The 'Lost' Hour: Season 3 Review -- "I Do," "Not in Portland," "Flashes Before Your Eyes"

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Jen Chaney and Liz Kelly
Washington Post "Lost" Bloggers
Thursday, October 29, 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. 29th chat watch the season three episodes "I Do," "Not in Portland" and "Flashes Before Your Eyes."

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: Word up, everybody.

Before we get started, just want to encourage everyone to check out

USA Today's chat with Damon Lindelof

. He answers a number of important questions, including why we won't be seeing much of Libby. (It's Cynthia Watros's fault!)

And, of course, we are continuing our journey through season three, which this week let us see Kate marry Nathan Filion, Juliet's ex get hit by a bus and Desmond get lessons in time travel.

Over to you, Liz.

Liz Kelly: I'm interested in everyone's thoughts on season three now that we're several episodes in. The show lost a large portion of viewers that season and took a lot of flak for getting off track, but after watching eps like "Not in Portland" and "Flashes Before Your Eyes" -- well, it's hard to dismiss this season as poorly written or unwatchable.

Anyone else having a more fulfilling season 3 experience this time around?

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Gwinn, Mich.: I just want you to know how much I enjoy this column. Keep up the good work ladies.

Liz Kelly: Aww shucks. We'll do our best.

Jen Chaney: Imagine how good it will be when there are new episodes! My God, it's going to be in-SANE.

Seriously, though, thanks for the kind words. We are happy to have you here.

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Austin: Good afternoon ladies: I understand it made great tv and allowed Charlie to die heroically (redeemed himself from his past wasted life) but I don't recall Desmond's ability to see the future was adaquately resolved and that I dimly recall it ending with Charlie. It seems to me the Man in Black or Man in White need Desmond to keep Charlie alive until he dies properly--but whose aim is achieved with Charlie drowning do you think?

Jen Chaney: I felt that Desmond's ability to see the future was resolved -- somewhat, anyway -- in (SPOILER FOR NEWBIES) "The Constant." Once he got in touch with Penny, his Constant, he completely stabilized. But to your point, he did stop having the flashes during beginning of season four and I am not sure, or can't remember, why.

The aim of Charlie drowning based on what we know at this point is that fate led him into that tiny room inside the Looking Glass where he was able to make contact with Penny. And making contact with Penny ultimately stabilized Desmond and also helped the Oceanic Six find rescue.

Liz Kelly: And, remember, Charlie may not be dead. He's generally considered to be returning in some way in season six and in his appearance at Comic-Con held up a hand on which he had penned "Am I alive?"

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Reston, Va.: I know this 3rd season is touted as the worst of all; however, I really really like a number of episodes in this season. Flashes Before Your Eyes is probably my favorite episode in the entire series. To me, the events in this episode began what is now Lost. I think it was the perfect balance of total confusion while not going off the deep end. Loved this episode.

Jen Chaney: I agree with you, Reston. Part one of season three felt weird tonally, but I think things start to get back on track with "Not in Portland," and especially "Flashes." As you say, that later episode in particular gave us an idea of what "Lost" would become in seasons four and five.

But then, there's the Bai Ling episode coming up, so you know, we should all brace ourselves for that.

BTW, in that USA Today piece, Damon Lindelof is asked which episode is his least favorite. And he says "Homecoming" from season one, because it fails on every level as an episode of "Lost." Was a bit surprised by that.

Liz Kelly: I'm with you, too, Reston. As I said in the intro, a lot of these eps are laying crucial groundwork for the storyline that followed in seasons 4 and 5. And in "Flashes" we were introduced for the first time to the inimitable Ms. Hawking. Seeing that jewelry store scene was pretty revealing, considering what we know now. Eloise may have been there to explain course correction to Desmond, but she has her own reasons, too. So how much was course correction and how much was it Ms. Hawking nudging Desmond onto the island path?

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Philadelphia, PA: I've always wanted to know what Libby's background is. But I can't blame Watros for not wanting to come back. First, they kill her character apparently because killing Ana Lucia would have been ehhh to the audience. Then they bring her back for a cameo in season 4 only to haunt Michael as Libby's ghost. I think they screwed Watros and Libby's storyline big time.

Jen Chaney: That's a fair point. If they had other plans for her and they spontaneously wrote her out of the show because killing Ana Lucia didn't have enough impact, I can understand why she wouldn't want to do them any favors.

At the same time, it's "Lost," and it's the most high-profile thing she's done. Telling the rest of the Libby story, if it's done right, is potentially an opportunity for some challenging scenes for her, which is what any actor wants.

Liz Kelly: Well, and she did come back. And I doubt she went into the season 4 cameo thinking she was being brought on as a full-fledged cast member. So I'm guessing it was just a matter of this not being the right fit for her right now.

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Arlington, Va.: "Anyone else having a more fulfilling season 3 experience this time around?"

I'm making my through for the first time (just finished "The Man from Tallahassee") and I keep waiting for the season to start sucking and I don't think it has at all. I'm loving Desmond and can't wait for Charlie to kick the bucket. He does, doesn't he?? Please tell me he does...

Liz Kelly: Hold on, there. You want Charlie to die? Man, last season poor Michael was the object of much hate here. Now that he's gone I'm guessing it's transferred over to Charlie. Tough crowd.

Jen Chaney: Aw, you will come to love Charlie. There was some Charlie backlash -- which, as a Driveshaft fan of the highest order, I never understood. But by end of season three -- for reasons that will become clear -- he turns into one of the most beloved figures in the series.

Trust me, my friend. Trust me.

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Vienna, Va: I think the scene with Mrs. Hawking, Desmond, and the guy in the red shoes who dies overstated Mrs. Hawking's omniscience. Later, it seems to me that she only knows the part of the future that Daniel wrote down in his journal. So unless Faraday was there at the same time and noted the accident, she wouldn't know about it. Or is Dharma's ability to forecast the future much broader than just predicting where the island will be?

Jen Chaney: The red shoes -- very "Wizard of Oz."

That's a good question re: how Hawking knows that guy will die. If she has skipped through time in some capacity, she might know about it. Perhaps she, like Desmond, has flashes and has experienced some of these moments before. I don't necessarily think it's indicative of Dharma's powers.

Liz, what do you think?

Liz Kelly: Well, I guess Ms. Hawking may have done a bit of her own time hopping -- she's been on the island and, as we know, anything is possible. But as I said in a previous answer, I'm not so sure how much this was course correction as it was Ms. Hawking orchestrating events to push Desmond in a certain direction. I'm not saying the woman is completely ruthless, but for example, what if she arranged the death of Mr. Red Shoes in order to drive home a point with Desmond? What if she had a little help... from Charles Widmore, say, who also didn't want Des to stick around? As we now know, Widmore had a pretty significant back story with Ms. Hawking.

Liz Kelly: And, wait -- wasn't there some speculation that Ms. Hawking could be Penny's mother? Or am I totally making this up. Jen?

Jen Chaney: We did speculate that she could also be Penny's mom, but we don't know that for sure. Unless I'm forgetting something. Which is possible.

Either way, I think she definitely wants Desmond on that island, as does Widmore. I think their motivation is more about getting him to the island -- so he can turn the fail-safe, but also cause the crash of 815 -- than it is about preventing him from marrying Penny.

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North Canton, OH: Watros was supposed to star in that Gossip Girl spinoff Lily, right? Didn't that get axed last season? Maybe her schedule is free and she will come back now.

Jen Chaney: I think you're right about that. Yes, that show did get the axe.

You know, we should call her. Have a chat. Tell her she should come back. I'm sure Liz and I could make a big difference here.

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Desmond flashing: I still think Desmond lied to Charlie for his own gain. At first, he kept saving Charlie, but realized it was pointless because due to course correction, Charlie was supposed to die, and eventually he would. But he told Charlie that he saw Claire getting on a helicopter and getting off the island, which got Charlie to go to the Looking Glass and turn off the signal jammer thingee, which ultimately got some of them off the island - but Claire was not one of them. I think maybe Desmond saw himself getting off the island, but wasn't totally selfish because Aaron was able to get off of it too.

Jen Chaney: I always thought Desmond just had a misguided flash. He thought Claire would get in the helicopter, too, and turned out to be wrong.

Or maybe he was seeing an alternate version of events that, perhaps, will play out in the sixth and final season of "Lost." Hmmm....

Liz Kelly: Ooh, Hmmm indeed. I like that idea, Jen.

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Austin: I liked this year.

I know we've talked about it before but I would still like to know if there is a huge board somewhere where they're charting this stuff out. Taking Desmond again, when they introduced him did they know he was going to be integral in getting a core character to die in a specific manner to reach a specific goal? The Easter Egg placements are one thing, but the intracasies of all the human interactions is pretty amazing. Speaks to a lot of thinking years ahead.

Liz Kelly: Well according to the Lindelof Q&A Jen linked above, the end point is still the same, but because of some unforeseen setbacks (cast members leaving, etc.) they've had to change the route to that end point a bit to fit the resources they've got.

But you're absolutely right. The amount of threads the writers need to keep in mind -- and not just keep in mind, but present cleverly -- is staggering. I'm in awe.

Jen Chaney: I am pretty sure they use some kind of board. And they also have a meticulous continuity guy who tries to keep track of all the pieces that you mention.

But still, yes, it boggles my mind on a regular basis.

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North Canton, OH: I think the Room 23 incident in "Not in Portland" where they find Karl strapped in a chair watching the crazy video is one of the most disturbing moments in Lost (The Season One hallucination with Boone reciting that rhyme about his nanny falling on the stairs is the most creepy for me). That weird room is never revisited. Any insights on the film? Who set it up? Who has to watch it?

Liz Kelly: I always assumed it was some kind of "Clockwork Orange" homage. But I have to say that on watching again my first reaction was laughter. It was just all a bit over the top. Especially those goofy neon glasses Karl was wearing.

When I came to my senses, my next thought was: And Karl was put in this torture room by the man who Jen continues to maintain is good at heart.

Jen Chaney: Oh, shut it. Ben thought he was working for the greater good. I maintain that. He believed he was doing what Jacob wanted and that Jacob was right.

But his means? Yeah, not good.

When I see that whole episode, I flashback to trying to watch it for the first time on a little tiny TV at Sibley Hospital, hours after giving birth to my son. I was pretty out of it so the Room 23 was even more baffling and freaky to me.

I think the Others probably set up the movie as another means of torturing/controlling people. In "Clockwork," the music/film-viewing torture was used to make the character Alex (a little irony there) become less violent. So I am guessing that's the point with Karl, too: to weaken him, and make him less rebellious.

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Libby: I thought it was interesting that in the USA interview, Lindelof named Watros as not wanting to come back, but then wouldn't name the other actor who refused to return. Do you think he did this on purpose to get the fans to pressure Watros to return? It just seems strange that he would protect one actor's name and not another.

Jen Chaney: It is interesting. I suspect they want to finish the Libby story -- they get asked about it a lot -- and maybe he wants to make it clear that this isn't their fault.

If Mira Furlan, who plays Rousseau, is the actor who refused to return, that's probably less of a big deal to him. Her story kind of got resolved, and it's probably easier to write around her.

I was encouraged to see that they plan to address Walt in some way, though. He admitted that the kid freaked out The Others, which means Michael went to all those lengths for even less of a good reason. The Others wanted to get rid of the kid anyway.

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Liz Kelly: Speaking of Henry Ian Cusick, we'd be remiss in not mentioning that he seems to have quietly settled the suit brought against him by a former Lost staffer who claimed sexual harassment.

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Illadelph (where the Yankees are going down!): I don't think Eloise is Penny's mother. When Ben was seeing Widmore off after he was banished from the island, didn't he say that Widmore had a child with an outsider (or something to that effect)?

Liz Kelly: Did he? My memory is a bit foggy.

Jen Chaney: He said he had a child off the island, yes. But Hawking was off island by that time, right? So that's not a deal-breaker.

I feel like we may have ruled out Hawking being Pen's mom, though, for some reason. I just don't remember what.

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Vienna, Va: I think Watros filmed the scene where Libby gives Desmond the sailboat after she was killed off. Plus, she did a DVD commentary and the DVD included an outtake of the director and crew applauding her after her last scene. All of which I took as a sort of apology from the show for her short run.

Liz Kelly: Entirely possible. She did look different in that scene -- mainly the hair. But then the costume department does seem to do a pretty good job of changing the characters' looks for flashbacks, so who knows.

Jen Chaney: You're right about that. She also came back for the ghost moment with Michael. So it's not like she hasn't come back before.

We'll see. Maybe she'll change her mind. In the past, LindeCuse have always spoke positively about her.

Liz Kelly: And other than an upcoming movie with Steve Zahn, it doesn't look like she's got much shaking.

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Woodbridge, VA: I love Season 3 the second time around (minus one episode involving diamonds and a couple of idiots who shall not be named).

Jen Chaney: Well, I'm just not sure who you are referring to, Woodbridge. I guess it will remain a mystery.

Perhaps we can do an "expose" and uncover the truth.

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Liz Kelly: So I have a question. Jen: Did you ever decide on your Lost-themed Halloween costume?

Jen Chaney: Yes. I decided not to go as anything from "Lost" because I don't have time to make it a really good costume.

So it's down to pulling together some sort of ridiculous goth outfit or (per my husband's suggestion) going as a roller derby girl. I can't quite see myself on skates for the duration of Halloween day, though.

Liz Kelly: Ooh, roller derby girl would rock. Maybe you could just wear Converse high tops and carry the skates?

Jen Chaney: Well, that's cheating, isn't it? But I'll consider.

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Plotting Ahead: In general, people who say "they're just making it up as they go along" are, first, not really watching the show. But also ignoring how fiction is written.

Any good novel, play, film, etc. is revised and re-written several times. Of course you never see the author go back and change Chapter 2 to better fit with Chapter 5. With a serialized show, the authors have no choice, though, but to put it out there, and then make what corrections they can when actors and budgets force changes.

I guess in some ways the world of Lost is the writer's ideal world: they could go back to Season 1 and tell themselves to make changes to avoid the problems they had the first time through.

Jen Chaney: That's a great, great point. I think people say "they are making it up" because they can't believe the ultimate ending will match what Lindelof and JJ Abrams originally came up with. But Lindelof swears that it will. And I don't see why that's not possible, for all the reasons you mentioned.

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Liz Kelly: Okily dokily, that's it for this week. Thanks for turning up. You can try to escape this chat, but it's impossible. Course correction. So just give in. And don't wear red shoes.

For next week, we're watching "Stranger in a Strange Land," "Tricia Tanaka Is Dead" and "Enter 77." See you back here next Thursday.

Jen Chaney: And how can you not want to tune in for the Bai Ling episode, after we've repeatedly sung its praises?

See you in another life. And by that I mean, next Thursday at 3.

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Editor's Note: washingtonpost.com moderators retain editorial control over Discussions and choose the most relevant questions for guests and hosts; guests and hosts can decline to answer questions. washingtonpost.com is not responsible for any content posted by third parties.


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