Lost: Season Two

I’ve been continuing my rewatch of Lost, ready for the sixth and final next series in a couple of months time. The second season is thought of by many fans of the show as the weakest point, and was the time that many viewers stopped watching, feeling the writers were “making it up as they went along”. Much of this was due to the fact that at this point, they were given no indication of how long they would have to tell their story, making it seem padded-out with filler material at times. But there was also much to enjoy about this season, much of which was set in probably the series’ most iconic location, The Swan. The rest of this post contains spoilers if you haven’t seen all five seasons of Lost.

Lost Season 2

The season opens where we left off, with the hatch door blown off, Sawyer, Micheal and Jin floating in the ocean, and Walt kidnapped by The Others. The first few episodes of the season are very slow. We see the same moment of Jack’s entry into the hatch in the first three episodes. The first half of the season is full of “filler” episodes with very little happening, but among them are a handful of incredibly good ones, such as Orientation, The Other 48 Days and The 23rd Psalm. While it’s fascinating to discover the DHARMA Initiative, many of these early episodes do not progress the story at all.

Things start to pick up half way through the season, with The Long Con, One of Them and Maternity Leave. What really struck me when watching these again was that this was the point where it started to feel more and more like the show it became in later seasons. There’s Hurley’s joke about the radio broadcast from “another time”. The Others are revealed to wear normal clothes, Tom Friendly’s beard was a fake. We’re introduced to Kelvin Inman, Alex and crucially to a man claiming to be a balloonist called Henry Gale. We know him now as Benjamin Linus.

The casting of Micheal Emerson as “Henry” was one of the decisions which made Lost the masterpiece it is. Originally given a guest role, his creepy portrayal of a potential Other, with just enough fragility to make us think that he could be innocent, made producers give him the planned role as leader of the Others.

Things step up a gear in the final episodes, Two For The Road, ?, Three Minutes and Live Together, Die Alone. The main question posed throughout the season is faced head on – does “pushing the button” really save the world or is it just a psychological experiment? All the threads of the season weave together to build up to a terrifically tense and entertaining season finale which delivers lots of answers, and of course more questions.

It was a real pleasure to watch this season on Blu Ray, while there weren’t as many lingering shots of the island or the waves lapping against the shore, the luscious green jungle and bright blue sky above the island look beautiful in high definition, set against the Swan station with it’s dark, rusty orange and teal pallete.

where it starts

What an amazing scene to start the season. It’s a trick they’ve pulled off a few times since, but it’s never had as much impact as this. After ending season one gazing into the hatch and wondering what’s inside, we’re presented with a man waking up, making breakfast and doing exercises. Is this someone we already know, in a flashback? Are we even watching the right channel? And suddenly, an explosion and it’s revealed that this unexpected scene is at the bottom of the hatch – the question we were all asking had been answered without us knowing it. Stunning.

the best episode

The other 48 days was something very special, especially at the first time of watching, as it was a complete departure from any previous episode. Instead of continuing the Island timeline while dipping in and out of a character’s flashbacks, we go back to day one, the day of the crash, and experience the first 48 days from the point of view of the people who were in the tail section and landed on the other side of the island. Sadly, most of the “tailies” didn’t last very long, but it was very interesting to see what happened to them when they arrived on the island, particularly what happened with Godwin, their own version of Ethan.

the best scene

There were some great moments in the season, including some that really surprised me having not seen them for years, such as the flashback in SOS where Bernard proposes to Rose in front of the Niagara Falls, and her answer in true Lost style wasn’t yes, or no, but “I’m dying”. There were of course many other more memorable scenes, including the amazing first scene in the first episode, but the one I will go for was the shock ending of Two for the Road:

The ultimate double-whammy, Ana Lucia being shot was enough of a surprise, but then Libby too. Jaw-dropping stuff.

the best line

Wow, you guys have some real trust issues, don’t you? Guess it makes sense she didn’t tell you. I mean, with the two of you fighting all the time. Of course, if I was one of them – these people that you seem to think are your enemies – what would I do? Well, there’d be no balloon, so I’d draw a map to a real secluded place like a cave or some underbrush, good place for a trap, an ambush. And when your friends got there a bunch of my people would be waiting for them. Then they’d use them to trade for me. I guess it’s a good thing I’m not one of them, huh? You guys got any milk?

“Henry Gale”‘s closing line in The Whole Truth summed up his mysterious character perfectly, malignant, menacing, but with a playful hint that he really could be one of the good guys. The moment was made so memorable thanks to Emerson’s perfectly creepy delivery.

the worst parts

In the early part of the season there were some really quite poor episodes, the worst of which was probably the Charlie-centric Fire + Water, notable only for featuring the first mention of the Widmore name, and some terribly unconvincing London street scenes. As I already mentioned, these painfully slow episodes weren’t entirely the fault of the writers and showrunners, who had to draw out the pacing as they had no idea of how many seasons they would have to fill.

questions asked

Many of the questions raised in this season are more general. What is the nature of DHARMA? What is the nature of The Others? Why does the island appear to be in a “snowglobe”? These are things that are explored in later seasons.

One question which almost certainly won’t be answered within the show is what Libby was doing in Hurley’s mental institution. What makes this a sore point with many fans is that it was presented as a cliffhanger ending to the very entertaining episode, Dave. I can accept that this was a mistake, and that for various reasons beyond Damon & Carlton’s control they haven’t been able to go back to this, and they’ve instead given a simple explanation that she was mourning her husband’s death. Through the San Diego Comic-Con we’ve even been given her full name, Elizabeth Smith. So, all that is fine – but what I don’t get is why, on the Blu Ray’s list of unanswered questions that comes up when you need to change discs (as a teaser for what might be answered in future), this question is raised. It was quite a disappointment to watch that scene again, knowing it won’t be addressed in later episodes.

questions answered

This season answered the question of whether Rose’s husband Bernard was still alive, it told us what was down that hatch, we gradually learnt a little more about The Others, and crucially we discovered what caused the crash of Oceanic Flight 815.

what we know now

Today we know a lot more about the DHARMA Initiative and “Dr Marvin Candle”, and have seen what caused The Incident for ourselves. We now also know the true significance of the hieroglyphics on the countdown clock.This season introduced Desmond Hume, Ben Linus and Charles Widmore, at first as guest stars, so it’s interesting to see their first appearances knowing what important characters they would later become. This season also sees the first mentions of Neil Frogurt and Stuart Radzinsky, characters we wouldn’t actually see on screen for another three seasons.

where it ends

Every season finale in Lost is special. Of the five we’ve had so far, this was probably my least favourite, but that isn’t to say it’s not good – it is one of the best episodes of the season. It’s strongest point is probably the flashbacks, telling the story of how Desmond got to the island, the three years he spent with Kelvin, and how one day his failing to push the button resulted in a plane falling from the sky.

Meanwhile, on the island, Jack, Kate, Sawyer and Hurley are caught by The Others, while Ben sets Micheal and Walt free with the memorable line “We’re the good guys, Michael”. In the Swan, Locke decides to see what happens when he doesn’t push the button, leading to some very interesting results.

So, that was season two. I can’t wait to get started on season three, which I remember as starting very slowly but eventually being the point at which Lost changed from a brilliant show to one of the greatest television series ever made.

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