pop culture | no politics
Author's Note: Having grown tired of what's currently available on TV I've decided to rewatch some of my all time favorite shows. I'm limiting myself to one episode per week in order to experience the storytelling as it was originally intended, which hopefully will preserve the thrill of having to wait a week to see what happens next. This article covers the LOST episode “Exodus, Part 2", which originally aired on May 25th, 2005. While the original “Exodus, Part 2” aired as a two-hour event, these reviews will treat them as two separate episodes since that’s how they’re presented on Blu Ray.
Previously on LOST: With the Others poised to strike at any moment, the survivors of Oceanic Flight 815 know they’re no longer safe at the beach camp. Jack leads a team to the Black Rock to collect some dynamite to blow the hatch door open.
While the middle chapter of “Exodus” fails to match the intensity of its outstanding predecessor, there’s still enough narrative progress and character development to keep the audience engaged. The writers do a fantastic job of conveying the panic the survivors are experiencing now that a very smoke monster-like black column has appeared on the horizon, and just like the audience the show’s characters realize that the events of season one are quickly ramping up to a climax.
The previous episode ended with Jack’s team arriving at the Black Rock, a galleon that somehow ended up landlocked far from the island’s shore. Having fulfilled her promise to show the survivors where the dynamite is Rousseau bids farewell to them, and when Jack questions how they will find there way back Locke confidently proclaims that he will serve as their guide. Locke is struggling to hide his glee now that he’s so close to cracking open his beloved hatch, and is skillfully using Jack’s need to keep everyone safe to achieve this goal. The writers have subtly manipulated these two characters into a mutually antagonistic relationship, with both parties equally comfortable exploring both the light and dark sides of their personalities to get what they want. While the Kate-Jack and Sawyer-Kate relationships get all the tabloid headlines the true heartbeat of the show is the conflict between Jack and Locke, and as it has worked its way to the forefront down the stretch the show has benefited.
Locke correctly identifies the Black Rock has a slaver ship, complete with a handful of skeletons still chained up in the cargo hold. What a horrific way to die, slowly wasting away due to starvation and dehydration in the hot and humid jungle. The island is equal parts magic and tragedy, offering its inhabitants both the opportunity for salvation and damnation.
Jack, Locke, and Kate extract a crate of explosives from the ship, and once it’s outside Dr. Arzt seizes his moment to shine. Arzt has risen to prominence the last few weeks after being a complete no-show for most of the season, and his know-it-all sense of self-importance is grating on both the audience and his fellow survivors. Still, he’s portrayed with an obnoxious charm by Daniel Roebuck, and while he’s undoubtedly annoying I found myself absorbing his antics with a smile on my face.
Artz proceeds to wrap the unstable dynamite which is sweating nitroglycerin into a wet shirt, spewing scientific jargon the entire time. He’s still lecturing the group when the explosive stick he’s holding finally goes off, spraying everyone with chunks of the high school teacher. Even though I knew it was coming, the death of Dr. Artz remains one of television’s greatest shocks for me, a testament to how skillfully the writers were able to craft this abrasive character. RIP Leslie Artz, we hardly knew ye.
Locke takes over prepping the dynamite for transport, having a fascinating conversation with Jack as he works. As Locke carefully wraps the dynamite he talks about how as a kid he loved playing the board game Operation, going so far as to lighten the tense situation by making a buzzing noise. The speech is an effective callback to “Deus Ex Machina”, where Locke undergoes an operation that results in the theft of his kidney. That episode featured the board game Mousetrap, which served as a powerful metaphor for the trap Locke’s father constructed for his estranged son. Games of all kinds show up on LOST, and in this case they prove to be a useful narrative device to show just how far John Locke has grown since being robbed by his father. The group draws straws as to who will carry the dangerous explosives in their backpacks for the journey to the hatch, with Locke and Kate pulling the short straws.
Back at the beach, Sayid orders everyone to take refuge at the caves, taking a short break to help Shannon tow a ridiculous amount of luggage. Sayid points out that much of what Shannon has packed belonged to Boone, and while that should be a powerful moment it simply doesn’t work. LOST’s first season is nearly-perfect, but the Boone-Shannon-Sayid storyline continues to stick out like an ugly bruise. This is not a critique of anyone’s acting ability as all three players do their best with the material they’re given, but it’s just not an interesting subplot. While Boone’s death was undeniably tragic, Shannon’s ongoing grief come across as hollow due to the writers’ decision to portray her so unsympathetically up to this point. If this narrative detour was happening in the middle of the season I would be more forgiving, but with everything going on in the story right now this is just a waste of valuable screen time.
A far more interesting beach event is Rousseau’s reappearance, which sees her steal Claire’s baby by knocking the new mother out. Charlie and Sayid are soon in pursuit, but it’s obvious that touring with a rock band isn’t as good for one’s cardio as being a soldier. The pair stop to rest at the Beechcraft that claimed Boone’s life, where Sayid points out that the crashed plane was full of heroin. It’s fitting that the religious Charlie now faces temptation from a pile of Virgin Mary statues, after all, what is a good Bible story without a character being forced to confront that which will surely destroy him.
Meanwhile, things are going well on the raft, as we see the first hints of a friendship blossom between Sawyer and Michael. That all falls apart when the homemade vessel’s rudder falls off, prompting Sawyer to remove his shirt and shoes before diving in after it. While his heroic actions are initially met with praise by the raft’s captain, when handing Sawyer back his shirt Michael finds the pistol hidden there. Michael is clearly displeased by this discovery, but chooses not to confront Sawyer at this time.
Like last week, the flashbacks explore a variety of characters right before they boarded Oceanic Flight 815. Sun spills coffee on Jin, which sends him to the men’s room where he encounters a creepy guy that says he’s working for Mr. Paik. Sun’s father is aware of Jin’s plan to disappear as soon as they reach America, and has sent this enforcer to make sure Jin understands that he will never escape. This scene does so much to explain Jin’s behavior at both the airport and during the early days on the island, another example of the flashbacks being utilized to bring light to clever misdirection.
Charlie’s flashback sees him in a hotel room with a random woman that shares his love for heroin. There’s not a lot of meat on this bone as the scene is little more than a reminder of Charlie’s struggles with addiction, which are clearly meant to compliment him learning that there is a supply of drugs on the island. The final trip to the past focuses on Michael, who finds himself overwhelmed by his new role as a father. He calls his mother to express his panic, while asking if she would take Walt. Both father and son had no space in their hearts for each other before their time on the island, which makes us appreciate just how closely the pair have grown throughout season one.
Next week on LOST: “Exodus Part 3”, which is the final chapter of the show’s first season.