#69. FIRE + WATER
Episode 2.12; Charlie-centric
Think for a second. What does that equation equal? Oh yeah, that's right, a smoking mess.
Locke's fist: *thump* *thump* *crack*
Before we get started...
All right, now that I have your attention, here's the format I'm going to use for these first couple write-ups. Pretty basic. You can see it, tell me if you like it, or if there's anything you think needs to be added. Since a flashback plot is generally quite separate from the island plot of an episode, they will be addressed separately... most of the time. A noteworthy exception will obviously be The Other 48 Days. In any case, welcome to the list.
Charlie, plagued by memories of his heroin addict brother, Liam, takes it upon himself to save Aaron by baptizing him—earning the distrust of everybody on the Island (especially Claire and Locke).
All right, let's start with the strongest part of the episode, shall we? The flashbacks. For starters, I just re-watched Fire + Water a couple days ago, and let me say, it is even more truly pathetic than I remember it being. Coming into this episode, when I watched it the first time, my two favorite characters were Locke and Charlie. Coming out of it, my two favorite characters were...well, still Charlie and Locke. So, in the long run, things didn't change much. But still. This episode was quite irritating because it started along the line of one of my favorite characters (Charlie, not Locke) making a complete ass of himself. This concept lasted pretty much all season, fading out and resurfacing at seemingly random intervals.
But the flashback. The flashback starts out an almost completely incomprehensible series of events which start at the end of the flashback with old Liam sitting on Charlie's new piano in diapers while the father chops heads off of what appear to be baby dolls. Sadly, this is one of the more comprehensible parts of the episode, as it's mostly downhill from here. One of these is the song Charlie writes just before Liam sells his piano to afford rehab so that he can start over his life with his wife, Karen. Within this story somehow fits in an inane story about a diaper commercial, which happens to be the most entertaining bit of the episode, sadly.
Meanwhile, the real-time events begin just as ridiculously, with Charlie hallucinating that Aaron has somehow gotten himself stuck inside Charlie's piano, which is slowly drifting off to sea. The worst part about it is, he actually believes he's seeing this. Blargh. Then, things get even better! He starts to see visions involving his mother and Claire kneeling on the beach looking like something out of the first century. Then Hurley comes out of the jungle, reminding me of an extremely heavy version of Moses. This culminates in what is supposed to be an emotionally charged slap from Claire, but apart from the episode's actual content being bad, all the usually very competent actors also seem to be just as high on heroin as Liam in the flashbacks.
Throughout the entire thing, Charlie also seems convinced (and quite frequently asserts out loud) that Eko has put him up to this whole thing. "We can do this! Eko's a priest! We can do this!" However, when he goes to Eko for support, all Eko has to say (in true Eko-esque style) is: "This is not the way." Shortly after this moment is where the "Best Line" award winner for the episode appears.
I could go on and on about this episode, but instead I'll end with one final complaint. I really don't appreciate the implication at the end of the episode that the only way to get into heaven is to be baptized. Come on. Although I have to admit, the montage at the end is very nice. I do like that much. But overall, this episode is too bad for even a letter grade of F. I think I'm going to give it an S for SUCK.
The pace of this next episode is often questioned.
#68. EVERY MAN FOR HIMSELF
Episode 3.04; Sawyer-centric
Get it? The PACE of this episode is thrown into question? PACEmaker? Yeah, bad pun. But you thought I was talking about Charlie, didn’t you?
[After Sawyer has tried to electrocute Ben] Sawyer: What did you do? Ben: We turned it off. Billy club: THUD
On the main island, Hurley is startled at Desmond’s ability for premonition. Back at the Hydra, Ben threatens Sawyer with a lethal medical implant as punishment for his lack of cooperation.
If I’m correct in my assumptions, this is probably not the episode you expected to see in this spot, with or without the hint I provided. However, that’s simply not my problem. When I look at Bottom 5 Lost Episodes lists, I see Fire + Water, I see Stranger in a Strange Land, and I often see The Cost of Living and Further Instructions… but I never see this episode, and for the life of me I can’t imagine why. I was actually considering putting this below Fire + Water just for the sheer, startling lack of merit in this episode. There is actually nothing good here, except for Michael Emerson’s acting which is always exceptional.
First of all, there’s really only one plot in this episode. The flashback is all but meaningless and very little time is spent on it. Sawyer’s flashbacks, historically, have always been hit or miss, and this is definitely the biggest miss. It’s probably the most forgettable of all the flashbacks that I’ve seen in this show so far…I hardly even remember it. And I’ve seen it recently. And then there’s the plot on the main island, which basically makes up about five minutes of the episode’s entire airtime (if that). That leaves a lot of time to spend with our friends back at The Hydra…and as we all know, in pre-hiatus Season 3, that prospect does NOT bode well at all.
I guess I should preface the rest of this write-up by saying that I really do not like needles. In fact, I hate them—they’re probably my one biggest fear. And I really, really do not like them when they do not serve any purpose. Such is the case in Every Man for Himself. I also have a very hard time believing that a pacemaker works the way that Ben claims it does. I have no way of knowing whether my suspicions are right, but I’d bet a fair amount of money that the writers of the script really displayed no intrinsic knowledge of pacemakers through their writing.
Then there’s the fact that the entire episode has pretty much nothing to do with the storyline. That can be fine if implemented correctly. However, that really hurts this episode, as it’s right smack dab in the middle of the very beginning stretch of the season, where the viewer wants to get caught up with what’s going on with the story. The only real storyline relevance this entire thing has, unless I’m forgetting something, is that Desmond saved Charlie’s life for the first time. But like I said, that’s really nothing in the grand scheme of the episode—it’s treated nonchalantly like it’s really no big deal. And really, do they expect us to believe that they’re going to kill Sawyer off so early on in the third season? Such a great, complex main character and they’re just going to dispose of him so dispassionately? I guess I shouldn’t really be talking considering what they did to Eko just one episode later, but still. This is the second of three episodes that will be receiving an S for SUCK.
This next episode is the least favorite episode of many. Don’t worry, I don’t like it any more than you do.
#67. STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND
Episode 3.09; Jack-centric
Funny thing is, what Isabel says is not even what the tattoo means. It actually means “Eagles high, cleaving sky”.
Isabel: He walks amongst us, but he is not one of us.
As Kate and Sawyer depart the Island, Jack, who has been forced to stay in order to continue operating on Ben, meets the mysterious “sheriff” of the Others—who finally reveals the meaning of Jack’s mysterious tattoo.
What made this episode even worse was the hype. I seem to remember all the previews for this episode revolving around the idea that “three major questions would be revealed”. Okay, let me count. We know the kids are OK, and that’s actually mildly important. But my choices for “three major questions” of the series at that time would definitely not include a question about Jack’s tattoo. In fact, that probably wouldn’t have even crossed my mind for Top 30 material. I really did not care. And even so, that’s only two questions. I can’t figure out what they figured the third question would be. This episode also furthers the false idea that the producers seem to think you can’t have a successful episode without more Jack, Kate, and Sawyer. Personally, I’ve had a little too much of those three.
Well, I think everybody knows why I hate this episode, but I’ll rant a little longer before I tell you why two episodes managed to beat it out for the bottom two. Pretty much my biggest complaint about the entire episode: flashback, flashback, flashback. This is one of the prime examples of flashbacks starting to wear thin—although that precedent thankfully was not followed too much. Jack and Kate are really the main two where the writers seem to be running out of ideas of how to make their flashbacks interesting. But still. This flashback is crap. Achara? Terrible character. In fact, not only terrible, but completely pointless.
But there are three things that make this episode at least a little bit worthwhile. For one thing, it’s actually (in my opinion) the one of the last “bad” episodes of Season Three (not on this list, of course, but in the chronology of the season). I guess that gives away a little bit of the rest of my list, but not too much. After this, all the episodes (with one exception) were at least fairly good. Also, there is Isabel. Isabel was a character with such potential, mostly because Diana Scarwid is a pretty talented actress. I was disappointed about not seeing her again over the entire season (and I’ve heard that the producers said she is now dead as of Through the Looking Glass, which is just a waste). The third slightly-worthwhile thing is that Jack is FINALLY off of Hydra Island, which means that that terrible storyline is pretty much over and done. Stuff on the main Island is infinitely better than stuff on Hydra Island.
Yes, I realize they had to follow through with the tattoo storyline. They had already stated publicly that there was a story behind Jack’s tattoo, although I still contend that there really never needed to be an explanation (I mean, come on…people have tattoos), and they had made reference, in a conversation with Sawyer, to Jack’s visit to Phuket. Which Sawyer quite learnedly pointed out was in Thailand. But… did they have to make the story so BAD? And thus I must deal out my last grade of S for SUCK.
WTF… why are there three characters named Jason on this show? I just realized this. Well, one of them is in this episode.
#66. WHATEVER THE CASE MAY BE
Episode 1.12; Kate-centric
I have a very difficult time sitting through this entire episode. Oh yeah, and Jason is the name of the bank robber.
Shannon: La mer/Qu'on voit danser le long des golfes clairs/A des reflets d'argent/La mer/Des reflets changeants/Sous la pluie/La mer/Au ciel d'été confond/Ses blancs moutons/Avec les anges si purs/La mer bergère d'azur Infinie/Voyez/Près des étangs/Ces grands roseaux mouilles/Voyez/Ces oiseaux blancs/Et ces maisons rouillées/La mer/Les a berces/Le long des golfes clairs/Et d'une chanson d'amour/La mer/A berce mon coeur pour la vie
Kate: IT BELONGED TO THE MAN I KILLED!!!!!!!1!!11!1!!111ONE1!
On the Island, Sawyer finds a Halliburton case and Kate does whatever she can to get it away from him, remembering (in flashback) a previous, similar attempt. Meanwhile, Sayid and Shannon’s relationship continues to develop.
First of all, let me just summarize the episode… in less unbiased wording. Kate must keep anyone from opening a Halliburton case containing a toy airplane. A toy airplane. Because it belonged to the man she loved/killed. She must have this toy airplane or her own little personal world will explode into a thousand little itty bitty tiny pieces, it would seem. Also, the juxtaposition between this and the flashback is all-too-obvious. Kate uses Jason to get the toy plane back; Kate uses Jack and Sawyer to get the toy plane back. Only an idiot wouldn’t get the metaphor there.
Now, let me do something I haven’t done quite yet in the list. I’m going to talk about acting. More specifically, Evangeline Lilly’s acting. Even more specifically, Evangeline Lilly’s acting talent. More specifically yet, her lack of it. My perception is that she really shouldn’t be amongst these fine performers that make up the rest of the show, especially the likes of Josh Holloway, Terry O’Quinn, Dominic Monaghan, Yunjin Kim and “Triple-A”… just to name a few off the very top of my head. This means that pretty much any Kate episode is going to be filled with more of the same. Now, seeing as this is only the second Kate episode, I wasn’t saying “Oh, God, more of the same” just yet. But I was already getting there. The first one (Tabula Rasa) was pretty much all that was necessary to tell us everything we needed to know about her (except what she did, which was put forth in the aptly-named “What Kate Did”).
The worst thing, though, about her episodes, is that you’re actually supposed to sympathize with her. I agree implicitly with Zhang when he says that “it’s always her fault” and that she's “nothing but a spoiled, whiny, brat”. And as I said in response, she’s just a “criminal who pretty much deserves everything bad she's gotten because she brought it on herself. It's called natural consequences, honey.” I’m doomed to hate any Kate episode…but this one was particularly bad, because of the inanity of the overall premise of the episode, which basically consisted of “MUST GET CASE MUST GET CASE” “What’s in the case, Kate?” “MY BOYFRIEND’S PLANE MUST GET”
Oooookay. S for SUCK.
This next episode could’ve also been called “Signs”, but that title was already taken.