Thursday, October 06, 2005

TV Review: Lost, Season Two, Episode #3: "Orientation"

Now that's more like it.

Last week Lost was "adrift," both in title and plot, shortchanging viewers by featuring an episode with almost no new information. But this fascinating and popular series roars back to full enigmatic power with the second season's third episode, "Orientation." Finally, we begin to get some details about the underground bunker, Desmond, the 1980s era computer and the clock ticking down from one hour-and-eight minutes.

Whenever movies and TV shows reveal "old" movies to us, there's always the chance that the period production won't look right, or accurate to the era. I hate it when that happens. We all notice the wrong film stock, or if something appears too "clean." That isn't the case here with the strange orientation film that Jack and Locke view. I enjoyed the bumps and gurgles on the old film, the generally lousy film stock, and the "high school film strip" attitude of the project leader. I also think the substance of this "Dharma Project" is particularly interesting, because it is open to interpretation.

The bulk of "Orientation" concerns how two very different men interpret the same information. (This is a super timely notion, given the Red State/Blue State divide and bifurication in the culture on everything from evolution/intelligent design to Iraq success/quagmire). On Lost, Locke takes a "leap of faith" and believes that everything Desmond has told them is absolutely true. That, in essence, the world will come to an end if someone doesn't sit at that keyboard and type in that sequence of numbers every hour-and-eight minutes.

Jack, on the other hand, rejects fate and destiny and all those other grand-sounding (but non-scientific...) words and suspects that this is really a psychological project, one that actually charts the endurance/gullibility, perhaps, of the subject. Question: would you sit next to a keyboard for your whole life so that you could type in a sequence of numbers every hour-and-eight minutes? Would you believe somebody that you hardly know who tells you that by doing so, you are saving the world? A rational, scientific man would have none of that nonsense, and so Jack simply doesn't "believe."

Terry O'Quinn, who was fantastic as Peter Watts on Millennium, is one of Lost's great and enduring strengths, and he's terrific in this episode too. One can see his character, Locke, struggling to figure out his place in the universe. Why has he been made to suffer so? Why has he been brought here? Is it his destiny (with Jack...) to replace Desmond at the keyboard? If so, it seems Locke accepts that, blindly. Like a man of "faith." Like a man who wants to believe in order, and a reason for his pain. Because if there's a reason, all his agony hasn't been for nothing.

We received precious little information about "The Others" in Sawyer's subplot last night, but that's okay. The series is playing fair with viewers again, and took some serious steps towards explaining the mystery of Station # 3 and the Dharma Project (the underground bunker). Apparently, this part of the island is subject to some kind of electromagnetic pressure that could destroy it, and the whole Earth?

Hopefully there'll be more about that particularly important nugget of information next week.

Oh, and before I sign off and forget this totally..

>: 4, 8, 15, 16, 23, 42.

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