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last week i dared you, 'meet kevin johnson.' i dared you to tie all the disparate elements of michael's story together in a surprising yet inevitable way. did you meet the challenge? ....

written by: elizabeth sarnoff and brian k. vaughn. as i've said before, 'the sarn' is hit and miss in my book, and because she is always working with different writers, i don't know how to attribute credit to her. is she bringing the other writers down, or raising their standards? brian k. vaughn has been a co-writer on some very strong episodes, most notably, this season's freighties flashback, 'confirmed dead.' he is also the writer of the much-acclaimed graphic novel series 'y: the last man,' which i really really need to check out.

directed by: stephen williams. one of 'lost's' old pros. this was a really big episode, very highly anticipated, and i'm sorry to say that i think it fell flat in a lot of areas:

  1. timeline
  2. michael
  3. coffin
  4. tom
  5. aturo
  6. libby
  7. rousseau
  8. freighter
  9. locke
  10. details and references
  11. minor gripe
  12. preboomer
1. timeline. one of my concerns was exactly how much time there was for michael and walt to get off the island and then head right back over. and here's how it breaks down:
  • november 27: michael and walt leave the island shortly after the electromagnetic event.
  • december 4: tom's last on-island appearance, at juliet's 'trial' for killing pickett.
  • december 8ish: michael gets on the freighter, talks to tom, who is still in new york.
  • december 10: tom and jack play football at the barracks.
  • december 17: naomi parachutes to the island.
  • december 28: sayid and desmond discover michael on the freighter.
tom has a 5 day period, between december 5 and december 10 to go to new york and get back in time for his next appearance on the show.

i can't help but think they wanted to use a different character for this role - perhaps richard alpert - but weren't able to get the actor, so they threw this somewhat shaky retcon at us. yes, it does fit the timeline, but similar to ben's affection for juliet, it feels tacked on. more on that later.

also, it is during this same 5 day period, that locke's father, aka the real sawyer, is kidnapped off the mainland and brought to the island.

so - i can see a possible retcon scene, on hydra island, december 4th, in which ben lays out the big plan, and sends several people off the island at the same time, all tasked with various missions. it all would have been so much stronger if there was even one tiny reference to tom having returned from a trip.

2. let's talk about michael. why do we bring michael back to the show? what is the 'greater function' that his character is going to play?

after all the hype, i had big hopes for this episode - michael will introduce a major new element to the mythology! but no. not really. what did we learn?
  • the island tasks you with 'work,' and then, in ways similar to desmond's 'course correcting,' prevents you from killing yourself until that work is done.
  • ben blames widmore for planting the wreck.
  • 'some' of the others can leave the island.
uh, i think that's it. that's it!? really??

i like my idea better. michael's boat should have been intercepted. to start the flashback when he's already home, and cracked out in the same way jack was in 'through the looking glass' cheats of what we -really- want to know, which is: how did they get back? and more important, why are they hiding their identities? what reason would michael have to keep himself hidden? did oceanic intervene? is he also being paid off? does michael need to have a new identity in order to avoid questions once the fake wreck is revealed? there are sooo many questions (key questions that made the idea of the episode very exciting), and the main problem is that it begins the michael story at a point beyond when those questions would be answered - and so we watch the entire episode not able to get our minds off of them, and consequently don't care much about what's going on.

this story needed to start with michael in an office with someone very official looking - not abbaddon, but someone like abbaddon. michael is wet and has longer hair. he and walt have just been rescued off their boat. michael is telling the official that he's a survivor of flight 815, and he has a very good idea of how to get back to the rest of them, and a rescue operation needs to be launched immediately. he tells the official that he had to do unimaginable things to escape. the official sits there and says nothing. finally he silently writes michael a check and slides it across the table. michael says 'what's this?' the official says 'this is your price for being silent. there will be no rescue operation. you will change your identity. you will take this check and you'll take your son, and whatever it was you had to do, you'll put everything that happened on that island out of your mind. we have resources you can't imagine. if you choose to speak, you will be silenced.' michael thinks about it. takes the check. boom. cue opening title.

and what's cool about that opening is that we don't know if this person is on ben's side or widmore's - and when michael sees that the 'wreck' has been discovered, he understands the resources and power that he's dealing with.

also - we needed more explanation of why it has to be michael who infiltrates the freighter. have tom say 'there's no record of your escape, and our security has been breached. they know who we are now.' for that matter, why couldn't tom just do it?

also - ben has a man on the boat, great, but who does ben have on the mainland? within widmore, to even know about the freighter in the first place? why not send them instead?

also also also also. this is what makes the show confusing: 45 different strands that don't tie together nicely. the beauty of 'lost' is when the complexity is revealed to be part of a simple unified theory. occams' razor, not occams frizzy head of split ends. i just hate when a retcon feels like a retcon.

plus, the timeframe doesn't make it plausible that michael is now suicidal. jack's flashforward is in an undetermined point in the future, which allows us to imagine a slow descent into madness that culminates with him standing on that bridge - but michael had exactly ONE WEEK to go from yay i got my son back to boo i want to die. it took him a month on a deserted island to win walt's respect. he's really going to give up on walt's forgiveness after one week? we need more than that. if we can't show walt because of the growth spurt, then we need a letter from walt. something. something more than grandma and a disappointed look from the window. darlton says they've taken walt's growth into account - it's clear that they plan to use him in flashforwards, but at this point, i think he should have died. that's the only thing that would have me believe michael's state of mind in just a few days.

dear damon and carlton: you had so much time to figure this all out! we accepted the truncated season schedule and were excited by it because it allowed you more time to focus on the development of each episode! this should have been the centerpiece of the season! this should have been season 4's 'the other 48 days!'

3. michael is in the coffin. jack's newspaper clipping contains a J name (johnson?), and reference to the person as being from new york. with this new revelation that the island prevents you from killing yourself - it makes sense that jack, upon seeing the article, would be sent into a tailspin. jack sees the article and thinks, 'michael did it. maybe i'm free! maybe now i can do it!' so he gets on the bridge, and.. no. then he goes to the funeral, which is in a poor black neighborhood not unlike the new york area that michael was living in before. jack's demeanor, and kate's dismissal all seem to make sense given this context. per darlton, we should know soon.

4. tom. i think throwing tom into this episode seriously confused a lot of people - especially since the episode didn't make use of date cards, which would have helped us understand where in time all of these things were happening. and while it's always fun to see dead characters come back in flashback, you run the risk of confusing people when you're dealing with very narrow windows of time.


what lost really needs is a gay person on their writing staff. i'm just going to throw it out there and voice my suspicion that there isn't anyone on hand (except perhaps chris white, who produces the podcasts) to give voice to this particular perspective. which is a shame. because last year's teaser that kate 'wasn't tom's type' was a perfect moment. ambiguous yet telling, and allowed us to postulate about a deeper life for mr. friendly.

until we finally get to see that deeper life. like making dumbledore gay, what i liked about the idea of tom being gay was that he was this rugged, imposing guy - at turns friendly and terrifying, who seemed to be very at home living in the rigors of the jungle, and who also just happens to be gay.

but the new york apartment scene. with the clothes and the hair and the wine and the kiss and -

5. arturo. arturo?? it felt like the writers sat around and said, 'well we have this gay character, but we haven't really made him gay yet. so now's our chance.

what does it mean to be gay? i think it means slicking your hair back and having a lover named arturo.' i can hear damon and carlton's sinckering voices as they jokingly decide to name tom's lover arturo (in much the same way that they named the shark from season 2 ezra j. sharkington). it feels like a slap in the face, and it's moments like these that i understand my inside source's statements about the production atmosphere on lost as a 'frathouse, with its barely concealed homophobia, racism and misogyny.'

i absolutely hated these choices. tom should not have been any different on island from off. and his lover should have been someone that would reasonably be with tom - and rather than deliberately inducing snickers across america when they kissed, that scene had the potential to create deeper sympathy for tom, knowing that he is now dead, and his lover may not even know. rather than a fey punchline (the guy was practically charmen ghia from the producers), there should have been a sad undertone accompanying his introduction. and making tom gay should not have meant making tom gay. can i please just rewrite this entire episode?

6. libby. i was spoiled via imdb that libby would be appearing in this episode. and boy what an awful lot they gave her to do. hold some blankets! say 'no!'

i understand the choice - michael's guilt over murdering her and ana lucia is now driving his story arc (was michelle rodriguez not available to make similar dream-cameos?), but why not give her something more to do? is libby now a post-island manifestation, similar to hurley's vision of charlie in 'the beginning of the end?' why not give libbly a scene in which she really rubs the guilt in? if she is a manifestation, why not tease us with that a bit more and allow someone else to 'see' her the way one of the inmates saw charlie at the institution?

and you can't help but wonder, given libby's reappearance - will we ever find out the missing pieces of her story? seeing her name on imdb gave me that glimmer of hope that the only main cast member never to get their own flashback might finally have their story told, but no:

7. rousseau. she'd better not be dead. that is all.

8. i wanted to see people on the freighter start going crazy. i wanted to see zoe bell do something kick-ass. i wanted to see minkowski's exact moment of timeshifting. i wanted new information about these people!

9. locke. it turns out that all ben said to locke in order to be set free was that michael was the man on the boat? rrrrrgggh. that's not enough! why does ben need to be set free? i understand that in locke they are trying to build an impressionable character, which is not an easy task. you want the character to make questionable choices, but the audience must also understand why they've done it. letting ben run around the barracks with blankets is just too easy. too easy for ben, and too easy for us. it feels like the show is deliberately stalling the locke plotline through most of this season because locke/jacob/the temple/four toesy are not going to be dealt with until season 5. or six.

10. in my criticisms i'm overlooking some interesting details in this episode. many dead characters reappear - tom, libby, naomi, minkowski - which was fun to see. some cool stuff:
  • the watch michael pawns in order to buy a gun was given to michael by jin, as a peace offering.
  • carl says 'i have a bad feeling about this' shortly before getting shot. the line is george lucas' trademark, and appears in each of the star wars films.
  • liked the reference to 'the shining' and bouncing the tennis ball.
  • structurally, this episode is similar to 'flashes before your eyes,' in that the flashback takes place all in one unbroken chunk before returning to the island story.
  • the temple. yeee i'm so excited about seeing this damned temple. i hope it's like, inside the fallen head of what was once the entire giant four-toed statue..
11. minor gripe. again, a good set of major gripes to accompany this episode. in the context of the entire season i'm sure it will sit quite nicely in that vague 'tail end of act 2' space in each season. if you think about it structurally, we're at episode 8 of a 13 episode season, just beyond the halfway point, which is classically when the weakest episodes have fallen: 'expose,' 's.o.s,' 'left behind,' 'hearts and minds,' etc. it's that falloff before introducing the central conflict that drives us through to the season finale.

but to get really really minor - i'm slightly annoyed that ben's map to the temple is drawn in the exact same style and handwriting as charlotte and faraday's map, which doesn't have the temple on it. here's ben's map:

i'm hoping this isn't props oversight, but if the hostiles are indeed 'safe' at the temple, why does its location have a dharma logo next to it, and why would it be on official maps? doesn't seem very safe to me. here is charlotte and faraday's map:

but maybe that's why carl had a 'bad feeling' about it. i think this episode, like juliet's episode represents a lot of missed opportunity and unmet potential. and worse than the juliet episode, it was alienating to a lot of fans who don't have intimate knowledge of the show's complex timeline. it even had my head spinning with doubt about the plausibility of these things. what we needed from michael's return were two things: a solid purpose to drive his new arc on the show, and an important new piece of mythology that only he could provide us with. i don't think that's an impossible order to fill, though it was clearly too tall for elizabeth sarnoff and brian k. vaughn.

but we've been through these bumps before, and far worse ones. my main concern is that the next 5 episodes will be rushed through every stage of production and will suffer on all levels. but my big hope is that this pause due to the writers strike will actually allow darlton to use the second half of this season to respond to fan reactions to the first half. for this season anyway, the show will remain a dialogue between the producers and the fans. so - have i given up hope?

12. preboomer: see #7.

see you again after april 24th. thanks to everyone who finds all this somewhat amusing!

season 1: bagel
season 2: challah
season 3: snake in the mailbox
season 4: frozen donkey wheel
season 5: _______________
season 6: _______________

for those who don't listen to the podcast (i highly recommend it - they are quite entertaining in their own right) - the big reveal at the end of each season's finale is given a codename to prevent spoilers. it was just announced that the codename for the season 4 ending secret is "frozen donkey wheel."

so, like an SAT test, based on the 4 codenames we have thus far - extrapolate the remaining 2. email me, or leave ideas in the comments..

are you pissed? or crying too hard to worry about being toyed with by the producers in much the same way ben toyed with juliet last week?

written by: edward kitsis and adam horowitz. from the way damon and carlton speak about these guys, and also from listening to their commentary on 'expose,' they seem to me like the teacher's pets of the writer's room.

directed by: stephen semel. stephen is an editor on the show, having been nominated for two emmys, and won an 'eddie' in 2006 for the episode 'outlaws.' this episode marks his directing debut. he also played one of the others, adam, who decried juliet's book club choice as being 'by-the-numbers religious hocum-pocum.' stephen is basically living my dream. edit, direct and then get verbally bitchslapped by juliet? pinch me.

the list:

  1. trust
  2. manipulation
  3. death
  4. michael
  5. escapees
  6. he said/he said
  7. gripes
  8. fun details
  9. noboomer
alright. this episode had my mind twisting in many many different ways. but let's start at the beginning.

1. trust. the first half of this episode had me worried that we were going to be stuck in last week's same lackluster storytelling mode. it made up for it later, but i was really bothered by the opening beats of the sun/juliet storyline. sun decides, practically arbitrarily, that she's no longer trusting juliet and is going to join locke's crew. she bases her distrust entirely on hearsay regarding juliet's lie about the power/chemical station. one of the most beautifully performed scenes last year was juliet telling sun that the baby was jin's, and juliet revealing the truth of what happens to pregnant women. it was one of the big cry moments of season 3, and seemed to establish sun and juliet as at least trustbuddies thereafter. sun's 180 toward juliet felt forced by the requirements of the plot.

script doctor: last week, sun should have been a part of the decision-making process when deciding to go to the power station - then at least juliet would have been lying to sun's face. or, show us sun's train of thought. her main suspicion comes from how healthy aaron is, so show sun toying with aaron's abandoned crib, thinking about her baby, then let her overhear the juliet lie. the inciting incident for this entire episode was just too flimsy.

however, juliet blowing the roof off sun's affair raised the stakes, made my jaw drop, and brought the episode back to where we expect the show to operate.

2. alright. let's talk about how manipulated we were in this episode, with our first simultaneous flash forward and flash back. there were many levels of discovery as the true nature of this episode began to take shape:
  • omg jin becomes a prick again in the future
  • omg sun and jin broke up
  • omg is that baby half-black?
  • omg sun is with michael now. makes sense with the near-kiss missing piece.
  • no. please don't let sun be with hurley.
  • whew.
  • ok, jin's baby.
  • omg jin is dead.
  • wait, that's the date of the crash on his tombstone.
celeste had wondered if there were wooshes between the jin and sun pieces of the flashes. nope. they cut directly between each other, as though they are part of the same timeframe. lies! lies! rulebreaking lies!

here's my problem with this - unlike 'through the looking glass,' this trick doesn't hold up to scrutiny. the ideal version of this episode would let us look at both the sun and jin flash scenes and understand the thought processes behind each of them.

when we flash forward, we see the effect that certain on-island choices have had.

when we flash back, we see pre-island choices, and how they have shaped the on-island character.

the flashes tell us what the character is thinking about as they are faced with choices. it makes sense that sun, having her baby, would be thinking about that one time on the island when she reconciled with jin.

what doesn't make sense is why jin, faced with the revelation that his wife has cheated on him, would be thinking about that one time he tried to buy a panda for that one random guy that sun's dad wanted him to get a present for.

which is why the episode stinks of manipulation. if we could look back and see how jin's flashback ties in with his actions, it would make more sense. jin needed to be more of an asshole - he tells sun that he understands why she cheated, because he was a different person. we should have seen more of that person in the flash - making him too assholish might have tipped the secret, but not if we believed that he was doing it for sun.

3. so. is jin dead? i re-read the transcript and there are no direct references to him being dead. yunjin kim certainly played her final scene as though he was dead, and i'm sure it was shot a couple different ways: "yunjin, play it like he's still alive on the island!" "now do it like he fell out of the helicopter!" "now do it like the smoke monster banged him against the rocks!"

she says that she misses jin a lot. a lot. i'm inclined to believe that he's dead. it's possible he's somehow alive, but unable to leave the island - if that's the case, it seems like sun would be trying to get back, with the same passion that penny has put into the search for desmond. it also seems doubtful that hurley would refer to the tombstone visit as 'going to see jin.'

but it could all just be smokescreen so that the producers can tease us with potential jin deaths (the same way we were teased for 3 years with a string of potentially crippling accidents for locke) only to have him -not- die and then say "but we never explicitly said he was dead!"

i have a feeling that this is the most recent flashforward we've seen thus far - if there isn't too major a time differential, the birth of sun's baby would fall at about july of 2005. hurley hasn't gone crazy yet, so neither has jack, and kate is probably still awaiting trial.

4. michael. well. there he is. and it was very savvy of the writers not to make his appearance the preboomer, which would have been as big a letdown (if not bigger) than 'see you guys at dinner.' so of course the big question is how is it at all possible that michael is planted on the freighter? is there even time in the timeline for him to get back to the mainland, have walt re-kidnapped by ben, and then coerced into joining the crew of the boat? because with his haircut and new identity, there's no way he and walt were intercepted by the freighter. and seriously, my friend melissa brought up how weak it is to have it be about walt again. now, perhaps when michael and walt drive away in the boat, they find themselves on the mainland a couple months in the past.. and this is how ben is able to get michael on the boat. if that's the case, the time differential thing has enormous potential to get really really confusing.

another point brought up by mike israelson: the freighter people studied and knew everyone on that plane. is a haircut really going to disguise michael?

hi this week's upcoming episode. i dare you to satisfactorily link all those pieces together.

i'm not a big fan of harold perrineau. i think a lot of his acting is riddled with indication. it was no secret that he didn't love his time in hawaii and asked to be written out of the show. the real shock about michael coming back is that harold came back. the promos for this week say that SOMEONE. WILL. DIE. i hope it's michael. in fact it could be - ever notice that the person who dies is usually the person whose episode it is?

5. escapees. now here's an interesting thought that i ran across on one of the talkbacks - each character revealed off-island in flash-forward thus far (except aaron), was far away from the swan station when it imploded and the sky turned purple.

kate, jack, and hurley were at the pala ferry (as was ben), and sayid and sun were on the boat, circling the island. is it possible that proximity to that event makes it impossible for you to leave? the exception is aaron. whether or not he is 'counted' as one of the six, he and claire were close enough to nearly be hit by the hatch door after it blew. maybe being born on the island makes aaron different?

6. widmore vs ben. according to the captain, widmore says that ben planted the fake wreck? really? from what we've seen, it seems far more likely that widmore planted the wreck - it would just be easier to manage from off-island. seems like we're going to see these two blaming each other for the same things for awhile now, and our heroes will have to choose who to believe. if both ben and widmore want to control the island, the planting of the wreck suits their united purpose - keep people from poking their noses around the island. really, ben and widmore should be working together. ben makes sure that none of the survivors leaves, and widmore makes sure that the world is misdirected. i am curious about the 324 bodies.. were they provided by mittelos bioscience? cloned like bunny 15 in the orchid video?

but of course, we have the note from michael, telling our heroes not to trust the captain. then again, michael is working for ben. then again, sayid eventually also works for ben. who the hell is telling the truth? who is the bad guy? i'm guessing we'll find out in season 6, episode 8.

7. i've already talked through my major gripes. here is my minor gripe: zoe bell gets one line and then dies??? wtf!?

have you seen death proof? the woman is a powerhouse! what a waste! it seems certain that we will be seeing her in flashback. hopefully she'll beat someone to death with a pipe or something.

8. details.

loved that nikki's death scene was playing on sun's tv, dubbed in korean.

oh. where did keamy and frank go on their 'errand' on the helicopter?

dude. there's an axe in the wall.

9. noboomer. 'lost' is an ambidextrious show. on one hand you have your mythological plot. on the other hand you have a character-based drama. the greatest episodes of this show balance both aspects with equal skill. yes, there are some brilliant minds behind the writing of the show, but there are equally brilliant people in front of the camera. yunjin kim is just astonishing. from bitchslapping juliet, to weeping at jin's grave, she hits every note.

and speaking of notes, lets talk about michael giaccino's music. listen to the scoring as we discover that jin has not been rushing to sun's bedside. listen to how he carrys entire scenes using a single note on a harp, or replays very subtle musical themes, as when sun and hurley arrive at jin's grave.

had the writer's strike not been resolved in time, this episode would have served as the season finale. i can see why they would make that decision. a classy, solid ending, and a performance that should get yunjin kim an emmy nod.

to closingspeed: thanks for the kind words! well, my readership currently consists of about 10 people, which is fine with me. i write this blog as much for myself as anyone else. i'm glad you find it enlightening!

well the streak had to end sometime. weakest episode of the season, but understand that by now my standards are almost ridiculously high. but also understand that my standards have only been dictated by the ridiculously high standards of the show itself.

directed by: eric laneuville. the first not jack bender and not stephen williams to direct this season. on the downside, eric directed my most hated episode in the show's history, the rose bernard ickfest, 's.o.s,' as well as the slight but serviceable 'tricia tanaka is dead' (hurley and the van episode). on the plus side, he directed 'the other 48 days,' and last season's locke/sawyer denouement 'the brig,' both excellent episodes. i would say 'the other woman' falls squarely in the middleground in terms of quality.

written by: drew goddard and christina m. kim. i wonder how the writer's room hierarchy works. these two have always shared writing credit with someone else, but other writers will always write by themselves. is it related to your producer credit? curious. they've each contributed to good episodes, though christina shares the other half of the blame for that atrocious tattoo episode.

1. opening
2. who's got gas
3. gainesville
4. daddy vs. penny
5. boat guy
6. harper and not harper
7. juliet looks like 'her'
8. minor gripe
9. cool details

1. loved the opening scene. a brilliant tease to make us think that somehow juliet is one of the oceanic 6, and needs counseling because of it. then tom pops in. nope. she's a celebrity because she's going to 'save' the others. very clever.

2. this episode was all about gas. who's got gas, who wants to release the gas, who wants to neutralize the gas. if harper was a manifestation of smokey, then we can assume that smokey wants to retain the ability to use the gas, and kill everyone except the chosen few. smokey always appears to people in the form of someone for whom they harbor tremendous guilt: why?? the answer is pretty clear - smokey knows it's the best way to manipulate someone into doing what smokey wants.

ben's dead mother appeared to him as a child. cut to: ben gassing the island. was gasing the island ever ben's agenda? or smokey's? i think we'll discover as the show progresses, exactly what smokey's (jacob's?) agenda is, and why it's so important that it retain the ability to 'reset' the island inhabitants to its liking.

perhaps this is what 'the lists' are for? jacob is choosing those who will survive the next purge, the ones who are worthy to live on, and protect, the island.

3. this episode was just chock full of weak arguments. ben tells locke that he's the equivalent of novelty mold from gainesville florida that millions of people will flock to. now i know that locke is impressionable (and i did enjoy the earlier ben/locke scenes in this episode), but it really only works when ben is actually being clever. i also think that ben works best when he's written by people who are actually as smart as he is. otherwise his dialogue is predictable, and worse, redundant. but mostly it was just funny that they referred to gainesville as the epicenter of credulity.

4. and so we get some major answers.

we now have confirmation that it is indeed penny's dad waging war against ben for the island. it's interesting how unsatisfying certain revelations are. not every reveal can be a huge shocker, especially when it's something that we've suspected since penny picked up that arctic phone call. what i'm curious about though is widmore's connection to dharma - was dharma totally separate (where are the food drops coming from?) from widmore?

also - the real henry gale's hot air balloon was a widmore balloon. was this widmore's first attempt to penetrate the island?

5. well, now i'm leaning back towards ben's man on the boat being michael. which is sad. because if it's true, the tease leading out of this episode makes it less of a surprise than ever. ben would only suggest that locke sit down before spilling the beans if it was going to be someone that locke knows, and so now the only real answer is michael. which feels like another disappointment. please please please don't let it be michael. please let it be inevitable and surprising. and if it is michael, there had better be a seriously satisfying retcon explaining exactly how (and why) michael would ever be this person. is ben somehow holding walt hostage again? michael wouldn't have gotten to the freighter until after the sky turned purple (michael didn't even leave the island until just after the event) and communications went down - so how would he have transmitted the identities of the people on board? seriously, if i'm to believe that it's michael, there are a LOT of logistical hoops to jump.

6. i did not like this actress.

ethan was the other's surgeon. clearly he also did botox and eye rejuvenations.

or maybe eric laneuville just isn't the best director, but i thought she was overwrought, redundant, and indicating. wouldn't the episode play better if we sympathized with her instead? juliet is supposed to feel guilty about inadvertently getting her husband killed, but one of the many problems with this episode is that it makes improper use of juliet's stoneface. used right, her blank expression makes us wonder if she's good or bad, if she knows something or not. but here, we need to -know- several things: does she really love goodwin? does she feel guilty about being the other woman, or does she enjoy it? it feels like the writing is saying one thing, and the execution is saying another.

but that's not even the point of this section. let's talk about the elements of the episode that are part of the larger mythology: is harper a manifestation of smokey? yes. the clues: 1) whispers before appearing. 2) claims to have orders from ben, when she never could have seen ben. 3) person from character's past, of whom guilt is harbored about. 4) sudden, impossible disappearance.

jack spoke to the harper manifestation. from missing piece #13, we know that the manifestations are physically present, and visible to all. that was most definitely smokey who appeared to juliet.

7. harper says that ben would naturally like juliet, because she looks just like 'her.' which is interesting. who is the "she" that harper is referring to? ryan mcgee speculates deeply that it is annie, who as a child has the wrong color hair, but could certainly grow to look like juliet. more likely, i think it's a disturbing reference to ben's mother, who does actually look a lot like juliet.

more interesting is the fact that ben never even saw his mother in real life, her having died in childbirth. ben only knew her from a photograph, and that image is what smokey bases the manifestation on - check it out, she's got the same outfit on from ben's photo.

ben harbors massive amounts of guilt over his dead mother - which smokey exploits in order to gas dharma off the island.

now, does ben have some kind of disturbing attraction to this image of his mother? it wouldn't surprise me, and with the introduction of juliet to the camp, he now has someone who 'looks just like her' that he can transfer his affections to without feeling oedipal guilt.

what's also interesting is that at the beginning of season 3, ben exploits juliet's image with jack the same way smokey had done with ben. he says to jack 'do you think it's a coincidence that juliet resembles your ex-wife?' ben had hoped to use jack's prior affection and guilt associated with sarah to get him to perform the surgery.

so jack and ben have something in common: lust for the juliet enigma which may or may not actually be displaced lust for someone who 'looks just like her.'

and that weird, absolutely unearned jack/juliet kiss? no. how was this episode so exponentially inferior?

8. well, i have more of a major gripe this week. generally, i think this episode just wasn't written as strongly as it could have been. the cleverest thing about it was the title, and even that isn't very clever. after last week, we've seen that a compelling relationship can be built in just the 4 short flashback scenes with penny and des. there is no reason why we couldn't have similarly cared about juliet's relationship with goodwin. when ben takes her to see goodwin's body, it should have been heartbreaking, and unbearably cruel. first i thought, well, i wasn't that moved by it because i already knew that goodwin was going to die - but foreknowledge of a plot point is not a reason for it not to be effective. we knew that locke was going to end up in a wheelchair, but that didn't diminish the power of the specific events that led up to it.

i can see on paper how this episode was supposed to go - the juliet/goodwin beach scene was supposed to give us something to root for - a reason to hope that these two stay together, and to give us a sense of foreboding, knowing that goodwin is going to die. we're also meant to feel that they are 'right' together, and that harper is being wronged.

ultimately the point of the episode is to give us this idea that ben still has control over juliet. so see him so out of character is jarring and strange - and introduced this far into the story, it feels a bit tacked-on. 'oh, let make it so that ben really likes juliet, that'll give the story some oomph.' i think that tacked-on feeling was yet another symptom of lackluster writing. as evidenced by missing pieces #12 (the only one of the missing pieces to actually be a cut scene, and not new footage - so the information in this 'piece' is not necessarily retcon, just omission) ben's affection for juliet was originally going to be established in her very first scene. i'm not sure why the reference was cut. for this episode to really work, we needed at least a couple real clues planted in episodes along the way, that would allow us to believe that ben might be obsessed with juliet.

also, the charlotte/farraday plot made absolutely no sense at all. 'we're going to artificially conceal our objectives so that we can reveal the ironic truth after you've made all the wrong assumptions about us! also, there will be yet another ticking-clock crisis averted literally at the last second!' yawn.

9. cool details:

  • the new station is 'the tempest.' of course referring to the many similarities to the plot of the play.
  • zack and emma are mentioned as being taken care of by juliet. another tie-in to juliet having something to do with the treatment of the children. sure to become important later when michael ties juliet up to find out what exactly they did to walt.

ok, yes. i am the geek who spent half an hour last night correlating the colors of the x's on the calendar to the island timeline. there don't seem to be any notable concurrences. the date of the season 2 food drop is marked with a red x, but other red x's fall on dates where nothing of note took place. i'm chalking this one up to a props intern given a handful of sharpies and told to go nuts.


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