Saturday, March 27, 2010

Season 6, Episode 8: "Ab Aeterno"

Well, that was awesome. After six seasons of mystery and speculation, we finally got some answers about our eye-liner wearing friend, Richard Alpert. This episode was a bit of a throw back as well, as the storytelling took a break from the Sideways world and focused more on the very long past of the ageless one. It's funny though, even though we were thrown a ton of info in "Ab Aeterno," there were few jaw dropping moments of revelation, but that certainly doesn't mean that there is nothing to talk about.

"Your dead. We're all dead. We're in Hell."

First off, let's make sure we're all on the same page: the Island is not Hell. I think most people worked this out, but it's worth running through briefly just in case. Richard's declaration to Jack that the "Island is Hell" was quite a way to start off the episode, but as we moved through the hour we learned that his assumption was based lies planted by none other than the Man in Black. He's a crafty one for sure, and I must admit, they had me going for just a little bit (especially when Jacob went all medieval on Richard at the statue), but in the end what we saw was MIB up to his old tricks.

This episode was actually the perfect companion to last year's finale ("The Incident") when we saw - for the first time - Jacob and the Man in Black sitting on the beach waiting the arrival of the Black Rock to the Island.

Even back then, MIB was insistent on the frivolity of he and Jacob's game and let Jacob know that his ultimate goal was to kill him and escape from the Island. Therefore, when the ship subsequently crashes ashore, MIB goes straight to work on a plan to extricate himself from his own personal prison. In the form of Smokey, he wipes out the crew in short order, but stops short of finishing off Richard. While scanning his mind, he sees something in him; a broken man that is ripe for exploitation. This is no different to when Smokey stares down John Locke years and years later (in Season 1) and sees a life of failure, false hope, and broken dreams. In short, a sap that will be easy to recruit. For John, MIB dangled the carrots of leadership, respect, and destiny to win him over - for Richard he simply needed to tempt him with the lost love of his wife and Richard was ready to do his dirty work.

Richard's first encounter with Jacob provided a nice counterpoint argument to MIB's rather convincing statements in the hull of the Black Rock. As I mentioned, the calm and soft spoken man that we're used must have been on vacation as he rather unfairly beat the shit out of a man that was on the brink of death as it is, but I guess Jacob figured he needed a good dose of reality to convince him that he was not in fact dead at all - and a good punch to the face is as good a way to do so as any. After the ceremonial dunking/baptism into the "faith of Jacob" in the water, Richard was ready to listen. And here, we get a reprisal of Jacob's mission: 1) prove that man is inherently good and can avoid corruption by choosing the right path on their own and without influence and 2) to keep MIB trapped on the Island by any means necessary....cause if he gets out, then lookout cookout, the world quite literally turns to Hell.

What's key here is the interpretation of what Jacob means by "Hell." Does he mean that if MIB escapes, the world goes all WWIII on itself and we're to live out our days in post-apocalyptic misery? I don't think so. I think what he refers to is that man's ability to execute free will in order to make himself, those around him, and his environment a better place will be lost forever. Meaning, that we will be faced to live in a world without purpose, which is a life not worth living. It might as well be Hell. In "Dr. Linus" Richard said to Jack, "why do I want to die?! Because I just found out that my entire life had no purpose!" MIB's stance is that this path to despair is inevitable. There is no purpose to life and there is nothing anyone can do to change that. And if he succeeds and escapes the Island, it will be so in the world. But what happens if he doesn't succeed?

It may be a stretch, but I think the Sideways world is the direct result of MIB's ultimate failure on the Island. For a while now we've seen similarities between the two realities and how our characters' victories and defeats represent themselves in the Sideways, but we are still at a loss as to how the two worlds are truly connected. My take is that events that we see in the Sideways happen because they are living in a world in which MIB doesn't exist at all...or Jacob for that matter. And even without these forces of influence, man is able to make the right choices for themselves, entirely on their own. If this is the case, then it makes sense that the Island is under water, because its purpose to "cork" MIB's existence from the rest of the world is unnecessary. Similarly, if Team Light wins the war on the Island, then Jacob wins the eternal argument of man's inherent goodness, proving his point beyond doubt, which means that his existence (which arguably, is only to prove MIB wrong) is no longer necessary as well. And for the most part, the characters we've seen in the Sideways have made their lives better entirely on their own, through their own ability to choose the right path.

Now, how does that explain that the Island is under water? Well, as we know from "Dr. Linus," Dharma existed in the Sideways and their work on the Island was very real. The Island was still a "special" place based on its location and the scientific properties within it. So Dharma still utilized it for its experiments, and in the end, I think the incident still happened which in turn sunk it to the bottom of the Ocean (and we will assume that Ben and Roger left before said incident this time). But what is different in this scenario is that the rest of it - the influences from the Losties and the Others and Jacob and MIB - weren't a part of it all, because they were never there. When you think about it, the Dharma storyline and the Others/Jacob/MIB storyline are mutually exclusive. Dharma still would have happened regardless of whether or not Jacob and MIB lived there or not. And the Incident still would have happened without any Other / Lostie influence because the decision to drill into the Swan station was entirely Dharma's. Therefore the Incident still occurred, causing the Island to sink in 1977, and Oceanic 815 therefore never crashed 2004. Case closed? (I doubt it).

Who I said, it may be a stretch and I can already think of some holes in this theory (if Jacob and MIB never existed, why is the Statue still up in the sunken Sideways Island?), but it's what I got at the moment. I'd love to hear what you guys may think as well. At the office, theories of the long debated Purgatory scenario are making a come back, so there are plenty of theories going around. I may be wrong with the above, but I think that when we look back at the end of all this, "Ab Aeterno" will be viewed as an episode that provided some serious clues to the ultimate resolution of LOST.

Tid Bits

The title of this episode, Ab Aeterno, is Latin for "from eternity." The phrase is used to mean "since the beginning" or "for long ages." This could certainly refer to a number of things, one of which would be Richard's agelessness.

You may have caught that the Captain of the Black Rock was Magnus Hanso. Indeed, Magnus Hanso is the great grandfather of Alvar Hanso, who was the leader of the Hanso Foundation, which funded the Dharma Initiative. Additionally, in the Season 3 episode "The Constant," Charles Widmore was shown as the winning bidder for a journal that was believed to be the property of the Black Rock's Captain on the ship's final voyage (at the time, another Hanso - Talvard Hanso - was the owner of the journal and was auctioning it off). Widmore likely wanted the journal so that he could use it to try and find the Island.

I found it interesting that MIB told Richard that "if you let him talk, it will already be too late," when referring to his instructions on how to kill Jacob. Of course, we remember Dogen saying this same thing to Sayid when instructing him on how to kill Flocke, and sure enough, once Flocke speaks to Sayid ("Hello, Sayid") he is incapable of being killed. But the confusing thing is that when Ben killed Jacob, Jacob did talk to him...but he was still killed. So apparently the same rules don't apply to both?? Or maybe the difference is that Jacob wanted/needed to die, so that a candidate can take over his position and end MIB's reign for good.

What Hurley says to a ghost (presumably Isabella) at the beginning of the episode: "Ok.", "What can you do?", "Yes, I can help you.", "But, I don't know how to find him, if I don't where he went...",

Illana continues to intrigue me...she is clearly an important character but we still know very little about her. After seeing in this episode that Jacob realized that Richard could be his adviser on the Island, I wonder if he eventually realized that having someone in the outside world would be helpful as well? If so, is that person then Illana? If so, is she also ageless? That hospital that Jacob finds her in seems like it's pretty old...maybe from the WWII era. Interesting to think about....hopefully we get an episode focusing on her as we wind down to the end of it all...

That's all I got for this week. Thanks for reading, as always, and looking forward to this week's episode, which is titled "The Package." Until then....

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Season 6, Episode 7: "Recon"

So this episode didn't do much for me, but not every week can be perfect. The Flash-Sideways storyline was interesting, with Miles and Sawyer starring in their own buddy cop show, but some of the Island scenes dragged a bit. It wasn't awful, but I guess I just didn't see an evolution for the characters' story lines in "Recon"...but then again, maybe that was the point.

As we've discussed here over the past few weeks, characters that find their purpose on the Island, for better or worse, seem to reflect that purpose and change in the Sideways world. Ben redeems himself on the Island, and is a changed man in the Sideways. Sayid reverts to evil on the Island, and does so as well in the Sideways...and so on. So when it became clear that "Recon" focused on Sawyer, I was expecting some sort of moment of clarity for our old friend. Will he stay with Flocke, or will he (re) con him and save the day for team light? What choices will he make and how will they impact the not only the story, but his role in both the Island and the Sideways? But in the end, no such moment came. Sawyer reverted back to his old (Season 1-3) self...looking out only for himself, playing sides against each other, getting hot on Kate, and you know... just survivin'.

So when we see him in the Sideways, he's not really any different than what we're used to seeing with him. Sure, he's a cop instead of a criminal, but it's almost as if the cop gig is just a cover for his true mission: to find and kill the man that is responsible for his parent's death. And it is this tragic event - both in the Island and Sideways world - that Sawyer can't overcome. His lack of trust for others, failed relationships, loner attitude, selfishness, and penchant for violence all stem from the loss of his parents at a young age. And if he can't move past these feelings, start to trust and work positively with others, he will remain without purpose both on the Island and in the Sideways. It's no coincidence that Jacob touched Sawyer outside the church where his parent's funeral was held. It is this event that defines him, and Jacob's hope is that it will end up making him stronger, not weaker.

The only time Sawyer came close to putting the past behind him was during his time with Dharma. He held an important position within the community, was respected by all and trusted those he worked with. Most importantly, he fell in love, an act that requires a certain vulnerability that he was never truly capable of before. It's almost as if this period was Sawyer's time of redemption. All the pain he suffered before due to his past was gone, and he was at peace in his life. But when it was all ripped away, ending with Juliet dying in his arms, he unfortunately reverted back to his old ways. You can't blame him for being upset and wanting to just leave it all behind and get the hell off the Island, but something tells me that when it comes down to it, he won't be able to leave his friends behind.

Sawyer "still has work to do" and that the Island isn't done with him yet, and I also don't think we've seen the last of his episode-centric story lines. My guess is that the hero within him will rise again, as it has in the past, and he will choose the right side, as he has in the past as well. He is capable of greatness, and I hope that he lives up to that capability. And if he does, I believe that we will see him once again in the Sideways, but this time in a different light. Instead of holding on to the thought of revenge and dealing with his grief through six packs and one night stands, he'll be hand in hand with Juliet, going "dutch over coffee," happy as can be. His reward for redemption on the Island will be to reclaim the happiness he once lost in the Sideways. That's my corny guess, anyways.

Some other stuff obviously went down in "Recon," the most important being Widmore's return to the Island. His meeting with Sawyer was interesting, and we were left to wonder what Widmore's true intentions really are. But the scenes left us with more questions than answers. What's in that locked door in the sub? Did Zoe and the others come with Widmore on the sub, or were they planted on Ajira 316 by Widmore so that he could finally find his way to the Island? Did they kill the remaining passengers or did Flocke? (I'm guessing Flocke). How does Widmore plan on killing Flocke? (Maybe with whatever is in that locked door?) But one thing is for sure, both Flocke and Widmore are aware of each other, and it doesn't look like they're buddy buddy either. This seems to point more to the fact that Widmore is actually a good guy, and has returned to the Island to help protect it. Time will tell, though.

A quick thought regarding Flocke: he's full of shit. This isn't a monumental claim or anything, but in no way do I believe that "his mother was hard on him" and that he went through some "growing pains" in their relationship as he claims in his little chat with Kate. Flocke is recruiting, just as he was when he appealed to Sawyer's weaknesses in the cave to have him join the team, and how he tugged on Sayid's strings when mentioning Nadia. He's using Kate's strained relationship with her mother (Kate's mother essentially chose an abusive husband over her, a tough pill to take for anyone) in order to create bond between them so that she will fully join his side. And the "crazy mother" comparison to Claire was a nice finishing touch. Dangling Kate's love for Aaron was as the final nudge to what he hopes will be her full conversion to the dark side. But Kate - for now - isn't taking the bait.

She, just like Sawyer, is still in limbo per her overall purpose on the Island, and remains somewhat side-less. Therefore, it's not a surprise to see that she hasn't changed too much in the Sideways either. Kate the convict is still on the run, running away from both her problems and her responsibilities. Hopefully Kate and Sawyer can help each other find what their looking for.

Tid Bits

The man in the police station looking for his brother was Liam Pace, Charlie's brother. I hope we get to see a little more of Charlie eventually, but for now he's locked up for carrying drugs on the flight.

From Lostpedia, a summary of the books on Sawyer's dresser:

  • Watership Down: This novel, written in 1972 by Richard Adams, is on James' chest of drawers. The novel is a spoof of humans searching for a new home, using a society of rabbits as characters. The rabbits find what they think is utopia, but discover that it is a farm with traps and snares. They find that they have to live together or die alone, while establishing new rules by which to live.
  • A Wrinkle in Time: This sci-fi children's novel, written in 1962 by Madeleine L'Engle, is on James' chest of drawers. The story follows Meg Murry, a teenager who travels in time and space with her younger brother Charles Wallace and friend Calvin O'Keefe. Their mission is to rescue her father, who is a scientist being held prisoner on an alien planet dominated by a large dark cloud called "The Black Thing."
  • Lancelot: This novel, written by Walker Percy in 1977, tells the story of Lancelot Lamar, an attorney who finds out he is not the father of his youngest daughter. Lamar kills his wife by blowing up their house. He ends up in a mental institution with his memories, where reality and the past get blurred for him.
And to end the post with a little comedy, I couldn't help but think of the below clip when Flocke slapped Claire silly after putting a knife to Kate's throat. An oldy, but goodie:

Alright folks, strap in for next week, which focuses on the man, the myth, the legend: Richard Alpert. And the episode apparently runs 6 minutes over, so plan accordingly!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Season 6, Episode 6; "Dr. Linus"

This was my favorite episode of the season. Sure, Smokey death runs, slit throats, and axe wounds to the chest are thrilling and all, but in the end I'm a sucker for the slow cook variety of episodes that bring us new revelations about our beloved characters. Add the fact that Ben - the man we love to hate (and sometimes love to love) - was put back to the center of attention after a drought that lasted a little too long and you got yourself a perfect hour of television. There was a good amount of info to process from this particular hour, so let's get right down to it

"He might just as well have been Dead"

As Dr. Linus taught his European History students about the fall of the infamous Napoleon, you couldn't help realize that he was effectively describing his own history on the Island. In the lecture, Ben notes that Napoleon would likely choose death over a powerless life, and it would just so happen that he would have to make the same choice later on in the episode, but more on that later. What the line initially conjures up is a remembrance of Ben's own motivations throughout his life: his unrelenting lust for power.

Ben was never a candidate. I know his name ("Linus") was on the Lighthouse wheel, but I believe that the name represented his father Roger, and that Ben was brought along for the ride. Not only was he not a candidate, but I don't believe that he was ever "supposed" to be the leader of the Others. Instead, he used his keen sense of manipulation to rise through the ranks, as the allure to gain total power was too strong to pass up. Just like his buddy Napoleon, he wanted it all, and he got it.

As we know, little Ben was extremely unhappy with his original situation on the Island, and figured out a way to defect from Dharma and be "saved" by Richard and the Others. Once entrenched as a full time Other, he succeeded in the elimination of the Dharma contingent for good. Then, surely after a series of tried and true Ben manipulations, he exiled Widmore - the true leader at the time - siting various "rule" violations. With his quest to the top complete, he moved the Others to Dharmaville (now appropriately christened "Otherton"), and took over other various Dharma stations for his own use (the medical hatch, the Hydra, the Looking Glass, the Flame communication station to keep in touch with the "real" world, etc), a move that contradicted how the Others typically lived and operated on the Island. Furthermore, he undertook various projects - the doomed fertility experiment being one - seemingly without higher level direction and in the process put many of his people in danger. Ben does all of this to supposedly "protect the Island" and his people, but time and time again what we really see is him protecting himself and his position of power. Case in point, when he has a choice between saving his daughter or saving himself, he choose the latter and watched Alex be murdered right before his eyes.

All the while, Ben himself didn't seem to be protected by the Island at all. We've seen miraculous recoveries by those that are "chosen" - Locke has healed from a gunshot wound (inflicted by none other than Ben), Jack has survived rusty blade surgery, Rose is healed from terminal cancer, etc. Yet Ben, the supposed chosen leader and protector of the Island, develops an aggressive cancer on his neck and has to rely on Jack rather than the Island for salvation. And most revealing of all, Ben never even met Jacob when he was in power. Jacob never called for him, never spoke to him, relying instead on Richard to relay messages and direction. In the end, frustrated with the lack of attention he received from Jacob, Ben confronts him in the foot of the statue. And when responding to Ben's plea for recognition, Jacob's cold response of "what about you" acts as the final straw for Ben, and we all know what happened next.

According to Miles, Jacob's last thought before getting stabbed in the heart by Ben was "I hope I'm wrong about him." You see, Jacob always knew that Ben was not the true leader of the Others, nor the protector of the Island. However there was little he could really do about his rise to power. Choices were being made, free will being manipulated by Ben to fuel his own success. Jacob can set out a game plan, but he can't change the game once it has begun. Therefore, he knew that Ben could be trouble for him. He knew that since Ben was essentially a rogue leader, that all his carefully set out plans for the true candidates could go to hell. But being a believer in man's inherent goodness, Jacob hoped he was wrong about Ben's intentions. He hoped that he would choose the right path, that he would lead in the way that other candidates would have. After all, wouldn't that be the best story of all? A normal man, without the gift from Jacob, comes to the Island and proves that man is capable of good over evil. Jacob hoped that this could be true. But as we know, Ben's intentions remained rested on his own gain versus that of the Island, and as he plunged his knife into Jacob's chest, Jacob's fear was confirmed. He was right about Ben…for now.

While it may have been a little too late for Jacob, Ben does eventually prove him wrong. What we saw in "Dr. Linus" was Ben's final path to true redemption. While digging his own grave - an extremely apt metaphor for what Ben has essentially been doing throughout his selfish life - Flocke visits him and gives him a choice: come with me, and have it all back. The power, the glory, the control, the manipulation, everything. Come with me and have it all….or stay here and die. It's Napoleon's quote all over again. At first Ben reacts instinctively and runs. He retrieves the gun that Flocke left for him and turns to face a chasing Ilana. But instead of killing her in cold blood - something that he would have done with no problems at all in the past - he hesitates. He doesn't want anymore blood on his hands. He knows what he's done is wrong and accepts that no one in their right mind would want him in their company. But he so desperately wants to choose correctly this time. On verge of tears and willing to accept his fate as the newest Flocke recruit, he laments that "he's the only one that'll have me." And in a line that truly saves Ben's life Ilana responds, "I'll have you."

Illana, ever the student of Jacob, realizes that Ben's road to redemption is nearly complete. Given the chance, he will work with them and turn what was evil within him to good. He will eschew power and be a part of the team. And as he approaches Sun back at the beach, he offers a lending hand with a tarp; to help not only rebuild shelter but to rebuild his trust with those that might give him one more chance, after all.

Ben's choices to overcome temptation and evil on the Island leads to him make correct choices in the Sideways as well. Instead of sacrificing Alex for his own personal gain to become principal, he instead gives up that hope so that she can succeed. For once, he sacrifices himself for someone else's gain. Have we EVER seen him do that? This is a new life for Ben, and I think that the change is for good, both here and on the Island. In the beginning of the episode our old friend Locke the Substitute respects Ben's devotion to improve his kids' educational environment, saying "it sounds like you really care about this place." While the old Ben used this notion of "caring" as a rationalization for his crude actions on the Island (claiming that everything he did was for his people and the Island), now he truly does care for this place and for these people. There are some out there that think that Ben will fall to the dark side again, and that all of this is just one more long con to gain back the power that he lost, but I tend to disagree. Sure, I may eat these words (as I think I fall for Ben's tricks every time), but I think that he is truly changed man. It's Season 6 my friends, and there are bigger fish to fry. (Good thing I can edit these posts whenever I need to when the time comes though ;)

"Wanna try another stick?"

Let's move on to the awesomeness that was the Richard and Jack storyline. Jack and Hurley encounter an increasingly disheveled Richard in the jungle and he leads them to Black Rock, the place of Richard's embarkation to the Island hundreds of years ago. And simply put, Richard is looking for a way out. Much like MIB, he's questioning his purpose on the Island. He sees the chains that once trapped him on the Black Rock and thinks that while he thought he gained freedom on the Island through Jacob, he instead entered into another form of slavery for all these years. He's completely lost faith in all that he once believed in, and figures that offing himself is the best way to just end it all. But there's just one thing. We learn that since Jacob has touched him, he is incapable of suicide. Interesting.

As a side note (and props to Bri Guy for pointing this out), this little tid bit of info explains a few unresolved mysteries from past episodes. In "Meet Kevin Johnson" back in Season 4, our old frenemy Michael was wracked with guilt over the betrayal of his Lostie friends, and for the breakdown of his relationship with Walt. In the beginning of that episode, we see him write a note to Walt, and proceed to drive his car into a dumpster at roughly 70 miles per hour. But he lived. Later in the episode, he acquires a gun, loads it, points it to his head, and…nothing. Jammed. Again. Jammed. Coincidence? Hardly. Like most of the our other characters that were brought to the Island, Michael was a candidate and therefore susceptible to the rules that Jacob imposed upon them. And as we learned this week, one of those rules is that you can't kill yourself. Be killed by others? Sure. But no dice if you want to do the deed yourself.

Another example of this rule in action is when a disheveled and bearded Jack starts to step off that bridge in Season 4, but is interrupted just in time by an accident occurring behind him. They couldn't die not only because Jacob had touched them, but because both characters still had work to do for the Island. Michael's job was to get on that Freighter and redeem himself for his awful actions in the past. And Jack? Well Jack's starting to figure out what he needs to do as well.

Jack has seemingly gone full circle from Man of Science to Man of Faith. No longer does he ignore the powers of the Island and chalk everything up to coincidence or chance. He's realizing that this Island, and this dude Jacob; they represent more than just a rock in the ocean and some loony-toon mythical leader. So when he casually lights the stick of dynamite in front of Richard and just sits there - calm as can be - he knows that he hasn't come all this way just to die in some freak explosion. Sure, the bit of info that Richard just laid down probably helped him pull such a radical move, but the fact that he even believed him is a huge step for Jack. Two seasons ago he'd think such an act was insane and would have been a mile down the road with Hurley. This change in Jack is significant, and be sure to keep an eye on it as we move along this season.

"There's only 6 left"

Finally, I wanted to discuss Illana's comment about the number of "remaining" candidates she made to Lapidus. She claimed that "only 6 are left." To our collective knowledge, the candidates that remain are Kate, Sawyer, Jack, Hurly, and one of the Kwons (I think Jin…I do not think it's both, but I could be wrong). So with only five left, who is the sixth? Call me crazy, but I have a hunch that it's Lapidus. Think about it, Illana has been quasi-protecting him ever since they crashed, while also letting him in on all these little secrets along the way….she showed him Locke's dead body in the coffin before anyone else, and dropped this candidate info on him this week. Furthermore, we know that Lapidus was supposed to be the pilot of flight 815, and even though he slept through that gig, he obviously still made it back to the Island not once but TWICE (freighter crew and then Ajira 316). Ben certainly hit the nail on the head when hearing this, noting the "the Island really had it out for you, huh?"

Another possibility could be Widmore. As I noted above, Widmore - while we've been conditioned to think of him as a bad guy - was the true leader of the Island before Ben kicked him out under false pretenses. Could it be that his intentions to come back and protect the Island were true all along? I'm not sure, but it's worth considering. There just seem to be a few holes in his story…don't forget that when Bram (who was a part of Ilana's team) picked up Miles (before he left to go on Widmore's Freighter), he specifically said that Miles was "playing for the wrong team." So I guess we'll just have to wait and see what Widmore is up to when he docks that sub.

A third possibility is Desmond. Many believe that Des is on the sub with Widmore. I like this theory too…I mean, Des has to return to the show at some point, and he is special after all, right? But maybe he's too special. As Faraday claimed last year, "the rules don't apply" to Desmond. I'm thinking that he instead is more of a facilitator in all of this rather than a candidate for leadership.

And what the heck, why not one more guess: Walt. Let's not ever forget about Walt.

Tid bits.

So Miles doesn't seem to be up for redemption anytime soon. In one last shout out to the widely hated Season 3 couple Nikki and Paulo, Miles got the last laugh by "hearing" their grave and learning that 7 million dollars worth of diamonds were buried with in there with them (he even knew that they were buried alive…classic). At the end of the episode we see that Miles succeeded in digging those diamonds up, showing us that he's as greedy and selfish as ever. But if he keeps up with the hilarious one liners, I don't mind.

The last scene this week (pre Widmore sub scene, that is), where Jack and Hurley return to the beach was interesting in the sense that it was a carbon copy of the last scene of Season 3's "One of Us." If you recall, the happy reunion that went down in "One of Us" showed Jack, Sayid, & Kate returning to the beach after escaping from the Others. The cheery reunion was quelled though, by Juliet's appearance behind them. In this week's episode, the same exact scenario went down with Jack and Hurley returning, with a suspect looking Richard following. There's no real significance here, but I just thought the similarity was cool. And I love that homecoming music.

One major thing I didn't touch on this week was that in the Sideways, Ben and his father Roger discussed the fact that they had been on the Island and a part of the Dharma initiative. This is the first time that the Island has been specifically discussed by our characters in the Sideways. It's important, but I'm not sure if we have enough info at this point to know how so. Remember, the Island is at the bottom of the Ocean in the Sideways, and how that happened is also still a mystery, but the fact that Ben and Roger were there at some point is something to remember.

Upon seeing the happy reunion on the Island beach, the sub captain asks Widmore if he wants to stop there. Widmore says no, saying that instead they should keep going. Where are they going? Will they dock at the former pier where he was exiled? Or instead, will they make their way to the Hydra station, the same place where Flocke said he was heading? Could this be Flocke's way out? Or are he and Widmore working together? After all, Widmore agreed that Locke would need to "sacrifice" himself for the cause when Locke attempted to get the O6 back to the Island. Is it possible that he's been on MIB's side the whole time (and yes, I'm aware that this completely contradicts my "Widmore is the 6th candidate argument"...but that's why Lost is great, you just never know).

Alright, I think this is way long enough…thanks for reading if you got this far. As always chime in below, this episode can be viewed a variety of different ways so I'd love to hear what you guys have to say as well. Till next week!

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Season 6, Episode 5; "Sundown"

The best part about Sayid-centric episodes is that you can pretty much bank on the fact that some ass is going to be kicked. Still to this day my favorite "kill shot" on this show has been when Sayid body slammed some bad guy onto an open dishwasher filled with butcher knives...awesome. And "Sundown" was filled with action, not only from Sayid but from our old friend Smokey too. But aside from kick ass ninja throw downs and a return from Sgt Evil (Martin Keamy) himself, this ep had some weight to it as let's get right to it.

We're well aware at this point that Lost carries with it heady themes woven throughout its elaborate landscape. But perhaps no other character singularly encapsulates the struggle of good vs evil than Sayid Jarah; and in "Sundown," we see his never ending battle finally come to an end.

Sayid has always known that he is capable of evil acts, but for so long, he fought to overcome that evil by using it to help others. As a boy, he mechanically snapped the neck of a chicken for his brother, so to spare him punishment from their father. During his time with the Republican Guard he tortured countless victims, but eventually turned against his own side by working with the CIA, and was able to free Nadia in the process. When he worked as an assassin for Ben, he was doing so under the pretense that his work was protecting the lives of his Island friends.

And at points in his life, he was able to suppress his evil ways entirely, and live a life of peace and tranquility. In both the Flash Sideways and the Island past, Sayid made amends with his life of sin, and showed promise through reformation. In the Flash Sideways he stayed "clean" for 12 years, promising himself that he'd never return to the life he once led as a trained killer. He even punishes himself for his past behaviors by letting his love for Nadia go unquenched, even though both parties seem to share feelings for each other. On the other hand, in the Island world - after leaving the Island with the O6 - he embraces that love with Nadia to help cleanse himself of his former life's habits. And later - after Nadia's death and his subsequent assassin work for Ben - he tries to repent through charity work, far away from the manipulations of those that prey upon his nefarious services.

But as we know, all of his efforts are for naught. No matter how hard he tries, he finds his way back to killing. In the Sideways he is pushed to again clean up a situation his brother caused, and in response to Keamy's words of desperation - "you don't have to do this," all Sayid can respond with is "yes, I do." After being convinced by Ben that Widmore's people are responsible for Nadia's death, he dives head first into a killing spree. Whatever name he is given, he kills with absolutely no questions asked. After Ben claims the work finished, Sayid realizes what he's done, and lashes out towards Ben, yelling "I killed all of those people for you, and now you're just walking away!" Ben calmly responds, "you didn't kill them for me Sayid, you're the one that asked for their names." Later, when Ben finds Sayid at the charity outpost he tries to convince him to return and save Hurley from the men waiting to kill him at the mental hospital. After Sayid balks at Ben's request, claiming that he no longer lives that style of life, Ben retorts, "Sayid, to put it simply, you're capable of things most men aren't. Every choice you've made in your life, whether it was to murder or torture, it hasn't really been a choice at all, has it? It's in your nature, it's what you are. You're a killer, Sayid." Even though Sayid tries to fight these simple facts ("I'm not what you think I am."), we all know that he eventually does return to Hurley's aid, and in the process leaves a wake of dead men at his feet (one of which was from said dishwasher kill - awesome). And later, when he flashes to '77 Dharma times, Sayid confirms Ben's theory about him before shooting his younger version in the chest, "you were right about me...I am a killer."

Sayid wants desperately to believe that "he is a good man," but deep down inside he knows what he truly is. Even though he is often manipulated into torturing and killing (by war, by Ben, by the thought of saving his friends, etc), in the end the choice to follow that path is his and he inevitably and comfortably settles into that familiar role of evil. In the end, it was so easy for MIB to recruit him…because Sayid was always tipping toward darkness. Once infected, it was just a matter of time until he fell into it completely. As expected, MIB did offer him a flicker of hope in Nadia's love in return for his service, but this is a lie - just as the hope to find Claire's baby is a lie - and deep down Sayid probably knows it. Even at the end of Season 5, Sayid confesses to Jack "there is no hope for me any more". Then, towards the end of "Sundown" Ben tries - with good intentions this time - to pull him back to the light one final time, "Sayid, let's go, it's not too late," and in a creepiness that has become the trademark for Team Darkness, he sneers back, "it is for me." The Sayid we once knew, the man who clung to the hope that he could overcome his demons and fight for good is gone. The scale has tipped for the last time. And with another name crossed off the list, all of a sudden Team Darkness is looking pretty damn strong.

Sayid's fall to darkness also relates to his lack of substantial change in his Sideways life. We've now seen a number of our characters in the Sideways world, and the one similarity their stories share is the noticeable change for good that they have undergone. Jack is able to repair his damaged relationship with his son. Locke - while still disabled - does not let his disability consume him and is open enough emotionally to accept true love from Helen. Hurley has gone from a bad luck mental case to a strong, confident man blessed with good fortune. Kate does not abandon Claire and instead sticks by her, so that Claire can live a full life with Aaron and raise what is rightfully hers. Some argue that the Sideways world is a representation of what life is for those that choose the right path in the Island world. A sort of a picture of what could be if the choices they make are the correct ones (read: lots of Jacob talk). But as we see in Sayid's Sideways, not much has changed in him as a person. Sure, he's still trying his best to suppress his urges, but in the end, he brutally murders Keamy and Omar. It's no secret that these are bad people, but Keamy gave him a way out...he pleaded for his freedom. But in the end, Sayid made the same choice that he always made. No redemption, no reformation, and therefore no happiness, both in the Island world and in the Sideways world. Jacob will have no use for him anymore.

Now let's quickly discuss Locke's Army of Darkness and his viewpoint on all of this. With Jacob's death announced, and Dogen's death by Sayid's hand, Flocke made good on his promise to kill all that opposed him at Sundown. And even though Team Light (for now including Lapidus, Ilana, Ben, Sun, Hurley, and Miles) escapes Flock's grasp, his crew is looking pretty strong. Clearly Sayid and Claire are fully controlled by him at this point, but what about Kate? As he gave his team the once over before that incredibly awesome slow-mo death march out of the Temple, Flocke seemed to pause on Kate's presence. She is not part of his plan. She's not infected, and so far he hasn't personally convinced her to join his side (like he did with Sawyer). But, since - as far as he knows - she is not a candidate, he seems to accept her spot on the roster. This decision could prove fatal for Flocke. As mentioned in last week's blog, there must be a reason that Kate is not on his wall. And the reason could be that Jacob was keeping her candidacy a secret. Kate may be Jacob's ace up his sleeve, his spy across enemy lines. Who knows what will happen here, but keep an eye on this interesting dynamic.

Tid Bits:

I think most people caught this, but when Dogen asks Sayid to kill Flocke, he states "if you allow him to talk, it's already too late." Indeed, as all Flocke needed to say was "hello, Sayid" for his apparent spell to be cast. Sayid seemed to think that allowing him to "talk" meant allowing him to state his case, but I think it was meant to be taken quite literally. This should be an interesting clue to keep in for future showdown scenes with Flocke and our characters. Also, it's important to note that this "rule" apparently didn't apply to Jacob, as he had conversation with Ben before getting killed.

From Lostpedia, on the "Shen ring," the symbol on the Temple's secret door that Ilana and the others go through to escape Smokey:

The Shen ring is an ancient Egyptian symbol of eternity and protection. In ancient Egypt, the Shen Ring also represents dual concepts of time; the cyclic line of periodicity and lineal time (into infinity).

Also from Lostpedia, an interesting correlation between the conversations immediately following Lennon's death on the show, and John Lennon's death in real life:

After Sayid kills Dogen,
Lennon asks him "Do you realize what you just did?". Sayid replies "I know". This was similar to the conversation between Jose Perdomo and Mark Chapman that occurred right after Chapman shot and killed musician John Lennon (who shares some similarities with the character Lennon). Perdomo shouted at Chapman, "Do you know what you've done?", to which Chapman calmly replied, "Yes, I just shot John Lennon."

Finally, not much of a bit of info but more of a question to leave you with, what is Jin doing locked up in the freezer in the Sideways world? My guess is that Keamy & company are connected to Mr. Pike's organization and maybe they were bounty hunting Jin seeing that Jin was trying to essentially "defect" from his life of crime (or at least that's what he was doing in the original storyline.) Anyways, I'm sure we'll find out eventually, but it's fun to take stabs at it before being proved utterly wrong ;)

Great episode, looking forward to next week, as usual. There have been some great comments this year, so keep it up below!