When you publicize an episode using the ominous voice of Gene Wilder in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, expectations are going to be high. Very high.
But the April 20 outing was kind of like the everlasting gobstopper -- a fantastic idea in theory, but ultimately, a high-calorie sugar rush that's not quite suitable for public consumption. (Hey, the movie gets rerun on ABC Family every other weekend, ok?)
For starters, after a two-month buildup, our castaways finally start to intersect in the sideways world. An odd, forboding start too: A pregnant, wounded Sun gets admitted to an ER at the same time as Locke (last seen getting run down by Desmond). The two were on the same flight, but Sun is not amused by the coincidence. "It"s him!" she screams to Jin in Korean. She could be remembering something from the island world -- but the plot thread dangles loose for the rest of the hour.
Meanwhile, on-the-lam Kate gets interrogated by LAPD officer Sawyer. The sexual tension is palpable. And they're both wearing black leather jackets. That's right; nobody would believe Kate as a murdering fugitive if she were just clad in a Lacoste windbreaker. Their sly flirting is cut short: Miles gets wind of Sayid's big shoot-out in the kitchen and enlists Sawyer to help him with the arrest. Sawyer cuffs him in the backyard of Nadia's house. This is, after all, the most doomed couple in Lost history. (Next to Libby and Hurley. And Walt and Vincent.)
One more odd couple on the flash sideways docket: Jack and Claire. The idea of a tall, dark-haired man being the half-brother of an ethereal blonde-haired, blue-eyed woman still bugs, but I'll let it slide. Here, the two meet and learn of their sibling connection at the will reading of their dad, Dr. Christian. It‚s no accident, of course -- Desmond craftily arranged for Claire to meet with the probate lawyer. A lawyer whose name happens to be: Ilana! (Odd to see her in a suit and not blab about Jacob, no?). Claire and Jack (along with Jack's son, David) have much to discuss but he‚s interrupted by a phone call. Yep, it's time to do an emergency spinal surgery. On Ben's favorite substitute teacher, Mr. Locke.
Obviously, the flash-sideways are still a work in progress to the viewers, but this edition was especially vexing. Desmond, in his quest to broker meetings between his favorite Ocean Flight 815 passengers, is now coming across as the new Jacob (who also met with his chosen ones prior to the flight). His mission is riveting but it just feels so rushed. There's frustration element knowing that he's not going to have time to pop in on everybody -- and that he's not even telling the group anything about his intentions anyway. Also: It still bothers me that Desmond didn't have a glimmer of recognition when he saw Ben last week in the school parking lot. Hello, the man shot him!!
In a refreshing change, the island scenes were genuinely action-packed and tension-filled. While fake Locke moves forward with his plot to get the group on an airplane and leave the island, Sawyer is busy forming is own con -- hijack Desmond's sailboat and escape the island via Widmore's submarine with Sun, Kate, Jack, Lapedus and Hurley. Krazy Claire is persona non grata. That is, until she follows the group to the boat and threatens to shoot them. Kate talks her out of it and tearfully promises to reunite her with Aaron. It would have been a nice, heartfelt moment -- except for the fact that Kate was ready to ditch the woman just moments earlier without a passing thought! Kate only came around after Claire threatened to kill her. Call it a twisted guilt trip.
If Desmond is the would-be Jacob in the flash-sideways world, then Jack has morphed into Jacob on the island. No longer driven to leave at any cost, he‚s on a mission to stop fake Locke from leaving on the airplane. He‚s even willing to jump ship from the sailboat and swim in his jeans all the way back to the island.
Fake Locke also orders Sayid to kill Desmond at the bottom of the well. Desmond mumbles something about unrequited true love and, blah blah, there is no death scene and it seems a safe bet that our favorite Scotsman is still alive. Mmmaybe. (By the way, didn't that well seem about 20 feet deeper last week? How does Desmond not have a massive headwound from falling head-first into that hole? But I digress, brutha.)
And now, a weekly installment of head-scratchers: It's still unclear why fake Locke et al have to leave on the airplane. If the submarine is good enough for Widmore, then it should work for a magical smoke monster. And when Sawyer and his group left on the sailboat, I kept waiting for fake Locke to turn into a smoke monster and just pounce. Just how powerful is this guy, anyway? Consider: During his man-to-man with Jack, he explains why he chose to take the form of Locke ("he was a sucker") -- but failed to mention why he must take the form of another person in the first place.
Tragically, the fascinating Jack vs. Sawyer vs. Locke story gets completely derailed by Widmore's henchmen. Show me someone who is a Zoe fan, and I'll show you a real first-class ticket for an Oceanic Flight from LAX to Guam. I don't care how many guns and walkie-talkies she waves at these castaways, she's not threatening -- and seems, well, lost. Sawyer should be ashamed of himself for not overtaking her. How many times must this man be held on the island at gunpoint?
Lastly, let's address the long-awaited, utterly anti-climatic Sun and Jin reunion. The two see each other on the beach, run into each others‚ arms and tell each other "I Love You." Ho-hum. And then, the dreaded line, brought to you by the pilot who, in the words of Sawyer, looked like he washed up from a Burt Reynolds movie:
"Looks like someone got her English back!"
Ick. How do you say "cheeseball dialogue that would even make CW executives squirm" in Korean? To recap: These two have not seen each other in more than three years (almost two years in real-time). Sun gave birth to his daughter. She watched him explode on a freighter. But their meet-up was heavy-handed and brief and clichéd. These two kids deserved better. Something epic..
Like escaping from the island in the sky via a magical glass elevator. Just saying.....!
-- By Mara Reinstein for UsMagazine.com