The 'Lost' Hour: Season 3 Review -- 'A Tale of Two Cities,' 'The Glass Ballerina'

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Jen Chaney and Liz Kelly
Washington Post "Lost" Bloggers
Thursday, October 15, 2009; 3:00 PM

Join "Lost" bloggers Liz Kelly and Jen Chaney this fall to discuss "Lost's" third season. Each week, we'll assign a few episodes to watch. Then join Liz and Jen each Thursday at 3 p.m. ET to talk about what happened and how those early shows tie in (or not) to "Lost's" looming final season.

For the Thursday, Oct. 15th chat watch the season three episodes "A Tale of Two Cities" and "The Glass Ballerina."

Liz and Jen, both obsessive "Lost" fans, have been writing their weekly dueling analysis of the show since 2006. When not debating the merits of Sawyer's hotness, Liz Kelly writes the Celebritology blog and Jen Chaney acts as movies editrix and DVD columnist for washingtonpost.com. For episode analysis, discussion transcripts and more, visit washingtonpost.com's Lost Central.

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Jen Chaney: And here we go, wading directly into season three and lots of antics in the Hydra Station.

To kick us off, two comments. First, for those following the Lost viral art shenanigans -- aka the pseudo-ARG that Jen Chaney is currently obsessed with -- the latest piece was announced today, accompanied by this

sweet hip-hop track by 88-Keys

. Worth a listen.

And here's my nomination for quote of this week's episode bundle, from an unlikely source: Jack.

While explaining his "job" as a repo man: "I'm a people person so I really love it."

Liz Kelly: Sometimes, I just think we'll be discussing "Lost" forever -- it doesn't matter if we're in season or if the show is over for good (come May) -- discussing "Lost" is our Groundhog Day, Jen. Good thing we love it.

Let's get started -- season 3 -- the season that turned off a lot of viewers who just couldn't put up with the seemingly-stalled storyline and Nikki and Paolo. But, as we'll rediscover here, it was actually a pretty good little season -- despite a few missteps.

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Dhar, MA: Has anyone noted that if Jacob brought the Black Rock to the island, and confirmed to the MiB that he brought them (and others - "they come") although they will fight and destroy, that the Dharma Initiative must have been brought by Jacob as well?

Liz Kelly: I don't think that if one is true it necessarily means the other must be also. But that thought did cross my mind -- that the Dharmas, the Losties and even Ben and the Others were all brought to the island as Jacob's -- what? -- playthings?

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Chicago IL: My Lost theory - It is just like to movie Trading Places. Two "powerful" guys are playing a game and seeing if they can manipulate other people to prove some sort of point. In the movie the payoff was just $1. Let's see what the MIB give to Jacob once Jacob "wins" the bet.

Liz Kelly: Right -- the Losties and most of the rest of the characters are pawns in a game being played between the MIB and Jacob. And possibly between Widmore and Ben. I get the feeling, tho, that the stakes will be much higher than $1.

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Falls Church, Va.: For people trying to rewatch all "Lost" episodes before season six:

ABC has apparently come to its senses and put back some of the episodes from season five it had pulled earlier this year. The network appears to be adding episodes in original broadcast order and is now up through "Namaste," which I'll be watching as you folks are chatting. (I'll catch up on the transcript later!) I hope the final eight hours are added at some point.

Off the topic of your discussion, but does anyone have any idea why "316" and "Jeremy Bentham" were, apparently, originally shown out of order, and apparently at the request of Darlton? I just rewatched them in the original "Jeremy Bentham" and "316" order and thought they worked better that way, though it doesn't make a lot of difference. But knowing, throughout "316," that Ben killed Locke makes for a stronger story, I think.

Liz Kelly: Good to know -- I was watching our season 3 eps online myself earlier today. Glad to hear they've re-posted some of the season 5 stuff. Sounds like they're giving us a slow trickle as we build to the DVD release and beginning of season 6.

As for the out of order eps, I don't know. Jen?

Jen Chaney: Wait, you are skipping the chat to watch the show we're discussing? Your priorities may need a readjustment.

But seriously, to answer your question about "Bentham"/"316," if I remember correctly from their podcasts, LindeCuse -- full name Darlton LindeCuse -- said they swapped the order for the reason you mentioned. I think they thought it was stronger to have the knowledge of how Locke died and put that out there first before telling the rest of the story. I also think seeing Locke's note to Jack -- "I wish you had believed me" -- is more mysterious without the knowledge of what happens in "Bentham" already in your head.

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Norman, OK: Hi! I've tries several times, but the links to the season 3 and 4 dueling analysis on the main "Lost Central" page don't seem to be working. Any help? Thank you.

Liz Kelly: That should be fixed now. A bone-headed html error by yours truly was to blame.

Thanks for pointing it out.

Jen Chaney: It wasn't bone-headed. The template just hates apostrophes. It's punctuation discrimination, and frankly, none of us should stand for it.

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Lost (Somewhat) Newbie: I'm not quite at Season 3 yet having just finished "S.O.S." last night. I just have to say my heart broke for Hurley when Michael offed Libby. He has to be my favorite character so far (although Henry seems deliciously creepy). For some reason, I get a sense that Hurley is going to be at the center of the whole big mystery. Not sure why--just a gut feeling.

Liz Kelly: The writers definitely seem to have a special spot in their hearts -- and storyline -- for Hurley. So that wouldn't be the worst outcome, I suppose. And Jen correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't LindeCuse already rule out the idea that all of this was just taking place in Hurley's head or that it was a dream?

Jen Chaney: I believe they did rule that out, and that was part of the reason they raised it in "Dave." To make it clear that wasn't what was happening.

I think Hurley is a key figure as well, not just the provider of most excellent comic relief as he sometimes seems to be. But is he "the key to the game," as he says in an episode that you will see eventually, Newbie? Not sure. Curious to see.

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Washington, D.C.: OK, how about instructions for using the timeline?

Liz Kelly: You're referring to Time/Space: Lost, I assume.

And I have to agree, it isn't the most intuitive interface in the world. But here's the good news: you can't break it. So I would just click around until you start to get the gist of it.

A few quick hints:

You can change the window of time by dragging the arrows at the bottom -- so you can view events for the span from 1950 - 2009 or just limit yourself to, say, 2004.

When you move your mouse over the bottom portion of the timeline, a legend of "channels" pops up. In our case, the channels are seasons and you can similarly confine your search to one season (or two, or three, etc....)

Then just start clicking on the bubble items on the map.

And please, if we missed something, make sure to submit it and we'll add it in.

Jen Chaney: One clarification: we probably missed a lot of things. We tried to judiciously include events that seemed integral to the island mythology, as opposed to just every plot developments that's ever taken place.

Also, fun fact: if you click on enough links in TimeSpace, you will wind up in 1977 and you will be dating Sawyer. Don't believe me? Just keep clicking and see!

(How's THAT for a promo?)

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Ohio: Just saw on The ODI that an Oceanic plane will be crashing on "Desperate Hosewives" this season. ABC still can't make me watch that horrid show, but thought it was interesting. (There was also an Oceanic easter egg on "Flash Forward.")

Jen Chaney: I still need to catch up with "Flash Forward." Ugh. So much to watch, so little time.

And yeah, I might watch "Desperate Housewives" just to see that moment when a plane crashes, after which point I would immediately change the channel. Honestly, ABC should do a "Lost" homage on every single show at some point this season. Just my opinion. And clearly I'm not biased.

Liz Kelly: Of course not. Neither am I and I second your opinion. I'd be incredibly interested in a "Dancing with the Stars" tribute to "Lost." An interpretive dance from Donny Osmond is just what we need to get us ready for season 6.

Jen Chaney: And then Tom DeLay's fractured feet can magically heal, and he can do whatever wacky Texas dance he planned to do, and at the end -- after a cheesy, flourishy bow -- he can say, "Don't tell me what I can't do, America!"

Awesome.

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NotDoc: Have you noticed the trend of blond actresses from "Lost" getting new shows on ABC? This year alone we have Penny on "Flash Forward," Juliet on "V", and Sarah (Jack's ex-wife) on "Modern Family." Does this mean that we should expect to see Claire or Shannon popping up somewhere else soon?

Liz Kelly: Yes, in fact I would expect to see Claire and Shannon popping up on... "Lost."

Jen Chaney: Shannon is currently shooting a movie with Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz, and our Claire shot one during off-season with Mr. Robert Pattinson.

So those blond ladies are plenty busy. Sorry if that messes up your theory.

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Late to the Party: I know you're reviewing season 3, but I've been out of pocket for a while since I started a new job in July. I'm currently watching Orientation from Season 2, and there's a scene in the orientation film where they zoom in on a window and a - supposed - image of Alvar Hanso.

I couldn't help but noticing that Alvar Hanso kind of looks like Bernard. I know Bernard's on the island when they're nuking the hatch-to-be, but is it possible that Bernard is related to the Hansos? Or were my eyes playing tricks on me?

Jen Chaney: I think your eyes may have been playing tricks. I mean, look, I wouldn't rule out anything wacky, mainly because I so enjoy wackiness.

But I would be surprised if Bernard is Hanso.

Liz Kelly: But I wouldn't be surprised to see Hanso reemerge in the storyline in season 6.

But I'm with Jen. I'm not seeing Bernard in

this pic

.

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Vienna, Va.: For quite awhile I thought that Ben's breakfast with Kate included some deal between them that we weren't shown. But either that was an avenue that they never went down, or it was a super-subtle hint that Ben remembered Kate from Dharma, and knew that she had helped him back then.

Do we think that Ben knows more about the Losties traveling back to Dharma than he has let on so far? Alpert said Ben wouldn't remember any of that, but he could have told him about it later.

Liz Kelly: I'm going to say no. I don't think Ben remembers Kate from '70's-era Dharma-ville, but at the same time he does know something about these people. Something that merited their inclusion on a "list."

Jen Chaney: Yeah, I tend to agree. And why does Ben have to try to impress women by serving them fancy meals? It's so creepy.

And did anyone else really crave bacon while watching that episode?

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Milwaukee, WI: Two things: One, Season 3 marks the point where the Others started to become more ordinary and less interesting. In the first couple of seasons they were extremely hostile to outsiders; now it's not at all clear what motivates them.

Second, in Glass Ballerina we see Kate and Sawyer and others building the "runway" -- more of a long clearing -- right where Ajira 316 will need it 3 years later. How do they know they will need a runway there? It has to be from Jacob -- through Richard, since Ben's never met him. Which means that Jacob both knows about the plane and wants it to land safely. So he can be killed, a la Obi-wan Kenobi?

Liz Kelly: I had the opposite reaction -- I thought the Others became much more interesting in season 3 precisely because they weren't hostile bumpkins, but a community of cult-like people living (mostly) blissfully in the middle of this off-the-map island and, you know, doing things like sending out members of their crew to impersonate plane crash survivors.

And the lack of clarity on their motivation makes it all the more tantalizing. That leaves a lot to our imagination. Before they were hillbillies who wanted interlopers off their island. Now we know they were probably expecting flight 815 -- but why?

Jen Chaney: I think the Others were more interesting, but I agree that the tonal shift from season two to three requires a BIG adjustment. All the Losties are separated. The Hydra is dark and disturbing. And you get the sense watching these episodes -- maybe to your point about the flashbacks -- that the writers were a little off their game.

They set the bar for themselves extraordinarily high, so "Lost" writers off-game is still better most other shows when they're on-point. But I agree, particularly about "Glass Ballerina." Normally the flashbacks cover one set time period for the character, and in that episode, it went back to Sun's early childhood, then to her affair. Not that it was hard to follow or anything, but it felt a bit more disjointed than other flashbacks have in the past.

That said, the Boston Red Sox moment? Fantastic and inspired.

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After it's over: What do you suppose happens to Lostpedia, et al., on the web? Will there be anything left to argue, speculate about? Or will all the "Lost World" that has built up during the run of the show just become a relic?

Jen Chaney: I think Lostpedia and other Web sites will still exist. Depending on how the show ends, there could be plenty to still speculate about. Not, perhaps, to the degree we currently do, but I think it's a show that has such a strong cult following that fans will always want to discuss/revisit/attend "Lost" conventions, etc.

What do you think, Liz?

Liz Kelly: Hey, if thousands of people continue to gather for Star Trek conventions year after year, I don't see why Lost wouldn't retain a certain level of interest.

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Washington, D.C.: Just a further comment about the blond actresses from LOST. I can't remember her name, but she was Sawyer's girlfriend and mother of Clementine - she is appearing on "Flash Forward" also.

Jen Chaney: And she's Matt Saracen's mother on "Friday Night Lights"! She's everywhere!

Liz Kelly: For those not yet clued in, we're talking about Kim Dickens here -- who was also part of the fabulous "Deadwood" cast.

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John, Portland: So, three episodes in (I had assumed we'd be doing three again) and I've figured out what was so wrong with season 3: terrible backflashes. Both Jack's and Sun's were uninteresting, as well as future backflashes for John (growing weed), Jack again (tattoo in Thailand), Hurley (dad leaves him), Sawyer (in prison), Claire (mom is paralyzed) and Kate (trying to meet with mom). In fact the only backflashes from this season that I can think of that were interesting are the new regular characters (Desmond, Ben, and Juliette) and the second John one (how he was injured) and Charley's five best moments.

Liz Kelly: Oh, don't worry -- it gets worse before it gets better.

But it does get better.

Season 3 suffered for a couple of reasons -- one being having no clear endpoint in sight. So, like many other shows, the momentum was lost (no pun intended) as padding was added to backfill the more important plot points and slow things down.

And I don't think we should forget the massive writer's strike that happened as the show was in the midst of production. We're lucky we got a second half of that season at all -- many shows didn't fare so well.

Jen Chaney: True. I have been interested to rewatch this season from beginning to end to find out if that first part was really as weak as some people said.

So far, as I said in a previous answer, I still think it's weaker than first two seasons. But I can tolerate more because I can flashforward and know that it gets back on track.

Still wondering if I'll make it through the entire Bai Ling episode...

Liz Kelly: Careful what you say about my friend Bai Ling.

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Norfolk, Va.: So I decided to finally watch the Laramie Project, and at first I'm like, "Hey! That's Daniel Faraday playing the student! Cool!" Then, I was a little weirded out when Richard Alpert was the head playwright guy. I mean, it's Richard Alpert (!) playing the guy who sees the big picture... Weirddd. And THEN, I'm all "HOLY HOT BALLOON ACCIDENT! It's BEN LINUS in the PULPIT!" I literally gasped out loud.

Any other movies with Lost-loaded casts I should check out?

Jen Chaney: Snap, now I have to watch that one.

I can think of movies that feature one cast member, but not a package deal quite like that one. There are definitely other TV shows that featured multiple Losties, though: "Deadwood," "Ed," "Party of Five" (am I the only one who remembers that Matthew Fox dated the woman who played Walt's mom on that show?)...

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Vienna, Va.: The conundrum of the runway is that someone would have to travel back in time from the point that it is used for anyone to know that it was needed. And so far, we haven't seen that happen.

Liz Kelly: Unless Ben and co. were clued in by, say, Jacob -- who we assume to be somewhat omniscient.

Jen Chaney: Or, as a reader mentioned earlier, Richard.

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Las Cruces, N. Mex.: Has anyone ever told either of you to get a life?

Liz Kelly: Yeah, I think I've heard that one a couple of times. And yet I haven't yet. Darnitall.

Jen?

Jen Chaney: Not to my face. Or in an online discussion.

Thanks for taking that one off my bucket list.

If you think we don't have a life, there are some wonderful people on the Internet you really, really ought to meet.

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More on Kate's breakfast: I always thought that something happened to Kate on the way back from breakfast. It's been a while since I watched that episode, but if memory serves, her wrists were raw from the handcuffs, and she looked as if something bad had happened.

Jen Chaney: Yes, AND I noticed that she and Jack both pulled off band-aids that implied they had been injected with a syringe or something.

We know Kate has a lot of fight in her, but she doesn't show it at all in these first two episodes. It's fair to assume that whatever they did to her scared her straight for a little while.

Liz Kelly: I always assumed the bandaids were clues that Jack and Kate had both had blood samples taken -- much like Michael did when he arrived in the fake Others' village.

Jen Chaney: Oh yeah, you might be right. But why not Sawyer? Or did we just not see the bandaid?

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Alexandria VA: I thought the writer's strike was why season 4 was so short?

Liz Kelly: My bad. Right you are.

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Liz Kelly: Alrighty -- that's it for today. For next week, we'll be watching "Further Instructions," "Every Man for Himself" and "The Cost of Living."

Jen Chaney: We'll also be attempting to obtain lives. If you see any good ones open for bidding on e-Bay, let us know.

Adios.

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