Wednesday, January 15, 2014

LOST Rewatch: Special
Walt! Walt!
The first four words (and more, but I quit counting) out of Michael's mouth to start this episode. If this is not your first time watching the show, this should make your eyelid twitch uncontrollably. And, yes, this is another portent of things to come. (I suppose that you are tired of me saying that, but I defend myself that this is the nature of a retrospective look back with foreknowledge.)

Still . . . Michael is looking for Walt. (He's almost as bad as the Walking Dead's Rick looking for Carl. Actually . . . Michael should be angry that Sheriff Rick stole his shtick. Nobody searches for his absent son better than Michael!)

And Michael's search leads him to Locke. All roads in recent episodes seem to lead to Locke, don't they? And now, where there is Locke, there will be Boone. He has abandoned his Shannon-stalking to be Locke's lickspittle. He is Robin to Locke's Batman. He is Lies to Kate's mouth.

Michael thinks Boone's sycophancy is weird. But he thinks Locke's knife-throwing tutelage of his boy is wrong for Walt. And he warns Locke to stay away. Locke tries to give Michael his patented Mystical Lord of the Flies speech. Michael is unmoved. He warns Locke to stay away and he stalks back to the caves with his son. Walt, for his part, is petulant in ways that only a ten-year-old can be. (Aggrieved parents know what I'm saying.) Why, such parents think, can't Walt appreciate the hard work that Michael is undertaking for his son?

Well, we learn more of why in this episode's Flashback--which explains that Michael was estranged from his baby momma, who took Walt to Amsterdam, then to Italy, then to Sydney while she was a lawyer. And she also married her law partner, who originally got her the job in Amsterdam. And they formally adopted Walt. Michael wasn't happy with any of this, but 1.) he had no legal standing, 2.) he was a largely unemployed artist and part-time construction worker not getting it done, and 3.) when he headed off to confront his estranged girlfriend in Amsterdam, he got hit by a taxi and was in the hospital for months.

So, Walt grew up not knowing anything about Michael. And Walt's mom kept it that way. (She never gave Walt the hand-drawn cards and illustrated letters that Michael faithfully sent him.) But then . . . much like the ill-timed taxi, another plot contrivance stepped in to throw everyone's world upside down. The mother died of a sudden blood disorder and the adopted father lawyer just decided in his grief to bail on 10-year-old Walt and give him up to Michael.

By this time, unfortunately, Michael had moved on with his life. He is therefore understandably surprised to hear that a.) his former girlfriend is suddenly dead and b.) the douchebag father is abandoning Walt. But Michael is a decent guy and tries to do the right thing. He arrives in Sydney to take Walt home with him to America. He doesn't tell the truth about what a tool Walt's adopted father is. And the two board Flight 815--strangers to one another.

Back on the Island, Michael is taking Walt's peevishness with anger, but he unloads most of that on Locke. And he decides to start building a raft. Because he thinks this Island is no place for his son to grow up. And no one else is doing much to escape. While he is sorting building materials, Walt slinks off into the jungle to follow the much cooler pair of Locke and Boone. But in the course of events, Walt gets lost, gets cornered by (another!) polar bear, and relies on the teamed up efforts of Michael and Locke to get saved.

Walt learns to respect his dad a bit more. Michael learns to respect Locke, who is trying to be an (odd) decent fellow. And everything seems to even out in the end.*

*NOTE: Fans of this episode will note that I didn't bother to explain the meaning of this episode title, which is a reference to Walt's "supposed" specialness. But I don't think this episode or the series as a whole did a very good job of explaining this subplot at all. Walt's adopted father thought that because an Australian songbird hit the sliding glass doors on the same day that Walt was studying that bird in a book is enough evidence for him? Viewers might try to say that the appearance of another polar bear at the same time that Walt was intensively studying the Spanish language comic book that also featured a polar bear is another bit of evidence.

And of course, there are future events in later seasons that might play on this thread. But let's be honest, shall we? Of all the subplots on LOST . . . and goodness knows there are MANY, this was by far the weakest one. The less said about it the better.


Set me straight in comments.

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