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Everything Changes: "Lost" Returns from Hiatus with a Vengeance

Oh. My. God.

If anyone was worried that Lost may have, er, lost its edge during its 13-week imposed hiatus, I hope that last night's episode ("Not in Portland"), the first of sixteen all new episodes in a row, allayed any fears on that matter.

Instead, fans were given a swift resolution to the story arc about Jack, Kate, and Sawyer's captivity on the Other's itty-bitty Alcatraz (well, for Kate and Sawyer, anyway), as well as a captivating and engrossing kick-off to the real third season of Lost. (Let's consider what those first six episodes really were: the appetizer.)

Once again, Lost teases its audience with a fantastic, fooled-you opening sequence in which misunderstood Other Juliet sits crying on the beach before walking through an extremely creepy, decrepit, light-flickering hallway (passing Ethan Rom--nice touch!--on the way) as she goes to see her cancer-riddled sister. While I (wrongly) assumed that, while obviously a flashback, this was taking place on the island, it was in fact set in Miami. That shot of Juliet pulling back the curtains to reveal that stunning shot of Miami (complete with plane so we knew it wasn't a fake-out) across the water was absolutely gorgeous and surprising.

Jack's standoff with Juliet and Tom continued as he held Ben's life in his hands while attempting to gain freedom for Kate and Sawyer. How creepy was it that Ben woke up on the operating table??? Despite the cat-and-mouse game Jack seems to be playing, Juliet is a far superior opponent; after trying to convince him earlier to kill Ben on the table, she's changed her tune now and orders Danny and the others to find Kate and Sawyer and bring them back or kill them trying.

Damn you, Jack, for screwing up the procedure (after removing the tumor) just when Tom was about to tell you what exactly happened with the whole sky-turning-purple-occurrence. (Obviously, the electromagnetic pulse has fried their communication systems but is it more than that? They can't seem to get off the island now.) I'm intrigued by Tom; as the Sea Captain he seemed happy to be torturing or terrifying the Losties, but now Mr. Friendly seems particularly keen to appear, well, friendly to Jack. Interesting...

After Ben wakes up, the only person he wants to talk to is Juliet. We're not privy to the conversation they share (damn!), but its effects are clear: Juliet will help Kate and Sawyer escape from the island. Way to change your tune, sister.

The Lost Flashback of the Week belonged, of course, to the mysterious Juliet Burke, who in the past wasn't exactly the hard-edged pragmatist that she appears to be today. Instead, she's a mousy fertility expert still working for her loathsome ex-husband, Edmund (Oz's Zeljko Ivanek), though she's pioneering some radical experimentation in her off-hours, successfully impregnating a male (!) field mouse. Her research--including that of performing experiments on her ill sister Rachel--draws her into the orbit of the shadowy Mittelos Bioscience, a research group with a certain, um, interest into Juliet's work. They offer her a position at their Portland lab, but Juliet refuses, saying that there's no way that Edmund will let her go. But Dr. Alpert (Suddenly Susan's Nestor Carbonell) persists and wants to know WHAT it will take for Edmund to release her (shades of Ben here, people); half-jokingly Juliet says that he'd have to get run over by a bus. Which, as luck would have it, is just what happens to the lecherous Edmund!

Alpert and Ethan show up at the morgue (great timing, guys) to plead their case; Juliet recognizes Ethan from her sister's building (he's obviously been watching them for some time now) and freaks out when she realizes that somehow her joke about the "bus" (straight out of Mean Girls, no less) came true. Alpert says that she'd have to leave her sister behind for six months (are they after Juliet or Rachel?) admits that their facility is really "Not in Portland" after all, but somewhere more remote. (Um, understatement.)

Back in the present, Kate and Sawyer find help escaping from none other than Alex (revealed to be Ben's adopted daughter), whose knowledge of tracking, attacking, and field camouflage rivals that of her biological mother, Rousseau. (Speaking of whom, where has she been lately?) But before she'll give them a boat, they need to help her rescue her boyfriend Karl, whose being held prisoner in what appears to be another Station of the Hydra installation, under the not so watchful eye of the A Brief History of Time-reading Aldo (It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia's Rob McElhenney).

In room 23, poor Karl is being subjected to what must be one of the worst forms of brainwashing and sleep-deprivation (Kubrickian in its severity) while being forced to watch (through lighted goggles) a looping film of bizarre images and phrases ("Everything Changes," "Think About Your Life," "We are the causes of our own suffering," and "God loves you as He loves Jacob") and a cacophony of mind-splitting sounds. It is torture? Or another form of tapping into one's potential for ESP-like abilities?

Of course, the foursome makes its way to the beach and Alex's boat when they're found by Danny Pickett. Karl seems to almost "sense" Danny's presence before actually seeing him (or is that conjecture?) and he's about to shoot them when Juliet steps out of the jungle, says Danny's name, and shoots him three times. Um, I did not see that coming. Kate is forced to recount the story Jack told her waaaaay back when in the pilot about his botched surgery (and having to count to five) just as he screws up Ben's surgery. Thanks to Kate, Jack regains his confidence and fixes Ben up and he asks her never to return to the island to try and rescue him, before ordering Tom to turn off the walkie.

Sawyer definitely notices the depths of Kate's feelings for Jack through her retelling of the story, but if it's unnerved him at all about their new-found "relationship," he's not saying. But it's time to go, and they begin to push off, when Juliet says that, like Jack, Alex will have to remain on "Alcatraz" if she wants Karl to live.

And we finally learn what Ben said to Juliet in the OR... namely, that he would finally let her leave the island after more than three years of imprisonment. Wait, what? So Juliet's not an Other, after all. Seems more and more like she's just another Lostie who, well, lost her way and ended up trapped in this god-forsaken place and Ben, just like Edmund, won't let her go. I don't know about you, but now I love Juliet even more than I thought I did...

Final thoughts: Did it strike anyone as odd that Juliet's sister was named Rachel? Rachel, is after all, the biblical name for Jacob's wife, who despite having problems bearing children (aha!), eventually did give birth to Joseph and died giving birth to... Benjamin. (They're not suggesting...?) And Jacob's name popped up again this week in the mind-altering film strip Karl was forced to watch over and over again ("God loves you as He loves Jacob.").

Plus, I'm hoping that there will be an explanation about how Ethan eventually transformed from this meek, pudgy lump of a man into the cold-blooded, super-strong killer he becomes on the island.

Next week on Lost ("Flashes Before Your Eyes"), it looks like someone other than Jack, Kate, and Sawyer will finally get some screen time as Hurley asks Charlie for help figuring out what the hell happened to Desmond, who's still exhibiting some rather disturbing precognition about Claire's death, while Kate, Sayid, and Locke plan a daring rescue mission to get Jack back. I can't wait!

What's On Tonight

8 pm: Survivor: Fiji (CBS); My Name is Earl/The Office (NBC); Smallville (CW); Ugly Betty (ABC); 'Til Death/The War at Home (FOX); Wicked Wicked Games (MyNet)

9 pm: CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (CBS); Scrubs/30 Rock (NBC); Supernatural (CW); Grey's Anatomy (ABC); The O.C. (FOX); Watch Over Me (MyNet)

10 pm: Shark (CBS); ER (NBC); Men in Trees (ABC)

What I'll Be Watching

8 pm: Ugly Betty.

It's Televisionary's favorite new show. On tonight's episode ("Brothers"), Alexis' stunning announcement leaves the Meade family in ruin and leaves Mode magazine in chaos as Alexis and Wilhelmina make their move. Plus, more Tim Gunn!

8 pm: My Name is Earl.

On tonight's episode ("Blow"), Joy learns that she has a half-sister (guest star Tamala Jones), who turns out to be her life-long nemesis. Oh, and Joy prepares for her trial. Is it just me or is this show not as fun (or as funny) as it used to be?

8:30 pm: The Office.

Over on The Office ("Phyllis' Wedding"), Phyllis regrets giving Michael an important job at her wedding (um, namely, pushing her wheelchair-bound father down the aisle) while Dwight looks to nab errant wedding crashers. Michael plus an elderly man in a wheelchair, at an employee's wedding? I am counting down the hours.

9 pm: Scrubs.

Finally! Scrubs is back on NBC's schedule, where it belongs. On tonight's episode ("My Road to Nowhere"), it's an episode build all around ultrasounds. Seriously. Turk convinces J.D. that he needs go to Washington for Kim's first ultrasound, while Jordan and Dr. Cox learn that their unborn child needs surgery, following their ultrasound.

9:30 pm: 30 Rock.

I can't get this show off of my mind grapes. On tonight's episode ("Up All Night"), it's Valentine's Day on the set of TGS: Liz gets flowers from a mysterious admirer, while Pete forgets Valentine's Day when the cast has to pull an all-nighter. First you lose your wedding ring in a poker match and now you've forgotten Valentine's, Pete? You, my friend, are gonna be in the doghouse.


Anonymous said…
Argh...these are definitely the times I wish you were right around the corner to talk to.

GREAT ep. Loved it. And yes, I love Juliet even more.

Feeling lazy, so not much to say. A few comments.

Kubrickian. Exactly what I said. That scene was right out of clockwork orange, and it was amazing. Crazy, great scene.

Ah - It's Always Sunny...I knew I knew him! But you didn't mention MY favorite guest star of the week. I don't think you watched this show, but Juliet's sister was played by Robin Weigert who played the always drunk, always dirty and always covered by very mannish davy crockett-esque clothes as Calamity Jane on Deadwood. I was about to go insane trying to figure out why I knew her, and in the middle of the scene I yelled out, "It's Jane!!" Then my friend looked at me like I was crazy. I am just not used to her looking, well, like a woman.

And a parting thought. My totally "profound" comment at the end. All through the show my friend and I were "bitching." "I want to see Locke" "I want to see Sayid" "Where's Sun" etc...

When the previews rolled for next week, my friend said, "Look everyone's back!" and I said, "In a way, now THEY'RE the others."

Yes I did.
Unknown said…
I think I can give you the Ethan weight gain explanation right now - he's a human being and gained some weight in between tapings.

The other way to look at it is that, like the meek Juliette turning into the hot, sleek version on the island, that living on the island forces one to become in better shape, etc. Which also stands to reason.

Thought it was a great show, and I'm instantly hooked again.
I think Juliet has surpassed Kate as my favorite female Lostie. I loved the reveal that she too is trapped on the island and her excellent performance and transformation from meek Juliet to the strong-willed woman she is today. I can't wait to find out what happened to her sister. Could Ben be her sister's child? Yes, it's weird. But weirder things have happened on this show.
Anonymous said…
This episode restored my faith in LOST. Begin the backlash to the backlash!

One detail that I liked about the episode is that Mittelos Bioscience echoes the name of Dr. Thomas Werner Mittelwerk from the Hanso website (and the Lost Experience).

Oh, and the Others are terrible shots. Not since G.I. Joe…
rockauteur said…
I heard that there was an anagram that reference to Adam and Eve. Has anyone been able to figure that out? And a clue to a bigger mystery to that will unfold... anyone pick up on that?

Great episode though I wish Jack had gotten the information from Tom instead of messing up! I was so mad about that! Afterwards, I would have been like, "so Tom what were you saying earlier about the purple sky?" Why was Tom being so friendly?

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