written by: elizabeth sarnoff and paul zbyszewski. 'the sarn' has written some of the worst episodes of 'lost:' 'stranger in a strange land' (she must get so tired of damon and carlton ripping on that episode), 'eggtown,' and 'meet kevin johnson.' she always collaborates with another writer, so her episodes are hit and miss. when she's writing with damon or carlton, the quality of the episodes are of course much better. what's notable though is that she co-wrote last season's locke-centric 'cabin fever,' so it made sense to have her helm this episode, which ties directly into it.
but who is paul zby..sze...ski? he is new to the writing staff and was the creator of the similarly high concept (but ultimately failed) show 'daybreak,' which was basically 'groundhog day' meets '24' starring taye diggs. i kind of enjoyed 'daybreak,' and though the concept seemed incredibly limited, i was curious to see where it might go. he's seems a logical choice to join 'lost,' and judging by tonight's episode, a good partner for the sarn.
directed by: rod holcomb, who has only directed one other episode way back in season 1, the ho hum boone flashback "hearts and minds.' in the meantime, he's been directing all over the place, 'numb3rs,' 'shark, 'moonlight,' 'invasion...'
- is alpert immortal?
- a compass manifested from nowhere?
- what's 'enhanced' about 'enhanced' episodes?
- what is jughead's story?
- why would they name their kid charlie?
- when on the island would you like to go?
- what is the significance of widmore being an other/hostile?
- what awaits desmond and penny?
- is theresa the girl in faraday's photo?
- minor gripes?
i do not think so. i think we are seeing alpert at his actual age, and in his actual time when locke trots down the hill to meet him in 1954. upon receiving the compass, alpert seems surprised, and needs locke to explain the entire concept of time travel to him. if alpert had already been jumping around, he might not know locke yet, but he wouldn't be surprised by the phenomenon.
ok, so many things to love about the scene with alpert, and it requires going back and re-examining alpert's appearances in locke's childhood.
- when locke first appears to alpert, it seems unreal - alpert has to be convinced. locke tells him, 'okay, well i'm gonna be born in two years. don't believe me? check it out!'
- alpert goes to the birth. ok now here's where it's just awesome, because in 'cabin fever,' alpert's presence at locke's birth felt like a major retcon, and now suddenly the plot point is paid off in a way that makes complete sense with the story. seriously, bravo. so alpert's seen that the man calling himself john locke two years ago was in fact telling the truth. on to step 2:
- test that kid! here's where it gets a little sketchy. now we don't know exactly what alpert was testing for. he goes to visit locke again when he's 5 and spreads out a collection of objects and asks him 'which one of these is already yours?' alpert is of course trying to figure out when in time he is supposed to meet locke. if the compass had actually been locke's all along, it's entirely possible that at 5 years old he would have chosen it. but alpert discovers that locke does not possess it yet, and is frustrated - probably because at that point in his time, something is happening on the island making it imperative that he locate their next leader. but the question is whether this was only a test to find the right moment in time to meet locke, or whether it actually was a leadership test. would picking the compass have been confirmation of both things?
- in 1972, alpert tries one more time to meet locke, from afar, by attempting to recruit him to the mittelos science camp, which locke refuses. this is the point when ben linus encounters alpert in the jungle, and is presumably cultivated as the new leader from that point, since we know of no other attempts by alpert to contact or lure locke to the island.
- while alpert first met locke in 1954, locke's first (remembered) meeting with alpert took place in season 3's 'the brig.' while overlooking the other's tent camp. alpert formally introduces himself, and makes no hint of having known locke previously, but the introduction is conspicuous in retrospect. the scene continues wth alpert suggesting that sawyer be the one to kill locke's father. (note that the others camp in that scene seems to be in the same shooting location as alpert's 1954 camp, though it must be a different spot on the island because the ruins are not present. i think this particular clearing in hawaii has doubled for many island locations.)
so wait, where is this compass from exactly? did alpert own it originally? does he have two compasses now? why else would he ask locke to give it to his younger self as a form of proof than if he didn't already own it, or know of it? if not, then this is a compass that has come from nowhere, and that exists only inside a circular loop of time, being passed from alpert to locke back to alpert ad infinitum. rob has an elaborate compass theory, which he should post in the comments!
3. what's enhanced about the 'enhanced' episodes?
NOTHING. AVOID THE 'ENHANCED' EPISODES AT ALL COSTS. they are sloppily written, contain spoilers from future episodes and will actually diminish your enjoyment of the story. i'm not the only one who thinks so. a letter writing campaign to ABC may be in order, or perhaps a telephone call to Met|Hodder, the company that writes the awful things. here's their number: 818.842.4265. more on this in a separate post.
4. what is jughead's story?
big ass leaky bomb gets buried deep underground with a lot of cement. it sounds quite a bit like the swan station, with its huge cement wall and radioactive signature, doesn't it? there are a couple of possibilites for jughead's fate:
- jughead is responsible for the destruction of the orchid station, and is referred to as 'the incident' by dr. marvin candle.
- or jughead is safely buried in the swan station, but interacts unpredictably with the island's energy - making the pushing of the button necessary.
5. why would they name their kid charlie?
this was just wonderful, and perfect. charlie. as lostpedia notes, they have simultaneously named the kid after both the man who kept them apart, and the man who brought them together. charles widmore did everything in his power to keep desmond away from penny (though now it seems he was merely ushering fate along), and it's because of charlie's final communication with penny that her boat was able to find the island. beautiful.
there sure are a lot of kids on this show now! aaron, ji yeon, charlie jr.. will the show (or island) flash to a point in the future when they are grown? will damon and carlton launch a lost:babies spinoff? incidentally, i loved that penny's birth scene was set in the philippines. i suspected it as soon as des said he was looking for 'ephram salonga,' which is as quintessential a filippino name as 'jack shepard' is euro-american.
6. when on the island would you like to go?
it looks like this time shifting device is going to be the means by which we learn the island's greater history, which is why charlotte is going to be -very- important. she's going to have to do a lot more than just decipher heirogylphics if they are in the actual time of their writing.. so here's my timeshifting wishlist:
- just after the black rock appears. we should meet the captain, whose journal was purchased by widmore at an auction. we should find out how that journal made it off the island. and perhaps we'll find out the captain's name is... jacob? the FDW looks like a ship's steering wheel.. it's not an actual ship's wheel, but is it from the same period?
- when the four-toed statue is whole. how about if our survivors, after a flash, ride the zodiac raft back around the island, and come upon, in full glory, the enormous, complete, and utterly awe inspiring statue that once stood there. perhaps we'll also see the incident leading to its destruction? um, here's a little something to chew on.. remember how sawyer stepped on that stick and we got that ultra gross closeup of him pulling it out of his foot? why so much focus on that moment? ...think he'll lose a toe? yow, my head is spinning...
- rousseau's arrival on the island. she may be dead, but she's not over yet. after her storyline was summarily clipped off the branch last season, i immediately thought 'wait a second - damon and carlton promised that we would see her backstory!' well, they made the promise again this year at comiccon without saying anything further. hmm...
- the incident. i want to see dr. marvin candle/pierre chang get that arm blown off.
- and of course: the crash of flight 815. i want to see how it hits the ground. all the pieces of that plane are stored in a warehouse in hawaii. we will be revisiting the crash at some point before the end of the series.
man, i just don't know yet. it was hinted that he had been to the island during his bedroom scene with ben - but there are so many questions now: how did he get off the island? was he exiled by alpert? why was he unable to go back for so long? did he fund/create the dharma initiative with the specific purpose of wiping his own people off the island?
he's been painted as a ruthless hothead ('tell us where your people are or i'll chop off her other hand'). i think it's unlikely that the show will drop anther reversal on the ben/widmore conflict and suddenly make widmore a good guy. the bigger arc here is that ben is redeemed as a hero - and we come to understand why he is so disturbingly cold after being engaged in war with the evil that widmore truly is. i think we've met our voldemort.
of course the other question is: who exactly are these hostiles/natives/others? where did they come from? where do 'new' hostiles come from? was ethan part of that 1954 camp? what about sympathetic muffin-burn lady amelia? is she there? bad-plastic-surgery harper? ms. klugh? pickett? goodwin? mr. friendly? has alpert just been doing a lot of recruiting?
8. what awaits desmond and penny?
first a note about episode structure. aside from episode 1, both 'the lie,' and 'jughead' actually do begin with a traditional flashback that whooshes to that central character's 'present.' after that initial first scene, the rest of the show spends its time whooshing between on and off island in their two set time periods. we've yet to see how this is handled with an on-island character, but i expect it will be similar.
knowing that ben is after penny, i'm surprised that widmore would give up ms. hawking's location (seems pretty clear now that ms. hawking is faraday's mother), and then ask desmond to go back into hiding with her. if anyone knows desmond is determined, it would be mr. widmore, who also must know that ben likely has some relationship with ms. hawking. he's pretty much sending penny to her death, though i don't think he means to.
frankly, i'm afraid. desmond is a main character, but penny is a guest star. the show just might kill her, which would be awful, but like alex and rousseau found out: it's not a good idea on 'lost' to have your major story arc resolved. we still need to see how the ben/penny revenge story plays out, but i have a feeling it will not be in favor of the difficult-to-schedule guest star. it's also possible that little charlie was introduced to replace penny as desmond's new 'reason to live' once they've killed her off. yep, sorry to be a buzzkill, but the more i think about it, penny must die. both widmore and ben need equal rage and motivation as they enter the show's endgame. i will miss sonya walger. her 'stop bullshitting me' moment was fantastic.
9. is theresa the girl in faraday's photo?
yes, i think so. for a second i thought it was ellie, the hothead blonde 1954 that faraday thought was familiar looking. i'll talk more about her in a future post.
plotwise, why does desmond need to find this woman suffering from the minkowskis? is it to cast doubt on faraday's abilities? or was it simply to reveal widmore's involvement in faraday's research (which given that faraday was on a widmore mission, isn't such a huge revelation)?
this episode featured only two characters from the original cast of the show: sawyer and locke. we never saw any of the oceanic 6, not even mention of ben. not many shows can come close to pulling off that kind of feat - and what's even more amazing, is that damon and carlton have done it after taking loads of heat for separating kate, jack, and sawyer from the main cast at the start of season 3.
of all the great moments in this episode, i think this was my favorite:
11. minor gripes?
RICHARD: And it never occurred to you that they might follow you?
JONES: Follow me? Their leader is some sodding old man. What, you think he can track me? You think he knows this island better than I do?
(CUT TO: Locke overlooking the camp.)
ok, this is waaay minor. but as my friend david pointed out - the pre-commercial break moments were a hell of a lot better preboomer moments than the actual preboomer. so my minor gripe is the..
charlotte goes re-re and collapses. one of those 'new plot point' preboomers, which i'm guessing will lead to a charlotte episode next week. kind of an 'eh' after such a strong episode. but can't wait to find out when they are now..
as a coda, i'd like to extend a big 'break a leg!' to my friend allyson, who has an audition for 'lost' on monday. if she gets the part, i may have to have her write a guest column about her experience on set. fingers crossed!
- asks a fundamental question the audience is also asking. done right, these enhance the thrill of audience/character empathy and mystery. the classic one is of course the first preboomer, when charlie asked: 'guys, where are we?'
- amplifies an emotional state. these are usually the 'happy' preboomers that don't have 'booms' but lovely strings accompanying the final title. usually occurs with a redemption, a reunion, or a triumphant conclusion (will the series finale will have this type of 'boom?'). it's not always happy, though - it amplifies any emotional state, such as when sun visited jin's grave.
- brings full closure to a storyline. like when two hated characters are buried alive.
- crystalizes an ambiguity. these are usually delivered by ben. my favorite being s2e16, 'the whole truth,' when ben says, 'you guys got any milk?' or from s3e16 'one of us,' where juliet, after being revealed to the audience as a double agent, ties up her tent flap in one, cold brisk motion.
- disambiguates a previous unknown while simultaneously raising new questions. this is the core of what 'lost' is about. like when kate says 'i love you aaron,' it confirms that the child she's been speaking about for the past hour is in fact aaron, but also leaves us wondering 'how?!?' or when ben says 'because i have a man on the boat.' okay, yes, that makes sense, but again, 'how!?!'
- defines a character's objective. these usually aren't shocking or surprising in any way, but generally reveal that a choice has been made about how to proceed next. these are fairly common, ho hum preboomers that ususally sound like 'how long do you think it would take to train an army?' or 'i'm going to find john locke.' i'm gonna do this, i'm gonna do that, boom.
- introduces a completely new plot point. at libby's funeral, sun sees something on the water and shouts 'boat! boat!' somehow, locke's father is sitting there in front of him. 'dad?'
- creates a reversal. aristotle talks about this idea, called peripetia: when black becomes white, when good becomes bad, when what you thought was true is shown to be false - the skillful unravelling of these revelations are the core of storytelling. such as when michael, after shooting ana lucia and libby, opens ben's cell, stares at him, says nothing, and then shoots himself in the arm. it causes us to re-evaluate everything we thought we knew about michael since he left, and yet the event is also perfectly logical and in line with the natural course of events. brilliant. damon and carlton know their poetics.
check them all out here:
written by: eddie kitsis and adam horowitz. eddie and adam are the comedy team of the writing staff. they usually write the hurley episodes, and they are also champions of 'the socks,' or background players who have tangential storylines. we have them to thank for arzt, the development of bernard and rose, but we also have them to blame for the creation of nikki and paolo. they keep track of who is scott and steve, and of course are big fans of 'frogurt.'
directed by: jack bender - lead director of the show. until 5.1, he had directed every premiere and finale (minus the pilot, of course), plus just about every other episode you can think of as being 'awesome.' jack bender is my hero.
in brief, i thought this was a pretty great episode, encompassing a lot of humor and character moments, but also giving us a good chunk of mythology to go with it. in contrast to the first episode, most of this one takes place off the island.
the big questions:
- whose episode is this?
- when are the survivors now?
- how many times has locke entered a scene by throwing a knife into it first?
- is it so hard to make fire?
- is charlotte going to die?
- why should i care about frogurt?
- what is ms. hawking doing?
- who was that butcher lady?
- why (structurally) are they jumping around in time?
- what were the great moments?
- was this preboomer any better?
- any gripes?
the producers defined this as a 'hurley' episode - which makes sense, because we spend the most time with hurley, and the episode is framed by his actions. it sets him up as uncomfortable with The Lie, allows him a chance to finally tell the truth, and also take decisive action by getting himself arrested. there's even an old school inner-consciousness whoosh flashforward from when hurley says to sayid 'when you need my help, you won't get it' to him driving a passed-out sayid through la. ah the delicious irony. is this how 'centric' episodes are going to be handled from this point on? i think probably, yes. the show is telling us 'we are done with observing the pasts of our characters, now we're going to interact with it.'
the opening shot of this episode was pretty great too - and it's too bad that it had to be preceeded by the 'three years earlier' titlecard. that was unnecessary, and removed part of the joy of placing the scene in the greater timeline. watching a mystery hand grab beer and walk through a doorway has never been filled with more tension. how wonderful to see frank lapidus again! and drinking this very appropriate fictional beer:
we still don't know if frank is supposed to return to the island as well. probably not, since ben hasn't mentioned him, but i'd sure appreciate it if the show at least addressed why he doesn't have to go back.
while the opening shot was fun, the following scene on the boat was ho-hum. mostly exposition for the sake of those poor souls who don't know the story, and a chance to do what 'lost' must sometimes do: shoehorn an episode theme into the framework of character-centric time flashes. when hurley says that line to sayid, 'when you need my help, you're not gonna get it,' it sure is convenient to flash-forward to a future point when it's ironic, but don't forget that just a month after he said it, sayid and nadia were laughing and sipping coconut drinks at hurley's birthday party.
2. when are the survivors now?
we don't know yet, other than that they have jumped to a time before the plane crash, and are being attacked with flaming arrows by hand-hungry british people in jumpsuits. the jumpsuits resemble dharma, but i didn't see any logos. perhaps they predate dharma? something about the haircuts and clothes suggest the anywhere from the 50's - 70's.. the one called jones is british.. perhaps they are the 'first time' widmore made it to the island, which miles referred to in the previous episode? we just don't know yet.
because episodes 1 and 2 aired back to back, it feels like the opening scene was foreshadowing this attack. pierre chang, while shooting the orientation film for the arrow station (this is the station that the tailies took refuge in), tells us the station is devoted to combating the hostile natives of the island. i think this is just thematic coincidence: the arrow station probably was not a storehouse for actual flaming arrows. plus, the arrow station is way on the other side of the island, over a day's journey from the survivor's beach. i think these guys predate dharma.
3. how many times has locke entered a scene by throwing a knife into it first?
this question popped into my head, and i thought for sure that someone on lostpedia would have already counted for me. sadly, no. i'm a diehard fan, but not that die hard. the knifethrowing flourish needs to be used judiciously, so as not to become one of locke's clichés. but i'll bet money he throws a knife into someone in this season's finale.
4. why is it so hard to 'make fire?'
did anyone else feel like the exchanges between rose and bernard were thinly-veiled dirty metaphors for their lovin' (or lack of it)? awkwaaard... on the podcast, damon and carlton love to joke about rose and bernard's sex life, referring to a planned spinoff called rose and bernard: love island, and how the censors cut all the sex scenes between the two. there ain't no doubt in my mind that dialogue like this...
...is the result is a writer's room drinking game.
ROSE: You really think that thing is gonna work?
BERNARD: Rose, I've told you a hundred times. Of course it's going to work. Yes, it's better than two sticks together.
ROSE: Bernard, that's what you're supposed to do is rub -
BERNARD: Well, I think this is going to work better.
ROSE: Look, I think you've got too much wood here in the inside. That's gonna smother the leaves.
BERNARD: Rose, if you don't have enough wood the leaves just burn out.
5. is charlotte going to die?
i sure hope so. so she's got the nosebleed, can't remember her mother's maiden name, and is about to start going totally fisher stevens. will we learn her story through a psychotic dislodging from time similar to desmond's in 'the constant?' at this point charlotte is essentially a blank slate. they've dropped some clues that she's been to the island before, and she seems to think she was born there. so her constant is probably around there, somewhere. i hope it's a good story. right now rebecca mader is barely capable of carrying my interest much less an entire episode.
but. here's what i think is fantastic about the introduction of the freighter folk - these are characters designed by the writers to carry us to the END of the show. their storylines were developed and conceived after the end date was set, so their express purpose is to reveal the island's mysteries and bring the plot to its final resolution. right now faraday is doing the heavy lifting, but each of them will have their turn to guide us through a different mystery: faraday will guide us through the time shifting, miles will handle the metaphysical, and charlotte (the anthropologist) will deal with the island's history. she'll know how to read the heiroglypics. basically she's 'andie' from 'the goonies,' who saved the day because she knew how to play the bone piano... which sounds like something else rose and bernard might enjoy doing. ba-dum-pum!
6. why should i care about frogurt?
frogurt's death was a fantastic payoff to three years of podcast jokes, and has been almost a pet project of writers eddie kitsis and adam horowitz. after first being mentioned in the podcast, diehards squealed with delight when frogurt was actually mentioned on the show in the rose/bernard episode 's.o.s.' but sadly, frogurt was only mentioned, and not seen until the 'missing pieces' leading up to season 4 last year. he's played by sean whalen, who you might recognize from the 'got milk' commercial in which he loses a radio trivia contest because he cannot speak the words 'aaron burr.'
frogurt's death was beautifully executed. in order to raise the stakes in a given situation, someone must die, and who better than a redshirt? and then they actually put the guy in a red shirt! and simultaneously paid homage to that other great death, dr. arnzt! eddie and adam are sometimes too cutesy for me, but i think this is one of their best episodes. i forgive them for nikki/paolo.
7. what is ms. hawking doing?
ms. hawking is trying to find the island. and for that she needs a very loudly whooshing foucaultish pendulum and an apple iii. she must really like her oregon trail.
covering the apple logo on her monitor is a very tiny dharma logo we haven't seen yet, but which has appeared in the video podcast, and on the ajira airways promo tie-in website:
let's talk about ms. hawking for a sec. damon and carlton have said many many many times that any questions you have about how time travel works on the show can be answered by rewatching her first scene with desmond in season 3. here are both of her scenes:
ms. hawking introduces the idea of 'course correction,' which i've written on before as an extension of the structure of the show itself. through all of the previous 4 seasons, the writers have been going 'back in time' and showing us new pieces of the timeline. occasionally things happen that force them to 'course correct:' an actor drops out, the audience hates a character, the writers go on strike.. and so they (like the god of destiny on 'lost') must reweave events to reach their foregone conclusions. this is why i love this show: it is as much about itself as it is about its content.
so who is ms. hawking? she is probably faraday's mother - has likely been to the island at some point.. perhaps at the same time as widmore? she is chummy with the head monk at the monastary desmond lived at. perhaps she has something in common with jean claude van damme? timecop? she has the means to locate the island, a commodity widmore would kill to have.. and perhaps sun will get it for him. (rob and i disagree deeply about sun's motivations. he believes that she is going to double cross widmore. i think she's going to become absolutely evil. in some ways the ambiguity about her position has made her the new juliet.)
damon and carlton are adamant that there will be no paradoxes on lost. there will be no undoing what has already been done, because dramatically, once you've done this, the audience no longer has any reason to invest in what happens to the characters if it can all be undone later. characters who die, are dead. events that happened, happened. what we are watching on the show, just like faraday described it, are pieces of one long unchanging timeline, like a string. we go forward and back, but there will never be another string. rob brings up an interseting point that it feels like locke is not actually dead, and will be 'resurrected' at some point later. while it's probably true (we don't yet know exactly what happens to bodies brought to the island), i don't think his 'resurrection' or whatever it ends up being will be explained by paradox.
8. who was that butcher lady?
seems like there is a network of people who were once on the island, planted around the world. butcher lady and ms. hawking seem to fit this category. also richard alpert, in the number of times we've seen him off-island, as well as mr. friendly and ethan. what has not yet been explained is exactly how off-on island transportation took place before the turning of the frozen donkey wheel. now that the wheel is turned, it's clearly not so easy to go back. ben asked jill, the butcher lady, if 'gabriel' and 'jeffrey' had checked in yet - is ben collecting more than just the oceanic 6? perhaps the upcoming 'event window' in 70 hours is the last chance for everyone on the outside to get back. some of them must return, and others just don't want to miss the boat.
9. why (structurally) are they jumping around in time?
the prospect of where this season could go is so exciting. one of the key reasons to jump the cast around in time would be to explain one of the central island mysteries. and i think we'll see that this season. sawyer banging on the door of the hatch is just the beginning - imagine this: remember all those times, especially in season 1 and 2, when the jungle air was filled with tension and you heard.. whispers? what if. what if the whispers.. man, it gives me chills just to think about it. but what if the whispers are actually the survivors, now, watching themselves make crucial mistakes in their lives, trying to fight against fate to prevent themselves from doing it? they try and try to affect change, but as faraday said, what happened happened, and all that happened... was that they heard whispers. check out the whisper transcripts. not all of them fit this theory, but many of them do, especially whispers taking place after the point when the writers would have known what they were doing (mid season 3)
if these first two hours are any indication, this is going to be a season about rewarding fans for having watched so closely during the last 4 years.
10. what were the great moments?
- hot pocket shot put
- i heart my shi tzu t-shirt
- 'why is there a dead pakistani on my couch?'
- hurley's rehash of the entire plot of lost for his mom.
- mom saying 'i believe you.'
- hurley's dad watches 'exposé'
- sun starts to get a little bit scary
- frogurt flambé
- i did kinda think for a moment that they might chop juliet's hand off. hey, if it's good enough for arrested development, it's good enough for darlton.
the line was a bit ho-hum, but was pretty good because a) it circled back to pierre chang's 'then god help us all' line in the opening, and b) OMFG it's ms. hawking!!!
MS. HAWKING: 70 hours is what you've got.
BEN: Look, I lost Reyes tonight. What happens if I can't get them all to come back?
MS. HAWKING: Then God help us all.
12. any gripes?
i kind of liked ana-lucia as a character, and was maybe one of the only people upset when she was killed off. damon and carlton have maintained that it was always the plan to kill her, but i don't think so.
remember when jack sat down with her and said 'how long do you think it would take to train an army,' and then dropped the idea completely? i think they had big plans for ana lucia that just didn't pan out. it's too bad. my one minor gripe is about guest stars returning to the show to play their dead characters: i always find it disappointing when i see that they're playing ghosts instead of flashbacks. as ghosts they can offer nothing but guilt or guidance.. it's much more exciting when we might find out more about who they were and what else they might have contributed to the bigger story. ghosts are a cop-out. also, the throwaway reference to libby was annoying. if there's any ghost scene i'd actually like to see played out, it would be hurley getting a chance to say goodbye to libby. i'm still really peeved about her lame cameos in michael's episode last year. what a waste.
check back on wednesday for my treatise on preboomers. analysis of wednesday's episode 'jughead' will likely go up on friday. questions, comments? post below!
(thanks to rob konigsberg for edits/suggestions)
because two episodes were aired back to back, i'm going to write on them separately - especially since it was not damon and carlton's intention that the episodes be viewed as a two hour block. there is a lot to discuss. this season is not for the uninitiated, not at all.
written by: damon lindelof and carlton cuse, the head honchos.
directed by: stephen williams, who, in the new shorter seasons, directs in rotation with chief director, jack bender. he's directed some classic episodes ('not in portland,' 'greatest hits,' 'confirmed dead,' 'there's no place like home, part 1,') but he's also responsible for some of the weakest last season ('eggtown,' 'meet kevin johnson,' 'something nice back home.')
of course, the general consensus seems to be 'what the fuck is going on!?!?!?' i have quite a lot of faith that damon and carlton are aware that most of the audience is scratching their heads, which is why they have most of their main characters doing the same.
- the opening sequence
- the first flash
- the second flash
- the third flash
- the fourth flash
- three years later
- points of interest
- minor gripe
fantastic. a wonderful play on previous openings: waking up, preparing for the day, and then realizing exactly who and when we are in the story as dr. marvin candle/mark wickmund/edgar halliwax/pierre chang is revealed, shooting an orientation film. some cool tidbits:
the first shot:
rather than begin with an opening eye (or exploding papayas), season 5 begins with a flip-clock turning from 8:14 to 8:15. "815" is of course the flight number of the ill fated plane and two of the numbers. but what this shot also says is that 'this season is going to be about time.'
what is also interesting about this opening is that chang and his wife have a baby. was this baby born on the island? if so, what exactly happened to change things? is that change related to 'the incident?' also, does this baby grow up to be someone we know? perhaps it's miles (hat tip to carla)? we know nothing of miles's past at this point, so...?
notice the orchid station under construction - a huge set to build for 2 shots (unless of course we're going to be spending a lot more time here this season..), but it was interesting to see the station's exterior in pristine construction after only having seen it in ruins. was the destruction of the orchid station the 'incident' that led to pushing the button in the swan station? in this opening, chang is wearing a swan station logo lab coat, which may be a continuity error if he's already filmed the swan station orientation film, in which he has a prosthetic arm. however, if it's not a continuity error, the prospect of learning the story of dr. marvin candle's missing arm this season is very very exciting.
so we learn that the chief purpose of the dharma initiative is to harness and exploit a 'limitless power' held underneath the orchid station. i think it's safe to say that the 'magic box' metaphor ben used when trying to describe the island's power to locke in season 3 is this very same power. if you can manipulate time, you truly can have everything. but of course there are rules.. rules that ben and charles widmore are bound by.
i wasn't shocked when daniel farraday appeared at the end of the scene - because this video from last summer's comiccon presentation had already primed us, not only for time travel, but also for a pierre chang/farraday meetup, as well as an important baby:
the opening sequences to seasons 2 and 3 followed desmond and juliet as they listened to music, and prepared for their days, only to be interrupted by outside forces. will chang, as the central character of the season 5 opening, become as integral to our story as desmond and juliet? how great to be that actor, huh? hired for a bit part in s2, integral part of the story in s5?
what i did find surprising was that this wasn't the end of the opening sequence - i expected the lost logo to fly by after chang said "then god help us all,' but two more scenes followed, jumping us from past to future, and then back to present, with the whole thing bookended by farraday. past, present, and future. cue up the 'house of pain,' cuz this season's theme is 'jump around.'
i jumped with die-hard fan glee to see that neil 'frogurt' had been surreptitiously planted on the zodiac raft next to farraday with no fanfare or attention. he was just there. and not referred to at all for the first hour. obviously, there will be more on frogurt in the next post.
so far, it seems my prediction was correct: no more traditional flashbacks - at least that's held true for these first two episodes. i thought this would also mean the end of the 'whoosh' noise, but the whoosh persists because we are still technically 'flashing' in time. the noise was traditionally used to highlight a character's inner consciousness - how their memory of the past transitions into the present. now we're no longer looking into consciousness in quite the same way, so the noise merely delineates a time shift.
i was (and others were) a bit irritated by the 'three years earlier' and 'three years later' title cards. part of the joy of the show is the disorientation that comes from trying to figure out exactly where and when we are, and all of the scenes following one of these title cards contained plenty enough information for us to figure it out for ourselves. i'm blaming network meddling, even though the cards probably made the show easier for casual viewers to follow.
2. the first flash.
much has been made about the similarity between these two events: desmond turning the failsafe key, and ben pushing the frozen donkey wheel. let's look at them. here's 'the anamoly' from when desmond turned the failsafe:
and here's the donkey wheel turn:
these are two similar, but also very different events. in fact, they are the opposite of each other. the failsafe is a distinctive low frequency hum, and the FDW is a high pitched, rising shriek. the key difference between these events is that after the failsafe event, the island suddenly became visible to penny's research team in the arctic, whereas the FDW moved the island completely, hiding it. i think we're going to learn some important things this season about how the energy in the swan station and the FDW are related, and i'm willing to bet that it wasn't a very good idea to move the island without the protective energy of the swan station in place, and the jumping around we're witnessing now is a result of that.
after the first jump, the survivors realize that their camp is gone and begin hiking towards the swan station. we weren't sure at this point, but it seems that locke is jumping to the same points in time as the survivors - he watches the african drug plane crash (a seriously genius OMG moment), which lostpedia's timeline places in the late 1990's.
the next OMG moment is when locke is shot and his attacker is revealed to be ethan. john tells him his full name, and ethan says his full name back to him shortly before the island whisks locke away. here's where it gets interesting. farraday says to sawyer very very clearly (in fact, damon and carlton have also said it to the fans very very clearly): what happened, happened. if it didn't happen before, it can't happen now. so. this means that ethan met john locke previously, and that when ethan encountered locke waaay back in season 1, he had met him before, and knew it. this is something that would not have even been dreamed about way back when they were shooting season 1, but because it's been established that ethan is one of the hostiles, and would be used to the idea of timeshifting, i'm still willing to buy the idea.
ethan's first scene on the show (s1e9, 'solitary') comes after he's been established as locke's hunting buddy. wow. a beautiful tie-in to ethan's introduction. we didn't get to see it in season 1, but i bet you we'll see ethan's first post-crash meeting with locke this season. i'm betting that we'll also get a nice little retcon scene where ethan runs back to the barracks and tells ben about someone named 'john locke' who said he was the new leader and then vanished into thin air. ben ponders it curiously, until one day, years later, a plane crashes on the island and guess who's on board - john locke. it would explain ben's strangeness and seeming foresight throughout his entire history with locke.
2. the second flash.
it's now nighttime, and the african plane is both fallen off the cliff, and burned. the hatch is imploded. richard alpert comes to locke's rescue and has knowledge of the moment john 'disappeared,' so it's probable that the survivors, at that moment were actually in their 'correct' time.
alpert's scene with locke here is crucial, and i cannot wait to find out how this all plays out. alpert tells locke that he has to get everyone back who left, and that in order to do it, he's going to have to die. the scene also employs a favorite device on 'lost,' which is the 'countdown crisis' preventing anyone from going into detail because events are imminent. alpert doesn't have time to explain, only enough to stress the importance of doing it.
so why is it so important that these people return? does the island, as a whole, require its own 'constant?' was something torn when they left, and what are their true destinies if so? if time is 'course correcting' itself - preventing people from dying, moving them around the globe to fulfill mysterious duties, what is the ideal endgame it's working towards?
one question that hasn't been answered yet - and i'm disappointed that it hasn't (damon and carlton addressed the question in a podcast over the summer, and promised it would be addressed in the premiere.. no dice): when ben says 'they ALL have to go back,' who exactly does that entail? does that include walt? lapidus? desmond?
alpert gives locke his compass, the same one from the test he gave locke as a child.
it makes me wonder if eventually we'll look at that scene from locke's childhood again with better understanding of what's going on. it seems that richard alpert doesn't age, but it's more likely, given the story direction, that he's simply been jumping through time. he's part of the 'indigenous' people of the island, so he probably has full control and understanding of its power. if he is jumping through time, what was it that made him decide to check out locke as a child?
i'm excited that alpert is on hand to be a major player in the story again. had 'cane' been a hit, nestor carbonell would have been unavailable, and the writers would have had to course-correct their own story and get these plot points out through a different character (probably isabel). (that said, i was completely floored by the number of guest star cameos they managed to line up for these first two episodes. on podcasts they talk about the difficulty of getting sonya walger (penny) and alan dale (widmore), who both work on other shows constantly (last year widmore scenes were actually filmed in london because dale was in the west end production of 'spamalot.') i used to have secret anxiety that the producers would be unable to get certain actors they needed in order to tell the story.. thankfully, 3/4ths of season 5 is already in the can and i can rest easy.
interesting tidbit: miles and charlotte have this little exchange:
CHARLOTTE: Do you think he's looking for us?..when was 'the first time?' i think we'll get a big peek into that backstory this season.
MILES: It took him like twenty years to find this place the first time. I'll start holding my breath now.
fun line: sawyer - 'son of a..
4. the third flash.
'...bitch.' the hatch is restored and undiscovered. desmond is inside. because of the dynamic of desmond's scene with faraday, it's likely that this flash places the action after desmond has killed inman - which means the plane has crashed, but very recently, because the hatch hasn't been discovered. i loved how sawyer marched right over to the hatch's back door, and how the scene was staged to give some feeling about the geography between the two locations. it's a small point, but man locke must have been so frustrated that he and boone went to so much trouble digging out the hatch when the back door was just down the hill and around the corner. doh!
but here's what i find interesting - fate will not allow desmond to open the door as long as sawyer is the one knocking. they didn't meet before, and they cannot meet now. desmond first met saywer in season 2, after returning from the tailies side of the island - they cannot meet sooner than that, no matter how hard sawyer pounds the door. it gives us some insight into how the writers use the idea of destiny: once faraday decides to start knocking, desmond will 'decide' or rather, 'be ready' to answer the door, simply because: it happened.
faraday's notebook has become a magical device, telling him, somehow that yes, at this moment, contact was made with desmond. who knows how he might have that in his journal, but of course he also had this:
i loved hearing on the audio commentary for 'the constant,' that jeremy davies has deep personal interest in quantum physics, and has some real knowledge of it - enough that he wrote all the journal pages himself, as well as the equations on the chalkboard in his lab.
this storyline is something of a replay of the plot from 'the constant,' where daniel implores desmond to make contact from another point in time. in 'the constant,' faraday told desmond to find himself at his lab in oxford. now faraday is telling des to find his mother there, her name is...
5. the fourth flash.
doh! we don't yet know exactly where the fourth flash has taken us, but it is clearly back before the crash, due to events in the next episode, which i'll discuss soon.
6. three years later.
what interests me is the overall decision to place 'future' events three-years later. the inciting incident was locke's death (as jeremy bentham) after visiting the o6, trying to get them to come back. but why does this 'memory' of faraday telling desmond to help them pop into his head at this point in time as well? probably it's just storytelling convenience.. and possibly inconvenient too.. if faraday's mother is ms. hawking (who i'll talk about in the next post), then she is quite clearly in los angeles, not in oxford. but when faraday told desmond about her, it was three years prior, so she easily could have been in oxford at the time. confusing, i know. bottom line: ms. hawking may or may not be daniel's mother, we don't know for sure yet, but probably she is.
again, the idea of 'the constant' is going to be extremely important this season, which is why 5 weeks of writing time went into writing that episode last season. if desmond is faraday's constant, he needs to get back to the island or faraday will die. and the rest of the o6 and the people who left are constants for the others, possibly the entire island - so when they finally return, some kind of equilibrium will be restored.
as far as what is going on off-island: sun is playing kate like a fiddle. what a bitch! 'i don't blame you. how's jack?' damn cold. oh, i jumped ahead - that's actually from the next episode. of course, sun's behavior is somewhat justified because she is out avenging jin's death - but i have a bad feeling that she'll go to extreme measures (is she truly her father's daughter?), and the karmic price she'll have to pay for becoming a supervilian megabitch is watching jin die again.
speaking of jin - and we're all pretty sure he ain't dead, i'm interested how they will swing it. he was on the freighter, which was visible from the beach, and given its disappearance, was outside the island time-travel radius, which means jin's 'survived' body is not jumping through time with them: it's been sitting out there for three years. unless he's on a piece of freighter debris that floated into the radius before the jump occurred. given his survival when the raft exploded, it's not impossible.
as many other bloggers have pointed out, hurley getting arrested feels like a contrived obstacle toward getting everyone back on the island. other than that, our off-islanders don't really know anything more than we do at this point, and it will serve the story best to get them back to the island as soon as possible. damon and carlton seem to know this as well. they understand that the show's dynamic works best when the cast is united - but in order to be united, they have to be split up for a while first. how else can we can get a nice slo-mo michael giacchino scored reunion scene? damon and carlton have promised us 'this won't be a full season about getting back to the island.'
the big question is: where is the show heading now? what is the objective to be reached in the grand conclusion? for as complicated as the 'harry potter' plot was, it remained simple: kill voldemort; live happily ever after. we don't yet know who the voldemort of 'lost' is - either ben or widmore, maybe even 'jacob,' but the grand finale will be the destruction of whatever force seeks to exploit the island, the placement on the island of all those to wish to stay, rescue for all those who wish to leave, and security that they will remain hidden forever. that is the end of the show. in classic 'lost' fashion, it will have soaring strings, redemptions and reunions, and one hell of a preboomer. speaking of:
i've written a separate, extensive post about preboomers: what makes them rock, what makes them suck. stay tuned for that. in the meantime i'll only say that this episode's preboomer...
DESMOND: We're leaving....sucked.
PENNY: Leaving to go where?
8. points of interest:
- faraday's metaphor about a skipping record was a lovely tie-in to the opening montage.
- kate's first line is to aaron: 'oh, i think choo choo knows better than that. he goes in that tunnel, he's never coming back out.' which is probably pretty great advice for kate to follow herself.
- the worker's nosebleed down in the orchid station is gonna be important, as are all future nosebleeds.
- another fantastic sayid fight scene. the dishwasher knives. loved it.
- hurley's line about bentham: 'i need a cool codename.'
- charlotte. this actress is not like elizabeth mitchell, who can take nothing and make it intriguing. right now this girl has nothing to work with, and consequently has no character or presence in the show. she is in fact, entirely defined by jeremy davies' want of her and nothing else. here's hoping they tell her story, whatever it is, and then kill her. they can even go the libby route: kill her, promise to tell her story, and then don't!
really just one. when sun's passport is scanned by security at the airport, we see this closeup. click to make it bigger:
now, come. on. COME. ON. any second unit director who's getting closeups for a show like 'lost' knows that closeups of documents are going to be freezeframed, analyzed, and scrutinized. every word can be read. it's why they've gone to the trouble to make sure that sun's birthday is correct, and that the korean is legit. so, their graphic designer went to all that trouble, and they shoot it on the screen in photoshop? look at the lower corner. not only that, rob k. points out that this oceanic desk lady has not yet installed her windows critical updates. and she's not connected to the network. sigh. still, not as bad as the tragic ms. hawking/monk photoshop composite. but perhaps they'll explain that too - maybe she's able to jump in and out of photographs!
how about some video?
in preparation for season 5, i thought i'd take a look at each of the four season-opening sequences:
opening shot: jack's eye.
this first sequence of the pilot establishes several things about the vocabulary of "lost:" the closeups of eyes opening, mystery, and disorientation. jack wakes up in a bamboo forest, sees vincent, tries to piece things together, steps out onto a lovely beach... and then turns around HOLY SHIT there's a giant airplane wreck.
opening shot: desmond's eye
we don't know who this person is, but it's carefully shot to make us think maybe it's jack, in flashback - but whoever it is, this is clearly a flashback because we're watching him put a classic oldie on the record player ('make your own kind of music'), seeing an old computer, a cool apartment, a kitchen.. we must be watching jack at some point befo... BOOM RUMBLE. wait. ok, what does that mean? ok, this guy clearly isn't jack.. no.. HOLY SHIT the camera pulls back back back and connects itself to the last shot of season 1, with jack and locke peering into the hatch.
opening shot: juliet's eye
there have been a lot of episodes in season 1 and 2 that begin with opening eyes. in the commentary for 'ji yeon,' editor/director steven semel said that they've been moving away from it so as not to wear out the convention. it's interesting to note how differently jack's eye extreme close up has been shot from the other two: jack's shot has a wider depth of field, is entirely in focus, and shows his iris closing behind the reflection of the trees towering above him. a much more complicated shot than it appears to be.
juliet and desmond's eye-shots have very narrow depth of field, keeping only the plane of the iris in focus. desmond's eye reflects the "window" of the hatch, and juliet's eye shows a hint of a window. neither are as dynamic as jack's shot.
the season 3 opener is my favorite because of how it plays on conventions established in both previous openings. juliet, like desmond, puts another classic song on (downtown), only this time it's a cd instead of a record - and her identity is not hidden from us, she looks in the mirror and pulls herself together (a moment that is beautifully called back in her second flashback episode).
i gasped upon first viewing, because i thought she was penelope widmore - and season 3 was going to pick up exactly where season 2 left us. but no, instead we're going to watch this mystery woman make muffins, have a book club meeting and RUMBLE.. everyone runs outside and HOLY SHIT there's henry gale and ethan and goodwin and there's the plane, breaking apart in the sky. an amazing opening that took the structure of the season 2 opener and exploded it to a deeper level.
opening shot: a pile of papayas
here the tease was compressed into this single shot, meant to make us think we were on the island. here's what i wrote about this shot when it first aired:
the shot holds for an uncomfortably long time. we hear seagulls, we see the ocean in the background. we are on the island. rather than give us an entire fakeout scene, as we've had in seasons 2 and 3, the fakeout is encapsulated in this one shot, as hurley's camaro bursts through the fruit. not only are we off island, that shot also describes in miniature, the overall philosophy of the season: "you think you know what this show is about? you think it's about being on an island? well let's just drive this here car through what you thought this show is about."not exactly a "HOLY SHIT" moment, though it was forgivable because we were given the ultimate "holy shit" during the final seconds of season 3.
and then we see someone drinking orange juice, an echo of the opening to season 2, when we saw desmond do the same. this time it turns out to be jack. and we're teased out and teased out as to who the driver of the car is.. sharp viewers will recognize the camaro from his flashback episode.. it's hurley. and it turns out to be hurley's episode. which is also a change. the season premiere flashback has previously only belonged to jack.
so, what will season 5 bring? an opening eye? a new character? orange juice? i am seriously hoping for a damn good HOLY SHIT moment.