Home > Lost, Reviews, TV > Lost, Season 2, Episode 3: Orientation

Lost, Season 2, Episode 3: Orientation

Welcome to the Lost Re-Re-Rewatch Project. In case you’re wondering, the answer is yes. This is my fourth round-trip to the Island, but my first time attempting to chronicle my thoughts on the show on an episode-by-episode basis. The mission: A post per episode. Nothing so epic and theory-heavy as Doc Jensen’s great stuff at EW.com, which I highly suggest you read (the theory game is a bit moot at this point anyway), but hopefully it will help scratch both my writing itch and my Lost itch at the same time.

Episode Title:Orientation

Overall Episode Rating: A-

“Orientation” is a delight to the Lostophiles among us, because it symbolizes, better than any other single episode, the beginning of Lost’s geeky subculture. With this episode we make our first acquaintance with the Dharma Initiative, Dr. Pierre Chang (aka Dr. Marvin Candle) and Helen Norwood (played by the spectacular Katey Sagal). We’re also treated to the single most memorable Jack-Locke debate.

As one of the aforementioned Lostophiles, I could go on for hours about “Orientation,” but this post has literally already paralyzed me for a month, and if this project is to ever continue, I have to get past it. Most of my posts from here on out may take a bit of an abbreviated tone (or at least “listy,” in the magazine parlance) so please forgive me. I’ll let video do the talking for me where applicable. I’m happy to have conversations about deeper points in the comments or on Facebook.

Without further adieu, seven things I loved about this episode:

1. Katy Fu**ing Sagal. To know Katey’s character, Helen Norwood, is to know the full depth of tragedy faced by one John Locke, which we explore more deeply in this flashback. We knew he was a sad soul, screwed of a life and his kidney by a con man of a father, but this episode puts him right up there with Hamlet on the list of tragic figures in fiction. You see, Locke found love. And he found it in the warm, caring embrace of Mrs. Peg Bundy. Okay, that’s not fair. With this role (and most certainly her current role on Sons of Anarchy) Sagal has most definitely broken out from the shadow of her buxom, unfulfilled housewife. But my God, just how good of an actress is she? Anyway, they meet at a sad-sack therapy session, and soon they’re sleeping together and by all accounts a couple. But John has one hang-up: He won’t stay the night. Instead he drives to his father’s estate and sits outside the gate. Why? We don’t know, and neither does Helen. Neither does John, really. His father–again played with smarmy awesomeness by Kevin Tighe–comes out and tells him point-blank that he’s “not wanted.” (“Why?” Locke asks. “There is no why,” his ass of a father says. Ah, the anti-Lost argument in a nutshell.) But Locke keeps coming back. In the flashback’s final scene, he seemingly picks Helen over his father, but not before she has to throw his car keys over the estate wall in order to ensure he’ll keep the key to HER apartment. It’s just another in series worth of flawless Locke back story.

Question: Is Katey Sagal/Terry O’Quinn the best character actress/actor hookup in TV history? I’m voting yes.

2. We learn more about the computer. Early in the episode we finally get the result of the Jack/Locke/Desmond standoff in the hatch. Desmond accidentally shoots the computer, which he thinks has to have a code (Hurley’s numbers) entered into it every 108 minutes or the world will end. When he sees it can’t be fixed he runs, and Sayid is called to save the day. Do they fix the computer? Do they continue to push the button? We shall see.

3. Desmond’s mini-story. We’ll learn a lot more about Des down the road, but here we get the short version. He was in a sailing race around the world, and he crashed on the Island. He was rescued by a fellow named Kelvin, who is now dead, who trained him to push the button and convinced him he couldn’t go outside. When he finds out the outside is not, in fact, poisonous, he runs. But Jack, who recognizes him as the man he talked to in the LA Colosseum years ago, follows, and they have a pretty killer conversation in the woods.

4. The Hatch’s mysteries come into focus. Before he flees, Desmond downloads what he knows about the Hatch. The button, the supposed reason for the button. Jack challenges him on whether he had ever suspected that it was all a big hoax, and Desmond’s answer (delivered in his wonderful Scottish accent) is classic:

“Every — single — day. And for all our sakes, I hope it’s not real. But the film says this is an electromagnetic station. And I don’t know about you, brother, but every time I walk past that concrete wall out there, my fillings hurt.”

Later, after Desmond is gone and Jack is harassing Locke, who is in a tizzy to fix the computer, Locke says this: “”Is the reason you’re so upset because he recognized you? Because that would be impossible.”

5. The Swan Orientation film. This is where shiz gets weird, and Lost enters territory inaccessible to many fans. Desmond alerts them to a bit of film, hidden inside a book (Turn of the Screw, a novella by Henry James), which explains at least in part the station’s purpose. Here it is in its entirety.

The highlights: He explains what the Dharma Initiative is (basically scientific socialism), mentions of the DeGroots and Alvar Hanso, and a reference to an “Incident” which diverted the station from its original purpose to the current electro-magnetic gatekeeper that it is today.

The best part: Locke’s response. “We’re going to need to watch that again.” Indeed.

6. Meanwhile, across the Island… Locke, Jin and Michael are thrown in a pit by the people who attacked them. They sit there for a while, and then they throw in a woman… the same woman, close observers will realize, who Jack spoke to at the airport bar in Sydney in the Season 1 finale. Hmm… She explains that she survived from the tail section and was also captured. She’s amazed to find out 40 others survived from the front of the plane. Just when Sawyer is about to jump their captors, she attacks, and is pulled out. She’s working with the other folks, and we can only presume that they are also survivors. The cast is about to get a whoooooole lot bigger.

7. Jack vs. Locke II: After his conversation with Desmond, while Locke, Sayid and Hurley are trying to decide whether to push the button in the hatch, Jack returns. Hurely (knowing the numbers are bad, as we discussed in previous posts) is about to let Locke enter the wrong final number, but Jack corrects him. Locke tells Jack he needs to be a part of this, but Jack balks. The exchange is classic:

And if you want it in Auto-Tune, here you go:

Then Locke says: “I can’t do this alone, Jack. I don’t want to.” (Smack of Lord of the Rings, right?) And guess who pushes the button? Jack.


“Oh, I want to love you more than Ed O’Neill, but see… his show is still winning Emmys.”

Episode: “Orientation”

Director: Jack Bender

What the title means: For the castaways it means an orientation to the mysteries of the hatch, both figuratively and literally, in the form of the Swan Orientation film watched by Jack and Locke. For Lost viewers, it’s an orientation into just how much of a mind-eff the rest of the series is going to be.

Best Scene: As much as I like revisiting the first Dharma Initiative video, there’s no comparison to the final showdown between Jack and Locke. “Believing” vs. “non-believing” is the whole thrust of the show, and these two deliver their lines so well.

Worst Scene: I guess the stuff in the pit with Sawyer and Ana Lucia, just because Michelle Rodriguez is involved. I’m also a little befuddles as to how even Sayid, the By-Cracky Iraqi, can fix a computer with a bullet hole in it in less than 40 minutes.

Best Line: 

Drama category: “We’re going to need to watch that again.” Locke after the orientation video speaks for 3/4 of the Lost audience, most of who probably did not have DVR in 2005.

Comedy category: “The next time Shaft opens the cage, I’m going to surprise him with a little Howdy Doody.” Sawyer to Ana Lucia, planning to pull a gun on their African captor. Ah, Mr. Southerner… you have such a way with words.

Best Throwaway Moment: In Desmond’s frantic escape from the hatch, we’re treated to a lingering look at a photo of him and a comely blonde woman, which he neglects to take with him. I wonder if we’ll see that photo again? A Penny for your thoughts, Mr. Hume…

Revelations: Locke had a love, named Helen; a group called the Dharma Initiative ran the hatch, and a video outlines the need to push a button every 108 minutes; there’s (at least) one other survivor of the plane, and she and other have Michael, Sawyer and Jin captive; this is going to be one complicated damn show.

Next Episode: “Everybody Hates Hugo”

(All images and ep-title links are courtesy Lostpedia.com)

Categories: Lost, Reviews, TV
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