Lost in Retrospect: Special

In much the same vein as “Raised by Another”, this episode devotes a large portion of its running time to an element of the myth arc that ultimately went nowhere. For that, the episode suffers in retrospect, but its development of Walt and Michael is much needed and much appreciated.

For a refresh on the episode, I suggest you visit Lostpedia’s excellent Wiki page.Michael gets a lot of flak. And I’m not gonna defend him from the justifiable criticisms–killing Hurley’s love interest was, perhaps, a bit naughty–but people make fun of him for him shouting “WAAAAAAAAAALT!” a lot and taking overprotectiveness to jackassian levels. But I think the flashbacks in this episode justified Michael’s past actions a lot–and go along way to justifying his future ones, at least a little bit. Because nine years previously, Michael didn’t fight hard enough to keep Walt, and the result was that it wasn’t until Susan’s death and Michael going out to Australia that he even got to see his son again. So if it took you nine years to find your son after the last time you lost him, wouldn’t you fight hell-for-leather to make sure you never lost him again? So of course he’s going to scream like an idiot. Of course he’s going to go apeshit at Locke, the great white hunter who seems to have won Walt’s allegiance so easily and taken him away. And when asked… well, of course he’s gonna shoot two people and free Benjamin Linus.

I’m glad the idea of Walt’s “power” was kept incredibly vague. The knife trick could’ve been a fluke–Locke learned how to do it at some point, didn’t he? The thing with the bird could’ve been a coincidence. And the claims of the Others much later in the series could’ve been trumped up deliberately, to give them an excuse to get rid of Walt (but that’s going into a whole different branch of discussion). The reason I’m glad for the vagueness is that Walt had almost no influence on the show once he left the Island in season 2. Had we known more specifics about his power, we might’ve extrapolated more about his “purpose” within the framework of the show and therefore felt a gap in the mythology once he’d gone. As is, we only know that he’s “special”, that he has some undefined power. We don’t know what, if any, purpose he had within the myth arc.

I mentioned “an excuse to get rid of Walt”. I’ve only recently come to this idea, but when you think about it, events seemed to twist towards the two “special” children on the Island (Walt and Aaron) leaving before the endgame of Jacob and the Man in Black’s showdown really started. Many people have theorised about how they might’ve been integral to the endgame. What I think is that Jacob realised how integral these two might be and deliberately got rid of them. The Others send Walt home with Michael, and we know that the Others work for Jacob. Desmond got his visions of the future, including one of Claire and Aaron leaving the Island (I’m convinced that his flashes were a gift from Jacob), and eventually he did leave with Kate. My theory is that at first, the Others did what they always did: they took the children from whoever they’d come to the Island with, hoping to raise them in a “good”, pro-Jacob environment and therefore immune to the Man in Black’s influence. But once Jacob found out about the special-ness of Walt and Aaron, he switched gears and decided that even under the Others’ care, there was still too much of a danger that the Man in Black might get his claws into them. Much better to put the two as far outside his influence as humanly possible by getting them off the Island.

The action on the Island… eh. Michael realises that Locke is not the child-snatching douchebag he thought, Walt and Michael have a moment… none of this is bad, but I find myself not tuning in so much because they’re not favourites of mine and because ultimately, those two characters don’t have much to do with the myth arc. The Island action doesn’t feel important, compared to the illuminating flashback sequences, and that’s why it’s not one I particularly look forward to revisiting on a rewatch.

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