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The Flame Goes Up in, Well, Flames as Locke Enters 77 on "Lost"

Thank Eko! Now that was a great Lost episode.

Last night's episode of Lost ("Enter 77"), written by executive producers Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof, ratcheted up the tension without sacrificing the character interplay that make this series great. As opposed to last week's filler storyline involving Hurley discovering an old VW van and taking it on a joyride, last night's episode not only advanced the plot but it also gave us some downtime back at the beach, with an impromptu ping pong match between Sawyer and Hurley that didn't feel like it was tacked on at all.

LOVED the scenes back on the beach, even if Paolo and Nikki still managed to position themselves front and center once again. What was up with Paolo's shiftiness when Sawyer asked who the hell Nikki was? (Hmmm.) And Paolo had his most interesting storyline to boot as he argued with Sawyer over his choice of bathroom reading material. (Yawn.) But I loved the fact that Hurley conned Mr. Con Man himself into a ping pong challenge and won and, even better, that if Sawyer lost he couldn't use any of his famous nicknames for a week (including "Crouching Tiger and Hidden Dragon"). Bravo, Hurley! It was wonderful to see everyone together at the beach for once and for Sawyer, Charlie, Hurley, Sun, and Jin to be in an actual scene together. (Plus, no Jack and his merry band of Others this week!)

The Lost Flashback of the Week belonged to Sayid as we see the consequences of his actions as an interrogator (read: torturer) in Iraq. Now living as a chef in Paris, he meets Sami, a fellow Iraqi, who offers him a job at his restaurant. However, it ends up being a trap as Sami's wife Amira recognizes Sayid from Iraq as the man who tortured her (pouring scalding oil over her arms); Sayid is beaten up and tossed into a locked room. During questioning, Sayid repeatedly denies the charges against him. But, while Sami wants to kill Sayid, Amira just wants him to acknowledge that he remembers her and what he did to her as she strokes the cat (a similar-looking cat, female this time, turns up on the island) she rescued years before. Sayid finally breaks down and says that her face has haunted him since Iraq. They share a moment of true tenderness and Amira says that she will tell her husband she made a mistake and he will let Sayid go; she can afford to have mercy.

One of the best things about last night's episode? Finally learning who Patchy McPatches is. By following the instructions on Eko's stick, the gang (consisting this time of inner circle members Kate, Locke, and--yay!--Sayid) and crazy Danielle stumble onto a farmhouse in the middle of the jungle, which Danielle in all her years on the island (16 if we're counting) has never seen. Granted, G.I. Jane claims to have stayed alive all of these years by avoiding these types of conflicts but I did think it odd that she refused to come into the farmhouse. And who lives in this charmingly ramshackle farmhouse with the rather large satellite dish? Why, it's none other than Patchy himself, though Sayid is suspicious that someone else is around, due to the fact that the stirrups on the horse outside are for someone much shorter...

Patchy comes out shooting and hits an unarmed Sayid but Kate and Locke rush in and grab Patchy, who says his name is Mikhail Bakunin and he is the last surviving member of the Dharma Initiative. He claims that the hostiles were there long before Dharma ever came to the island and there had been a war--a purge--between Dharma and the "hostiles" and that he was the only one who survived (hmmm, echoes of Danielle's story) because he didn't get involved. The hostiles agreed to a truce as long as he never entered the valley. The farmhouse itself is another Dharma station: The Flame, the site of its communications hub. But Mikhail (can I still call him Patchy?) says that the satellite dish no longer works (something to do with the energy discharge in the hatch, bien sur).

Patchy's got a cat (the one that looks suspiciously like the one in Sayid's flashback) but this one is female and is named Nadia. Coincidence? Or does Patchy know something about Sayid. He claims the cat was named after the greatest athlete in the world: Nadia Comaneci, with whom he shares a birthday. (That would be November 12th, also the birthday of Russian chess champion Mikhail Chigorin.) Also worth noting: Nadia Comaneci joined a gym club in 1967 called The Flame. Coincidence?

While he serves them homemade iced tea (don't mind the bitterness, he adds, he brews it himself!), Patchy tells them that there are cables all over the island, connecting various areas with a power supply, and confirms Sayid's suspicions about the underwater cable and about the submarines. He's especially interested by the fact that Sayid's group had a sailboat.

Of course all of this is moot because Mikhail is lying about everything. He's not a member of the Dharma Initiative and never was. Sayid calls his bluff and Patchy attacks them savagely (these guys can fight); fortunately Sayid and Kate manage to subdue him and tie him up (not all that well, unfortunately). Locke, meanwhile, is in the communications room playing with a chess game on the computer and only comes out to help AFTER Patchy is on the floor. (Gee, thanks, Locke!) Sayid reveals a hidden trapdoor in the floor and says that Patchy's companion must be down there. He and Kate descend into the actual Flame while Locke stays behind to keep an eye on the prisoner (um, badly done) and play some more chess!

Locke finally beats the chess game and Dr. Marvin Candle comes on screen with a series of instructions ("Manual override achieved. For pallet drop enter 2-4. For station up-link enter 3-2. For mainland communication enter 3-8"). Locke selects mainland communications; not unsurprisingly the satellite, and SONAR, are not functional (damn purple sky). Candle instructs Locke to press 77 if the station has undergone an incursion by hostiles. But before he can do anything, Patchy comes up behind him with a gun. Meanwhile, Sayid and Kate snoop around the Flame and find a few interesting things: lots and lots of C4 explosives lining the place; some Dharma manuals including a food drop protocol (which has always puzzled me, especially if there are no living Dharma members on the island anymore) and an operations manual; some pages in Russian (which makes sense as Mikhail is Russian); lots of Dharma jumpsuits (all the rage this fall); and--oh, wouldn't you know it?--Miss Bea Klugh hiding back there. Kate and Sayid force Klugh up the ladder but discover they're in a bit of a standoff as Patchy now has Locke at gunpoint outside.

Patchy and Klugh exchange some words in Russian (for a translation, click here) and Patchy shoots Klugh, killing her (damn it!). They quickly overpower Patchy while Locke goes inside and finally presses 77, blowing up the station as Candle intended. (And reaffirming that whatever the Others--the hostiles--are, they are not former Dharma Initiative scientists.) Danielle joins the group (after patiently waiting, for hours apparently, by the stream) and she wants to kill Patchy, but Sayid says that he is his prisoner and he will be kept alive. Back in the hatch, Sayid found a map of the island's power cables, which lead to a place called The Barracks (mentioned by Dr. Candle in the Pearl orientation film), which he believes is where the Others live. Patchy will take them there.

Could Sayid and the gang really end up in Othersville next week? I somehow doubt it, but I'm extremely happy to see that things seem to be moving now at a slightly enhanced pace and the producers have figured out how to balance the plot against the story (or rephrased: mythology against character growth) as this episode was a triumph on every front. I cannot wait until next week's episode and that, my friends, was not something I was saying after last week's snoozer of an episode.

Next week on Lost ("Par Avion"), it's Claire's time to shine as we get a flashback episode focusing on the island's newest mommy, Sayid and his team stumble onto a gigantic alarm system that looks like it might have the added benefit of making things extra crispy to boot, and we learn the connection between two characters. Gee, I wonder who they could be?

What's On Tonight

8 pm: Survivor: Fiji (CBS); My Name is Earl/The Office (NBC); Smallville (CW); Ugly Betty (ABC); American Idol (FOX); The Rundown (MyNet; 8-10 pm)

9 pm: CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (CBS); Scrubs/30 Rock (NBC); Supernatural (CW); Grey's Anatomy (ABC); Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader? (FOX)

10 pm: Shark (CBS); The Office/30 Rock (NBC); Men in Trees (ABC)

What I'll Be Watching

8 pm: Ugly Betty.

On tonight's repeat episode ("After Hours"), Betty is assigned to review a luxe new hotel and tries to get Walter to accompany her while Daniel is furious when Sofia (guest star Salma Hayek) and her team take over the Mode conference room.

8 pm: My Name is Earl.

On tonight's repeat episode ("Van Hickey"), Joy is forced to do community service while Earl runs into #50 on on his list, only to run into #51 while trying to make amends with #50.

8:30 pm: The Office.

Over on The Office ("The Merger"), it's a repeat of one of my favorite Office episodes this season as the Scranton and Stamford branches of Dunder-Mifflin are merged together, causing a few reunions (ahem, Jim and Pam) and some new faces around the old office (Karen and Andy).

9 pm: Scrubs.

Finally! Scrubs is back on NBC's schedule, where it belongs. On tonight's episode ("My Fishbowl"), Private Dancer learns that his injuries are too severe for him to be allowed to return to military service.

9:30 pm: 30 Rock.

I can't get this show off of my mind grapes. On tonight's episode ("The Fighting Irish"), Jack is forced to give his loser brother (guest star Nathan Lane) a job at GTS, while Liz is forced to make cutbacks, and Tracy is forced (well, maybe not forced) to ask for spiritual fulfillment from Kenneth the Page.

10 pm: The Office.

On tonight's extra-special repeat episode ("The Convict"), chaos ensues when Michael discovers one of the new Dunder-Mifflin employees has a prison record, in this episode written by Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant, the creators of the original UK version of The Office!

10:30 pm: 30 Rock.

A second bonus episode tonight! On this repeat episode ("Tracy Does Conan"), Jack interferes by bumping Jenna's appearance on Conan by booking Tracy Jordan on the show instead. Oh, Jack. You really shouldn't have done that.


Jon88 said…
Gun? Granted, I was tired when I got to watching the show late last night, but I would swear Patchy held a knife to Locke's throat ....
Gun...knife...does it really matter? All that does matter is that last night's episode was great! I really liked "Patchy" and was sad to discover that he was an evil bastard but I love the reveal that the "Others" are not Dharma and that they were on the island before Dharma. Crazy!
Anonymous said…
It was Patchy, in the chess room w/a knife. ;)

"Nadia Comaneci joined a gym club in 1967 called The Flame. Coincidence?" On this show?

What a good episode. Not just better than last week. A truly good episode. I was SO happy. I really missed Sayid, and it's just better when he's around.

And Locke, oh Locke. He just has to push that button, doesn't he?

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