Thursday, November 17, 2005

TV REVIEW: Lost: "The Other 48 Days"

This is another superb installment from the second season of the ABC powerhouse, Lost. Except for a few moments at the end of the hour, the "The Other 48 Days" features no regular cast members from the popular series, and instead focuses on the survivors from Oceanic Flight 815's tail section (which went down in the surf). Our protagonist for the hour is Ana Lucia (Michelle Rodriguez), a tough-as-nails (but ultimately kinda sweet) heroine, and Rodriguez carries this episode with such skill, grace and guts that I feel a spin-off might have been in order instead. After all, it's a big island...

As the title indicates, "The Other 48 Days" takes us through the survivors' first month-and-a-half on the island, and the events transpiring on these days closely mirror and connect to what we already know about the other group of survivors. For instance, there's a "mole" in this tail-section group; just as "Ethan" was the mole in Jack's group early on. There's the discovery of a "Dharma" bunker (though it's less elaborate and not as kitted-up as the one Locke and Boone found...), and finally there's the explanation of that mysterious radio contact Boone had from the cockpit of the airplane in the episode wherein he bit the dust. Remember that? Boone raised somebody on the line and said he was a survivor of Flight 815. The answer was shocking: "We're the survivors of Flight 815." Now we know who spoke those words: Sam Anderson's character, Bernard.

If anything, "The Other 48 Days" proves that Lost's team of writers can push a story forward at warp speed when so inclined. Shorn of the deep, but ultimately annoying "character flashbacks" we've become accustomed to, "The Other 48 Days" moves like a freight train, at a 24 or Prison Break-like pace. Very exciting stuff. Of course, one might make the claim that this entire episode is a "flashback," and while that's technically true, this is a flashback not about Charlie selling copy-machines, Hurley asking a girl out or some other mostly irrelevant nonsense, but the heart of the show's material:
survival on the island, instead. So it works nicely, and "The Other 48 Days" takes the overall story arc forward, especially since we get new (visual...) information about "The Others." Here we see them garbed in beige, raggy outfits with no brand names or other identifying marks. But they otherwise look like normal folk...which brings up more interesting questions...

"The Other 48 Days" establishes Ana Lucia as the unequivocal leader of her "band" of survivors. She's tough, resilient and clever...even if she made the mistake of killing Shannon and torturing the wrong guy in the pit. I'm curious to see how this is all going to play out when she runs into Jack, the undeniable leader of the group we're already familiar with. Sure, Ana Lucia is going to have problems with Sayid (biiiiig problems...) but ultimately what happened to Shannon was an accident, and you have to assume that at some point Ana Lucia is going to butt-heads with the "kinder and gentler" Jack. Frankly, Ana Lucia is just what Lost needs, a viable, strong and hawkish alternative voice to Jack's humane style of leadership...

In some ways, this was the best episode of the season thus far (and certainly the most densely-packed regarding new information...), and so Lost remains "must see TV." On ABC.

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