Wednesday, July 29, 2009

2:2 Adrift

-I hate to say it, but by the end of this episode I am already sick of hearing Michael yell "Waaaaalt!" and call him "my son." It's at this point in the story that Michael becomes seriously one-dimensional, which is really too bad because he didn't start out that way.

-When Desmond asks Locke "Are you him?" it tickles me that Locke almost immediately said "Yes." What did he think Desmond meant?

-The snowman riddle ("What did one snowman say to the other?") parallels the Ajira passengers' ("What lies in the shadow of the statue?")

-I noticed for the first time that there is a Black Rock-esque model of a ship in the conference room where Michael and Susan discuss custody of Walt.

-Michael gives toddler Walt a toy polar bear.

-Visually, so far season 2 has been overwhelmingly dark. Interesting parallel to the theme of light vs. dark?

-Kate is a girl after my own heart. When she discovers that she's in a food storage closet, she goes straight for the chocolate.

-When we first were introduced to Desmond we thought he was crazy and a little bit scary. Now we know that he had good reason to be afraid of Jack, Locke and Kate - he thought they were Hostiles. I'd be scared too.

-Speaking of scary, Mr. Eko scares the crap out of me in this first introduction. No wonder Jin assumed they were the Others.

-Sawyer remarks when the current brings them back to the Island, "We're home." The Island really does become his home when they go back to the 70s.

Favorite lines:

Michael: Well, I guess I know why the shark is hanging around -- your shoulder.
Sawyer: Oh, well, I'll just stop bleeding then!

2:1 Man of Science, Man of Faith

Without further ado...let's start season two!

-The title "Man of Science, Man of Faith" centers on Jack and refers to his constant struggle to believe in what can't be proved. The usual approach is to see Jack and the man of science and Locke as the man of faith, but another option is to see Jack as both. He has a hard time believing in anything other than science, but at times he does choose to believe. At one point he believes he can fix Sarah, because he wants to so badly even though he's aware of how unlikely it is. In the same way, his love for Kate drives him to follow Kate and Locke into the hatch, even though it's not a logical thing to do.

-The beginning sequence is probably my favorite opener of any season. I remember seeing it for the first time and about halfway through the sequence saying out loud, "Wait a minute - is he in the hatch?!" I don't think anyone thought there would be a guy on an exercise bike listening to Mama Cass down there.

-This is the first time we see a Dharma Initiative symbol, on the front of the cabinet Desmond opens to get out his injection. It's a Swan Station symbol.

-Speaking of those injections, we still don't know what those were. Were they just a placebo, designed to keep the DI volunteers from leaving the hatch?

-Jack is seriously annoying when he bosses Locke around. Locke is great at listening to him and then just ignoring whatever he says.

-Jack's wig in his flashbacks is so bad. Oh so bad.

-Locke seems to know that their lives are not really in danger. Jack was desperate to get the hatch open so everyone could hide inside it, but this is clearly not Locke's motivation - he just goes along with it to get Jack's help. How does Locke know that the Others aren't coming after them?

-Vincent leads Shannon into the jungle where she sees Walt, who is drenched from head to toe and speaking backward. He says "Don't push the button. The button's bad." Still unanswered is 1) how Walt appeared to her in this way and 2) why he would say the button's bad.

-Sayid will face his own dilemma of science vs. faith when deciding whether or not to believe Shannon about what she's seen.

-Jack gives his now infamous "live together, die alone" speech, following his father's advice about how to deal with patients: "Folks are much more inclined to hear that 1 percent chance that things are going to be okay."

-When Kate is being pulled into the hatch, the sound effect is the same as when Locke was pulled into the ground by the smoke monster.

-I had forgotten that there was water at the bottom of the hatch entrance. Do we ever find out why it's there?

-The hatch has lost most of its mystery for me now that I know the history of the DI, etc. I remember though how bizarre and cool it was to see it outside of that context. I wish I could get my LOST virginity back somehow.

-Sarah being healed seems to coincide with Jack meeting Desmond. Was her healing (similar to Locke's) just a random occurrence, or does it have something to do with the Island, or Jacob?

-Did Desmond intend a double meaning when he told Jack to "lift it up"?

-Favorite lines:

Hurley: Joke, dude.
Jack: I'm not really in the mood, Hurley.
Hurley: Really? Wow, usually you're, like, Mr. Ha-ha.

Jack: I'm - I'm intense.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

1:23 and 1:24, Exodus I and II

One thing about LOST I know for sure: they make bitchin' season finales. And it's probably not a coincidence that all of the finales have been written by Carlton Cuse and Damon Lideloff, writers/producers extraordinaire.

In "Exodus" we get flashbacks for all of the main characters, showing their final hours before boarding flight 815. On the Island, the Losties prepare for the coming of The Others (having been warned by Rousseau that they're "coming for the boy" (which we think means Aaron but we later learn meant Walt)) and launch the raft.

In no particular order, here are my thoughts:

-Rousseau says the black smoke is a security system to protect the Island. Why does she think that's what it is? And if its purpose is to protect the Island, is that why it brought Arzt back - in other words, did Jack, Kate, etc need to get the hatch open to protect the Island?

-We see the Black Rock for the first time. Very cool scene. I don't think anyone expected it to be a slave ship. I like the symbolism there - are the Losties all slaves to fate? If not fate, what else is holding them in bondage? Still unsolved: how the Black Rock got to be in the middle of the jungle when we saw it sailing towards the Island in "The Incident." Is it similar to how Jack woke up in the jungle after the 815 crash?

-Sawyer telling Jack about meeting his dad in Australia might be my favorite scene of the season. It's so well-written and acted, and it never fails to get an emotional response out of me.

-Arzt blowing up = pure awesomeness. Bless his heart.

-"You have some Arzt on you." Best. Line. Ever.

-It bugs me how Jack tricked Kate about which pack the dynamite was in. Yes, it was to protect her, but he's so patronizing sometimes.

-Now that we've seen Rousseau's flashback, we know that there was no pillar of black smoke predicting the kidnapping of Alex (or if there was, we didn't see it.) Was she lying?

-Enter Ana-Lucia. I've got to admit, she was never one of my favorite characters, and I wasn't too upset when they killed her off. I was more upset about Michael having committed cold-blooded murder than I was about the fact that Ana-Lucia was off the show.

-Pretty ironic that Walt gives Vincent to Shannon, telling her that he will protect her, when it's Vincent that leads Shannon through the jungle to her death.

-Once again Locke brings up his love of games. I think this is an oblique reference to Jacob and his nemesis - the whole plot is one big game being played between two unseen powers.

-It's a great plot twist that the Others were actually going after the raft, not the Losties on the beach. They went to all this effort to get everyone on the beach safe when all they would have had to do was not launch the raft. This parallels the hatch metaphor: a simple solution was available (going in another door) but they were all blind to it.

-Sun speculates that they're all on the Island because they are being punished by fate. Claire asserts that there is no such thing as fate. This is a central theme that still has yet to be answered by the show.

-When Locke comes face to face with the smoke monster he seems afraid and surprised. Does this mean that what he saw earlier in the season was something different?

-Nooooooooooo, a cliffhanger ending! Oh wait, I forgot. I can just get out my season 2 DVDs. Phew!

-My favorite lines:
JACK: I don't believe in destiny.

LOCKE: Yes, you do. You just don't know it yet.

Who would have ever guessed that by the end of season 5 Jack would be the one going on and on about destiny? But that's exactly what happens.

Comic-Con Coverage

Just a quick note that Doc Arzt has great video coverage of the LOST panel at Comic-Con! If you haven't watched yet, it's a must-see. It's semi-spoilery, with some nice hints about season 6, so if you don't want to know ANYTHING, skip this post. I avoid spoilers like the plague, but for me hints are OK. These have me SO excited for the final season I can barely contain myself.

A few of my favorite bits:

-We'll get Richard Alpert's back story before the show is over, and they semi-confirmed that his past is related to the Black Rock.

-Elizabeth Mitchell (Juliet) will be in the final season of LOST in some capacity. (My husband is hoping it will be like when Desmond blew up the hatch and ended up naked in the jungle. Sicko.)

-Jeremy Davies (Daniel Farraday) will also be on the show at some point.

-Jacob has never appeared as another character. (Very interesting, since this is a leading theory out there.)

-Someone asked a question about whether season 6 will have any pre-2004 flashbacks. Here's Carlton's answer: "We're doing something different in season 6. Each season...tells its own story....So season 6 is something different....Time travel season is over, the flash-forward season is over, we have something different planned. So hopefully you will like it, but we're not going to commit to what exactly that is going to be." To me, that points to alternate timelines as the new M.O. - we'll see what *could* have been. Any other theories??

1:22 Born to Run

I know a lot of people don't like Kate/Kate-centric episodes, but I'm not one of them. I actually find her a very sympathetic character. She gets used by the writers as a way to cause complications (probably too much) but I try not to hold that against her. So that said, here are my thoughts on "Born to Run."

-Is it just me, or does Leslie Arzt (hee hee, Leslie!) remind you of every annoying high school teacher you had? I was having flashbacks to junior year chemistry watching him. Even more annoying is when he later admits that he made up everything he was telling them about monsoon season.

-Once again, Kate tells Jack "I'm going with you." She's not lying in season 5 when she tells him "I have always been with you." This seems to contradict her need to run away from things; on the Island with Jack, she always seems to be running towards them.

-It's cool that we now know that the New Kids on the Block lunchbox they dig up was bought for Kate by Jacob.

-Lostpedia says that the Japanese title for this episode is "Time Capsule" which I like much better. It reinforces my idea that Kate and Tom's time capsule is a reference to the hatch.

-Sayid comments that since there is no handle on the outside of the hatch, it was not meant to be opened from the outside. Locke later speculates that there must be another entrance, and in fact there is, not far away. It's an interesting metaphor: Locke et al struggle so hard to open that hatch when a simple and easy solution is mere feet away.

-How does Walt know about the hatch? Is it part of his "special" abilities? And why doesn't he want Locke to open it?

-Ahh, Sun, showing us the dark side of holistic medicine. I actually like this twist of the plot, since so far we've seen Sun mostly as a victim of Jin's domineering personality. It shows that she has another side where maybe she has more control over things than we think. And well done Kate, for making Sun think it was all for her benefit.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

1:21 The Greater Good

-The title "The Greater Good" refers to a basic tenet of utilitarianism: the idea that the useful is the good; the goal is the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people. Through his notions of tabula rasa and empiricism, John Locke (the philosopher) provided a starting point for utilitarian ethical thought, and it was later developed extensively by none other than Jeremy Bentham. LOST's John Locke is definitely a utilitarian.

-Locke believes that Boone was "a sacrifice the Island demanded." Was Boone's death really for the greater good? Or is Locke being duped by a force on the Island?

-Why does Locke decide to tell the truth about how Boone died? And why does he continue to lie to Sayid about the hatch? I'm still not sure about his motivations here.

-Kate drugs Jack, just like she drugged her husband Kevin in a season 3 flashback. (I just realized that Kevin is also the name of Sarah's fiancé when she meets Jack. Definitely not the same guy though.)

-In an episode all about the greater good, it cracks me up that Hurley sang "I Feel Good" to baby Aaron.

-Walt worries about a shark attacking them on the raft and Michael assures him that won't happen. It turns out Walt's concerns were pretty valid.

-Shannon tries to take revenge on Locke but is thwarted. I can't help but wonder if Locke being killed would have resulted in the greater good after all. (Can you tell I'm on a Locke-hating streak? I was so disappointed by him in the season 5 finale. But more on that later.)

-Sayid's extremist friend Essam is willing to sacrifice himself for the greater good, but he's unsure about whether the task he's been given will really accomplish it. In contrast, Locke seems much more sure of himself.

-My favorite lines:

LOCKE: Why don't you trust me, Sayid?

SAYID: For one thing, you've been carrying a gun you've told no one about.

LOCKE: [taking the gun out of his pocket and giving it to Sayid] We found one of the smugglers about a half a click West of here dressed as a priest -- Nigerian currency in his pockets, and this. Now you're armed and I'm not. Does that earn me any trust?

SAYID: You gave this to me because I caught you concealing it. That earns you adaptability.

-Locke reveals that he was the one who knocked Sayid unconscious when he was trying to triangulate a signal. He claims it was to protect the group, but the real reason is that he doesn't want to get off the Island. I think he really believes that staying on the Island will accomplish the greater good, but I'm not sure he's right.

1:20 Do No Harm

(I'm starting to fast-track episodes since I'm so behind on the rewatch schedule, so bear with me as I change formats a bit. Here come the bullet points!)

-This is the first time a major character dies. I remember being shocked, and then immediately wondering who was next.

-Christian's words "You're just not good at letting go" are once again prophetic, as Jack demonstrates quite aptly in the rest of the episode. It's excruciating to watch him struggle so hard to save Boone, pouring blood out of his own body, when we know that he won't be successful.

-Boone tells Jack "I'm letting you off the hook," the same thing Rose said to him earlier. (I was sure that Sarah had said this to Jack at some point, but I can't find it in the transcripts so my memory must be off.) In later episodes when Sarah and Kate leave Jack, he doesn't do so well with letting go either. Same for how he reacts to leaving the other Losties behind on the Island. He's not a letter-goer.

-I hate, HATE, Sayid and Shannon together. It makes absolutely no sense to me. I think the writers' intentions were to soften Shannon a bit and make her more likable, but for me it just diminished my opinion of Sayid.

-Jack uses Locke's catch-phrase: "Don't tell me what I can't do!" This reinforces that these two characters are mirror images of one another. This is elaborated on more in season 2, "Man of Science, Man of Faith." One trait they have in common though is their tenacity. Neither one gives up easily, even if what they're fighting for is a lost cause.

-Aaron is born just as Boone dies, in a very circle of life kind of way. I love the way Kate acts as a midwife and the joyfulness of Charlie and Jin embracing. I also like the way Claire is not flat on her back the way most TV births are portrayed - that position doesn't make any sense unless you have an epidural (which in my experience is a GREAT reason to be on your back.) Now we know that time-skipping Sawyer was in the jungle watching the whole scene unfold, which is simultaneously kind of sweet and kind of creepy. If I were in Claire's place, I would not like the idea of someone watching me give birth in such a stalkery fashion (although, like for so many other things, I would probably make an exception for Josh Holloway.)

1:19 Deus Ex Machina

Locke sets up the theme of "Deus Ex Machina" by explaining the game Mouse Trap to a young shopper:

LOCKE: Well, you start with all these parts off the board. And then, one by one, you build the trap - shoe, bucket, tub - piece by piece it all comes together. And then you wait 'til your opponent lands here on the old cheese wheel. And then if you set it up just right, you spring the trap.

In Locke's case, his father was setting the trap for him to convince him to donate his kidney. In a larger sense though, this description also applies to the entire story arc of the show.

It's become clear over the last 5 seasons of LOST that a game is being played, and the Island is the prize. We're just now learning who the players are, and why exactly they want the Island in the first place. Locke's description of Mouse Trap brings to mind the conversation between Jacob and his nemesis in the season 5 finale:

JACOB: I take it you're here 'cause of the ship.

NEMESIS: I am. How did they find the Island?

JACOB: You'll have to ask 'em when they get here.

NEMESIS: I don't have to ask. You brought them here. Still trying to prove me wrong, aren't you?

JACOB: You are wrong.

NEMESIS: Am I? They come. They fight. They destroy. They corrupt. It always ends the same.

JACOB: It only ends once. Anything that happens before that is just progress.

Jacob does just what Locke describes about Mouse Trap - he starts with all the pieces (people) off the board, and then sets them up in the game. Piece by piece, person by person, it all comes together until the trap is set and ready to spring. So the question is, who is going to get caught?

"Deus ex machina" is a Latin phrase that literally means "God from the machine." It's used to describe a literary technique where a sudden twist occurs that helps solve a problem. A well-known example is "War of the Worlds," when the aliens all die because they don't have immune systems. It's often criticised as an inept plot device, but I don't hate it as much as some do. I think it can sometimes be used really well - M. Night Shyamalan's "Signs" is one example.

So back to LOST. What is the deus ex machina in this episode? My vote is for the shaft of light that comes out of the hatch right at the end. That light turning on changed everything about LOST, although we don't find out the true extent of it until season 2. The light makes Locke believe again, and he's sure of his purpose. Given what we know happens to Locke in season 5 (he's apparently taken over and used by Jacob's nemesis), I'm wondering if the shaft of light is also the "mouse trap" that has sprung, and now Locke is really caught.

More thoughts:

-We still don't know why Locke suddenly starts losing the use of his legs. It seems to be tied to his faith in the Island. As he doubts his ability to open the hatch (what he would call his destiny) his legs fail him too. Or it could be the proximity of the Beechcraft somehow. Didn't the same thing happen this past season?

-This is the first time Locke personifies the Island by saying it "will tell us what to do." I love how Boone calls him out on it. Locke's statement raises a big question: if opening the hatch is what the Island wanted him to do, what it its overall purpose?

-Along those same lines, Locke's uber-creepy dream ("Teresa falls up the stairs, Teresa falls down the stairs") leads him to the hatch. What was the purpose there? Was it because Boone had to die?

-Jack getting Sawyer to admit to having an STD (in front of Kate, no less) is great stuff. I laughed so hard.

-Locke is wearing a bright white T-shirt. By the end of the episode it's covered in Boone's blood, a visual representation of his guilt for contributing to Boone's death. The white shirt also visually connects him to Jacob.

-It seems clear now that the Beechcraft crashed on the Island while the Island was moving. That's how a plane from Nigeria was in the South Pacific.

-The voice on the radio saying "We're the survivors of flight 815," which we later find out was Bernard, was not Bernard's voice. Just a casting timing thing I think.

-I don't understand why Locke lied about what happened to Boone. It was an accident; telling a lie about it only made him seem more guilty to the other survivors. Was he more concerned about keeping the others away from the hatch?

-Anthony Cooper=complete douche. How hard would it have been for him to keep having a relationship with his son? It would have taken so little effort and would have made Locke so happy. It's like he was going out of his way just to be a jerk. I also wonder if he has some deep history that ties him to the Island.

-In his flashback, Locke is also in a white T-shirt post-surgery, this time stained with his own blood, the emotional scars of having been conned by his father.

-Is Locke being conned by the Island in the same way that he was conned by his dad? He has such complete faith that what the Island wants him to do is good, but what if he's taking orders from the bad guy rather than the good one? At the end of season 5 it certainly seems that he's been used, but we don't know yet whether it's for good or ill.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

1:18 Numbers

This is such a fun episode, although the music totally freaks me out. Is it just me? It's not just the music, I find the creepiness level for the whole episode pretty high. But in a good way. It's surprising in retrospect that this is the first Hurley-centric episode, since at this point Kate, Sawyer and Jack have all already had two.

Sawyer is reading a new book now, A Wrinkle in Time (also one of my childhood favorites - I'm guessing the writers had the same elementary school/middle school reading lists I did.) This is one of the first clues to the time travel theme that later became so integral to the show. In the book, the main characters are children searching for their father, who has gotten lost during his experiments with time travel. It incorporates aspects of time-space theory and Christian philosophy.

Hurley's meeting with Leonard is one of the creepiest scenes:

HURLEY: Is that why you're here, Lenny? Is it because of the numbers? Did they do something to you? Because I think they did something to me. I think they turned me into a jinx -- bad news to everyone around me. And when I tell people I think I'm the cause they, they, they look at me like I'm nuts. They don't believe me. But I know, ever since I won the lottery with those numbers.

LENNY: You used those numbers to play the lottery?

HURLEY: Uh, -- yeah.

LENNY: Well, you shouldn't have done that. You've opened the box.

HURLEY: I what?

LENNY: Ah, you shouldn't have used those numbers.

HURLEY: Why not?

LENNY: It doesn't stop. You've got to get away from those numbers. You've got to get far, far away.

[Lenny is freaking out and an orderly comes over to calm him down.]

ORDERLY: Alright, hey, hold on. Lenny, Lenny. Calm down. Lenny.

LENNY: Do you hear? No, don't you understand? You've got to get away from it or it won't stop.

What does Lenny mean when he says Hurley "opened the box?" (It reminds me of the "magic box" Ben tells Locke about later.) And how is Hurley supposed to get away from the bad luck?

I love the final scene where Charlie tells Hurley about his drug addiction, and then doesn't believe Hurley when he tells him he's worth $156 million. So funny. And immediately after we get the chilling reveal that The Numbers are stamped on the side of the hatch.

There has been a lot of speculation among fans about the numbers, where they came from, what they mean. Some answers have been provided outside of the show itself. If you haven't heard this stuff, it's worth a read: (from Lostpedia)

It has been revealed in The Lost Experience that these six numbers are the core values of the Valenzetti Equation, a mathematical formula designed to predict the end of humanity. The numbers in actuality are said to represent human and environmental factors in the equation (given numerical form), though their precise meaning is uncertain. One purpose of the DHARMA Initiative was to change the factors leading to humanity's demise, which will be indicated by an alteration in at least one of the human/environmental factors - i.e. the numbers. However, in all its years of research, the Initiative failed to reach its goal. Despite much research and manipulation of the equation's values, the end result was always the numbers.

In an interview with E! in 2009, Damon stated the following in regards to the Numbers: "Here's the story with numbers. The Hanso Foundation that started the Dharma Initiative hired this guy Valenzetti to basically work on this equation to determine what was the probability of the world ending in the wake of the Cuban Missile Crisis. Valenzetti basically deduced that it was 100 percent within the next 27 years, so the Hanso Foundation started the Dharma Initiative in an effort to try to change the variables in the equation so that mankind wouldn't wipe it itself out."

1:17 ...In Translation

I remember my first viewing of this Jin-centric episode softening my opinion of Jin somewhat. He's still a controlling chauvinist jerk, but he has his reasons. We see the same events from "House of the Rising Sun," but this time through Jin's perspective. There are a lot of parallels between the flashbacks and the on-Island action too. In Jin's past, he's trying to hide the truth about his work from Sun; on the Island, Sun is the one keeping secrets from Jin. When Jin runs into the caves to wash his burned hands, it parallels him washing his bloody hands in the bathroom. Both times Sun assumes the worst of him, but the truth is that both times he was trying to make the best of a bad situation. It's too bad that he's too proud to tell Sun what's really going on (though to be fair, a lot of the characters on LOST could benefit from better communication skills.) In flashback, Sun asks Jin to help her button up her wedding dress. On the Island, she's constantly resentful of his efforts to always button her up.

Some general thoughts:

-Another literary reference from Sawyer, this time Lord of the Flies. LOST overlaps with the themes of the book quite frequently. Some of the more obvious examples are the questions raised about how best to be a leader, the presence of boars, recurrent schism in a group of survivors, and an omni-present but rarely seen monster.

-Locke tells Shannon "Everyone gets a new life on this Island." This is true for Locke in season 1, but perhaps even more so in season 5, when he gets a new life that isn't even his own.

-Locke provides a scapegoat for who burned the raft, the Others, directing the Losties' attention away from the fact that Walt did it. (I think Vincent knows - he was sniffing around the burned out raft!) Locke asks "Why would anyone of us block an attempt to get home?" Pretty disingenuous there, Locke. He will end up attempting to block their rescue many times.

-Sun tells Jin "I want to go back to the beginning. Can't we just start all over?" Jin coldly replies that it's too late. This is a reversal from earlier in the episode, when Jin tells his father he wants to start over. Ironically, later when the Island skips through time, Jin does go back to the beginning. Michael also uses the phrase "start over", referring to rebuilding the raft. From a wider perspective, maybe this is the hope for all those on the Island - if they can't change the past, at least they can start over.

-Sayid telling Boone he wants to be "more than just friends" with Shannon is truly cringe-worthy dialogue. YIKES.

The ending is another cool montage, this time with Damien Rice. It's the last incidental music in the season, because Hurley's CD player unfortunately runs out of batteries in the middle of the song.

1:16 Outlaws

"It'll come back around." This phrase is repeated four times in this episode: three times in the whispers Sawyer hears in the jungle, and once by Frank Duckett, who Sawyer mistakenly kills. Locke gives a possible explanation:

LOCKE: My sister Jeanie died when I was a boy. Fell off the monkey bars and broke her neck. And my mother, well, my foster mother, she blamed herself, of course. She thought she wasn't watching close enough. So, she stopped eating, stopped sleeping. The neighbors started talking, afraid she might do something to herself, I guess. Anyway, about 6 months after Jeanie's funeral, this golden retriever comes padding up our driveway, walks right into our house, sits down on the floor, and looks right at my mother, there on the couch. And my mother looks back at the dog. After about a minute of this, of them both staring at each other like that, my mother burst into tears. Beautiful dog, no tags, no collar, healthy, and sweet. The dog slept in Jeanie's old room, on Jeanie's old bed and stayed with us until my mother passed 5 years later. Then, disappeared back to wherever it was she came from in the first place.

KATE: So, you're saying the dog was your sister?

LOCKE: Well, that would be silly. But my mother thought it was.

Sawyer spends most of the episode tracking a boar who has ransacked his belongings - Sawyer believes out of spite. When he finally finds it, he has a moment that parallels his confrontation with Frank Duckett. Like the dog in Locke's story, they look at each other.

In LOST, we've seen a lot of things "come back around," literally and figuratively. Sawyer's experience of his past "coming back around" to haunt him in the form of the boar is not unique; all the characters have experienced their histories intertwining with happenings on the Island. Not being able to escape the past is an overarching theme (remember "What Happened Happened"?) Sawyer experiences a bit of redemption here by letting the boar off the hook. He does what he was unable to do with Frank Duckett: show mercy and let him go. It's not permanent though; when Anthony Cooper "comes back around" Sawyer shows him no mercy and no remorse.

A literal "coming back around" happens repeatedly on LOST when we see the return of previously dead characters: Charlie, Boone, Ana Lucia, Emily Linus, and most importantly, Christian Shephard and John Locke. This fits in nicely with the theme of never being able to escape the past; even death isn't permanent.

Something else that keeps "coming back around" is time itself. A popular fan theory is that the whispers are the voices of people who have lived on the Island (probably the Others) echoing through time as the Island moves. In Season 4 and 5 we got to see the Losties themselves come back around to different points in time on the Island.

This is one of my favorite episodes of the season, although I find the opening scene with young Sawyer excruciating to watch. Amazing characterization of Sawyer (once again!) and lots that carries over into the overall story of the Island.

1:15 Homecoming

Another Charlie-centric episode, this one focuses on Charlie's guilt over Claire being kidnapped, and his memories of another time he tried to take care of someone, a past girlfriend named Lucy.

In the flashbacks, a washed-up Charlie is running out of money, and his drug dealer convinces him to run a scam on an unsuspecting wealthy girl in order to fund his heroin habit. Charlie does the job well and has the opportunity to steal a valuable artifact from Lucy's home. He becomes reluctant though when he begins having feelings for Lucy and realizes that she is a sweet and kind girl. Lucy's father, a successful businessman (I got a kick out of the reference to "The Office" - Lucy says her father is buying a paper company in Slough) offers Charlie a job and he accepts, only to have his thievery discovered on the first day of the job. These events are remembered by Charlie with a lot of shame, especially when Lucy tells him "You'll never take care of anyone."

Since arriving on the Island Charlie has tried to take care of Claire. (Talk about an obvious choice, Charlie - going for the needy, cute pregnant girl!) When she's kidnapped, it reiterates what Lucy said to him years before - he's not capable of taking care of her. This is what pushes Charlie to act with perhaps more violence than necessary, shooting Ethan dead before they can question him.

Given what we know about the Others now though, I think Charlie made a wise choice. Ethan was likely to have escaped and/or killed someone else before they got any information out of him - or at the very least, someone from Ben's camp might have come looking for him.

Claire apparently has selective amnesia, and can't remember anything since getting on Flight 815. Jack says that amnesia is extremely rare, but possible. I wonder if there's something more going on here - Claire's lack of awareness about her surroundings remind me of Desmond's reaction when his consciousness time traveled in "The Constant."

I like the exchange where Sawyer volunteers an extra gun so that Kate can come along on the excursion to capture Ethan. Jack, as usual, is trying to protect her, but Sawyer simply says "hell, 5 guns are better than 4." I'm a Jater at heart, but one thing I like about Sawyer with Kate is that he treats her as an equal and he doesn't patronize her the way Jack sometimes does.

1:14 Special

"Special" cashes in on the scary little kid concept in a really cool way. Walt is "special," but we still like him and want him to be OK (unlike the little girl from "The Ring" and similar stories.) The notable first in this episode is Michael's first time yelling "Waaaalt!" What a theme that turns out to be. ;)

Speaking of themes, Locke comments to Michael that Walt is special, and should be "allowed to realize his potential." Why exactly is Walt special? How is he seemingly able to control elements around him, like conjuring the polar bear, winning at games, the rain, and the bird? The scene with the bird reminded me of the most recent Harry Potter movie which I just saw last week: young Voldemort says that he's able to tell animals what to do. I hope we get more answers about Walt in the future, but I'm inclined to think that we won't. There are only 16 hours left in the show and there are so many other loose ends to tie up.

My favorite lines:

HURLEY: He seems to hate it, doesn't he?

JACK: What?

HURLEY: Being a dad.

JACK: No, it's just a lot of hard work.

HURLEY: No. He hates it.

1:13 Hearts and Minds

Ahh, the twisted love of a stepbrother and a stepsister. I have to say that I find the whole Boone/Shannon storyline pretty creepy. Kind of a Luke and Leia thing - except that Boone and Shannon know they're related to each other (no blood relation of course, but still, close enough to skeeve me out.)

The theme of Boone's journey is learning to let go of Shannon. Locke's manipulations seem to work:

BOONE: I saw her -- I saw her die.

LOCKE: How did you feel? When she died?

BOONE: I felt -- I felt -- I felt relieved. I felt relieved.

LOCKE: Yes. Time to let go. [Locke gets up and grabs his pack.] Follow me.

[Boone follows.]

Although Boone has let go of his love for Shannon, he immediately replaces it with something else - devotion to Locke. He follows him for the rest of his life, and his trust in Locke is what leads to his untimely death.

Not to go too far with the Locke hate (I actually like him quite a bit), but it strikes me as pretty hypocritical of Locke to spend so much time forcing Boone to let go of Shannon when Locke himself was completely unable to let go of what his father did to him. I can't help but wonder if Locke had an ulterior motive; he knew that Boone would never be completely subservient to him as long as Shannon was a determining factor. But that's probably too cynical of me.

A key point in the overall story (especially season 2) is when Sayid discovers a magnetic anomaly on the Island. He says that a minor aberration would cause a change of a few degrees on a compass, but whatever was on the Island was so major that obviously the compass had to be defective. Also interesting: Locke tells Sayid he doesn't need a compass anymore. What is causing him to be so in tune with the inner workings of the Island?

1:12 Whatever the Case May Be

I love the beginning of this episode, with Kate picking fruit up in a tree. Apparently Evangeline Lilly is quite a climber. She and Sawyer discover a gorgeous lagoon with a majestic waterfall. When they decide to go swimming they find that something sinister lurks beneath the surface - remnants of their airplane, with decaying bodies still strapped into their seats. The lagoon is a metaphor for Kate - she appears innocent but has a dangerous past. The deeper we go though, the more we realize that Kate isn't really evil; her past is actually more sad than menacing.

That said, I have a hard time understanding Kate's motivation when it comes to the airplane. I can understand why a memento like that would be important to her. But is it worth staging a bank robbery? Or digging up a dead body, and lying to everyone around her? And why does she lie about it? Why not explain to Jack its importance? I have a hard time wrapping my mind around that. It stands out to me as a plot device that doesn't really make sense.

Something that makes me laugh is that Kate is apparently doing a lot of shaving. All the men are all stubbly but we never see a hairy female armpit or leg. Maybe she got laser hair removal while she was on the run.

I love the scene where Rose prays with Charlie. Poor Charlie who just kicked heroine, had a near death experience, and is now blaming himself for Claire's kidnapping. If anyone needs a higher power, he does.

1:11 All the Best Cowboys Have Daddy Issues

It's difficult to tell from the title which character this episode centers on: I can't think of a single one who doesn't have "daddy issues." Sun's is a megalomaniacal tycoon, Jin's is a poor fisherman whom he tells everyone is dead, Claire's has never been around (although *we* know who he is), Sawyer's committed murder/suicide, and Kate killed hers herself. OK, so maybe Rose and Bernard have great dads, but we've never met them. This particular episode focuses once again on Jack and Christian Shephard.

The opening scene of Jack trying to resuscitate a young woman during surgery is echoed in the present time on the Island as Jack tries to save Charlie, who has been hanged by creepy Ethan. Once again, Jack's overwhelming drive to save and fix people comes into play. In the flashback, Jack's father forces him to stop; in the present, Kate tries to stop him but he ignores her and ends up saving Charlie's life.

So much of Jack's complexity as a character comes out here. Does Jack turn his dad in because it's the morally right thing to do? Or is it a combination of his conscience and his anger with his dad for not believing in him, for always putting him down? His relief in saving Charlie is heightened by his guilt for thinking Claire was imagining that she was in danger. The patient that died on the operating table was pregnant, just like Claire, and this drives his need to save Charlie and Claire.

This exchange between Jack and Locke as they try to track down Charlie and Claire provides some insight into the difference between them:

LOCKE: Tracks are still fresh.

JACK: This doesn't make any sense. How can one man drag off two people, one of them pregnant?

LOCKE: You're asking the wrong question. Not how, why?

JACK: You think it was Ethan.

LOCKE: It certainly feels like it was Ethan, doesn't it?

What strikes me here is that Jack, the man of science, asks "how?" (an empirical question) and Locke, man of faith, asks "why?" (a theoretical question.) This contrast will be heightened in future episodes, where Jack and Locke become more and more diametrically opposed to each other.

A few ironies I noticed this time around:
-Kate reassures Shannon that "if there's anyone on this Island that your brother is safe with, it's Locke." We soon find out that Boone is anything but safe with Locke.
-Locke says Jack should go back to camp rather than continue to pursue Ethan because he doesn't want anything to happen to the only doctor on the Island. There are at least two other doctors on the Island at this point, Ethan and Juliet.
-Jack seems to want nothing more than his father's approval, and he thinks he's lost it forever by exposing him. But in reality, it was that act that caused Christian to be proud of Jack, as he tells Sawyer at the bar in "Outlaws."

The most memorable part of this episode for me is Boone and Locke discovering the hatch right after Locke has said "Don't you feel it?"

1:10 Raised by Another

Lots of good stuff in this episode. Little did we know in season 1 how important Claire's baby would out to be in the overall scheme of the show. The twist at the end "He knew! He knew!" still gives me chills.

A few thoughts:
-Is Emilie de Ravin a good screamer or what? Holy shnikeys. No way could I achieve that volume/pitch and still be able to speak the next day.
-We learn later that Richard Malkin (the psychic) was a fraud. Why did he seemingly get it right this time? How did he know that Aaron needed to be raised by Claire?
-When Malkin says "You musn't allow another to raise your baby" did he really mean "An Other"? What does it mean that for the past 3 years he HAS been raised by another, Kate?
-Claire's boyfriend is named Thomas - which is the name Christian Shepard (Claire's dad) uses when he travels to Australia with Ana Lucia.
-How creepy is Ethan?! His name (Ethan Rom) is an anagram for "Other Man."
-In Claire's dream Locke's eyes are two different colors - one black and one white.

I'm excited to find out more about Aaron's significance as the show wraps up. Clearly he's important in ways that aren't quite clear yet. It strikes me that maybe the Island (or Jacob? Jacob's nemesis?) is afraid of him somehow. Remember the dream that Kate had where Claire tells her "Don't you dare bring him back"? If we assume that Claire was an apparition from the Island, someone or something doesn't want Aaron to come back. It might be to protect him, but my guess is that someone is afraid of him.

1:9 Solitary

With "Solitary" we delve into some really cool Island mythology, all surrounding Danielle Rousseau. It's hard to remember how little we knew about her at the beginning, since we've now seen her whole story, including some really cool flashbacks in the past season.

In our introduction to Rousseau (this episode could be called "Rousseau 101") we learn several things:
-Rousseau shipwrecked on the Island with her team
-She believes there are others (Others) on the Island, but has never seen them; she just hears them whisper
-Her team became "infected" by the Others and she believes that she was forced to kill them all. She feared if they were rescued they would infect even more people.
-She is apparently unaware of the Smoke Monster and tells Sayid "There's no such thing as monsters."
-She knows there are polar bears on the Island

Lostpedia reports that in an earlier draft of "Solitary" the writers had Rousseau tell Sayid that her science team had come to the Island to do research about "Time." This line was cut from the script at the network's request because they were wary of anything that related to Sci-Fi. My, how times have changed!

In season 5 we learn that Rousseau's team came into contact with the smoke monster (when Montand lost his arm) and that's what apparently "infected" them. So why did Rousseau go on to believe that it was the Others? Does she believe that the Others and the monster are one and the same? Also, given that Locke has already had an up-close experience with the smoke monster (or something like it), has he been "infected" the same way Rousseau's team was? He does seem to know things about the Island that no one else knows - when it's going to rain, where to find Jack when he was hanging off the cliff, where to find the Beechcraft. I don't think it's that much of a stretch to think that maybe those abilities come from his contact with Smokey.

Another question: why did Sayid tell Rousseau that Nadia is dead? We learn later on that he was blackmailed into spying on his friend for the CIA with the promise that he would be reunited with her, so he knew she was living in L.A. But he tells Rousseau that he has been "holding on for the past 7 years to just a thought, a blind hope that somewhere she's still alive." Looks like maybe the writers goofed on this one.

Sayid's flashbacks in this episode keep with the pattern of showing how he got to the Island. The writers do a good job of balancing his back story, which is pretty dark and depressing, with scenes of the rest of the Losties playing on Hurley's gold course. It's really well done and creates a nice contrast. They also did a great job portraying Rousseau - we're not sure whether we can believe anything she says because she seems stark raving mad. Mira Furlan is superb - my only criticism is that her French accent isn't very convincing.

The part that sticks with me the most about this episode is that it's the first time we hear the whispers. It's the first clue we get that Rousseau isn't completely crazy.

The folks at DarkUfo have provided a transcript, since it's difficult to hear:

Male Voice- "Just let him get out of here."
Male Voice- "He's seen too much already."
Male Voice- "What if he tells?"
Female Voice - "Could just speak to him"
Male Voice- "No."

1:8 Confidence Man

The first Sawyer episode - and also the first episode where the flashbacks don't show how the character got to the Island. There's not a lot of Island mythology in this one, but it's a strong episode on the characterization alone.

The big twists are that Sawyer was a confidence man pre-Island, and that his name is an alias. Josh Holloway plays the self-loathing yet greedy part so perfectly I can't imagine anyone else in the role. I heard on a podcast that the writers had originally envisioned Sawyer as a slick northerner from New Jersey, which I don't think would have worked nearly as well as Holloway's southern charm. And let's face it, would anyone else be as nice to look at without a shirt on? I rest my case.

Sawyer has a way of provoking people, as he demonstrates when he gets Jack to hit him (twice), Kate to kiss him, and Sayid to actually torture him when he doesn't even have what they're looking for. Kate sees right through his actions to the heart of his motivations: on some level he wants people to hate him.

When Kate finds Sawyer swimming in the ocean we see that he is reading Watership Down, which is a great book I read as a kid (Sawyer seems to have a thing for young adult literature - we see him reading "A Wrinkle in Time," and "Are You There God, It's Me, Margeret?" which he claims he didn't like very much.) Sawyer quips "It's about bunnies" - just one of the first of many times rabbits are mentioned on LOST. Other themes in Watership Down include prescient visions, attempting to create a new society after a tragedy, and kidnapping from one tribe to increase the size of another.

A few great Sawyer quotes from this episode:

JACK: Get up.

SAWYER: Why, you want to see who's taller?


SAWYER: Baby, I am tied to a tree in a jungle of mystery. I just got tortured by a damn spinal surgeon and a gen-u-ine I-raqi. Of course, I'm serious. You're just not seeing the big picture here, Freckles. You really going to let that girl suffocate because you can't bring yourself to give me one little kiss? Hell, it's only first base. Lucky for you I ain't greedy.

The final montage is one of my favorite LOST endings. By not being able to burn his letter, Sawyer is still unable to let go of his past. And he's not alone. None of the characters have been able to completely escape their past. The record is still skipping, and it won't stop until they can let go.

On a side note, I really miss the use of popular music in the first season. This is a great song. And I just noticed the lyrics about "mother Mary" - we find out later that Sawyer's mother was named Mary. Enjoy!

Monday, July 20, 2009

1:7 The Moth

The first Charlie-centric episode, this is one of my favorite episodes of Season 1 because I find Charlie such an enjoyable character. His blend of heart and humor is really refreshing. And as a big Oasis fan back in the day, I get a kick out of the Drive Shaft story. In a lot of ways, "The Moth" seems to follow "White Rabbit" better than "House of the Rising Sun" because the symbolism is so thick on the ground. In "The Moth" the writers set aside Lewis Carroll for a while and focus on Christian symbolism.

To make sure we're don't miss it, the episode starts off with a flashback of Charlie at church, in a confessional. He describes to the priest his moral dilemma: the temptations that fame is bringing into his life.

CHARLIE: You see, it's, it's my band, father, Drive Shaft. We've been playing the clubs in Manchester. And, uh, we've been getting some heat, a following, you know, and, uh, the girls. There's some real temptations that come with the territory, if you know what I mean.

PRIEST: Well, we all have our temptations, but giving in to them, that's your choice. As we live our lives it's really nothing but a series of choices, isn't it?

CHARLIE: Well, then, I've made my choice. I have to quit the band.

He has just decided to step back from it all when his brother Liam tells him their band has just been offered a record contract, and Charlie is unable to say no.

In the present, Charlie is a full blown heroin addict, having succumbed to the lifestyle his brother led him to. In the previous episode, Locke took away his drugs in order to help him quit, and he now promises that if Charlie asks him three times, he will give them back. The number 3 shows up several times in this episode, a very Biblical number - the number of the Trinity, representing completeness. The number 3 also represents the dimensions of time - past, present and future.

Charlie isn't happy with Locke's plan:

CHARLIE: Why? Why? Why are you doing this? To torture me? Just get rid of them and have done with it?

LOCKE: If I did that you wouldn't have a choice, Charlie. And having choices, making decisions based on more than instinct, is the only thing that separates you from him [indicating the boar].

The question of free will vs. fate is an overarching theme on LOST (especially in season 5, it is THE question.) Locke is forcing Charlie's hand here, but he is also giving him a choice. He knows that Charlie's drug stash will run out soon (they haven't discovered the Beechcraft full of heroin yet!) but he also knows that making a choice to quit when he could still continue to use is a much more powerful option.

Meanwhile Sayid, Kate and Boone are trying to locate the source of the mysterious French broadcast. Sayid explains that he will use triangulation - three antenna and three people - to find the tower.

Charlie throws a minor tantrum ("You don't know me. I'm a bloody rock god!" - incidentally, the term "rock god" is used three times in the episode) and the cave collapses on Jack, with Charlie narrowly escaping. As Charlie's going to find help, he comes across Locke in the jungle and asks for his drugs.

CHARLIE: I want my stash, Locke. I can't stand feeling like this.

LOCKE: Come here. Let me show you something. [They walk to a plant with a cocoon on it]. What do you suppose is in that cocoon, Charlie?

CHARLIE: I don't know, a butterfly, I guess?

LOCKE: No, it's much more beautiful than that. That's a moth cocoon. It's ironic, butterflies get all the attention; but moths -- they spin silk, they're stronger, they're faster.

CHARLIE: That's wonderful, but. . .

LOCKE: You see this little hole? This moth's just about to emerge. It's in there right now, struggling. It's digging its way through the thick hide of the cocoon. Now, I could help it, take my knife, gently widen the opening, and the moth would be free. But it would be too weak to survive. The struggle is nature's way of strengthening it.

Charlie is definitely going through the struggle, and it's perhaps that struggle that makes him volunteer to climb through the rubble into the cave to save Jack. When the tunnel collapses behind him, he tells Jack "I'm here to rescue you." (A Star Wars reference.) Jack's arm is trapped underneath a rock, and Charlie heaves it off of him on the count of three. They're wondering how much air they have left in the cave when Charlie spots a moth. The moth shows him another way out of the cave. Charlie emerges from the cave stronger, finally ready to give up the drugs for good:

CHARLIE: Give them to me.

LOCKE: This is the third time. Are you sure you really want them?

CHARLIE: I've made my choice.

[Locke hands the drugs to Charlie. Charlie looks at them and throws them in the fire. Locke smiles.]

LOCKE: I'm proud of you, Charlie. Always knew you could do it.

While the heroin burns, Charlie looks up and sees the moth for the third time, flying away. His escape from the cave, a symbolic resurrection, has turned him into a new creature, ready for a new start.

1:6 House of the Rising Sun

Did anyone else totally guess that Sun spoke English? If you did, don't tell me, because I remember feeling really smart for figuring that out.

This episode has a feeling of disconnect to me. When watched in quick succession with the rest of the episodes, it seems almost like an afterthought. Maybe it's because the stories of Jin and Sun are necessarily separate from the other characters' stories because of the language barrier (which we learn isn't quite as much of an impediment as we had thought, but more on that later.) Part of the disconnect is reported in the production notes (as listed on Lostpedia, fountain of all LOST wisdom) - this is the first episode not to feature every regular character. Claire doesn't appear at all, and Boone and Shannon are there but don't have any lines. It's also the first episode to use the "whoosh" sound at the beginning and ending of every flashback, which became the standard practice in the series.

I didn't catch this until doing some research, but the title of the episode is a reference to an American folk song. The song has two versions, one from a woman's perspective and one from a man's, and talks about being stuck in "the House of the Rising Sun" - which has been interpreted by different singers and historians as being a brothel, a prison, and slave quarters. The following lines seem appropriate for Sun and Jin's story:

Well, I got one foot on the platform
The other foot on the train
I'm goin' back to New Orleans
To wear that ball and chain

The climax of Sun's flashback story is her split-second decision at the airport. She ultimately decides to stay with Jin - to keep wearing the ball and chain.

Something I had forgotten since seeing this episode for the first time was what a jerk Jin was. Without seeing the rest of the series it's almost incomprehensible that Sun could decide to stay with him. Now that we know more about their story (especially the fact that Sun was having an affair) Jin is a much more sympathetic character.

The tension between Sun and Michael is very interesting and some fans speculated that there was something going on between them. Those rumors were confirmed when ABC released the Missing Pieces mobisode "Buried Secrets":

The part of this episode that stuck with me the most was the discovery of "Adam and Eve" in the caves. Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindeloff said in an official podcast that this is an important clue that will prove that the writers had the ending of the show planned out from the start. I'm sure it has something to do with the two stones the bodies had on them - one white and one black.

1:5 White Rabbit

This episode is all about searching. Jack searches for his father, both in Australia and on the Island, Locke searches for a water source, and Kate and Sayid search for the missing water bottles. The title of the episode comes from Locke:

LOCKE: Why are you out here, Jack?

JACK: I think I'm going crazy.

LOCKE: No. You're not going crazy.


LOCKE: No, crazy people don't know they're going crazy. They think they're getting sane. So, why are you out here?

JACK: I'm chasing something—someone.

LOCKE: Ah. The white rabbit. Alice in Wonderland.

JACK: Yeah, wonderland, because who I'm chasing—he's not there.

LOCKE: But you see him?

JACK: Yes. But he's not there.

The Alice in Wonderland motif introduced here is one that comes up over and over again in LOST. The Lewis Carroll books (Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass) explore themes of logic, imagination, time and perception. The first book begins with Alice daydreaming on a riverbank on a boring summer day. Suddenly, she sees a white rabbit run by, checking his pocket watch. She follows him down a rabbit hole into a new strange world with a skewed reality. In "White Rabbit," the rabbit is Jack's father, Christian Shepard, who just so happens to be dead.

The flashbacks deal with Jack's troubled relationship with his father. In the first scene we see a young Jack getting beat up on the playground for sticking up for another boy. His father, instead of consoling or scolding him, tells him not to take chances:

"You don't want to be a hero, you don't try and save everyone because when you just don't have what it takes."

In a later episode, Jack tells Michael that he listened to his father "a little too well." Given Jack's demise into alcoholism and suicide attempts after leaving the Island, his father's words sound prophetic. Jack couldn't handle the fact that he had left others behind. In "White Rabbit" he can't cope with the fact that he couldn't save Joanna from drowning. Jack doesn't have what it takes to stop caring about people, to detach from his failures to save them. We probably wouldn't like him as much if he did. His drive to help people and fix problems is his most admirable characteristic, even though it's also his biggest flaw.

Jack's search for his father is really a search for redemption and forgiveness. In Australia and on the Island, both searches are in vain. When Jack finds Christian's empty coffin, his rage encompasses the frustration of both searches; he never is able to reconcile with his father. The Christ symbolism is thick here: Christian's body is no longer where it was laid. But Jack's Christ is a distant one, one who left in anger and who shows no signs of offering forgiveness or acceptance. (In a later episode some of that forgiveness will come from an unlikely source.)

Moving on from character analysis and on to Island mythology. The season 5 finale gave us some information about who Christian Shepard might actually be, or how he was seemingly resurrected. John Locke's body was apparently used by Jacob's nemesis for his own purposes. Doc Arzt and others have suggested that maybe JN has been the one appearing as dead people throughout the series. I love his theory about bodies: every dead character who has reappeared was someone who died on the Island*. Remember The Others' funeral for Colleen, when they sent her body out to sea? And remember when Richard asked the Dharma people for the bodies of his people? Maybe if a body remains on the Island, it can be used by JN.

Something else to speculate about: Locke tells Jack about his experience with the monster. He says "I looked into the eye of the Island, and what I saw was beautiful." Later (in season 3) he compares his experience with Eko's and he tells Eko he saw a bright light. Eko says "That is not what I saw." This might indicate that they didn't really see the same thing. We know that Eko saw the smoke monster, but we never see what Locke saw. Maybe it was a different entity, not the smoke monster at all.

*The one exception to this I can think of is Ben's mom, who died while giving birth to Ben near Portland, Oregon.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

1:4 Walkabout

In "Tabula Rasa," Jack and Kate talked about new beginnings. In "Walkabout", we discover a character who has had one in a big way. The biggest reveal of the show so far happens at the end of this episode with the discovery that John Locke was in a wheelchair when he got on Oceanic 815. It's timed flawlessly, with lots of subtle foreshadowing. I remember seeing it for the first time and being blown away. All assumptions about these characters are called into question.

Lostpedia reports that the original title of this episode was "Lord of the Files," a reference to William Golding's Lord of the Flies, which the show borrows from often. In flashbacks Locke is a "lord of the files" - filling out TPS reports (fun Office Space reference!) and playing Risk with coworkers during lunch. (In later episodes his love of games is fleshed out more fully, and becomes an important character trait.) The only glimpse we get of the Locke we know is what is perhaps his signature phrase: "Don't tell me what I can't do." The dialogue that stood out to me this time was his description of a walkabout:

"...a Walkabout is a journey of spiritual renewal, where one derives strength from the earth. And becomes inseparable from it."

Locke didn't get the Australian Walkabout he had planned on, but the experience he's having on the Island seems to fit the bill. The Island is what is giving him strength - maybe he's even inseparable from it.

The juxtapositions in this episode are striking; flashback Locke is powerless, disrespected, lonely, frustrated. Island Locke is the exact opposite - truly able to create his own destiny. He emerges triumphant from the jungle, having faced down the "monster" and killed a boar. The same question I asked about Kate could apply to Locke: is this persona he's adopted on the Island authentic? Has he really started over? Or will his past catch up with him? At the end of season five, we're left unsure about Locke's purpose. Is he just a pawn? Or is he playing an important role that we don't understand yet? I think the jury is still out, but I hope it's the latter.

1:3 Tabula Rasa

"Tabula Rasa" is the first true character-centric episode of LOST, where the storyline alternates between happenings on the Island and flashbacks pre-Island. It's the first episode to begin with "previously on LOST" (Lostpedia says that no one knows who does the "previously on LOST" voiceovers, but I'm convinced it's Carlton Cuse.) It's also the first episode that uses the "whoosh" sound to indicate flashbacks.

The title of the episode is a Latin phrase that literally means "blank slate." The idea is that humans are born completely unformed and we're shaped by our experiences. John Locke (the philosopher, not the character) developed the concept further and arrived at the conclusion that as human beings we all have the power to choose our destiny. The episode gets its title from an exchange between Jack and Kate, soon after Jack has discovered that Kate is a fugitive:

KATE: I want to tell you what I did - why he was after me.

JACK: I don't want to know. It doesn't matter, Kate, who we were - what we did before this, before the crash. It doesn't really—3 days ago we all died. We should all be able to start over.

Kate desperately wants to start over, and the Island seems to provide the perfect opportunity to do so. Her flashback shows that she's a good person at heart - even though she's evidently done some bad things, she was unable to let either Ray or the marshal just die. It was in trying to save Ray that the marshal was able to catch her. Can she start over? While surviving the plane crash seems to be a fresh start for the survivors, most of them aren't truly able to overcome who they were before, as the flashbacks continually remind us. In fact, their past mistakes and traumas seem inextricably connected with what they're experiencing on the Island. This is a question that has yet to be answered on LOST: can we ever really change? Can we choose our own destiny? Or are we doomed to repeat our mistakes?

The episode ends with one of my favorite sequences of the entire show. Small moments of redemption between characters, hope in spite of troubles (it's not FATE that they crashed, they were just LATE!), the return of Vincent the dog, and a perfect little bit of creepiness at the end with Locke (oh, how I miss creepy/mysterious Locke!)