Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Season 4; Episode 12: "There's No Place Like Home (Part 1)"

Ok, so we had ourselves a nice and tidy little set up episode last week that has put all of our characters in place for what is sure to be a combustible two hour season finale. For the most part, "There's No Place Like Home" was a pretty straightforward episode, but in Lost terms "straightforward" means that there were maybe only 5 or 6 things that confused us rather than the normal dozen or so noodle scratchers we encounter in most episodes. So without further ado, let's take a look see at what went down.

The Plane of Doubt

So finally we see how the Oceanic 6 end up on that plane to freedom. Well, kind of. More appropriately, we see how Oceanic Airlines explains the events that led up to their that we know are not true. According to the PR department, the O6 survived the plane crash, washed ashore to a deserted Island called Membata - a fictional place whose namesake translates into "Doubt" from its native Indonesian by the way - and then luckily secured a fishing boat that had washed ashore which eventually floated them to rescue on a small inhabitated Island. They even had pictures to prove it...but I'm not buying those for a second.

Hey, where's Aaron? And Sun?

Instead, we know that the 6 engaged in some sort of deal to keep quite about what really happened on the Island. And from looking at their expressions on the plane, and by how Sun affirms that they really are "in shock" over the events they witnessed, we have to assume that what went down was pretty heavy stuff. Hopefully we'll find out these truths next week.

A couple things about the press conference. Once again they mention that 8 people originally survived the crash but that two of them died before rescue. I still wonder why this part of the story was added? Were two other bodies found in the water that weren't "accounted" for in the fake wreckage that needed explanation? Also, someone pointed out that when Sayid was asked if he thought there was ANY possibility of there being other survivors he ansewered with certainly, "absolutely not." While Sayid is versed in telling a convincing lie, could it be argued that if the Island did in fact "move" (to another time, perhaps), and that there is no chance of the others ever making it back to this current civilization? Maybe. Or he was just lying. Whatever.

Finally, I'd say that it's pretty clear that Widmore is behind the fake rescue story (as he is behind the fake wreckage) and in return for the O6's compliance, he has guaranteed their friends' safety in his continued battle for the Island. I guess you could argue that it was Oceanic's idea, but I don't see how they benefit from the lie. It's not like it's going to make up for the initial crash and the other dead passengers. Again, hopefully time will tell.

The O6 - Post Rescue

So instead of focusing on one character for the flashes, we see how each of the survivors are faring shortly after their rescue in "There's No Place Like Home" (similar to "Confirmed Dead" where we saw multiple flashbacks recounting how Naomi and her crew got to the Island). Hurley gets visited by the numbers right away, and you get the sense that his eventual breakdown is not far behind.

Jack finally "buries" his father with a halfhearted eulogy reminiscing about a love that was already long lost at that point. More importantly, he meets Claire's mother and tried his hardest not to puke out of guilt after learning that Claire was his half sister and that Aaron is his nephew in what I thought was a pretty well acted scene.

But the most important flash forward scene revolved around Sun. In a highly unlikely scenario (we'll let this one slide I suppose), Sun was able invest enough money into Paik Industries to gain control of her father's company. While it may seem on the surface that she's doing this to gain her distant father's respect, I think that there could be much more to the story. Without boring you with the geeky details, fans have uncovered a relationship that exists between Paik Industries and the Widmore Corporation. Therefore, Sun's cryptic revelation that "two people are responsible for Jin's death" could be more homegrown then Mr. Paik expects. If she found out that Widmore was behind the (what is soon to be blown up with extreme prejudice) freighter with Jin aboard, could she have figured out that Paik Industries had a hand in the process? And if so, does she also blame her father for his possible death?

Or, conversely, did she gain control of the corporation to help fund/organize an eventual campaign to return to the Island? Again, if Paik and Widmore are linked, she could leverage that relationship to piggyback onto Widmore's ongoing search for the Island. Of course for this scenario to play out we'd have to assume that Jin did actually survive the events yet to be seen, and that Sun wants to return to the Island to save her husband for good. Regardless of her motives, her hostile takeover of the corporation is likely going to play a major role in the seasons to come.

Ben's Back in the Saddle Again

"How many times do I have to tell you John? I always have a plan." Even beyond this telling quote, Ben's entire demeanor changed in this episode. He looked like a man on a mission again. A man in control. He found out what he needed from Locke's visit in the cabin and has sprung back into action. He finds a random check point box with stale old saltines and uses a mirror inside to signal a message to the Others in the hills before they continue their rapid pace to the Orchid station. But what exactly is his plan? Well, we know they have to move the Island. How this happens is still up in the air but the prevailing theory is that they will utilize the station to jump through time and space.

If you remember the Orchid Station Orientation video that was posted a month ago or so, Dr. Marvin Candle (or Dr. Edgar Halliwax) said that station was conducting "dangerous and volatile" experiments that produced something that was not unlike what he called the "Casimir Effect." Again, I won't bore you with the details, but the Casimir Effect is a real life theory that has to do with harnessing electromagnetic fields to allow one to stabilize and utilize wormholes - the theoretical doorways to time travel. And when Ben is pressed by Locke as to why they didn't move the Island earlier, Ben responds that it's a an absolute last resort and than its not without it's dangers. Couple that with the fact that we know Ben wakes up in the Tunisian Desert in October of 2005, we should expect that the Orchid Station has some pretty mind blowing capabilities.

And let's not forget about how it created a replication of those cute little bunnies in the video. Could it be possible that the Island is re-created in another time and space but still exists at the present time as well? Or could the activation of the station sends all of the Island's inhabitants to different corners of the Earth, at different times, rendering the Island itself "moved" in the metaphorical sense? Or could it be that I've had one too many glasses of wine? Probably the latter.

There's No Place Like Home

This episode portrayed that, like Dorothy of Oz, the O6 seemed to have clicked their heals and arrived safely home, even amid all of the guilt/tragedy/confusion that they have endured in their eventual rescue. And while that seems easy enough, I think the the title of this episode is referring more to the future of the show than the Oceanic 6's present homecoming.

As we've now seen, each of the Oceanic 6 have experienced brief happiness only to be followed by unavoidable emptiness and loss. Hurley went down first, as he ends up back in the mental institution and is visited by Charlie's ghosts (not to mention Abbadon). He tips off Jack's eventual breakdown by warning him that he too will be visited by someone, and that he's not suppose to be raising Aaron. While we haven't necessarily seen Kate crack yet, we could assume that Jack will eventually bring her down with her...and that the guilt of raising another's child as her own will break her (not to mention that it's possible that her "true" love - Sawyer - is stranded on the Island). Sayid is a world away working for Ben, in the hope to protect his friends on the Island. Sun may have been the first to realize that they need to get back, as it's possible that her main goal in purchasing Paik Industries is to make her way to the Island and save Jin, assuming that he's alive. As mentioned above, it's possible that her new link to Widmore may be the key to getting all of them back to the Island once and for all.

In a sense, for the survivors, "home" refers more to the Island than it does to the real world. Their lives in the outside world are unfulfilled: Sayid's wife is dead, Sun is without her husband, Jack has unresolved daddy issues, Hurley's in the nut house, and Kate is raising a son that doesn't belong to her. It seems more likely that eventually, the Island is the place that they will end up when they click their heals and wish for "no place like home."

End Game

Jack and Sawyer are running through the jungle to save Hurley. Kate and Sayid are trapped by ageless Richard and the Others while looking for Jack and Sawyer. Ben gets knocked out by Keemy, as Hurley and Locke wait in the wings to enter the Orchid. Sun and Jin are on the doomed Freighter with Aaron....along with enough C4 to blow up a small country.

We may know who comes out of this thing alive, but it will certainly be interesting to see how it all goes down.

One more week. Enjoy.

One Easter Egg worth noting:

If you noticed, there was a mysterious man aboard the plane with the 06. The PR woman nods quickly to him on her way out to talk to the survivors. Could be Widmore, could be Abbadon...or it could be no one.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Season 4, Episode 11: "Cabin Fever"

Good Lord, they're really not letting up this season, huh? Maybe we should have a writer's strike every year so that we can follow this "no filler all killer" formula that Lost has got going on this year. But all kidding aside, I think it's safe to say that with a finite number of episodes left in the series, that we are really starting to get some answers. Of course, that leads to more questions, but that's the fun part, right? Let's get to what went down in "Cabin Fever."

So after a week break from the "chosen ones," we're back to Hurley, Ben, and Locke as they search for the elusive cabin that no one seems to be able to find. But luckily, Locke has a pretty interesting dream (time jump?) and finds Horace, who is coincidentally building the said cabin for he and his wife Olivia (Ben's teacher at Dharma school) to get away from the everyday stresses of the "D.I." But something's off. First off, he's been dead for 12 years. Secondly, he's cutting down the same tree and repeating his dialogue ("Hello there")...almost as if he's caught in a time loop of sorts. Locke wakes up and knows what he has to do: find Horace's body in the Dharma grave and get the blueprints of the cabin. With a knowing look of despair, Ben utters, "I used to have dreams too." And with that, we come to grasp the main theme of the show: the passing of the torch from Ben to Locke as the "chosen one" of the Island.

Through Locke's flashbacks we see some eerily familiar similarities between he and Ben's life leading up to the Island. First off, they are both born to women named Emily. Many have gone so far as to hypothesize that the same woman that mothered both of them (this is likely not true seeing that we've seen Locke's Emily in a flash back that post-dated Ben's mother's death). Secondly, they are both raised by "other mothers" - one because of abandonment and one because of death. Both have very messed up relationships with their fathers. And finally, they both seem to be "chosen ones" of the Island, and have been protected from harm because of that fact. Richard has visited them both in their childhood, and nurtures their development as the Island's leader. But recently, Ben seems to have fallen out of favor with the Island, likely because of his obsession with the fertility clinic and his attachment to Alex, two things that the Island probably didn't have in mind as priorities. Richard all but confirms this way back in Season 3 when he has a brief, revealing chat with Locke on the hillside.

He mentions being frustrated with Ben's practices, and nudges Locke in the right direction by giving him Sawyers file (where he learns that Anthony Cooper - Locke's Father, conned Sawyer, which lead Locke to manipulate Sawyer to murder Anthony Cooper for him. Another connection - both Ben and Locke effectively killed their fathers.) But in Ben's words, "Destiny is a fickle bitch." His destiny, and apparently time with the Island, is over. His time has passed and Locke's is beginning. But is it?

Some have posed that Ben is STILL behind all of these shenanigans and is playing Locke like a puppet (again). And when you think about it, it's a very plausible scenario. First off, I don't need to remind everyone how skilled Ben is in the area of manipulation. Let's just say he's kinda good at it. Secondly, we know that in the future he is still fighting for the Island (although it could be argued that he may be fighting AGAINST the Island...if he is indeed banished or something, but let's disregard that for now). Finally, the comment Ben makes to Locke after complimenting him on manipulating Hurley to stay is rather interesting. After Locke quips, "I am not like you!" Ben sternly responds, "No, you certainly are not."

Could the subtext here be referring to the fact that Locke will never have the skills that Ben possesses, and more importantly, that Locke is NOT the Chosen One (and Ben still is)? It's definitely a bit of a stretch, but from what we've seen so far in this show, we simply cannot discount Ben's ability to come out on top. And going by Locke's seemingly never ending number of failures in life, could this potential fall to Ben's control just be another one to add to the list? Time will tell.

Switching gears, I was thrilled to see Richard's return to the show. And while the theories have been out there for a while, I think it's clear now that he is a part of the "original" inhabitants of the Island, and may even be the leader of this group. And Ben's remarks about the Purge were very telling. Consider the dialogue below:

HURLEY: Well, if the Others didn't wipe out the DHARMA Initiative--
BEN: They did wipe them out, Hugo, but it wasn't my decision.
HURLEY: Then whose was it?
BEN: Their leader's.
HURLEY:But I thought you were their leader.
BEN: Not always.

I think an argument can be made that this was Richard's decision. In that same hillside conversion with Locke, Richard expressed disdain over the fact that they were still using and enjoying Dharma supplies...which shows that he's still exhibits resentment towards a group that they murdered 12 years earlier. Just the memory of Dharma taking over his Island is too much to take. And let's not forget - while we all assume that the Purge was executed by Ben, the only "action" he participated in was the killing his father. The rest of the camp was gassed by Richard and other Island originals. So while Ben certainly knew about the Purge, I believe him that it wasn't necessarily his idea. We've now also seen Richard in key situations throughout the show. He recruited Ben and Locke - both supposed "Chosen Ones" to the lead and protect the Island.

Oh, and he doesn't age. That's pretty cool...and probably has something to do with mastering how Time affects the Island, a skill that may have taken generations to perfect. But how/where is Richard getting the information of who to recruit? Is it from a prophecy? Is it from Jacob? Or did he simply here of a "miracle baby" that was the earliest preemie to ever survive at the time and come running? Or on the flip side, was it he who hit Emily in the road, forcing a premature birth that may have never happened due to a likely abortion once her mother found out about the illegitimate pregnancy?

And why, after Locke failed the initial test of "what belonged" to him, did he continue to recruit him? There are a lot of questions here, but I'm glad that the return of one of Lost's most interesting characters might be the first step in receiving the answers to these and more.

Speaking of great character returns, Abaddon's return was just as welcome. In his reemergence, we find him giving Locke just the pep talk he Locke has pretty much hit rock bottom after his Father pushed him out a window and an 8 story fall paralyzed him from the waist down. Abaddon encourages John to consider a Walkabout, which is the reason Locke ends up in Australia, and eventually, on Flight 815.

(note the "Get Back into the Game!" Poster behind them.)

While I think most people assumed that Abbadon was another employee of Widmore, or maybe even the Economist, I think this scene sheds some light on the fact that he has been aware of the Island for much longer than we think. Who knows, he could be working from an entirely different perspective. Yes, he got Naomi, Daniel, Miles, and Frank on to the Freighter; but they haven't necessarily been directly tied to Keamy's mission (which is to get Ben and kill the rest). Their agenda has been more vague (meaning, they don't seem like the murdering type) and their skills directly relate to some of the Island's special properties (Time, Archeology, Ghost Whispering, and...well... pilot). I don't know what Abaddon's intentions are, but it will be very interesting to find out.

Finally, let's move on to the Cabin scene. Locke enters to see a bit of a rustic looking Christian relaxed in Jacob's chair (very different from his polished appearance in Jack's interesting note to keep in mind), seemingly expecting his arrival.

He notes that "he can speak for Jacob," and gets right down to it by asking John why he thinks he's there. When Locke responds, "because I was chosen to be, " Christian beams. Then, out of the corner of his eye he see Claire, and what we see is NOT the Claire we're used to. She has an air about her that is mischievous and almost looks possessed.

She doesn't seem to care at all about Aaron's whereabouts, which is very unlike her. I think we have to assume at this point that she is dead and that theory proposed here last week (which wasn't mine) is correct. When Locke then asks about Aaron, Christian responds, "he's exactly where he's supposed to be." But we were lead to believe that Aaron MUST be raised by Claire, right?

Well, let's revisit some dialogue between Claire and the psychic she visited in Australia. After he mentioned that she HAD to raise the child, he flipped his decision, bought her a ticket on 815, and said that he found a couple in LA to raise the baby. When Claire responded angrily, "I'm not giving my baby to a couple of strangers," the psychic responded, "they're not strangers, they're good people." We've assumed all along that the psychic made this bit about the couple up just to get her on a flight that he knew was doomed. But what if he KNEW that Aaron would end up in LA......with Kate and Jack?? And if so, then Aaron is exactly where he should be. He is on his way back to the beach (via Sawyer) to eventually be rescued and taken away by Kate en route to his true home. And if Claire was told to understood this, it would explain her calm demeanor in spite of being separated from Aaron. Again, a bit far fetched, but interesting nonetheless.

To wrap up the cabin scene, Christian tells Locke that they need to "move the Island" to secure its safety. How they do this is beyond me at the moment, but I'm guessing that "moving" it has to do with moving it through time rather than physically moving it. It will be interesting to find out what happens here.

Finally, just a few more notes quickly as this is long already:

-Sayid's going to save everyone on the Island with a dingy? Really? Well, at least we know how he reunites with his other O6 they get off the Island is another question.

-Widmore is now officially linked to Dharma. As Keamy takes out the "Secondary Protocol," you may have noticed that a Dharma logo was on it. So his story seems simple: he was involved with Dharma's work on the Island, Ben and his group killed them all, and now he's pissed and wants his Island back. Pretty simple, right?

-Keamy had something taped to his left arm. While I first thought it was a tape recorder (so that Widmore could hear everything that goes down), some folks have said that it could be a trigger of some sort. Meaning that if his heart stops beating, the device will trigger an explosion somewhere (either on the Freighter or the Island). It was because of this that the Captain couldn't shoot him.

Whew! I think that's all I got for now. Please chime in and tell me what I missed. From here on out we have a regular hour this week (5/15), and then an off week to accommodate the finale of Grey's Anatomy next week (boooooring), and then we're back with a two hour finale on 5/29. Till then, enjoy!

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Season 4, Episode 10: "Something Nice Back Home"

Alright, so maybe this wasn't the same action packed type episode that we saw in "The Shape of Things to Come," but I thought it served as a nice respite for us and more importantly - a good set up for what should be a very interesting final 4 hours of the season.

What intrigued me the most about the episode was its "back to its roots" type of feel. Meaning that at the end of the day Lost is a show about these various characters finding their way, and really, finding themselves. Quite literally, they are Lost in their lives. The show has always done a great job at developing their flawed characters, and this episode continued that trend while filling in a few holes in the story at the same time.

Obviously the biggest focus was on Jack. We come to find out that he's living quite the life in the not to distant future. He's back at the hospital, still sober, and finally together with a consistently scantily clad Kate (what, you can't give her a little spending money for clothes, Jack? Not that I'm complaining...), and raising Aaron. All is well. But as he reads little Aaron an all too familiar to Lost-lore bed time story (Alice in Wonderland), we're given a hint of what is to come.

Between the obvious white rabbit and the "Looking Glass" station symbols we've already seen in the show, the underlying message of Carrol's children's novel discusses our ability to imagine wondrous fantasy and horrible nightmare simultaneously. Similarly, it questions our abilities to change who we are over time. Both of these themes are entirely relevant to Jack's flash fowards. We see wondrous fantasy (his love for Kate fulfilled), and we see horrible fears actualized (Hurley: "you're not supposed to raise him"). These revelations lead to his eventual downward spiral as an addicted, troubled person...just like his father.

This leads us to the next issue: can you change who you are? In this sense, the larger question of Fate comes into to play, another recurring Lost theme. As much as Jack wants to live the perfect life with Kate, something is always bringing him back to who he is, and where he came from. Don't forget that as much as he tried to distance himself from his father in the past, Christian's death brought him to Australia, which in turn brought him to the Island. He leaves the Island but still can't escape the fact that he was MEANT to resolve his issues there. Seeing his father's ghost in the hospital just reinforces the point. He MAY be able to change, but in order to do so he needs to make peace with his issues (read: father), and he'll need to do it on the Island. I think slowly, all of the Oceanic 6 begin to realize this point, and as we already know from flash forwards, Jack and Hurley are ready to go they still "have work to do."

Sound crazy? Well, it is a bit, but at the same time look at the facts. Michael can't kill himself cause the Island won't let him. Jack gets appendicitis just as he's about to leave, on an Island that exhibits mostly healing capabilities (as Rose purposefully points out). It can be argued that this was the Island's way of trying to keep him there. Regardless, we know he gets off and we know what happens - he turns into exactly what he was trying to prevent. Instead of being a loving (potential) husband and Father, he turns to addiction and pushes away everyone that loves him, just like Christian did. I believe that the only way to "live happily ever after" is to be in communion with what the Island is directing him to do. And so far, he's been fighting that request. Only in the future (when he unsuccessfully tries to kill himself by jumping off a bridge no less...again, the Island not letting him die), does he realize his mistake. He has to go back.

The other main issue in this episode revolves around Claire - which isn't surprising seeing that technically she is a Shepard...she is Jack's half sister and the Christian's daughter (it's a family affair!). She sees Christian in the middle of the night and walks off with him, leaving baby Aaron behind. Is this how they become separated for good? I doubt it, but I don't really have any insights as to why she would now abandon the baby she has kept by her side for so long. But I think it's clear that Miles will play a large role in finding out what's going on. He may be able to communicate with or even see Christian. Alternatively, some folks believe that Claire is actually dead (that the explosion DID blow her up) and that her ghost has replaced her for the time being...if you notice, she talks mostly to Miles in the last episode. I doubt this to be true, but anything's possible at this point.

All in all, I thought it was a great episode...a thinker for sure. But what is to come should be the best of both worlds; action and mystery. I think it's clear that the finale will show us how they get off the Island - and who knows what other jaw dropping trick is in store for us (Island scene flash forwards anyone??). I know I'm missing some stuff still, but in a nutshell here's a couple of other cool nuggets from the show:

-When Jack is called by his father's ghost in the Hospital, he went out to the lobby initially to turn off the smoke alarm. As in "Smokey" alarm. Remember, it is widely assumed that Smokey can assume shapes and figures on the Island (Eko's brother Yemi; Hurley's friend Dave; the Horse that Kate finds; Ben's Mother; etc). Pretty cool.

-Claire admits to "seeing things" earlier in the episode. Was this Charlie (the first word she mentioned when Sawyer took her from the burning wreckage)? Or maybe her Father? The producers let it be known that this initial scene was shot but had to be cut due to time. I'm sure we'll see it as part of a flashback at some point though.

-When Jack and Kate are arguing towards the end of the episode, she says "I can't have you like this around my child." In response, Jack yells, "Your child?! You're not even related to him!" While this can be taken as a simple (and obvious) hurtful insult, could Jack be insinuating something like "at least I'm actually related to him." Remember, Aaron is his nephew. In current Island time, he does not know this fact. This line could foreshadow that he eventually finds that out (and I'm thinking that may happen soon). Additionally, it could be argued that the reason he initially wants to steer clear of Aaron (when he averts Kate's question of "why won't you see him" outside the courthouse) is because he doesn't trust himself in raising Aaron, cause he's afraid he'll mess him up just as Christian did to him. This lingering fear is voiced by Jack in this episode to Kate (something along the lines of "can I really do this?"). Again, his issues are clearly unresolved.

Alright, I think that's it, but please let me know what else I's been a long week. Tomorrow's episode is called "Cabin Fever." Look out Jacob, here they come!