Lost (“The 23rd Psalm”)

Season 2, Episode 10
Date of airing: January 11, 2006 (ABC)
Nielsen ratings information: 20.56 million viewers, 11.9/18 in Households, 8.5/20 with Adults 18-49

Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje may have saved this episode from the boredom virus, because his portrayal was more interesting than the premise of the episode, let alone the decision by the writers to not move ahead with any of the stories at all. A decision was made to explain where the Nigerian beech plane came from, who its passengers were and what the back story of its arrival and crash on the island of mystery was, but with most of the mysteries LOST has introduced and will introduce, I’m not even sure they need explanation. While it makes for a nice-looking construction of back stories that meet on the island and build an entire world, I wouldn’t mind that some of the mysteries don’t get a back story at all and just remain a mystery. So, there is a Nigerian beech plane full of drugs and dead priests on the island — what that story did was focus on Charlie’s heroin addiction, as well as his own way of recovery by taking the Virgin Mary statues, collecting them and always remembering that they are close by and he could get into a drug binge any day. Especially now that Claire has forsaken him and thrown him out of her tent. That’s all the beech plane was good for if it hadn’t been for the existence of Mr. Eko and I would have been perfectly fine with it. But now there is this whole other back story with the plane and when I think of the crashed beech plane with all its drugs and dead priests on it, I think of Mr. Eko and now how it created Charlie’s unique way of recovery. It didn’t help Charlie that he didn’t even get into why he kept the statues or why he didn’t explain things a little better (and with more honesty) to Claire and Eko. It didn’t help that the writers brought Charlie into the story, game him and his drug addiction slash recovery the spotlight, and then turned it all around by giving Eko the important back story. It also didn’t help that the “Previously on” part was mostly about Charlie, making me think that this is episode is centered on him. It makes me wonder if that ruse was intended or just accidental, due to the Virgin Mary statues being a guest character in this episode.

Michael readies himself for war.

Again, Eko was the savior of this episode, as his portrayer made for an interesting character study. Akinnuoye-Agbaje’s silent, stoic, calm, static way of performing the role in this show is kind of fascinating. He is always thinking, he is always rational, and even in the crosshairs of fear and death he is keeping it together and all he could probably think about is how his lord and savior Jesus Christ will protect him on his journey (and if not, Jesus will greet the newly-dead Eko at the front door of Heaven). He is standing in front of the black smoke monster, which is a first for him when it comes to that kind of fear (Eko only having been dealing with evil people so far and not knowing anything about the supernatural dangers of the island), and all he does is stare at it, as if this is a staring contest which the black smoke monster clearly lost. If you are a fan of mysteries and many questions, you get them all during that scene (what is the black smoke monster, why was it staring at Eko, why didn’t it kill, why was it following Eko through the jungle, and all that jazz), but what I got out of it is that Eko may be the coolest character of the bunch. This man cannot be shaken up even when facing almost certain death. I would love to have him on my team if I ever need one to fight the devil.

Smoke monster, meet Eko. Eko, meet the biggest point of mythology of the show.

The episode barely managed to stay interesting on all other levels though. Michael did some more online chatting with his son (the “are you alone?” question wreaked of a con against Michael, to lure him into a trap) and had some weapons training with Locke, which is essentially just the lead to Michael heading out into the jungle again to declare war against the Others (that would be a great story arc, no question). Sawyer gets his hair cut by a very happy and flirtatious Kate and that was the end of their story for the hour. Claire just kicked Charlie out of the tent and didn’t even have an argument (serves him right — you shouldn’t be arguing with a drug addict). Since this was also Charlie’s episode, maybe the writers could have focused on giving him a new friend to hang out with, to recognize the religious undertones of Eko’s life and maybe join him in spirits from here on. I don’t even think that Claire was wrong when she told Eko that Charlie doesn’t know he’s religious — that would have been the great beginning to areligious storyline on LOST that could have gone from actual sermons to divulging the viewers about fate, and I don’t mean fate in a storytelling sense. Besides that, if Charlie would see religion as more important in his life, the writers would completely get into how drug addicts are being saved by Jesus, which is a story almost everyone believes anyway. But the writers figured this was Eko’s story and Charlie is just the sidekick. Half of the episode could have been made more intriguing and tense if Charlie’s story wasn’t just about getting caught with drugs.

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