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All The Best Cowboys Have Daddy Issues
original airdate: 12-08-04

In creating what is arguably the most innovative if not best new show of the season, JJ Abrams recruited some of the talent from Angel. That show, which was unfairly cut down after more than restoring quality in it fifth season, was often at it best when an episode showed many scenes featuring different combinations of characters. As with Angel, that same formula works in this episode of LOST to equally satisfying effect.

But the episode actually opens with a tool Abrams and company perfected during the spectacular Season One of ALIAS: The cliffhanger. Here the action picks up exactly at the end of last week’s shocker kidnapping of Claire and Charlie. While Locke suggests a calm, organized approach to pursuit, Jack becomes frantic. His behavior seems very out of character at first; if nothing else, Jack more than anyone should know the dangers of running blindly on the island. And his rashness is beyond what one might expect from the guilt of not believing Claire. Fortunately for the audience, subsequent flashbacks effectively explain his motivation as well as the long suspected incident that resulted in the rift with his father.

While an argument between Locke and Michael is nothing new, it is interesting to see Boone with Locke during the search. Perhaps the few bits of Boone are priming fans for a pending back-story about him and Shannon. Another interesting scene pairs the entertaining Hurley with Walt, who once again manifests manifest powers reminiscent of classic Trek’s “Shore Leave” or the classic sci-fi novel The Lathe of Heaven.

But the most captivating scene is the reunion of Sayid and Sawyer. With almost everyone from the caves searching for Claire and Charlie, Sawyer has the perfect opportunity to exact revenge against the incapacitated Sayid. Instead, the two have a civil conversation about the happenings of late. Does Sawyer accept Sayid’s apology and feelings of shame? Has Sawyer changed because of pre- and post- crash crises? Perhaps those factors contribute to their shared civility. But more likely these two men are realizing they have a lot in common. Both are practical, grounded in reality, and interested in getting off the island. It will be interesting to see if these potential enemies end up forming a close friendship.

Eventually one of the search parties catches up with Ethan, who’s pretty much confirmed that he’s a baddie. It’s also clear that Ethan isn’t normal. His stilted, even toned speech, exceptional strength, and lightning reflexes suggest something supernatural. Possession? Android? Vulcan? Time will tell.

The episode ends with a potentially bold choice from the writers, i.e., the death of a major character. Whether you like that character or not, you would have to respect the writers for demonstrating that anything could happen on the show. Alas, the writers wimp out (and with the pending release of the Extended Version of The Return of the King, who can blame them? With the proven fickleness of ABC execs, it’s best to keep one eye of the Nielsens at all times…)

This would-be death scene is one of two weak spots in the episode. Jack’s actions border on the absurd. The other flaw comes when several characters are shocked to learn that Kate is a “tracker” as well. Yet what Kate concludes is nothing special. Anyone could have come up with the same thought. It had more to do with logic than tracking skills.

But those scenes are nitpicks in an otherwise solid episode. And once again the writers deliver not one, but two new questions that will fuel the fan boards during the break. First, is Charlie changed by his experience? And second, what is the underground metal that Boone and Locke discover in a new part of island that feels special to the latter man?

It’s going to a difficult wait. The only upside is the return on LOST will also bring the return of ALIAS as well!

Chris Crotty

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