Saturday, February 27, 2010

Season 6, Episode 4: "The Lighthouse"

So after a fun first few weeks of introductions to alternate story lines, new Others, dark plots, returning characters, and end game answers, we focus on the man who started it all off in Season 1, Episode 1, scene 1: Jack Shepard. The eternally broken man who wants to fix everything but himself is the star of maybe the heaviest episode of the season thus far, and boy is he as messed up as ever. Exec Producers Cuse and Lindelhof penned this one themselves, and whenever you see those credits roll up at the beginning of an episode, you know you're in for a noodle-scratcher. So without further ado, let's see if we can get to the bottom of "The Lighthouse."

It's no secret that the writers of this show rely heavily both meaningful imagery and literary reference, and "The Lighthouse" had a very healthy dose of both. Right off the bat we find Jack in the Flash Sideways returning home to change his clothes as he spies something curious in the mirror - his appendectomy scar. Not entirely sure of its origin he asks his mom when he had it removed and we learn that it was done so when he was seven years old . We know, however, that in the Island world Juliet removed his appendix in 2004 on the beach. But in the sideways world, while staring into the mirror Jack has another "deja vu" type moment; he's lost somewhere in between both realities, trying to ascertain which experience caused the scar but unable to pinpoint either in any real kind of way. This experience is very reminiscent of when Jack looks into the mirror on the airplane bathroom in "LA X"…he notices a cut on his neck, which is brings us - the viewer - back to the world where Oceanic 815 did in fact crash, (the series pilot) where a cut and bruised Jack is racing through the jungle looking for lives to save. The common thread in these moments is a piece of imagery that is very significant throughout the series: the mirror itself. And its importance is represented in two ways.

The first representation of the mirrors is its literary reference to "Alice in Wonderland." Alice literally went "through the looking glass" and "down the rabbit hole" to enter the world of her dreams, and the similarity of Jack looking through the mirrors in this episode and noticing things that happened in the alternate world could offer us an additional clue that these two time lines are happening concurrently, but not necessarily separately. Clearly Jack has some sort of recognition that his scars could have come from something other than what his mother tells him. I mean, how does a 7 year old forget a pretty major surgery? Did he instead remember that it happened on the Island?

And the "Alice in Wonderland" nods don't stop there: David, Jack's son in the reset timeline, is reading an abridged version of the book, and upon seeing it Jack reminisces about reading it to him when he was a child. Specifically he remembers Alice's kittens, Snowdrop and Kitty, one black and one white (I don't think I need to explain that one). But more importantly, we should remember that in "White Rabbit" - another Jack-centric episode that has an Alice in Wonderland type title - he is reading the book to Aaron. Is the memory Jack is having truly of reading to David, or is he instead viewing through the looking glass at the parallel world?

And maybe the looking glass works both ways. Clearly Jacob uses the mirrors within the Lighthouse as a portal to track what is happening in the lives of his candidates. As Hurley cranks the wheel towards 108 degrees (who's name was "Wallace" by the way - got nothing there), Jack sees the church in where Sawyer's parent's funeral was held, the building where Jin and Sun were married, and finally the house where he grew up as a kid. Notice that pictures in the mirror only become apparent only for candidates that are not crossed off the list. For those that are, the link is broken. But what's clear is that in both worlds, the mirror acts as a viewfinder for what is happening in the world of Lost, and that the writers are pushing that point pretty hard.

Now, the second explanation of the utilization of mirrors in the episode is much more direct. Mirrors, in the traditional sense, serve as a utility to reflect a person's appearance, but in the case of Lost they are utilized to represent a reflection of one's "self." While Jack stares upon his reflection on multiple occasions this episode, he's looking inside himself, wondering who he really is. Throughout his life he's been so wrapped up in fixing others that he's ignored his own needs and is at an utter loss as to what he is supposed to do, and to what path he needs to take to do it. He tells Hurley that he came back to the Island "because he was broken." He thought the Island would fix him, but is now finding out that finally, he's the one responsible for fixing himself. Jacob needed Jack to see the Lighthouse because he needed him to have a breakthrough moment and understand this revelation. As Jacob says to Hurley, "some people you can just hop in a cab and tell them what their supposed to do, other times you have to let them look out into the ocean for a while."

Jack smashed the mirrors because he's beginning to understand what he needs to do. No longer does he need to wait for some outside revelation, or struggle with his inner demons and second guess his every move. Instead, he eschews the mirror and looks out into the open ocean - the future - with a clear mind. In Jacob's words, he needs to finally understand "how important he is" and take the role of leader against the war that is coming to the Temple and beyond.

In the parallel world he's already had this revelation; he's realized his faults with David, and is able to reconcile a relationship that he never could with his own father. He took action on something that he never wanted to face up to personally. Is a similar realization brewing in Jack as he stares out into the ocean, now finally void of reflection and doubt?

I suppose we should also talk about Claire for a moment. Clearly, she's crazy...or infected...probably both. Her special friend is Fake Locke / MIB himself and we have to wonder if Sayid is going to follow this same path in upcoming episodes. Claire's main concern lies with the whereabouts of her baby, and it seems that MIB - through the visage of Christian (her father) and Locke - has been coercing her to believe that the Others have Aaron, when clearly they don't. I wonder if this is how MIB truly takes control of those that are infected? By identifying the one element that is most important to them and exploiting it so that they inevitably follow him into the fight. Because at the end of the day, being "infected" doesn't mean that you've lost total control of yourself. Claire still remembers the love she had for Aaron, and still holds memories for Jin and the other Losties. Similarly, Sayid (so far) seems to be acting pretty normal, even though "there is a darkness growing within him." So if MIB needs an emotional string to tug to take control, what might that be for Sayid? All that he has ever loved is dead (Nadia), but he's always had a soft spot for murderous revenge. If I were MIB, I'd introduce myself cordially to Sayid and quickly let him know that Jacob was effectively responsible for Nadia's death. If Sayid takes the bait, he'd want to eliminate anything that Jacob stands for, including other Candidates.

Tid Bits:

Another "Alice in Wonderland" reference that I didn't fit in: Jack lifts up a rabbit statue to get the key to his ex-wife's house. Also, who is his ex-wife? Is it still Sarah, the women we know from prior seasons?

The event sign at David's piano recital reads, "Welcome all Candidates." Furthermore, the piece that David plays (assuming it's the same as the liner notes Jack finds in David's room), is Chopin's "Fainstaise Improptu," the same music that a young Danielle Faraday was playing for his mother in a flashback of his in season 5.

The wheel in the lighthouse contained a whole host of new names that we didn't see in the cave, most importantly "Linus" and "Austin." But why is Ben's name crossed out? He's not dead yet, right? But what if the "Linus" on the wheel wasn't Ben's but instead belonged to his father Roger? This would explain why Jacob never seemed to care for Ben ("what about you?")...because Ben was never a candidate to begin with. And as for Kate: could her name have been left off the cave wall as a final fail-safe? If MIB can successfully eliminate all of the candidates on the wall, could Kate be the Dark Horse that closes his Loophole once and for all?

Alright, that's it for this week...chime in below with stuff that I missed, which is plentiful this week. Sorry for the lack of pictures, but I'm a bit off the grid and internet is choppy, I'll try to fill them in next week. Enjoy Tuesday's episode, which I know nothing about (and that's the way I like it!)

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Season 6, Episode 3; “The Substitute”

Now we’re talking! For all those that might have been a bit lukewarm on last week’s episode can’t have much to complain about the answer-packed, mythologically heavy, Locke centric roller coaster we were treated to this week. I mean, is there a better character on TV than John Locke? I could watch Terry O’Quinn work his magic all day, but I digress. There’s a lot to review from “The Substitute,” so let’s get right down to it.

There’s likely no better place to start than in the Numbers Cave. Some major information was revealed by MIB (“Flocke” or “Un-Locke” as the kids call him these days) to Sawyer in this scene, and to properly understand all the new info, we should quickly step back and review the tumultuous relationship between Jacob and the Man in Black.

Remembering back to last year’s finale, we learned that Jacob and MIB agree to disagree on the basic motivation of mankind. Jacob, the white piece in this game, believes in their inherent goodness, while MIB thinks otherwise. Time and time again, he sees them “come, fight, and destroy. It always ends the same.” He’s sick and tired of playing this never-ending loop with Jacob and he wants out. But as we all know, there are rules to abide by…rules that we can now begin to piece together in a more cohesive manner. First, Jacob selects the players by touch and essentially brings them to the Island, whether the players are aware of it consciously or not. Because "he has a thing about numbers,” these players are assigned a number (and in case you somehow missed it, our 6 candidates are numbers 4,8,15,16,23,42 – a convenient solution to a pesky mystery the producers didn’t quite know what to do with), and ultimately have a chance to win what's behind door #1: personal redemption and the crown of protector of the Island. MIB’s part in the game is simple…he cleans up the mess the candidates make when they ultimately fail themselves and their fellow man. He can’t interfere in their personal failure, meaning he can’t kill anyone Jacob personally selects (including Jacob himself), but he is there to scoop them up when they inevitably ruin their own chances at success…which they do time and time again. Once they fail, they belong to him. There were a lot of names in that cave, and so far none of them have won the prize. This game has been going on for quite some time, and MIB simply doesn’t want to play anymore.

So, as we all know, MIB concocts a plan to get out by manipulating Locke, taking over his body, and eventually persuading Ben to kill Jacob. But the game doesn’t end with Jacob’s death. In order to free himself completely, he needs to be sure that the remaining candidates – Hurley, Jack, Sayid, Jin (I’ll explain that one later), and Sawyer - are eliminated so that Jacob’s role isn’t fulfilled once again, which would keep the never-ending battle alive. But as we know from the rules, he can’t simply kill the candidates them himself, as a little boy ghost version of Jacob that only he and the candidates can see reminds him in this week’s episode. So he does the next best thing. He sets the stage for them all to kill each other.

As Ilana said, MIB is recruiting. So far he’s got Claire and Sayid, and he’s currently working hard on Sawyer. He is preparing for war, a war that has been hinted at for quite some time now. But it won’t be waged by Dharma or Widmore or any other outside influence against the Island. Instead, it’s a civil war - Jacob’s team versus MIB’s – and it will be waged on the Island, winner takes all. But it’s currently unclear to what that prize is for the winners. At first glance a simple “good vs evil” answer seems to suffice, but after a closer examination, we start to see that the simple answer may not necessarily be the case.

Over the next few episodes, we will be forced to consider whether or not MIB’s is truly “evil” or not. After all, who’s to say that he’s not the one that is right in the eternal argument between he and Jacob? He made quite a good case to Sawyer in the cave, didn’t he? In the end, didn’t Jacob effectively just use the O6 by pushing them to the Island, playing them as pawns in a game just to try to prove a point? A point that he has, so far, been unable to prove? Instead of vindication, Jacob tries and tries again, but “it always ends the same.” You can't argue that makes some solid points. And while I wouldn’t want MIB / Fake Locke to baby sit my kids or anything, his actions and tone at this point don’t really put him in the anti-christ category just yet. We just haven't heard his full side of the story, which is what we're beginning to understand now.

So if MIB is not evil, than what does he stand for? If Jacob hopes to prove man’s inherent goodness, what is MIB looking to prove? In the cave, he asks Sawyer, “why are you on this Island?” Jacob’s version of that answer might revolve around Sawyer needing to cleanse his soul of his past life, move beyond his criminal ways, come to terms with his traumatic childhood, and ultimately live a life filled with love and happiness. After all, this is almost exactly what happens to Sawyer when living in ’77 Dharmaville with Juliet. He was a changed man…for the better. If Sawyer can accomplish those goals, then maybe he then could be the one to protect that ability to redeem one’s life for others – i.e. protect the Island. But MIB’s answer to the same question is that Sawyer is on the Island because he was brought there against his will to act out a scene that ends the same way time and time again. There would be no hope for redemption, no love, and no happiness. Instead, Sawyer lives on as a prisoner on this Island both physically and emotionally, unable to break free of the misery and sadness that endures within him.

In the end, MIB may not represent “evil” per se, I think he represents something even worse: nothing. He believes in a world that is void of meaning and hope. This perspective in a way, can be construed as even worse than “evil.” Everyone wants to feel that their lives have a purpose, and that they can fulfill that purpose and overcome any obstacles that come in their way along the ride. They want to feel that no matter how bad things get, they can always get better. If MIB wins this war, and no one is left to protect the Island, could it mean that man is no longer able to rise above despair with hope and redemption, leaving him more lost than ever? Does it, once and for all, answer the question that has intrigued us for so long - “what is the meaning of life” - with an emphatic “nothing?”

I’m not sure if that’s the direction the show is going in, but you can be sure that the war is coming, and that its resolution will weigh heavily on what this show is ultimately about. Jacob claims that each game played and each candidate brought to the Island represents “progress.” But clearly the balance of power seems to be regressing in the direction of MIB’s motivation to end this game once and for all. The metaphor couldn’t be more clear as Flocke tosses white rock from the scale out into the ocean…citing it as an “inside joke” between the two opposing Island powers. Flocke is constructing an army, and at this point we should believe that he’s in the lead…but if perennial good guys Jack, Hurley, Jin, and Temple folk have anything to say about it, it will be a fight to the end.

But let’s move away this metaphorical business for a bit and focus on answering a few more Island mysteries. First off, there is one conspicuous name missing from the Cave wall: Kate’s. She was clearly touched by Jacob and brought to the Island, but now does not seem to meet the standards of candidacy. Frankly, I’m at a loss for this one. The only thing I can think of at this point is that her “stealing” of Aaron removed her from Jacob’s good wishes. But to Kate’s credit, there wasn’t much choice in the matter seeing that Claire decided to run off and play with Smokey in the jungle one night, leaving Aaron behind. Chime in with any thoughts you might have…I’ve stayed away from the blogosphere thus far, so I’m sure many theories are abound.

Another mystery is which Kwon did Jacob truly bring to the Island? Flocke states that even he didn’t know which one it was – Sun or Jin – but I think the answer lies in the another mystery that we’ve had since the beginning of last year. Viewers have long wondered why Sun never flashed off Ajira 316 along with Kate, Hurley, Sayid, and Jack…well, I think it's because she was never the chosen Kwon. Instead, Jin – who was already in ’77 Dharmaville – was the one that would eventually “come back” to present time after Jacob’s death, along with the rest of the candidates. Furthermore, if you look at the candidates commonalities, all of them have personal struggles to overcome. Jin was a terrible husband living in a dark life of organized crime. Sun, while no angel herself , was driven to acts of infidelity due to how Jin was treating her. Her struggles were a direct result of Jin’s behavior. The producers had mentioned that the answer to the non-disappearing Sun mystery would be indirectly answered early in the season, and I think we came upon that answer this week.

Now we’d be remiss not to go over some of the Flash-Sideways action in “The Substitute.” As you should be highly aware of by now, these Flashes are going to coincide with what we’ve already seen in earlier seasons of the series, even if the contexts surrounding our characters are different. First off, Hurley is still the owner of the box company where Locke works, and Randy – Locke’s boss at the Mr. Cluck’s in past seasons - is still his boss in the Sideways and still a total Douche (great line, Hurley!).

Sideways Rose may live in a different context as the Temp agency head, but she’s still diagnosed with terminal cancer, and has come to peaceful terms with that cancer just as she did on the Island (even before she felt that she was healed). In pure Rose fashion, she put aside all the stressers and drama that surround her (both on and off Island), and becomes the voice of calm and peace. Live in the now, and forget about everything else. She’s remained the most consistent character we have had on the show, and I think that balance is necessary when surrounded by all these ridiculously unbalanced characters we deal with every week.

Ben will no doubt be an influence in Sideways Locke’s new life, and seems to fit nicely into his European History teaching gig. I mean, Ben was a master teacher when leading the Others, don’t you think? He molded minds, guided his people into the future, and created a functioning society based on rigid rules and regulations. Not unlike High School, right? And sure, maybe his intentions were a bit cloudy when leading the Others – you know with all the brainwashing, manipulating, ego trips, and more – but then again, that description could be pinned to at least a couple of my old teachers when I think about it. Thankfully, those teachers fell short of trying to kill me, but I think you get the point.

Another curious coincidence is one that I haven’t gotten a lot of support on at the water cooler, but I think a Sideways Walt was floating around in this episode. On two occasions (the delivery boy at Locke and Helen's house and at the high school), we were shown a somewhat out of focus picture of a young black boy. Now, I’m not sure if it was specifically Walt or more of a nod to his “presence” and connection to Locke. Clearly, the producers can’t physically put Walt into a scene in 2004 because he is probably about 6’ 7” at this point, but he played a crucial role in Locke’s early Island life and the writers would want to match that role in the Flash-Sideways…or at least pay homage to it. I’m probably way off on this, but it’s a gut feeling…flame away!

And last but not least, there is the man himself, John Locke. He’s with Helen, they are in love, and he seems to be in a pretty good spot. Sure, we can still pick out the similarities between pre-dead Island Locke and Sideways Locke – the feelings of confusion, the shame, and the shield of bravado that he uses to hide behind. But what’s most interesting is that on the Island, John is dead. MIB has taken over him, but at the same time, he seems to have taken over just a slice of John’s persona with him. The coincidence between the two is maybe even more apparent than that of any other characters: they are both trapped. The old John Locke could never escape his eternal despair, wheel chair or not. Every time he thought he was breaking free, it just turned out that he was being manipulated and used again and again, all the way up until his death. Every time he would scream “don’t tell me what I can’t do!” he’d follow it up with exactly that – something he could not do. MIB seems to be in the same exact boat. He is physically trapped on the Island. He so desperately is trying to escape but at every turn Jacob seems to be just one small step ahead of him, reminding him that no matter how hard he tries, he will lose this game. Flocke looks so unbelievably frustrated when boy/ghost Jacob pops up, reminding him that just cause he’s (Jacob's) dead, the rules don’t stop applying to him that he slips right back into John Locke territory and repeats that ever present line “don’t tell me what I can’t do!” The ghost’s presence serves as a reminder, and possibly a clue to his future demise. John Locke, a handicapped man working at a box company (come on, you can’t get a bigger metaphor than that), was never able to truly break free from his own chains…and now we see that he and MIB may share the same fate. After all, as Ilana said, Flocke is “stuck that way now.”

Tid Bits:

Line of the week:

Far and away Lapidus’ remark after Ben’s eulogy at John’s burial:

“This is the weirdest damn funeral I’ve ever been to.”

Leave it to Frank to deliver perhaps the funniest line of the season thus far.

Numbers Breakdown:

4 – Locke

8 – Hurley

15 – Sawyer

16 – Sayid

23 – Shepard

42 – Kwon (I think Jin)

Notice that now that Locke is crossed out Hurley is curiously next in the sequence. Could the fact that Hurley is now kind of leading the Temple losties and is blessed with good luck in the Sideways serve as clues that he’s next in line for Jacob status?

Other names:

10: Mattingley

222: O'Toole

233: Jones

291: Domingo

Umm…Jacob fielding a baseball team or something?

The Last Supper Pic:

My buddy Vin made a great comment in last week’s post that maybe the “Last Supper” promo pic that ABC released before the season (and was posted here a few weeks back), was a clue to the two “sides” of this inevitable war. I think he’s definitely on to something, although some of the players on each side don’t quite yet add up (Richard and Ilana on Flocke’s side?). Who knows, but I thought it was pretty smart and definitely relevant to this week’s show so take a look for yourself.

OK! That is plenty for this week. Again, sorry for the lateness, but unfortunately a Monday posting could become a regularity due to the fact that work continues to assert itself as time sucker #1…pesky work. But look at it this way, now your primed for the next episode just around the corner titled, “The Lighthouse.” Enjoy!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Season 6, Episode 2: "What Kate Does"

Kate Austin, the criminal with a heart of gold. The girl that seems to make all the wrong decisions for what she thinks are the right reasons. She breaks hearts, steals babies, and is one hell of a fugitive, but her actions can be maddening to Lost fans. But while episodes centered around Kate can be sometimes tough to get through, "What Kate Does" turns out to be a nice continuation in what will be a very interesting final season. Themes of fate and free will continue to shine, and the mysteries of the Temple and beyond on the Island grow deeper. What exactly is going on with Sayid? Is Claire really "back," or is she infected as well? And how exactly did Sawyer get his hands on that engagement ring? He went to Jared's?

To start off, let's once again examine some of the similarities of the reset story to what has happened in past seasons. Right off the bat, we pick up the flash-sideways with Kate escaping (again) at the airport by hijacking Claire's cab. We can now see that Claire is in fact pregnant, and the relationship with these two characters in the reset begins. While it certainly starts off a bit rocky - you know with Claire's life being threatened and all - Kate inevitably turns a corner after she sees a picture of a very pregnant Claire along with a little baby stuffed Shamu. She decides to double back and pick her up at the bus stop (where apparently all lost pregnant women go to after being robbed and thrown out of a cab in LA) and drives Claire to her adoption rendezvous. But the foster mother's life is a wreck, and Claire will end up keeping the baby after all. Just as we heard way back in Season 1 from the Australian psychic, Claire must be the mother of her baby. If not, very bad things will happen. Fate is intervening once again, and the baby will once again stay with Claire, for now.

The next "What happened, happened" moment comes at the hospital where Claire starts going into labor. Kate pulls in a doctor to help and low and behold, it's Ethan, or to be more specific, Dr. Goodspeed. The name is important because it shows that even in this world where the Island doesn't exist (and is under water), Ethan is still the son of Horace and Amy Goodspeed, Horace being the leader of Dharma that we saw quite a bit of last season. If you remember, Amy gave birth to Ethan on the Island thanks to Juliet's help in 1977, and Ethan joins an exclusive club of babies that are able to be born on the Island along with Rousseau's daughter Alex, and of course Claire's Aaron (the latter two being conceived off Island). An interesting combination, especially when you consider how similar Claire appears to be to Rousseau when we see her at the end of the episode.

But back to the delivery room for a moment. Ethan tells Claire that the baby is ready and can be born that night, and specifically asks her if she wants that to happen. If she were to agree, some drugs would need to be administered to ensure a safe and healthy delivery. This exchange is almost exactly the same as when Ethan and the Others captured Claire back in Season 1, and administered drugs and sedatives to her to see how it might produce a healthy on-Island birth, since such a procedure hadn't been successful in many years (likely since "The Incident.")

Season 1 "Maternity Leave"
Season 6 "What Kate Does"

However, a small difference in the reset story is that Claire initially declines the drugs (where as she was convinced to accept them in Season 1), and just as she does so the baby's heart rate flat lines. After a few tense seconds, Claire shouts out "is Aaron ok?!" and viola, the heart rate returns. Is destiny playing its hand here to ensure that certain events happen as planned? And where does the name Aaron come from? Claire even admits that she hadn't thought of a name for her baby and that it just came to her. How did she know?

That takes us to a larger association between the parallel story lines. We've now seen a few examples of our characters seemingly "knowing" or "feeling" something at critical junctions in the reset that brings them back to feelings of historical familiarity. It seems reminiscent of deja vu, a feeling of understanding that is at once extremely powerful yet entirely inexplicable. Jack has it twice on the plane, first he feels a tremendous amount of relief when the plane doesn't crash after turbulence, as if he was certain that it was going to plummet to the ocean. Then, he meets Desmond and feels strongly that they had previously met ("see you in another life, brotha"). Kate has a moment of her own in this episode when she sees Jack standing on the airport curb and is obviously hit with a powerful feeling of nostalgia.

Then, Claire seemingly knows that her baby is a boy and that it should be named Aaron, but can't explain how she came to that fact ("I don't know why I said it, um, it's like I knew it or something"). It's not a stretch to predict that these moments will continue in the reset story.

Similarly, if you look at past Island events, we have been witness to some of our characters feeling absolutely positive of what they "should" do, even when they can't explain why. Locke was a huge proponent of this action, as he was absolutely positive that (among other things) moving the Island was his mission and of critical importance. Later, Jack felt the same way when he made blowing up the Island his uncompromising goal. In both these cases, the characters weren't privy to why they needed to do so, they "just knew." Desmond may have the most obvious example, as he came out of an off-Island hiding with Penny to deliver a message to Eloise Hawking after visually receiving that message from an on-Island Daniel through a dream/time flash. Penny tried to persuade him that it was only a dream, but Desmond protested. It was more than that, it was something that clearly happened, but had not presented itself as a memory until that moment.

I don't know exactly what to make of these larger, more abstract collisions between the parallel story lines, but I'm willing to bet that they will in some way lead us to how the two stories will be resolved. These moments are shown to us with a deliberate purpose, and so far they are the only clues of any direct correlation between the two "worlds." Could the actions of one world live within the conscious of the other? Continue to be on the look out for more deja vu interactions as the season moves on.

Moving on and as mentioned in the beginning of the post, I found the Island events to be steeped in almost too much mystery to analyze properly (except for Kate ignoring Sawyer's request and following him anyways, that was entirely predictable. That's soooo Kate). The main question of course is what's going on with Sayid? At the moment, we are being led to believe that he is infected, or has been "claimed." Claimed by the MIB? Does this mean that MIB can be multiple people at once? Or instead, does he have the "sickness" that Rousseau's French crew looked to have after they were attacked by Smokie? In that case, I'd say that the "infection" is not necessarily the MIB claiming the body himself (as he is doing with Locke), but instead is a way for him to gain disciples, or followers of his mission to act out his will (maybe similar to how Richard seems to be Jacob's main disciple).

Claire fits neatly into this group as well, since when we saw her last she was in the Cabin with Christian, (who I believe was the MIB at that time), while Christian/MIB was beginning his long con on Locke, telling him to move the Island. In that scene, Locke inquires about Claire's presence in the Cabin - who was devilishly lurking in the shadows - and Christian responds, "don't worry, she's with me." Well it looks as if Sayid might be "with him" as well. But at the same time, I'm not ruling out the fact that Sayid could be Jacob as well. We are just going to have to see how this all pans out as the season moves on.

From Season 4's "Cabin Fever"

One last issue of importance on the Island, and more specifically in the Temple, is that the O6 are still extremely important to the Temple leader Dogen. He needs them to be on his side, but clearly cannot force them to submit to his will. While it seems that they are being held captive, Sawyer still leaves with little to no resistance, and Kate and Jin are even allowed to go and try and retrieve him. Simply put, they will all need to come back to the Temple on their own free will and believe in what Dogen and the Others are trying to accomplish. Back at the Temple, Jack has multiple encounters with Dogen, who tries to convince Jack to kill Sayid instead of doing it himself. Sayid needs to take the pill willingly, just as Jack needs to believe that doing so is the right thing to do.

Again, the idea of free will persists even within the web of ongoing conflict between the Losties and the Others. If you think about it, even though the Others have done some evil shit in their time, they have always manipulated their enemies to act upon their own will to carry out their nefarious plans. When Ben needed Jack to operate on his tumor, he couldn't simply force him to do so, he needed Jack to want to save his life. And on the operating table, the choice to kill or save Ben was all his own. When the O6 needed to return to the Island, they couldn't be forced to do so, they needed to return on their own terms. After Locke fell down the well and broke his leg, he received no help from Christian when asked, because moving the Island was something he needed to execute personally.

Now, Dogen needs much of the same from our Lostie friends. They will need to believe. But the question is, will their beliefs be right?

Sorry for the late post this week but it's been a little busy as of late. Hopefully you guys have a nice three day weekend to take this in and then we're right back on Tuesday with "The Substitute." Enjoy!


It's Always Sunny in Otherton: Not a big revelation here, but I was pretty shocked to see "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" star Mack in this episode, playing the somewhat annoying character "Aldon," who apparently had a bit of a chip on his shoulder for Kate, who had pistol whipped him a few seasons ago. I wonder if the producers are fans of the cult hit on FX?

Hurley's question to Sayid, "are you a zombie?", held a particular significance to Lost nerds like myself, since the producers have a running joke that Season 7 will be the "zombie season." I guess you had to be there.

The baby Shamu that Kate found in Claire's luggage was the same stuffed Shamu that Aaron was holding in Season 4's "Something Nice Back Home" when he walked in on Kate and Jack arguing over Kate's secret involvement with Sawyer's daughter. It's also important to note that this scene ended with Jack shouting, "at least I'm related to him!" which proved his Brother/Sister relationship to Claire. Burn.

As always, let me know what I missed in the comments...till next time!

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Season 6, Episode 1: "LA X parts 1 & 2"

Welcome back! The long wait for the final season of our favorite show is over and now we can get back to wasting hours of precious work time trying to figure out what the hell is going on. And there are oh so many questions already. How did the Island get under water? Did the Losties reboot or is this some sort of dream sequence? And who the hell is this Kung Fu Master that is guarding the Island's Temple? And what about Fate vs Free Will? Did Jack's decision to change the past to alter the future actually work?

First things first. I won't answer all of these questions. Mostly because I don't know the answers. But I think I can at least get us off to the right start on the bigger picture. The most important issue to tackle right off the bat are the coinciding story lines. One of the main reasons this show is so engaging is the fact that the writers continue to come up with innovative ways to tell their tale to the viewers. In the first few seasons, they utilized Flashbacks to give depth and context to the characters. Then, they collectively blew our minds with the sneaky switch to Flashfowards, which forced the audience to think about the narrative of the show in a completely different fashion, working almost from back to front. Then, to up the ante even more, we shifted back and forth through time, tracking the moves of our characters 30 years apart. And now, the final trick is at the same time the simplest and most confusing. Enter, the Flash-Sideways.

The Flash-Sideways, in the simple form, tracks the present narrative for the characters in a parallel fashion. On one track, we have a scenario ("the reset") in which the original Oceanic 815 never crashes, and will presumably show us how life turns out for our crew if they had never crashed on the Island. In the second, we remain on the Island and play out the seemingly never ending duel between light and dark, or more aptly between Jacob and the Man in Black/Smokie/Awesomely Evil Locke. But when trolling deeper into the idea of both scenarios, things get can both exist at the same time? How can the Island be submerged, and if it was blown to pieces, how can certain people who were on the Island still exist in the future?

The complicated questions are likely the ones to ignore...for now. Throughout the series, in my opinion, the overall story has superseded the sometimes infuriatingly complicated logic (I mean, last year was basically one giant time paradox, but we got through that, right?). And in the opening chapter to this final arc, the story once again focuses on one of Lost's thematic constants, Destiny vs. Free Will. Is there a pre-determined path that our lives follow or do we have the power to create our own fate? While the question is omnipresent throughout seasons 1-5, we may have finally got our answer in the first 10 minutes of LAX. It's both.

Let's look at the reset scenario first. After campaigning aggressively on the "let's blow this Island up so that we change the future" party line in Season 5, Jack and his time-traveling gang of variables do just that. They change the future. Oceanic 815 stays in the air and lands safely in LAX. But some things are slightly different. Desmond is on the plane. Shannon isn't. Jack gets only one extra nip of vodka, and not two. Hurley is the luckiest man alive. Boone's a decent actor.

But what's interesting to me are the sly, yet out of context, similarities between what happens on the plane after it should have crashed and what happened on the Island after it did crash in Season 1. If you notice, even though we are viewing a separate reality in which the Losties never crashed and met, their paths are inevitably beginning to cross, in ways that are strikingly similar to their past fates on the Island. The first example is Jack's random cut on the neck. Where did that come from? No worries, just patch it up and return to business, similar to how we sequestered himself in the jungle during the opening scenes of the series to stitch up (with Kate's help) that ugly tear in his side.

Next, we find Charlie locked in the bathroom, apparently choking on his bag of smack (instead of it falling into the toilet during turbulence, this time the bag falls down his interested simile in its own right). As Jack and the stewards try unsuccessfully to break open the bathroom door, from behind we hear a familiar voice, "perhaps I can be of some assistance." It's Sayid, offering up his services, just as he offered up his services on the Island to get crucial info out of Sawyer by way of torture. Once the door is busted through, Jack goes to work on Charlie, first looking for something sharp - his pen - which is exactly what he tells Boone to find so that he can save Rose after the plane crashes on the Island in the series pilot. And after pulling the bag out of his throat, Charlie yells out to Jack, "why did you save me, I'm supposed to die." An eery prediction, seeing that not only was Charlie "supposed to die" in our original story, he eventually did so by drowning in the Looking Glass station.

The similarities don't end there. Some others are smaller; Rose and Bernard clearly still love each other, as they playfully flirt like teenagers in their seats next to Jack. Sawyer is back to old self, quipping to the flight attendant "hey Amelia Earhart where you running to" as she rushes back to assist Jack with Charlie. But others hold more striking similarities. Kate escapes her captivity once again
(by stealing Jack's pen by the way...remember when she bumped into him coming out of the plane bathroom?), and gives the FBI agent a nasty blood gushing cut on his head in precisely the same spot that the overhead luggage knocked him in the original crash.

Locke still can't walk, but he has hope to do so after meeting miracle spinal surgeon Jack Shepard...after all, "nothing is irreversible." Sun will soon have to betray Jin's trust by speaking English in order to clear him of any wrong doing at the customs desk, just as she did when Jin went crazy on Michael for stealing his watch; the same watch that sparked the custom agent's interest in LAX.

And then there's maybe the most obvious connection - Jack's father is missing. That's kind of a big deal, right? And to drive the point home even further, we have Juliet's post-mortem confirmation of the plan..."it worked." Before her death - and in a very Charlotte-esque manner - Juliet floats through consciousness and speaks of going dutch on a coffee date. Maybe she knows the plan "worked" because what she saw was a coffee date with Sawyer, when the two inevitably meet once again for the first time in a future Flash-Sideways.

Not surprisingly, I'm guessing that we will continue to see these familiar story lines and connections progress as the 'reset' story continues. Which all supports the notion that while you can use free will to change even the biggest of life's moments, fate will play its hand in one way or another and correct its course, no matter how far off the path it may be. These people are meant to cross paths, and whether it be as crash survivors on a far away Island, or in the mundane dimension of the real world, it will happen. And maybe most importantly, regardless of context, the characters are all still dealing with their own demons. Jack looks just as lost as he ever did, Kate is a fugitive, Locke is ashamed, Sun and Jin have fallen out of love, and Sawyer's already working how to con Hurley out of his money. The act of free will changed everything and nothing at the same time.

But enough with the reset, what's going on back on the Island? Awesomeness, is what. Locke finally reveals himself as both the Man in Black and Smokie after taking care of Bram and company and afterward utters another amazing Lost line to Ben; "sorry you had to see me like that." Soon after, he scolds both Richard and the rest of the crew, sighting his disappointment in all of interesting line for someone that should expect no loyalty due to his, you know, evilness and all. Unless of course he's not the evil one. After all, he just wants to "go home." Where is that? Or more likely, what is that? Maybe MIB's motive for getting rid of Jacob and therefore the rest of the Others is to get his home back. Smokie has been on the Island far longer than any of them. Maybe the MIB is simply trying to reclaim what he feels is rightly his own?

And then we get to the Temple. A ton of questions arise in this sequence (who is the Kung Fu Master? And what's with his squirrely interpreter? Why don't the Others always live there...seems pretty nice), but I'm going to let those lie in hopes that future episodes will provide some answers. The most important clues in these scenes revolve around what happens to Sayid. Hurley receives an urgent message from Ghost Jacob to get Sayid to the Temple, but when they finally get him there, the situation looks dire. Sayid looks like he's beyond saving, and the Temple folk see that their little fountain of life is not as clear as it should be. In fact, it looks a little red, as if blood is flowing through its depths. Kung Fu Master's sliced hand doesn't heal immediately, and in the end the magic water fails to save Sayid's life. But in a last second surprise, Sayid springs to life and the all too familiar L O S T thump-to-black hits us like ton of bricks.

How could Sayid be alive? After all, "Dead is Dead," right? Not only did Doc Jack confirm Sayid's passing, but so did the Kung Fu Master; and I think we all know that when a Kung Fu Master says someone's dead after waving their hand over their head, they're fucking dead. Well, the explanation could be pretty simple: Jacob resurrected through Sayid's body.

Think about it, Jacob was insistent that they get Sayid to the Temple asap. And the fountain water was running red with his own blood due to his death two hours earlier. And hell, if the Man in Black can take the form of others, why can't Jacob? Who's to say that the "original" Jacob and MIB weren't just the bodies of some dead Black Rock visitors? They could simply be Island Spirits that inherent the human form when know like Jesus and fallen angels and...

Alright, I'm not going down that path, but you get the point. But with Jacob's resurrection complete, his counterpoint to the MIB's "loophole" is a success. He brought the O6 back and the table is set for one last showdown for ages. And I for one, can't wait to see how it goes down.


We finally see exactly what the gray ash is for as both Bram and the Temple dwellers use it to (try) and protect themselves from Smokie. While it's certainly not full proof (lookin' at you Bram), the ash will work if administered properly. This also explains how Smokie accessed Jacob's Cabin, since we saw a break in the ash circle when Ilana's team approached the area last season. This confirms that Locke's first encounter with "Jacob" was the beginning of the manipulation by the MIB...the start of a very long con that was the impetus of MIB's "loophole" plan. (Another theory is the ash was used to KEEP Smokie within the Cabin, but since Smokie has long been used as a security system of sorts, I tend to agree with the former theory.)

So what was that thing in Hurley's guitar case? Well, it was a familiar symbol in the Islands' mythology - an Ankh - which is a symbol for Eternal life that the Four Toed Statue holds in both hands (and was also worn by Amy's late husband Paul). Within this Ankh was a message - from Jacob - to save Sayid at all costs. If my theory of Jacob taking over Sayid holds true, what better carrier for this note than a symbol that reflects eternal life?

Dharma Shark still kickin' it (look at the tail fin area).

Also, that little space between the "A" and "X" in the episode title above is not a mistake. Is it a clue reflecting how this reality is just a bit altered from the original? Check your DVR's for the show's title and you'll see the space is there. Those loony writers.

And finally, the best line of the night (of many to choose from):

''Hello, Richard. Nice to see you out of those chains.''


We're off to a great start folks, and I know I left a bunch of stuff out so chime in with your thoughts below!