Thursday, January 2, 2014

"LOST" RETROSPECT: (2.07) "The Other 48 Days"



"LOST" RETROSPECT: (2.07) "The Other 48 Days"

I cannot deny that "LOST" will always be one of my top twenty (20) favorite television series of all time. Nor can I deny that despite my feelings about it, the writing had been flawed on many occasions. If there is an episode that truly reflected my positive feelings about the series, it is the Season Two episode called (2.07) "The Other 48 Days"

This episode is probably my TOP favorite one in the entire series. Before "The Other 48 Days" aired, I had been watching"LOST" for at least a little over a month. In fact, (2.02) "Adrift" was the very first episode I had ever watch. Although I did watch most of the episodes that aired between "Adrift" and "The Other 48 Days", I found it difficult to feel the series' magic. I was about to give up on the series for good when "The Other 48 Days" aired in late November 2005. Not only did I enjoy the episode, I became a permanent fan of the series.

The plot for "The Other 48 Days" proved to be very simple. It chronicled those first forty-eight days that the Tail Section survivors (the Tailies) of Oceanic Flight 815 experienced on the island. Most of the episode focused upon the minutes following the plane crash, to the Tailies' encounter with Fuselage survivors Jin Kwon, Michael Dawson and James "Sawyer" Ford (which happened at the end of "Adrift"). The remaining few minutes of the episode is basically a montage of the Tailies and the three Losties experiences between (2.03) "Orientation" and (2.06) "Abandoned", when one of the Tailies accidentally shot and killed series regular character Shannon Rutherford.

If one thought that the experiences of the Fuselage Section survivors were traumatic, what they experienced was a piece of cake in compare to the Tail Section survivors. Unlike the Fuselage passengers, the Tailies had no medical doctor/surgeon, a wanted convict with a talent for tracking, a "Great White Hunter", a son of a South Korean fisherman, the fisherman's daughter-in-law with a talent for botany, a construction worker, or a former member with the Iraqi Republican Guard with a talent for communications. Instead, the Tail Section survivors had a former LAPD cop, a Nigerian warlord-turned-drug runner-turned-priest, a flight attendant, a dentist and clinical psychologist. Hmmmm. From my point of view, only the cop and the former warlord proved to be potential leaders for this group of survivors. Without a medical doctor, the Tailies had to witnessed the deaths of those survivors who had been seriously injured. They also lacked supplies, luggage and some foodstuffs from the plane's Fuselage section. Both groups were infiltrated by men spying on behalf of the island's long time inhabitants known as "the Others". Because the Tailies' beach camp was situated not far from the Others' complex, they were harassed and terrorized by the island inhabitants from Day One, to that Forty-Eighth day that marked Shannon's death. In fact, the Others managed to kidnap a total of twelve survivors from the Tailies' camp on Days One and Twelve. On that last 48th day, they finally snatched the flight attendant. The only Fuselage survivor that ended up kidnapped was Claire Littleton. Unlike the snatched Tailies, Claire only spent eleven days as one of the Others' captive during those 48 days. Compare to the Fuselage survivors, the Tail Section survivors came close to experiencing their own version of "Lord of the Flies".

Was there anything about "The Other 48 Days" that I did not like? I did not care much for that montage that marked the last three days that the Tailies spent with Michael, Sawyer and Jin. It seemed like a waste of air time. But I suspect that Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse needed some kind of filler leading to that moment from Abandoned, when Shannon was shot. I could complain that "LOST" never fully explained why the Others snatched some of the Tail Section survivors. But that is not the fault of this particular episode's writing, considering that the series is a serial drama. 

My biggest complaint about "The Other 48 Days" is that the Tail Section survivors' story was told in one episode. I truly regret this. In some ways, I found their story a lot more fascinating than the experiences of the Fuselage survivors during that first month-and-a-half. Between the deaths of the injured passengers, the kidnappings by the Others, the power struggles and paranoia between the survivors, the consequences of an Other's spy in their midst, brief contact with a Fuselage survivor via a short-wave radio and God knows what . . . the Tailies' story could have provided an interesting contrast to the Fuselage survivors during the series' first season.

When the character of Ana-Lucia Cortez was first introduced to "LOST" viewers in the Season One finale, (1.23) "Exodus, Part 1", when she flirted with lead character Dr. Jack Shephard at an airport bar in Sydney. By the time the viewers saw her again, she had transformed into a hardened and brusque leader, lacking in any patience with the likes of Michael, Sawyer and Jin; and struggling to stay a step ahead of the Others' harassment. Many of the series' fans grew to hate her, complaining of her character's tough exterior. At the same time, they praised the Mr. Eko character, who proved to be the former Nigerian warlord-turned-priest, for being such a badass in their eyes. I had forgotten that despite the advent of civil rights regarding race and gender, we still live in a very prejudiced society. Apparently, it was okay for a man like Mr. Eko to be tough, but not a woman. Especially not a woman in a leader position. A woman can be tough like Kate Austen or Juliet Burke, as long as they maintained a superficial projection of femininity and find themselves stuck in a love story or mother role. 

I adored Ana-Lucia when she first punched Sawyer in (2.04) "Everybody Loves Hugo". And even after another four seasons, she has remained one of my favorite characters in the series. Before "LOST", I had viewed Michelle Rodriguez as a mediocre actress. I still cannot regard her as a great actress, but her portrayal of the stress-ridden Ana-Lucia had developed her into a very good one. And it took two scenes - one of Ana-Lucia's confrontation with the Others' spy and her emotional breakdown in Mr. Eko's arms - that made me realize that Rodriguez had come far as an actress in the five-to-six episodes she had appeared on "LOST" by "The Other 48 Days". Another performer that truly caught my eye was Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, who portrayed the fascinating badass, Mr. Eko. To be honest, I first noticed Akinnuoye-Agbaje in the 2001 movie, "THE MUMMY RETURNS" and 2002's "THE BOURNE IDENTITY". He was memorable in both movies and very entertaining. But his portrayal of Mr. Eko proved to be more complex. Yes, he could be a frightening badass. But at the same time, Akinnuoye-Agbaje injected a great deal of pathos and compassion into his performance, allowing his Mr. Eko to become a more complex character than the ones I have seen him in past movies. 

I feel that Cynthia Watros got a raw deal during her time on "LOST". Thanks to her performance as clinical-psychologist Elizabeth "Libby" Smith, she presented a complex woman behind a superficially likable woman. I am not saying that Libby was an unlikable woman. But considering that she had encouraged Ana-Lucia to do something about a survivor named Nathan, whom they suspected of being an Others spy; and in the next episode, dumped all of the blame surrounding Nathan's death on Ana; I found myself wondering about her true nature. I like to view "The Other 48 Days" and the following episode, (2.08) "Collision" as some of Watros' finest work on the series. Fortunately for Sam Anderson, he got a chance to stretch his stuff in more episode. He certainly did an excellent job as Bernard Nadler, the dentist who happened to be married to one of the Fuselage's survivors. 

Kimberly Joseph was first introduced as flight attendant Cindy Chandler in the series' early Season One episodes. Her character was eventually kidnapped by the Others just before Shannon's death in "Abandoned". As one can see, I do not have much to say about Cindy. Joseph gave a solid performance in the episode. In fact, most of her performances have solid throughout the series' run. I have been aware of Brett Cullen since I first saw him in the television Western, "THE YOUNG RIDERS". I have seen him in many television and movie roles over the years - especially during the first two seasons of "PERSONS OF INTEREST". But I feel that Goodwin Stanhope might be one of the best roles in his career. I was especially impressed by his screen chemistry with Michelle Rodriguez, making his relationship with Ana-Lucia on of the most interesting during the series' run.

What else can I say about "The Other 48 Days"? It is a dark and fascinating television episode marked by an epic storyline about survival, trust and paranoia, thanks to a superb script written by Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof. It also features first-rate direction from Eric Laneuville, and some excellent performances - especially from Michelle Rodriguez, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje and Brett Cullen. After my latest viewing of the episode, my wish that the story about the Tail Section survivors had been stretched over more episodes remain strong as ever.

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