Lost Wednesdays: A Bug and a Package

March 31, 2010
By | 4 Comments

After last week’s major mythological backstory, this week returns to the season 6 formula that is making many fans impatient. We fill in gaps in the sideways stories on Sun and Jin, confirming speculation that the couple is unmarried and that Sun has not learned English. We move pieces around the island, setting up a confrontation on Hydra Island between Teams Jacob, Smokey, Widmore (who now seems to be playing for Jacob), and Sawyer. We get the expected (yet satisfying) answer that Desmond was behind the padlocked door on the sub. And we still don’t know how all these things relate – nor did the episode confirm or deny my latest theory.

I still contend that these episodes will eventually be more satisfying once we know the larger context, and that the feeling that nothing is happening will be greatly reduced once we can burn through them on DVD without spending a week mulling on possible storylines. That was certainly my feeling when rewatching season 3, and I still have faith that the producers have earned our patience and trust. But for now, I can’t help feeling that episodes like “The Package” function more to confirm my story assumptions rather than offer great revelations or drama.

One of the elements of season 6 that I am finding more satisfying is how the show is offering a little guided tour through its past. Some commenter or blogger (the reference has escaped me, alas) pointed out that the way the show is revisiting old locations resembles the finale of Survivor, where we get forced reminiscences of people and events from the season. For a long-running series, these memories matter quite a bit to viewers, and any concluding series needs to address its past or frustrate its fans – I’m particularly fond of how The Wire gives us brief glimpses into characters who’ve left the show (if they survived) in season 5, reminding us that life goes on even when the story has moved on.

The conceit of the sideways stories allows Lost to revisit characters, regardless of their mortality, giving us a bit more time with a two-eyed but still menacing Mikhail this week. But I’m finding the island tour to be even more interesting, bringing our heroes to various locations long abandoned in the forward thrust of storytelling. These moments work the best when the places mean something to the characters, like Jack revisiting the caves or Sawyer remembering good times in the cages. Jin’s time in Room 23 felt a bit more forced to me, as he’d never had any relationship to that space and it raised more questions than it answered about the room’s role in DHARMA – wouldn’t Jin know it from his DHARMA days? And why did DHARMA have a comment about Jacob in the video? Perhaps the scene served to refresh our memories for forthcoming revelations, but on its own, it’s less than satisfying.

Speaking of unsatisfying, the “convenient aphasia” device of having Sun lose her English speech via head injury felt way too much like like a clichéd device, which would have only been worse had it been amnesia. Even though Miles voiced our disbelief, it still stretched credulity for no apparent reason – but again, the rationale might appear later in the story.

But no rationale can explain the annoying and narratively-damaging “bug” that appeared throughout the episode’s ABC airing counting down the return of V. While it did produce some amusing Twitter reactions – and an article about the Twitter reactions – it was particularly egregious in an episode dominated by subtitles and notecards, some of which were eclipsed by a big red V. As they say on The Twitter, #ABCfail.

Random favorite fanboy moment: Desmond’s expected but satisfying reveal as the “package,” along with bagpipe music in the teaser make me optimistic for next week. As does Damon Lindelof’s tweet: “in one week, the conversation is going to change.”



4 Responses to “ Lost Wednesdays: A Bug and a Package ”

  1. Sean C. Duncan on March 31, 2010 at 9:45 AM

    I’m with you, I contend that these episodes will likely end up being pretty satisfying in the end (all of the setup episodes for each of the two or three previous seasons set up themes that paid off, more or less). Me and Liz wondered what those who are getting impatient really wanted out of this final season — a series of episodes where Jacob and/or Locke stare at the screen, telling the viewer all of the backstory? A litany of explanations in every episode? It’s a drama, and they’re still building toward a final climax in which (we expect) many of the answers will eventually be revealed. We’re finding it fascinating TV.

    Re: Room 23, I suppose it was never really made clear how much Jin got off the island proper in the 1970s, and how much he knew about the specifics at each station. Last season’s characterization of Radzinsky and Chang made it seem like Lafleur and his boys were kept away from the most sensitive sites. Additionally, we don’t know that Jacob was mentioned by Dharma in Room 23 — the only time we saw Jacob’s name used in that room was in season 3’s depiction of Karl being subjected to whatever it was they were doing there (so, could have been something inserted by Ben). That said, if Jacob was mentioned by Dharma in Room 23, this would jibe with my theory that Widmore was really behind Dharma all along and Widmore’s actually been a heroic (or, well, Jacob-teamed) character all along, perhaps one that was exiled when he discovered Ben was being manipulated by Smokey.

    By the way, who else is following the #lostcomics hashtag on Twitter? We’ve found the fan comics to be hilarious so far.

  2. Nick Bestor on March 31, 2010 at 2:03 PM

    I’m with Sean: what show have people been watching if they’re getting impatient with Lost. Lost has pretty much been entirely about the big picture (or the Long Con perhaps), and I can’t imagine anyone who’s stuck with the show to suddenly get frustrated by a show that has always been slow with the answers. (Unless you’re someone who just caught up with the show on DVD or online and aren’t used to waiting a week between episodes; in that case I could see an issue).

    To be fair, Season Five was the only other season I watched as it aired, but I really don’t feel like Six has been any slower with the revelations and plot-points than previous seasons. And if you’re complaint is that The Package pretty much just confirmed what you already suspected, then what about Ab Aeterno? We didn’t know about Richard’s life pre-Island, but pretty much everything else we suspected already: he came to the Island on the Black Rock, granted immortality when he joined Jacob. We got some more information on the MiB, but most of that was more characterization than straight-up answers.

    I expect there’ll probably be a couple more info-dump episodes like Ab Aeterno, where we just get some uninterrupted backstory that really helps fill in the blanks. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Widmore get an episode, and I suspect one of the last episodes will probably directly deal with the MiB’s backstory.

  3. Rebecca Bley on March 31, 2010 at 11:22 PM

    Not only was the bug narratively damaging, but the framing was exclusionary to those of us watching full-screen. I actually have a widescreen but I don’t shell out for HD, so half of Sun’s notebook message of “I don’t trust him” was cut off for us. Glee has been the worst offender for widescreen framing thus far, but really. Take the time to film for both!

    • Sean C. Duncan on April 5, 2010 at 9:50 PM

      Given how many people watch the show on HDTV, on a computer screen, or on DVD/Blu-Ray months (and years) after the fact, I really don’t see filming for traditional TV aspect ratios lasting much longer.