Each season, the penultimate episode is usually given the sad assignment of being the doormat for the season finale. And, like those that have come before, “Follow The Leader” had its share of trekking and shuffling and exposition, as the various chess pieces are moved into place for the final showdown. But as these “setup episodes” go, we really liked this one. Great character moments, solid conflicts, noticeably vibrant cinematography (about which we only periodically rave), and brisk pacing. We’re satisfied, and properly pumped up for next week.
True, we had not one, but two “recycled” moments last night. The first? They replayed the “Ellie Shoots Faraday” scene from Jack and Kate’s perspective. And to be honest, I briefly feared that the writers would pull a “magical moving bullet hole” trick, a la Ben. Instead, they went out of their way to show us that Faraday is truly dead… right down to the “hand over the eyes to close them” cliche that’s everywhere in movies and TV. But the second re-run moment was unexpected: Locke brings Ben and Richard to meet Flashing Locke at the drug plane. It was awesome to watch, but prompted the night’s biggest headache as we tried to plot out where and when Richard and Locke were, and when they knew what. Frankly, I wonder if they just wrote in the scene to solve the “infinite compass” question. Either way, though, it was fun to watch.
I loved Michael Emerson’s Ben this week, exasperated and snarky. His scenes with Locke were fun, yet significant, throwing the two “leaders” into sharp relief. I also liked the brief moments of chemistry between Ben and Alpert, both familiar and awkward. The scene where Hurley is outed as a time traveler was, of course, hilarious… especially since he’s stumped when asked who the president is in 1977. He asked that very question to Sawyer in “Namaste,” but Sawyer groused, “It’s not a damned game show.” But that same scene carried unexpected warmth, as well, when Miles admits to Dr. Chang that he’s his son… and Dr. Chang accepts it.
As far as chemistry goes, I was loving the interplay between Sawyer and Juliet. From the violent interrogation to their conversation on the dock (where Juliet says she’s still glad Sawyer talked her into staying, and he hatches a plan to get rich via Microsoft), it’s great how the show’s most out-of-the-blue coupling remains one of its most strong and mature.
Until, of course, Kate drops in, and is handcuffed next to Juliet, the two of them conveniently across from Sawyer. That moment was so cheap and forced, I actually thought I heard a cartoony needle-scratching-off-a-record sound effect in the back ground. And here I thought we’d at least make it out of Season 5 without returning to Season 1 romantic melodrama.
And I was just starting to warm up to Kate again, too. She’s assertive, skeptical, perceptive… a lot of the things she’s often not allowed to be for the sake of a twist. She’s the first (followed by Sayid) to point out that the last three years of their lives is not something to be discarded lightly. I liked her look of exasperation when Jack admits to being with Faraday, and her answer to Ellie when she asks whether Jack knows what he’s talking about: “He thinks he does.” She stands up to, and parts ways with, Jack, soon after delivering one of her best lines in recent memory: “Since when did shooting kids and blowing up hydrogen bombs become okay?” Evangeline Lilly’s acting was solid, not screechy, her glassy eyes tonight taking me back to Kate’s strong Season 1 moments. Alas, she then marches off… right back into a soap opera.
I’m certain that the fake-out, when Kate briefly thinks she’d been shot, is simultaneously a low- and high-point for those who aren’t a fan of her character.
And Locke. Something’s up with Locke. If Locke’s even Locke. Richard immediately notices something’s different about him, and I don’t think it’s because he has a “purpose” now. He’s confident and resolute, but he’s something else… and when he dismisses out of hand Sun’s hopes of reunification with Jin, I got a cold chill. And he wants to kill the allmighty Jacob, if he’s allmighty at all. Is doing so in service of a grand plan that Locke is executing? Perhaps. Or is it simply the folly of a man who thinks he’s ascended to a level higher than he has? There’s a dark side to the new-and-improved Locke. And while I said earlier that I didn’t think I could take one more rise-and-fall cycle for his long-tortured character, I feel as if another reckoning is coming for him.
Jen observed: Kate is turning into Jack, skeptical and assertive. Jack is turning into Locke, a blind believer. And Locke is turning into Ben, all-knowing but perhaps overconfident. My contribution? Sun is turning into Michael. Her one-dimensional “have you seen my husband” path of the last several episodes are becoming this season’s “Wa-a-a-a-a-alt!”
Finally, does Jack detonate Jughead? I’m still of the opinion that he doesn’t, or that whatever happens, it isn’t what you’d typically expect of a blast from a 40,000-pound hydrogen bomb. Indeed, tonight we learn that Jughead is actually parked right underneath Othersville. You know, the cozy cottages and grassy fields that still exist, intact, in 2007?
Notes and Notions:
- “LOST” has good hair days, and bad hair days. It also has good special effects days, and bad special effects days. I have to say, the dramatic departure of the Galaga falls into the latter category. It was pretty weak, which I guess has to be expected given a weekly show and budget. It would’ve been better for us just to assume its departure based on the activity inside… but I guess they had to show the submarine under way else we draw the conclusion that it doesn’t move at all.
- The casting for Younger Eloise is great. (As was the casting for Young Eloise in “Jughead.”) Alice Evans is absolutely believable as the precursor to stoic Mrs. Hawking. Her character’s struggle to process what Faraday said was great. And her motivations for helping Jack seem deliciously unclear. Does she really want to undo the death of a son she never knew? Or is the prospect of just blasting the Dharma Initiative to smithereens just too tempting?
- In 2007, Alpert makes brief mention of another group of Others/Hostiiles at The Temple. Meanwhile, we know on Alcatraz (a.k.a. Hydra Island), Ilana and friends are up to something as well. I think both of these largely unexplored parties will play a key part in the season finale.
- Sayid is back. He seemed to take the fact that Ben survived surprisingly well. I mean, he of anyone, now, should have a strong opinion as to whether what they’re doing (and what they’re about to do) is really changing anything at all.
- So, Jack is seizing his moment. But Jen wonders, as do I, when his epiphany took place. He seemed to more roll into his current mission than blast off from a specific spark of inspiration or realization. I was expecting considerably more fireworks to celebrate the instant he decided to act.
- Radzinkski is a vile man. And apparently can stage a coup just by telling Horace he’s in charge. At least we seem to know how his story ends, as a stain on the roof of his precious Swan. Given what Phil did to Juliet, I don’t suspect he’s long for this world, either.
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