On ''Lost,'' we learn how the tail-end survivors went from 23 to 5 in 48 days
Credit: Lost: ABC/ Mario Perez

”Lost”: What happened to the tail-enders

First off, Lost, kudos on a great opener. A serene beach scene. Sounds of ocean breezes, surf crashing, no underscoring. It’s a Corona commercial….It’s a Corona commercial….Kersplash! It’s a plane wreck! No! It’s half a plane wreck! My friend Liz was particularly happy to see an atmosphere of trauma restored to the show. (Liz loves trauma.) ”Look at the guy crawling around aimlessly in the sand — you can see the track behind him. Nice.” Nice, indeed.

Second: Shame on you, Lost (or, rather, ABC), for promising an extended episode, then pawning off five superfluous minutes of slow-motion recap as added value. If that’s the network’s idea of a bonus, then I have some ”collectible” Lost promo tees I’d like to sell them.

The episode itself succeeded fairly well, especially in its more understated moments. I speak, of course, of Mr. Eko (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), whom we’re being led to believe is a priest (or some such) from Africa. (Nigeria, perhaps? Like the dead, drug-toting holy men in the Boone-killing airplane? Suspicious coincidence alert!) That guy can say more by saying nothing than I can say in 900-odd words. (Go ahead, clock me — I’ll lose.) Oh, and one other Eko note: If he’s Bizarro Locke (just as Ana-Lucia is Bizarro Jack — a killer instead of a healer), will his version of faith be revealed as the inverse of Locke’s? And is it notable that his name shares three letters — e, k, and o — with Locke’s? Eko…echo…get it? (I’m spitballing here.)

The stated purpose of this episode was to bring us up to speed on the Tailaways, whose numbers dwindled from 23 to 5 in the course of 48 days. (Which went by fast — perhaps a little too fast. It’s difficult to sum up two seasons’ worth of action in a single episode, but wow, some of those ”days” went by so fast it was almost comical.) The count: Twelve were ”taken.” Four died of injuries. One was murdered. One was a murderer and a mole.

But the real purpose of this little exercise was to give us some insight into the Others: their methods, strategy, and philosophy. (Also couture: barefoot with cutoffs, very zombie-chic.) That task of Other exposition fell to Goodwin, the infiltrator, who provided us with a few nuggets before getting kebabbed by feisty Ana-Lucia (whose military know-how, it’s implied, explains her facility in the art of death). Goodwin told us the Others only kidnap ”good” people — and children, who are inherently good. (Unless you’ve read The Turn of the Screw — required Hatch reading, by the way.) What constitutes ”good”? Ah, that would be revealing too much. So bye-bye, Goodwin. Excellent device, by the way, revealing Goodwin’s death two episodes ago, and leading us to believe he was a victim of the Others, rather than an Other himself. (Now we know why that exchange was handled by English-challenged Jin and laconic Eko.)

We also got a closer look at Hatch II: Electric Bible Room. The Tailaways’ Dharma station (whose symbol is a crude arrow instead of a swan) contains only a few items, including a Good Book (notice that Eko immediately studied the inscription page, as if he thought he knew the owner) and a glass eye. I’m calling it: Columbo is on the island! And boy does he have a lot of murders to investigate.

He’ll certainly be kept busy if Ana-Lucia sticks around. She’s a character designed to draw viewers’ ire, but let’s give her a chance, shall we? The front-section Losters are so warm and fuzzy, I’m a bit excited to watch the progress of a (justified) paranoid who believes in big-stick leadership. (Literally.) Michelle Rodriguez is one of those performers who do a specific thing — the demon face! — particularly well. That’s her job, and I’m happy to watch her keep doing it. The tense scene with Goodwin, the piece of fruit, and the knife was one of the best moments this season. And yes, I’d like to know the story behind her wedding band, her attitude toward children (it was implied she lost one herself), and her talent for snuffing people out. Also, I kinda like the way she holds a gun. Is that so very wrong?

In closing, I bring you installment two of the Libby Watch. Honestly, can there be any doubt that this gal’s dirty? She’s sporting the same beige Otherwear we saw on Ethan and Goodwin. She helped build the case against innocent Nathan. (By, the way, Nathan…Ethan? Plus the whole ”I’m from Canada” bit, à la Ethan? Red herring was clearly on the menu last night.) Oh, Libby. You’re so very, very Othery. Perhaps that’s why she eventually had to get rid of Cindy: The former stewardess is too good with faces, a walking passenger manifest. Or here’s an even crazier theory: What if Libby actually was on the plane, and she’s still an Other? From the outside, come to check up on the experiment?

Oh, and to all those hope-springs-eternal folks out there: Shannon really is dead. Ana-Lucia really did shoot her. This is the one bit of revelation those added minutes furnished. Savor the value.

What do you think? Did you like learning more about the Tailaways, or should the show stick to the original characters? Is Libby a mole? And what other major or minor clues did you spot?

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