I’ve received numerous emails over the past week asking basically the same thing: why haven’t you covered Kevin Johnson yet? The truth is, in my opinion there was not much to cover. I’m often accused of giving Lost a free ride or being slanted, it should be safe to say after this review that this is not the case.
I absolutely hated “Meet Kevin Johnson,” in ways that I thought I would never dislike an episode of Lost. It failed to capitalize on some of the more interesting themes set up in season 4, and in the process devalued them. It failed to create a believable way for Michael and Walt to renter society WITHOUT a fantastic element. And worst of all, it made far less than effective use of Cynthia Watros.
I stand by my position that Lost doesn’t need to have a plan. Writers should be free to ‘make it up as they go along.’ But on a high level, some things need to be solid. When it was revealed that the plane crash was caused by the Swan Station, I got worried. The reason is because “what is in the hatch” was something that the creators admitted they did not determine until well into the first quarter of the first season, and the plane crash was before that. On that note, I find the introduction of Michael as Ben’s “Man on the Boat” to be completely ridiculous, if not enigmatic.
This wouldn’t be the case if Michael and Walt had, as was widely expected, experienced some kind of time shift. And therein lays one of my biggest beefs with the episode, in a situation where time travel is more or less a side show the writers have no difficulty going full bore with the fantastic. The Constant was an amazing episode, but let’s face it: Desmond’s time trip did little more than make a trip to the freighter and a call home all more interesting then they deserved to be. It was well done, and The Constant is one of my favorite episodes, but it was also less necessary to use the fantastic to tell that segment of the Lost story than it was for “Kevin Johnson.”
In terms of closing the “man on their boat” thread, Meet Kevin Johnson’s primary responsibility, the episode failed horribly. Clearly Ben did not get any information from Michael as he had claimed, since his first contact with Michael was the order to disable the radio room. Not to mention that Ben’s air of omniscience would be dubious if he were not able to gather intel on the boaties given the fact that he had detailed files on every Oceanic 815 passenger. Given our experience with Ben from season 3, I thought the need for a “man on their boat” to be a little bit like overkill to begin with, but for that man to be Michael is just plain odd.
Now, it could be said that the entire plot of Meet Kevin Johnson – and any of the factors leading up to and directly connected to the plot of it – were nothing but red herrings, and that at some point there will be a twist that will reveal the ‘real’ reason that Michael needed to be on the boat, but there would be a very distasteful conclusion to that: a lot of time was wasted telling THIS story.
There were certainly some aspects of the episode that were “good,” but on the Dharmabunny scale this was a zero. You can chastise me for the various ‘upsides’ hidden in the outer margins of the episode, but I’m not flinching on this: Kevin Johnson was very likely the worst episode of Lost I’ve ever seen.