Lexifabricographer For when the right word just won’t do…

June 3, 2012

Back to the Island 2.17 – Lockdown

Filed under: back to the island,reviewage — lexifab @ 12:17 am

My last Lost episode review was yonks ago, long enough for me to forget how enjoyable Michael Emerson’s early appearances are. He’s in full flight in this episode, which is Locke-centric to boot.

Less enjoyable was the discovery last night when I sat down to resume my cruise through Season 2 that the DVD drive in my laptop is apparently now a chunk of useless slag. Huh. Well, I only have myself to blame, probably, not upgrading the laptop from Vista.

Back to the Island 2.17 – Lockdown

“I’m gonna need your word that you’ll protect me, no matter what.” – Henry Gale

Summary: The Hatch seals itself off with blast doors. An injured Locke has to depend on his prisoner for help.

The Best Bit: Michael Emerson as Henry Gale continues to put in an astonishing performance. In this episode he veers again between blatant manipulation – sometimes so blatant even Locke isn’t fooled – and utter sincerity, especially when he’s (pretending to be?) scared. The final revelation of the episode, confirming that he has been lying the whole time, still manages to be surprising. Even when it’s obvious that at least some of the time he’s been a total weasel, his story still seems plausible. Indeed his deception only fails because of bad luck – having dispatched the suspicious-and-yet-gullible Ana Lucia to hunt for the balloon, he might reasonably have expected to get away with it. But Sayyid’s suspicious streak come coupled with ruthless pragmatism – he has no problem digging up a grave to disprove Henry’s story.

The Worst Bit: There’s a subplot with Jack and Sawyer playing poker, ostensibly over Sawyer’s cache of drugs (though as Hurley and Kate both observe, it’s just another leg of their longform pissing contest). It’s an opportunity for glib and clever interplay between the two of them, which is fine as far as it goes, but the writers felt it necessary to crowbar veiled references to Jack’s tattoo and a mysterious trip to Phuket. It’s gratuitous foreshadowing in a show that usually manages to be less clumsy with its gratuitous foreshadowing. Not to mention that it clearly points to even more Jack backstory to come, which by now is becoming redundant, if not tedious.

The Mythology: When Locke is pinned by the legs by a blast door in the centre of the Swan Station during its lockdown, ultraviolet emergency lighting comes on which shows a diagram drawn on the main wall. It appears to be a map depicting the Dharma Stations on the Island, with several of them surrounding a single location marked with a large question mark. It also refers to the Smoke Monster as Cerberus (the three headed dog guarding the underworld in Greek myth).

In the flashback, while Locke was working as a building inspector, he once met an unmarried woman named Nadia – Sayyid’s long lost love. I’ve seen this episode at least five times and I completely missed that until this viewing.

Oh, and a pallet of Dharma-labelled food drops out of the sky (on a parachute), which is unexpected – but does sort of explain where the food in the Hatch comes from. But where are the pallets coming from? Ah, Lost, answering the little mysteries with new little mysteries!

The Literature: Henry is still working his way through the The Brothers Karamazov. Looks like he might not get to finish it.

The Episode: Two of Locke’s key character flaws are highlighted in this episode: one, that his rather self-important guilt makes him terrible at lying when he’s caught out, and two, that he keeps placing his trust in people whom his better judgment and common sense should steer him clear of. He gives his word to help both his father, the still appalling Anthony Cooper – who doesn’t quite betray him but withholds enough of the truth to put Locke and his fiancee Helen in danger – and Henry – who doesn’t leave him to die but is lying to him and manipulating him constantly. Both situations end with Locke humiliated and defeated. Katey Sagal’s welcome return as Helen sees her ditching Locke once and for all when she works out that she can’t compete with his horrific codependent relationship with his father.

Locke is an unutterably sad character – outwardly confident and competent, right up until the point when something gets past his emotional barriers and he collapses like a punctured lung. He can’t stop himself from helping Cooper, because Cooper knows exactly what buttons to press. He can’t overcome his own shame to tell Helen the truth, which is why she turns down his proposal and walks away forever. And he allows Henry into his confidence because – well, really, he’s easily led by confidence men. That Henry repaid his trust, only to have it revealed that he was indeed lying all along, just underscores Locke’s fragile judgment. All of that said, this is a very satisfying episode, with only minor flaws. Eight out of ten, or a good chunk of thigh flesh (slightly gouged).

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