Season 2, Episode 9
Date of airing: November 30, 2005 (ABC)
Nielsen ratings information: 21.54 million viewers, 12.3/18 in Households, 8.9/21 with Adults 18-49
Michael chats with a stranger on the mystery island internet and the first thing he thought about was smiling about how cool it is to be internet chatting on a stranded island. Michael’s first thought wasn’t to write SOS and tell the stranger on the other end of the line to send help, but Michael’s last thought was all about his son. The cliffhanger ending was quite neat, although this might be the episode in which LOST turns into the weird mystery question mark that it will become with the third season, with even weirder scenes spliced into the episodes to give the viewers pause for thought, wondering what the hell all of it means and if the horse Kate and Sawyer saw was real or part of the hallucinating imaginations of the characters, similar to how Jack saw his father, which led him to the cave, how Shannon saw Walt, which led to her death, and how Ana Lucia heard the whispers in the jungle after never having faced the supernatural dangers of the island for 47 days, which led her to the camp of the prime group of survivors. You could think that all the hallucinations the characters experienced led to something they needed for survival, maybe even hope. It begs the question what Michael experienced at the end of this episode. Was he really chatting someone up on the island internet or was it just another hallucination to have Michael act upon it?
The black horse that Kate saw could have been a hallucination to help her get over her murdering her father, which is something she didn’t seem to have been thinking about for 33 hours of the show, but suddenly was pressured to deal with. Maybe one of the island’s mystery pieces is that people on it not only face physical dangers, but also metaphorical ones in their head — they go onto the island as broken people, they come off it as healed people who have fought all their demons and can now live life unimpeded by their fear of life. Locke already got all that healing power and he might even be able to get rescued and live a happy life, but chances are there will be something in his life before the crash the writers were waiting to reveal, because Locke’s happiness with the island can’t be the final result of his character arc (except he dies in one of the upcoming episodes). Kate is definitely broken on so many levels, especially now that she is dealing with her feelings for two men. In fact, the island may have forced her to make a choice about which man to love, and here we are. So, was the horse real or just a figment of Kate and Sawyer’s imagination to help her choose him and have Jack go buddy-buddy with Ana Lucia instead?
The episode was okay. It was as slow as the character-focused hours of the previous episode, but at least it had a solid B story focusing on the back story of the DHARMA Initiative, creating another point of mystery for the characters to deal with and for the viewers to eat up like candy on Halloween. The new footage of the orientation video was not that interesting though. It may have been a nice plot device to lead straight into Michael’s instant messaging chat with his son, but I would rather have followed Michael trying to make something out of the tech in the room, giving us answers as to what might be going on there and whether he would have brought the viewers and characters closer to the electromagnetic happenings behind the thick concrete walls. Because really, watching Michael touch the cables was a little boring — the writers were just waiting for Locke and Mr. Eko to watch the extended version of the orientation clip, so that the episode can end the way the writers envisioned. The way they created the plot device of a missing piece of film, for Locke to edit and fix, was hilariously bloated up though. Mr. Eko had an entire story for Locke to lead to the reveal of the missing footage, the episode had an entire scene of Locke splicing the footage, and there was Michael roaming around the room and looking at cables. Just for that one big fat “Dad?” ending. What a waste of time…
The rest of the episode was almost forgettable because of the way the writers wasted time for this huge plot device. The funeral could have had more meaning and emotion for the characters, but Sayid barely got full sentences out and before we realized that this was an actual funeral service, the episode went back to Kate and Sawyer and the turn of the sick guy into a dead ghost from Kate’s past. Also, what an asshole Kate is for running out of the Swan station, just because she was getting scared. What if Jack and Locke would not have been back in time to push the button? What if the island and the entire world would have exploded, just because Kate was freaked out by Sawyer acting like the ghost of her dead deadbeat dad?