OK, it’s been a few rough episodes, Lost fans. I spent the first few episodes of this season seriously reconsidering my own semi-low opinions of this season, only to be brought back down to earth by the post-"Orientation" episodes. But now we’re back to the good stuff, in an episode that expanded the very notion of what an episode of Lost could do by looking back at what happened to the Tailies after crashing on the Island.. There’s a lot to analyze, so let’s get right into it.
The Other 48 Days
4) In Short
"Is it me, or is there an Eko in here?"
8) On the Island
Aww, it’s a beautiful sunny day on the beach. Perfect for swimming, snorkeling, and sun tanning. Oh, and for the back half of Oceanic 815 to crash into the water before our very eyes. I mean, dayum. That’s one of the best non-season starting opening shots ever.
Mass chaos, from a different perspective. Ana Lucia wakes up under water, seeing debris and hearing screams all about her. We also see Eko, Cindy, and Libby among those not already floating face down. Eko helps rescue Emma, a small girl and brother to Zach. Zach’s holding a teddy bear. Oh God.
Eko notes to Ana Lucia that Emma’s not breathing. She performs CPR as Eko leads Zach away. Ana Lucia promises Emma that she’ll get her and her brother home soon. It’s a much different version of Ana Lucia than we’ve come to know so far.
Soon after, Eko asks Cindy to look over the two children. Eko apparently has something he needs to do. That something? The retrieval of the bodies from the water for proper burial. Nearby, Libby is treating a man with a horrible leg injury, using a story about a ski accident to distract him from the fact that she’s about to snap his leg back into place.
A man we don’t know comes out of the jungle, screaming. Apparently there’s someone else in there. That man is Bernard, who’s still in his plane seat high up in a tree. The man next to him? Not so lucky. The unknown man wants to climb up and help, but Ana Lucia manages to talk Bernard down to safety just before the seats crash to the ground below. Mystery Man looks on with a mixture of respect and worry. At dusk, the mystery man is making a fire with twigs. His name is Goodwin, a name we’ve heard before. Attached to a corpse we’ve seen before. I love this freakin’ show.
At night, Bernard asks Eko about the bodies in the water. He’s looking for Rose. Awww. Eko tells Bernard he’ll pray for her. Later, everyone’s woken up by muffled screams nearby. Goodwin and Ana Lucia run into the jungle, where they find Eko aside two dead bodies, wearing familiar brown, tattered clothing. Eko’s covered in blood.
Eko slowly takes his blood-soaked shirt off while Ana Lucia inspects the bodies. She finds no means of identifying the assailants on their persons. Another survivor, Nathan, runs over and states that three people are missing. All the while, Eko pulls a large wooden branch from a nearby tree. Ana Lucia correctly surmises that the assailants were on the Island before them. Ana Lucia wants to move people off the beach; Nathan is against it.
Cindy conveys the news that Jack and Kate learned from the pilot: that the plane was off-course, and the rescue teams will not know where to look. Talk about an understatement, Cindy. Those rescue teams don’t come equipped with frozen donkey wheels, last time I checked.
Libby tells Ana Lucia that Donald, the man with the leg injury, is getting worse. Ana Lucia doesn’t know what to do about that.
Donald’s dead, baby. Donald’s dead.
The Tailies are attempting to catch a hen. They do so successfully, with the scene conveying a real sense of hunger amongst the group. Libby offers a bit to Eko, noting that he hasn’t said a thing since the night of the attack. She tries to allay his guilt, but he silently etches something into his stick.
Ana Lucia is fashioning a scythe of sorts out of found elements. "That’ll work," says Goodwin. Well, not if the pigs in the jungle know HOPSCOTCH! Just then, Nathan pops up from out of the jungle. Turns out he bucked the newly implemented system and didn’t take a pee buddy out with him. That night, all hell breaks loose, as nine people are taken in a truly terrifying scene. How do I know there are nine? Because Ana Lucia finds a list on one of the Others she manages to kill in the confusion.
Eko returns from a fruitless search for clues as to where the Others went. Ana Lucia begs Eko to say something. Nathan tries to calm Ana Lucia down, which backfires big time. She starts to turn into the Ana Lucia we all know and loathe before our very eyes, as she turns a suspicious line of inquiry into Nathan’s whereabouts the previous day. Libby insists they all have to leave the beach, pronto.
The remaining Tailies work their way through the jungle. Ana Lucia calls for a five-minute break to rest near a stream. Nathan thinks the location and abundance of nearby fruit makes for a perfect place to rest after three days straight of traveling. Hesitantly, Ana Lucia agrees.
Ana Lucia’s digging one heckuva ditch. Libby asks Ana Lucia about Nathan’s absence that day on the beach. She asks if they really could have been infiltrated. Ana Lucia replies, "Why do you think I’m digging this hole?"
Nathan and Bernard are setting a rabbit trap when Ana Lucia walks up and Jackie Chans Nathan in the face with her right foot. She then throws Nathan into the now familiar Ditch of Despair, locking him inside. She then announces to the rest of the group that Nathan wasn’t on the plane. Supporting her theory? Libby and Cindy. Against? Bernard and Goodwin. Just stating for the record as this is perhaps telling later on. Ana Lucia sees Eko, half-hidden by trees, nearby. He’s a mixture of feral and submissive all at once. Amazing shot.
That night, Ana Lucia interrogates Nathan in the ditch. He’s less than thrilled about his current incarceration.
Ana Lucia’s still asking about the kids, this time from atop the ditch. Nathan’s as silent as Eko. She spies something behind him. Fearing it’s a weapon, she throws a rock to move him. It’s not a weapon, but a banana. Ana Lucia wants to know who’s giving him food. Turns out, it’s Eko. That bit of kindness throws Ana Lucia for a bit of a loop.
By a nearby stream, Goodwin tells Ana Lucia she’s worried about her mental state. Ana Lucia’s got Emma on her mind, and the fact that she lost the girl still haunts her. He wants Ana Lucia to let Nathan go. "We’re not savages," says Goodwin. That night, he helps Nathan up out of the Ditch, pointing him in the direction of the beach. Oh, and then snaps his neck. That’s a pretty savage act, man. Just saying.
Ana Lucia wakes up to a suddenly creepy Goodwin watching her sleep. Cindy rushes in, announces Nathan’s disappearance, and Ana Lucia thusly announces it’s time to move on.
They reach the shore. And Ana Lucia looks at Goodwin as if she suddenly remembers something.
OK, Tailies win the "Island Race to Enter a Hatch the Fastest:" they are at the Arrow! Goodwin looks confused, and since no one’s looking at him at this point, it’s a look well worth noting. Once inside, Eko finds himself a Dharma logo and Ana Lucia finds herself some electricity. She also finds a crate. Inside? A Bible, a glass eye, and a radio. They run outside to try the radio, with Goodwin noting they need to go to higher ground. He wants to go alone, but a suddenly smiling Ana Lucia offers to come along.
While marching towards higher ground, Ana Lucia asks Goodwin why he thinks the Others are doing this to them. He "theorizes" that on the first night, the strongest of the group were targeted, as to minimize the threat during the second incursion. Atop the hill, Ana Lucia makes note of the pocket knife found on the Other during Night 12. Turns out it’s military issue, circa twenty years ago. She finally confronts Goodwin about his identity, after catching him in a lie about how he found Bernard.
She wants to know if the children are as dead as Nathan. Goodwin insists that not only are they fine, but in a "better place." As for Nathan, well, "Nathan was not a good person. That’s why he wasn’t on the list." Um, OK, seems reasonable enough to me. Not to Ana Lucia, however, who tumbles in the mud with Goodwin until Goodwin belly flops onto a sharp pole, rendering him as the speared spectre we saw during "…and Found." Upon returning to the Arrow, Ana Lucia states, "We’re safe here now," without mentioning Goodwin’s status.
Ana Lucia wants to know why Bernard’s wasting his time with the radio. And who should pop up on the other end? Boone! Thus the mystery set up back in Season 1 is answered. At the time, this was like, a record for the show, so major props must be given. Ana Lucia thinks it’s a trap, and shuts off the radio. "This is our life now," she says, "Get used to it." And somewhere, Bon Jovi chimes in, "It’s now or never. I ain’t gonna live forever!"
Aside a nearby stream, Ana Lucia cries to herself. She stops when she senses Eko behind her. To her surprise, he says, "You’re going to be OK," the first words he’s said since attacked. This leads to an exceedingly simple but exceedingly powerful exchange.
Ana Lucia: You’ve been waiting forty days to talk?
Eko: You waited forty days to cry.
Libby and Cindy are picking through a fishing net on the shore, when they catch themselves something huge: their very first Jin! I remember the first time me and my Dad caught us a Jin. They tie him up, though not successfully, as we once again see the scene from the end of "Adrift" as Jin unsuccessfully tries to escape from the Tailies. A montage ensues, with the only real new piece of info being that Ana Lucia asked Eko to hit her before throwing her into the Ditch of Despair.
Much like Team America, we’re gonna need a montage.
More "Cliff Notes Version of Lost."
We’re back during the end of "Abandoned," this time seeing the death of Shannon from Ana Lucia’s perspective. And with that, hey, we’re totally caught up on everything. Right? Hardly.
15) Off the Island
For the first time, though not the last, absolutely nothing. A breathtaking narrative choice that expanded what an episode of Lost could show.
16) The Mythology
The introduction of two major aspects of Island life: lists and "good people." And these are two things that, in typical Lost fashion, haven’t been fully explained just yet.
Let’s look at each element separately, even though both are largely intertwined. (If you need a handy um, list of these, Lostpedia has you covered.) Given what we know about the list featured in this show, this is not the first time the Others have made/executed such lists before, given the immediacy with which both Goodwin and Ethan understand Ben’s dictum.
The source of the lists stems from the concept of "good," which is to say from Jacob. One could argue that Ben’s fall from grace started with his makeshift list handed to Michael during "3 Minutes," a list Pickett insists in "I Do" had nothing to do with Jacob. I’m not here to argue anything other than we take as fact that these lists are a cornerstone of the Others’ society, making Jacob’s will paramount and Ben’s transgression significant.
Of course, even a devout believer in the "good people" espoused by Jacob isn’t above moral decay himself. After all, we now know about Goodwin’s affair with Juliet. And no matter how often Ben insists the Others are the "good guys," we’ve consistently seen that everyone in the Lost universe sees themselves as the protagonists in the overall story. It’s intriguing as a viewer, since there’s nothing worse than watching a villain who cackles and says variations of "I’m eeeeevvvviiilllll!!!!" over and over again.
Thus, it’s perhaps more illuminating, albeit more difficult, to view the lists not coming from a moral authority so much as a particular perspective, and the varying shades of grey inherent in all who come to the Island as merely the byproduct who see the Island as a viable vehicle through which to live their best life. To go completely geeky, the Island’s the Ring of Power, with various parties viewing it as the method by which to achieve heaven on earth. It’s just that more than a few parties are willing to kill, kidnap, and so forth in order to keep those pearly gates closed to others.
23) The Moment
Sorry, JeffC: it’s not the glass eye. Has to be the pan of bare feet during the night of Day 12.
42) In Retrospect
It’s delicious to watch Cindy and Libby and try to figure out what, if anything, is their agenda. Cindy stating the plane was off track, Libby’s insistence regarding Nathan’s guilt…it’s all fodder for a game of Clue in which you can suddenly stand and say, "Aha, it was Cindy, in the Ditch of Despair, with the makeshift hockey stick!" (C’mon, that weapon looks like a hockey stick. I blame Nathan, himself a Canadian, for the design.) Cindy could merely be a Room 23 victim, but Libby’s story is deeply tied into the central Lost story, with her serving at least one side of the struggle in a meaningful manner.
Also, I don’t mean to read a terrible lot into this, but it’s striking that the Others took twelve Tailies and didn’t snatch one Lostaway. And before you cry, "Claire," remember, that was an unauthorized kidnapping. In "Maternity Leave," one got the strong impression that the chain of events was supposed to be, "Goodwin/Ethan gives lists of all survivors, Ben brings list to Jacob, Jacob makes his decisions based on that list." Ostensibly, Mikail also ran data files on all members of the list as well, though it’s unclear if Jacob used those dossiers in his judgment. I’m siding with "no" on that.
All this indicates that it took eleven days for the proper chain of command to happen on Goodwin’s end. Ethan didn’t die until Day 28. So either Ethan was really crappy in his work ethic, or the writers merely wanted to make The Tailies’ journey different for dramatic sake as opposed to mythological coherence. Course, it’s equally possible that the Lostaways are just a big bunch of a-holes. That’s always an option.
108) In Summary
Watching this episode, one got the sense that an episode of Lost no longer had to fall into the familiar "Island action interwoven with off-Island flashback" template. It really energized the series after a series of flashbacks that seemed more like padding than worthy minutes of television. This genre-breaking template reached its zenith by the end of the Season 3, but essentially freed the show to think of new and exciting ways into taking audience expectation and using it against them in order to provide new and exciting ways to tell a story. A seminal episode of Lost, and one of Season 2’s best.
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