They are the three scariest words in the English language: Ana Lucia flashback! OK, maybe not, but Ana Lucia's clearly up there with the Blunder Twins of Season 3 as the most controversial (read: loathed) characters in Lost history. Me, myself and I? I'd put Nikki and Paolo way higher on my personal list of most hated characters, but it's not as if I used to give an Aresnio Hall-esque Dawg Pound salute every time A.L. popped up onscreen.
Luckily, there's some good to outweigh the bad. You take the good, you take the bad, you take them both and there you have this ep of Lost. This ep of Lost.
4) In Short
"California dreamin'...on such an Island daaaaaay."
8) On the Island
We see the moment after Shannon's death for the third time. Sayid has this "oh no you DIDN'T" look on his face, pulls a gun, and goes after Ana Lucia. Eko steps in the way, and the two fight. It's no Sayid/Keamy, but it's a decent fight, one that ends when Ana Lucia clubs Sayid in the back of the head. She then whirls around, holding everyone at gunpoint.
Michael tries to calm her down, but Ana Lucia's beyond anyone's cries of compassion. She wants Eko to tie Sayid up; he refuses. She moves onto Libby, asking her to dismantle the stretcher to provide the ties that bind. Libby insists they need to get Sawyer medical help.
While Ana Lucia talks strategy with Libby, Sayid groggily wakes up. He yells at Ana Lucia to untie him. Things go from awkward to wicked awkward (as we say here in Boston) as Eko hoists Sawyer up on his shoulders and announces he's taking Mr. Ford back to his camp. Ana Lucia looks less than thrilled at the prospect of an Eko-less existence in the jungle.
Ana Lucia worries that an untied Sayid means a non-living Ana Lucia. Well, semi-fair point, given Sayid's expression as he rose from Shannon's limp body. Michael brings Sayid water, and also brings Sayid up to date on the events since the raft left shore. Odd to see Michael being the voice of reason calming Sayid down, isn't it?
On the beach, Rose notes that it's good to see Jack out of the hatch for once. While the two talk, a golf ball lands in the bucket next to them. Turns out Hurley, Kate, and Charlie have moved the golf course onto the beach. Kate and Jack flirt over the proper meaning of "golf," and I fight to keep my breakfast down in my stomach. I mean, I know they needed to build up the romantic tension only to have it smashed to bits by Sawyer's return, but this would have been more effective had they, you know, given these two any screen time over the past few weeks. The scene is redeemed, however, as Eko bears Sawyer's body through the woods as the two play.
The foursome (see, golf term!) return to the Swan, with Jack tending to Sawyer, Kate acting as assistant, Eko acting as curious investigator, and Sawyer acting as a big ol' bleeder. Locke, on button duty, arrives on the scene, which leads to one of my favorite moments in season 2: the moment where Locke and Eko size each other up for the first time. In hindsight, it actually loses a little bit of power, but I clearly remember eagerly anticipating the meeting of these two seminal characters.
Bernard asks Ana Lucia why they haven't moved to their camp yet. Libby wants to know their plan. Sayid says she doesn't have a plan, just her guilt. Ana Lucia's got a plan: bring her back enough supplies to stay alive on her own, and she'll let Sayid go. Michael goes back to camp, reluctantly, as Jin stays behind to watch over his friend.
In the Swan, Eko looks worriedly at the armory. Locke learns about Shannon's death. Locke wants to go to the rest of the Tailies, but Eko refuses to take him there, eyeing the guns all the while. Elsewhere in the Hatch, Sawyer shakes violently in one of the beds. Jack has Kate prep him up to feed him water. The world's most awkward pill and water feeding then occurs as Jack has to watch Kate sweet talk a feverish Sawyer into swallowing. Please, let the next scene come quickly.
In the jungle, Bernard announces that he's leaving camp. Libby joins the chorus as well, leading Ana Lucia to cut ties with everyone but Sayid.
Run, Michael, run! But don't step on Sun's turnips! He immediately tells her Jin's OK, but needs to find Jack right away. And not a moment too soon, as Asshat Shephard is down in the Swan interrogating Eko as if he's the problem. Sun leads Michael into the hatch. Since Michael knows where Ana Lucia is, it's onto the armory, and out to find Shannon's killer. Eko stops him, telling him Ana Lucia merely made a mistake. The name "Ana Lucia" stops Jack cold, as the doctor wonders how many other people from his past will insert themselves into the on-Island narrative.
Ana Lucia starts idle conversation with Sayid, concerning children. Sayid wants to know if she is going to kill him. He then relates the story of how he tortured Sawyer forty days ago, and how she may be meant to kill him in the cosmic scheme of things. It's her time to tell a story: this time about how she was shot during a burglary four months ago. He wants to know what happened to that man; she lies and says they never found him.
Ana Lucia then cuts Sayid loose, dropping the gun between them. Sayid says, "What good what it be to kill you, if we're both already dead?" Most emo standoff ever, man. He then returns to Shannon's body, holding her in his arms.
Back in the Swan, Kate's giving Sawyer fever. Oh wait, it's probably the infection from the bullet wound. And on the beach, it's slo-mo reunion time, as Vincent finds Michael, Sun finds Jin, Jack finds Ana Lucia, and wait for it, wait for it...Rose finds Bernard! Now, excuse me, I have to have a reunion with my box of Kleenex.
15) Off the Island
Ana Lucia is firing rounds into a target at a firing range. We then see her in therapy; her therapist asks how it felt to hold a gun for the first time since four months ago. Ana Lucia wants to know when she can go back to work. Turns out, it's a police department psychologist, who lets her back on the force.
Ana Lucia reports to her captain, aka Mommy. Captain Mommy has a desk job waiting for Ana Lucia; this doesn't sit well with Ana Lucia. Turns out the incident four months ago was an officer-related shooting (an intentionally vague phrasing). After some squabbling, Ana Lucia gets her patrol assignment.
Back on patrol with her old partner (Big Mike), Ana Lucia realizes he's taken her into a neighborhood that's not their usual beat. Looks like Captain Mommy wanted a safe first day back. Bad idea, as their beat is only three blocks away from a domestic disturbance. The screaming from both of the couple and the baby between them, makes Ana Lucia snap, as she unholsters her gun and puts the man at gunpoint. Her partner forcefully talks her down.
Back at the station, a fellow officer says, "We got him." Turns out this is the guy involved in the shooting four months ago that traumatized her so much. Ana Lucia refuses to ID the man who apparently put four hollow point bullets through her vest, four months ago, which formed four pools of blood down on 4th Street, and yea, you get the point. Ana Lucia leaves without admitting that this man shot her.
Ana Lucia's at a bar, a bar that just happens to also have her assailant as a customer. She follows him outside, calls him by name, says, "I was pregnant," and shoots him six times total: three from a distance, three up close. Not four times? I'm personally disappointed.
16) The Mythology
Mythology-free. If you were looking to go on a mythology diet, this was the calorie-burning ep for you.
23) The Moment
Eko meeting Locke. I squealed the first time I saw that. Granted, that's a horrible mental image to give you, but I'm simply reporting the truth.
42) In Retrospect
It's actually instructive to watch this episode, as bad as it is, as instructive of how much the show actually gets right. I mean, nothing about Ana Lucia's flashbacks is terrible from a story perspective. Her motivations are no more or less believable than any other flashback we've seen. But the execution of it is so tonally wrong, so forced, so mediocre, that it makes all other flashbacks seem that much better by comparison.
Which is all a way of saying that Lost is incredible for avoided these middling, cliched storylines more often. It's nothing short of a miracle that more off-Island activities weren't always this poor. And to top it off, the show's on-Island activities featured moments that can only happen when long-form narrative meets long-term planning. This episode might be one of the few that lacks as much power through watching it on television, because the reunions gained power at the time through the enormously long wait viewers had to endure between the end of Season 1 and the airing of this episode.
108) In Summary
But these reunions only work if you give people a reason to care about those trying to reunite, and the Eko/Locke scenes only work if you construct epochal characters that transcend the normal archetypes seen on television. As such, while hardly a standout episode, it does enough things right to earn a teary smile by the end.
And for those of you looking for a little Ana Lucia character redemption, well, there are rumors buzzing around that you might just get your wish come Season 5. Don't shoot the messenger.
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