Tuesday, May 9, 2017

LOST S1 E14: Special

"He's different somehow.
Things happen when he's around."

LOST, Season One, Episode 14, Special, reminds us yet again just how special LOST was to network television. It shined. Where so many series struggle to maintain excellence over the course of a lengthy twenty episode (or more) season, LOST manages to keep things fleet a foot in the scripting department for the long haul of its twenty-five episodes.

Instead of episodic filler LOST managed to generally thrill and engage with each episode without once dropping a lemon. LOST is arguably the kind of production and series whereby one might be apt to say 'even bad LOST is far superior than most television'.

In hindsight, contrasted against a landscape of great television since LOST made its debut, the series may have its shortcomings or some dramatic imperfections but it undeniably paved the way for quality, riveting, serialized television that we would see for years to follow. And LOST can certainly hold its own against some of the heavyweights that have hit airwaves since. It's not to say LOST was the key to greatness for all TV but it had a significant impact when it arrived.

Highlight: In its first season LOST seamlessly alternated between island survival and the quality, engaging back stories of its large ensemble cast.

Special is the first to place focus on Walt and Michael. The poignant back story of Michael and young Walt once again sees the writing of the series undertake layering its many interesting characters and offering foundations for where these characters came from. The story of Walt and Michael is genuinely heart wrenching and once again reminded me of the power of LOST to move the viewer on an emotional level. This writer had fond memories of this entry and it still retains its strength.

Special is just that. This one speaks intimately to viewers out there where father son relationships hit particularly close to home. These are dynamic complex even fragile things. Special addresses the misjudgments people make about one another and how perceptions can be false.

Hurley says Michael hates being a father, but it's entirely untrue. His reading is representative of the kinds of incorrect assessments people make about other people every day of our lives. Hurley misreads the dynamic as many of us do other relationships. Michael simply does not have a connection with his son since he was essentially taken away from him at a young age. He's now trying to make amends and establish a connection which is no easy task for any father in Michael's shoes.

Watching LOST to this point for some has been maddening when it comes to witnessing Michael parent Walt with this huge disconnect and divide between them. Much of that dynamic or lack thereof becomes increasingly apparent and at least understandable based on what we learn and discover about Michael and Walt here in Special. The dysfunctional relationship is distant and complicated for a reason. Part of the revelation to those reasons is heartbreaking.

What both Walt and Michael have in common is the inability to control their influence. Michael desires to contain and control Walt as a father but is unable to exert that control. The influence is there but the control of the outcome is not.

Walt too allegedly has tremendous power and a special gift to affect his environment and make things happen, but is unable to control those special gifts i.e. the polar bear in Special. Meanwhile, Locke attempts to teach and instruct and offer patience to both Walt and Michael. But frustration mounts in LOST.

Some writers point to Walt and Michael as opposites or in opposition but there are indeed aspects here that demonstrate commonality.

And sure the polar bear attack sequence is thrilling enough and the CGI polar bear mix with actual props is overall credible and quite effective, but it's the human component of Special that makes it so special for this writer. From the connections between Walt and Michael's attempt at reconciliation to the bridges made with John Locke, it's the ability for people to break down barriers that wins the day here. The bear underscores that Walt is special and actually is the vehicle that brings them all together. Though we retread a little territory here with another polar bear first glimpsed with a potential connection to Walt in Pilot (Part Two), it still makes sense. When Michael burns Walt's comic book and the pages burn one can only imagine Walt's anger and frustration toward his father got the better of him and another polar bear was born from its flames. Or was it?

And following her abduction in Episode 10, Raised By Another, Claire returns from the jungle. This subplot also notes the first mention of Black Rock. And speaking of Black Rock, Danielle Rousseau (who later takes a group to Black Rock) mentioned to Sayid, in Episode 8, Solitary, about the bears. This key point would suggest the polar bears have been on the island long before Walt's arrival with the survivors of Oceanic Flight 815. This will speak to some things in later seasons. Nevertheless, it would appear Walt does have special abilities (stopping rain, making birds and bears appear) or, if you think about it, it could all just be coincidental.

And then BOOM! (LOST Sound effect and end credit).

Special like this series, and like this writer who is often referred to with a wink and a laugh from others that he's special (I don't think they mean it in a nice way so I would know), offers another special serving of the series with a well written and conceived back story for Walt and Michael that works so well on a dramatic level.

Actor Harold Perrineau (OZ, The Matrix Reloaded, The Matrix Revolutions) delivers as does Malcolm David Kelley for one of this writer's personal favorites from the season.

Guest: Tamara Taylor. This actress actually enjoyed a recurring role opposite Matthew Fox as his girlfriend, Grace Wilcox, on Party Of Five (1994-2000) for sixteen episodes, my forever guilty pleasure of dysfunctional families and one of the best written.

Flashback: Michael Dawson/ Walt Lloyd/ and Vincent the dog.

Writer: David Fury (LOST's Walkabout and teamed with Yaitanes for LOST's Solitary). Director: Greg Yaitanes (Quarry, LOST's Solitary).

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