Lost: Special   Rewatch 
April 30, 2023 6:55 PM - Season 1, Episode 14 - Subscribe

Walt is different.

S1E14: Special (Lostpedia | transcript): air date 19th January 2005 • writer David Fury • director Greg Yaitanes • days 26-27 on the island • Michael and Walt flashbacks

Eye • he hates it, doesn’t he, being a dad • no, it’s just a lot of hard work • fancy crib • knife-throwing lessons • like a picture in your head • now, little man • he’s different • Amsterdam • he can’t grow up here • RAFT • oso polar • hit by a car • feels like punishment • you hit like a ponce • listen Walt, it’s complicated • black, white, and red all over • sounds like Brian’s on a roll • let’s go find your boy • bits of me are crumbling • bronze cuckoo • Susan’s dead and Brian is THE WORST • she wanted that and I wanted her • sometimes when he’s around things happen • stealing Vincent • polar bear attack • he found his way back to you once, he will again • every card, every letter • Charlie reads the diary • the Black Rock • dog-whistle • CLAIRE

Billie Doux, Doux Reviews: Lost: Special
Ten-year-old Walt may be the local version of Billy Mumy in the classic Twilight Zone episode, “It’s a Good Life.” If Walt is truly that kind of “special,” then it opens up a whole can of worms. Did Walt unintentionally cause a lot of what has happened? Did he “create” the polar bears by seeing them in his min’'s eye? Did he, intentionally or unintentionally, kill his mother? And could Walt be the reason that they are all on the Island in the first place? Did the plane crash because he was trying to make it return to Australia? Or is the Island his way of sending everybody to the cornfield?
Nate Owens, The Rumpus Room: Re-Lost: Special
The truth is, Walt’s “special-ness” is handled with a very light touch in this episode. It focuses more on Michael, and his struggle to be a father. And this is one flashback that really delivers. It fills in much of the conflict between Walt and Michael, and it provides little crumbs of mystery. Even if those crumbs ultimately remain dead ends, it makes for a very compelling story. It’s quite touching as well. The scene where Michael’s girlfriend says she is leaving with Walt was particularly gut-wrenching. There’s also a sad irony when Michael is finally allowed to be the father he always wanted to be, and it is in the worst possible circumstances. It’s one of the finest flashbacks that the series has done so far, and it was the highlight of the episode for me.
Therese Odell, Houston Chronicle: Looking for that special someone on Lost
[spoilers for future episodes & events throughout]
Michael vs. Thomas, father of Aaron. Michael and Thomas are both artists, neither are married to their girlfriends. One is anxious and excited to become a father, the other refuses the call. One gives up his art to support his child, the other gives up his child to pursue his art. But ultimately, both men are absent in their children’s lives. The difference is, one made a sacrifice for his child, the other was unwilling to sacrifice for his child.
Rewatch companion: THE STORM: A Lost Rewatch Podcast - S1, E14: "Special" with Matt Patches
Dave Gonzalez: “We should mention that there’s now a second faction. It used to be caves and beach. It seems like the beach people have been waiting around with not a ton to do. But now there's some raft building going on that Michael has begun with Walt, but is definitely still going on at the end of the episode.”
Neil Miller: “There’s a lot of people thinking about joining the raft crew.”
Dave Gonzalez: “Yeah, there’s about to be a Team Raft. And we don’t know where it stands in comparison to Team Hatch, but more teams means we’re heating up the inter-Lostie conflict.”
Joanna Robinson: “Well, and it’s also momentum and direction, right? You know, because there are these little missions that people have had. I think that’s mentioned in this episode: oh, like, what are we going to tromp into the jungle and get ourselves killed over this time? But this idea that Michael is so fixated on getting Walt off the island: there is now a mission to get off the island. And that’s a different kind of forward momentum, which I think the show really needs at this point. Because yeah, the hatch is a question and a mystery, but, you know: we need to get our asses off this island is a sense of urgency that the show is missing a bit.”
Neil Miller: “At a certain point, someone has to say what the audience is thinking, which is why is no one trying to get off the island?”
Joanna Robinson: “Why aren’t they getting their asses off the island?”
Dave Gonzalez: “It’s been almost a month.”

Matt Patches: “I would say that Michael off the island and on the island is like two versions. He’s not the same person. No one is. That's the beauty of the island. And it’s forcing him into a new position. I mean, he hasn’t seen Walt in eight years by the time that they get on the island. He’s not his dad, truly, by parenting standards. He’s not his father. He’s the person in charge of him. He’s his guardian for now. But as far as parenting goes, he’s — this is brand new. This is not the guy who was a great dad playing on the floor and being a stay-at-home dad when Walt was two. Totally different and really not comparable. And this whole episode is about Michael figuring out what it means to be a dad and what parenting really means, which is not talking to your kid like your kid is an adult, but talking to your kid like he's a kid. Michael’s big problem in this episode, and in life when he and his son reunite after eight years, is that he thinks parenting is like telling a kid what to do and then expecting results. And that’s not what parenting is. Parenting is about introducing ideas and hoping they stick, and then listening to your kid and responding to how they behave. And Walt is fucked up. I mean, Walt has gone through so much before getting to the island.”

“You know what? Great. Stay here. Grow old. Good luck to you. But I'm doing this. My son and I are leaving.”

posted by We had a deal, Kyle (10 comments total)
Currently streaming in the US on Hulu (subscription) and Freevee (free with ads); in the UK on Disney+; and available for purchase just about everywhere. Next episode will post — well, I’m not doing great on sticking to specific days, so let’s say mid-week.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 6:56 PM on April 30, 2023

Oof, the polar bear VFX are so janky. Contrast to Michael being hit by the car, which I think is all practical effects -- they use a pedestrian passing in front of the camera to hide the cut between Michael walking into the street versus a dummy being hit by the car, and it's still really effective and surprising.

Walt's special abilities: they kinda hinted at this a few episodes ago with his extreme luck rolling the backgammon dice, but it kinda never really goes anywhere much? Lindelof's Vox interview for this episode (The Lost Interviews: Special) touches on this; was way too spoilery to include above the fold though.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 3:01 PM on May 1, 2023

I really hate that they dropped off on Walt's "special"ness. I understand the difficulty of having a child actor who hits a growth spurt basically overnight, but they could have added that to his mythos rather than dropping him. I really like the actor and how he interacts with the other characters, like Sun, Locke, and Michael. And I think, given how spooky the island is, he could have been a much bigger part of some really interesting stories.
posted by Night_owl at 5:38 AM on May 2, 2023 [1 favorite]

In retrospect, also, the occasional Walt apparitions that manifest after his departure just kind of muddy the issue too: mostly Walt mysteriously appearing in the jungle just reminds us again that oh yeah, they kinda dropped the whole Walt thing.

Also in this episode: Charlie reading the diary is some solid silent-comedy work from Dom Monaghan.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 2:06 PM on May 2, 2023 [1 favorite]

I came to watching LOST right before the last season -- I was depressed and it was a good thing to watch in bits and pieces. I knew some but I didn't know a lot and I purposefully didn't look things up. It was so much fun to speculate!

So yeah, I wish Walt had turned into something more. The first season felt like "there's a plan, honest!" but looking back, there were only sketches of a plan. Still, I'd say the first season of LOST is such an incredible ride. As much as it was about the complete story, it was more about each individual episode and making you want to watch the next one.

I've been meaning to do a LOST rewatch again (I started and then ... dropped it) but there are so many shows I haven't watched. These posts have made me want to do it again, though. Maybe I'll just start dipping in with the next one rather than starting from the very beginning.
posted by edencosmic at 6:51 PM on May 2, 2023

There was one other thought I had wrt Walt which is that the choice to make one of the flashbacks -- bronze cuckoo/Susan is unwell/bird goes THUD -- a Walt flashback rather than a Michael flashback, as all the previous ones have been, rather adds to the general eeriness they're building around Walt; it makes it feel like the very structure of the show bends slightly to Walt's will.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 12:15 AM on May 3, 2023

We discussed Susan and her deal while watching last night and came to the conclusion she could be/is meant to be a control freak, which would make living with her just great, I'm sure.
posted by fiercekitten at 9:08 AM on May 3, 2023 [2 favorites]

The Storm podcast (which I've been loving, so thanks to Whad,k for that) likes to talk about how this show is full of Bad Dads. I think Walt got unlucky with a Bad Mom, Bad (step)Dad, and... Michael.
posted by Night_owl at 10:35 AM on May 3, 2023

I'm more sympathetic towards Michael this time around. I think the big reveal this episode is going for is that Michael's not a shitty controlling shouty dad by nature; he's so by circumstance of his having been suddenly thrust into a parenting situation that both he and Walt are utterly unprepared for.

I'm not sure they pull this off particularly well! -- although maybe that's more because it's a gradual reveal rather than an ah-ha he was in a wheelchair all along! or an ah-ha she speaks English! twist. And it's somewhat unfortunate that in order to make Michael a sympathetic character they had to make Susan such an antagonistic one.

Anyway: I always thought it was a nice bit of writing of Michael that he very deliberately doesn't bad-mouth either Brian or Susan to Walt.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 2:23 PM on May 3, 2023 [1 favorite]

Michael has a history of being a very vocal Good Dad, but after 7-8 years of not getting to do it, he's a very awkward dad who doesn't handle the stress of being on the island particularly well. I agree that his choice to maintain Walt's illusion of the parents he was familiar with was a great, sympathetic, illustrative choice. Michael is trying, but boy howdy sometimes he doesn't get it right. Which I guess is one of the most realistic portrayals of parenting after all.
posted by Night_owl at 6:32 AM on May 4, 2023

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