Why The Creators Of Lost Hate The Jack Tattoos Season 3 Episode
ABC’s hit series Lost garnered its fair share of criticism during its run, but which episode of the series did the creators of Lost hate the most, and why?
Despite critical acclaim, ABC’s Lost featured a number of controversial episodes over its six seasons, but the most hated by the show’s creators was the episode about Jack’s tattoos. Lasting six seasons, Lost became known for its sprawling, serialized narrative, well-rounded ensemble cast, and unforgettable cliffhangers. One of the show’s most important storytelling devices was the flashbacks that detailed each character’s backstory.
Beyond Lost controversial ending, many other aspects of the series’ story were critically divisive during its run. Most reviews were aimed at the show’s many unsolved mysteries, but some specific episodes were singled out as some of the worst. Lost never produced. Lost season 3, episode 9, “Stranger In A Strange Land” is one such episode. The episode features a lackluster flashback that explains the origins of Jack’s tattoos, while the character is imprisoned by the others on the island.
In various interviews, creators Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse have explained that they disliked this episode because it was emblematic of the struggles they faced while writing the series at the time. Carlton Cuse explicitly pointed out Lost season 3, episode 9, “Stranger In A Strange Land”, saying: “I mean, I’m thinking about the episode where Jack gets a tattoo in Thailand. I think it’s cringe-worthy, where he flies the kite across the beach. It was not our finest hour.He goes on to add:We used Matthew Fox’s real tattoos. That’s how desperate we were for flashback stories.(via Esquire) In another interview, Lindelof explained that one of the main concerns about Lost season 3 was how they could continue to come up with interesting new flashbacks for each of the characters. Lindelof said that “It became clear that we were working so hard to keep the characters on the island, and it was starting to get extremely frustrating. The flashbacks were no longer good.(via Collider)
The most important aspect of why this episode of Lost is so heavily criticized is that it was the best illustration of the show’s biggest flaw at the time: Lost could not last forever. Lindelof and Cuse were constantly at war with the network of Lost season 2 because they wanted to decide on a definite ending for the show and how many seasons they would do. However, seeing the popularity of the series, ABC did not want Lost come to an end. According to Cuse, this episode “became really instrumental in convincing ABC that we needed to end the show.” He explains: “We were like, “Okay, this is what flashbacks look like now, so it’s probably a good idea if we find out how long this show is going to be.“
The first batch of Season 3 episodes also feature the main characters, Jack, Sawyer, and Kate, literally locked in cages. Lindelof commented on how he thought this was representative of their position as writers on a show that was not allowed to move forward. Lindelof and the other writers were effectively stalling until they could work out when they could end the series; they felt trapped. The lack of inspiration for LostJack’s flashbacks, especially Jack’s, combined with the showrunners’ frustrations with the series’ trajectory are the reasons why Lost season 3, episode 9, “Stranger In A Strange Land” is Lindelof and Cuse’s most hated episode of the series.
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