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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 “Hearts and Minds", which originally aired on January 12th, 2005.
Previously on LOST: After discovering a chunk of metal buried in the ground, Locke and Boone focus all their attention on unearthing it. Sayid asks Shannon to translate some of Rousseau’s notes, and a potential romance begins to bloom between the two of them.
LOST’s first season spans twenty-five episodes, and while most of the stories it offers are outstanding there will inevitably be a dud or two when a season becomes so bloated. While last week’s “Whatever the Case May Be” failed to advance the overall story much it expanded upon Jack and Sawyer’s fun tug-of-war battle for Kate’s affection, a love story that fans have been invested in from the beginning. The show tries to hinge the narrative around a relationship for the second straight week, and this time the results are less than impressive.
Once again everyone appears to have forgotten Claire has been kidnapped as the camp’s A-listers focus on the lack of boar meat. This makes no sense to htem as Locke and Boone have been telling everyone that they’ve been hunting, which the audience knows is a lie as they’ve really digging up the metal object they found in the jungle. We see the progress they’ve made as they’ve uncovered enough to reveal it’s a door, complete with a glass window. While they work Boone’s frustration gets the better of him and he suggests to Locke that they tell the others about their discovery, particularly his sister Shannon. The young man will come to regret what Locke interprets as a loss of faith, as the island’s self-proclaimed shaman knocks him out before tying him up in the jungle. Locke applies a weird paste to the back of Boone’s head, telling him that the homemade concoction will clean the wound, and after placing a hunting knife just out of Boone’s reach Locke leaves him alone.
Boone eventually hears the screams of Shannon, who tells him that Locke has also tied her up. Boone's obsession with protecting and saving his sister is the motivation he needs to cut himself loose, and once he frees Shannon the two of them race through the jungle as they head back to the safety of the beach. But it isn’t long before they encounter the monster, and in the confusion they are separated. Boone eventually finds Shannon’s broken body lying in a river, and still possessing the hunting knife he returns to camp with the intention of killing Locke. But it turns out that everything involving the monster was just a vision delivered to Boone by the mysterious paste Locke painted on him, as it’s revealed that Shannon is fine and still busy flirting with Sayid. Boone tells Locke that he felt relieved when he found his sister dead, indicating that he’s cut ties with his pre-island life and now worships at the alter of John Locke.
The flashback starts with Boone at the country club, flirting with his girlfriend who is a Shannon clone. He gets a call from his sister who is in Sydney, and as they converse he is forced to overhear what appears to be domestic violence being committed against her. He gets on a flight and eventually knocks on her door, where he meets Shannon’s new boyfriend Brian and observes a nasty bruise on his sister’s forehead. He pays Brian $50,000 to leave his sister alone, but when he goes back to their house to pick Shannon up it’s revealed that the whole thing was nothing but a scam being run by her. We find out that the two siblings aren’t blood relatives, but that Shannon is actually Boone’s step-sister. This isn’t the first time she’s ran a scam on Boone, but it’s hinted that after her father died Boone’s mother screwed Shannon out of some money and this is her way of getting it back. Later on a drunk Shannon shows up at the door of Boone’s hotel room, and in a skin-crawling scene the two have sex. Look I know they’re STEP siblings, but it’s still creepy and uncomfortable to watch. Shannon dismisses their intimacy in the morning, just hours before they board Oceanic Flight 815. One last thing I want to mention about this week’s flashback is that for the first time we see a crossover with another character, as Sawyer makes an appearance while Boone is trying to file a police report=. We’ll have to wait a few weeks to find out just what Sawyer was under arrest for.
While I understand what the writers were trying to in this episode, I have a hard time getting past the cheating they do in “Hearts and Minds”. I really like the idea of Locke forcing Boone to let go of the relationship with his sister, but there had to have been a better way of doing it instead of killing Shannon and then having it be nothing more than a drug-induced vision. The show runners are trying to have it both ways here: they want Shannon’s death to be a gut punch and for the audience to accept that what we saw wasn’t real, managing to fail on both accounts. We simply haven’t spent enough time with Boone and Shannon for the latter’s death to truly affect us, and the fact that she hasn’t been particularly likable up to this point doesn’t help either. And for it to all have been false isn’t much better than Bobby Ewing showing up in the shower. The frustrating thing is that we’ve seen that the writer’s are capable of delivering unforgettable content, and to see them trip and fall here is disappointing.
While ‘Hearts and Minds” is considered a Boone-centric episode, I would argue that it’s just as much about his sister Shannon and the confusing relationship they share. While both of these characters have participated in important events on the island, neither one can be considered a main character. Both Ian Somerhalder and Maggie Grace are great in their respective roles, but these are supporting characters, and to hand them their own flashback episode before exploring Michael or Hurley seems like a poor pacing decision. This is a mistake that we’ll see LOST make over and over again, especially as the size of the cast increases over the next few seasons.
Even more troublesome is the fact that this feels more like a Locke episode, as Terry O’Quinn steals every scene he’s in while also getting more screen time than either Boone or Shannon. We continue to see Locke run down the path towards spirituality, which puts him at odds with the camp’s doctor Jack Shephard. Locke is reaching a Colonel Kurtz-level of obsession with the island, and feels that his self-perceived understanding of it justifies his every action. Focusing the story on Locke will ultimately prove to be the right move, but in this case it just feels like a disservice to Boone and Shannon. I’m sure the intention here was to make the island’s brother and sister combo more appealing to the audience, but the opposite ends up happening. Hopefully LOST finds its way back to the main storyline next week, after a pair of episodes that saw these characters wandering aimlessly through the jungle.
Next week on LOST: “Special”, an episode that focuses on Michael and Walt.