Lost in Retrospect: The Other 48 Days
This was an interesting episode, a mix of the new and interesting with the old and redundant, fantastic characters and less-than-stellar ones, and ultimately gets on the must-see list because of its important mythological developments.
For a quick refresh on this episode, I suggest you check out Lostpedia’s excellent Wiki page.
The saga of the Tailies is a great “what if?” scenario, a way of holding the mirror up to our Losties (who don’t appear in this episode properly) and showing us what might’ve happened if the circumstances had been far more dire. Many of the important aspects of season 1 are mirrored in this episode: the leader who emerges and the lieutenants who provide a different kind of support; the infiltrator; the DHARMA station; tiny but nevertheless weird occurrences. Unfortunately, telling this story from the beginning with a different set of characters creates a lot of redundancies. There are quite a few times, especially at the beginning of the episode, when we get an infodump that’s nearly identical to what we got in season 1, with talk of black boxes, signal fires and the chances of rescue.
One of the downsides of this mirror that the Tailies provide is that it throws one of the casting inadequacies into sharp relief. Simply put, Michelle Rodriguez is no Matthew Fox. I don’t have a particular hatred of the character or the actress, but it was clear in this episode that she really didn’t have the same chops. Being the leader of the Tailies, she winds up having to give a lot of the same speeches that Jack did in season 1, but they never had as much conviction or emotion. When Jack gives a speech, it’s moving; when Ana Lucia does it, it’s kind of annoying. It was much easier to get into the character when she was being a brutal, pragmatic leader, partially because I think Rodruigez plays that kind of role better and partially because this episode succeeded more when it veered off from what the Losties did in the similar situations.
Ultimately, I think the Others were the stars of this episode. From the outset, they were a much more dangerous and present force than they’ve ever been in the show to date. Right off the bat, they’re snatching people and striking fear into the hearts of the Tailies — can you blame them for getting so paranoid and violent? And every scene with Goodwin just crackles, especially with hindsight once his attempts to manipulate the group become obvious. Easily the best scene of the episode is when he and Ana Lucia sit on the top of that hill and talk. The audience knows he’s a bad guy, and the directing reflects this, as his every move is subject to a lingering camera shot and musical cue, like he’s going to strike any moment — especially when all the stuff about the knife comes up. And then Ana Lucia reveals what she knows, and the scene takes on a whole different energy. We learn more about the Others in these few minutes than we had in the entire series to date, about the Lists and about the people they snatch. The fight was short and brutal, exactly what it should’ve been since we already knew how it would turn out.
And there were many nice mythology touches that gave me a little shiver of excitement, both on the first watch and in hindsight. That knife, the first hint that the US Army had previously been to the Island. The glass eye, which screams “Mikhail” a full season before his introduction. We see Eko look in the bible, an interesting detail that becomes important later. We find out Bernard was the one who talked to Boone on the radio. All these cool little details that explain or foreshadow, and I enjoyed seeing them.
This episode had problems — redundancies in its storytelling and a weak lead — but so many great moments, from the rest of the characters and the cool mythology stuff, that would’ve made this episode one worth checking out if it weren’t already the (arguable) necessary saga of the Tailies. A great ep — not brilliant, but great.