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The Greatest ''Lost'' of All

By RD Heldenfels Published: April 13, 2006

I won't pretend that last night's ''Lost'' -- called ''S.O.S.'' -- was great in terms of advancing the overall narrative of the show, although there was some of that. Liked Jack and Kate in the net. Remain curious about the way the captive Other has played with Locke's head. And Michael's back, apparently setting up a lot of things for the rest of the season.

But I think of ''S.O.S.'' as the greatest episode in the show's short history -- and I admit that this is probably a solo opinion -- because of the Rose and Bernard story, both in flashback and in the present.

Sure, we knew that we were headed toward a point where Rose admitted her belief that the island had cured her, and that she was not willing to leave. But oh, the getting there, and the wonderful actors (L. Scott Caldwell as Rose and Sam Anderson as Bernard) who made the writers' words sing.

As much as ''Lost'' is a page-turner, its inner strength is as a character piece -- in Jack's relationship with his father, Sawyer's swagger masking a meeker soul (Is there anyone who hasn't beaten him in a fight?), in Hurley's sadness (nicely elaborated upon in last week's episode), Locke's father issues and pondering of faith.

Rose has been a pivotal figure when ''Lost'' deals with faith, because of her certainty that her husband had not died in the crash -- faith that was validated when Bernard was found among the Tailies. But in ''S.O.S.,'' we see that she has not always had such strong faith, and that she was at times pushed forward by Bernard's beliefs. At the same time, Bernard/Rose represent the dichotomy at the heart of the show; Bernard believes in what he can see and what people can do, while Rose has moved on to a higher power. They are a variation on the Jack/Locke split.

And I see that I've started overintellectualizing about an episode that affected me in a very personal, emotional way. It's not merely that Rose and Bernard are a middle-aged couple bound by a love that contains elements of newlyweds and old, settled people -- something I feel with my wife. We are settled in many ways, two people in their fifties who match up well, but we are also in a marriage that after two years still feels very new at times. And my reaction came from the way Bernard and Rose face her illness.

My wife lost her first husband; I lost my first wife. When Rose tells Bernard that she has a year to live, I was saying, ''Take the year.'' The show is smart enough to let him do it, and to see that a man who believed in Rose would also believe that he could be rescued from that island. Where ''Lost'' has had moving scenes before, the Rose and Bernard story was great from start to finish. I didn't just recognize the characters. Their feelings blended with my own.

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