On TV: Lost, 'Some Like It Hoth'
The most novel element of Lost's signature flashback format is that by letting each episode explore a different character, the series effectively allows underrated supporting actors to be a show lead at least once a year. That's reason enough to like "Some Like It Hoth," which revolved around this season's barely-used Miles (played by Ken Leung, whose sarcasm-spitting is increasingly welcome as the show ventures into more and more outlandish territory). But while the episode did right by its supporting characters, it's what the show's been doing wrong with Matthew Fox's Jack that caught most of my attention.
Namely, what's Jack's motivation? In the early seasons, it was to get off the island, and the masterstroke of Season 4 was in juxtaposing Jack's realization of that goal with flashforwards that broke his will until he finally wanted to go back. But now that he is back, he's just standing around waiting for something to do, and since he's putatively the main character and the one the series has spent the most time building up, the air is slowly being let out of this show's stakes as a result. He's been utterly aimless for the entire latter half of this season -- more, if you take into account how subservient he was to Ben in his quest to return to the island.
It's right around this time that the internet will protest, "But the show is better with less Jack!" because if there's one thing the internet hates, it's main characters on television shows (especially female leads). But unfortunately, this lack of a motivation is something that's affecting all the Lost characters right now as we come hurtling into the home stretch. Check it out:
Jack: Just hanging out until someone tells him what to do.
Locke: Just hanging out until the island tells him what he should be doing.
Desmond: Just hanging out, off the island and practically off the show entirely.
Kate: Ostensibly looking for Claire, but so utterly nonplussed by the fact that she's in a completely different time period that she's just gonna hang out and look for Claire when she gets born, maybe? At that point, it'll be totally easy. Babies are a cinch to find.
Sayid: Just hanging out? Who knows, it's been forever since we've seen him.
I kind of figured that once they returned to the island in the wrong era, most of the characters would be trying to figure out a way to get back where they're supposed to be. But not really! And don't get me wrong, there's still a lot happening on the show -- it's just that it's happening to the characters, instead of happening because of them. Are the producers really going to make Jack a janitor, give him two inessential scenes (one where he's cleaning a chalkboard!) per episode, and then expect the same level of investment when they presumably reactivate him as a main character for the final season?
But anyway, how about Ken Leung's lips, huh?