written by: melinda hsu taylor and greggory nations. melinda co-wrote this season's 'the substitute' with elizabeth sarnoff. greggory nations is the script coordinator on 'lost,' which means he's the god of continuity. here's last year's nytimes article on him. this episode took us further back in time than any other character-centric story. it also has an interesting timeline inconsistency that i'm sure was deliberate, and not a mistake on gregg's part. the writing in this episode was fantastic; a beautifully executed, complete mini-movie.

directed by: tucker gates. wow. this was not just an episode of 'lost.' this was a full-on, unbroken, epic period drama, and almost completely successful on those terms alone. save for the pilot episode, this is the biggest, most ambitious episode of 'lost' to date. the show once again felt truly cinematic, it was a gift to the talents of actor nestor carbonell, and answered a plethora of mythological questions - a feat done through the prism of one man's personal, emotional story. this is 'lost' at its best. each scene of the 'film' was beautiful, and was a complete, mini story - i loved how the episode took time to focus on richard's struggle with both the miniscule (spending days digging a nail out of the wood), and the major (becoming instrumental in the ageless battle between good and evil with the fate of the world in your hands). also, the music in this episode was especially good, establishing yet another beautiful love theme for richard and isabella. the opening whoosh to ricardo's horseback-riding, buoyed by a new new musical theme, did a great job of establishing the period, urgency, tone, and mood for richard's story.
cinematography by: stephen st. john. another big bravo here. not only were the period elements expertly handled, the whole episode, island scenes included, felt bigger and more beautiful than they have in a long time. it's particularly impressive to see new island locations when it seems like we've seen every shootable inch of hawaii by now. even the effects shots were fantastic. the destruction of the statue! and the new shots of the shipwreck look much better than in the previous episode.

frankly: possibly the best episode of the season, certainly one of the best in the history of the show. if damon and carlton can adequately justify and explain the parallel timeline in a way that causes irritated fans to invest in it, then this season will stick the landing.
  1. rulebreakers
  2. heaven and hell
  3. good and evil
  4. ghost rules
  5. history of the black rock
  6. origin of the others
  7. origin of dharma
  8. some things
  9. preboomer
  10. next episode
1. rulebreakers
right off the bat this episode establishes itself as a format-breaker, by showing us additional moments from jacob's scene with ilana at the russian hospital. the scene uncharacteristically flashes back and forth between the campfire scene and the hospital scene without use of the flashback sound effect. then, once the basics of alpert's story are rehashed for new audience members, the story whooshes (via the traditional flashback whoosh used in seasons 1-5) in one long, unbroken flashback that is bookended by the current island story.

only a few episodes in 'lost's' history have broken the rules in this way. desmond's 'flashes before your eyes' was structured this same way, with over half the episode taking place during a continuous flashback bookended by island story. desmond's story also broke the rules by having him 'conscious' during his flashback. richard's story remained unbroken, which really allowed me to invest in the story without having to bounce to another narrative. by keeping the flashback story linear, alpert's often-confusing timeline is made simple - which is another thing to love about this episode; the show is allowing itself to be simple again.

this episode is a perfect example of what damon and carlton mean when they say 'the only mysteries we will answer will be those mysteries that concern the characters.' there simply isn't time to checklist every minor story in the history of the island. remember when eloise hawking launched into a monologue about how the lamp-post station was built? - one of the worst moments of season 5. the thing the writers understand (thank god they do) is that though the audience clamors for answers, it's not actually answers that we want. what we want is closure. and that closure will come from explaining the origin and purpose of everything we, and the characters have endured. closure won't come from knowing where the food drop in season 2 came from (though they have promised we'll find out - if not in the show directly ..whatever that means..). i'll say it again: based on the strength of their 5 season finales, they know how to write endings. and now that we've crossed the halfway point of the final season, i have more confidence than ever that the show is going to give us a full-on catharsis of closure.

2. heaven and hell
so the first big piece of info revealed is that richard believes that the island is hell, and that everyone on it is dead. hm.. nestor carbonell talked about this a bit on jorge garcia's podcast, and i think i agree with him - he said that it seems like richard is frustrated, is being metaphorical at this point, and is speaking of his own personal hell. richard may have believed for many decades that he was 'in hell,' but as science progressed, he lost his accent, and got to the point where he understood modern science enough to recruit a fertility doctor. richard likely revised his world view right along with the changing world. he seems like a very adaptable guy. jorge garcia said that during the filming of the scene where richard syas they are in hell, he was thinking, 'shit, if this is hell, i actually got off this island for three years. d'oh!'
one of the things i love about the show is that though it may sometimes extinguish a popular theory, it later finds room to allow a multitude of theories to be 'right.' for some people, the island is hell. for others, the island is purgatory, and for a select few (rose, bernard, and vincent) the island is heaven. for some people the island is a snowglobe, and for the scientists, the island is a pocket of electromagnetic, energetic anomalies that effect the fabric of space and time. it's kind of like 'fantasy island,' in that it becomes whatever it 'needs' to be for each character.

this episode gave us the full-on religious interpretation of the island - it did this by plunging us deep into its past, and revealing it to us through the perspective of a deeply religious man. the episode also showed us how the two inhabitants of the island manipulated that man's religious devotion to their own ends.
by season's end i think we'll be exposed to a number of explanations for the island, all of which could be considered 'correct,' but also incomplete. widmore's team of what looks like world of warcraft aficionados will undoubtedly be heading straight for the orchid station to do some wheel spinning.
i loved the image of the island as a cork containing the evil of the smoke monster - the island is a prison, and jacob's job turns out to be much like desmond's job in the hatch: jacob is manning 'the station' that keeps the world safe. but who is truly evil?

3. good and evil

jacob says that nemesis believes that all people are corruptible, and we've seen evidence of how he operates, when he downloads information from his victims - he's looking for that person's moral breaking point. jacob says he can't interfere with people's choices, and that everyone he's brought to the island thus far to prove his point have all died. wow, how many people was that, and why does jacob keep trying? finally this explains some of his strange behaviour - he reminds people that they have a choice, sometimes bullys them into making certain choices, but the point of everything he does is to allow people to prove that they are 'good' by nature.

many people seem frustrated because they still don't know who to root for. 'who is good and who is evil!?,' they complain.
well, the good vs. evil analogy is perhaps not the best fit for jacob vs. his nemesis. each believes the other is evil, each is bound by certain rules, each has a goal they are determined to reach, and each is searching for loopholes around the rules they've been given. the better analogy is the one very simply stated by locke in the show's premiere episode: two men playing a game, one light, one dark. it's an epic game with the fate of the world at stake. we may find out who to truly root for - but right now, the point is ambiguity. the characters don't know either! richard certainly doesn't know! it could very well turn out that the (overall) better world we're seeing in the parallel universe is in fact the result of the 'evil' of smokey finally being let out, undoing all the meddling jacob had done over the years.

it's hard to argue for nemesis, who flat out murdered everyone who stayed behind at the temple, and also seems to recklessly murder anyone who isn't a candidate. but how different is he from jacob, who has also committed mass-murder. is jacob less guilty because he relied on the choices of other people to carry out his plans?

if jacob has been around since the time of the egyptians, it's apparently taken him thousands of years to figure out that using a proxy is an ideal way to work around his philosophy of non-interference. whether or not jacob is still playing within 'the spirit of the game' is another question - he's meant to represent the 'good' side, but clearly he's just as manipulative as nemesis is. jacob is pretty much the patron saint of passive aggressive behavior.

i will be ├╝ber impressed if the show takes us even further back in time to the origin of the nemesis/jacob conflict. they are teasing us in this direction, and if they can pull it off.. man, then we haven't seen anything yet. i hope its an epic avatar style motion-capture extravaganza featuring nemesis' crazy hippopotamus-faced mother.

4. ghost rules
isabella's appearance on the black rock was verrry very interesting. the timing of the visit was such that it happened immediately after smokey downloaded info from richard's brain, so i thought, 'ah! is this smokey taking isabella's form to manipulate richard the same way he manipulted ben by taking alex's form?'

but no, i don't think so. isabella's body is not on the island - and season 6 isn't the time to start playing fast and loose with the rules smokey has abided by for 5 seasons. also, isabella's behavior in this ghost form isn't consistent with nemesis' motivations. she was terrified of the thing, felt it was confirmation they were in hell, and tried desperately to get richard out of the chains. the words she speaks to richard are also echoed in her final scene when she speaks through hurley. somehow i think this was a true ghost of isabella that was able to manifest physically in the same way that kate's horse appeared, and she was able to touch it.

in the last podcast, damon and carlton were asked a question about the ghost rules. their answer was encouraging. 'these are excellent questions. in the near future one of the charcters on the show will be asking these same questions, and they'll be asking someone who knows the answers, and that person will provide the answers.' wow. i mean, that's pretty much the convergence of three things we have almost never seen on this show:
  1. person asking questions the audience wants answered
  2. person being asked knows the answer!
  3. person being asked will give the answer!
it's like 'when single shines the triple sun' in the dark crystal.

5. history of the black rock
the fuselage is overflowing with nitpicky 'fans' berating greggory nations for placing alperts journey on the black rock at 1867, when the auctioneer selling the black rock ledger in 'the constant' had this to say about the ship:
'the black rock set sail from portsmouth, england on march 22, 1845 on a trading mission to the kingdom of siam, when she was tragically lost at sea. the only known artifact of this journey is the journal of the ship's first mate, which was discovered among the artifacts of pirates on the ile sante-marie off the coast of madagascar seven years later. the contents of this journal have never been made public, or known to anyone outside the family of the seller, tovard hanso.'
so, why is there a 22 year gap in the history of the black rock?

i want to believe, that because this is an episode cowritten by gregg nations, that this kind of glaring discrepancy is deliberate. so much discussion must have gone into the setting of the period of this episode. shooting period is not cheap, and the decisions are not made arbitrarily. costumes are made, sets are built, tons and tons of research is done by skilled artists to make it happen. though, after the ultrasound date mixup and sayid's iranian passport screwups, i'm hesitant to once again place my once unshakable faith in the show's finer details, but hopefully this isn't a mistake. if it is a mistake, i would consider it a colossal script coordination failure.
i think it's possible that magnus hanso, owner of the black rock, discovered the island in 1845, and then 'stole' his own ship to be used as 'the sub' for jacob, to bring his candidates to the island. it would be much easier to keep a ship at sea hidden in a time before satellites and radar. it's also interesting that the eponymous blast door map itself has written 'final resting place of magnus hanso/black rock.'
the other weird thing, though is that in the season 5 finale, jacob and nemesis are sitting on the beach, looking at the black rock sitting on a perfectly calm, daytime ocean, just a few miles off-shore. how can this possibly be the same ship? did it suddenly turn from day to night and from calm to storm? or was that day on the beach in 1845, the first time the black rock came to the island?

6. origin of the others
when richard asked jacob what happened to all the people he brought over, jacob says 'they're all dead.' clearly some of them lived long enough to build the temple, the statue, the tunnels, and other egyptian ruins - but it appears that smokey was eventually able to infiltrate, corrupt, set them against each other, and wipe them all out. architecturally, it seems the only structures on the island are either egyptian or built by dharma in the 70's, so i think we can infer that 'the others' as we know them did not come into existence until jacob placed alpert as his right hand man. how did eloise and widmore first come to the island? how did they come to follow richard, and how was leadership established? it seems quite odd that a society based on jacob's faith in the goodness of man would require locke to publicly murder his father in order to become their leader. ..yeah, jury's still out on whether jacob is truly 'good.'

in 1954 alpert says that he was 'ordered' to kill the us army soldiers, and infers that jacob gave this order. by the same token, we can infer that jacob ordered the purge of dharma in 1982. what exactly is going on here? why does jacob bring groups to the island and then periodically purge them?

7. origin of dharma
sometimes you just need to lie down, wherever you are.

dharma's history goes way back, given that magnus hanso was captain of the black rock, alvar was his great grandson, alvar began the hanso foundation, and the hanso foundation funded dharma. many portions of the 'lost experience' have been confirmed by damon and carlton to be canon, so i think it's safe to believe that magnus is alvar hanso's great grandfather. did alvar start the dharma initiative in attempt to find his great grandfather's ship? or was the creation of the dharma initiative something more imbedded in jacob's plan? did jacob feel it was necessary to bring scientists so that the stability of the island's geological powers could be ensured? was jacob's plan always to allow dharma on the island, allow them to build their stations and set up shop, then once they've been established, wipe them out and replace them with his own people? is this why the truce between dharma and 'the hostiles' was established?

8. some things
  • nemesis gives alpert the same knife that dogen gave to sayid. did richard give this knife to dogen at one point, complete with ironic (and useless) instructions on how to 'kill' nemesis?
  • richard gives nemesis a jagged white rock.

  • when jacob sits down with nemesis later, the rock is smooth and polished. at last! it all makes sense! that cranking noise.. smokey is one of these, only eeevil.

9. preboomer
nemesis smashes the metaphor on the log, creating another metaphor for what he's gonna do.
my only problem with this preboomer is that the episode was clearly edited to end with the shot of locke overlooking the beautiful tree where alpert had his beautiful isabella moment, right after hurley said 'if you don't stop the man in black, we'll all go to hell.' the music crescendos, and locke turns around, nearly looks into the camera, and holds the pose. ..boom? no. not that the jacob/nemesis preboomer isn't great - the show can't be any clearer about the objectives of our two main characters. ibut the false ending diminished the potential power of the true ending. i think it would have played stronger if the shot of locke just held on the back of his head and didn't make such a big deal about him turning toward camera. keep the energy of that moment open, so that it can pass into the next scene, and the closure of the true final scene will feel more complete. the shot of locke was probably how the episode was originally supposed to end, when cut to time - but i can see how damon and carlton might have won a fight with abc to run the episode long, so additional scenes could be added in.

10. next episode
this week's episode is called 'the package,' and is a sun/jin episode. i have very high expectations for this, because the show must, in one episode, redeem the shafting they have given these two characters over the past two years. it's been so long since they had anything to do, that it's easy to forget where they started - true love destroyed by sun's criminal father, who allowed them to marry on the condition that jin work for him, then turned jin into his personal hit man. the stress turned jin into an asshole, which pushed sun to learn english to escape, and eventually have an affair with her english teacher. jin and sun were in sydney to deliver a watch to one of sun's father's business associates, and were on route to los angeles to deliver another watch. jin is a hit man, watch-and-stuffed-animal delivery service. sun is passive agressive liar, adultress, schemer, and murderer, if you count her pretty cold-blooded shooting and killing of coleen, pickett's wife. there could have been an amazing story about sun having to face pickett - or sun dealing with the fact that she's killed someone - but it seems like sun gets a free pass for all her past sins. she's become a blank slate that the writers throw things at and nothing sticks. jin on the other hand, has finally been given the gift of speaking english, but of course gets nothing to say. he should be talking all the time! we saw emotional development in all the characters who spent three years with dharma, except for jin. there could have been a story about jin leaving something in dharma specifically for sun to find 30 years later.. there could have been.. so much more.
at their best, the show has used the pair to comment on the triumph of true love over innumerable obstacles - infidelity, deceit, emotional separation, physical separation, temporal separation, and being-ignored-by-the-writers. sun was first separated from jin when he got on the raft at the end of season 1, and when the others blew it up, we were allowed to believe for several episodes that he had died. the scenario was repeated when jin was on-board the exploding freighter, launching sun into a three-year fit of rage interrupted by the birth of their daughter, ji yeon. since season two, the show has defined this couple through their separation. even in their marriage vows, jin says 'blah blah blah separation.' what did jin believe had happened to sun during his time with dharma? their season 4 episode, 'ji yeon,' was an hour-long trick meant to, again, underline their separation. how will the show finally reunite them? will it reunite them? does the show have the balls to kill jin for real? will sun join nemesis? whatever happens, i'd better be crying about it.

there are some interesting things to toss about: without the island, it will be next to impossible for ji yeon to be born, since jin is sterile, and required the island's fertility boost for sun to conceive. in the parallel, we don't know yet if sun was lying about speaking english or not - is her reboot relationship with jin the same as before? sun's father is golfing buddies with charles widmore. in the parallel, if the island is underwater, is widmore even alive? if he is, how has the nature of his business changed, and how would that change ripple out to sun's father? is it possible that without the island, sun's father requires jin to be merely a tough guy bodyguard, and not a full-on murderer? how much has changed? how did jin end up in the meat refrigerator? is keamy still connected to widmore in the parallel? will keamy be making more eggs?

what i want to see, if the show reunites them finally, is the unspeakable joy of finding someone believed to be dead for three years. that should be the simple description of the episode's essence. it has to be a huge emotional moment, and if it's done right, yunjun kim will slay the performance. i want to feel like i'm being reunited with the characters, too.

written by: elizabeth sarnoff and jim galasso. elizabeth co-wrote this season's 'the substitute.' jim galasso is new to the writing staff, but was hired as production staff last year. it looks like darlton are giving a lot of staff members first-time shots at writing this year.

directed by: jack bender. i think jack is just calling dibs on his favorite characters' episodes.

cinematography by: john bartley. i liked the look of this episode, especially the slight golden-hour tint on the hydra island scenes. i wonder if there's a subtle color adjustment happening to differentiate nemesis' camp from jacob's. even in daylight, nemesis camp scenes have higher contrast and deeper shadows. nemesis followers are all wearing burgundy and earth tones, where jacob's are in brighter primary colors. this episode had some nicely done effects shots showing both hydra island from the main island, and the main island from hydra island - also the set built of the ajira plane is a pretty impressive construction job. the ajira plane would have remained a digital effect (as it was last year) if it wasn't going to figure heavily in upcoming episodes..

basically: this is about as good as a bridging episode can get. it's not a gamechanger, it's not a jawdropper, but it's a well executed step on the larger path, with exciting prospects for what's to come. i finally feel like i'm writing love letters again.
  1. parallel sawyer
  2. parallel miles
  3. parallel charlotte
  4. mid-season 6 review
  5. kate and nemesis and crazy moms
  6. with widmore comes tina fey and..
  7. ways off the island
  8. memory tour
  9. costume commentary
  10. preboomer
  11. next episode

1. parallel sawyer

i'm totally overjoyed at the revelation that parallel sawyer is a cop - and that the secret word to reveal this was 'lefleur.' brilliant! nothing makes me happier than when the show surprises me with a choice i never saw coming, yet makes absolute sense. the opening was perfect, right down to josh holloway's wink-wink 'surprise!' line. in some ways sawyer's story is embodying the 'light and dark' thesis of the show by giving him these two disparate yet totally logical paths for his character. now that he's chosen the dark(er) side on the island, it makes sense to give him a fundamentally opposing trajectory in the parallel. the opening of the parallel gave us sawyer's classic 'pigeon drop' scene that we've seen play out twice before.
in 'confidence man,' we see the pigeon drop plan executed perfectly on jessica - sawyer only backs out when he realizes his victims have a young son, and he refuses to do unto the kid as was done unto him by anthony cooper.
the second time we seen the pigeon drop, saywer is with future mother of his child, cassidy phillips, in 'the long con,' who laughs in his face at the con and asks him to train her in the ways of con artistry. cassidy later meets kate at a gas station where she's pulling sawyer's fake jewelry con.
and this third variation smartly shows us a sawyer who is fundamentally the same person but simply made a different choice in his life. he's still the same guy - clearly not the most ethical cop, if he's bangin his way towards suspects. still, this is how saywer's parallel life finds the same redemption, responsibility, and adulthood he found as head of security during the dharma years.. all he's missing is a princess leia-style strangle of anthony cooper, and juliet..

one of the show's original postulations was that if you took any plane full of people and explored their stories fully, you would find numerous connections between the people on that plane. now the show is proposing an idea about destiny that's different from the way it works in most time travel stories: the show is essentially saying to us that no matter what happens to us in our lives, our character is what matters most, and it is our core character that will compel the same people into our spheres, whatever the circumstances.

we still don't know if what we're seeing is the result of jacob's touches being undone, or jughead being detonated, or radzinsky deciding to finally pull that secret lever labeled in hieroglyphics 'do not pull: sinks the island.'

one of the charms and amazements of watching season 1 for the first time was discovering that each character, in the flashbacks, is in their very own show - and that each character is in fact in a different kind of show. saywer is in a crime drama, locke is in a relationship drama, kate's episodes are all inspired by the flight of marion crane in psycho, hurley is in a slapstick comedy, and jack is perpetually in 'er.'
what i loved about this episode is that it renewed that season 1 feeling by once again surprising us with a distinct genre choice: sawyer is now in a cop show. damon and carlton met each other working on 'nash bridges' and crafted this episode as an homage to the don johnson/cheech marin buddy cop formula they mastered together in those days.

loved that parallel sawyer's reading the same books he found on the island. disappointed though, that the fully published version of 'bad twin' was not on his dresser. though, as a cop, he would have found the book's detective horribly inept. would love love love to see any kind of gary troup reference in the parallel. mostly i just want to see my die-hard season 2 fandom rewarded for going out and purchasing that great idea of a book, awful execution of a promotional concept.

loved that sawyer's big emotional moment in the parallel was brought about by an episode of 'little house on the prairie,' which kate teased him for calling 'little house' in season 3's 'tricia tanaka is dead.'

2. parallel miles
ken leung is a great actor - able to fundamentally nail every line given to him no matter how tiny. i loved his relationship with sawyer in the sideways, and how it is entirely based on trust - to the point where any lie, no matter how insignificant or not, is a dealbreaker.

during the apple store event last week (where i got to meet damon and carlton!), they discussed how fun it was to craft these scenes not only because of darlton's cop show roots, but also because on the island, three years were skipped without any flashbacks depicting the period where sawyer became head of security. the off-island story filled in the skipped time via the flash-forwards, but the new dynamics between sawyer, jin, and miles were left unexplored. by making miles sawyer's partner, they were able to show the essential relationship the two characters had together during those years, only in a different setting.
no indication that parallel miles still has his special power - since it's likely he was still born on the island, does his power require the island to be above ground? or, like dogen's protection of the temple, and nemesis' ability to change forms, does miles' power require someone like nemesis or jacob be alive in order for it to work?

it sounds like dr. pierre chang is alive and well in the parallel, working (with both hands?) at the same museum with..

3. parallel charlotte
it looks like charlotte's parallel existence is just as ill-fated as her original - if she's still hopping the globe in search of the island. though, perhaps she's working with pierre chang to try and figure out how to get the island back?

i loved this scene - the writing was clean, it had one great joke, and a beautiful, honest moment.

• great joke: 'i'm exactly like indiana jones.'

• great moment:
sawyer: i got to a point in my life where i was either going to become a criminal or a cop. so i chose cop.
(charlotte falls in love instantly)
sawyer: ..what?
charlotte: you know what.

from now on sawyer is going to drop the 'bullitt' line and jump right to the 'criminal or cop' story because it clearly gets you laid, fast.

there's been a lot of debate over whether or not charlotte was searching sawyer's apartment, or if she innocently stumbled on the file. i think it's a good question for darlton to answer, because if they truly intended for her discovery of the sawyer file to be innocent, they could clear it up right away.

if she was searching, then i suppose that charlotte's island-centric research has possibly, somehow led her to the list of candidates, and she's systematically sleeping her way through all of them until she eventually gets to the island? bit of a stretch, but maybe that's the spinoff show abc has planned..

sawyer brought the same sad sunflower to charlotte that he brought to juliet in 'lefleur.' just a subtle hint that the writers know we're hoping for juliet, and an winky way of toying with our expectations of seeing her.

4. mid-season 6 review

while the parallel story is trying the patience of many viewers, i'm starting to see the pieces come together, and i have (for the first time this season!) complete faith that it's going to converge in an amazing way. all the survivors are connected in the same ways that they were originally, and now we're learning of a few new connections. some force is compelling them to help each other, as they're being drawn together. we don't have season after season of parallel stories to tell - only 8 more episodes. so the structure of writing the parallel stories must be coming to a head rather quickly. here's how i see it:
  • 2 hour season premiere: establish the starting point for each character in the parallel world
  • 13 or 14 character centric episodes: (excluding richard, nemesis, anyone who might get a centric episode but won't appear in the parallel) each episode focuses on how each character is launched from the starting point to their final target.
  • 2 hour series finale: detail how all the characters will collide, find final redemption and/or damnation. meanwhile the island story will explain exactly how the parallel timeline was created, by way of revealing the exact nature of the island's power. boom. 'lost.'
so how could the parallel stories converge?
  • jack is going to be searching for claire, who happens to be in los angeles..
  • jack's search for claire could lead him to kate, who's been using claire's credit card..
  • sawyer has just banged kate up against a metal gate (again!)..
  • sawyer is searching for anthony cooper - who will be attending locke's october wedding, only a couple weeks away..
  • in the season 1 episode 'hearts and minds' we learned that boone's mother owns 'the largest wedding business in the united states,' and boone is the chief operating officer of the wedding clothing subsidiary..
  • sayid's experience as a chef in france lands him the job of replacing keamy's sous chef position, making eggs for locke's wedding..
  • ben will weasel or blackmail his way to becoming locke's best man..
  • could the wedding be held at mrs. hawking's church? could mr. eko have been on his way to los angeles to accept a post there, and officiate the ceremony?
  • hurley donates chicken entrees for the reception..
  • frogurt turns out to be helen's cousin and is accidentally skewered by flaming bbq, like that guy in the opening of 'temple of doom..'
  • ok, i'm running out of ideas..
most seasons of 'lost' are launched with a defining scene between jack and locke, and this year is no exception. will the end of the show give us locke and jack in the parallel as ultimate redeemers of each other. in the original timeline, jack was determined that his future wife sarah be able to dance at her wedding - in the parallel, sarah may not even exist. will this gift of wedding mobility be transferred to locke? should jack accept the mantle as jacob's successor, will we see the two men as both ultimate allies and ultimate enemies?

i have nothing but the highest expectations for the big ending because damon and carlton know how to write endings. i've said it a lot on this blog, but if there's anything that they are masters of, it's deliberately frustrating the audience and then surprising us with the carefully paced revelation of the master plan - and this is a master plan they had to pitch to the network three years ago in order to secure the end date for the show. it's a televised novel, and we've got 8 chapters to go.

5. kate and nemesis and crazy moms
hey, hold my hand. hey hold my knife. in your neck!

loved the way kate and claire were dealt with in this episode - the show gave kate the time to grieve the extreme risks she took to get back to the island, only to have claire try and shiv her. kate chose an interesting spot to sit and cry - it's very similar to the spot she broke down after first seeing the smoke monster in the pilot episode..
smokey joins her for an interesting chat, where he wins some favor with kate by drawing comparisons between kate's crazy mother, locke's crazy mother, aaron's crazy mother, and nemesis' original crazy mother. for a show featuring tons of daddy issues, it's a surprise that the key villain's got mom-probs.

which raises the question: who is nemesis' crazy mother? well, after doing a little reading, i think it's someone with a pretty ugly, but familiar face:
different egyptian mythlogy sources have varying stories about the egyptian goddess taweret, symbolizing childbirth and fertility with the head of a hippo because she is a fierce protector of her children. the wikipedia page goes on to say 'when paired with another deity, she became the demon-wife of apep, the original god of evil.' hmm.. a demon-wife sounds like someone a kid might have some 'growing pains' with. taweret also had two children, osirus and set. here's where the connection between the mythology and the show gets muddled, but the legend of set involves an epic battle between good and evil fought between the two brothers - and a change in worship for set, once popularly worshiped, he suddenly became a god of evil. is the smoke monster a misunderstood god-child of taweret locked in a sibling rivalry battle with his brother jacob?

6. with widmore comes tina fey and..

who's locked up behind the door in the sub? was richard locked up on the black rock for similar purposes? with the looking glass station out of comission, can you only get to the island on a vessel if someone 'destined' for the island is on board? six days ago, desmond was here:

meanwhile, outside that same marina del rey hospital, this took place:
widmore would have to have gotten on the sub pretty quickly after being smacked by eloise - did he take desmond with him? did he take eloise?

my theory last week was proven completely wrong! widmore is clearly not on the same side as smokey, as evidenced by his portable sonic fence. does this mean widmore is on jacob's side? is widmore, (or whoever's locked in the room) the person jacob told hurley was 'coming' to the island? widmore's team seems totally different from the freighter mercenaries he sent originally - these guys look like scientists, zoe included. what is their exact mission? did widmore kill the ajira folk, or did smokey?
btw i totally loved tina fey. some were annoyed at the introduction of yet another new character, but i got a fun thrill from the meta trick of neatly turning the tables and treating the ajira survivors as clueless outsiders the way the 815ers were when they first crashed. nemesis sends locke on a recon mission identical to the one ben sent goodwin and ethan on after the 815 crash. then, when sawyer finds zoe, she says 'we... we crashed here. and we were all just waiting for someone to rescue us.' for a moment, her character was the audience proxy for all those poor, confused people who've joined the show this season and have no idea what's going on. loved that bit of writing.

7. ways off the island

these are currently the three ways (we know of) that characters can use to get off the island: donkey wheel, ajira plane, and widmore sub. the wheel will likely come into play when we see the island's sinking in either the original or parallel.. though widmore isn't on smokey's side, it seems most likely that smokey and his cohorts will try to escape using the sub, and the ajira plane appears to be in working condition, but can only be piloted by lapidus, who seems pretty firmly entrenched on jacob's side with ilana.

at the paleyfest event recently, damon gave a one-word hint about the grand finale of the show: water. to me that points to the sinking of the island, and it's likely the finale will be a race against the rising water to get off the island in time.

8. memory tour
i love the that show is taking us back through the journey of the last five years, like jack's revisit to the caves in 'lighthouse.' hopefully we'll revisit more places we've forgotten about: tempest station? looking glass station? pearl station? arrow station? if it's done well, the revisits will happen organically, like sawyer discovering kate's infamous breakfast-with-ben dress.

the dress ended up where it is during the period where saywer was conned by ben into believing he had a pacemaker installed (in 'every man for himself.') kate changed her clothes in the opposite cage, causing sawyer's heartrate monitor to start beeping. all this had better not be any kind of resparking of kate and sawyer, however. they are done with each other. please, show - acknowledge, yes, but don't force something that shouldn't be there. juliet died two days ago. yes, have a look at the dress you boned kate in, because who wouldn't, but the show can't earn a sawyer/kate love connection in the original timeline anymore.
in jorge's podcast it was discussed that in the script, sawyer activates the fish biscuit machine. they never mention if it's for kicks, for a snack or for both. hopefully the sequence was shot, and it's something we'll see in the deleted scenes.

9. costume commentary
i watched the show with a friend this week and he made a comment that i, being a gay man, would never have noticed, and i'm curious about the general consensus on this. he said that this season, 'kate's bra sucks.' aparently it's too padded, or too supported for his tastes and provides none of the 'movement' or 'natural shape' enjoyed in the earlier seasons. has anyone else noticed this? i made the argument that kate's original bra was probably the same one worn for the entire 108 days, and would have worn out, whereas she's now wearing a new bra that's only 6 days old.

while on the subject of costumes, i wonder how the costuming decisions are made, since the characters are so often dressed in solid, primary colors. how is it decided what colors each character will wear? seeing as how the character may be stuck wearing that same outfit for (usually) the entire season, the decisions can't be made lightly.

10. preboomer
kate: so what are you gonna do?
sawyer: i'm gonna let them fight it out. and while they got their hands full with each other...you and me are getting the hell off this island.
kate: even if we could get on that plane, who's gonna fly it?
sawyer: we ain't taking the plane, freckles. taking the sub.
well, this was kind of a lackluster, servicable preboomer. the boom is best when it punctuates either a brand new piece of information, or cements a choice made by a character - and the new information in this beat reveals that sawyer is attempting to play both sides against each other for his own benefit. i feel like there could have been a better way to reveal that. i was so disappointed that he told the truth to nemesis about his 'deal' with widmore, that this beat really needed to identify him squarely as a lone agent. whatever mode of transport sawyer is planning to take is not that important. what's important is that he's working for himself, for his own goals, which include kate. i would have reordered the lines this way:
kate: even if we could get on that plane, who's gonna fly it?
sawyer: we ain't taking the plane, freckles. taking the sub.
kate: how are 'we' gonna do that?
sawyer: i'm gonna let them fight it out. and while they got their hands full with each other...you and me are getting the hell off this island.

11. next episode

i think we can expect more answers than we've ever had before, seeing as we will get richard alpert's story! he arrived in chains on the black rock, the day jacob and nemesis sat on the beach and watched the ship approach. will the episode begin at that same moment? will it go back even further and show us when jacob touched richard? for this one, i have no idea what to expect. i want to see the original relationship between richard and both jacob and nemesis - i don't even know how to expect the episode to be structured! will it be like 'the other 48 days,' flashing back to the earliest event and then moving sequentially forward until the episode's narrative is caught up to 2007? or will it start in 2007, and then give us traditional flashbacks (complete with the original flashback sound effect) to richard's past? the only thing i'm expecting to have explained is why richard looks exactly the same for 100 years except for one period where he grew his hair long. i'm not even sure what to watch as prep. richard is such an enigma - the only episode really ascribed to him, 'follow the leader,' offers no real insight into his character, though he is the through-line in both the 2007 and 1977 stories. will this episode show us the incident from his perspective!?

here's the richard timeline i posted last week, with a couple things i left out:
  • 1845: arrives with the 'black rock'
  • 1954: meets locke, faraday, miles and charlotte
  • 1956: checks out locke's birth
  • 1961: tests locke to see if he recognizes the compass
  • 1972: tries to recruit locke to 'science camp' through the mail
  • 1973: lets his hair grow out
  • 1974: meets sawyer, who surprises him with knowledge of jughead.
  • 1977: meets kate when she brings ben to him after being shot by sayid. he later meets jack for the first time, after faraday was shot by eloise. richard parts ways with jack after deciding to keep eloise safe. jack proceeds with the plan to detonate jughead.
  • 2001 leaves the island to recruit juliet to fix the pregnancy-problem
  • 2004: locke meets richard for the first time. richard suggests sawyer should kill locke's father. richard has had sawyer's entire lifetime to collect that information.
  • 2005: (100 days after the crash) richard and the others ambush kate and sayid, assists them in overtaking keamy's helicopter, which gets them off the island. ben pushes the wheel, leaving locke as the leader, who vanishes in front of richard's eyes.
  • 2005 - 2007: richard is bored, builds a ship in a bottle.
  • 2007: locke returns as nemesis. jacob is killed. nemesis ties up richard, then sets him free. richard finds sawyer in the jungle, then he finds hurley and jack. richard hasn't seen sawyer or jack since the helicopter, 3 years ago. jack saw richard yesterday.

written by: eddie kitsis and adam horowitz. this is the best episode they've written, which helps make up for their lackluster 'what kate does' earlier in the season. this episode was not only a great example of how the parallel structure can be used to maximum dramatic effect, it was a gift and tribute to emmy-winning actor michael emerson, who nailed every scene.

directed by: mario van peebles! a first time director on 'lost,' but no stranger to directing and acting. watching this episode again, it's filled with nuances, and i hope it's one of the episodes on the dvd box set that gets a commentary track.

cinematography by: stephen st. john. there was a distinct pastel palette to this episode's parallel story, as well as some interesting lighting choices on the island. it was great to get back to the beach camp again, even though that location seems dramatically scaled down from its original setting. richard's monologue about losing his purpose in life was lit in an odd way, that pulled me out of the scene the first time, but didn't bother me on rewatch. let me quickly illustrate the change in photographic quality on the show. here's the effects shot of the black rock from this week's episode:
and here is the original black rock reveal in season 1:
the ship in the top photo looks about half the size of the lower one. i know, time, budget, everything is tight, especially where effects are concerned. i just don't understand why the jungle has to be candy green in every shot now.

nutshell: i think this is the strongest, most character-driven episode of the season - almost no new mythological information was revealed to us on the island, but the episode remained taught with the choices faced by both island and parallel ben.
  1. parallel ben
  2. jack and richard
  3. the slow-mo reunification
  4. preboomer
  5. next episode
1. parallel ben
this episode made exquisite use of the parallel world format, and the interplay between the two worlds was like a finely choreographed dance. the parallel story found a way to encapsulate the key conflicts of ben's entire story arc into a handful of scenes; his desire for leadership, his relationship with his father, and his relationship with alex - everything was redeemed. it was also chock full of subtle and not-so subtle ironies and juxtapositions.
what was surprising to me was that island ben was also redeemed. i fully expected him to join nemesis after choosing the good path in the parallel. this episode shows us that not only can redemption can happen in both worlds, it showed that on island world, it doesn't necessarily have to happen at the cost of your life (though island ben could die at any point now that his character arc is fully wrapped up). i felt his final speech started out pushed, but by the end he had achieved an amazing and brutal honesty. the moment when he said he was joining locke 'because no one else will have me,' was heartbreaking, and ilana's followup 'i'll have you' pretty much sums up what 'lost' does best. casting william atherton as ben's nemesis principal was genius.. (..'real genius' since both he and jon gries (roger linus) starred in that film..) great, simple performance by an incredible actor who is every bit of equal calibur as emerson. theirbrinksmanship chess game with alex's future was riveting.
each parallel story features the centric character staring into a mirror image of themselves - and here ben stares into his reflection in the microwave, as he prepares a dinner for his aging, ailing father.

the scene between ben and his father was beautifully done. it revealed that in this timeline, ben and roger did join dharma, and did go to the island, but left at some point for an unknown reason. man, they are going to tease us with the alternate history of the island as long as they possibly can, aren't they? the great irony of this scene is that ben expertly changes his father's oxygen tank, giving him relief - a wonderful counterpoint to the scene in 'the man behind the curtain' where ben ruthlessly murders his father by opening a similar canister filled with deadly gas.

so it seems that ben's original history is the same - his mother probably still died in childbirth, horace and olivia still picked them up on the side of the road, and they still went to the island, but i'm doubtful that this ben was shot by sayid, or taken to the temple. we just have to wait to find out what happened to the island.
this episode also featured more dr. arzt than we've had since season 1, or even expose - and the on-island revisit to the black rock was a nice callback to dr arzt's original fate. i can see how eddy and adam wrote this not only as a tribute to ben, but also to arzt, and i'm impressed that they fit him into the story in a completely logical way. it's also fun that arzt and ben would be allies, when on the island, the two never met. i love that his introduction to the episode was complaining about a formaldehyde stain on his shirt, when in the original timeline, arzt exits the show as a stain on a shirt.
loved seeing alex again, and loved seeing a ben/alex scene that retained the love the two characters have always felt for each other, but removed the sinister machinations that island life forced both of them to employ on each other. it's an absolute shame that mira furlan was not available to reprise her role as rousseau in the parallel, though the character was at least mentioned by alex as working two jobs to pay the bills. it would have been great to see the shifted dynamic between parallel ben and rousseau, both wanting the best, and both making sacrifices for alex.
in the parallel, arzt says to ben 'you had me fooled, you're a real killer!' then it whooses to this shot of ben digging out his grave - it's a crane shot very similar to the one in season 3 which revealed the dharma mass-grave, the greatest example of ben's capacity for murder. can ben ever really be redeemed for instigating the purge?
i think this is the most interesting aspect of the parallel story - it asks a pretty serious philosophical question about the meaning of character. are we who we are because of the things that have happened to us, or are we who we are because our core wiring is unchangeable no matter what the circumstances are? is freedom of choice a moot point if the nature of our characters will direct us towards the same, inevitable end? in past seasons, lost has asked this question by showing us choices the characters were faced with in their past, and juxtaposed those choices with decisions made on the island. with the parallel structure, the show is questioning whether the island really changes anything at all in our heroes lives, and the answers are as complex as the characters. for locke, the paths couldn't be more different - but i also have a feeling we haven't seen the end of locke's parallel story. will the outcomes of both timelines eventually coalesce to the same essential ending?

- as ben says to lapidus 'the island still got you in the end.' is the parallel story merely a gigantic-scale course correction?

2. jack and richard.
richard was in chains on the ship? exactly what kind of slave ship was the black rock? episode 9, we'll find out..

wow. finally loving jack again! the only thing that irritated me about the richard/hurley/jack scene was that the one question i needed asked was unaddressed. either hurley or jack needed to ask richard what happened on the day of the incident? richard told sun that he 'watched them all die,' which makes sense, if he saw something that looked like a nuclear blast, or any kind of explosion - whatever it was that happened.. but i felt like richard's reintroduction was missing a few steps: jack was nabbing jughead with richard and eloise yesterday. there needed to be some establishment that this richard did not jump through time along with the rest of them. it was sort of implied in hurley's questioning 'are you a cyborg? vampire?', but i wanted more solid answers. (interesting note, in jorge garcia's podcast, it's revealed that the 'vampire' line was an adlib thrown in by jorge, and kept by the editors.) richard's experience with the survivors has been completely out of order. let's look at richard's linear timeline:
  • 1954: richard meets locke, faraday, miles and charlotte
  • 1974: richard meets sawyer, who surprises him with knowledge of jughead.
  • 1977: richard meets kate when she brings ben to him after being shot by sayid. he later meets jack for the first time, after faraday was shot by eloise. richard parts ways with jack after deciding to keep eloise safe. jack proceeds with the plan to detonate jughead.
  • 2004: locke meets richard for the first time. richard suggests sawyer should kill locke's father.
  • 2005: (100 days after the crash) richard and the others ambush kate and sayid, assists them in overtaking keamy's helicopter, which gets them off the island. ben pushes the wheel, leaving locke as the leader, who vanishes in front of richard's eyes.
  • 2005 - 2007: richard is bored, builds a ship in a bottle.
  • 2007: locke returns as nemesis. jacob is killed. nemesis ties up richard, then sets him free. richard finds sawyer in the jungle, then he finds hurley and jack. richard hasn't seen sawyer or jack since the helicopter, 3 years ago. jack saw richard yesterday.
this scene also recalled the plot point introduced along with the flashforwards - that once touched by jacob, you cannot die until the island 'allows' you to die. jack's attempt to kill himself was thwarted, as were michael's numerous suicide attempts. what doesn't make sense to me however is the sudden appearance of christian shepard to michael moments before his demise - if smokey is taking the form of christian there, then does smokey have some control over when people can die? according to the ghost boy, nemesis isn't allowed to kill the candidates - though nemesis may be able to set up situations in which the candidates can die. why is nemesis appearing in that moment, and not some form of jacob instead?

3. the slo-mo reunification
this episode gave us the classic 'lost' reunification montage, complete with soaring michael giacchino music. the scene nicely juxtaposes last week's similar, but sinister slo-mo montage depicting the reunification of the 'dark side' camp. i loved sun's 'where the hell did you guys go?' look. there have been several of these montages in the show's history:
  • season 2: the tailies arrive at the beach. this is probably the best one, since it features the reunification of both rose and bernard, and sun and jin.
  • season 3: jack, kate, and locke return to the beach camp. the mood is quickly spoiled when sawyer sees juliet is with them.
  • season 4: the oceanic 6 arrive in hawaii. each reunification montage ends with its focus on an outsider, someone who has no one to hug - in this one, it's kate who has no family to greet her. sayid is also alone, though hurley quickly brings him into his family.
so we're now coming up to the halfway point in the season, and we've seen the gathering of each of the warring tribes, good and bad, nemesis vs. jacob. to close it out, a periscope pops out of the water..

4. preboomer
'proceed as planned,' widmore says to the man at the periscope.
'yes sir, mr. widmore.'

since widmore has no interest in joining jacob's camp, i suspect his 'plan' is probably to be joining nemesis and his followers at hydra island.. does this mean that widmore has been assisting nemesis this whole time?
wow! so this answers some questions, namely, one that's been bugging me for two years: why didn't widmore just get on ajira 316 if he wanted back on the island so bad? the answer is finally becoming clear - widmore has made a deal with nemesis: bring him transport off the island in exchange for leadership after nemesis leaves. widmore doesn't want to just get back to the island, he wants to ensure that when he does come back, it's his.

i also think nemesis' promise to ben that he would become leader was a bold-faced lie, pandering to ben's greatest weakness: power. ben would arrive at hydra just in time to be executed by widmore, perhaps another condition of widmore's deal with nemesis. widmore sent the freighter purely for the purpose of wiping out ben. if he's coming back to the island, maybe he has to know that ben is out of the picture.

we need to find out exactly how nemesis has been communicating with widmore - somehow nemesis made it clear that widmore must assist locke in bringing the oceanic 6 back to the island. did widmore know that locke's body would eventually host nemesis himself? is widmore fully aware of what's at stake on the island? if richard doesn't know anything about the candidates, how much does widmore know about jacob and nemesis? questions questions questions..

another question is how desmond is going to be written into the show, after being shot by ben and hospitalized just 6 days ago. but! widmore was at the hospital, and now here he is on a submarine. is desmond on that sub with him?

5. next episode.

is he going to be wanting his stuff back again?

the episode is titled 'recon,' which of course means 'reconaissance' and well as 'to con again.' i will be rewatching season 1's 'confidence man' as prep.
an episode that pays homage to sawyer must, by default, include some kind of con game. sawyer's parallel story might involve sawyer attempting to con hurley out of some of his millions - or it could reveal that parallel sawyer is a very different person, who might never have written his revenge letter. i think we absolutely must see juliet in the parallel as well, perhaps revealing that she's the mother of jack's son.. and if juliet returns in the parallel..

..will she return in the timeflash on the island? will she meet sawyer in the parallel and thenwhoosh shoot and kill him inadvertently during the timeflash as nemesis' gang is journeying to hydra island? either way, this episode is also an opportunity to do juliet's character justice in the parallel world, just as ben's episode also served dr. arzt. i want classic elizabeth mitchell moments.. because there are none of those on 'v.'

i can't wait to see exactly how sawyer's relationship with nemesis has progressed. its likely we'll spend the entire episode with the nemesis camp as they make their way back to hydra island.. i think those innocent people on the ajira flight are about to meet some smokey deaths..


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