I think Season 2 of Lost was the most anticipated season premiere of all time for me. Sure, there have probably been better television shows with better seasons, but the way the first season left its millions of viewers reeling, there was nothing but anxiety pumping and thrasing itself through our veins as we watched the final moments of Season 1 fade to black and the long summer hiatus to Season 2 begin. The first three episodes of Lost's second season all covered basically the same period of time, and while the first and second episodes were good in their own respects, it's the third one that was the most interesting. It took everything we were presented in the first two episodes and combined them into a continuation, where we not only learned who and what was in the hatch, but also a little bit about the supposed "Others" that Michael, Sawyer and Jin were dealing with. Perhaps it's not the most recognized episode by fans, but for me, this is one of the better episodes of the show.
Up until this point, for me, the show had been primarily about survivors of a plane crash attempting to survive on an island that had macabre and eerie tendencies and mysteries surrounding it that hinted at some larger idea. The writers never really let on to what was coming up next, and the first season ended up revolving around survival. However, starting with this season, the mythology of the island came into the forefront, and the idea of other people living on the island before they crashed also became important. The connection between Jack and Desmond was an amazing reveal, and Desmond's first appearance on the show was great as well. The entire time I was watching the episode, I desperately wanted Jack or Desmond to acknowledge the fact that YES, they knew each other, and fortunately, they did so. This was also one of the first appearances of the lauded line: "See you in another life, brutha," a quote which takes on an entirely different meaning as the show progresses.
The pinnacle of the episode has to be the Dharma initiation video, with Chang (here using a pseudonym)informing us of what the hatch was created for and the purpose of hitting the button every 108 minutes. I always thought the button was an odd introduction to the show, and I know I wasn't the only one tearing out my hair, wishing the timer would reach zero so we could see what would happen. It was a great way to keep suspense throughout the entire season, and Chang's eerie delivery of the rules and regulations of the hatch still stays with me to this day.
Jack and Locke's relationship has always been a high point of the show for me, and Season 2 had some incredible interactions between the two characters, something that we cease to see as the show continues. The idea of destiny and free will begin to clash here, with Locke and Jack representing each side respectively, and as a result, we get scenes that glow with energy as the two actors act their hearts out. Locke's flashback about taking a leap of faith ties in perfectly to his argument with Jack, as he attempts to make Jack believe in pressing the button even though there's no proof that there's any need to.
This was a dense episode, filled with character development and plot development that interwined to help push each other forward. That's the sign of a good episode, when the writers are able to focus on multiple levels of a show without it detracting from one.