'Lost': The Hunting Party

Haroldperrineau_lost_s4_240 Strap yourselves in, Lost fans. This is a bit of a rough one. But at least it features the first major dialogue scene with the Others since the end of Season 1, a scene that crackles with excitement and danger to this day. Gotta love those theatrically-minded Others, people. As a former techie myself, I appreciate the subterfuge inherent in their performance.

Course, they learned those techniques from the Dharma initiative themselves. I mean, why else give Pierre Chang a different name in each orientation film? Honestly, the Others learned about the powers of theatrical deception in the same way this kid learned about drugs: FROM YOU, ALRIGHT? I LEARNED IT BY WATCHING YOU!  The lesson? Dharma Initiatives that use misdirection have Hostiles that use misdirection. And that's one to grow on.

The Hunting Party

4) In Short

"Worst...campfire chat...ever."

8) On the Island

Jack wakes up in the hatch bunk to the sound of a door slamming shut. Groggily, he walks around, only to find Locke unconscious on the ground inside the armory. Michael surprises Jack, holding him at gunpoint. Apparently it's his right, a FATHER'S RIGHT, to do this. Lord, I hate his character at this point. Jack tries to reason with him, at which point Michael threatens to shoot the computer. (Go ahead, Sayid's fixed it before.) Michael locks Jack and John inside the armory.

Locke wakes up, with Jack catching him up on what's happened. Turns out Locke also sealed off the ventilation shaft, leaving the two of them in there without anyone else to enter the Numbers.

On the beach, Kate throws a banana at Sawyer, and two hundred psychologists have a field day interpreting the significance of that act. She takes him to the Swan to change his bandages. Just in time, too, as the countdown starts going off as they enter. Kate enters the code as Sawyer unlocks the door to the armory. The three men make the decision to go after Michael together. Which they should have done in the first place. Excuse me while I bang my head against a Dharma brick.

I know this is crazy, and you're gonna call me a liar: but Kate tells Jack she wants to come with them. I know, I know. Insanity. She NEVER says that. Jack insists she stay behind. FURTHER MADNESS. As the trio walk along, Sawyer wants to know what Jack's beef against Kate is. In between their bickering, Locke makes an observation: if Michael were heading back the way the Tailies came, he would be heading West, but instead, his tracks are least North. I have an idea: let's call it even and say Michael's heading north by northwest. Deal? Deal. Heads up for that crop duster!

It's beach time, with Sun insisting Jin wear a hat as shade from the sun. Really? Now? It's been six weeks, his roots are shot by now no matter what he wears. Hurley comes by, after a tense conversation with Kate. He fills them in about Michael's flight, and announces his taking her shift in the hatch. It's Sun's turn now to be angry, as Jin makes instant plans to head out after his friend.  I'd make a bros before hos joke here, but it's Sun, and I kinda like her lots. In any case, Jin stays behind. (What's the Korean word for "whipped"?)

In the wilderness, Sawyer begs for a break, still ailing from his injuries. Locke asks Jack what he'll do if they catch up to Michael, noting 1) Michael seems a weeee bit past the point of reason, and 2) who are they to tell anyone what to do? Jack replies, "You don't know me very well. In fifth grade, I went out for Halloween as my favorite superhero: The Moralizer! I annoyed people to death with my holier than thou attitude."

A little later, after climbing up a small cliff, Locke inquires about the source of Sawyer's nickname, revealing he'd learned James' true name after the census taken by Hurley in Season 1. Before this conversation can come to blows, gunshots are heard in the distance. Jack runs headlong towards the danger, much to Locke's dismay. They come to a clearing, where they find three shell casings, fresh ones. Only problem is, they all heard seven shots. As Locke scopes for Michael's next move, Jack and Sawyer each question the other's motivation for following Michael.

That night, Locke announces that he's lost the trail, and wants to go back. While the two argue, a familiar voice is heard. It's the man who kidnapped Walt in Season 1, suggesting Jack might want to listen to Locke. Curiously, this bearded fellah knows all their names, even though his is the first time he's met them. Sawyer makes a move to shoot the man, only to be grazed by a bullet from an unknown direction. Mr. Beardy suggests that the two sides have a powwow.

In the hatch, Charlie and Hurley go through the Swan's record collection. Hurley tentatively asks him about Libby. The big guy notes that the theoretical "desert island" hypothesis actually works in his favor. Charlie's too busy moping about Claire to truly care. Sayid walks in, making this a triptych of men whose women done them wrong. Or, you know, died. Sayid gets filled in on the situation with Michael.

Here we are, at the scene that saves the episode. Beardy has a chitchat with our Lostaways, comparing their crash landing on the Island to a new neighbor walking right in and putting their dirty shoes upon the coffee table of the existing landowners. He insists that this is THEIR Island, with the Lostaways living on it only by their permission. Jack calls his bluff as to their numbers (not to be confused with The Numbers), only to be answered with what looks like fifteen torches suddenly lighting up around them. Beardy wants the trio to give up their guns and walk back to camp. Jack refuses, so Beardy breaks out his secret weapon: a tied-up Kate, brought out by Baby Rousseau herself, Alex. Reluctantly, all three men give up their weapons. But the terms have been established: as Picard would say, "The line must be drawn HEEYAH! THIS FAR! NO FURTHER!" Going past the imaginary line drawn in the sand will result in this "misunderstanding" turning into "something else." Line dancing, maybe?

Jin's watching the sun set, thinking up new names for himself. But none of them feel wimpy enough. He apparently resents having to do what he's told. Sun replies that's all she did for the past four years. Oh, snap. Jin wisely shuts the eff up.

Kate apologizes profusely to Jack on the way back, but he's giving her the cold shoulder and the silent treatment on top of that. By the time they all reach the shore, he's still mad at her. Sawyer relates, stating he would have disobeyed him as well. Locke, for his part, visits Claire and Aaron, which depresses a nearby Charlie. Jack makes his way to Ana Lucia and asks her for a favor. Turns out, he's looking into forming an army. WAR! HUH! What is it good for? It's good for Season 3 ratings, for starters.

15) Off the Island

Christian and Jack are analyzing a series of x-rays. They belong to an elderly man in the room looking for a consult for surgery. Christian insists that what this man needs isn't surgery, but a miracle. Turns out, that's exactly what this man is looking for. He and his daughter learned of Sarah's miraculous recovery thanks to Jack, and want to see if lightning will strike twice. Jack tells Angelo and Gabriela Busoni that he will admit them to the hospital, much to Christian's annoyance.

Jack and Gabriela make cute over her father's unconscious body a month later, and it's super icky. I can't decide if it's the potential cheating factor or the Cosa Nostra version of Doc Brown lying comatose between them. She notes Sarah must be understanding to allow her husband to be out so late at night. Jack's lost track of the time and hurries home. Turns out Sarah's still up, exhausted, and more than a little upset that Signior is getting more face time with her man that she does. My wife feels this way about my laptop sometimes.

Before going to the gym, Sarah makes a confession: she took a pregnancy test. Turns out, it was negative. Jack tells her about this crazy island where one's sperm count increases sixfold, but she has to go to the gym. OK, I lied. Not about the gym part, though.

Jack has Gabriela sign legal documents that protect him and the hospital from being sued if the Sicilian Mullet up and dies during surgery. Gabriela signs the papers, thanking Jack for giving them at least a chance at saving her father. Christian walks in on them, with both looking like kids with their hands in the cookie jar. Daddy tells Junior to be careful with his relationship towards Gabriela.

Good thing Gabriela signed the papers, as Angelo died on the operating table. Christian already told Gabriela, and insists that Jack forget about her and go home. No dice, as Jack runs into her crying in the parking lot outside the hospital. She had been in her car, crying. It's time to hide the eyes of your children, people, as Jack lays a smooch on the grieving girl. Or she lays one into him. It's a Han Solo/Greedo thing, really. Not for me to decide. She's into it, he's freaked, and the two part ways.

Post smoochies, Jack comes home as Sarah cleans up after dinner. Turns out Sarah had her mother over for dinner that night. As the two wash dishes, Sarah asks about the surgery. Jack confesses that Gabriela kissed him (mystery solved!) and he kissed her back. He asks for her forgiveness, states he'll work less, that things will go back to how they were, but more than anything, he promises to "fix this." Sarah replies that she's leaving him, and that's why her mother was over for dinner that night. There's another man on the side, apparently. Jack has this "you could have told me this YESTERDAY" look on his face. Before leaving, Sarah states that Jack will always have something that he will need to fix. Ain't that the truth, sister.

16) The Mythology

So The Others are all about subterfuge. No real revelation there. We all know who Mr. Beardy is, and that the beard in and of itself. So what else, exactly, did the Others fake in this episode?

How about the communication on the keyboard during "The 23rd Psalm"?

Let's make this clear: Walt made the first communication on the computer back in "What Kate Did." That's producer-approved knowledge doled out on the Season 3 DVD. But I can't help but wonder if Darlton were engaging in some Others-esque misdirection in some fashion, hedging their bets and hoping we forgot there were two sets of chat sessions involving Michael on the first computer.

So, based on everything we know now, coupled with the timeline provided by Lostpedia, here's one possible way all this went down.

On the exact same day that Michael receives the first missive (from Walt), Ben and Juliet are in the Pearl, discussing his plan to get Jack to perform the spinal surgery. Here's the dialogue from that episode:

JULIET: That him? Shephard?

BEN: Yes.

JULIET: He's cute. Why are we doing this? Shephard will never agree to do the surgery.

BEN: No, I can convince him to do it.

JULIET: How?

BEN: Same way I get anybody to do anything. I find out what he's emotionally invested in, and I exploit it.

JULIET: So, what? We just grab all three of them, Ford and Austen too?

BEN: No they need to come to us.

JULIET: And how do we make that happen?

BEN: Michael, of course.

It's a likely scenario that the Others did not realize the Lostaways had broken into the Swan until this conversation between Michael and Walt, at which point Ben and Juliet went to the Pearl to investigate further. (I'm going off the assumption that Michael's response to Walt triggered some electronic signal in an Others-controlled hatch, which both alerted the Others to the Swan's intrusion and also made them realize they were dealing with a kid who could not only make birds commit suicide but also use wifi with his freakin' mind.)

So, the following day, the Others exploit this relationship established on the computer, use it to pose as Walt, and give very specific geographical markers to lead him to a predesignated point. This gave Tom and others time to get into character/costume and take Michael. Undoubtedly, Tom returned to New Otherton flush with new knowledge of the psychological makeup of the Lostaways he had met, only furthering Ben's assertion that Kate and Sawyer would be the key to make Jack performing surgery.

So here's the big question around all of this: if Ben's plan to obtain those three hinged upon Michael, why leave a few days later and head towards their camp? What could possibly have been achieved in doing so? If drawing those three out was the plan, why head directly into the Lostaway den?

In other words: what went wrong after Michael was brought to the fake camp? It's one of the biggest holes in the Lost story to date, and a hole I hope is filled before all is said and done. I want to see that as much as I want to see what in the hell happened the one time Ben pressed the button. Hint hint, writing staff.

23) The Moment

"Light 'em up!"

42) In Retrospect

Funny how Christian seemed so gung ho to ensure that Jack believed in the power of possibility concerning Sarah's surgery, only to be so down on The Godfather's potential recovery in this episode. It's almost as if Jack didn't really save Sarah in the first place. Almost as if there are some competing forces putting these men into a specific set of mental scenarios before a long journey to a mysterious Island.

Interesting how Sawyer mentioned "Mt. Vesuvius," a famous volcano, given all the references to volcanoes in "The Man Behind the Curtain." I'm going with the Ibsenian theory of drama which states that if a volcano is mentioned in Act 1, it'll go off by Act 5. Course, he didn't literally talk about volcanoes, more about guns, but the principle holds all the same.

108) In Summary

A completely forgettable episode with one of the worst flashbacks ever, saved only by the incredible summit two-thirds of the way through. The worst traits of Michael and Jack were on display in full force, with each so pig-headed that they can't see past their own egos. So much for living together; they've decided to suck alone.

I think Michael as a character died for me the moment he talked about a "father's right." I mean, yes, I see his point, and since I'm not a father, who am I to judge. But I'd like to think that the best way to get my son back would be to use the quasi-mystic hunter, ex-soldier, angry Southerner, former cop, and ex-warlord in order to fulfill my plans, never mind the dozen or so others who would risk their lives to help get Walt back.

Jack so much as mentions this in "The 23rd Psalm," which temporarily placates Michael for all of five minutes. Which is why I'm all the more convinced Ben was behind the second communication, turning the psychological screws so tight that Michael forgot all form of reason and took off alone. But in doing so, he left behind any semblance of the character we once knew.

Leave your thoughts about this episode below!

Ryan also posts every 108 minutes over at Boob Tube Dude, then peruses Zap2It's Guide to Lost Facebook group.