Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Review: Lost 1.19: Deus Ex Machina

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The hatch light is the last beacon of hope.
Lost - Season One, Episode Nineteen - Deus Ex Machina
Written 30/5/13

Locke is a character whose flashbacks serve only to make us feel sympathy for him. Not that it's unwanted, of course - Locke-centric episodes are the ones that show him as a real human being. The story of Locke's faith and the harsh, harsh life that led him to possess it provide a great deal of tragedy, and help define him as the starring character that he really is. The episode also introduces the most despicable character that it probably ever will - the evil conman Anthony Cooper.
     In his flashbacks, we see a haired Locke stalked by his estranged mother Emily, who tells him that he was special and that he didn't have a father (she says immaculately conceived, but that's not what that means). He does some fact checking and finds his father, Anthony Cooper, who invites him out hunting and spends a few months bonding with him. Locke finally feels at home. Cooper reveals that he needs a new kidney, and a grateful Locke is glad to oblige. When he tries to return to see Cooper, he is rejected - his mother explains that it was an elaborate con to persuade John to hand over his kidney.
     On the Island, and John is having no luck with opening the Hatch. His leg is injured when a trebuchet splinters and he begins to lose feeling. He has a vision of a plane crashing and he and Boone go off in search of it, Locke revealing to him that he feels that Island granted his mobility and that he's been following what he believed the Island wanted, making him frustrated that it seems to be taking his mobility away. They find the plane, but when Boone climbs into it, he finds only cocaine inside Virgin Mary statues. It then falls and he is fatally injured. Locke carried Boone back to camp and, frustrated, bangs on the lid of the Hatch in despair, only for a light to come on inside.
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So... conning your son out of a kidney. Can't get much worse,
right? Well, just you wait, kid.
     Deus Ex Machina provides quite succinctly the reasoning behind John's entire belief system. The rest of the time, John seems to be this mystic knower of great knowledge who helps people out, but from this point onwards we finally see the neuroses that made him into such a believer in the Island's mythos. He was fed all of the lies by his parents in this faithful incedent, which provided the precedent for his belief in his "specialness", but then the Island's healing actually forced him to believe that it was true. And up until this point, up until the weird and tragic incidents of the day, it was working for him.
     This episode's writing is pretty solid, but it would have none of its impact without the ridiuculously talented Terry O'Quinn, whose acting in this episode has me blubbing like a baby every time. Deus Ex Machina is everything a Locke-centric episode should be and more, not just exploring Locke's character but picking it apart and then stitching it back together in just the right way to break our hearts. It's a great episode, and I for one won't have a damn word said against it. (Not that anyone does.)

Thanks.

NEXT WEEK: Boone dies. Despite Jack's eternal promise to Do No Harm. Also, Jack's fourth centric episode. In the same season. I know!

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