Monday, 4 February 2008

Review - The Beginning of the End

‘Lost’ returned to our screens this week. Does Season 4 seem any good? Do the new flash-forwards work as a narrative device? Will the Losties ever just sit down and discuss things with one another?

The Season 4 premiere was a lot more satisfying than previous premieres. While it lacked a mind-blowing and memorable scene at the beginning which subverted your previously-held beliefs like the start of Seasons 2 and 3, it seemed more focused. With a commitment to wrap up the story in 3 more seasons, the writers avoided the usual larking about with episodes focusing on different character paths. They just went for a cohesive story with time for all the characters which set up the tone of the season: in one word, dark. The confrontation between Jack and Locke was a great moment; for too long there’s been this pent-up animosity between them and it finally came to a head with the survivors splitting into two factions. The feeling of betrayal that passed as the survivors chose between Jack and Locke was palpable. Some of the acting in that scene was brilliant. Then it started raining to cement the feeling of separation, anxiety and hopelessness.

It was also the first premiere not to be a Jack-centric episode. Instead Jorge Garcia playing Hurley got a chance to show off his skills beyond his usual relegation to comic relief. He gave a great performance mourning the death of his friend, giving a nice little speech at the cockpit, and acting in his flash-forward. The best way to show the dark turn the show is taking was to have one of the lightest characters taking things so seriously. It both alienates and draws in the audience with the desire for the return of the care-free, cannon-balling Hurley.

I don’t like Jacob. I didn’t like Jacob in Season 3 either. The introduction of this new chunk of mythology felt so ad hoc. The mysterious ghost cabin feels like such a cliché and seems at odds with the rest of the island. I’m going to need some convincing to willingly accept Jacob, whatever importance and explanation he may eventually have.

There are some concerns over the splitting of the groups as well. Locke didn’t seem to mind Ben going with his gang despite the fact that a few ‘island’-days ago Ben shot him and left him for dead in a pit of decaying bodies. Hopefully that’ll be addressed in the next episode. Secondly it looks like Desmond went with Jack although intuitively he ought to go with Locke: there’s no-one who he’s interacted with on Jack’s team, he saw Penny on the screen and Charlie’s final warning. The only explanation must be that he really wants to get back home to Penny even though he knows it’s “not Penny’s boat” and he’s willing to risk that.

Overall it was a good episode: satisfying, with some great acting and it set the tone. As long as they continue the story and fill in some of the gaps, the fans will be happy. I’ll be happy as long as there’s more Locke, an explanation of ‘time-travelling’ Desmond, and an acknowledgement that it’s almost Christmas Day on the canon timeline.

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