Thursday, April 9, 2009

Whatever Happened, Happened

Two episodes in one this time since I'm behind. I recovered from a horrific but blessedly short-lived stomach bug just in time to enjoy LOST night yesterday. And enjoy it, I did! But let's back up to last week...

First of all, I've spent way too long thinking about the punctuation in the title. Shouldn't it be "Whatever Happened Happened"? Not "Whatever Happened, Happened"? Seems unnecessary to me. And yes, I am a nerd. This was a great character driven episode, in my opinion one of the best character episodes this season. Evangeline Lilly's acting was phenomenal. I enjoyed the return to the more traditional flashback style for the storyline. It was a bit slower than some episodes this season (almost no answers/development about Island mythology) but a lot of the gaps were filled in from previous episodes, the largest ones being why Kate decided to go back to the Island, and what happened to Aaron. I was so relieved to find out that nothing terrible happened to him (that scene in the grocery store made my heart sink with dread, as I'm sure it did for every parent who was watching). It was no less heart-wrenching though when Kate had to say goodbye. I've always thought of Kate as one of the more selfish characters - everything she does seems to be about self-preservation - so it was satisfying to see her finally do the right thing, even though it caused her great personal pain.

The theme of role reversals continued in this episode. The Losties have all evolved and changed so much that now they are doing things that are exactly the reverse of what we would have expected in season 1. Kate gives up Aaron, and instead of running away from a problem (Claire having disappeared) she's running straight towards it. Sawyer is being a responsible leader and is in a long term, loyal relationship. And most striking of all in this episode, Jack is sitting idly by, waiting for a sign to tell him what his purpose is, having faith that the Island will work things out. It's pretty ironic that by refusing to save Ben, Jack actually created Ben as we know him - since the Others saved him he was forever changed. It reminds me of a quote from Jean de La Fontaine (which I most recently heard quoted on Kung Fu Panda, which gets viewed at least 5 times a week at our house): "A person often meets his destiny on the road he took to avoid it." Had Jack agreed to save Ben, he wouldn't have been changed by whatever happened in the Temple and he may have grown up to be a completely different person. But it couldn't have happened that way; whatever happened happened.

I've heard a lot of discussion about the ethics of killing vs. saving Ben as a child. If you could go back in time and kill someone really evil (the example given is usually Hitler as a young boy) would it be moral to do so? In order for it to be ethical, you would have to believe that destiny is set and can't be changed - that Hitler would always grow up to be a dictator and mass murderer and has no chance of growing up to be a normal well adjusted adult. But the problem there is that if destiny can't be changed, that means you won't be able to kill him. If you are able to kill him, then he is also able to grow up with a different outcome, so killing him would not be an ethical decision. Apparently Sayid didn't go through this mental exercise, but I can understand that after all Ben put him through. He's past the point of caring about morals at this point. In any case it's fun to think about. (And for LDS readers, it brings a new twist to the story of Nephi killing Laban.)

I also loved the scene where Miles and Hurley discuss time travel theory and explain how things work on the Island. I felt like the writers had been reading all the blogs and message boards and the whole scene was an effort to answer all those questions about paradox and free will. The way they handled it was very smart, and really funny at the same time.


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