unfortunately, many of the videos shown during the panel are not in these videos. a couple are posted separately..

first: apologies for the wait on the season 5 finale analysis. the reasons behind the holdup are twofold: 1) the sheer scope of topics to cover is daunting, and 2) february is a long way away.

fortunately, jacob was recently retconned into my early childhood where he politely reminded me to finish the things that i start. sometimes we just need a little push.

my m/o has usually been to wait until the podcast has been posted before posting that episode's analysis, so i plan to do the rough equivalent here; damon and carlton are in radio silence until their presentation at comic-con next month. that presentation promises to shed light on the content and direction of the final season, which i will recap and explore for you here. comic-con is july 23-26. if you know any way i can score a ticket, i will, um, i will mention you on this blog!

so, august 1, look for my epic, in-depth analysis of both the season 5 finale, and the season as a whole - informed by the revelations to come at comic-con.

see you then.

written by: paul zbyszewski and elizabeth sarnoff, who together also wrote this season's 'jughead.' this might be sarnoff's best episode in the show thus far. this season she also co-wrote 'dead is dead,' and 'la fleur.' zbyszewski has previously also co-written 'namaste.'

directed by: stephen williams, who has not had the best track record this season with 'because you left' (pretty good), 'the little prince' (the best kate episode), '316' (ugh), and 'dead is dead' (hrm. send him all your bad-effects smoke monster hate mail).

director of photography: john bartley. some really great shots and setpieces in this episode. the underwater swim was exciting, the temple tunnels looked much better than they did in ben's episode, sawyer's farewell view of the island was beautiful, and the others' golden-hour sunrise exodus to see jacob looked wonderful.

basically: message boards incorrectly revised the description of the ep from alpert to locke centric. while indirect, this was a taughtly-written alpert flashback episode. the chess pieces are in line for the finale, and the setup is brilliant.
  1. alpert.
  2. eloise.
  3. the answers.
  4. locke.
  5. jacob.
  6. leadership.
  7. a postulation.
  8. great lines.
  9. minor gripes.
  10. a theory.
  11. preboomer.
  12. bookmark.

1. alpert.

this man is deeply fascinating. and while we're not yet getting a lot of specific information about him, we're learning a lot of small things that are gradually adding up to a bigger picture:

my original hypothesis that alpert doesn't appear to age because he has been jumping through time seems to be wrong. from what we've seen, alpert simply doesn't age. and judging by this opening shot, it seems clear that they're hinting he is somehow connected to the black rock:

we don't know anything yet about the exact origin of the others. what sets alpert apart from the rest of the others, who have aged normally?

calling this an alpert-centric episode is kind of cheating. he only happens to be present in both timeframes, but we learn nothing about the man - there is no character arc, no initial conflict resolved for him by episode's end. they are still holding their alpert cards very tight. what's headtrippy to think about is that as events in the past appear to us to play out in real time, they are memories to present-day alpert. it would have been pretty cool if the episode was even shot more from his perspective.. even if we didn't learn anything new, use closeups of his face, start the flashback whoosh, and play the 'flashbacks' as though we are literally peeking into alpert's memory of the past.

alpert's presence in both timeframes raises the question of destiny - if all the events of the past are locked in alpert's memory, is it indeed impossible for jack and company to change the course of history? just as eloise has already shot daniel, alpert has already seen our heroes die.

if it is possible to change things, would alpert's present day memory of events change as well? (the movie 'frequency' handled this in an interesting way, allowing characters to possess memories from all of their alternate timelines. digression: elizabeth mitchell was in 'frequency,' and her character killed by a serial killer named jack shephard.)

big remaining questions about alpert:
  • what is his origin?
  • what exactly does 'advisor' to jacob mean?
  • why doesn't he age?
2. eloise.

i like the actress they've chosen to play middle eloise. this episode allowed her to go beyond a fionnula flanagan impression into a fleshed-out character - hopefully we'll see even more of that in the finale. i loved the discovery that she and widmore are sort of the kate/jack of the others. - or perhaps they are they sawyer/juliet, and (like sawyer is planning to do by betting on the cowboys in the '78 superbowl) is widmore's off-island empire financed by knowledge of the future?

ellie's interactions with jack in 1977 change the way we look at her stilted present day scene at the lamp post station. as she's telling jack and company how to return to the island, she's doing the same thing locke did with alpert: sending them on a mission to meet her younger self. when she looks at jack, she sees the un-aged face of a man who 'died' 30 years earlier trying to undo the accidental murder of her son. it would be so cool if that awkward scene from '316' was acquitted by this additional knowledge, but rewatching it, it still doesn't work. flanagan's performance is too glib and condescending. i think it's a case where it really would have helped the actress to know the true stakes of the scene before shooting. her son's life depended on getting jack and company back to the island. the scene should have been driven by her personal need for jack to succeed. with stakes that high, why would she ever leave this task to ben? she should have been blackmailing kate herself and dressing up as jack's dad.. anything to get them on that plane! sigh. can we reshoot it? for the dvd's? please?

3. the answer.

and it now becomes clear - the bigger plan for the show, and the two questions i've been asking, and have been frustrated by ever since last year's finale:
  1. why did all the terrible things happen because they (the oceanic 6) left?
  2. and why did they need to come back?
based on locke's scene with alpert, i think we now know the answers:
  1. the terrible things happened because all of the 815 survivors were supposed to be bouncing in time after ben pushed the wheel. how is sayid supposed to shoot ben if he's not back on the island? how is kate going to save him if she's not there too?
  2. they needed to go back because their returning is the cause of a whole chain of events - ben to become ben, the incident to incite, and quite possibly, as jack now believes, erase the future.
4. locke.

this episode was mostly setup - and i get the feeling that damon and carlton are about to whip back the curtain on some major revelations this week.
  • why was locke resurrected? why did he need to wear christian shepard's shoes?
  • is he still 'locke' or is he something else now?
  • is locke's mystical drive actually coming from logic? are his ideas about destiny now being backed up by his experiences as a time-traveller? have locke and jack fully switched philosophical places?
one of the most magical scenes of the episode was watching locke prep alpert to remove the bullet from the leg of his younger, recently time-jumping self. it was a thrill to realize that the writers had engineered an exquisite little piece of structural origami - and like 'the constant,' the emotional core of it is deep: locke knew exactly what must be said in order to convince himself to do what must be done, and to prep himself that his own death would be the price (lindelof executes a similarly delightful trick in the new star trek movie). if locke really wanted to do himself a favor, he would have said, 'don't bother with walt. i know it seems like something really cool might happen when you go to see him, but trust me. it's stupid.'

what locke seems to be realizing is that because of the nature of time, he actually does have a destiny. but his destiny doesn't come from some mystical source - it comes from someone or something that has either already lived it or seen it happen. and apparently he's going to kill that person.

5. jacob.

who is jacob?

we've known from almost the first encounter with jacob in his cabin that ben has never really seen him. maybe ben thought he saw jacob, but every time locke says something about an experience with jacob, ben seems surprised. ben seemed especially surprised that jacob had whispered to locke, 'help me.' so surprised, in fact, that he shot locke, perhaps hoping to keep him from doing just that.

so why does jacob need help? is he a prisoner (of time and space? woooo..)? some things to remember about jacob:
  • his cabin was built by horace, as a getaway. i'm guessing jacob, like the hostiles, didn't move in until after the purge.
  • his cabin is surrounded by what looks like a circle of volcanic ash, or light colored powder, suggesting that it somehow keeps him trapped there.
  • the cabin moves around.
  • hurley has also seen the cabin, as well as jacob's creepy eye. will hurley's ability to see jacob come into play? what will happen when miles meets a corporeal ghost?
  • dead bodies on the island have a habit of disappearing, and then reanimating. correct me if i'm wrong, but i believe that we have only ever seen ghosts of people whose dead bodies are resting on the island. we don't know if claire is dead, but she's been hangin out with dead christian shepard. if flight 815 lands in this week's finale, we might never find out what actually happened to claire.
based on available evidence, i'm maintaining that jacob is a character from the present (or near future) who is stuck in the deep past. at this point he could still be anyone. locke, jack, desmond, ben.. whoever jacob is, he doesn't know it yet, because he hasn't become him yet. going into the third act of this epic story, some light must be shed on the jacob question very very soon.

locke killing jacob is going to be very very important this week - and is probably something that will happen 'simutaneously' with 'the incident.' though separated by 30 years, locke and jack will find themselves on the same geographic spot on the island as we flash back and forth between them as they variously attempt to to kill jacob, and set off the bomb (which is a nice irony to last year's finale which involved trying to disarm a bomb). what's interesting is that alpert is present at both events, meaning that whatever we see happen in the past has existed as a memory in his mind for 30 years.

6. leadership.

'follow the leader' was a great title for an episode that had all factions dealing with some form of leadership conflict.
  • dharma: horace proves himself too wimpy to take necessary measures to protect dharma, and is rather easily usurped by radzinsky.. no wonder radz puts the gun to his mouth after several years of button-pushing. he finally gets to sit in the big chair, then ends up running in a hamster wheel for a decade.
  • the others (2008): locke returns to 'his people' and promptly takes his place as island jesus, much to the consternation of alpert and ben. (which makes me wonder what kind of 'leader' they expected locke to be, since they've both spent years maneuvering him into this position.) as the leader of 'a people,' you'd think locke might want to know where those people came from. maybe he does know, somehow.
  • the others (1977): not as much of a leadership struggle here, but an interesting revelation that eloise is really calling the shots. she not only has the power to talk widmore down, she's able to lead richard on a mission that can't be anything but suicidal.
  • survivors of 815 (1977): sawyer's time as leader of the survivors within dharma officially ends.
  • survivors of 316 (2008): the only group not addressed, but their leaders are clearly bran and ilana. how will their mission intersect with locke's? what is their mission?

7. a postulation.

a lengthy speculation about the consequences of changing the timeline:

if flight 815 lands safely at the end of the season, what does this mean in the larger picture of the story? what can we expect in season 6? how will the island still figure into the story? such an action would also undo all of the events caused by time-jumping characters - so alpert would never know to look for john locke as a baby, or to test him as a child. locke would likely never leave his wheelchair, or see the island, ever.

dharma history would be completely different. horace's eventual wife amy would either be killed or taken hostage by the others (for having a picnic with her husband paul on hostile territory). ethan would never be born. in the last podcast, damon and carlton admitted that amy and paul were indeed 'just having a picnic,' and unwittingly broke the truce. being in the wrong, horace would probably let amy die as a casualty of their own folly. peace between dharma and the hostiles would persist.

ben would never be shot. his induction to the hostiles would not come until much later, if at all, and never having been to the temple, he might not ever become the 'ben' we know. he may never challenge widmore for leadership, who would stay on the island with eloise and raise daniel. daniel, desperate to play the only piano on the island, strikes up a romeo and juliet romance with a hot red-haired girl from across the sonic fence.

the incident would still happen - the swan station built, and the button pushed by radzinsky. but without a purge, radzinsky is relieved of duty, and button-pushing goes swimmingly for decades. desmond never ends up in the hatch because either penny was never born, or widmore presented no obstacle between them. if penny isn't born, then desmond marries libby, who never gets on the plane. either way, desmond continues the rest of his life as a set designer for the royal shakespeare company.

a nuclear blast on the island would also wipe out the numbers transmission - meaning that hurley would never learn the numbers from sam toomey, and would thereby never win the lottery, and would therefore not even be on 815 in the first place. the source of his curse wiped out, hurley continues working at mr. clucks. he hooks up with starla. but because celestial bodies are unaffected by miniscule changes in earth's timeline, hurley is killed by the asteriod that destroyed mr. clucks in 2003, a year before 815 ever takes off. tricia tanaka breaks the story and goes on to anchor the local evening news.

rousseau's science ship would never be diverted to investigate the numbers transmission. she gives birth to alex, and they live happily ever after in france with her husband robert. montand plays the violin beautifully.

jack would discover his half-sibling relationship to claire at his father's funeral, just a few days after flight 815 lands at LAX. he says to her, 'wow yeah, dad was pretty much an asshole.'

after their flirt at the airport bar in sydney, ana lucia puts the pieces together and confesses to jack her involvement in christian's death. jack marries ana lucia. when she was a cop, she was shot in the abdomen while pregnant, and is now unable to have a child. jack and ana lucia adopt aaron.

sawyer's pursuit of 'the real sawyer' would eventually lead him to locke, where the two of them might work together to exorcise their mutual demon.

kate goes to prison.

charlie od's.

in los angeles, jin and sun attempt to escape her father's influence. without the island, jin has low sperm count, and they are unable to conceive.

sayid runs into nadia at best buy, ironically, on the same corner she was killed at in the original timeline. they live happily ever after. until they both die in their sleep from the gas leak in her house that locke warned her about during her home inspection years ago.

rose dies of cancer. bernard comes back from the bathroom.

gary troup publishes 'bad twin.' without the notoriety of the crash, it is a creative and financial failure. cindy dumps him.

vincent, tragically, is doomed to spend his days listening to walt and michael bicker.

shannon and boone bug the shit out of me.

and nikki and paolo get swine flu.

of course, for a show that's repeated 'no paradox' over and over, if detonating the bomb lands flight 815, then it means no one goes back in time to set it off. so detonating it would negate the event's own occurrence. which makes me think that maybe they will stick to one timeline.

while they say 'no paradox,' there are some very interesting ideas at play - listen to this week's poadcast, where damon and carlton talk in detail about the history of locke's compass, with no actual origin, passed in an infinite loop of time, aging 50 years each time it circles the loop.

8. great moments.

the writing in this episode was top notch.

after everyone's arrived in the tunnels, eloise echoes her own preboomer from 'this place is death' by saying 'all right. let's get started.'

locke: i'm not afraid of anything you can do anymore, ben.

kate: it was not all misery.
jack: enough of it was.

chang: you fought in the korean war?
hurley: there's no such thing.
chang: who's the president of the united states?
hurley: alright, we're from the future.

i loved the han/leia scenes between juliet and sawyer. she is just as tough as he is - she proved it while giving him orders back in the season 3 olden days, building the runway for ajira 316. my elizabeth mitchell notable subtlety of the week is the tiny tiny mona lisa smile she has after being punched in the face by phil. it's as if she's saying 'finally, these people are learning how to play the game like the others.' this week we will certainly see the other side of the outrigger boat gunfight, in which juliet shot someone from the other boat. please please please don't let it be that juliet accidentally killed herself. (though if 815 lands, it doesn't matter. in fact, we may see a lot of beloved characters die before the bomb is finally ignited, if it's ignited.)

9. minor gripes.
  • love quadrangle returns. my heart sank at the staging and execution of the scene where kate climbs down the ladder into the sub as foil to sawyer and juliet's plans for a happy future. it feels easy, obvious, and not nearly as interesting as seeing these people work together. how great would this have been if kate enters the scene, and then sawyer convinces juliet that everything is going to be alright? kate is there to find claire, and juliet should know that. bringing back this artificial obstacle is a disservice to characters that we know are smarter. the only thing that can save it is if hurley pops his head in and calls it out. 'dudes! you two are totally together!' i feel like a scene of kate's capture by the dharmas must have been cut. her mission was to stop jack from detonating the bomb.. but now she seems pretty happy to just sit on the sub quietly.
  • the show has too often used the misdirection of tricking us into thinking someone has been shot, then showing the bad guy drop dead instead, then showing a third party savior holding a smoking gun. please concoct new form of surprise/misdirection, thanx.
  • sun steps forward from the crowd and asks locke if jacob can bring her husband back. every episode, depending on where it's set, has either sun or jin saying some variation of 'if there's a chance i can find my huband/wife, then i have to stay.' if they're not going to use jin for anything else, his character should have stolen a jeep and gone searching the jungle for sun by himself.. why haven't they given either of these characters actions to play??? jin is finally able to speak fluent english and is given absolutely nothing to say.

  • was this disastrously fake cgi shot of the sub really necessary? it looks like a halo screenshot. the rendering of the water is unforgivable. the surface is a recognizable, repeated pattern, and the waves in the sub's wake are perfectly symmetrical and totally unnatural. when did the show proper become via domus? though the shot sucked, i think it was important to show us that the sub actually did leave port, and the inside of the sub isn't just a '20,000 leagues under the sea' ride at disney.
  • coming attractions. these really really suck sometimes. i didn't need to see that sayer and juliet get back on land, wielding rifles. someone said to me 'but c'mon, you knew they were going to end up back on the island..' no. i did not know that. this is the show that flashed forward. this is a show that surprises. i hate having setups ruined like that.

10. a theory.

i have a theory that the smoke monster is actually a device through which a person in the past can peer into, and probe the future. somewhere in the tunnels of the temple are the controls - and perhaps we will discover by show's end, what their ultimate objective is. an objective that ties together the actions of the smoke monster since its first appearance. when jack and company emerged in the tunnels 30 years prior to ben's 'judgement,' i imagined that they might find the 'controls' to the monster, and in trying to operate it, accidentally kill mr. eko. whoops.

11. preboomer.

ben: then why are we going to jacob?
locke: so i can kill him.

superlong wtf-face from ben here. we don't yet know what this means, but it sure means a hell of a lot to ben, who's just been told by the ghost of his daughter that he must do everything locke askes him to do. how much does ben even know about jacob? how much does alpert even know?

12: bookmark.

just a reminder of how far we've come, and how little we have left in the story:

chapters read: 101
chapters remaining: 19

thanks to rob. k for edits/suggestions.

written by: eddy kitsis and adam horowitz, who have written some of the good, but not totally awesome episodes this season - "the lie, "this place is death,"and "he's our you." they also wrote this great article in variety that discusses the fascinating (and overwhelming) writing process on 'lost.'

directed by: paul edwards, who seems to get a lot of 'death' episodes - 'two for the road,' which killed libby and ana lucia, 'this place is death,' which killed charlotte, and now 'the variable,' which killed (sigh) faraday.

director of photography: cort fey, who has worked with 'lost' since season 2, and has done some great work. but this week's episode had some strange shots that looked underexposed and then pushed in post. the color palate also seems dulled, which must be a deliberate choice.

quickly now: a thought provoking episode, but not a 'constant' companion.

  1. mommies.
  2. the impending incident.
  3. the ultimate course correction.
  4. charlotte.
  5. promotional vs. canon.
  6. juliet's moments.
  7. widmore.
  8. minor gripe.
  9. preboomer.
1. mommies.

for just about the first time, we have a character with mommy issues! this episode really benefits from re-watching. the first scene with young daniel lays out his trajectory - mom enters fully distraught, as anyone who's given birth to a person they once shot in the back might be.. it's important to look at all her scenes with this new knowledge, and it explains her beliefs about the inevitability of time and destiny. she knows that nothing can be done to stop her son's destiny because she's already shot him.

as she told desmond in 'flashes before your eyes,' it makes no difference what she does to try and alter events - it happened - and so her only choice is to keep daniel 'on the right path,' as she tells him, by symbolically stopping his metronome. some have wondered, 'why doesn't she allow him to keep him playing piano? why does she do anything at all? why does she have to take part in his demise?'

i think the answer to that question lies in her knowledge of island properties that come with being 'an other.' she understands her 'duty' in the timeline, and because she likely knows what lies in the shadow of the statue, she will grudgingly do her part to keep the wheel of time turning correctly.

another possibility, is the importance of faraday's journal - the data in that journal likely turns out to be crucial.. and if hawking doesn't push him academically, he'll never write that journal, which may contain information that likely saves her and the others from 'death by incident.' the harder she pushes him, the more helpful the journal will end up being..

don't forget that in 'the life and death of jeremy bentham,' when cesar was rifling through papers in ben's old office on hydra island, we saw a copy of a page from faraday's journal. i think we'll find out that ultimately, the journal was more important to eloise than her actual son. she buried him before he was even born.

rewatch the eloise scenes with this in mind: though it requires the death of her son, eloise must ensure that daniel's journal ends up on the island, in the past, and it must have all of his research in it. notice the relief on her face when he says that he will go to the island - she's not relieved because now she gets to shoot him, she's relieved because it means she's finally completed her task in bringing that lifesaving journal to her younger self. (speaking of journals - remember that widmore was bidding on the captain's journal from the 'black rock'? does this journal contain similar wisdom? will one of our characters end up being the captain of the black rock?)

i guess we're not really supposed to wonder why daniel has both an american accent and different last name - when he grew up with 'mum' and went to oxford. perhaps libby was his vocal coach at some point.

2. the impending incident.

daniel, upon arriving, tells us that the incident is going to happen in 6 hours. holy crap! that means that if the season finale is called 'the incident,' then next week's episode probably only covers exactly 30 minutes of island time.. or next week's ep will focus on the snoozer present day story. or.. since it's going to be (gasp!) richard alpert's episode.. maybe we'll just be jumping around in time for the entire hour, and the episode will end at the same point in time that we left off this week.

things about the incident:

  • is the result of electromagnetic activity, at first released by drilling at the orchid, but is connected to the release of energy at the swan.
  • the swan station isn't complete by the time the incident occurs (which doesn't quite fit the text of the swan orientation film, but whatevs)
  • once the swan station is complete, radzinsky is placed there permanently, until his death by suicide several years later.
  • chang will lose his arm (referenced in the comic-com video - more on that later)
  • it will likely mirror the other season-ending incidents - season 2's failsafe key, and season 4's donkey wheel island vanish.
what will the incident do??
  • move the people who were jumping through time into their correct year?
  • turn the sky some other color?
whatever happens, it has to be awful, but not so awful that there isn't time to finish the swan station and put the button in place. a lot of time went into constructing that fancy 108-minute counter with heiroglyphs and everything. daniel said that the incident was 'catastrophic' and that everyone would die - we know that doesn't happen though. ben, horace, and a bunch of others live long enough to be killed in the purge many years later. chang lives at least long enough to record the swan station video (with gray hair and one arm). perhaps jughead is detonated, but not quite as daniel would have done it - so many are saved, but the effect is still disastrous. but in the end, everything would still adhere to our known timeline.

but. what if..

3. the ultimate course correction.

damon and carlton have gone to great pains to show us a world in which free will still exists, albeit within the loose constraints of destiny. but so far it appears that everything we've seen happen in 1977 has happened exactly 'as it should have.' even sayid's attempt to change the timeline proved to be part of the determined course of events.

lost is a show built on establishing very tight rules - but once we're comfortable with them, they are broken via 'game changers,' which alter the rules of the show, and are usually the final, top secret scenes of each season.

after faraday's pitch to jack (that if he can detonate jughead, their plane will never crash) some friends have speculated about this possibility: what if jughead is detonated, the incident happens, the sky turns white, and then the final, super secret scene of season 5 of 'lost' is flight 815 landing safely at LAX? everyone gets off the plane, kate is escorted out by edward mars, locke wheels his way out in the wheelchair, jack steps off, and cindy's standing there at the door saying 'buh bye. buh bye. buh bye.'


it would mean that season 6 of the show would be, as damon and carlton have been repeating in all interviews, 'more character based,' 'more like season 1,' and 'more emotional.' because it would be about these people's lives if they had never encountered the island. as promised, claire would return. she never left. boone, shannon, ana lucia, libby, and other dead passengers would make cameos, and maybe we'd see how fate kills them eventually anyway. season 6 would focus on our surviving heroes, and how fate course corrects for them to end up where they need to be.

though incredibly exciting, it's a tall, almost impossible order. it also ignores the plotline they've been laying for locke, sun, and the impending 'war' between widmore, eloise(?), and ben. it also negates our investment in the last 5 years of storytelling. is that really what it was all about? making sure the crash never happened? that's a real tough premise to invest in beyond its superficial cleverness. so i think they probably won't do it. but i also didn't expect them to send our cast bouncing around through time...

4. charlotte.

ok now here's what i like about this episode: something happened in ann arbor to change faraday's conception of the inevitability of time, outside of desmond's 'specialness.' otherwise he'd have no reason to approach charlotte and try to get her to never come back to the island. since he believes that things can be different, he sees hope in trying to alter her destiny, so the scene has a real drive behind it. of course the irony is that all he's done is fulfill charlotte's own memory of the event.. as she dies. (insert bummer trumpet sound here.) if faraday was smart and really wanted to change things, he, uh, probably should have walked right past that swingset.

the diehards all predicted that 'lil charlotte would be mowing down on an apollo candy bar, but instead props gave her something that is the wrong shape, and with a blank label, perhaps dharma branded on the other side. too bad, since they made such a big deal about the apollo bar being different from the rest of the dharma food back when they discovered the hatch's pantry.

5. promotional vs. canon.

this one irks me. last summer at comic-con, damon and carlton unveiled the season 5 teaser video, in which pierre chang discusses the impending incident, making subtle reference to losing his arm, and daniel faraday's voice is heard in the background of the tape. it was the first hint that somehow our people were going to end up in dharma times. what sucks though, is that with 'the variable,' it's clear that faraday never made such a tape with chang (unless they're going to retcon it in the next two episodes, which i doubt.) damon and carlton have been going on record stating that the comic-con videos (including last year's orchid station blooper reel) are 'more promotional than canon.' in other words, 'don't take it too seriously, and don't break your brains trying to fit it into the show.'

this reminds me of a quote from ron moore in this week's entertainment weekly cover story on 'star trek' (ron is the former showrunner of battlestar galactica, and former writer of 'star trek: the next generation' and 'DS9'), where he said 'we'd be sitting in the writer's room pitching ideas, and you'd have to stop and check to make sure a plot point didn't contradict something that happened in episode no. 25 of a different trek show.. at a certain point star trek just choked on its own continuity.'

i get the feeling from this recent interview with damon and carlton, that season 5 has occasionally 'choked on its own continuity.' their responses to direct questions about continuity problems in 'life and death of jeremy bentham' are telling about their attitude.. they're essentially saying to us 'hey guys, give us a break. this show is hard to write.'

i'm tempted to forgive them. i mean, this blog is hard to write! but at the same time, they shot a promotional video using main cast members, which was to set the tone for the entire season. our standard of scrutiny is so high only because they've rewarded that scrutiny. last year, in the podcasts, damon and carton proudly pointed at the orchid station blooper video as proof that yes, they did have a very specific plan for season 4. it's too bad that they can't quite point to this video as similar evidence for season 5.

6. juliet's moments.

her quote, followed by her subtext:

sawyer: something something something, freckles.
juliet: the code for the fence is 141717. (now get outta my face, bitch after my man.)

sawyer: you still got my back?
juliet: you still got mine? (or do you have freckles' back instead, hmm??)

i'm not liking the (albeit subtle) reintroduction of sawyer's affection for kate. girl better find claire and go home. love quadrangle is tired.

7. widmore.

my goodness a lot of things happened the day flight 316 took off from LAX!

  • ben calls widmore from the docks, telling him that he's about to shoot penny. we all thought widdy was in london - i guess the time of day should have been a clue.
  • turns out, widmore is already in los angeles. did he follow desmond there?
  • um.. ok, uh, so after ben hangs up on him, maybe widmore then called eloise and said 'long time no see. hey i think my daughter that i had with the chick i left you for just got shot. oh and that desmond guy you saw last night is with her. can you go and see if they're ok? i'll stop by and say hi.'
  • eloise says 'ok, but i will slap you later.'
  • widmore shows up, he and ellie have a 'sacrifice-off'
  • ellie wins saying 'i had to send my son to the island, knowing full well that..' 'he's my son too..' (old lady smack)
i want to know: why was widmore suddenly in los angeles on the day ajira 316 took off? whom did he place on the plane? and whom did eloise place there (aside from our heroes)? both of them would know 'what lies in the shadow of the statue,' so, i'm stumped.

what we do know is that widmore's body (as some have speculated) is not in ilana's trunk. this scene establishes that neither eloise nor widmore were on flight 316.

one thing i loved about this episode, was that faraday's first weepy scene was the first time we saw of the 'wreck' of flight 815 in season 4's 'confirmed dead.' since that point, the show has teased us for over a year about who actually placed the wreck there - and now we learn that just minutes later, widmore walked in and flat out admitted it.

people have wondered why he was crying about the crash.. i think it's because desmond had told daniel the entire story when he visited him in the late 90's. now that dan's brain is a jumble, he sees the crash and knows it's important, but doesn't know why.

8. minor gripe.

for an attempt to equal 'the constant,' i don't think anyone will dispute that 'the variable' was missing the cathartic emotional intensity of its predecessor. perhaps it all hinged on the performances of the two actresses playing eloise - but even if she was more conflicted throughout about pushing her son to his death, we still wouldn't know why she was acting this way until the very end. we're so used to seeing eloise as hardnosed and emotionless, maybe we needed to see her break down as she gives faraday the journal. it may even have worked better if we knew eloise was responsible for her son's death - just not how. then we'd get the satisfaction of seeing an expected event play out in an unexpected way.

another reason this episode failed to pair well with 'the constant,' was that episode's brilliant preboomer:

it just doesn't feel right that daniel should die without paying off that tease.

eddy and adam did attempt to tie the episode to 'the constant' by giving us another emotional reunion with penny and des, and while it was nicely performed by both actors, the scene itself felt tacked on rather than earned.

where are they going with desmond from here on out? the night before, eloise told him that the island wasn't done with him yet. now, a few hours later, she's saying that for the first time in a long time she has 'no idea what's going to happen.' not only that, the only person capable of sending desmond on timebending missions is dead. are they done with desmond? it would be disappointing if that's the case, after all the buildup about how only he can truly change the timeline.

9. preboomer.

'i'm your son' (croak)


woo! another wtf-face! one day, when i'm unemployed again, i will compile all the wtf-faces and put them on youtube. or maybe i'll do next week.

notice how in 'jughead,' ellie was established as a trigger-happy hothead? nice setup, that.

written by: melinda hsu taylor and greggory nations. gregg nations is of course lost's star script supervisor, and lord of all continuity. whenever there are continuity problems, i blame his archaic system of ms word documents. gregg has also co-written the blah 'eggtown .' melinda hsu taylor is new this season, and previously co-wrote 'the little prince.'

directed by: jack bender. best director on the show.

director of photography: john bartley. the jungle looked normal in this episode! is it only when we're around the hostiles that they apply the yellow filter? was it the colorist's week off? that said, there was a lot of great photography in this episode, as well as the impressive 'swan station under construction' setpiece.

nutshell: back to character-based stories - this ep nailed parent-child redemption a hell of a lot better than ben's encounter with the floating face youtube aftereffects tutorial of doom.

key considerations:

  1. miles.
  2. daddies.
  3. juliet's moment.
  4. naomi n' libby.
  5. bram n' ellie.
  6. island layout.
  7. hurley. (and minor gripe)
  8. details.
  9. the clip show.
  10. preboomer.
1. miles.

one of the many things i absolutely love about 'lost' is their handling of surprises - damon and carlton know what savvy fans have already guessed, and reveal these points offhandedly. the revelations don't patronize fans but also don't diminish the power of the surprise for those that didn't see it coming. the revelation that pierre chang is miles' father was played as a matter-of-fact occurrence, discovered and dealt with years ago. a lesser show would have artificially postponed miles' discovery for three years just so we could see his wtf-face when he runs into his mom in the lunchline. miles has pretty much put the issue to bed: dad is here, he's a bastard, probably best if i avoid him. but if you didn't see it coming, you get to enjoy the surprise through hurley's reaction to the news. claire's half-sibling relationship to jack was revealed in a similar, matter-of-fact way, as well as locke and sawyer's mutual connection to anthony cooper.

the dramatic arc of this episode centered around miles' need to deal with his inner demons. he has a power, sure, but he also lies about it in order to extract money from people. he joins widmore's team purely for a paycheck, but once he gets called out by bram, something changes, and his sense of honor compels him to return the money he stole from a client.

what 'lost' does sometimes is artificially frame flashback events so that it appears to say something about a character's arc, but it breaks down when you look at the context of the full timeline. miles gives back the money he stole - so it's not just about the money anymore - it seems like 'he's changed,' but don't forget that once miles gets to the island, he tries to extort 3.2 million from ben the very first chance he gets. so sometimes it is just about the money, i guess. you could make the argument that miles gave the money back to his deceived client because it was a case specifically about father/son love, and he came to resent deceiving the client about an issue that is deeply personal to him.

in any case, miles does need to talk about all this. he sure didn't put up much of a fight when the opportunity arose for hurley to tag along on his super secret mission. miles needed to unload, finally, about the craziness of both his weird power, and the fact that he's now living two doors down from his 3 month old self, not to mention long lost daddy.

while it all seems a bit tangential to the overall story of 'lost,' i think we're being set up for this season's finale: the incident. i can't see how establishing and developing the relationship between miles and chang can lead to anything but a tragic ending. it's very likely that 'the incident' leads to the loss of chang's arm (unless smokey gets that one too), leads to mom's premature death and hair loss, and also transforms baby miles into the chinese haley joel osmet.. we shall see.. the point is that this episode is all about buildup. sure, miles' mini emotional moment watching his father play with his own baby self was poignant, but if they do it right, that moment will be nothing to compared to what they must have in store for these two characters. remember, chang's feeding and care of miles was the first scene of the season - chang and miles, like desmond and juliet (also introduced in season openers) will have crucial roles to play in the season's closing chapter.

it was so wonderful to see ken leung get a complete episode to himself. he's a smart, savvy actor who's able to wring maximum effect out of very few words. damon and carlton love that. 'i'm in the circle of trust.' 'that douche is my dad.' miles is a snarky smart ass in a totally different way from sawyer, who is merely sarcastic. snark vs. sarc.

also handled wonderfully was the undercutting of miles' emotionally cathartic moment with chang's offhanded request, 'miles! i need you!' and then miles' choking, '..you do!?' a hilarious and unexpected way for the writers to say 'yeah, you thought we were going to do the obvious, didn't you? well we did, but not how you thought we would. we are brilliant, we know.'

2. daddies.

yes it's another character with daddy issues. all the best cowboys have daddy issues. more daddies! quick roster of who has daddy issues: kate, jack, locke, ok nevermind.. it will be easier to list main characters who have not had daddy issues as part of their stories: juliet. jin has more of a father in law issue. jin also has boat issues. sayid. oh wait no, they gave sayid daddy issues this season! rose and bernard. vincent. anyone else? will we learn that one of our beloved original cast members is actually from the future and is the child of one of the other original cast members? is sun actually ji yeon?

3. juliet's moments.

you know, she just rocks. i'm discovering that my ideas of what the 'behavior of awesomeness' would be are actually defined by elizabeth mitchell's performance of juliet. when roger linus innocently enters the infirmary, she has a tiny moment of hesitation.. she doesn't know what to do: 'should i lie and say we moved him to another area? should i stall, should i join in his panic? should i incapacitate him? (we know that she could, too).' unlike last week's scene with ben and cesar, in which ben's lies were horribly transparent, here's a scene where the lie is played correctly. juliet's ability to improvise is impressive, (kate just kind of watches her do it) and her moment of stillness before uttering... 'well. here we go' is just kickassery at its finest. as john august said in his blog, 'i would watch juliet boil water for an hour.'

i was also struck by another of juliet's moments of silence: just after sawyer asks her to get some rope to tie up phil. her pause before doing so held the weight of her question to sawyer in 'he's our you.' in that ep, juliet quietly asked sawyer, (or did she tell him? one of juliet's tricks is to put periods at the end of questions) 'it's over isn't it. ..this. us. playing house. all of it.' at the time it seemed like she was reacting to kate's return. but now, the fullness of her fear is clear, and this moment solidifies it: it's all over, maybe not their relationship, but their days of dharma bliss are officially done. all the stability and happiness that fate granted them (but withheld from the oceanic 6) is over.

4. naomi n' libby.

how great to see naomi again, mostly because it reminded me that 'oh yeah, miles came to the island on the freighter, that's right.' it's been so long since we've had reference to his origin, that it was good to have this little callback to season three, when she dropped in via parachute. remember that? that was season three folks! they're using naomi similarly to how i imagine they would have used libby, had she not needed to die: drop her in as a connective tissue when necessary, but as a character, there is really nothing new to learn about her.

which brings me to libby. there are gaping, open holes in her story, and i hope they get told. we were promised after her death that we would get her story through other people's flashbacks, and now damon and carlton are saying in the podcasts 'there's really nothing more to learn about her.' it's bullshit. cynthia watros is waiting by the phone! put her in the background of every scene! they could tie up libby with one flashback scene, and i hope they do it in season 6.

5. bram n' ellie.

ah yes, we knew that 'inconspicuous' guy standing among the background survivors of 316 had to be more than ajira's frogurt. ilana and bram are on the same team. they're packing up their mysterious crate, and both of them are asking people ''what lies in the shadow of the statue?'

but whose team are they on? i thought for sure ilana was working for widmore, but (in what was probably the biggest mythological reveal of the episode) we've learned that bram is working against widmore. and ilana doesn't know ben - so the only logical person left for them to be associated with is eloise. are we looking at a threeway battle for the island?

miles' van abduction encounter with bram was interesting because it revealed that bram's organization (while not performing van abductions) seems to have cleaner motives than widmore (the question of whether widmore actually funded the staged wreck of flight 815 seems to have been settled by the corpse naomi provided for miles' audition). bram's people offer no money to miles, only an alternate chance to learn the secrets of his past. they play the emotional card with him, and fail. maybe at the end of it all, bram and ilana are the true good guys?

so, if these are eloise's people, what is their relationship to the statue? were they 'infected' long ago? when whatever happens at the temple to make you into an other, does it somehow imbue you with the answer to this mysterious question?

in 'flashes before your eyes,' her first appearance on the show, eloise demonstrated an ability to see points in the future. she knew desmond's entire future life story, and proved it to him. here is that scene again, for reference:

she later said to desmond 'the island isn't done with you yet.' so what else does she know? can she forsee something about what's going to happen in the 'final showdown?' is she trying to assemble her troops?

what exactly was the power dynamic between her, alpert, widmore, and ben?

6. island layout

miles picks up the body of a man in 'grid 334,' which is hostile territory (that is some damn ballsy truce-breaking), and contains an electromagnetic force strong (and specific) enough to rip a filling through someone's head. on first viewing i thought that 'grid 334' was a separate area from both the orchid and the swan construction sites, but after being dropped off at the swan, chang says to miles that he'll 'get a ride back from radzinsky,' indicating that we're in the same area where miles first picked up the dead body.

7. hurley. (and minor gripe)

my theory was wrong. hurley is not the circular origin of the numbers - meaning that he doesn't use his memory of the numbers to 'create' them in the past. i felt certain that hurley himself would somehow dictate which numbers were chosen. how fantastic would it have been if in 1977 the numbers were chosen randomly, by hurley, pulling each one out.. like the lottery girl. alas no. the numbers are deeper than that, and apparently do have a larger part to play in the story.

the 'hoth' storyline was cute, but it's also my minor gripe. a shoutout to the fans who have recognized all the star wars references along the way. 'empire strikes back' might be the ultimate daddy issues movie. there was something just a touch hokey and wink winky about it, though, when the references to star wars have always been rather sly. (my favorite is in season one, when michael and jin are building the raft, and michael says, exactly like han solo, 'no, no! this one goes there, that one goes there!') but the overt discussion about luke losing his arm because he couldn't work things out with dad (more irony, since chang is about to lose his), was too on the nose. (there is some hilarious discussion on this week's podcast about the debates in the writers room about exactly what hurley was trying to 'fix' in the 'star wars' saga. they agreed that hurley was actively trying to restore lucas' original idea to set 'jedi's' final battle on kashyyk instead of endor.)

what did work was hurley's discussion of how his own father issues became resolved, which finally put the strangeness of hurley's actions in the episode into proper context. see, the island is really just an extremely exclusive and elaborate support group for getting over your daddy issues. the show will end once the rest of the cast figures that out - all they have to do is sit in a circle and talk.

i enjoyed the scene where he and miles compared powers - neither of them have discussed exactly what happens to them when experiencing paranormal communication before. i also liked that hurley pointed out pierre chang's multiple aliases, which means damon and carlton haven't forgotten the issue, and probably whatever it is that makes chang have aliases is coming in 'the incident.' what if chang is split into multiple copies, all of which believe they are married to mrs. chang? the experience freaks her out and she flees the island with her son.. sounds more like battlestar galactica than 'lost,' though. (update - i just rewatched the opening scene of the season, and while shooting the arrow orientation film, chang refers to himself as 'marvin candle,' so the use of aliases actually predates the incident. i got no theories now.)

8. details.

interesting parallels between the opening shot of this episode, and the opening shot of the season: both are shots of clocks. both are shown at times corresponding to the numbers of flights destined for the island. both clocks are interrupted by mrs. chang, following discussion of miles.

not only is it 3:16 in the afternoon, miles' mother writes out check #316, and the date is 3/16/85. that has to be the most synergistic moment of all time, up there with 01:02:03 04/05/06.

little miles opens the dead man's apartment by taking a key out from under a bunny statue (with the number 8 carved in its ear.. or is that an infinity symbol?). rabbits have been a long-recurring theme on the show. both through the dharma science experiments, as well as the 'alice in wonderland' 'into the rabbit hole' references. the underwater 'looking glass' station had a rabbit as its logo. jack's father was watching a magician make a white rabbit appear.. rabbits rabbits rabbits. speaking of rabbits, where are rose and bernard? har har har. gross.

janitor jack is erasing a lesson on the chalkboard about the egyptians. the statue was egyptian, and all the ruins have hieroglyphs on them.. the swan station freaks out with heiroglyphs. is dharma paying respectful homage to the island'shistory? i would really like to know the details of their truce with the hostiles. who started dharma??

9. the clip show.

..was really quite well done. the concept was simple: breeze through the story of the oceanic 6 in chronological order. rather than setting up the finale, this special really felt like it existed only to catch everyone up, and to ease possible confusion among casual viewers about what and when exactly this season's flashes took place.

one thing i noticed is that sun's storyline kind of sucks. all she does is wait for people to tell her how to find her husband. and like a benign expository presence with no real plan, all she can say is 'my husband' over and over again. after they promise to tell her how to find jin, they make her wait. on the docks ben says 'i'll take you to jin.. but first we have to see this woman..' later locke says to her 'i have ideas about how to reunite you with jin.. but first let's go meet smokey.' other than introducing an oar to ben's head, she's been totally passive.

watching the clip show, i also realized that the sudden 'cold blooded revenge killer' they were trying to throw on her character wasn't sitting right. it was a betrayal of her complexity to suddenly make her that simple and vengeful. how much more interesting (and true to who she is) if she was conflicted about it. i hope they have a better path drawn out for her, because both the character, and the actress deserve better.

10. preboomer.


FARADAY: Hey, Miles. Long time no see.


while not an earth-shattering preboomer by any means, daniel's appearance raises a lot of questions: what has he been doing in ann arbor? how long has he been there? what kind of timeline altering trouble has he managed to get himself into while on the mainland? why has he come back? why has he come back now? why does he look so worried? is he going to try and stop the incident from happening? is he going to cause the incident? how does he go from the ann arbor science team submarine to being a crewmember digging out the cave in the orchid (where we saw him in the season opener)? next week is daniel's episode.. hopefully we'll find out.

since there is no new episode of 'lost' this week, the analysis of episode 13, 'some like it hoth' will go up on thursday, along with some commentary about the clip show they are running on wednesday instead of episode 14.

'lost's' clip shows are interesting because they judiciously condense the story in ways that deeply hint at where they intend to go.. so while there's no ep, it will be an interesting glimpse into what they feel is important for us to remember as we head into the final act of both the season, and the show.

see you thursday!

written by: brian k. vaughn and elizabeth sarnoff. the last time these two worked together, they churned out the craptastic 'meet kevin johnson.' this season brian also co-wrote 'namaste,' and 'the little prince.' sarnoff co-wrote 'lafleur ,' and 'jughead.'

directed by: stephen williams. i think it may be time to start phasing stephen out of 'lost's' roster of directors. if you ask me, he failed this episode, and failed it hard. his episodes this season have ranged from low-grade mediocrity to merely serviceable: 'because you left,' 'the little prince,' and '316.'

director of photography: court fey. new fun thing to do: look up the crew of 'lost' on facebook. it's amazing how open the world can be sometimes. check out his 'lost' reel on his website to see some of the amazing work he did throughout the 3rd and 4th seasons. this is his first episode in season 5. i realize that many of my gripes about color correction are not actually the fault of the dp, so i'll lay off on that a bit. i would like an explanation, though, about why it's suddenly appeared in the show.

nutshell: a flawed episode that probably played better on paper, but was marred by lackluster direction and effects.
  1. ben.
  2. locke.
  3. widmore.
  4. penny.
  5. smokey.
  6. ilana.
  7. preboomer.

1. ben.

this episode was lacking in the very things that make ben great: cleverness and subtlety.

the tricky thing about using ben as a central character is that in order to connect to him emotionally, we have to believe at least a couple fundamental truths about him. the problem is that he's so enigmatic, and his lies have flipped back and forth more times than can be counted - watching him is filled with such distrust that it's actually alienating.

and so the big challenge of this episode was to make us believe some fundamental truths about ben:
  • he really truly loved alex. no, seriously, he did.
  • he really truly feels responsible for her death. like, actual guilt - he feels it, he really feels it!
getting us to care about ben is no small task. the writers really had a tall order to fill. and i think it's all there on paper - we learn that ben's abduction of alex was not, as we originally suspected, part of the others need to abduct children because of their inability to procreate. no - ben had in fact been sent on a mission to 'exterminate that woman.' ben's decision not to kill ether rousseau or alex would become a point of contention between ben and widmore up until their last meeting on the dock, as widmore is banished from the island (now we know that widmore didn't push the donkey wheel). widmore says to ben:
I hope you're right, Benjamin, because if you aren't, and it is the Island that wants her dead, she'll be dead. And one day, you'll be standing where I'm standing now. You'll be the one being banished, and then you'll finally realize that you cannot fight the inevitable. I'll be seeing you, boy.
so, was widmore's killing (by proxy) of both rousseau and alex merely delaying the island's inevitable timeline? why would jacob want them dead (if that's indeed what he wants)? if jacob turns out to be one of our lead characters transported back in time, with foreknowledge of things to come with a manipulating hand in making those things happen, why would he push for rousseau to be killed? what would an early removal of rousseau/alex from the timeline accomplish?

beyond this, ben's inability to kill rousseau/alex was juxtaposed by his similar inability to kill penny/little charlie. saddling ben with this weakness and then using it as a parallel between past and present was the episode's most inspired invention.

one thing we know about ben is that he is an amazing liar. so it made absolutely no sense that in the scene with cesar, ben is suddenly an atrociously shitty liar about his knowledge of john locke. i have to chalk this up to bad direction - ben has never, ever lied that badly in the history of the show, and we were meant to believe that this tactic worked? it felt like a director 'helping' the script by having the actor 'play' the lie. the scene as written was an excellent chance for ben to truly win cesar's trust. the dramatic irony of knowing ben is lying (and seeing just how well he does it) would have made the interaction much more interesting. poor cesar. his entire time on the show was defined by his shoulder bag and the gun he put into it at the start of 'jeremy bentham.'

mythologically, we're still left with some questions about ben/rousseau/alex
  • how was rousseau able to change the numbers transmission to her distress call when dharma was still in full operation in 1988? she would have been all over their tv screens breaking into that radio tower.
  • why did the others leave rousseau's distress call running in the tower once they took over the dharma resources?
  • how was ben 'raising' alex if he was still living among the dharma people in the barracks until she was 4?
  • ben tells rousseau to run when she hears whispers. does this mean that going into the temple makes whisper noises preceed your every entrance?
  • i expected ben to be more backlit during the alex abduction. i still buy it, but rousseau could totally see his face. i buy that she didn't ever put one and two together with jin, but this scene skirts the line of whether she would have recognized ben as the abductor of her child when he first got caught in her trap.
2. locke.

we're just now getting to know this 'newly reborn' locke, and i'm finding it rather frustrating. the writers allow ben's character to call out the frustration - 'how is it you just know things? where does it come from?' and locke replies with a smug 'i'm not sure,' then hits ben with the ultimate bitchslap, 'now you know what it was like to be me.'

one of the things that makes this show great is that when it's at its best, its characters are so strong, that it seems like you can throw literally anything at them and they will respond in a believable way - the success of the recent time-jumping plotline is a testament to that skill. but the handling of locke's resurrection doesn't yet feel right from any angle. sun is not responding correctly, ben is not responding correctly, even locke doesn't seem to be responding correctly. when locke says to sun, 'it's weird for me too,' it's not enough. ben says he's scared to death of locke, but seems to be lying (again) about that. if ben is truly scared of locke, that fear should have pervaded every aspect of their interactions together.

many people are happy to see the return of locke's season one-esque confidence - but that confidence was tempered by his many clashes with jack's extremely reasonable objections at the time. in a trio of sun, ben, and locke, it's sun who must serve as the audience proxy. she can't just sit there looking scared. she's got to have something to do other than wait for a 60 year old jin to walk out of the jungle and make out with her.

the questions have to be screamed from the rooftops: is locke still locke? is he possessed by the ghost of jacob? is he like christian shepard now? if cesar had shot locke, would it have mattered? can locke even die again? is he actually alive? will he disappear in the season finale like a certain someone on bsg? after this episode aired, many many blogs, twitters and facebook statuses immediately (and rightfully) proclaimed 'wtf is going on with this show!?' we were asked to follow a character who's not entirely his character anymore, to a place he doesn't know how he knows about, to do a thing he doesn't understand. not very compelling drama. now locke thinks he might know how to reunite sun and jin.. somehow.. meh.

3. widmore.

despite the problems of the episode, there were some interesting things happening. the key question about widmore is what exactly these 'rules' are that he and ben are supposed to abide by. in the season 4 episode 'the shape of things to come,' after alex was killed, ben said to widmore 'you broke the rules,' and then promised to kill penny in revenge. up until that point, the only real discussion of 'rules' were temporal ones espoused by ms. hawking. but now it looks like being 'an other' comes with a set of moral guidelines that ben trusted enough to be genuinely shocked when keamy pulled the trigger on alex. i had thought that ben's shock at alex's death came from his confidence that she would not be able to die because of island time rules - not some gentleman's agreement. are these rules imprinted in you after you visit the temple?

rules for being an other:
  1. at some point, you must have really bad hair
  2. speak latin
  3. make sure your tape player with the 'whisper' recording is always working.
  4. learn kickboxing
  5. master mysterious gazes
  6. babies babies babies: abduct them! adopt them!
  7. no off-island babymaking
  8. don't kill daughters (adopted or otherwise)
it doesn't make sense that ben was so deeply surprised that widmore broke rule #8 after he'd already broken rule #7. it also looks like penny is not the daughter of widmore and eloise hawking, so she and faraday are not half-siblings after all.

4. penny.

and penny is not dead. as awful as it would have been, i was kind of hoping she would be, since her death would activate desmond's storyline again. i'm more curious than ever about how they're going to write desmond back into the show. another dream/memory from faraday? an upcoming episode is called 'the variable,' which seems designed as a desmond-centric episode to go hand in hand with 'the constant.' hopefully it will live up to the standards of its predecessor.

5. smokey.

i've saved my deepest disappointment for last. damon and carlton must have known that they'd be raked over the coals for the effects in this scene. the design of the temple was reminiscent of a set from 'lost treasure of the grand canyon,' an original syfy channel movie starring shannen doherty. the heiroglyphic carvings look like styrofoam, even though the main portrait of anubis (very likely the statue) and smokey having a chat was interesting.

the smoke effects pouring out of the stone grate were nicely done, until we got inside it and saw the flashes.

this is not 'lost.' this is mansquito. or any movie on this list. what should have been an emotional catharsis was marred by effects that not only looked bad, but even if done well, betray the visual language of the show. apparently smokey has access to the season 4 dvds and was able to cut together a nice clip reel from the footage. i really hate when shows recycle footage for use within the show. the camera is an omniscient observer - using show footage in this way is a sloppy breaking of the 4th wall. smokey should have his own point of view. the ancient toilet drain required to 'call' smokey was more interesting than anything in the temple. turns out that all smokey does is a hazy version of 'this is your life' before deciding whether or not to throw you against the rocks. what if the smoke monster actually made ben relive that moment? what if we only hear the voices? what if the images were more subtle - the way they were during eko's encounter with the monster?

what if he had to deal only with ghost alex? what if he had to pass a test administered by ghost alex? what if this scene actually had emotional depth behind it? what if the flashes inside the smoke showed us things we hadn't yet seen on the show?? what if there was some mystery surrounding his final exclamation, 'it let me live'? it's too bad. this one scene ruined the whole episode for me. if these are the kind of answers we can expect in the show's final season, then maybe the people who bailed on the show at 'the button' had the right idea.

6. ilana.

she was obviously hired by widmore to bring sayid back to the island, but it seems that she, and others have another mission. did widmore stack the plane with soldiers for 'the war' he promised locke was coming? will it be 316ers vs. 815ers? what's in the crate? what's in the shadow of the statue? were ilana and the rest of the 316ers 'infected,' or are they exiled others? or did the 316ers pow-wow real quick while lapidus was away and decide on a password?

7. preboomer.

'it let me live.'

it should have been an amazing moment. i should have been wiping tears offa my face. you know i love my wtf preboomer faces. well the only wtf face at the end of this episode was mine. wtf happened to this episode? wtf is this show going to do to right these wrongs? wtf am i writing this blog for? michael emerson deserved so much better. the show's present day storyline needs to find its focus, and fast.


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