Critics Ponder “What They Died For”
May 19th, 2010
Trapped between perhaps the most divisive episode in the show’s history and a sprawling two and a half hour finale shrouded in mystery, “What They Died For” is a bit tough to “criticize.” Generally speaking, the episode was dramatically strong and effective at providing momentum heading into the finale, but with no guarantees that the payoff will live up to our expectations there is this sense of uncertainty which means that this weeks reviews from critics are sort of hedging their bets.
Normally, you might claim this is in some way counterproductive, but it means that critics are focused on making connections to past episodes and offering their own takes on how the developments in this episode apply to larger ideas within Lost as a whole. It makes for another strong week of Lost criticism, as the setup work done in “What They Died For” is mirrored by critics setting up their own perspectives on the series as we head into Sunday’s finale.
So, let’s take a journey around the internet to see what the critics are saying, shall we?
“The Target” & “The Detail”
Season One, Episodes One & Two
In my year and a half of television criticism here at Cultural Learnings, I have run into a number of roadblocks due to my lack of knowledge with a particular era of television. As I noted back when The Sopranos was finishing, I never got into the HBO drama – not only am I slightly too young, but my TV addiction is still a relatively recent phenomenon. I am a network television viewer of the Lost generation, and sometimes that hurts.
No better example of this than was earlier this year, when David Simon’s HBO series The Wire was entering its fifth season. I couldn’t go to any of my usual TV criticism sites without hearing about how amazing the series was, and how wonderful the fifth season would be, and how there was absolutely no way anyone could jump into this novel-like series in its fifth season. I, knee deep in thesis work, was unable to commit to watching four seasons in the spring, and as a result I had to be the odd man out when it came to the powerful conclusion to this epic Baltimore tale.
But I’ve come to make amends: just as the magic of DVD is allowing me to revisit Six Feet Under (Which I’ll probably save for when I complete the series), The Wire has officially entered into my rotation. Normally, I might keep such an old catalogue title to myself, but Alan Sepinwall is currently revisiting the first season as part of his summer blogging schedule. And while I’m going to have to stick to his “Newbies” posts in favour of keeping myself free of serious spoilers for what’s to come, I figured that the more people talk about what is (thus far, and by all accounts) a fantastic series the better for my readers, readers everywhere, and maybe even the show’s long-shot Emmy chances.
For now, however, time to dig into the first two episodes of the series like I’d dig into an order of Chicken McNuggets.