''Lost'': Michael treads water; Locke goes deeper
When you write TV Watch columns, it's helpful to take notes while you view the show you're writing about. But that can be a total pain in the keister when it comes to Lost, because I live in fear of missing some scintillating scintilla of detail every time I look away to peck out observations on my laptop bits like the symbol on Desmond's jumpsuit (a swan what does that mean?) or the name of the candy bars that Kate scarfed and pocketed (Apollo significant?) or the stuffed animal Michael gave Walt as a parting gift those many years ago (a polar bear! Hmmmm).
Still, I manage to take notes, and the first one I made about last night's episode was ''treading water.'' I was merely trying to describe the first scene, which had rafters Michael and Sawyer struggling to swim their way to what was left of their getaway vessel following the encounter with those scruffy-looking, child-abducting pirates in last season's finale. Yet ''treading water'' would prove to be the only note I really needed to make about the second episode of Lost's sophomore season. There wasn't much forward movement in ''Adrift,'' which may have been the ironic intention. If it was, then neat for Lost's clever, punny writers but disappointing for at least this fan.
Am I being too hard on the series, especially in light of last week's crackerjack outing, chockablock with suspense and intrigue? Maybe. Maybe Lost's brain trust was worried that after getting an episode overstuffed with so many things to think about, we needed a week to catch our breath before pushing deeper into more wonderful weirdness. If so, then they forget that we had all summer to recharge the batteries in our thinking caps. We're ready and rarin' to go, dammit!
But instead, we got Michael (looking noticeably more buff this season) and Sawyer (upstaged yet again by his hair) on the raft, screaming, ''Walt!'' and ''Jin!'' into the inky night, and then screaming at each other over who was to blame for the Others' snatching Walt and torching the raft. All of it grew really, really tedious very, very quickly. I even got the sense that the actors and directors weren't quite sure what to make of these scenes and their odd mix of suspense and dark comedy. Example: Sawyer digs a bullet out of his arm (proving once again he's some I-don't-need-nobody tough guy), then sarcastically asks Michael for a Band-Aid, then faints. The moment was cute yet predictable, and not very inspired. All of the bitchy bantering took place while a hungry shark cruised around them or eyeballed them from below. Sometimes Michael and Sawyer seemed rather alarmed about the prospect of being eaten. Other times they seemed to forget that Son of Jaws was in the vicinity. On the whole, the scenes were unconvincing and anticlimactic. They had me recalling that Walter Matthau-Jack Lemmon movie Out to Sea, which I'm pretty sure is a sign of something...bad.
Even more disappointing was Michael's flashback story, which must rank among the poorest and most clumsily integrated flashbacks we've seen so far in Lost. Here's what we learned about Michael: nothing. Some legal contretemps between Michael and his ex over custody of Walt; some grandstanding by Michael that he would never give up on being a father to his son; blah blah blah. Didn't we kinda already know this? Sure, maybe we never saw it dramatized before, but we knew it, anyway, and we felt it, too, so all of what we saw was essentially warmed over and redundant. I was really looking forward to learning something new about Michael. I didn't. Okay, the polar bear thing was intriguing, and I'm going to give Lost's writers the benefit of the doubt and believe that it wasn't an empty gesture, some desperate, meaningless ploy to juice a dead story line.
''Adrift'' did, however, have its moments, and all of them were in the Hatch. True, not a lot of forward movement here, either. In fact, the episode took us back in time and revealed what happened to Locke and Kate after they descended into the Hatch, following their story strands to the Mexican-standoff moment that ended last week's episode. Terry O'Quinn (Locke) proved once again that he was robbed of a Best Supporting Actor Emmy I loved the kid-in-a-candy-store look on his face when he stepped inside Desmond's underground abode; I loved his game attempt to play along with Desmond's creepy ''Are you him?'' questions (recalling ''Is it safe?'' from Marathon Man); and I loved the shadings and unspoken meanings in his hesitancy to press the execute button on Desmond's curiously old computer (''I haven't seen one of these in 20 years!'') after he was instructed to input a string of numbers all of us know to be Hurley's cursed Lotto digits. Thank you, Terry, and thank you, Locke and Desmond, for salvaging the first mediocre episode of the season. I only wish it hadn't come so soon!
Random observations and questions:
1. Your theory on the function of Desmond's computer: now.
2. Your thoughts on why Locke took off his shoes when he entered the Hatch: now.
3. Your reaction to my contention that Kate wiggling out of her bonds represented some of the best acting Evangeline Lilly has ever done on this show: now.
4. Your response to my suspicion that a multitude of drooling fanboys ''needed some time alone'' after watching Kate and her cleavage crawl through Desmond's air ducts: now
5. Hurley's numbers, when added up, equal 108. That number is also included in Desmond's mural. Where else have we seen 108 before? [Oops! We typed 180. Thanks for the catch, readers.]
6. Locke says that 43 people survived the crash. The deaths of Boone and Arzt take the number down to 41. Assuming that Walt isn't dead, and adding in the survivor that will be discovered in next week's episode (Ana Lucia), that bumps the number up to 42 the last number in Hurley's Lotto string. Is my math fuzzy? If not, am I onto something? And if so, can you tell me what it is?
7. So, uh...what did one snowman say to the other snowman?