Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Review: Lost 1.14: Special
Walt displays his super knife-throwing skills.
Lost - Season One, Episode Fourteen - Special
Written 28/5/13

Michael Dawson and his unfortunate story within Lost as a whole initially stands out from the group as the only example where Lost's favourite trope, that of parental issues determining personalities, is shown from the parent's perspective. Like a lot of the other centric episodes, Special presents us with a character's problematic nature and then attempts to redeem them in the second half, which this episode does magnificently with a cute-as-fuck resolution that makes me ever more sad at what happened to these two characters.
     Flashbacks leading to just before the flight show us how Walt was born into a successful relationship which then broke apart when Michael's loss of work led wife Susan to take Walt away to Amsterdam (and later to Sydney) and to shack up with Brian Porter, a man who then adopts his son. Throughout their breakup Michael continues to feel fatherly responsibility towards Walt despite not having any of the ability. Soon after Brian becomes uneasy about Walt's seemingly morbid nature, his mother dies and Brian, shirking out on the adoption, offers Walt and Vincent the dog into Michael's custody. To avoid Walt from feeling betrayed by his step-dad a few days after his mother died, Michael takes the flack and says that it is he who wants to take Walt to live in New York.
     On the Island, Michael's restlessness and increasing frustration with how Walt has turned to the dangerous Locke as a father figure led to him deciding to build a raft, attempting to engage Walt's interest in its construction but just managing to drive him further away. Charlie reads Claire's diary and discovers to his deight that before she was kidnapped she was beginning to have feelings for him. Vincent runs off into the woods and Walt becomes cornered by a Polar Bear, but he is eventually saved by Locke and Michael in a settling of their differences. While out scouting for Vincent, Locke and Boone find Claire walking in the woods, disoriented.
Walt and Michael reconcile.
     One of the problems with this kind of episode format wherin we are turned against a character and then redeem them with newfound information in both the flashbacks and the present story (a la Confidence Man from a month or so ago) is that for the majority of the episode Michael's actions in the present seem ridiculously unbalanced. It's difficult to remember sometimes that 99% of their relationship has taken place on the Island, and that despite his battles for custody, Michael has no idea how to actually parent. His willingness to protect Walt both from the Polar Bear (which is a brilliant scene and one of my favourites in a while) and from the betrayal of his step-father is what sets him apart as one of the show's more complex characters at this stage in the game.
     Special takes a character whose presence had often been annoying one (WAAAAAAAALLLLTTT!!!) and gives it that typical Lost do-over that makes it into a powerful and very well-written relationship between a son getting over the loss of his mother and a father who despite his previous confidence has no idea how to care for him properly. I wish they hadn't put in all the stuff about Walt's supposed abilities, because the moment they decided that the character had to go they left that on the cutting room floor, but overall it's one of the best episodes of this format so far.


NEXT WEEK: A Charlie episode. Ethan gets got and Charlie acts creepy around an amnesiac Claire. It's that old gem, Homecoming.

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