Season 2, Episode 14
Date of airing: February 15, 2006 (ABC)
Nielsen ratings information: 18.20 million viewers, 10.8/16 in Households, 7.8/18 with Adults 18-49
This episode created a bit of an uproar on German television. It’s torture sequences put it into the restricted list of programs to watch and sell — in Germany, programs that are restricted for youth under 16 years is to be aired on television past 10 p.m. (or the violence will be cut out if it airs before that time) and even then it’s not guaranteed that violence will be censored. LOST has already been a show that could not be sold to youth under 16 when the DVDs were released, but this particular episode and the torture sequence made the FSK, the German board that rates programs for the appropriate ages, rate the second season of the show to be restricted to anyone under the age of 18. Consider the second season of LOST be so restricted that parents had to buy the DVD box of the show for their kids, who were more than likely the worldwide target audience. And let’s not forget how messed up the ratings system is in both Germany and the United States, and how different they are. We Germans don’t care about sex and language — BEFORE MIDNIGHT is restricted for an audience under 6 years of age in Germany, and it’s well-known that Julie Delpy is shirtless for parts of the film. But you Americans don’t care about violence and gore — HOSTEL is a freaking hit that I don’t understand, and Jack Bauer gets to torture and empty out living Russian hitmen on primetime television and no one bats an eye, yet have problems with sex and nudity. I think it’s something we Germans talked about when season two of LOST was released on DVD and got the red stamp of restriction. We were all shaking our heads.
This was a good episode. I was bitching and moaning just a little bit about how this season was moving forward in a snail’s pace when it comes to character development or anything regarding the mythology of the series, but this episode may have changed things. Henry Gale could be the innocent man from Minnesota who just got to the wrong place at the most wrongest of times, but he could also be one of them (the title of the show should pretty much spell it out already), which means Sayid has all the reason in the world to keep torturing this man, and Jack and Locke have all the reason in the world to keep Henry locked in the armory (it’s a good thing all the weapons were removed in the previous episode, because now the Swan stationers conveniently have a prison cell they can make use of). It seems quite obvious from the beginning that Henry is one of them and that there is more to come to the story, because for one, there is no way that an innocent man would easily answer all of Sayid’s questions without constantly asking in return what he is doing here, what this place is and why he is being tortured (meaning, Henry is rarely scared, and that means he was anticipating fists hitting his face, which makes him a spy for the Others), and for two, every time Michael Emerson was allowed to do one of his weird and mysterious faces (especially his final moment of the episode), it essentially spelled out in visuals that he is not who he says he is. Besides that, the episode ended with a cliffhanger when it comes to the story of Henry Gale, but I would only assume that the writers never even intended Henry’s story to end either way, as this hour was about Sayid and what he felt he was destined to do. This being Sayid’s episode, there was no time and space for Henry’s story to finish in the same episode it began and join the other survivors, but then again, the show was never really good in concluding major character arcs within 60 minutes.
Tree frogs get killed within the hour, but that’s just because Sawyer and Hurley’s trip into their jungle neighborhood was here to fill time and give the audience something to breathe in-between Sayid’s torturing session and flashback story. First of all, I’m sort of shocked that Hurley would even hang out with Sawyer after the stunt he pulled in the previous episode, but here we are — the writers found a way to force Hurley into Sawyer’s story, and I am wondering how much food Hurley took into his secret stash before he gave it all away for the greatest feast the island has ever seen. But if the writers needed a construed way to bring Hurley and Sawyer together, then maybe the story wasn’t a good idea to begin with. Considering how much Sawyer we’ve had ever since he woke up from unconsciousness, I am a little surprised that the writers gave Sawyer the B story instead of a character we haven’t gotten busy with lately.
At least Sayid was given this episode, since enough time has passed for him to grieve over Shannon’s death and have it affect his decision-making and actions. His flashback story may have been a little underwhelming and artificial (especially that last shot of the trucks driving away and the oil fields burning in the background — just a little too much greenscreen here), but this was the best episode to get him out of the funk, with the best story to showcase that Sayid is not at all over the death of the woman he loved (in spite of that love only having existed for less than a month, but I guess island magic was involved again). Will it make him less calculated over the course of the Henry Gale storyline, or is the prisoner in the Swan station a nice plot device for Sayid to come to the realization that he is a changed man and that he craves to be the man he was before the Americans invaded his country?