Over the course of the second season to date, I have kept the flame lit for Lost. I have kept the faith. I have stayed true. But this week’s episode, The Other 48 Days, is the one that broke me. I believe that not only was this the worst episode of the series so far, it’s indicative of a show that is scrambling to remain a phenomenon, and isn’t worrying about telling good stories.
This will contain spoilers for the episode, by the way – as if an episode like this can even have spoilers. By the time the episode sputtered to its elongated end, with five minutes of pointless flashbacks to the previous six episodes, I couldn’t believe I had sat through so much nothing. There was almost nothing in The Other 48 Days that hadn’t been covered by quick and easy exposition in the previous episode.
“Nothing happened” is a charge against which I often find myself defending the show. People complain about every episode that doesn’t reveal the monster, it seems. Lost is a character based show, though, and every episode offers insight into the nature of the people who are trapped on the mysterious island. Except for The Other 48 Days, which told me nothing about a single one of the tail section survivors that I didn’t already know. Ana Lucia seemed like a hardass from the start, Mr. Echo never had a lot to say, and the rest of the survivors remained ciphers.
Most frustrating of all, though, was how the episode did anything but support the actions of the tail survivors over the last few episodes. They are terrified of the Others, and ascribe to them superhuman powers. But all of the encounters they had with the others were less than supernatural – the Others showed up while the survivors were sleeping and took some people. But best of all, every time the survivors met some Others – at least one Other died! In the course of the first 40 days they killed 4 Others, bringing their average to ten a day. Why the fear? These people die from glancing rocks to the temple, for the love of God.
When Michael, Sawyer and Jin run into the tail survivors they fear the jungle. Why? They marched through the jungle for three days unmolested before getting to the clearing they ended up camping at. While in the clearing they were not bothered by the Others anymore, even when outside of the bunker they found. And why would they be bothered, since the Others only came when they were sleeping?
Just before Ana Lucia shoots Shannon, the tail survivors panic when they hear whispering in the jungle. Again, why? They never encountered this phenomenon in the first 48 days. If anything, they should have assumed that it might be the other survivors of the crash.
So there were no character moments and the episode itself seemed to run contrary to the actions of the tail survivors. Was there anything that came of the episode? Sure. There was minor stuff, like the final answer to the mystery of what Boone heard on the radio, a mystery that I sort of thought we all knew the answer to when the tail survivors were introduced. As no one in the main group of Losties knew Boone heard anything, that little storyline came to a quick and whimpering end.
As for the Dharma bunker the tail survivors found, we discovered it contained a radio, a glass eye and a Bible. Again, nothing exciting. The most interesting information was what little we learned about the Others – they wear tagless clothes and no shoes. They were infiltrating both groups of survivors. They have old US Army gear, like knives.
By the end of The Other 48 Days I was supremely annoyed. The previous episode had also been a letdown (although partially my fault – I had been spoiled as to the character death. I had also made the mistake of listening to the advertising for the show. Never listen to the advertising. Don’t get excited when you’re told that this will be the episode everyone is talking about the rest of the millennium. Just watch the show as it is), but had ended on a promising note. This episode was a time waster, delaying the confrontation that was seemingly promised, so that the regular cast could go promote the show Stateside or something.
The death of Shannon felt more like a declaration of defeat by the show’s writers. They didn’t know what to do with her, so they killed her. This episode felt like spinning wheels – information we already had, delivered in a boring way. I’m not giving up on this show just yet, but I hope it repays my patience.