Ahh, Season 3 of Lost. Lost is one of my favorite shows, even at its worst it’s still better than most of the crap on TV, and the season ended pretty well. But, let’s face it. Season 3 was the worst season of Lost. Or, I guess it’d be more appropriate to say it’s the “least good” season of Lost.
Season 3 started off with the lackluster six-episode mini-arc in which Jack, Kate, and Sawyer are stuck in love triangle hell while held captive by the Others. Despite those six episodes not being that great, their saving grace is the introduction of the character of Juliet Burke, the sympathetic, blond Other (played by Elizabeth Mitchell) who became one of my favorite characters. Also, the first few minutes of the season premiere episode are dedicated to her (one of the best character introductions ever) as well as the sight of the Oceanic plane breaking up in air from the viewpoint of the Others barracks, also introduced for the first time.
Season 3 also brought us “Stranger in a Strange Land,” the infamous Jack-centric episode dedicated to the origins of his tattoo in Thailand, generally considered to be one of the worst episodes of the series. According to Lostpedia.com, that episode was the turning point in which the studio finally allowed the producers to set an end date for the series.
Season 3 - Favorite
[3.16] One of Us
Season 3 - Honorable Mentions
[3.10] Tricia Tanaka is Dead
[3.21] Greatest Hits
[3.22] Through the Looking Glass (Part 1)
[3.23] Through the Looking Glass (Part 2)
“One of Us” is my favorite episode of the season mostly because it focuses on Juliet. I love how it shows her vulnerable side as we see her a normal doctor before her time on the island hardened her. I think it’s a great image of Juliet climbing out of the hatch of the submarine and taking her first look at the island. It’s such a polar opposite to her character’s fate in the season 5 finale. When she comes to the island she climbs up out of a hole in the water (the submarine hatch), willingly, into the light (sunshine of the island). In the season 5 finale, she falls into a hole in the earth (the 1977 Swan Station drill site), unwillingly, into darkness. Her character goes full circle, and though this is the 2nd Juliet-centric episode of this season, the best part of her backstory begins here.
As if her character introduction in the season premiere weren’t already Emmy-worthy enough, Elizabeth Mitchell continues to deliver in the scene in which Ben shows Juliet on a TV monitor that her sister is now cancer free and has a son named Julian. Juliet is overjoyed and grips the screen crying wishing she could hold her sister and nephew. That’s heartbreaking enough, but when Ben radios to Mikhail to turn off the connection, and the monitor goes blank, Juliet begs for more time and for the opportunity to go home after being stuck on the island for three years. Ben won’t let her until she finishes her work for which she adamantly claims she’s exhausted all possibilities.
“Tricia Tanaka is Dead” and “D.O.C.” are two of my honorable mentions simply because they focus on two of my other favorite characters, Hurley and Sun, respectively. I also love the triumphant moment in “Tanaka” in which Hurley is able to get the old Dharma van running again. And, “D.O.C.” also marks the beginning of the freighter storyline as Charlie, Desmond, Hurley, and Jin deal with the wounded Naomi Dorrit, the first member of the freighter crew to land on the island, which eventually leads to the Oceanic 6 getting off the island.
Most fans *hated* the way new characters Nikki and Paulo were written into the show in season 3. They simply emerged out of the nameless, faceless extras littering the beach (as at that time, Oceanic 815 still had over three dozen survivors from the middle section of the plane) and started injecting themselves into the story, such as the mission to one of the underground Dharma stations. Even the producers eventually admitted those characters were a mistake. I didn’t mind them nearly as much as others did. Regardless of how awkwardly Nikki and Paulo were introduced, “Expose” is one of my honorable mentions from the season because it was a brilliant way of writing them out of the show, sending them to a horrifying death deserving of such hated characters.
“Greatest Hits” and Parts 1 and 2 of “Through the Looking Glass” are all honorable mentions for basically forming one looong, exciting four-hour season finale (with part 2 of “Glass” being two hours). They’re just short of being favorites because of a heavy centricity on Jack in the final three hours. But, the Charlie-centric “Greatest Hits” was a great way of writing out an un-even, yet ultimately likable character who’s last sacrificial act served as a heroic warning that would drive much of the tension and mystery for the rest of seasons 3 and 4.