Did we like it?
What was good about it?
• The humour of Hurley. Just when the inexorable portentousness was filtering into our cerebral lungs, and drowning us with a chimera of profundity, Hurley offered a blessed relief.
• For his ham-fisted, and altogether contrived stupidity, that’s seen him accused of murder after being an innocent bystander as Sayid despatched two assassins, to his frenetic driving through the LA streets with a comatose Sayid as passenger where he was stopped by the very dead Anna Lucia, who gave him hints on how to avoid capture. “Change clothes,” she urged, prompting Hurley to go and buy an ‘I love My Shitzue’ T-shirt.
• The way in which Lost can disorientate the viewer was again, at first, welcome as ‘Dr Marvin Candle’ – who appears on all the island’s videos – was shown getting up from his bed to investigate something down a mine, where one of the miners was sorrowful-faced Daniel – what was he doing there, and how did he arrive at a point in time years before the present day? Sadly, that story so far has been quite dull.
• The best written scene was the one between Kate and Sun, in which the grieving Sun softened Kate up to make her feel guilty about her role in Jin’s ostensible demise, before gently ingratiating her into the plan to kill Ben. The development of Sun has been one of the more subtle changes in the evolution of the drama. She began as the most good-hearted character, but slowly has changed and more of the diabolic nature of her obsidian-hearted father has emerged following her fake kidnap by Charlie, shooting dead one of the Others and culminating with her husband being on the freighter when it was blown up.
• Daniel and Miles, introduced in the last series, at least have the capacity to evolve. Daniel almost seems to have replaced the island itself as the inscrutable font of all knowledge, forever scribbling in his notebook, while Miles’ impassive prescience marries well with the unseen secrets of the island. And Desmond, one of the most well-rounded roles in the show, will surely get a larger part in the coming episodes.
What was bad about it?
• Maybe in America this time-travel yarn is still novel (although we doubt it with such shows as Quantum Leap) but the constant shifting between times after Ben turned some wheel resembled the dismal third series of Heroes (which has jumped the megalodon), and was light years behind the sophistication of Doctor Who (namely Blink). Locke would jump from a time before the plane crashed on the island, to be shot by Ethan (killed by Charlie in series one) to a nocturnal encounter with the seemingly ageless Richard, who knew where Locke would be.
• Sawyer and Juliet, now leading the rest of the survivors (we don’t remember if they’re plane crash survivors, Others, people who have fallen out the sky or ghosts) are assaulted by yet another bunch of hostiles, one of whom sounds as if he’s just graduated from Harrow. This is to go along with the commandoes who tried to kill them all last series. We’re sure they’ll be distinct, but in this double-episode it all seemed to be a retread of the previous series until all the leads can once more be assembled on the island.
• In the real world, Jack and Ben attempted to corral the rest of the refugees into returning to the island. Ben is a fantastic villain, but in this role as a quasi-antihero his menace is neutered. It’s possible, probable even, that he will betray them all once they return but at the moment he just hovers from scene to scene like an ineffectual spectre.
• Kate, meanwhile, is on the run again, which means she pulls expressions of strained anguish, as like almost all the protagonists, she is impotent off the island. And this is a theme that badly cripples the whole show – as they amble about the civilised world, each of the characters goes about their business, no matter how nefarious, as though in a decent thriller. The sooner they all get back to the island, the better – that’s where we can find out about four-toed demigods, about the whispering wind and the smoke monster. Only Hurley offers a sense of otherworldliness, and that’s because of his implied madness.
• The most vexing elements are the turbid statements of unparalleled catastrophe that are hinted at but never expatiated in such a way that it seems as of details are artificially being kept from the viewer. The double-header began with ‘Marvin Candle’ exclaiming “God help us all!”, a nebulous plea echoed by Penny Locke (who we think is Locke’s mum, but we were past caring by then). In between, Ben said: “Everything we do won’t matter at all!”