Thursday, August 12, 2010

30 Day TV Challenge - Day 7: "It was imaginary peanut butter, actually."

7. Least favorite episode of your favorite show.
Season 1, Episode 15
(Spoilers. Couldn't get around it this time. If you'd like to avoid them, bail after the first paragraph.)

Picking my least favorite episode of Lost was actually even easier than choosing a favorite. Because "Homecoming" is the one I most wanted to skip over during my recent rewatch of the series. Now, I should point out that it's actually not that bad -- it's not the worst episode the show ever did, as far as actual quality is concerned; that might be something like "Adrift," or maybe "Stranger in a Strange Land," which was so awful it kick-started the writers out of complacency and forced them into "We need to wrap this up" mode, resulting in the rollercoaster final three seasons. But the prompt asks for my least favorite episode, and while those episodes were bad, they were also interesting failures. "Adrift" ends with a banging cliffhanger and features a few great character beats with Michael and Sawyer; "Stranger" at least tries to mine some insightful psychological drama from Jack's backstory, even if it's undone by poor writing and worse acting (thank you for coming, Bai Ling). "Homecoming," on the other hand, is just plain boring. It's lazy, ham-fisted, over-obvious, ridden with clichés and concludes with one of Lost's most bald-faced attempts at avoiding a narrative resolution.

Charlie Pace is actually a character I short-changed quite a bit during Lost's original run. The second time around, I found him to be quite a bit more compelling, thanks largely to Dominic Monaghan's giddy performance. But "Homecoming" -- Charlie's second flashback episode -- fails him on every level. They gloss over (read: delay) revelations about Claire's disappearance by chalking it up to amnesia -- yes, amnesia, the hoariest soap opera cliché of them all -- then spend the rest of the episode telegraphing the inevitable end: Charlie guns down a potential plot thread before it can go anywhere.

It's telegraphed, of course, by the flashbacks -- while all of Lost's flashback stories reflect and illuminate the present events, "Homecoming" deals them way too on-the-nose. Charlie feels responsible for what happened to Claire and is afraid he won't be able to take care of her -- sure, we got it. Do we need a woman from Charlie's past coming right out and telling us, spelling out the theme, "You'll never take care of anyone"? And when it's over, no one seems all that bothered by the idea that Charlie has murdered a man in cold blood; no one seems to mind that much that he's killed their only lead into the mystery of the Others. No one knows why he took Claire, no one knows where he came from, no one knows anything.

And it's not just me that hates "Homecoming": Damon Lindelof, the show's co-creator, claims it's also his least favorite. He said that it's "as flawed on almost every single level that an episode of Lost could be." And he wrote "Homecoming." It's good to know that someone agrees with me.

No comments:

Post a Comment