“God doesn’t know how long we’ve been here, John. He can’t see this island any better than the rest of the world.”
Lost season 2 picks up from pretty much exactly where season 1 ended. The survivors on the mysterious island have finally got that damned hatch open and are about to go inside. I’m not sure what the prevailing theories were at the time of airing, about what exactly was in the hatch. But I’m betting nobody guessed it’d be a Scottish man (with more than a passing resemblance to Jesus) and a doomsday button needing to be pressed every 108 minutes. The season meanders a little bit, here and there, treading water and buying time to pad out the overlong 24-episode long season. But even the unnecessary stuff is loads of fun. And the more out-there elements of the show introduced in season 2, like the various other stations on the island and the beginning of the Dharma initiative, is some of the absolute best stuff the show ever did. The show had to evolve from it’s simple survivalist beginnings in season 1 and expand into something else, something deeper. Season 2 achieves all of that whilst still being full to the brim with interesting characters and more than a few shocking moments.
The season begins with the strong opener ‘Man of Science, Man of Faith’ and introduces the all time greatest Lost character; Desmond Hume (played wonderfully by Henry Ian Cusick). The opening minutes see Desmond’s mundane hatch routine scored by a great Mama Cass song, shattered by the survivors blowing open the hatch door. It’s an all time great Lost musical moment, and a sign of what’s to come (season 3 opens with a similar mysterious scene set to upbeat 60’s music). In the present, Jack, Locke, and Kate all prepare to descend into the hatch. The meeting with Desmond plays out 3 times in this one and the next two episodes ‘Adrift’ and ‘Orientation’, each from a different characters perspective. I guess weekly this might have worked better, binging it though meant this technique felt slightly repetitive. It does begin to uncover more information around the Dharma initiative however, which is always entertaining. Desmond sadly disappears here too, and doesn’t reappear until the end of the season. Matthew Fox’s Jack and Terry O’Quinn’s Locke, both being the aforementioned Man of Science and Man of Faith, are very much still the driving force of the show. Fox has a little less to do here than he did in season 1 but he’s still one of the most solid parts of the show, playing the strong headed but likeable leader. Locke continues to have the absolute saddest life in the world; somehow having his kidney stolen isn’t even his lowest point. Terry O’Quinn is outstanding as always and most of the best emotional beats are around him.
The next episode ‘Everybody Hates Hugo’ is a very strong one, and delves further into Hurley’s (Jorge Garcia) life. It’s small scale compared to other episodes but Hurley’s dilemma of what to do with all the food in the hatch is compelling and the character drama really lands. The next episode ‘…And Found’, is one of the many dealing with ‘the Tailies’ (the survivors in the tail section of Oceanic flight 815). These episodes drag in places – it seems like they are making their way back to the main camp for ages – but they mostly work. The later Tailie centric episode ‘The Other 48 Days’ is a controversial one. It’s a fan favourite but I found this time much of the action in the episode was unnecessary. It good to see what the characters were up to for these first 48 days but a lot of it feels repetitive and it’s only really the stuff with Goodwin (Brett Cullen) that I found particularly compelling. Ana Lucia (Michelle Rodriguez) is pretty annoying at this point and here mistaking Nathan for an Other is frustrating in entirely the wrong way.
It all comes together however, when the Tailies and the main survivors collide and it results in Ana Lucia accidentally shooting and killing Shannon (Maggie Grace). It’s as shocking now as it was back when it first aired and it made all the more anger inducing as it comes right at the point when Shannon becomes an interesting character, what with her relationship with Sayid and burgeoning spiritual powers. It doesn’t help Ana Lucia either, a character I already hated before she offed one of the OG survivors. The show slows things down for a spell after this, allowing some character development for Charlie (Dominic Monaghan) in ‘Fire+Water and Kate (Evangeline Lilly) in ‘What Kate Did’. Kate’s flashbacks are always a mixed bag but the reveal of the crime that sent her on the lamb in the first place makes this one a solid episode. A highlight of the season is the introduction of the Mr Eko (the underrated Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) a mysterious Tailie who has a habit of beating people over the head with his scripture stick. However, it’s the introduction of the suspicious balloon pilot, Henry Gale in ‘One of Them’, that really gets the ball rolling. Played by the incomparable Michael Emerson, ‘Henry’ is the main source of conflict for the survivors this season and his back and forth with Jack and Locke are a highlight.
In a mirror of what happened with Shannon, Ana Lucia goes through similar character growth and by the episode ‘Two For The Road’, I’d really warmed to her character. So it’s all the more shocking that this episode sees Michael (the fantastic Harold Perrineau) murder both Ana Lucia and the kindhearted Libby (Cynthia Watros) to save the mysterious ‘Henry Gale’. It’s a fantastic twist and an entirely believable one for the character of Michael, who will stop at nothing to save his son. This sets in motion the season’s finale as Jack, Kate, and Sawyer are taken prisoner by ‘Henry’ and his people in return for Michael’s freedom. The most intriguing moment of the finale for me however, is the return of Desmond and the destruction of the hatch. The hatch and the computer within raised some great philosophical questions about destiny and free will and in a lot of ways was peak Lost. It’s destruction is not only a great set piece, as Desmond crawls towards the fail safe key and certain doom while the outstanding Michael Giacchino score soars in the background, but it sets up the best story-lines going forward. But more on that in my LOST season 3 review…
Season 2 of LOST is more of the same great stuff season 1 had – more excellently written characters and drama, horror and humour in equal measure, and an endless well of philosophical questions. However, season 2 begins to indicate where the show is heading further down the line. The roots of the creepy cult like Dharma Initiative are being to be laid and the previously unique, but admittedly pretty standard, flashback device is developed as we start to see the odd crossover here and there. We’re still firmly in flashback territory here but there are little things like Ana Lucia meeting Jack’s Dad (and both bumping into Sawyer), Shannon’s dad being the one who crashed with Jack’s ex-wife, Sayid’s torturer mentor being the man in the hatch with Desmond, etc. The show meanders here and there but is never less than entertaining and watchable; the mysteries are gripping and the characters are all engaging. This season raises more questions than answers but that was always the way with LOST. Besides, we’re in too deep now. I can’t imagine anyone not being invested in the show by this point. All that’s left is to strap in and enjoy the ride into season 3! A review of that season is coming soon….