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Lost

Lost is a drama about a group of plane crash survivors. They land on an unknown Pacific island and have to learn to live together. ABC 2004-2010

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Episode 4 - Walkabout

30 March 2012

Present: Wild boar take an interest in the dead bodies left in the fuselage. Jack decides that they must burn the fuselage and Claire rounds up passports to read out the names of the dead. Jack tries to cheer up Rose, who seems to be suffering from trauma after the loss of her husband. Locke suggests they hunt boar as the food is running out. Michael and Kate join him but leave when Michael is gored by a baby boar. Locke continues on and kills a boar after seemingly confronting the “monster.” Jack sees a vision of someone in the jungle which disturbs him. Shannon proves to Boone that she can take care of herself by enlisting Charlie to catch a fish and Sun takes care of Walt while Michael is away.

Flashback: Locke works in an office and gets abuse from his boss. He talks to some kind of sex line worker who he has grown an unhealthy attachment to. He travels to Australia to take part in a spiritual journey, called a Walkabout. But he is refused because he is handicapped and confined to a wheelchair.

The Good: The twist that Locke was handicapped is quite the shock and changes your perception of both what the island is and what the show is going to be about. The miracle which Locke claimed had taken place (103) was clearly the restoration of his legs to working order. Immediately it suggests that the island has more than just a “monster” on it, but has properties which can transform the lives of its inhabitants. The questions about whether the survivors really are where they are continue throughout this episode. Rose says to Jack that they are all suffering from post traumatic stress. Is that a suggestion of what is really going on? Is this all a dream in someone’s head? Locke meeting the “monster” and living is also a big development. Though obviously we have no idea what it means. But these developments are ideal because they stoke the fire of imagination in viewer’s minds about what they are seeing. So not only do the characters lives have an interest for us, but the entire show becomes a mystery which viewers will want to solve.

The twist is handled beautifully. When you watch the episode again, the camera shots of his feet make it plain what he is concerned about, but there was no way to know that the first time around. Locke telling the story of Norman Croucher, a double amputee who climbed mountains is also clever. Again, there is no real reason to assume it is anything but an inspirational story.

Locke’s back-story, rather like Kate’s last episode, completely changes our perception of him. Brave, kind and responsible Kate was revealed to be some kind of hardened criminal on the run. Now the hunter Locke, who is referred to as Colonel in the opening lines of his story, turns out to be a board game loving office worker who can’t establish a real relationship with a woman and who can’t walk. The flashbacks generate great sympathy for him and provide an easy to grasp explanation for his behaviour on the island. Without the flashbacks, his determination to kill a boar would seem dangerous or selfish. Instead we begin to see a man obsessed with proving himself and who clearly sees the restoration of his legs as part of his destiny.

The scene where he talks to Helen the (presumed) sex worker is really good television. It’s not often one of the central characters in a show will demonstrate this kind of socially unacceptable behaviour. But Lost is developing an impressive resume of unconventional characters. In this episode alone we see Sayid giving his opinions as a Muslim (about burning the bodies) complete with a girlfriend or wife wearing a burqa (in the picture). And Charlie the vulnerable drug addict playing a responsible role in the survivors’ lives, rather than the drugs leading to bad behaviour as would be the traditional story.

The character development throughout is excellent. Boone, once again, is looking out for other people’s welfare but this time he turns to Jack when he recognises his own inadequacy to help Rose. Jack is no complete hero either, his awkward reaction to Claire’s memorial service idea hints at a more complex personality. As does his comment to Rose that he became a doctor due to family reasons and not out of a desire to help. Shannon’s flirtation with Charlie is excellent too as it tells a simple story about both their characters and her relationship with Boone. It also provides a nice comedy moment with Charlie and Hurley fishing. All the character development feels very organic as well, which is a real credit to the writing. The need for food and to burn the bodies of the dead is all that is needed for the story and the rest flows naturally from that.

Last week’s story ended on Locke and led viewers to watch this week. Again in another smart move, Jack’s “hallucination” or vision of a man in the distance seems to suggest Jack will be the focus next week. After the Locke twist though, it is difficult to imagine many viewers not wanting to tune in anyway.

The Bad: John’s boss Randy is incredibly rude to him. Once you realise that John is handicapped Randy’s comments become almost cause for a discrimination or harassment lawsuit. He scoffs “You walk around hunting and gathering food, on foot?” and then gets unprofessionally personal “Why do you torture yourself? Imagining you’re some hunter on walkabouts. You can’t do any of that.” He could even be in trouble for calling him “Old man.” Regardless of how bad it was it just feels like the writers went a little overboard in making their point.

First Jack tries to get people not to trek through the jungle with him (101) and now Locke says he only needs three people to kill a boar. Does safety in numbers mean nothing to these people?

The Unknown: The island, the monster, the man in Jack’s visions. Are they visions? How did Locke become handicapped?

Best Moment: The revelation. Locke is pleading with the tour organiser to let him go on the walkabout. “You neglected to tell us about your condition” he says to Locke. What could that be you wander? It’s a clever choice of wording because it makes you speculate on what strange disorder this strange man has. When the camera pans out to show the wheelchair suddenly everything makes sense. The scene jumps to the crash and we once more see Locke feeling his toes. A brilliant twist which has huge ramifications on the show.

The Bottom Line: An episode which seems to confirm all the promise of Lost’s pilot episodes. An episode which both enhances and completely changes how we perceive both Locke and Lost. In amongst the intrigue of who he is we are learning about the other survivors in convincing, interesting and entertaining exchanges. The producers of the show are playing with our knowledge beautifully. Like the survivors we are getting to know everyone for the first time. By showing us flashbacks we are getting a unique insight which sheds light on their behaviour, while their fellow survivors remain in the dark. The twist comes so much more dramatically because we are under the false pretence that we know what is really going on. Locke is not just seizing his day out of the office; he is reacting to a miracle. A superb episode of television from every angle.

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