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Sterling Beaumon (#110 of 3)

Lost Recap Season 5, Episode 11, “Whatever Happened, Happened”

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Lost Recap: Season 5, Episode 11, “Whatever Happened, Happened”

ABC

Lost Recap: Season 5, Episode 11, “Whatever Happened, Happened”

When I was easing my way back into the TV criticism game late last year, I started thinking about how many shows on the air right now balance a sense of inevitability against the unexpected to generate their conflict. A large portion of the conflict on, say, Mad Men derives from the fact that we, the audience, know what’s coming for the characters, but they do not. We also know that the characters are on the wrong side of history, and that throws most of their actions into a new light. Or look at Breaking Bad, where we usually know the end before we know the beginning, and the ride is all about seeing how the characters try to escape the fate laid out for them but are unable to. There are shows like this all over the dial. All of it had happened before on Battlestar Galactica, and all of it would happen again. Even something as disappointing and all-over-the-place as Damages balanced its storytelling with flash-forwards that let us know (sort of) what was to come. I tentatively grouped Lost in with these shows after its fourth season, since its flash-forwards also offered this sense of inevitability, but it was only a supporting piece of evidence in my case for the new TV fatalism. Interestingly enough, however, Lost’s fifth season is practically all about inevitability and fatalism, in a way that very much casts a new light on events from earlier in the show. A show that purports to be all about the unexpected has become very much a rumination on the futility of trying to escape your predestined fate.

Lost Recap Season 5, Episode 10, “He’s Our You”

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Lost Recap: Season 5, Episode 10, “He’s Our You”

ABC

Lost Recap: Season 5, Episode 10, “He’s Our You”

Sayid Jarrah (Naveen Andrews) has always been one of Lost’s most under-served characters. If you go back and look at the Pilot, the revelation that he’s an Iraqi is played for friggin’ COMIC EFFECT, for God’s sake. Andrews’ performance is so solid (to the point where he’s one of the few Lost cast members to score an Emmy nomination, somewhat inexplicably) and his presence is so great that he’s been kept alive long after other characters the show had no idea how to service would have been killed off. Every season, the series tosses in an episode that pretty much boils down to, “Hey, Sayid used to torture. Isn’t that MORALLY AMBIGUOUS?!” and calls it a day. Without Andrews, most of these episodes would be complete yawns (only “Solitary” and “The Economist” are really worthy of his talents), but the actor has managed to save most of these by just gritting his teeth and pushing through the pain. Like, pretty much all I can remember about Season Three’s “Enter 77” is that the Sayid flashback was ridiculous (I think it involved a mystical cat?), but Andrews was SO GOOD that I liked it more than I probably should have.

Lost Recap: Season 3, Episode 20, “The Man Behind the Curtain”

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Lost Recap: Season 3, Episode 20, “The Man Behind the Curtain”
Lost Recap: Season 3, Episode 20, “The Man Behind the Curtain”

The specter of death has long hung-over the inhabitants of Lost but rarely has it struck as brutally or with the frequency it did in last night’s episode, “The Man Behind the Curtain” which detailed the act of betrayal that lead to the mass execution of dozens of employees of the DHARMA Initiative before ultimately snatching up the life of one of the show’s most popular characters…maybe. The angel of death: Ben Linus (Michael Emerson) who both lives up to the Wizard of Oz allusion in the episode’s title while rebuking it seemingly in equal measures. Ben, who you’ll remember once went by the Oz-centric nom de guerre “Henry Gale,” may not be the one pulling the strings behind the scenes, but he’s certainly calling the tune everyone dances to. The revelations of last night’s episode don’t exactly clarify the issue much either, presenting the illusive “Jacob” as both the ravings of a crack-pot (with shades of mother Bates and her boy Norman) as well as a very real and rather terrifying apparition. Is there a show on TV better at having its cake and eating it too?