'Lost': Grading the Season So Far

Lost

''MEET KEVIN JOHNSON'' AGAIN
Three quibbles; three geek-outs

I missed Lost's trademark time-jumping.
Once Sayid pinned Michael against a turbine in the engine room and made him spill his backstory, Michael's flashback took over the hour, without the usual back-and-forthing between past and present. The straightforward presentation was decently suited for accomplishing the primary mission of the episode: answering the question ''What happened to Michael?'' Still, it was too conventional for me. I've grown to love Lost's time-toggling; it demands that you lean forward into the show, and in doing so, facilitates a deeper, more immersive experience and embellishes the sophistication of the storytelling. ''Meet Kevin Johnson'' had a lot of meat, but not a lot of flavor. I want both from Lost.

Michael's post-Island timeline bugged me.
Michael's mother said he showed up in New York two months after the disappearance of Oceanic 815. That means Michael and Walt were back in New York in late November. Now, the freighter has been offshore since mid-December. I guess it's plausible that in a scant three weeks, Michael could have squeezed in all the hard living suggested by his episode — boating to New York; establishing a new identity; deciding to kill himself; failing to do so; recuperating; hanging with Mr. Friendly; flying to Fiji; playing mole for Ben — but it seems like a stretch to me. That said, I liked Michael's backstory, and recognize that compression is sometimes a necessary storytelling fudge, much in the same way that Jack Bauer only needs five minutes to get from Santa Monica to downtown L.A., which I can tell you is frakking impossible.

The cliffhanger wasn't cliffhangerish enough.
To be fair, the climactic beat — the apparent killings of Karl and Rousseau and Alex's skin-saving betrayal of Ben — was forced to shoulder an unintended dramatic burden: sending us into an unexpected five-week interruption between episodes with a momentum-sustaining bang. (ABC originally planned to air ''Meet Kevin Johnson'' with the remaining five set to air beginning in late April, but then decided against it. Bad move.) Still, I'm not sure Alex, Karl, and (to a lesser extent) the French Lady have the heft to carry the final BONG! moment of any Lost episode. I also didn't bite on the mystery of Karl's unseen assailants. I think Lost wants us to be debating if those are Others lurking in the bushes or freighter mercenaries. But I never read it as an open question; I'm just assuming it is the freighter creeps. Regardless, it didn't work. But now let's talk about some stuff that did...

NEXT PAGE: A detailed theory on Island time travel

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