LOST: The Little Prince

So now we know that even without flashbacks or flash-forwards, Kate episodes are weak links in a Lost season. But with the show less anchored to each episode’s focal character, screen time is better divvied up among the cast, and I thought this episode was stronger than most of the plot-light/character-heavy eps that came before.  Beware spoilers.

Where Because You Left and Jughead were more island-centric,  The Little Prince and The Lie have focused on different members of the Oceanic Six.  The trouble is that the off-island story this year is like the game of Mouse Trap: an awful lot of set-up before everybody gets to play. Trying to figure out how the Oceanic Six end up in the same place at the same time is an exact retread of the framing question of late Season 4, once we knew who the Six were but not how they wound up getting off the island together.  I suspect the writers know this, though, because they seem intent on reuniting the gang rather quickly and plowing headfirst into the real meat of, “How do they get back, and what are they supposed to do when they get there?”

I don’t want to sound like I was bored, though– episodes like this one are necessary sometimes, not just to move all the pieces into position, but to let the characters sink into a more grounded, emotional reality for an hour.  I thought the best part of the episode was when the Islanders time-travel to late Season 1 and Sawyer witnesses Kate delivering Aaron.  This was a great use of the time travel conceit in service of character: it fleshed out Sawyer’s grief and perfectly tied the on-Island and off-Island plotlines together. And even though the appearance of Claire’s mother was ultimately a time-killer and a red herring, I liked it as a plot-convenient way to follow up on that incredible scene from last year’s finale when she tells Jack Claire was his sister. The opportunity to see how Jack has dealt with this knowledge was worth it. It also keeps Claire as a presence in Aaron’s plotline, even though the actress isn’t slated to appear again until Season Six.

Looking ahead now. I have been waiting rather impatiently for the Islanders to encounter Rousseau and her team during one of their flashes, so I was psyched as hell when it happened.  Then they outdid themselves by throwing Jin into the mix.  Poor Jin– every time he’s on a raft or a boat of any kind he gets his ass blown up and then washes ashore with a bunch of strangers. First the tail section, and now a bunch of Frogs from the ’80s. They may not follow this thread much next week, but I hope they do. The now-inevitable Sun/Jin episode with bonus Rousseau/Island history got me more psyched about upcoming Lost than this week’s episode did.

This episode gets a B from me, or maybe a B+ for that Season 1 pit-stop and Locke’s ruminations about the necessity of his past.  The best episodes of Lost always fuse the sci-fi/mythology elements and excellent character development in a way that makes the two inseparable (Walkabout, The 23rd Psalm, The Constant or pretty much any Desmond episode).  This episode did tie the two together, but didn’t reach the same sublime synthesis as any of those top-tier episodes I just listed.

And finally, my thoughts about last night’s episode in haiku form:

Off-island spy games

are cool and all, but won’t last:

They’ve got to go back!

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