Lost in Retrospect: Homecoming

The danger and tension skyrocket on the Island, but they aren’t complimented well by Charlie’s introspective and slightly depressing flashbacks.

For a refresh on this episode, I suggest you check out Lostpedia’s excellent Wiki page.

The entertaining portion of this episode was, hands-down, the Losties vs. Ethan, round 2. The ep did a brilliant job of building the tension from start to finish. It begins with paranoid guesses about what’s lurking in the jungle. Then that fantastic moment of Charlie and Jin in the jungle, which starts out as this hilarious monologue, only to quickly dovetail into creepy/terrifying territory when we hear the sound of Ethan’s sling. When I watched this episode for the first time, I thought this was the end of Jin, especially after how jerkass-y he’d been in the previous few episodes. William Mapother is brilliant at turning on the psychopathic creepiness.

The back and forth was fantastic as the A-Team went on defence and matched their wits and their knowledge against Ethan. Their preparations on the beach seemed reasonable, and the first time around I thought they really had a shot–in hindsight, it’s easy to see the beach as an obvious point of attack, but it’s been such an impenetrable feature of the Losties’ lives for so long that we just don’t think about it anymore. It pushes Jack to open Pandora’s Case, so to speak, and hand out guns; let’s face it, things went downhill from there for the Losties when it came to survival. But it led to that brilliant showdown in the dark, rainy, muddy jungle. I enjoyed seeing Jack get his revenge, and Charlie’s cold-blooded murder of Ethan showed us that he had a dark side too, just like everyone else in the show.

All this excitement jarred with the flashbacks. They were interesting, and personally I found them a fascinating insight into Charlie’s first, failed attempt and changing for the better, but they’re slow, taking time to build to a narrative conclusion that I found meaningful but seemed to have little to do with the rest of the episode. Had these flashbacks come closer to, say, “Raised by Another”, I think they’d have sat much better: at that time, Charlie was trying to earn Claire’s trust and prove that he could take care of her. He’s trying to do the same here, but it’s a completely different context because the problem comes from something very artificial (Claire’s amnesia) and the external threat of Ethan.

This episode was a bit of a crapshoot from a mythology standpoint, because we didn’t learn anything from Ethan except that he wants Claire a little more than we’d previously guessed. “Homecoming” is a thriller, an exciting battle between the Losties and Ethan, but in the long run I guess it’s pretty skippable, isn’t it?

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