Tuesday, June 14, 2011

"Lost" Fifteen Favorites: "Through the Looking Glass"

“We have to go back, Kate. We have to go back!”

So if you haven’t been able to tell from the “Friday Night Lights” post from Friday, I’m taking the beginning of what I’m considering the summer season here at MTVP to finish two series of posts that should have been done a long time ago: Friday Night Lights season 4 and “Lost” Fifteen Favorites. Number three on the Fifteen Favorites list was the gamechanger for the entire series, the third season finale, “Through the Looking Glass.” As I mentioned on Saturday in my late discoveries post, this was the first episode of “Lost” I ever saw. I watched a recap show before it, so I could kind of figure out what was going on, but my main concern was whether or not the spoilers I had read about Charlie dying were really true. I was a massive Lord of the Rings fan at the time (still am, really), so that’s what ultimately drew me in. I think I already had heard a spoiler about flash forwards as well, so the moment that was really gamechanging about this episode didn’t really affect me all that much. I suppose I missed something special because of that, but there’s still a lot about this episode to enjoy. It’s the culmination of season 3, which is by far my favorite season of “Lost.” It’s kind of fun to hate on season 3, but I really like it. Desmond gets a great arc and a couple of centric episodes. Charlie has a great arc as well. Sawyer and Kate get together and then it promptly falls apart. Sawyer learns to be a leader of the Losties when he’s needed. Lots of good stuff.

I was going to try to structure this like my write-up of “Exodus” a few months back, but while watching, I realized that a big difference between “Exodus” and “Through the Looking Glass” is that in “Looking Glass,” there isn’t a whole lot in the way of iconic moments in part one. More of the really memorable stuff happens in part two. So there’s going to be a little bit of commentary on part one, than a rattling off of some of the best moments from part two. Of course you can’t discuss “Through the Looking Glass” without commenting on the switch to flash forwards. This breathed new life into the series for about a season, and it was a lot of fun trying to figure out what these early flash forwards meant. They were a good gag at the time, even if they probably don’t have as much impact once you’ve seen the whole series. The episode opens with an angsty, drunk Jack on a plane ride. The angst is really kicked into high gear when a flight attendant gives Jack a newspaper and he reads something troubling which later turns out to be an obituary. Then we see an angsty, drunk Jack about to jump off a bridge, only stopped by a woman crashing into his parked car.

One of the things that makes the flash forwards in these episodes intriguing instead of just pathetic is the contrast between an obvious low point in Jack’s life to a high in “present day” on the Island. He’s getting ready to lead his flock of Losties to the radio tower in the hopes of using Naomi’s satellite phone to get them all rescued. It’s rather epic, and it plays into Jack’s pathological need to be a hero and fix things. While Jack leads his people, Jin, Bernard, and Sayid stay behind. They are going to use their mad shooting skills to blow up three tents when the Others stop by to take all the women. This sounds rather silly out of context, doesn’t it? I promise, it’s really a rather genius plan! There’s a third part to the overall plan that’s going down, too. Others are in an underwater hatch called the Looking Glass jamming all signals to and from the Island. In order for Jack and Naomi to use the sat phone, the jamming signal needs to be disabled. Charlie makes it into the Looking Glass only to be greeted by two rather surly looking Other women. He spends most of the first half of the episode pestering them while tied up in a chair, which is rather amusing. Des makes his way down to the Looking Glass too, but he has to hide so the two women don’t realize Charlie has help.

The blow-up-the-Others plan doesn’t go quite as planned. Sayid and Bernard both make their shots and blow up two tents, killing seven Others in the process, but Jin, who has a pistol as opposed to the shotguns Sayid and Bernard were using, misses his shot. The three Lostie men are captured in the ensuing firefight, and when Ben finds out about the situation, he instructs Tom and his raiding party to kill Jin. Before any murder can happen, though, Bernard caves and tells the Others that the rest of the Losties are headed for the radio tower. Ben is losing his grip on his leadership position with the Others, Richard specifically warns him that everyone is getting antsy to get back to normal life, but Ben wants to go off and intercept the Losties at the radio tower by himself. He decides to take Alex along with him as a punishment, explaining it as giving her to her “new family.”

The only thing I really didn’t like in part one was there was some especially poor material regarding what I call the “Quadrangle of Doom” (aka Jack, Kate, Sawyer, and Juliet). Sawyer and Juliet are going to go try to rescue the three guys who stayed behind, and Kate, naturally, wants to come along. Sawyer gets nasty to keep Kate out of danger, telling her he hopes she isn’t pregnant. This just reminds me of future Quadrangle stupidity in Season 4’s “Eggtown.” Before she heads off with Sawyer, Juliet kissing Jack while Kate looks on witheringly. Make up your mind, Kate! Jack doesn’t really help Kate’s wishy-washyness when he tells her that Sawyer was trying to protect her, just like he does. And then Jack says he loves her. I’ve always found Jack and Kate to be rather nausea inducing, and this was no exception.

The real iconic moment of the episode all seem to occur in part two, so I’m going to run through just a few of my favorites. Ben and Alex meet up with the Losties, and Ben takes Jack aside for a chat. He warns Jack that Naomi’s not who she says she is, and everybody on the Island will die if a call is placed to her freighter. He wants Jack to give him the satellite phone, and he’s got some leverage. He calls Tom and his crew on the walkie talkie, and he tells Tom to kill Jin, Bernard, and Sayid if he doesn’t hear Ben’s voice within the next minute. Jack takes a gamble, doesn’t hand over the satellite phone, and after a minute passes, shots ring out over the walkie talkie. Jack’s face contorts more with each shot, and he becomes enrage. He beats the crap out of Ben, which is something that is always enjoyable. We then move into what I call the “dysfunctional family portrait,” which happens after Jack drags a bloodied Ben back to the rest of the Losties. Ben tells Alex that Rousseau is her mother, and the first thing Rousseau says to her daughter is “help me tie him up.” It’s a beautiful thing.

Over at the beach, Jin, Bernard, and Sayid aren’t dead after all. We discover this is one of my favorite scenes of the episode. Sawyer and Juliet arrive at the beach and realize they’re seriously outnumbered. All of a sudden, Hurley, who had been feeling rather useless, barrels through in his VW bus, runs one Other over, and creates enough of a distraction that Sawyer and Juliet can start taking care of the rest. Sayid even kills one Other with his feet. Which I thought was very badass. Sawyer gets himself a gun and points it at a cowering Tom. Sawyer shows no mercy, shooting and killing “Mr. Friendly” while saying “That’s for taking the kid off the raft!” The other Losties are a little taken aback, but he said he didn’t believe Tom when Tom asked for a truce. Sawyer probably had the right idea, given the Others’ history.

Then, of course, we get to the moment I dread every time I watch this episode. Evil, one-eyed Other Mikhail has been sent down to the Looking Glass by Ben to clean up Ben’s mess. He’s been instructed to kill everyone, including the two Other women in the hatch. Desmond shoots him with a spear gun, but while he and Charlie aren’t looking, Mikhail disappears. Charlie goes into the communications room and starts tapping out “Good Vibrations,” which one of the Other women had told him was the code for the jammer. I love that it’s a challenge Charlie is particularly suited for, because Charlie is so often on the periphery of the real action. Jammers off, Charlie gets a transmission from Penny. She knows nothing about the freighter approaching the Island, which is really bad news. Charlie calls Des to come speak with his girlfriend, but at that moment, Mikhail appears at the window of the communications room holding a grenade. Charlie shuts the door just in time to keep Des from getting hurt, too, and Mikhail sets of the grenade, sending water rushing into the communications room. Before he drowns, Charlie hastily scrawls a note to Des on his hand and presses it up against the window in the door. It says “NOT PENNY’S BOAT.”

The final flash forward of the episode is the most iconic and provides the first definitive proof that we have definitely switched over to flash forwards. Jack steps out of his car at LAX, where he had previously arranged a meeting with an unknown person over the phone. A second car pulls up, and out steps Kate. Jack says they’re not supposed to be in LA, and they need to get back to the Island, but Kate’s not having it. She seems perfectly content with her life in LA when a drunken and high Jack isn’t bothering her. Jack mentions the death that upset him on the plane ride at the beginning of the episode, but Kate doesn’t care. She seems to despise whoever the deceased was. Saying she needs to get back to someone (fans at the time speculated Sawyer, and though I wish that were true, they were most definitely wrong), Kate gets back in her car, leaving Jack standing alone.


  1. I’d wager that this is the greatest season finale of all time (series finales not included). Whenever someone asks me for an example of a classic season closer, I give them “Through The Looking Glass”.

  2. You know, you just might be right! When I finally got around to writing the final entries in this series and actually sat down and watched the season 1-3 finales again all around the same time, I think "Through the Looking Glass" does hold up the best in a lot of respects. Each of the plots were paced really well, and it was a real turning point for the show overall.