Lost: “Through the Looking Glass” (textual healing edition)

This is the first of the Metroactive arts blog’s weekly recaps of Lost and its abbreviated-by-the-strike fourth season. But instead of kicking off this series of recaps with tonight’s season premiere, “The Beginning of the End” (hey, that’s the same title as that Peter Graves/giant grasshopper movie MST3K once riffed on—is this a clue that the smoke monster that killed Greg Grunberg in Lost‘s pilot episode and Mr. Eko last season is really a giant grasshopper?), I’ve decided to focus my first recap on what ABC is calling an “enhanced” version of the season 3 finale, “Through the Looking Glass.”

Enhanced version, my ass. It’s just a rerun of the same episode that aired last May, but with a bar at the bottom of the screen that annoyingly scrolls textual commentary to explain key pieces of the never-ending puzzle that is Lost.

(Not-quite-spoilers after the jump)

Hey ABC/Disney, ever heard of subtitles? You know, those yellow word things that viewers have the option of making appear at the bottom of the screen on your DVDs of Lost? Those are less annoying than sentences that are scrolled up fragment by fragment. A typical factoid during this rerun is displayed like this: “Three tents are marked… (scrolling up) leading the Others to believe… (scrolling up) that pregnant women are inside them.” Reading these factoids is like listening to Kiefer Sutherland pause between his words during Dark City, as if he’s auditioning for The William Shatner Story. It kind of works your last nerve.

According to the New York Times, the commentary, which is ABC’s bright idea, was written without the participation of any of the show’s staff writers, who are adhering to their “pencils down” credo during the strike. So ABC turned to the marketing firm that produces all those Peter Coyote-narrated Lost clip show specials to provide the commentary, which network execs think will help bring newbie viewers or amnesiacs up to speed. Amelie Gillette from the A.V. Club‘s Hater blog refers to the Pop-Up Video-style gimmick as Lost for Dummies.” I call it “Lost for People Who Wish They Could Relive William Friedkin’s Crappy Commentrak from the Exorcist DVD, Except Have It Appear as Annoyingly Fragmented Text at the Bottom of the Screen.”

The Times says the “Through the Looking Glass” rerun “may be the first network show with added pop-up context.” The Gray Lady’s factcheckers are clearly not NewsRadio fans because on April 1, 1998, the cult sitcom—one of my favorite sitcoms, by the way—aired a Pop-Up Video-style rebroadcast of its 50th ep, in which bubbles displayed behind-the-scenes tidbits like “Khandi Alexander wrote the exit line when she and Dave leave the mental hospital.” (Their employees seem to be One Tree Hill fans, which must explain why that dopey show got some ink in the Times earlier this week.)

I’m not going to go into detail about every single plot point during “Through the Looking Glass” (Andrew Dignan over at Matt Zoller Seitz’s The House Next Door blog did that already quite nicely). But I’ll mention some interesting tidbits that the not-very-insightful commentary didn’t bother to address, as well as some of my favorite moments from the finale, one of the most pivotal and shocking eps in Lost‘s history because the flash-forwards (to a time period long after Jack and Kate’s escape from the island) turned the series’ premise on its ear.

-Michael Giacchino, Lost‘s original score composer, writes some of the most riveting music for scripted TV these days. As the teaser ends with Jack leading the castaways away from the beach, the orchestra performs a rousing reprise of Giacchino’s castaways-on-a-mission theme, best known to Lost fans as “Hollywood and Vines,” track 6 on the Lost season 1 score CD. Giacchino’s next major score is for another J.J. Abrams production, the Star Trek reboot. I don’t know how Giacchino feels about Gerald Fried’s catchy fight theme from the old show, but he has to do some sort of little tribute to that fight theme in his score. It just ain’t original flava Trek without the national anthem of Decapod 10.

-In a nice callback to a speech Jack made to the Oceanic 815 survivors in the first season, Rose (L. Scott Caldwell) says what remains the ep’s best line: “If you say ‘live together, die alone’ to me, Jack, I’m gonna punch you in your face.” Get in line, sister.

-A promo for the Lost season premiere strings together clips of Sawyer being Sawyer, to the tune of the overplayed “Bad to the Bone.” I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: Josh Holloway should have been cast as Crockett in the Miami Vice feature film instead of that famous Southerner Colin Farrell.

-Malcolm David Kelley, who plays Michael’s 10-year-old son Walt, was a regular cast member during the first season, but he had to be written out of the show because the child actor’s growth spurts were beginning to clash with the show’s slowed-down timeline. In this ep, Kelley reappears as a manifestation of Walt, who speaks to a wounded and delirious Locke. “Through the Looking Glass” director Jack Bender shot Kelley from an odd angle, in an attempt to conceal that the kid is apparently now taller than Shaq. It doesn’t quite work. The producers must have also digitally sped up Kelley’s voice. I guess Kelley couldn’t stomach those cups of lemon water that Frankie Muniz had to sip to prevent his voice from cracking during Malcolm in the Middle. Or those kicks to the nads that Muniz must have also received in order to continue sounding prepube.

-Speaking of Malcolm in the Middle, guest star (and soon-to-be-regular?) Tania Raymonde—she’s the girl with the supermodel pout who plays Alex, the daughter of Ben Linus and Danielle Rousseau—got her big break on Malcolm. Raymonde appeared as a Krelboyne classmate who was embarrassed about her prematurely large rack.

-The commentary wonders why Future Jack—or as I’ll call this alcoholic, suicidal and even more shrill version of prime-time’s shrillest character, Jack Daniels—is so upset about the death of someone who’s neither friend nor family. But it stops short of identifying the man in the closed casket whom Jack Daniels is paying his respects to. Is Locke the man in the casket? Jack, the man of science, was always at odds with Locke, the man of faith. Will we see what caused them to stop being enemies in one of these eight new Lost eps?

-With the shades on, the bearded Jack Daniels now looks like he’s wandered off the set of the Beastie Boys’ “Sabotage” video.

-“You All Everybody”: greatest title for a fake pop song ever. Too bad we won’t hear anymore of “You All Everybody” now that the song’s writer, Charlie, heroically sacrificed himself in a death scene that brings to mind Landfill’s wrenching demise in Beerfest. This season, I’m looking forward to hearing more Geronimo Jackson.

-The broadcast’s final commercial break ends with a Lost promo similar to the earlier Sawyer montage. This time it focuses on Locke’s batshit-craziest moments, to the tune of “Crazy” by Patsy Cline. The promo is followed a few minutes later by one of Locke’s least craziest moments—his killing of the mysterious Naomi to prevent the castaways from being rescued. Ben warns Jack that the rescue is “the beginning of the end” (tonight’s season premiere title actually refers to Ben’s line, not to anything Peter Graves-related). Jack Daniels now deeply regrets the rescue, as we discover in this ep’s beautifully executed final scene.

-At the end of Jack Daniels’ reunion with Kate outside LAX, Kate says, “I have to go. He’s going to be wondering where I am.” Who’s the “he”? C’mon, textual commentary, where are you? Explain this one for the newbs. No? Fine. I’ll do it, you lazy sonofabitch. Future Kate’s husband has to be either Sawyer or Ben.

On a scale consisting of Lost‘s cursed numbers, 4, 8, 15, 16, 23 and 42 (4 being the lowest, 42 being the highest)…

“Through the Looking Glass”—which pulled a Galactica with Jack Daniels’ scenes, but revealed the flash-forward twist in a low-key, matter-of-fact way that was more shocking than how Galactica did its season 2 time jump—gets a 42.

The pointless textual commentary—which must have been pasted together from excerpts of Lostpedia—gets an 8.

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