undeniably-superfluous footage of Ben, Kate, Nikki & Paolo, Charlie, and so on, while "The World of the Others" (14 mins., HD) goes on at some length about the show's evil suburbanites. "Terry O'Quinn: Throwing from the Handle" (2 mins., HD) has the actor, twinkle restored, demonstrating how to huck cutlery; seven minutes of "Bloopers" are exactly what they sound like; and "The Lost Book Club" (8 mins., SD) reveals that the references throughout the series to book titles and authors--particularly Stephen King--are no accident (as no one thought) but instead (as everyone thought) dumbass signs to dumbass signifiers. If you weren't picking up the neon, flashing references as they happened, may this featurette be your CliffsNotes.
"Cast in Clay: Creating the Toys of Todd McFarlane" (5 mins., HD) has the titular megalomaniac demonstrating the scanning techniques involved in creating his specialty-brand action figures. Recall if you will that this is the yahoo who spent a kazillion dollars on Mark McGwire's and Barry Bonds's "Maris-busting" homerun balls, which were since utterly discredited and massively devalued as products of performance-enhancing drugs. Sometimes the right things happen to the right people. "The Next Level" (4 mins., HD) is a trailer for "Lost"'s video game tie-in. Moving along, go to "Access Granted" for a Blu-ray-exclusive interactive feature chock-full of brief interviews, clips, and fanboy speculation that promises definitive answers but offers only as much as the third season itself does. "Blu-Prints" (17 mins., HD) is more on the set design and construction of the series, with the decoration of Ben's house dominating the conversation. "The Orchid Instructional Film" (2 mins., HD) is a previous online-only goodie ported over to Blu-ray in glorious 1080p. Allegedly, there are also a number of Easter eggs on the sixth and final platter--happy hunting! Meanwhile, trailers for Dan in Real Life, The Game Plan, and Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End cue up on startup of Disc 1. Originally published: March 30, 2010.
43 minutes/episode; Not Rated; 1.78:1 (1080p/MPEG-4); English 5.1 LPCM, English DD 5.1, English Dolby Surround, French DD 5.1, Spanish Dolby Surround; English SDH, French, Spanish subtitles; 6 BD-50s; Buena Vista