Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Review: Lost 3.9: Stranger In A Stranger Land
This just in - the writers of this episode are using outdated
race tropes from 1950s war films. From Wikia
Lost - Season Three, Episode Nine - Stranger In A Stranger Land
Written between 3/3/14

Here we are. This is the bigg'un, the one I've been waiting for. A Lost episode with such a bad reputation that it did quite literally end the show, albeit with some very fancy padding. (About 64 episodes' worth, in fact). Even after some of the worst recesses of the final season, Stranger In A Stranger Land ticks so many boxes on the "why did you do this?" sheet that its reputation is assured. At the same time, the episode didn't strike in me the kind of inspired fanboy rage that plagues me in the later seasons - I can see why the writers might have thought that any part of this episode was a good idea. But, coming after two absolute crackers, that just doesn't cut it.
     The worst aspect of the episode for me is the flashback which takes up a fair chunk of the running time and is a shockingly backwards instance of Yellow Fever, in which Jack is the handsome white male travelling in the mysterious orient, before being seduced by a skimpy-clothed asian woman whom he uses and abuses in order to manipulate her magic power of "seeing people", before she gives him a tattoo in Chinese despite living her whole life in Thailand. Given this show's slightly more sensitive looks at Korea and Iraq, the fact that the writers of this episode see Thailand as fair-game for horrendously rascist stereotypes is just weird to me - as is the fact that Jack's an abusive Mighty Whitey dickbag who stalks and then assaults someone, and whom we're meant to feel sorry for when that comes back to bite him in the ass.
     Not that the main story was much better, and given that it signalled a major change for Jack's storyline that was difficult to reconcile. We see that Ben's stitches are infected, and at the same time Juliet is being tried by The Others for killing Danny Pickett. Her judge is Isabel, a swarthy woman played by Diana Scarwid, and who is never seen or mentioned again after this episode. Jack is forced to promise to be Ben's carer (seeing as Ethan was the only qualified surgeon The Others had) in exchange for leniency in Juliet's sentence, which apparently means that The Others instead brand her with a funny symbol. (Which again, is never mentioned again.) In one of the episode's few good developments, we saw that The Others were returning to their base on The Island, which makes me happy because The Barracks is one of my favourite Island locations. And then there was a third storyline running along with Kate, Sawyer and Alex's boyfriend Karl, where they rowed back to The Island, moaned, had a nice chat about stars, moaned, and argued incessantly.
Isabel is an Other bigshot - but she's never seen again.
From Wikia
      Ignoring that stupid fucking flashback story, the main problem I had with the story in the present was that it felt as though a lot of undevelopped ideas were being thrown around - and that's not really what Lost is supposed to do. After eight weeks of hearing nothing about The Others' justice system, suddenly this group of advanced, enlightened people becomes a savage society that practices capital punishment. Not to mention Isabel, who you think we'd have met at some point in the last eight weeks if she was that important. Nopt helping matters is the fact that Michael Emerson and Elizabeth Mitchell are acting their little hearts out to try and make this material work. And the guy that plays Karl clearly isn't aware that he needs to do anything like that. Even though he does. He really, really does.
     Stranger In A Stranger Land finishes this segment of The Others' plot, and gets us away from that tiresome Hydra Island set and one step closer to 1970s Dharma architecture. But it's main plotlines were segmented and when they weren't boring, they were contradictory to everything that came before and after. And the killing blow to the whole mess is Jack's flashback, which not only fits exactly nowhere in his flashback timeline, but which is some of the most horrendously offensive TV that Lost would produce until what they did with Sayid in Season Six. It's just not on, and it's the antithesis of what Lost should be representing.


NEXT WEEK: Hey! Did you know that Hurley is unlucky? No? Well, we find out some more when the news comes in that Tricia Tanaka Is Dead

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