Famed comic writer Brian K. Vaughn made his LOST debut tonight with the episode “Catch-22”, co-written by LOST producer and writer Jeff Pinkner. Was Vaughn’s presence palpable? In a word, no. But, in this case, that is a the right word. Catch-22 Was an amazing ‘diversionary’ episode with fantastically executed thematic elements, and one heck of a pulp ending that ranks with LOST’s best old school cliff hanger hits.
Catch-22 is a Desmond story, and as such, one expects weirdness from the get go, and that is exactly what you get. The episode opens with Desmond, Hurley, Jin, and Charlie walking through the jungle. While Hurley and Charlie argue over who is faster, Superman or The Flash – alright maybe Vaughn is palpable – Charlie triggers one of Danielle’s infamous traps and winds up with a mean looking arrow through his throat. Desmond holds him in his arms as Jin pleads with him to help Charlie, but Desmond, pained look and all, simply declines, allowing Charlie to expire in his arms.
This is all a red herring of course, a vision that Desmond has of the future. But it is not Charlie’s death that makes this vision so important to the temporally afflicted Scotsman, it is the vision of his beloved Penny, and a light in the sky. Someone is coming to the island. Quickly, he gathers everyone who was present in the vision to sets about making sure everything goes off just as he saw it.
Now this is the real story of the episode, the other ‘stuff’ concerns the romantic posturing between Kate, Sawyer, Jack, and Juliet. Kate seems willing to let her caged heat with Sawyer simmer on the back burner while she feels out Jack, until she figures out that Jack is caught in Juliet’s gravitational field; at that point, it’s time for a little unprovoked hot sex with an unsuspecting Sawyer. Meanwhile, the conman himself has noticed that a filament still runs between Kate and Jack, no matter how tenuous, and decides to work things out mano-a-mano, over the ping pong table.
I’m not a big fan of the romance factor, I’m one of the guys who was quick with the ‘who cares’ when the question of who Kate would choose was being drilled into our heads by ABC’s soap opera obsessed marketing department, but this little bit with the ping pong was sheer genius. Both actors did a tremendous job of channel their angst into those paddles while less direct conversation took place overhead. In the midst of it, you definitely got the message “Stay away from my girl”, as easily as the cheeky response “She’s all yours buddy” spoken with the language of ping pong.
The flashback was brilliant. LOST hits its high note in this department when the theme of the flashback impacts with the present day story. Not only did that happen, but it happened with almost superior timing. As Desmond of the past tries to hide the shame of being a run away groom at the local monastery, he begins to ponder the nature of sacrifice, questioning the irony of sacrifice while his future self lives out the role of Abraham to Charlie’s Isaac.
In the end, Desmond finds he is no Abraham, but then again, his quest is not at all similar either. It has more in common with the shame that he was trying to leave behind, then the destiny that he was trying to achieve at the cost of another man’s life.
In the end it all works out for the better. Charlie lives, and Desmond finds his girl from the sky, but this girl is not his beloved Penny. It is a girl packing a Portuguese version of Catch-22, and a hula girl bobble head. Yet, even though this girl is not Penny, she knows Desmond plenty well. Well enough to speak his name before passing out and leaving us staring gaped mouth at the black screen with the word “LOST” in the middle.
The episode was not the march forward through island mythology that one of us was. The others were mentioned only once, and then in jest. What it was, however, was an excellently paced, cleverly written road movie with just enough subtext to satisfy LOST’s more heady viewers, and more then enough new possibilities to keep the rest of tuning in for the next round. Welcome on board Brian K. Vaughn. You rock!
– Jon Lachonis, BuddyTV Senior Writer
(Image Copyright © 2007 ABC)