written by: carlton cuse and damon lindelof.
directed by: jack bender.
director of photography: edward pei. part of the decline in photography this season may be due to the show working new dp's into the fold. after last week's mediocre footage, i'll be watching who shoots what episodes from here on out. edward also dp'd 'the little prince.'
in short: deeply disappointing. i nearly broke my brain trying to squeeze these scenes into the timeline. my faith is shaken. 'jeremy bentham' too much resembles 'meet kevin johnson.' if you watch passively, though, it's a great episode.
- kill me once, shame on you..
- fresh arzts and frogurts.
- the big question.
- podcast tidbits.
i placed a lot of hope on this episode's ability to flesh out and smooth over the sins of last week. but instead it stoked a secret fear that builds up in me when 'lost' begins to lose its way: that what damon and carlton think is great about the show are not the same things i think are great. this episode held enormous potential to unveil tantalizing missing pieces of the larger puzzle. unfortunately, it reminded me that 'lost' is most disappointing when the mystery proves to be more interesting than the revelation.
why would abaddon withold this info, when it would only strengthen locke's resolve to return to the island?
this episode's flashbacks bore the weight of revealing the incidents that drive the entire off-island storyline. we've seen so much of what came about from these scenes that they took on a mythic quality. in the end they failed to live up to that standard. most unfortunate is that this failure rendered the entire 'getting back' storyline inert. this is the episode, more than any other, in which we needed an answer to the big question: how will bringing them back save everyone on the island? until we understand this key point, we cannot dramatically engage with the show's core objective. and the longer they hold off giving this answer, the more i fear that there is no real answer at all.
don't get me wrong - the payoff can still come. i'm just worried. if that answer isn't satisfying, i think we'll look back on 'lost' and say that the show ultimately lost its way when it started flashing forward: a jaw-dropping revelation at the time, but one that may contain no further intrigue beyond its initial brilliance.
on the positive side, we've seen the show pay off on high expectations before, and the episode by itself stands up well enough, thanks to great performances from michael emerson, terry o'quinn, and matthew fox.
but, as ryan mcgee says, the show is sinking under it's own narrative weight. please prove us wrong. please!
in last year's finale, the name 'jeremy bentham' took on hyper-serious importance - for whatever reason, the O6 chose to refer to him by that name, and never as locke, for fear of being watched, or overheard.. where did this fear come from? i expected that locke's appearance would rattle everyone he came to see. except for jack's scene, all locke really did was mildly irritate them. but if you look at the whole story, these ho hum conversations were supposed to have..
do we care anymore what compelled sayid to 'rescue' hurley?
- ..somehow compelled sayid to leave habitat for humanity, decide that 'hurley must be protected,' kill a man sitting outside hurley's asylum, and go on the run.
- ..shaken up walt enough to fly across the country to visit hurley merely to ask 'why are you guys lying?'
kate's not really upset. she just wishes she'd twisted the 'you're an obsessed old man' knife a little harder while she still had the chance.
- ..disturbed kate enough to burst into tears because jack thought she might go to bentham's funeral.
locke's meeting with sayid was puzzling. he's now building homes in the dominican republic, when everything we've seen of him before and after this point off-island has cast him in a james bond role. what is it that caused him to go back into mercenary mode to rescue hurley from the asylum? clearly it's not the result of this conversation. i had thought that ben had sent sayid on the hurley rescue mission, but now it's clear ben had nothing to do with it (in 'the little prince,' ben asks sayid why he broke hurley out of santa rosa - sayid said only that he 'had to make sure hurley was safe.') i'm now completely mystified about sayid's motivation and direction as a character. unless a new conflict is introduced soon, i think he's in danger of becoming monster food.
hey walt, remember that time you appeared on the island and told locke he 'had work to do?' no? well, locke doesn't remember it either.
'wrong,' is probably the best way to describe locke's new york encounter with walt. it felt like the writing staff that never really knew what to do with walt, was relieved when they finally wrote him off the island, and are now adding this half-hearted coda to be done with him for the rest of the show. it's the 'lost' equivalent of chrissie calling jack and janet from her aunt's house. it would be extremely disappointing if this is the only payoff we get for walt, who has been told as often as locke that he is 'special,' who scared ben and the others enough to have him sent away, and possesses powers of foresight, telepathy with birds.
dear 'lost,' remember how you reminded us about walt's power in 'room 23,' from the missing pieces?
we wanted a spark of the fascinating relationship between these two that grounded much of season 1. we wanted locke to say that he had seen walt's image on the island. we wanted walt to have more to say than just having had a weird dream. have walt's powers increased? gone away? does walt give a shit about vincent anymore? or anyone else on the island?
in 'the little prince,' sawyer asks locke:
SAWYER: Hey, Locke? What are you gonna say to her?
SAWYER: Kate. What are you gonna say to her to get her to come back?
LOCKE: I haven't figured that out yet.
clearly locke didn't spend much time thinking about it while recuperating in the tunisian hospital either. here's the problem with locke's worldwide rejection tour: every scene was an errand. locke did no convincing at all. he merely stated a request, and then left after being given the answer. dramatically inert. i understand how one by one, each rejection builds up to locke's attempted suicide, but on the obverse, the scenes don't explain the other character's actions.
my friend spencer called me up after the show and ranted 'how many times do i have to watch them be convinced?? aren't they already convinced??'
it's disheartening that we are still not done seeing them 'be convinced.' the missing pieces from '316' are still going to be filled in. even though i no longer care, we'll find out why kate gave up aaron and changed her mind, why hurley changed his mind, and how sayid was arrested. if those scenes are are trite as 'the life and death of jeremy bentham,' i'd honestly just rather not know. let kate say 'oh, i saw a ghost,' and move on. i don't care. they are back on the island, the entire 'leaving the island' plot arc was jumbled and misguided, feels trivial, and i'd rather the show just moved on to whatever it's going to be about now that they're back.
other continuity problems (from lostpedia):
ultimately, this one episode tried to cover too much material at once, and required a level of narrative compression that isn't usually employed on 'lost.'
Locke (Bentham) said none of these things when he visited Jack in this episode.
- In the Season 4 finale "There's No Place Like Home," Jack told Ben that Jeremy Bentham visited him and said that Ben was off the island.
- Jack also said Bentham told him that after the Oceanic Six left the island, "some very bad things happened. And he told me that it was my fault for leaving."
- Also in the finale, Jack told Kate that Bentham said that returning to the island was "the only way that I could keep you safe - you and Aaron."
- In "Because You Left," Jack further told Ben, "Sawyer, Juliet, everyone from the boat... and everyone we left behind - John said that they'd die, too, if I didn't come back."
- Last season Walt told Hurley he had been visited by Jeremy Bentham. Locke never referred to himself as Jeremy Bentham during his conversation with Walt in this episode.
- Santa Rosa Mental Health Institute is portrayed in earlier episodes as a place Jack can stop by after work to visit Hurley. However in this episode, the Santa Rosa Mental Health Institute is identified as being in Santa Rosa, CA which is over 400 miles from the hospital where Jack works in Santa Monica, CA.
3. kill me once, shame on you..
the only portions of the show that provided compelling new information were those taking place post-resurrection. what did we learn?
- jacob knew a plane would be landing on hydra island - and had the runway built specifically for that purpose.
- some people vanished off the plane, and others didn't.
- the plane appears to have landed in the same future time period where sawyer discovered the ajira water bottle on board one of the outrigger boats.
- lapidus took one of the outriggers with 'some woman,' who i think must be sun, who for some reason did not vanish.
- locke was murdered by ben, for some reason.
ben has now killed locke twice. c'mon locke. stop getting killed by ben. it's lucy, charlie brown, and the football. omg, 'lost' is one giant metaphor for 'peanuts.'
4. fresh arzts and frogurts.
here, this mango will make you forget all about that off-island story.
i was so excited that nearly all the socks were finally killed - and now here we are with a whole new planeful of socks! gahhhhhh. can we just nuke hydra island? please?
5. the big questions.
why did ben kill locke immediately after hearing the name 'eloise hawking?' up until that point, ben was going to work with locke in getting the O6 back together. ben knows how to collect people, and as soon as he got news of jin being alive, you could see the wheels cranking.. 'ok, we'll use jin to get sun back.. i'll use aaron to get kate back.. we've already got jack.. hurley is easy..'
clearly ben knows hawking from the island days - and probably what we'll see play out in future episodes is the exact nature of the young ben/widmore/ellie island feud. did ben trick both widmore and ellie into pushing the wheel? is ellie penelope's mother? or charlotte's mother? does faraday have an 'oops i liked my sister' skywalker complex? is everyone on this show somehow related to each other?
i had such different expectations for this scene. i expected ben to actually talk locke into hanging himself. i thought he would convince locke that his purpose was to be christian shepard's proxy on the plane, with the promise that he'd be resurrected once they land on the island. i think it would have been more interesting than yet another ben-allegiance flip-flop.
why did only hurley, jack, and kate get whooshed off the plane? i have no idea. it falls into the same category as why is juliet time-jumping if she wasn't on flight 815? we're gonna get answers right? it will all be clear right? 26 episodes to go, and it's all gonna make sense, right?
6. podcast tidbits.
the podcast is often very funny, and i recommend checking it out. but if you just want to know the main points, here they are:
- yes, we will find out what kate did with aaron. meh.
- no, we are not yet meant to know whose side to be on: ben's or widmore's. erm.
- damon and carlton fully debunked the theory of sawyer losing his toe, becoming an ancient island hero, and having the four-toed statue built in his honor. hmm.
since i've spent so much time griping about this episode, here are things that impressed me:
- better photography and pacing.
- production design got a huge workout this week. this episode had as many sets and locations as a feature film.
- seeing the ajira plane landed on the runway was a fantastic payoff
- egyptian influence in the island's ancient history has been hinted at for some time. now hurley is drawing the sphinx.
- flash structure: now that everyone is back on the island, will we now be flashing between the 815ers in the 70's and the 316ers in the 'present?' if sun wasn't sucked into the past, will she and jin have to communicate à la 'the lake house?'
CAESAR: You know him?the timing on this preboomer was different. it was an instant boom instead of a (pause) boom. and i think a good choice. the pause boom gives us a moment to take in the holy shit moment, jin's wtf-face, or the revelation. the instant boom is more like the sopranos finale, cutting off mid-moment. nice change. but how about this:
LOCKE: Yeah. He's the man who killed me. (boom)
CAESAR: You know him?i know a lot of people liked this episode. i hope i haven't been a debbie downer. i'm just upset that these last two episodes do not withstand the scrutiny that's justified this blog.
LOCKE: (shoots ben through the head) I did. (boom)
written by: showrunners damon lindelof and carlton cuse. it's their show. they define it. and they are certainly defining a huge part of it with this episode.
directed by: stephen williams. 'lost's' #2 director, who alternated episodes last season with #1 director jack bender.
in short: a few missteps and a couple raised eyebrows at some big contrivances have me waiting for the full picture before judging. many scenes did not work, for which i mostly blame the director. a strong opening and closing nearly save it.
- the missing pieces
- 46 hours earlier?
- doubting thomas
- best lines
this scene was unfortunate. the set was damn cool, but fionnula flanagan's delivery of the expository speeches was overwrought with an almost put-on 'mystery voice.' i wish i could see jack bender's version of the scene, which probably would have given us a more matter of fact and abrupt ms. hawking. she would have left her listeners in a daze, and viewers reaching for the tivo rewind button.
explanations can be difficult. anytime a story phenomenon is explained, the writers run the risk of playing the 'midichlorian card' and completely demystifying something that was much better left alone. so all this business about the island being on a pocket of electromagnetic energy.. it doesn't carry the show anywhere. damon and carlton know this, so through the avatar of ms hawking, it feels like they're telling us:
oh, stop thinking how ridiculous it is and start asking yourself whether or not you believe it's going to work.i think this is where d&c lost a lot of people, who said to their tv screens, 'uh, no, that is not going to cut it, thank you.'
this episode was about suspension of disbelief. the idea that going back hinges on recreating the circumstances of flight 815 on flight 316 is so ludicrous that it trumps the entire time-jumping concept introduced in the season premiere.
the show takes a lot of risks, and this conceit is one big-ass gamble. you can't say they didn't know where they were going. damon and carlton have been running in this direction ever since they put locke in that coffin - they knew why and how he died two years ago, and i'm hoping that this week's episode fills in the narrative gaps we've been aching to learn for over a season now.
'316' was written and shot as 'episode 7.' meaning, the original plan was that we were not meant to see it until after seeing this week's episode 'the life and death of jeremy bentham.' upon reflection, damon and carlton decided that it actually plays better to flip the order, so we got '316' a week earlier. i'm extremely curious to see how this affects our understanding and processing of the story. perhaps they wanted to get the weaker ms. hawking exposition out of the way, or maybe they wanted us to understand that our heroes do get back to the island even sooner than expected.
i'm frankly puzzled by the scene with jack's grandfather. for a show that is usually so deliberate and nuanced, i don't want to believe that damon and carlton simply wanted to 'flesh out' jack by showing us a little more of his family. was putting those shoes into jack's hands the entire point of the scene?
yes, there are some thematic resonances: the magician and his rabbit invoke suspension of disbelief. jack's grandfather, like jack, wants to be 'anywhere but here,' reinforcing jack's decision to never return to the 'real world' again. but i would much have preferred a scene with either his mother, or his ex-wife. so much of jack's backstory is about his failed marriage. a scene where he finally gets closure and says goodbye to sarah would have been much more satisfying.
since that didn't happen - what is the story trajectory for jack? now that he's back on the island, it's pretty much an open book. will he have to win juliet back from sawyer? (will juliet be 'with' sawyer after however long they've been stuck in the dharma initiative?) will jack try to win kate back? will jack become island leader and protector against the forces of widmore? i have no idea, but hopefuly we'll find out in episode 8. whatever it is will be the basis of act 3 of all of 'lost,' so it'd better be good.
what i do find intriguing though is that jack and locke, post-resurrection will have to deal with each other in a father/son kind of way, which is going to raise some serious issues for jack.
3. the missing pieces.
- kate suddenly changes her mind. what made her go from 'aaron is MY baby!' to 'aaron who?' in about 2 hours flat? did claire appear to her again? did she hand aaron off to claire's mom? does kate see a different island ghost? what could possibly have happened? and then, what made her decide to literally dive back into jack's bed? is it because upon deciding to go back to the island, she realized it's her last chance to have her own baby?
- hurley suddenly changes his mind. and not only that, he knows where and when he needs to be, he's got a guitar, and he's bought up 78 of the available seats on the plane. did charlie appear to him again? ..or any number of the ghosts he's been seeing? maybe the entire dead cast of the show appeared at the same time? i'd love to see that scene.
- sayid shows up, escorted by an fbi agent (and new recurring character). this person is probably one of ben's many sleeper agents planted in convenient occupations throughout los angeles. after sayid walked away at the dock, ben simply had to engage 'plan b' to get him on board.
- ben is bloody at the marina. it's obvious that he headed down there to kill penny, who arrived in los angeles with desmond. but it seems that everything did not go according to plan.. so, is penny still alive? did charlie jr. die? whatever happened made ben nearly miss the flight.
so jack wakes up on the island, then we see the title card '46 hours earlier,' which is when ms. hawking told him that his 'window' would be closing in 36 hours. were the 10 missing hours on the flight? and did ms. hawking mean to say 'window of opportunity?' i'm sure there were arguments in the writers room over the best way to phrase this.
what's making the show difficult to describe are the differences between time as experienced by the characters versus time in linear form. a character jumping through time may only experience 10 minutes, but 2 years may have actually passed. gregg nations must want to shoot himself right now. of course he can't, because his 'work' isn't 'done yet.' ba dum pum!
not like rec-center 'recreation,' but creating again 're-creation.' here's what ms. hawking says:
If you.. want to return, you need to recreate as best you can the circumstances that brought you there in the first place. That means as many of the same people as you are able to bring with you.
the idea is interesting, but i don't think was sufficiently developed. by creating a re-creation situation, damon and carlton allowed the show to get meta in a way it hasn't done since the self-referential 'exposé.' now we're looking at the accidental and circumstantial events surrounding flight 815 and applying them to flight 316 in deliberate ways. some interesting parallels:
- hurley reads a comic book again (y: the last man by 'lost' writer brian k. vaughn. read it.).
- hurley = charlie by bringing a guitar on board
- sun = rose by hoping to reunite with long lost husband, and holding onto his wedding ring. in the pilot episode, rose held onto bernard's wedding ring because his fingers bloat when they fly. a sexy couple, them.
- sayid = kate by being escorted on board by a federal marshall.
- sayid's federal marshall = kate's federal marshall. she is likely one of ben's people.
- random middle eastern guy = sayid? purely for tokenism? i hope not. that actor is a superstar in morocco, so he's definitely sticking around for a few episodes.
- jack = jack?
- kate = claire? if she's pregnant..
- frank lapidus = seth norris, doomed pilot of flight 815, and possible monster food if he gets back to the island.
- ben = ..sawyer? (did ben also just commit a revenge murder?)
- cheeky flight attendant = cindy? c'mon island, you made the rules. do not break them. you'd better be taking cheeky flight attendant to the island too!
JACK: Hurley, Sayid... being... on the same plane. How did they end up here?
KATE: They bought a ticket.
JACK: You don't think that it means something? That somehow... we're all back together?
KATE: We're on the same plane, Jack. Doesn't make us together.
if the island is going to 'pull' all the proxies off of flight 316, who else is getting pulled off? are there more of ben's people on the plane? in 'the lie,' ben asked butcher shop jill if 'gabriel and jeffrey' had checked in. are they on the plane? why will the island pull ben off the plane (we can be certain it will.)? who is he a proxy for? will others from the back of the plane be pulled off?
now there are two giant, ridiculous, ludicrous, patience-testing questions. the first one is: why is the time jumping happening because they left? and the second is: why do they need to re-create flight 815?
perhaps the closer they come to matching the circumstances of their arrival, the more closely they will arrive in the correct time. not having walt on board, not having someone in a wheelchair, all the discrepancies, as ms. hawking said 'would be.. unpredictable.' what she didn't go on to say was exactly what the variables were, but it makes the most sense for that variable to be time. the mismatches between 815 and 316 plopped them down sometime in the 1970's - the height of geronimo jackson.
given the evidence, it seems flight 316 passed over the island during a time flash. during this flash, 'the island' identified certain people as 'belonging to me,' plucked them off the plane and deposited them around the island. this 'decision' by the island must also be related to the selective process by which the time flashes choose who does and doesn't jump with each flash. careful damon and carlton.. this is starting to get really really complicated.
ms hawking called locke's body a 'proxy' for jack's father. apparently, having this proxy is tremendously important to the success of locke's mission. it's the reason locke killed himself, and it's the reason alpert told locke 'you're gonna have to die, john.'
all of this is tied to the island's intrinsic reaction to dead bodies brought there. the island has interesting rules about death and birth:
- if you're dead when you arrive, your body disappears, and you reappear on spooky occasions.. boo!
- if you're alive when you arrive, and then leave, you can't die until you've 'done your work.'
- if you're pregnant when you arrive, you can have your baby there, yay!
- if you get pregnant on the island, and try to have the baby there, you die boo.
- if you get pregnant on the island, and try to have the baby off the island, you can live, yay!
question is: what will the island do to locke's body? the flash of light certainly zapped it out of flight 316. will locke wake up, alive and well, and that's that? and if so, wtf!? is this the ultimate extension of his miraculous ability to walk after the crash of 815? first time around, legs healed; second time around, death undone. and after being resurrected (as we know he will be) will he still be locke? will he be jeremy bentham? will he be jacob? (though i think we won't fully understand jacob until season 6, episode 15ish.)
7. doubting thomas.
i think what rubbed rob k., and others so wrong about this episode was that a) several scenes were not executed well, b) a huge swath of mythology was dropped on the floor of the looking glass station with an unresonant thud, and c) we were twice asked by d&c to 'just have faith.'
ben tells the story of doubting thomas - and while i liked ben's description of thomas' reaction to the resurrection ('he just couldn't wrap his head around it'), something felt, well wrong about the whole thing. the tone wasn't right.. the buildup towards getting back to the island was rushed. no one really wrestled with the question of whether or not to go back (and two of them have children!). it wasn't fully dealt with. and the surest way to instill doubt in someone is to tell them to 'just have faith.' faith is something you either have or you don't. it can't be requested or ordered into someone.
but i do have faith. at parties, when it's revealed that i'm deeply into 'lost,' i'm often asked 'well, do you think they'll be able to pull off the big finale?' and i always say 'yes.' i do have faith, because that faith has been earned in 4 seasons of fantastic season finales (though season 4 was somewhat marred by the writer's strike). point is, damon and carlton know how to write endings. they know how to weave a mystery and they know how to unleash jaw-dropping revelations. they prove this again and again, week after week on a small scale, and then they do it year by year on a large scale.
in addition, since negotiating the end date in january 2007, they have had over two years to plan their endgame. so, i have faith, not because they tell me i should, but because they have both a history of excellence, and no excuses for failure.
8. best lines.
echoing what we've always thought about the socks:
JACK: And the other people on this plane--what's gonna happen to them?
BEN: Who cares?
LAPIDUS: Is... that Sayid? And Hurley. Wait a second. We're not going to Guam, are we?9. noticeables.
the photo on ms hawking's chalkboard says 'u.s. army,' and has the date of alpert's 1954 camp.
christian shepard's sneakers finally, ho hummedly explained.
ben, of course, reads 'ulysses.' an appropriate reference. like 'ulysses,' 'lost' is becoming unnavigable without a guidebook.
jack pours himself two drinks. he is interrupted before getting a chance to drink either of them. first the island says 'drink!' now the island says 'don't drink!'
gotta say, while the meat of this episode wasn't the best, the bread of this sandwich was top notch. jaw-dropping opening, and another 'wtf!?' face from jin to take us out. they should have jin's 'wtf face' end every episode from here on out.
let's talk about what this preboomer means: after locke stabilized the wheel, the leftbehinders became similarly stabilized in time - trapping them in the 1970's, where they had no choice but to join dharma and start a life there. faraday becomes part of the mining team at the orchid, jin joins the security team.. and i bet sawyer and juliet have been trying to play house about as successfully as jack and kate's attempt.
here's the real jawdropper: if jin and company have indeed been stranded for several years, we've jumped in time in both the on and off island storylines. i felt certain that there would never be a narrative time jump in the island story. for 4.5 seasons, the experiences of the people on-island have been narratively continuous. it's been the baseline that's held the show together despite its complexity.
but if we've now indeed skipped ahead (even though we may technically be in the past) on-island, it means that the show can return to a traditional flashback structure, flashing back to story points from the skipped period of time. yikes. remember jack's first monologue to kate? the one where he talked about doing surgery, and the girl's nerves spilled out of her like angel hair pasta? that's kind of what's happening with this show right now. hopefully everyone can feel the fear for 5 seconds, sew it back up, and get back to the business of kicking ass with clarity, simplicity, and focus.
a successful tv show is made by a team of artists, all working together. excellence in each aspect brings something to the whole. i just rewatched most of the pilot episode, and was struck by how much the photography on 'lost' has changed over the years. the show barely resembles itself anymore.
nothing illustrates this more glaringly than by comparing the opening sequence of the pilot, to the opening of the most recent episode, '316.'
here's a side by side comparison. right side is from '316,' left side is from the pilot. click to make it bigger.
now, i think the opening shot of jack's eye is actually an unused take from the pilot. the angle is exactly the same (though pulled out a little bit), and every tiny wrinkle, lighting highlight, even the clumping of his eyelashes is identical. this is the same shot. however, the shot is missing the effects plate used in the pilot - which shows the reflection of the trees towering over him as his pupil constricts. instead, in '316' you can see the reflectors and even the camera reflected in his eye. sigh.
the shots that follow are like a homemade remake of the pilot's opening scene. it lacks the attention to detail and the dynamics of the original. it felt amateur.
the second shot of jack's face seems determined to make him look as fat as possible. the lighting is flat, and it instantly betrayed that this was not the opening scene.
the wide shot of jack lying in the grass is also lacking in dynamics. the sun hits the area to the right, and the rest of the shot feels like its been pulled up in color correction to make up for underexposure.
and finally jack's pov of the trees towering over him is now shot with a conventional lens. the tress don't tower so much as just 'be.'
now i understand that the goal here was not to recreate the opening scene exactly. the goal was to trick us momentarily, and then make us scratch our heads as we subtly see the differences - but those differences should have not have been in quality of footage!
something new i've noticed this season is that the jungle scenes are getting excessively color graded with a lot of yellow. i'm not sure why this is happening - are they just getting bored and feel like trying new things? or has hawaii just been uncooperative in the sunlight department?
the pilot's director of photography was larry fong, who stayed on for about half of season 1 before moving on to work with zach snyder on '300' and 'watchmen.'
michael bonvillain and john bartley have been trading off as dp since season 2, and have both done amazing work since then, but since descending into the hatch, something has been lost in the look of the show. it's starting to feel like tv, when it once so stunningly felt like a feature film, every week.
apologies for the late posts. have been out of town the last two weeks. generally, look for new posts on mondays. i like to use the time to reference the podcasts, chew over details, and even do some research. having the weekend allows me to be more thorough. here we go:
written by: eddie kitsis and adam horowitz. these guys are on a roll. for season 5, the duo were promoted to executive producers, giving them very strong voices in the show's endgame. they wrote the second episode this season, hurley's 'the lie.'
directed by: paul edwards, who has directed a handful of episodes throughout the seasons, all of them pretty good, including 'what kate did,' 'two for the road,' 'par avion,' and 'cabin fever.'
in short: an astonishing episode that pays off on a plethora of setups stretching back to season 1.
- rousseau and the unlikely jin coincidences
- charlotte and the place of death
- smokey and the temple of doom
- off-island and the general yawn of disinterest
- christian shepard and the mystery of the buttoned-up top button
- eloise hawking and the continuing enhanced episode irritation
- montand's arm and the many detailed references of years past
- john locke and the many questions surrounding him
- preboomer and the teeny tiny gripe
so here's the thing everyone's been wondering: what exactly is the season 1-4 history between rousseau and jin? does it make sense that rousseau didn't 'remember' jin upon running into him again, 16 years after she first met him in 1988? after analyzing rousseau's interactions with the survivors, she is rarely seen with the group of survivors as a whole, and when she is, it's usually just before the group splits into two camps, and get this, she has always been in the opposite camp from jin. here is the breakdown of the rousseau/jin timeline:
- Thursday, 4 November 2004: (exodus, part 1) rousseau appears at the survivors camp to warn them that the others are coming. she speaks to the survivors as a group, jin is among them, but never differentiates himself. at this point he also doesn't speak any english.
- later that day, jin leaves on the raft. rousseau is not present for the launch. this is also the day that she leads a small group to the black rock, and tells them of montand's arm, the 'sickness,' and refers to smokey as 'a security system.'
- Friday, 5 November 2004: (the other 48 days) jin returns to the island after washing up with the tailies and doesn't rejoin the beach camp until Monday, November 8. (boy, it sure seemed like jin was gone a lot longer than a weekend, didn't it?)
- Monday, 20 December, 2004 (greatest hits) jin is part of the group jack takes inland to explain his plan to defeat the others: by using dynamite to thwart their attempt to abduct the pregnant women. jack's group (with jin) meets rousseau in the clearing, after she has retrieved dynamite from the black rock. after the demonstration, the group quickly splits up: jin stays behind to ignite the dynamite, while rousseau leads the rest to the radio tower to turn off her distress call. (through the looking glass)
- Tuesday, 21 December, 2004 (the beginning of the end) the survivors (including rousseau) convene at the ruins of the plane's front end and split into two camps: jin goes with jack, rousseau goes with locke. this is the last time rousseau and jin cross paths.
so, here's my conclusion, and while it's slightly cagey, i'm fairly certain that this is the way d&c will be spinning it: after their adventure together, yes, rousseau would surely remember jin; however, after 16 years in isolation, for her to see a similar looking person in the background of a group of people is not sufficient cause for her to have had a moment of recognition. that said, it would have been awesome if in season 1, there was even a tiny hint of recognition after rousseau saw jin amongst the survivors. but it's simply not there. this is a story point that was developed late, and retconned into the larger storyline. they got really lucky that jin hadn't really had any previous interaction with rousseau - or rather, we got lucky, otherwise we might never might have learned the story of montand's arm.
looks like my theory about jin being rousseau's constant is incorrect - the 'sickness' experienced by her crew seems to have come from the temple, not from time jumping.
2. charlotte and the place of death
wha!? they libbied her! they nikki/paolo'd her! she had, what, five lines her entire time on the show? was this really the grand character arc they had planned? here are some theories:
- the writers never really liked her. the role was written for kristin bell, who turned it down for to do 'heroes' instead. damon and carlton got their first choices on all the other new season 4 characters except charlotte, and may have been disappoined by mader's performance.
- she failed to connect to the audience. the only episode where charlotte got to do anything of note, 'the other woman,' was rebecca mader's real audition: with the audience. while it's true that she didn't ever get much to do, it's also true that she never did much with what she had. at the moment ken leung (miles) is getting little more than punchlines, but man can he nail every one of them.
- this was always the plan. there is only one season left. there are a lot of storylines to tie up in relatively few episodes. charlotte was always designed to die, and then figure back into the show as a child than an adult. kristin bell's career was taking off, and in a bit to get her on the show, they promised a short character arc the start. it's also quite possible that we will see more of rebecca mader as a ghost and/or in flashbacks.
but i don't think this was always the plan. as a character, charlotte was one of 'lost's' handful of failures. she expressed no opinion or perspective on any issue, and was entirely defined through faraday's inexplicable attraction to her. charlotte was an anthropologist so that she could guide us through the temple and read the heiroglyphs and keep our heroes from getting the 'sickness' that afflicted rousseau's science team. guess that plan's getting a bit course corrected.
also: she became an anthropologist in order to find the island? not cartographer? oceanographer? geologist? what was young charlotte exposed to that led her to believe that anthropology would be the field to lead her home? also, if daniel was present with her as both an adult and child, why wouldn't he be her constant?
charlotte's last words were 'i’m not allowed to have chocolate before dinner.' ryan mcgee made a great prediction that daniel will try to give young charlotte an apollo candy bar when warning her about coming back to the island.
3. smokey and the temple of doom
it's hard to believe just how much information was packed into every minute of this episode - the opening segments with rousseau were among the most riveting in the show's history. following the french crew as they discover the numbers transmission, and then trek into the jungle, brought back the feeling of both season 1 and 'the other 48 days' - reliving the horror/adventure through a new cast of characters.
right away, we encountered smokey, aka cerberus (according to the blast door map). damon and carlton have said that each time we see smokey, we must learn something new. let's quickly recap what we know about smokey:
- attempts to drag certain people underground
- stops directly in front of certain people, seems to 'download' their memories
- can be repelled by the sonar fence, built by dharma
- can be repelled by dynamite
- can at least be summoned, if not controlled by something underground.
- is connected to the hieroglyphs and ruins seen throughout the island.
- 'downloaded' memories are somehow connected to ghost manifestations (eko's brother)
- partial possible purpose: protect 'the temple.'
- capable of removing limbs
- can play with people's brains (the sickness?)
the temple, the heiroglyphs, smokey, and the ghosts all seem somehow related. i have a feeling that this season we will get a jaw-dropping revelation that neatly slots in the missing piece of the puzzle - like when juliet's flashback single-handedly explained the entirety of the other's actions regarding claire's pregnancy.
so, what is in the temple?? it was first mentioned last season, when ben sent rousseau and alex there, telling them it was the 'only safe place on the island.' rousseau didn't express any hesitation to trek back to the place that destroyed her crew, which seems like a continuity error. however, i do think it's possible that by the time the writers decided to kill rousseau, they had formulated the plan to bookend her time on the island with reference to 'the temple.'
in the most recent podcast, d&c said that what we've seen of the temple is merely the 'outer wall' of a much larger structure.. hmm..
this is the season of mythological payoff. damon and carlton have gone on record saying as much, and have gone further to say that next season is the season of character payoff, and will return to the feeling of season 1: with the plot/character balance tipping back toward the latter.
4. off-island and the general yawn of disinterest
officially, this episode is classified as jin/sun centric. greg nations, whose job is keeping 'lost's' continuity, has said that the centricity of an episode is found in the opening scene, which makes sense. this episode was about sun coming to learn that jin is still alive, and about jin deciding that sun should believe he is dead; at the center of it all is jin's wedding ring, ironically used as 'proof' of both points.
otherwise, meh. the gun-pointing and side-switching, the 'meet me at the dock so we can drive to a church' (why not just meet at the church?), and the obstacles that serve only to stall returning to the island (sayid and kate say 'seeya,' hurley runs to jail) have been testing patience for 5 episodes. it echoes the structure of season 3's 6 episode mini season that locked kate and sawyer in polar bear cages.
at least damon and carlton knew we would be frustrated by this off-island story before the season even began airing. here's a january quote from damon:
I think everyone, writers and fans alike, feels the show is at its best when our characters are together... but the fact of the matter is that the story is constantly twisting and turning to keep them apart. Let's face it -- Absence makes the heart grow fonder... but there's nothing sweeter than a reunion. All we're willing to say at this point is that if we were to spend the entire duration of Season Five with the Oceanic Six trying to get back to the island, we are fully aware that the audience would strangle us.so they are coming back soon. maybe tonight. ms. hawking's 70 hour time limit helped up the urgency as well.
5. christian shepard and the mystery of the buttoned-up top button
the return of the ghost of christian shepard! this question has been puzzling me since season 3: ever since christian appeared in jacob's cabin, his wardrobe changed deliberately and dramatically. his ghost, when seen by jack (or vincent, in the webisode 'so it begins,') is always wearing a dark suit with white tennis shoes.
after appearing in the cabin, and when seen by others, he is wearing the same brown striped shirt, buttoned up to the top.
the implication seems clear: this person is different from the other ghosts, including whatever it is that appears to jack in similar form. this person tells locke 'say hello to my son,' while jack has been 'saying hello' to the ghost of his dad for quite a while before locke appears off-island.
6. eloise hawking and the continuing enhanced episode irritation
woah, ellie! let's look at our ellies:
did daniel meet his own mother in the past?
did daniel name his time-jumping rat after mommy?
yes he did! the screenshot above aired on abc the week after the season premiere, and stated ms. hawking's first name a full three episodes before we were narratively intended to discover it. thank you abc for sapping the joy out of this episode's final revelation. moments of revelation are great because they either confirm your theories or blow your mind. whether it 'seemed obvious' to you or not, leaked information isn't cool. this was an irresponsible in-show spoiler, and it's not the first time the popups have spilled info.
damon and carlton have said that info in the popups is by a marketing group and not sanctioned or canon - but the popup writers do have access to several episodes at a time, and tip answers that might be coming in the next week's episode. i urge you again, do not watch the enhanced episodes. or better yet, call the marketing firm that writes them and complain.
7. montand's arm and the many detailed references of years past
this episode was just packed with referential awesomeness:
- journeying to the radio tower, which was broadcasting the numbers transmission (referred to in season 1)
- rousseau's pristine music box, later fixed by sayid
- robert referring to smokey as a 'security system' (which is what rousseau called it in season 1)
- seeing the mysterious 'sickness' that both desmond and rousseau have referred to, and which i honestly thought had been forgotten by the writers.
why was the wheel off its axis? is it just old and wobbly after ben pushed it? is it stabilized now, and if so, how will that change the nature of the flashes? will locke appear in the desert in tunisia? when are the left-behinders now? was the well dismanteled and buried, or did they flash to a point before the well was built?
an interesting nugget from the most recent podcast about tonight's episode: damon and carlton wrote the next two episodes simultaneously, and it doesn't really matter what order they are viewed in. wow. cannot wait. tonight's is called '316.'
is this in reference to 'john 3:16'? you know, the bible verse about 'everlasting life?' omg, you guys. I KNOW WHO JACOB IS:
9. preboomer and the teeny tiny gripe
eloise: alright. let's get started.
hrm. this episode played like 'jughead,' where the precommercial breaks were stronger than the preboomer itself. aside from general irritation with the off-island story, the slight preboomer is my minor gripe. i felt the scene was also missing a clear moment where desmond recognizes ms. hawking from the ring shop. i like rob k's suggestion that this would have been a stronger ending:
christian: say hello who my son.
locke: who's your son..? (flash)