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TV Review: Lost -“The Cost of Living”

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I had heard rumors a character from Lost was going to get knocked off. So I thought, who is expendable? They won’t whack Jack, not that I would mind, but he’s rather integral to the show, being the first person we see in the first episode of season 1, waking up amongst the bamboo trees, miraculously un-impaled. Just thinking about it gives me shivers. They can’t kill Hurley, he’s the “real” person the viewers relate to, and he serves as compass and brings in the needed wisecracks. Kate? Hell, no. She’s the sizzling hotness of Lost everyone just secretly wants to save, though she can handle herself real well. Can’t get rid of Sawyer, he’s the bad boy men want to be and women want to be with. And no way could the story line remain solid without the presence of Locke. He’s the creepy mystical guy this island needs — and no one will rest until we find out how exactly he ended up in a wheelchair. So this leaves mostly secondary and tertiary characters.

Most of the Tailies have been killed off so far. Except Bernard and Mr. Eko. So Bernard gets the axe right? No Bernard or his wife Rose in sight. Where are they anyway? I miss those guys. Rose is definitely the matriarch for many, with her wisdom and peaceful demeanor. Libby and Ana-Lucia we’re killed off because the actors playing them were busted for drunk driving and basically creating havoc on the set. So they suddenly got rid of them last season. Can’t say I was sorry to see Ana-Lucia go. I found her annoying and too rowdy a character — the cast had enough muscle anyway. Claire and Charlie haven’t been getting much screen time lately, other than holding the baby or tagging along with Locke.

But they went for my second favorite character of the series. The tall, quiet, and strong Mr. Eko. How could the writers do this? Was Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje the one who wanted out? I do not know. I can’t stand shows the likes of Entertainment Tonight or Access Hollywood, nor do I venture in the entertainment news sections of papers, since it is mostly gossip and couple-mongering. But in writing this article, I decided to take a look.

It seems Adewale never wanted his character to be a long commitment, but this seems to be the “official line”. According to some reports, Adewale was kind of a diva, refusing to film scenes and demanded rewrites and his character was written out for it. Just as with Michelle Rodriguez (Ana-Lucia) and Cynthia Watros, who played Libby and had an interesting back-story involving crowd favorite, Hurley, being unveiled.

I find this character’s send off to cheapen the story line. Mr. Eko was a great character and brilliantly acted by Adewale. He was the Yang to Locke’s Yin. Teller to his Penn. Kant to his Locke (I couldn’t resist that nerdy part). The mystical discussions about fate between Locke and Eko were masterful and scary at times. Both were always on the edge of the precipice, starring into the abyss. I will miss the duality between both characters.

Why does it cheapen the story line? Here’s why. As of late, Lost has lost some of the appeal it had for me. At first it was mystical, suspenseful, and mysterious. Locke served as a bridge between those facets and the more down to earth survivors. He brought willfulness and determination necessary to surviving on the island. Mr. Eko, Locke’s equal in matters of thought and spirituality, brought in strength of character and a certain primal wisdom to balance everything out.

Season three has been more about Jack Bauer on an island. I love Sawyer and his bad-boy survive at all costs attitude, but we can get that on so many other shows. And Jack, well, he has to stop whining so much. Locke and Eko were the thinkers on the island and, what is essential to any epic story like Lost, the tricksters. Acting out to get the others thinking. Now Eko is gone. And Locke seems to be slacking around, suddenly asking for volunteers when he usually knows who has to go on missions and why, though he may not reveal it to the characters or the viewers. And the little volunteer figures out the concept behind all the CC monitors on the wall when Locke — the thinker — and Sayid, the strategic military techno-wizard man, couldn’t. That was quite weak and felt like filler more than anything else.

This fifth episode was, of course, Mr. Eko-centric, giving us his back-story of when he was in Africa with his brother, Yemi, a priest. We finally got to understand just how Eko took over his brother’s calling after the shootout at the airport during the drug-smuggling incident. This is the same plane found on the island with the Virgin Mary statuettes on board, filled with heroin. Keep in mind, everything and everyone are somehow connected. The military saved Eko, thinking he was a priest, after which he took over the church, seemingly torn between his past as a smuggler and his newfound identity.

We soon find out there are pirates in that village, stealing the antibiotic shipments in exchange for protection. This, of course, does not please Eko. This is all shown in flashbacks while Eko recovers from his polar bear attack. He has a vision of his dead brother visiting him, telling him it was time for confession, and that he knew where to go. This, of course, meant the plane is where Yemi’s remains lie. During his excursion to the plane, he is haunted by mutilated ghosts asking for mercy. Our man Eko needs a breather. He makes a little pit stop by the creek, where he drinks up some water. As he is hunched over in pain, drinking, in the reflecting water he sees the black cloud monster sneaking up behind him. The monster, which he does not fear. The Monster backs off pretty quickly and disappears into the woods. On the other side comes the search and rescue team. They clan together and head up to the plane.

Locke and Eko remove the rocks blocking the entrance to the plane, while the others head down the shaft to investigate. Eko discovers the plane to be empty of Yemi’s remains. This he finds troubling, but who wouldn’t considering the circumstances? Eventually, Locke heads down the shaft for further investigation, leaving Eko by himself to ponder. Yemi shows up and leads him into the forest for “confession”.

This is where we flashback again to the church in the village. Eko gets wind of the black market for antibiotics and makes a play for the profits. The pirates hear of this and confront Father Eko in the church. This is where Eko, about to get his hands cut off, gets into the zone and brutally dispatches the bad men to meet their maker. The God-fearing villagers cast Eko out and boards up the church because it has been desecrated.

Back on the island, Yemi confronts Eko for a confession. Eko refuses, seeing no sin in killing to save his brother, seeing no sin in killing to survive the life he was given. Yemi turns his back to him and says, “You speak to me as if I were your brother.” Eko follows, asking him who he is. He loses his brother, but comes face to face with the smoke monster, which proceeds to give him the biggest smackdown ever seen on Lost. The smoke forms into a hand, grabs Mr. Eko and slams him into trees and then into the ground. Locke and company show up. He whispers to Locke, “You’re next”

The smoke monster beating Eko into a pulp was well made and produced, but felt awkward for the show. It felt rushed, as did most of the show. But despite the killing of Eko, the Jack in the tank portion was more interesting.

Jack has figured out that the x-rays he spotted in the previous episode were those of Benjamin Linus, the leader of The Others, and he confronts him with this evidence. Benjamin denies this at first, but later confesses that his plan was to try to break Jack into wanting to help him, that he wanted to live.

“I want you to want to save my life. But we’re beyond that now. All I can ask is that you think about it.” He walks away, stops, and asks Jack, “Do you believe in God, Jack?”

“Do you?” Jack says, still incapable of answering questions about spirit.

“Two days after I found out I had a fatal tumor on my spine, a spinal surgeon fell out of the sky, and if that’s not proof of God, I don’t know what is.”

With that said, maybe the writers are going to bring the mysticism back and this was promising. Time to bring back the mysterious and the nail biting, edge of your seat suspense that recently was replaced with violent intensity. Scenes like the one with Locke kneeling over the hatch, begging for answers, and having a light turn on at the last moment, are the scenes that made Lost great and created a mythology. There better be something in Benjamin’s tumor less mundane than it simply being a tumor. Desmond’s foretelling of events must be better explored. There better be a good reason for keeping Kate and Sawyer in the bear cages.

Speaking of the bears, in the first season, Walt was reading a comic book with a polar bear in it, leading everyone to believe his imagination was manifesting itself. The same when his father, Michael, said as soon as the rain would stop, he’d go looking for the dog and it suddenly stopped raining. These manifestations were enough to get Locke’s attention and enough to get ours. Why were the manifested bears changed to caged bears on another island? Now with Michael and Walt gone, how do the writers intend to explain this? Will they be brought back into the story?

There are now too many questions unanswered. The story seems to be imploding into boorish Lord of the Flies scenarios. Locke has become way too easy-going and almost overconfident. Jack still questions the obvious. Sawyer just wants to fight everyone. Kate is just sitting pretty. Hurley is always at the food station, cutting up fruit. Charlie just tags along but brings nothing to the story. Sayid has been going through the motions. Some of the characters have been all but forgotten this season. They have to stop killing off characters — and their cool story lines — whose actors want to be shown the money. Time to drink some Dharma Energy drinks and get things moving again. Lost 2.0, the sucker.

A sadly given 3 out of 5.

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About David Desjardins

  • Ty

    “But they went for my second favorite character of the series. The tall, quiet, and strong Mr. Eko. How could the writers do this? Was Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje the one who wanted out?”

    I also heard that he had some problem with the police a few months ago.

    This fits in perfectly with the theory that bad PR gets you killed off.

  • Ah well, as Brian Vaughn said, when you love a character so much that you want to keep them no matter what, that’s when you have to kill them off.

    Either that, or they wanted a steep rise in ratings before they close for the mini-season.