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Lost saves best moment for last in confusing, Jack-centered episode "Lighthouse"

24

February

Lost-jack-lighthouse This is the new rhythm for Lost's final season; one groundbreaking episode filled with revelations and amazing characterizations, followed by an episode so static it feels as if the show is running in place.

On Tuesday, we got another standing still footrace, courtesy of the Jack-centered episode "Lighthouse." I've said before that Lost feels weakest when it focuses on the characters which seem to be its stars -- Josh Holloway's haunting performances this season as a disillusioned, mourning Sawyer notwithstanding.

At least we added to our tally of answers for the ultimate Lost questions this final season MUST answer; thanks to a few words from killer hermit babe Claire Littleton. More on that later.

But "Lighthouse" continued that not-so grand tradition of building lackluster episodes around central characters, toggling between two timelines for Matthew Fox's put upon hero Jack Shephard. In one, his plane from New Zealand doesn't crash and he's struggling to connect with a son we've never seen before -- a dark-haired teen with attitude named David whose mother we don't see and history we can barely guess.

In the other timeline, Jack's plane has crashed and he's manipulated by Jacob and Hurley into sneaking out of the mysterious temple where mysterious people are forcing them to stay. (of course, Jacob gets him to leave by revising a hurtful quote from his dead father -- a subject sure to push our headstrong Jack's biggest emotional buttons).

He's led to a lighthouse outfitted with large mirrors; those mirrors can be adjusted with a contraption that assigns the names of various Losties to degree positions, with some names scratched out -- just like the cave where our mysterious villain took Sawyer last episode. When the mirrors are aligned with his name, Jack sees his boyhood home and realizes Jacob has been watching him a looong time.

So, of course, he destroys the mirrors in a classic freakout episode.

At least we get a glimpse into Jack's psyche when he explains why he returned to the island most recently: "I was broken," he said, tensely. "And I was stupid enough to think this place could fix me."

Lost-claire-madmax In keeping with my theory, "Lighthouse's" most interesting moments came when it turned to the story of Claire in the post-crash timeline. Living like an extra from a Mad Max movie, Claire has been stuck on the island for three years, developing a reputation as a ruthless killer while searching for her lost son -- who we know was taken from the island by Kate.

The show also continued its tradition of killing off the black folks on screen, as Claire proved her murderous habits by sticking an axe in the gut of a guard from the Temple she captured along with former pal Jin. (I'm only kidding. Sorta.)

Given how plodding and frustrating most of this episode was, it made a certain kind of sense that the most interesting moment would come at the end -- when our villain appears at Claire's tent in the form of Terry O'Quinn's magnetic John Locke.

For fans, that single moment provided a host of revelations, like a key turning over a lock. We can assume our villain, who I call Not-Locke, led Claire away from the rest of the castaways when she disappeared in season four, first taking the form of Jack's dead father and later appearing as Locke.

He's seemingly "recruited" her as a friend, in the same way he tried recruiting Sawyer last episode; and he's convinced her that the folks inside the temple have her baby. For beings of such enormous power, Not-Locke and Jacob are exceedingly good at manipulating regular folks.

So, if the pattern holds, Not-Locke will spend much of next week's episode downloading more revelations, like TV's most interesting Answer Man (fancy writers call that stuff exposition). 

If only there was a way to spread that love around to every episode, and break this fitful pattern of boom and bust episodes for good. Jacob, are you listening?

[Last modified: Wednesday, July 21, 2010 3:05pm]

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