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.

most shows have one logo/typeface that is used ubiquitously to brand the show. 'lost' however has several different treatments for its title, which is unusual, and considered by many designers to be sloppy. the multiple typefaces are surprising, especially since the show is produced by disney, which manages all graphic aspects of its properties very tightly. i'd love to learn about the reasoning behind the show's font decisions. another reason i find the multiple fonts surprising is 'lost's' heavy influence from 'the prisoner,' which made impeccable use of its one distinguishing typeface, albertus.

i suppose the argument for the multiple typefaces is that, really, it's the title itself that is 'the brand.' i'm impressed by the number of people on various social networking sites who, in their list of favorite tv shows, reference the show in all caps, ie: LOST. some people will even put an additional space between each letter so that it better resembles the final title: L O S T.

let's look at the different uses of typography on the show.

first there is the opening floating logo, which starts out of focus in the distance, comes into focus for a split second, and then passes the camera, disappearing forever. the opening title is a metaphor for the entire show of course - it tells you in about 5 seconds everything you need to know: this is a show about mystery that will only seem clear for a split second before moving onto the next unanswerable question. the font is futura, which matches the opening credits, as well as the menus on the excellently designed dvd menus. it's almost worth shelling out for the dvd's just to see all the menus.

the opening title is often criticized for being shoddily rendered - you can see the polygon seams flicker during the moment that the letterforms are in focus. the offending area has been selected in the photo above. this is also the precise moment on the soundtrack when weird electronic 'sparkle' sounds can be heard. i don't think it's deliberate, but that bad graphics rendering is all i can ever look at as those letters fly by.

i love futura. so does wes anderson, who has pretty much adopted the font as his calling card. it has an elegant simplicity that is unimposing, and yet not completely characterless (the way, say, helvetica is characterless - and yes i've seen 'helvetica' and i still hate the font).

now, the 'boom' title.

this title is inexplicably typeset in verdana, with a photoshop roughen and emboss filter applied to it. why the font change? why not keep the typeface consistent? verdana!?? if helvetica has no character, then verdana is the awkward guest at the party who only wishes they were as cool as helvetica. verdana doesn't even count as a real font, if you ask me. it was commissioned by microsoft to be legible in highly pixellated situations. it's such a strange choice. as an experiment, i recreated the final 'boom' title in futura, to match the opening:

not a perfect rendering. it's difficult to find the correct amount of 'roughen' without distorting the letterforms, but you get the idea. i think it works, and it would unify the show's look.

the two title treatments are thematically very different. the opening poses a question, builds mystery and is about uncertainty. the closing is a definitive stamp that says 'this is the show.' it's the answer to the opening - so maybe it makes sense that the 'answer' looks different than the question. as an answer, it's also roughed up - it's been through shit, it's been through all the shit you just watched in that episode. again, it's similar to how 'the prisoner' ended every episode with the prisoner's face rushing toward the screen, then the 'slam!' of prison bars in front of him.

the third treatment of the title is the one that appears in promotional printed and web media outside of the show itself. it's used in the posters, on the dvd cases, action figure boxes, and on all other official materials:

i thought perhaps this font was something unique like attriumvirate-inserat, but no, it's simply impact (the short leg of the 'L' gives it away), with a rough texture applied to it. millions of highly specific fonts at their disposal, (we're talking about disney here!) and they chose from the drop-down list in microsoft word. impressively though, the 'lost' design team has been very consistent with their use of this title treatment. the texture and its placement has remained exactly the same since season 1.

i can understand the need for a title treatment like this, since futura doesn't quite convey the scale and scope of the show. even a futura bold, or futura heavy with this same texture applied doesn't quite look right. it looks more like 'the darjeeling limited' than 'lost.' here's futura given the same texture/treatment as the print version:

hmm. i think it could have worked..

i do like the posters and dvd cases adorned with the impact font logo, and i enjoy the way the dvd box sets look next to each other on the shelf. i'd love to design a set of dvd boxes one day - that first season box is crucial to setting the standards that must be followed by subsequent boxes. then the season two box establishes the variables with which each subsequent season will define itself - usually with color palette. the season 4 dvd box has an especially clever touch - here is the outside:

when you slide the case out of the translucent plastic cover, the '4' is replaced by a subtle '6' in the water, and the images of the oceanic 6 are highlighted, brought to the foreground, and even embossed on the box - and baby aaron has moved from claire's arms into kate's. very subtle, and classy.

directed by: bobby roth, who has only directed one episode of 'lost' before - 'the man behind the curtain,' which makes him a natural choice to helm a revisiting of new otherton in the dharma days. this season it looks like they've been very selective about directors they've invited back - rather than switiching between jack bender and stephen williams for the entire season, they're bringing back directors who have excelled at telling the stories of particular characters.

written by: damon lindelof and carlton cuse. i've got to say straight off how impressed i was by this episode. of course it's always best to look at the big picture of 'lost' rather than in the unfair chunks we get week by week. it's meant to be seen on dvd, sequentially, in all-day marathons that irritate our significant others. thankfully, damon and carlton are showing us that they're aware of the mid-season sins they committed, and are using the end of the season to explain their actions. it hurts me to think how close we are to the end of this season (and the grand finale), but the narrative direction of these past three episodes has restored my faith in the show.

director of photography: john bartley. something horrible has been happening to the jungle footage this season. the overly yellow color-correcting is getting out of hand. see minor gripes.

lowdown: not the greatest episode ever, but certainly the best kate-centric one, and a return to that season-one feeling.


  1. hurley vs. miles.
  2. kate.
  3. sawyer.
  4. juliet.
  5. jack.
  6. ben.
  7. gripes.
  8. preboomer.
1. hurley vs. miles.

this scene was another fantastic piece of writing by damon and carlton proving that, yes, they are still in touch with their audience. whew. hurley mentioning 'back to the future' echoed the cries of a thousand fanboy blogs. this time it's miles, rather than daniel, who serves as the calm, reasoned voice of damon and carlton telling the audience 'there is one timeline!' ryan mcgee felt that miles' confidence in the rules was misplaced, but i don't think so - miles has had three years to ponder it.

but then hurley stumps miles with the ultimate question: 'ok so why didn't ben recognize sayid way back in season 2 then?' (i'm pretty sure hurley didn't say 'season 2,' but i'd have to check the transcript)

i must admit my disappointment here - i think that the show could withstand the scrutiny of having ben remember sayid - as i worked out at length in last week's entry. i wish that instead of being stumped, miles had said 'hurley. you're talking about ben. c'mon.'

2. kate.

one of my favorite things about 'lost' is how a seemingly unimportant episode can later become vital in the larger scope of the story - such as the ho-hum 'the whole truth' from season 2 in which sun discovered that she was pregnant. later, when the life and death stakes of island pregnancy were discovered, this events of that episode took on dire new meaning.

here we have kate reconnecting with cassidy, who she met in 2001, after cassidy had been betrayed by sawyer, but long before kate would ever meet him. it's too bad cassidy didn't have cards with sawyer's photo saying 'don't date this guy.' that episode, 'left behind,' was perhaps one of the weakest of season 3, and did nothing to quell that small sense of dread that comes with the discovery that this week we're going to have to sit through a kate-centric episode.

cassidy was first introduced to the show in the season 2 episode 'the long con' (which is what damon and carlton have been accused of perpetrating on the audience for five years now). in that episode, cassidy realizes that sawyer is a con man, and begs him to teach her his trade. the first thing he shows her is how to sell fake jewelery outside of gas stations, which is what kate finds her doing several months later. you could argue that the unspoken recognition sawyer and kate had for each other as outlaws is the same force that brought kate and cassidy together. another probable force bringing them together is damon and carlton saying 'uh, we don't have an end date yet, and we're running out of flashbacks.. let's pick two names out of a hat and have them meet each other in the past.'

but kate. i had some serious fears about where they might go with kate.

kate in an alternate timeline in which her father's abuse leads to low self-esteem rather than murder.

thankfully, we now know that when sawyer asked kate 'why did you come back,' she was not about to reply: 'for you sawyer. i came back for you!' thank the dharma gods. if she had said that, a little part of my love for the show would have died. she might as well have been coming back to the island to get her goddamed toy plane. remember that? we like to pine for it, but season one was not perfect.

kate has never really had a good, clear objective - which is the reason everyone groans in horror at the thought of kate-centric stories. but this episode's revelation comes as an almost direct response to my complaint last week that the show had forgotten claire: kate's mission is to find her, and reunite her with aaron. it has nothing to do with sawyer. it has nothing to do with jack. it's the best thing the show has ever done with kate, and it shows in evangeline lily's performance. she's an actress who seems only as interested in her character as we are, and i'm thrilled to see how this plays out.

this must have been an interesting casting call. 'someone who looks like claire, but not really.'

what has also been refreshing is that my great fear about the post '316' O6 flashbacks is that they have not been about 'being convinced' to go back - they've (so far) either been about situation or decision.

i had predicted that kate's last-minute hop into jack's bed was an attempt to get pregnant, since it might be her last chance to do so, ever. alas, that odd decision has not been addressed yet.

3. sawyer.

sawyer in an alternate timeline in which anthony cooper never conned his parents.

you know what was so great about this episode? not a whole lot happened, but the writing was spectacular, which is why it felt like season one again. it was about smart people taking stock of a situation and deciding, after smartly weighing options, what to do next. maybe the most shocking thing damon and carlton could have done was allow their characters to act like true adults, which juliet, kate, and sawyer all managed to do. there's hope for sawyer and juliet - because kate has no intention of reuniting with sawyer, and sawyer's priorities are settled. this episode managed to capture that liberating feeling of being over someone. if you've ever become true friends with an ex's new lover, you know what i'm talking about.

4. juliet.

elizabeth mitchell has been cast in the pilot episode of the new version of the 80's sitcom, 'v.' hopefully this is a situation in which she is only in the pilot, and not an early indication that dire things are in store for juliet.

juliet in an alternate timeline in which santa claus is real.

this isn't so much about juliet as it is about how impressed i am with elizabeth mitchell as an actress. in every episode she has a moment that shines through with crystal clarity. this week it was her momentary far-off look causing kate to ask 'what?' and then she drops the bomb:
JULIET: ..maybe there's something they can do.
KATE: ..they?
JULIET: the others.

her matter of fact, almost sad delivery is devastating. juliet knows what it means - and it's almost as if she discovers in that moment that this is how ben the boy became ben the monster. and it's all jack's fault.

5. jack.

..or is it!? can jack be blamed for not wanting to help? it does seem strange that he came to the island only waiting for some 'purpose' to be thrust upon him, but when that possible purpose (save ben!) doesn't suit him, he rejects it. it raises interesting questions of 'free will' versus 'destiny.' if he did save ben, then the universe would merely course correct and bring ben's temple transformation about in a different way, right? so maybe jack has the right idea: sit back like the rest of us and watch the show.

jack in an alternate, very loud, brightly colored, irritating timeline.

juliet's confrontation with jack was another fantastic example of the show subverting our 'love quadrangle' expectations. it's no accident that damon and carlton decided to have her walk in on him while getting out of the shower. they wanted to set up the most potentially sexual situation possible between them and then crush it with reality. these two, like kelly clarkson, are not hooking up. as there will be no alternate timeline, there will be no love quadrangle.

6. ben.

ben in an alternate timeline in which his acting sucks in an astonishingly bad way.

richard alpert takes ben to the temple, do 'do something' to him that will both 'remove his innocence' and 'make him forget everything.' verrrrry interesssssting.

to see the others tied to both the temple and the experiences of rousseau's crew is very exciting. points:
  • is 'the sickness' experienced by rousseau's crew actually what makes the others, the others?
  • will we perhaps see alpert's arrival to the island, and initial encounter with smokey & the temple?
  • is this temple-transformation the reason that the others were not jumping through time during the flashes? (in which case cindy and the kids might not have been jumping)
  • was juliet taken to the temple?
  • ..and if she was, was the effect removed when she was branded after her trial for killing pickett?
7. gripes.

richard alpert strides through the normal-looking jungle. then, moments later..

richard alpert strides through a 'cold case' flashback.

i'm not sure if it's a) a choice to differentiate the past from the present, or b) necessary because of bad weather/light conditions in hawaii this year (exec producer jean higgins mentioned in a video podcast that it had been rainier this year than they'd like). it's a shame because that kind of artificial color just isn't 'lost.' in the season one dvd extras, there's an interview with jack bender where he talks very specifically about the deliberate choice to light and shoot 'lost' realistically - so much effort was put into making the beach and jungle look natural and untampered with. it's a shame to see the show getting 'cold case-y.'

another minor gripe is this idea that sawyer broke kate's heart. it doesn't really ring true. their only real 'breakup' occurred at the barracks after locke evicted kate and sent her back to the beach. kate and sawyer had some falling out after he expressed relief over her not being pregnant. but heartbroken? hrm. i don't think so. it's a minor gripe though, because thankfully, kate's objective doesn't involve sawyer anymore.

final minor gripe is ben's memory being erased: weak. first he was anakin/darth vader, now he's c-3po??

8. preboomer.

this is truly the season of wtf-faces. after a full episode of 1977 goodness, we transition from ben's 'rebirth' to his 'reawakening,' in the 'present' with the now 'resurrected' locke sitting at his bedside.
LOCKE: hello ben. welcome back to the land of the living.
BEN: (wtf!?!??!)


(thanks to rob konigsberg for edits and suggestions)


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