Thursday, March 19, 2009

Episode Review - 5x09 "Namaste"

A brown stain on the ceiling became a living, breathing person. A hardened killer became an innocent baby. And a once-fearless leader was reduced to an insignificant workman. Such was the material that compiled last night’s episode “Namaste,” the ninth episode of the fifth season. And what wonderful material it was.

A two week break followed March 4th’s “LaFleur,” and even this small hiatus was enough to have Lost fans chomping at the bit to see the first words spoken between Sawyer and Kate in three years. But when TV’s reigning island drama returned last night, it was instead Hurley who got the first word in, bear-hugging Sawyer and whooping with joy, followed by a polite greeting from Jack and the predictably warm response from Kate. It’s obvious that the sparks between them have faded from their time apart, and it seems like they both know it.

However surprisingly, this was not the show-stopping point of the episode, even though it was likely the most anticipated. While not revealing anything major, several small bits of mythology were created or wrapped up. The most notable mythological aspect of the show was the appearance of Radzinsky.

We had only heard of Radzinsky up until this point, with his suicide being mentioned by Kelvin Inman in the second season finale, “Live Together, Die Alone.” And though it took two-and-a-half years to get around to it, we finally get to see the owner of that brown splotch on the Swan’s ceiling. Played by small-time television player Eric Lange, Radzinsky was first seen arguing with Jin over using equipment in the Flame. To tell the truth, the character of Radzinsky wasn’t as exciting as the reveal was. The character seems like Frogurt 2.0, an annoying character that serves no purpose other than to be obstinate and troublesome. The only interesting moment with the character thus far has been the model of the Swan station, suggesting that Radzinsky also had a hand in the conception of the Swan, instead of just occupying it. It’s obvious that the character will return next week, and I sincerely hope that the character has more depth added to him.

Another wonderful reveal was the identity of Horace and Amy’s baby, who turned out to be none other than the vengeful Other Ethan, who terrorized the survivors throughout the show’s first season, and had been periodically reappearing as recently as this season’s opener, “Because You Left.” The moment is shocking for Juliet, who was recruited to the Island by Ethan. It’s interesting to see ends that you didn’t know were loose tied up. And, come to think of it, Ethan does look a little like Amy.

Jack’s assignment as a workman was both a comedic relief from the intensity of the episode, as well as a significant character development that signifies Jack’s further downfall. The once-powerful leader of the castaways, who made critical decisions which sometimes resulted in life and death, has now been reduced to nothing more than a janitor, a contemporary of the pitiful Roger Linus, and a non-important part of the DHARMA Initiative. If Sawyer chose the jobs for the survivors, he certainly chose this job to further humiliate Jack for all his persecution of Sawyer during the first four seasons. Well played, Mr. LaFleur, well played.

Naveen Andrews was wonderful in this episode as the extremely unlucky Sayid, who was separated from the other three survivors by chance, and was instead forced into an antagonistic position with DHARMA, even though he is innocent. However, one wonders how long that innocence will last, especially after his expression upon meeting a young Ben. I suspect that he’ll want some revenge for the ceaseless manipulation caused by the bug-eyed puppet master. And did anyone notice the irony in that last scene? When Sayid met Ben for the first time in “One of Them,” Ben was a prisoner of Rousseau. When Ben met Sayid for the first time in last-nights showstopper, Sayid was a prisoner of DHARMA. The writers are smart, guys.

And let’s not forget about our 316-ers, the new set of castaways who landed on the Hydra Island. The crash is recreated from Frank’s perspective, and shows the plane’s crash on the Island, including their discovery of the runway. This begs for the question: was the runway built for this purpose? Was it commissioned by Ben, who somehow could tell it would be needed in the future? Or is the runway simply a coincidence, meant for something besides Flight 316? Only time will tell.

Caesar was certainly not my favorite character in this episode – though of course, new characters who act as though they know more than older characters always annoy me. Frank, however, was wonderful in this episode – it’s just great to see him back on the island. I was sure that we wouldn’t see him again after season four, and I am certainly glad to be proven wrong. Jeff Fahey is a wonderful actor, even though I can’t look at him shaven without thinking of Jobe from The Lawnmower Man.

Christian Shephard’s appearance this episode was well-crafted; the slow, silhouetted reveal was perfect for the tensions in the scene, and his interactions with Sun in the eerily abandoned barracks were both mysterious and invigorating. “A bit of a journey ahead of you,” brings me that warm, tingling feeling that comes when I know a great storyline is ahead. Speaking of the abandoned Barracks, I wonder how they became so desolate. Is it a result of the monster’s rampage through them in “The Shape of Things to Come?” Or is it something else?

Overall, I liked the episode. The most common complaint I’ve heard was that was a filler/transition episode to get the characters where they need to be for future storylines. And that’s probably true. However, not every episode can be an action-packed, game-changing episode. The season has probably hit its midseason lull, but I don’t think that will last for more than this episode.

Mysteries have been created, and a few solved. What will next week’s episode, “He’s Our You” bring? Will we find out how Sun will be reunited with Jin? Will the introduction of Kate cause tension between Sawyer and Juliet? Will Jack clean his first bathroom? It’s impossible to tell (unless you’re a spoiler person – which I’m not), but I can tell you one thing. It’ll undoubtedly be the best piece of television next week.

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