I confess, when I first watched Lost, I did a lot of thumb-twiddling. It felt like the show hadn’t quite gotten to the point of being AMAZING yet, even though I had genuinely enjoyed some episodes. Still didn’t break through for me though. However, “Solitary” changed all that. This is the episode where I began to really believe in Lost, where all of the hints and murmurs finally began to be worth something to me. Therefore, it’s easy to say that “Solitary” was an early favorite of mine.
It’s not hard to see why I was so taken with this episode early on. It gives an enormous amount of context, and finally we begin to see the scope of the mythology of Lost, even if it’s just in whispers and shadows. Of course, this is the episode when Sayid, who has left the other survivors because of his guilt over torturing Sawyer, finally comes face to face with Danielle Rousseau. Of course, Rousseau is the French woman in the transmission that the survivors heard in Pilot. Now she has Sayid captive, and she demands to know the location of “Alex,” whom we later discover is her daughter. Sayid also has a difficult time convincing her that he isn’t one of “them,” although we don’t yet know to whom Danielle refers.
This was all very exciting the first time through, but on the second time I was amazed at the sheer volume of mythology that gets planted for the first time in this episode. The Black Rock, the Others, the sickness, and the French team are all referred to for the first time in”Solitary.” Not only that, but there’s the considerable revelation that there is someone else on this island, another living breathing person who has lived for 16 years. That she seems to be rather insane isn’t encouraging, but it just blows open the scope of the show. No longer was Lost a supernatural version of Survivor. There’s a lot more going on now, and it’s very exciting to see those seeds planted.
Of course, viewers don’t live on mythology alone, and there are some really great emotional cues as well. Sayid’s struggle between light and darkness is something that dominates the entire arc of the character, right until the end. A lot of it stems from his pursuit of Nadia, who also makes her first appearance here. Like I’ve said before, it took a lot of nerve to introduce a character as a member of the Republican Guard, particularly during the height of the US presence in Iraq. However, it’s impossible to not relate to Sayid, a man who feels like he is doomed to be evil. I think that he is so taken by Nadia, because she doesn’t think for a minute that he is a total monster. She treats him like a man, who has the unfortunate tendency to torture people. I also noticed that Sayid essentially says that his obsession with Nadia has actually been something of a bad thing. It’s held him back from the other survivors, and from interacting with life in general. I think that actually is an important point, and it informs a lot of what we see about the two of them later on.
What else is happening on the island? Well, Hurley has created a golf course, and the rest of the survivors have a grand old time playing a couple of holes, even though I imagine it’d be brutal to putt in that stuff. It’s a light-hearted moment that actually feels a little like release. For the first time, we can see that this show also has room for some levity. It fits in very well with Hurley’s character, and it rounds out what I consider to be one of the best episodes of season 1. Suddenly, Lost has turned into must-see TV.
- The coolest thing about the golf subplot is that it sets up a lot of little interactions that will pay off later. For example, Walt turns to Locke for a little more fatherly presence. Sawyer begins to see that he doesn’t have to be a villain. Smooth writing, that.
- Favorite touch in the golf scene: the return from the act break, where Jack and Michael discuss Jack’s shot. Nice bait-and-switch.
- I wonder why Michael never finished those showers. I imagine a lot of people would have thanked him.
- Sayid says, “I’m not sick.” FORESHADOWING??
- Jack: “Things could be worse.” Hurley: “HOW?” We love you, Hurley.
- Tune in on Friday for “Raised By Another”