Season 2, Episode 7
Date of airing: November 16, 2005 (ABC)
Nielsen ratings information: 21.87 million viewers, 12.7/19 in Households, 9.2/22 with Adults 18-49
Has there ever been a show using the same cliffhanger ending for two consecutive episodes? LOST may have been the only show that did it twice, by using the standoff in the Swan station between Jack and Desmond for the end of the first episode of the season and the story’s end of the second episode, with the difference that the second episode had a couple of seconds attached to the cliffhanger ending from the previous episode. And no we get to witness Shannon’s sudden demise twice in two episodes, even if it helps that it was being depicted from different points of view. LOST is also a show that likes to stop the present narrative for an episode and focus on something different, which is also something to show did during “Adrift.” Granted, when the narrative is stopped to focus on a different story, stuff is still happening, and the back story of other characters gets fleshed out, but it’s still remarkable how one of the most serialized dramas of television managed to move forward only slowly during its second season, and how that was even necessitated due to the story structure and the amount of characters. It’s almost like the writers didn’t just figure out what the show was supposed to be during the hiatus, but they also decided to focus a lot more on characters that aren’t named Jack, Kate, Sawyer or Locke. Those four being absent from this episode was noteworthy, but it didn’t even bother me. Even if the choice to depict the first 48 days of the tail-section survivors made me bother about something else.
So, the Others decided to haunt and creep on the tail-section survivors and kidnap a dozen people from that group. It’s Ana Lucia’s group that get all the terror by fearing the other people on the island, even losing some of her own to them, while Jack’s group of survivors is haunted by different things during their stay on the beach and the cave. Jack’s group got a visit from the big monster early on (their first night, in fact), with the pilot getting eaten, with Jack receiving hallucinations that led the survivors to the cave and protection, as well as survival. Ana Lucia’s group of survivors however did not have a run-in with the big monster or hallucinations, begging the question what kind of powers rule over this island and who makes the decision to do what to the two groups of survivors. You could argue that the caves gave Jack’s group a lot of protection, which meant Ethan never really had an opportunity to give his people a chance for some kidnapping (and he only kidnapped Claire, because she was very much unable to move, let alone out in the jungle where there was no protection). Jack’s group was also armed quite quickly, which may have scared Ethan’s people away. Ana Lucia’s group had no such protection — no caves, no weapons, only a couple of strong dudes which were shut off early on. Was Goodwin doing the better job here? Or was it just a coincidence that the tail-section survivors had the people needed for the Others to kidnap?
Those are a few questions I would love to have answered, but maybe one shouldn’t expect answers from a television mystery serial, especially when some of the more pressing questions have never been answered past the series finale (or some answers were not in sync with the established lore within the series). It’s probably a good thing then that LOST has delivered some great stand-alone episodes or individual recurring story arcs that don’t have a lot to do with the overall mysteries of the island or the greater mythology of the show. That showed in this episode: Goodwin was such a wonderfully creepy character, he didn’t even need to be associated with the Others and his character would have worked the same, even if his confrontational scene with Ana Lucia during his final seconds among the living called for him being one of the Others, just so we all know that Ana Lucia is facing the evil she has tried to protect her people from. But seriously, thanks to Goodwin having identified himself very early on, the entire episode was pretty much about how he slowly manipulated Ana Lucia into making his bidding for his team in the jungle and how things may have gone from worse to apocalyptic for the human race if she hadn’t decided to take the lead, go with Goodwin to higher ground and kill him right there. It’s where Goodwin became the true villain (such a shame that he had to die here and Brett Cullen was unable to do a few more episodes) and it’s where Ana Lucia decided she had to walk down a path she would never have imagined seeing herself in. With Ana Lucia and Jack being the leaders of their respective groups of survivors, there has to come a point that Jack has to make the decision to kill or be killed. Yes, he has made tough decisions over the course of 48 days, but his oath was also about saving people. Ana Lucia has crossed that path with this episode, begging the question if there will be a conflict between the two leaders and how Jack may draw the short end of the stick, simply because Ana Lucia has been too traumatized by events to go for the caution.