directed by: greg yaitanes, who has not directed for 'lost' since season 1, where he helmed two excellent episodes: 'solitary,' and 'special.' 'solitary,' was sayid's first flashback episode, so i'm sure everyone was quite happy to have greg back to tackle more of his backstory.
written by: eddie kitsis and adam horowitz. after this season, i think these guys are better at continuity than damon and carlton. highlights: 'this place is death,' 'the lie,' 'ji yeon,' and 'greatest hits.'
director of photography: edward pei. check out the last two video podcasts for a fascinating visit to the soundstages in hawaii where all the interiors are shot. the illusions perpetrated on the show go far beyond the obvious. sometimes two halves of a seemingly pedestrian scene are shot 2 weeks apart. once again, this episode had the set decorators working overtime - russia was impressive, but iraq got shortchanged.
nutshell: a long slow buildup to a full-on omfg ending. also, this show is becoming 'return of the jedi.'
topics of conversation:
- ben is not dead.
- ben is not going to die (not in 1977, anyway).
- there will be no alternate timeline - events we have already seen are not going to change.
while he had no knowledge of 'the rules,' sayid's attempted murder of ben is the first time that a character has actively challenged faraday's 'rule' of time travel: "whatever happened, happened," which is also, poignantly, the title of the next episode. what it means is that no matter how hard sayid tries, he cannot undo the events of his past, or ben's future, despite his position in the timeline. and in the oldest of time-travel tropes, whatever sayid does in hopes of preventing the future, is in fact guaranteeing it.
the two men now have a kind of an amazing relationship with each other. let's look at ben's story:
- i'm a boy with a crappy dad
- my dead mom appears and says, 'you need to be with the hostiles!' richard says 'be patient!'
- i wait for years to join the hostiles
- finally, a hostile appears, he promises to take me to his people!
- i risk everything to make it happen. the burning van thing was not easy to wrangle.
- out of frickin nowhere the guy shoots me in the chest!
- (prediction) jacob saves me. this is the beginning of my understanding of his power. after getting shot, i'm gonna make damn sure i always maintain control of the situation.
- (a lot of stuff happens)
- 2001: richard says 'this is going to surprise you.. remember juliet? she's going to solve our pregnancy problem.' i recognize juliet and begin to understand the workings of the island.
- 2004: juliet diagnoses me with cancer.
- 815 crashes. i get the passenger manifest from mikhail. the names look familiar. i compare it to dharma records and photos and realize that the people who vanished from the island during the incident have returned.. including that crazy guy who shot me!
- research on the passengers reveals that janitor jack is actually a spinal surgeon. whew!
- i throw myself into one of rousseau's traps. the first person rousseau brings is the guy who shot me!
- as i scheme to get my tumor removed, save the island from widmore, etc.. i end up having to push the frozen donkey wheel.
- i end up in 2005, and decide to make sayid's life hell. i shoot his wife and exploit him as a killer. i realize that these actions are eventually going to cause sayid to shoot me in the chest.
- i understand that being shot by sayid is what made me who i am. so i press sayid even harder. my job now becomes to ensure that he shoots me.
one thing that was unclear until this episode, was exactly when ben and his father arrived on the island. we now know that it was 1973, a year before sawyer, juliet and the rest of the time-jumpers appeared. this gives olivia goodspeed and horace a timeframe in which to break up. considering that horace isn't pining after olivia the same way he frets about amy's continued attachment to her dead husband, i'd say horace dumped olivia and sent her away.
a moment to rewatch: when locke tells ben that jin is still alive - something changes in ben. is that the moment ben realizes that this is when jack, kate, hurley, and sayid jumped into his childhood?
the story from sayid's perspective:
- i killed a chicken. woo. dinnertime!
- i shoot myself so nadia can escape.
- (lots of stuff happens)
- i crash on craziness island, hook up with hot blonde chick. ..hm? who's nadia?
- shannon is shot. dammit!
- rousseau takes me to ben, caught in her ewok trap.
- i torture ben, it's fun.
- i escape the island. marry nadia. ..who's shannon?
- nadia is shot. dammit!
- ben shows up and says widmore shot nadia. ben says 'kill all these widmore people.' i say 'ok.'
- kill kill kill.
- in moscow, ben says 'ok you're done.'
- confused, i wear a yellow t-shirt for the first time in my life. also, i build houses.
- ben shows up and says i need to start killing people again. why does he keep goading me to shoot people?
- 'ana-lucia 2' gets flirty at bar, just like 'ana-lucia 1.' we're totally gonna do it. ..nadia who?
- 'ana-lucia 2' kicks me in the face, arrests me and puts me on a plane to guam. dammit!
- whoosh. young ben gives me a chicken salad sandwich. little does he know, since childhood, chicken unleashes my killer instinct.
- if i kill ben, the purge won't happen, radzinsky and inman will press the button, the crash won't happen, i will be living in LA with nadia, and she won't get killed by widmore (or ben).
- aw screw it, i'm shootin' ben. what difference does it make? though, it'd all make a little more sense if i'd found out that he killed nadia beforehand.
- waiting to disappear like in 'back to the future' and 'frequency' (also starring elizabeth mitchell!) and reappear in new, happier timeline...
here's what missing from jack's storyline, and had better be addressed very very soon. one of the most emotional moments of season 4 was his discovery that he had in fact left his half sister behind. he should probably be asking 'has anyone seen claire? she's my half sister!' kate should probably be asking that too.. she may be off the show, but since they're bringing her back in season 6, the payoff will be better if we get the sense that she's actually, well, missed.
is the grand finale of the show actually building towards a big, on-island shepard family reunion? is the jacobean reincarnation of christian shepard collecting his children so that he can redeem himself for his sins against them?
is all of this like when ghost anakin shows up at the ewok party to smile over his children?
the most compelling argument i've heard for why sun, lapidus, and ben were not sucked back in time off the plane is that locke simply did not invite them to the island. i can't think of any other reason - that's the only factor we know of that separates those three from the others. some people have argued that ben didn't go back because his younger self is already present on the island in 1977 - and that this means sun is also somehow present on the island at this time. i don't think so. the island clearly has no qualms about jumping people into situations where they might run into themselves. also, the idea that sun is on the island in 1977 raises yet another birthdate continuity error since sun's 1980 birthdate has been established from very early on in the show. we've also seen sun as a young girl breaking the glass ballerina in korea. it's unlikely that she was ever on the island as a child. however, connections between her father and widmore have been established* - so it's not improbable that her family is somehow tied to the island.
the other argument is one that frustrates me: "sun didn't jump to 1977 because the island 'has work for her to do' in the present. this is similar to arguing that lapidus didn't get sucked off the plane because he needed to safely land it on hydra island. these arguments pull at the show's theme of destiny vs. free will - and i think can be true in retrospect, but i don't believe that damon and carlton have ever used this kind of circular justification for the same reason that they are not allowing multiple timelines: it deflates the dramatic stakes of the show. if things are just going to start happening because they 'need to,' why watch at all? no one's choices would ever make any difference.
is desmond's 'uniqueness' meant to undo whatever just happened here?
desmond is the exception to 'whatever happened, happened.' if it turns out that ben did indeed kill penny, i think desmond's future storyline will consist of learning how he might exploit his uniqueness in the time-continuum to undo penny's death.
they're sort of playing the 'han solo in return of the jedi' plot here with sawyer. our loveable space rouge is now an admiral in the battle for the universe, and doesn't quite know what to do with his authority. but the difference is that sawyer has pretty much become a stormtrooper. voted for sayid to die? oh sawyer, you've fallen so far. juliet's right.. it's over.
'whatever happened, happened,' huh? well in the scene at the marina in 'this place is death,' just before sayid leaves, he originally said to jack and ben, 'if i see you, or him again, it will be extremely unpleasant for all of us.' in 'he's our you,' the scene is replayed but this time sayid says only to ben, 'if i see you again, it will be extremely unpleasant for us both.' weak.
if sayid really didn't want to get on the ajira flight, he could easily have said 'isn't it kind of weird that the rest of the oceanic 6 are also on this flight??' to which ilana could say, somewhat shaken, 'i'm being paid to put you on this flight, no matter what.' i hate when smart characters don't play the best cards in their hand.
lots of buildup to oldham being 'our sayid.' their sayid lives in a teepee and guards a vial of truth serum. while the 'i'm from the future' truth-telling scene was fun, the buildup to it was kind of a letdown. it would have worked if a character made some acknowledgement that sayid and oldham are actually not comparable at all.
sayid's childhood backstory is diluted by being a light retread of eko's first flashback, wherein eko actually had to kill a man to save his brother from having to do it. chicken.. or innocent guy.. not quite the same dramatic impact.
- sayid is drinking maccutcheon whiskey. widmore's $51k bottle is considerably more expensive than the $120/glass ($2,030 bottle) sayid had at the bar.
- more geronimo jackson memorabilia placed throughout the dharma set decoration. incidentally, abc just released a free song 'by' geronimo jackson on itunes called 'dharma girl.' it's cute.
- the book ben gives to sayid is 'a separate reality.'
- at the fuselage, jorge garcia responds to query about the mystery woman behind sun in last week's episode. he speculates that it's an unintentionally visible crewperson.
really, this entire episode was building towards this preboomer, yet another fantastic wtf-face, which mirrored my own, astonished wtf-face as i watched it.
ben: i just got shot. wtf!?
as i suspected, the blame for the rebecca mader/charlotte birthdate mixup lies squarely with damon, carlton and gregg nations. clearly, they did not initially plan to kill her in the manner that they did.
written by: brian k. vaughn and paul zbyszewski. both always work as co-writers, but with different partners each time. brian co-wrote 'meet kevin johnson' (boo), 'the shape of things to come' (yay) and 'the little prince' (mostly yay). paul zbyzewski is new this season and has previously co-written 'jughead' (superyay).
directed by: jack bender, the show's main director, and whose only misstep thus far has been 'the life and death of jeremy bentham.'
cinematography by: john bartley who is alternating with edward pei this season. john has been with the show since season 1. while neither dp has quite compared with larry fong, the work in these past couple episodes seems to be a little less rushed, perhaps because the show isn't quite as frantically running the crew around hawaii for as many locations anymore.
in short: 'namaste' is a strong episode dealing with 'the arrivals,' which is necessary, though we still don't know where we're going.
- minor gripes
do you remember radzinsky? he's appeared on the show before, in the season 2 finale. radzinsky made a very special cameo as a bloodstain on the ceiling of the swan station hatch:
it was radzinsky himself who drew the blast door map! i owe my entire blog to that crazy suicidal architect. he was inman's original partner, before desmond crashed on the island and took over radzinsky's button-pushing duties.
inman adds to radzinsky's original blast door map painting.
and now we see that radzinsky was a paranoid hothead (prone to shooting oneself in the face), and possibly one of the designers of the hatch itself.
radzinsky's presence in the show means that we may get answers to some of these long-standing questions:
- what was the swan station's purpose before 'the incident?'
- what was 'the incident,' and why did it necessitate the pushing of the button?
- why didn't the hostiles take over the swan station after the purge?
- did radzinsky go insane because the swan station lost contact with dharma after the purge?
- was the purge (whose gas was inert after a few hours) actually 'the virus' that desmond habitually took injections for?
- why did food drops continue after the purge?
- when ben was held captive in the swan station in season 2, a) did he know its function? b) did he know it existed? c) did he understand the consequences of goading locke into not pushing the button?
- why do 'the numbers' appear on the outside of the swan station hatch?
- why do 'the numbers' have to be entered into the computer? why those numbers? couldn't it just be any old numbers?
some theories about why sun was not sucked off the plane and sent to 1977 along with the rest of the oceanic 6.
- her hair is much longer now, and the island liked her old haircut better.
- without a proxy for jin, she wasn't recognized by the island.
- the island responds to the body chemistry of pregnant women, and after having had jin's child off-island, her chemisty is sufficiently changed so as not to be recognizable to the island as being the same person.
- it would just be way too easy for her to reunite with jin, and we need that to take another season and a half.
- the woman we're watching isn't actually sun, just some lady who looks like sun, because her character is all over the map right now (though her ben oar-smack was a great moment).
christian shepard laid it out quite succinctly for sun: 'i'm afraid you have a long journey ahead of you.' so how in the world is sun going to get to the same time period as jin? who will be transported to which time period? will it involve yet more pushings of the wheel? sun and jin's mission to reunite is presently the only story arc we know the show is building towards. we don't have any idea where jack, kate, hurley, sayid, ben, locke, lapidus, desmond, miles, daniel, or juliet are heading.
next week's episode is called 'he's our you,' and damon and carlton confirmed in the podcast that the phrase is spoken to sayid, as in 'dude, sayid, this guy you're about to meet, he is the resident ruthless badass torturer guy of the dharma initiative, so be prepared to feel the pain, the kind of pain you would bring on a mysterious person obviously keeping secrets.' yeowch.
stupid island couldn't yank the 4 of them off the plane and put them in close proximity?? sayid just missed his chance to be faked onto the dharma sub with the rest.
but it's really sayid's encounter with ben that is the most interesting. here is where damon and carlton must be soo happy that they cast someone as enigmatic as michael emerson in the role of ben. since he literally could be lying at any time, they've been able to retcon any of ben's actions or statements in deeply flexible ways.
jin meeting rousseau in 1988 was already pushing the limits of 'yeah we met before, but i'm not going to recognize you 15 years later, and the audience is going to buy that.' now we're being asked to go even further..
now that we've seen ben introduce himself to sayid as a boy, we can easily assume that young ben also knew saywer, kate, jack, hurley, and juliet at this time. which means that as an adult, when we presumed ben was meeting them for the first time, he already knew who they were. we're now meant to swallow the rather large, but not unswallowable pill that asks us to rewatch seasons 2 and 3 and believe that ben's enigmatic performance when he 'meets' these people is in fact masking this prior knowledge. oh, writers of lost, you are walking on thin, thin ice.
however some things potentially make sense..
let's look back at ben's actions through the lens of him having met all these people as a boy:
- ben has a boyhood obsession with dharma van-fixer juliet, and (i'm guessing) will be crushed when juliet vanishes/apparently dies/returns to her proper time. he learns from alpert that juliet is in miami, and is, of all things, a fertility expert. this explains the root of ben's juliet obsession as having come not only from his childhood, but was in fact a boyhood fixation on juliet herself. i've mentioned before - but harper's line explaining ben's possessiveness, 'you look just like her,' will take on new meaning, because juliet is 'her.'
- when the plane crashes and ben gets the passenger manifest, ben knows exactly who he's interested in: jack, kate, saywer, and hurley. ben's extensive files on these people make more sense now because the files have been building up for years, not just in the brief time after the plane crash.
- it's also interesting that these are the four people that ben insisted michael bring back to him at the close of season 2. when the burlap sacks are yanked off the heads of those four, ben looks at them and sees the faces of his childhood staring back at him, looking younger than he remembered.
- what doesn't make as much sense (and perhaps it will, if the writers don't fall through the ice) is why adult ben expressed little initial interest in sayid, when he presently seems to be a person of deep interest to him as a child. we know that this interest is because young ben feels an affinity toward the hostiles, and is anxious to learn/help/become one of them. the fun irony is that when sayid first met ben, it was ben who was imprisoned, and sayid introduced himself by accusing ben of being an 'other' and saying 'my name is sayid jarrah, and i am a torturer.' meanwhile ben is thinking 'holy shit, i'm about to get tortured by the hostile that i gave a sandwich to when i was a kid!' the fact that sayid doesn't look any older wouldn't phase ben, since his good buddy alpert also seems immune to aging. will the show retcon in a bunch of adult ben flashbacks where we get to see his 'holy shit! these are the same people from my childhood' realizations?
sayid gives ben the beatdown in the swan station, in the episode 'one of them' from season 2.
it all makes me nervous. the show has already proved to me that it's not quite as adept as i had hoped about handling this extremely complex mythology. my deepest fear is that details will be overlooked, the timeline will not mesh, and we as the audience will be indirectly told 'yeah, just ignore that little part, otherwise none of this is gonna make sense.'
despite the character-based strengths of both 'lafleur' and 'namaste,' my faith in the plot-based core of the show is somewhat shaken. damon and carlton, the almighty gods of 'lost' wrote the two worst episodes of the season, which should have been the shatteringly brilliant apex of the penultimate year. perhaps they finally wrote themselves into a corner and fudged their way out of it - but the fact is, right now we have no idea where this show is going, and until the 3rd act conflicts are introduced, i can't be anything but worried about the integrity of the show.
but speaking of character-based strengths, here is the best example. i love what's happening with sawyer right now. i love his position of power, and i love the effortless control that's come with it. his scene was jack was such a beautiful reversal of everything we've come to expect from these two men - and what i loved about the scene was how surprised jack was to be schooled by sawyer, and then to see his oh-so-rare smiley face relief at not having to take responsibility for everyone anymore. in the three years that have passed, jack and sawyer went on opposite paths: jack into utter destruction, and sawyer into a life of love, respectability, and professionalism. while i love seeing the irony of it, it makes me wonder even more what jack's role is going to be.. because right now he's totally neutered.. and seems to be pretty cool with it.
- what happened to faraday, that he's 'no longer with us?'
- who is the mysterious lady sitting on the floor behind sun? a crew member? a claire stand-in? a mistake? an easter egg?
- when the rather conspicuous door flew open behind sun, lapidus, and christian, was it just misty, or was smokey oozing into the room.. taking the form of that woman sitting on the floor?
- why does christian show sun the 1977 recruits photo? jin isn't even in that photo! why didn't he show her the 1974 recruits photo which would have jin, sawyer, juliet, miles, and daniel in it? was it all for the sake of a clever visual transition? hmm. there is one random asian guy in there. christian shepard clearly thinks we all look the same.
- when will we see the other side of the outriggers-at-sea shootout scene?
- christian must be pretty lonely, and happy to have someone to talk to. what is his relationship to alpert and the rest of the hostiles?
- if amy and horace's baby is ethan, how is he saved from the purge, and why is his last name changed to 'rom?' (btw, juliet's reaction to finding out she's holding her future plumber: awesome)
- who is this guy? the character is named 'bram,' and had one reaction shot in 'namaste,' when lapidus was addressing the crowd of ajira socks. i instantly recognized him from dexter. he's an up-and-coming actor, with roles in choke, and jj's new star trek movie, so he's not gonna just be a silent ajira background survivor. maybe he's the guy juliet shoots from the outrigger?
most interesting podcast tidbits:
kristin bell was supposed to play 37? yeah, i don't think so.
- the question of charlotte's birthday is settled. damon and carlton squarely blame rebecca mader for not wanting to play someone who's 37, and claim she had the line about her birthdate changed on-set. at the time, the repercussions were not anticipated, and it slipped through the cracks. they both admitted 'we screwed up.' while they did in fact screw up, i call bullshit on the rebecca mader blame game. charlotte was never conceived as being 37 years old. there is no way on earth that kristin bell, who they originally wanted to play charlotte, would ever pass as a 37 year old woman (kristin's actual birthdate is 1980, just a year off from charlotte's). my theory: after being disappointed with mader's performances, they sought to write her out as fast as possible, and came up with the dharma-child scheme as a way to keep her character important while losing a substandard actress. the detail with the birthdate would have to be overlooked/explained away. i wish i could know the original charlotte plan, had kristin bell accepted the role.
let's take another look at the swan orientation film...
- the title of this season's finale is 'the incident.' yeeeeeeeeeeeeee. perhaps it is 'the incident' which finally merges the cast into the same time period? perhaps we will see dr. marvin candle's arm ripped off by smokey? by widmore? (widmore is still around, if what he says about ben tricking him is true) or perhaps chang's arm gets transported to 2007 while the rest of him stays behind? or perhaps his arm is chopped off and used to grow both dr. mark wickmund and edgar halliwax? notice that dr. mark wickmund is considerably younger than dr. marvin candle.. wtf is going on here? are we supposed to ignore that, or will it be explained? are all the versions of pierre chang the results of reckless time experimentation resulting in multiple versions of himself occupying the same time? did they all have to agree on different names in order to avoid confusion? notice how in the orientation film, dr. marvin candle says 'using the computer in this manner (for communication) will compromise the integrity of the project, and, worse, could lead to another incident.' if a disabled computer leads to 'another incident,' then perhaps the original 1977 incident will give a peek at what might have happened in 2004 had desmond not turned the failsafe key.
- damon and carlton are having a contest to name the secret ending scene of the finale. this is not as exciting as getting an actual clue about the final scene. the genius of the 'frozen donkey wheel' is that it sounded random, but turned out to be literal. i suppose they feel they can't follow it up, so it's back to a truly random codename. (the first two codenames were 'the bagel' and the 'challah.' the flashforward ending of s3 was coded as 'the rattlesnake in the mailbox.')
all in all, this was a tight episode, though it concerned itself mostly with moving chess pieces around the board. the show is still very gradually exposing a) the new situation, and b) the new objectives. i think we've got the situation now - next episode must tackle objectives.
but here's the minor gripe. when the new dharma initiates arrive, they are greeted by the welcome video of pierre chang/marvin candle/mark wickmund/edgar halliwax. it is the same video playing in 'the man behind the curtain,' when ben and his father arrived on the island. problem is that pierre is wearing a lab coat with the swan station logo on it, and clearly at this point, the swan station hasn't even been built yet. maybe they printed the labcoats early, and chang is a big ol' showoff? 'ooo look at me, i have a coat for a station that hasn't even been built yet, suck on that noobs!'
this episode was all about sayid and his wtf-face. no one even got a chance to tell him the date, so he's completely disoriented.
he sees jin, wtf!?
he sees sawyer, wtf!?
he sees young ben, wtf!?
you know i love a good wtf-face preboomer.
while bsg's finale was overall quite strong, if 'lost's' endgame starts explaining phenomena by simply calling them 'angels,' i will find damon and carlton's homes, and leave flaming dharma-logo poobags on their doorsteps.
lost and battlestar have always gone hand-in-hand, each trying to one-up the other. while thematically different, both shows followed very similar narrative arcs - killing major characters, exploring enemy perspective, even sharing the idea of resurrection.. i've always felt this way about the two shows' goals: lost is more ambitious, but less successful; while bsg is less ambitious, but more successful. bsg's finale raises the bar for lost: it's ron moore and company's final hand in the 4 year game they've played with damon and carlton. now it's our boys' turn. let's hope d&c can learn from both the successes and failures of bsg's grand finale.
(again, special thanks to rob k for edits/suggestions)
written by: elizabeth sarnoff and kyle pennington. sarnoff has really written her way back to redemption this season. she previously co-wrote this year's excellent 'jughead,' after having been associated with many of the show's weakest episodes. kyle pennington's only other credit is co-writing last year's 'cabin fever' with sarnoff.
- the statue and its face
- sawyer and juliet
- three years later
- timing and questions
- olivia goodspeed
- rose and bernard
- burning questions
the earliest bit of awesomeness in this episode was of course the reveal of the full, complete gigantic statue, albeit from behind. it appears to have ears, and may be anubis, or horus. given the appearance of the ankh in this episode, it's clear that egyptian influence is at play here. by only showing us the back of the statue, they save the reveal of the face for later.. will it be the face of a major cast member? will it be anubis with the face of vincent?
spoiler alert! the statue is vincent. he travels back eons and spends millenia evolving into an island deity. we'll soon be visited by the great great great (x27) grandchild of vincent who is a smooth-talkin hip-hop dog. he is jacob. he is jack's father. he is claire. season 6 will be a re-play of the entire series from vincent's perspective, where we can hear his thoughts, like, 'how about you just use the side door down around the hill, locke? hey hey hey!' or 'hey nikki and paolo ain't dead yet! hey hey hey!'
will the opening of season 6 feature an ancient island celebration around the feet of the statue, only to be interupted by the earthquake or volcano that eventually topples it? for that matter, was it toppled by the 'earthquake' of the final flash? we've been guaranteed more answers about the statue this season.. can't wait.
2. sawyer and juliet.
finally, a couple besides desmond and penny to root for! for me, what makes me buy this relationship is that juliet hasn't fallen for the sawyer she knew, she's fallen for the man he's become. (if you remember, juliet's early encounters with sawyer involved training a gun on him to build the runway, and shooting him with a taser.) i think this revelation also falls under the category of 'most interesting flash forward storyline.' just the few scenes between them in this episode are enough to get behind them as a pair - if we couldn't, the structure of the episode would fail. instead of feeling dread when kate steps off the bus, we'd be feeling relief that kate had finally returned to mend sawyer's broken, lying heart. what was relieving was to see a depiction of a couple that 'felt right' instead of forced. this is all going to be quite interesting. i just hope it doesn't turn into a 'friends' thing where we kill time by trying every possible pairing between jack/kate/sawyer/juliet. unless they go in some fun homo directions, please no.
3. three years later.
the network must think we're dumb, because the episode would have played just fine and beautifully with only one 'three years later' title card. we'd understand, as we have for four seasons now, that when we hear the whooshy sound effect, that we've jumped in time. and after having established the two time periods covered in this episode, it would have been a much cleaner approach than having title cards spell it out every time. i can't help but think it's a battle d&c fought and lost with abc.
but again, what i find completely surprising about this three year jump is that it has now equalized the entire cast in terms of 'time experienced.' i thought for sure that the island story would remain linear, covering roughly 1 month of storytime during long seasons, and 2 weeks of storytime during the shorter seasons. i thought for sure that kate, jack, and hurley would drop back to the island, three years older, with only a few days having passed for the leftbehinders. nope! we have a whole litany of secrets to discover, now that our heroes have been living inside the dharma initiative for some time.
this development could potentially put us, the audience in an irritating place. we identified with the survivors and the left behinders because as they discovered island mysteries, we were as in the dark as they were. now, with this three year gap, sawyer, juliet, jin, miles, and daniel have deeply intimate knowledge of not only dharma, but the island itself. they're ahead of us, and it's kind of not fair. i'm sure we'll be flashing back to moments during those three years in which they learn major island secrets, but hopefully it will still be just as much fun as discovering the info in 'real time.' the other possible scenario is that nothing much of interest happened on the island during those three years, and with the imminent arrival of young ben.. it's about to get interesting.
one cool thing about jumping forward though is that jin gets to finally speak in fluent english. daniel day kim must be so happy.
ok, sawyer, juliet, jin, miles, and daniel joined dharma in 1974, and have been with them for three years, putting them 'currently' at 1977. here are things we know about this period:
- it is before whatever happened that kills women impregnated on the island... will we learn later this season what causes this change to occur? is this even truly the case? when will we learn the complete set of pregnancy rules for the island?
- it is the year sawyer, as a child, witnessed his parent's death. this is the character-shaping event causing him to write the letter he's seen reading in the pilot.
- the year kate was born.
- there is a truce between dharma and the hostiles. what were the terms of this truce?
- charlotte is a young child, despite ben having stated her birthdate as being in 1979. does jin teach her some korean? i don't believe that charlotte became fluent in korean while on the island, but it would make sense later, that her childhood association with korean to the island would compel her to learn it fluently as an adult.
what's also possible with this timeframe is that it places our cast firmly in the past, at a point where they are able to manipulate their own destinies. will be learn that several of the show's phenomenon actually exist in closed loops, like alpert's compass?
will hurley himself be the origin of the numbers? when rousseau's raft landed on the beach, the recording of the numbers could be heard, and many have pointed out that the voice sounds like hurley.. perhaps hurley attempts to warn his future self by inserting the numbers in every place he can while he's with dharma?
for that matter are all the events leading up to the passengers of 815 getting on the plane somehow manipulated in order to 'help destiny along?'
this episode had huge task ahead of it. it had to answer 'what now?' and set a framework for the rest of the season, now that we're all finally back on the island. while the question hasn't been fully answered yet, the great feeling from this episode is that answers are coming, and we are entering payoff time. my excitement is back. just as long as they are mindful of continuity. please, please be mindful of continuity!
i wonder if damon and carlton knew that the previous two episodes were going to be so polarizing and disappointing to fans who've followed the show as deeply as i have. probably they took on the task of writing both those episodes because the writing assignment called for in them was nearly impossible to fulfill, so they took the fall themselves. it's too bad. there's no writer's strike to blame, nothing. those episodes just have to go down as major disappointments in 'lost' history. hopefully this points to things being back on track.
5. olivia goodspeed.
a big conundrum however is what happened to olivia goodspeed? let's lay it out:
- early 1960's she was with horace when they assisted in ben's birth outside of portland.
- she was a dharma teacher when ben was a boy. she taught about the on-island volcano, and whipped out a rifle with the 'hostile-alert' alarm sounded.
6. rose and bernard.
don't worry. rose and bernard have been doin' juuuust fine. they are old and naked and running through the trees. gross.
the question everyone seems to be asking is 'where are rose and bernard!?' we haven't seen them since the flaming arrow attack. well, sawyer and company have been wondering the same thing. in his exchange with jin, it's revealed that they have been engaging in a sector-by-sector search of the island for their people, to no avail. such a search is likely also a violation of the other's truce, unless sawyer has special permission from alpert to conduct it.
i doubt it though, because i think rose and bernard are hangin with cindy and the kids, and have been indoctrinated into alpert's camp. alpert always seems well dressed and clean - are they still living in the 1954 army tents? do they live in the temple? wherever it is, it's well out of sight of sawyer's search operation.
rose and bernard jumped in time alongside sawyer, juliet, etc, so it is most likely that they have been stuck in the same timeframe for these three years, and are not with the ajira people, hangin at some point in the future.
the exception to alpert being well-scrubbed up is when he meets ben. what has happened to him during this period?
'lost' is all about reunions. we got a big one last night, and eventually we'll see the two halves of the 'time flashers' come back together.
but also, where is claire!? now it's been three years, so she's either as rotted away as montand's arm, or is she hangin back with a snuggie and a lean quisine waiting for it to be season 6. i know claire wasn't anyone's favorite, (rob has jumped to her defense, saying that she was great in the beginning until she was suddenly given nothing to do. i think she was dumped by the writers b/c she's not a smart enough actress.. they tend to do that.. ) but we are owed major answers regarding her sudden disappearance.
7. burning questions.
- why did jack, kate and hurley appear at this particular time?
- what happened within 2 weeks to either change juliet's mind about leaving, or prevent her from leaving? (rob says to this 'who cares! the audience is smart enough to know how drama works. i think they're withholding a crucial event concerning the mechanics of the sub.)
- travel on and off island seems relatively straightforward in this time period. have sawyer, juliet, jin, miles and daniel been back and forth to the mainland?
- what is the deal with dead bodies on the island? amy was desperate about having the bodies of the hostile's buried deep - seemingly to keep them from being found.. but is there another reason? then the hostiles want her husband paul's body.. for what, exactly? and then there's that whole thing with locke being, oh, completely and flawlessly reincarnated. something fishy is going on with dead bodies, that's all i know.
i was really impressed by the dark scene with jin, juliet, daniel and miles sitting around the table, and juliet talks about how she used to live in one of the houses. i think this is the scene, more than any other, in which mark goldman was really trying to flex his directorial/editorial muscle. it feels like one unbroken shot around and around the table as each person theorizes, but it's actually expertly edited from several different takes.
the setup to use paul's death as metaphor for being over kate. i didn't see it coming until the end of sawyer's monologue when the dread sets in.. kate is arriving imminently. fantastic.
also patrick fischler has joined the cast. he is fantastic - has one of my favorite scenes in mulholland drive, and tears it up in 'mad men' as a lenny bruce type insulting comic. can't wait to see how they use him.
an emotional, musical moment, ending with kate stepping out of the van.
sawyer does a pretty nice wtf-face, on par with jin's wtf-face. i pretty much love any preboomer that ends with a wtf-face. look at how he's grown up. daddy has a real job now. and has juliet finally met a guy who isn't such a douchebag?
(thanks to rob k for edits and suggestions)