I swear that Boone is engineered purely to annoy me. He’s like Jack with none of the upside. He jumps into any fight, even ones he will certainly lose, he has a shrill tendency to stand up for pointless things, and he’s really kind of a jerk to his sister (who, to be fair, dishes it right back at him). For the second week in a row, we’re faced with a problematic flashback that makes the character thoroughly unlikable. Suffice to say, I did not go into “Hearts and Minds” expecting to enjoy it. Imagine my surprise when I actually found it to be pretty okay.
Note that I didn’t say good. The fact of the matter is, we just don’t see enough of Boone in Lost to make him much more than an annoyance. He just seems to be made up of spare parts from other characters. He’s impulsive, like Jack! He tags along, like Kate! He’s kind of a weiner, like Charlie! Except all three of those characters are better-acted and more fleshed-out. Our experience with Boone is limited to his theft of the camp’s water in “White Rabbit,” a truly stupid plot point. And he comes around occasionally to scold Shannon for not helping.
Boone’s relationship with Shannon is the centerpiece of this episode, and it does help to flesh it out some. As I’ve mentioned earlier, Shannon seems to fulfill all of the nasty things Boone says about her, and then Boone says even more nasty stuff. She acts like Paris Hilton because its expected of her, and Boone feeds into that bigtime. We also discover that there is some, um, involvement between the two of them. As ick-inducing as this is, it does make a certain amount of sense. They bicker like a couple whose relationship is on the rocks. They treat each other like dirt too. Boone tries to buy off Shannon’s boyfriend, and then she tries to fleece him by stealing the money from him. Basically, no one comes out of the flashback smelling like roses. That makes the flashback kind of a slog. Even if it works, I felt like I needed a shower afterwards. I also have issues with the whole path-of-dreams angle on the Island. It’s hard to not feel a little jerked around by Shannon’s “death,” and the it-was-all-a-dream resolution feels like a cheat. The bottom line is, the main plot of the episode just isn’t that good. It takes a lot of character miscalculations and gimmicky plot points, then combines them with some thoroughly unpleasant stuff.
So why do I still feel positive about “Hearts and Minds?” Well, in analyzing Boone, the episode tells us almost as much about John Locke, and there’s some very cool stuff there. Locke is beginning to use some interesting language. He mentions that they will want Sayid on “our side.” And when Boone asks him why they can’t tell the other Losties about the hatch, he responds that they aren’t ready yet. Locke seems to be sensing a coming divide between the survivors. He’s of course right, although those divides will usually be his doing. And it’s not just Locke who sees conflict on the horizon. Jack is checking on Locke. His trust in Locke seems to be faltering somewhat. No doubt part of his discomfort is the fact that the other survivors, like Charlie, seem completely sold that Locke is a survival genius. For the first time, Locke is beginning to build his own following, through little spirit-guide moments and few words. He always looks like he knows what he’s doing, even though he’s sort of faking.
The rest of the episode is pretty standard stuff. There’s the fluff subplot of Hurley and Jin, and it’s cute but forgettable. Overall, the pacing seems to be bogging down a little too. I wish that we could get to know Boone a little more, and I wish his story wasn’t so disappointing. But the little political moments on the Island sort of redeem the sagging parts, and it balances out to be an okay episode. It won’t win any awards, and the slow pace of some of these season one stories is starting to wear on me. But for right now, we’ll let this one slide.
- Locke tells Boone to “let go.” Not the first time we’ll hear that.
- Hey look! The first hint of electromagnetic anomalies on the Island! That’s sort of important.
- I like the moment where Hurley tries to convince Jin to pee on his foot. The timing is very funny.
- Sawyer turns up in the police station in the flashback. According to Lostpedia (the Lost writer’s best friend), this is the first connection between main characters in a flashback. How ’bout that?
- I wonder how early the writers knew that the Smoke Monster was actually smoke? Shannon’s “death” sure feels consistent with what we see later from the monster. (Spoiler alert: there’s a monster on the island made of smoke)
- The first true romantic overtures between Sayid and Shannon. Oooh, be careful Sayid! Boone’ll get ya!
- Alright, next up is “Special.” See you on Friday.