i am currently rewatching the show in chronological order via this website:
because of the timeflashes, i wasn't sure if this would be a worthwhile way to take in the story, but after several episodes i've been completely sucked in. it's turned out to be a great way to take in the full scope of the story.
my response to the series finale is postive, but mixed. i stated in my last post that if the reveal of the finale blew me away, i would need to rewatch the entire show to evaluate it. initially i didn't think i would need to do this, in fact i initially felt that the finale didn't cast much light on the entire series at all. but the more i pondered it, i realized that the finale does cast new light on the entire series - not in an m. night shamalayan kind of way, but in a deeper, spiritual, and thematic way. because the narrative is so fractured, the chronological rewatch has turned out to be the best way to really process the entire story we've been given. i've written quite a lot about the finale already, but i will complete the entry and post it after i've finished my rewatch.
i will also post a separate response to 'the new man in charge' epilogue that has been released with the dvd's.
last weekend all key props and costumes from the show were auctioned off at santa monica airport. the exhibit was a fan's dream come true. check out this video showing how much work went into creating it:
it's a shame that all these items are being spread among the fans and not going into a permanent exhibit. i want to revive that petition to convert tom sawyer island into LOST island at disneyland. the chance to run around for a day, peer down the hatch, push the button, hang with roger linus, sit on flight 815, and inspect the amazing iconic props from this show was an experience as overwhelming as the actual finale. it was the perfect way to say goodbye.
interestingly, the blast door map was not up for auction.. i wonder which lucky cast/crewmember got it..
on the chronological rewatch:
if revisiting the show interests you, i highly recommend the chronological viewing. i am only at the halfway point (amazingly, the halfway point in the entire epic story is when the tailies reunite with the beach camp), but so far, it it smoothes over an amazing number of narrative bumps that occurred in the traditional episodic viewing. many plot points that felt shoehorned or retconned into the timeline (like nikki and paolo) now play perfectly smoothly as part of the great, whole story that is 'lost.' even jack's tattoo episode is improved (slightly).
some observations from watching the show chronologically:
- it begins with the hated 'across the sea.' so right away, it's out of the way. i wish i could say that this helps the episode, but it doesn't really. however, it does set up the scope of the entire story, and gives a glimpse of the source, which we won't see again until the final moments of jack's life.
- what is interesting is that after mother and mib have been laid to rest, the next scene is the timeflash that took the season 5 survivors deepest into the past, when they saw the back of the statue. so narratively, man in black tells mother he's going to build a wheel - then only a few scenes later we see him in christian shepard's form (he was able to carry that manifestation through time as well?) instructing john locke to push the wheel in order to stop the time flashes.
- the next episode is richard's incredible story in 'ab aeterno.' it sets up the epic scale of the story quickly, and the next few episodes follow richard's point of view as he remains ageless and the island changes around him. it's really great to see this story from richard's pov - since in the end, he is the most constant character through the entire series.
- visitors from the future pop in and out of the early years of the show - and their chronology is all out of order. which makes viewing 'lost' chronologically not entirely unlike show's original fractured narrative. the visitors arrive in 1954 and meet richard. this time around, it is richard we identify with as we take in the story. locke comes to him, gives him a compass, says that he's meant to be their leader, and that he'll be born in a few years. the next scene shows locke's birth. then we see richard's attempts to check out locke through the years.
- we next learn about dharma through the story of ben, who's mother died in childbirth, and whose father was given a job out of pity by horace goodspeed.
- the timejumpers appear again - and infer that this person named locke was successful at preventing their deaths by stopping the timejumps. unfortunately they are stuck in 1974, and we follow their adventures as they decide to stay on the island and join up with the dharma initiative.
- after three years of peace with dharma, the people from the future are joined by four of their own - and they throw everything into disarray. one of them, jack, realizes that his purpose is to undo a plane crash that will occur in 2004. he drops a nuclear bomb down a construction site. juliet falls down the hole, and hits the bomb.
- there's an interesting new tension in the chronological version, because if you're taking in the story for the first time, events that unfold after the detonation of jughead have new mystery behind them - you keep wondering 'did it work?' the day of the incident, we see pregnant eloise hawking, working to help jack detonate the bomb. one of the first things we see after the bomb goes off, is eloise redirecting young faraday to study science. the stakes for her are amazingly high - she doesn't know if the bomb worked either, but she does know that her son will hold the key to whether or not it does, and knows that if he's to be successful, his journal must contain the necessary instructions to guide them in the past.
- what follows are the childhoods of all our major characters. i had forgotten how many childhood flashbacks we saw, and sometimes a childhood flashback was only one act of an episode, like sun's 'i got the maid fired and i loved it' bit from 'the glass ballerina.' we get a peek at the childhoods of charlie, sun, kate, jack, juliet, sayid.
- next we get the bulk of the main character's flashbacks from the first three seasons of the show - some of the stories are stronger than others, but episodes occurring at roughly the same time have been smartly intercut with each other. it's refreshing to see these stories laid out in order, and some interesting new juxtapositions occur. jack and kate got married at roughly the same time, both with unhappy endings. jin accuses sun of hiding her inability to conceive around the same time that claire's boyfriend accuses her of getting pregnant to force him to stay with her.
- the events leading up to the crash are emotionally breathtaking. every character had a major story arc coalesce at the airport, and it's incredible to see them all cut together. even outside of the airport, the emotional buildup to juliet's book club, and desmond's ultimate failure to push the button is intense.
- once the crash is over, the island adventure is presented mostly straight, though the adventures of the tailies, nikki/paolo, the schemes of the others, and the mobisodes (of varying quality) are seamlessly woven into the story.
- it's interesting to have the flashbacks removed, because it's impossible to remember exactly which facet of the person's past was originally juxtaposed with certain island moments. so those lingering shots of characters remembering their pasts, for once, includes their entire past history, not just the convenient or ironic bit sometimes manufactured by the writers. in many ways this plays better because we have the whole of the person's past already under our belts, and we can draw our own conclusions about what trauma is motivating their current actions. in season 2, when sun asks kate if she's ever taken a pregnancy test, we've already seen the scene from kate's past where she broke down in the bathroom crying over her test results - in the show structure, we didn't get that scene until the middle of season three when the show was in the late stages of treading water. any reference to a character's past becomes a potential 'flashback' moment.
- the island story races by - i'm at episode 53 of 101. sun finds out she's pregnant, sayid is about to find 'henry gale's' balloon, and the blast door map has fallen on locke's oft-abused leg.
2. the overall island
5. final thoughts before the finale
i'm certain now that the point of having sun lose her english for two episodes was to foreshadow that both she and jin in the parallel will not only regain their previous island memories, but also their ability to speak english - very handy for a life on the run from daddy.
there's a brief scene between jack and sawyer that establishes an interesting dynamic. sawyer realizes that he is, in part, responsible for the deaths of sun, jin, sayid, and lapidus. now he and jack are even. they both took huge risks, they both have blood on their hands as a result, and now they both must find a way to resolve the guilt.
so jacob has managed to appear in earnest, and the big question/answer powerpoint presentation we've been waiting for has finally occurred. jacob's explanation for why he brought them to the island is an echo of what he had already told alpert in 'ab aeterno,' but this had extra impact because he's actually telling it to the people who's stories and backstories we've watched for six years. 'i didn't pluck any of you out of a happy existence. you were all flawed. i chose you because you were like me. you were all alone. you were all looking for something that you couldn't find out there. i chose you because you needed this place as much as it needed you.' this alone explains why we've never seen any of the stories of 'the socks' or other background characters who were also on the flight. yes, dr. arzt, we know there were other people on the plane too, but the show isn't interested in them because jacob isn't interested in them, and he's not interested in them because they are not 'lost' in their lives.
the simplicity of the explanation for kate's name being crossed off the list was also beautiful - though interesting that kate and claire were likely crossed off for 'mothering' the same child. it's possible that claire wasn't crossed off until she went crazy and jacob said 'no thanks, already had one crazy mom protecting this island.'
and jack steps up. we knew this was coming for a while, and it was pretty much cemented in my mind when he took a 'leap of faith' off the boat and swam back to shore. this is what jack was meant to do. the show has framed itself again and again around jack vs. locke, and now, amazingly, we have megajack and smokeylocke battling it out in the final episode. how effin cool is that? i hope they grow into giants and fight each other like this:
some people have expresed doubt that jack has truly become leader because he didn't drink form the same wine bottle that jacob drank out of when taking his vow. in an interview, mark pellegrino, who plays jacob, revealed that in 'across the sea,' it was originally written that mother gave jacob water from the stream, and that in that episode it was changed to the bottle instead, thereby shifting the 'magic' of the ceremony to the incantation uttered by both of them rather than the actual water or wine itself.
though the show has never fully answered what happened on the day that desmond first turned the 'failsafe' key in the season 2 finale, we do know that turning the key:
- made a distinctive low frequency noise, that has not been heard on the show before or since.
- turned the sky purple
- exposed the island to the search efforts of both penny and charles widmore
- imploded the hatch
- 'unstuck' desmond in time
- made desmond immune to the effects of a 'catastrophic electromagnetic event.'
- the characters, who we've seen explored in incredible depth over 6 years
- the actors who have brought incredible life to those characters
- the island of hawaii, making this the most cinematic television show ever shot
- the fans, whose support has driven the show to an unprecedented level of detail
directed by: tucker gates. star director of the season, with 'ab aeterno,' and 'the substitute' under his belt. i think he was just totally unable to connect to the emotional core of this story, which should have been an incredibly complex triangle of love and hate between two brothers and their 'mother.' i should have been crying for them. there should not have been a flashback at the end.
cinematography by: stephen st. john. some beautiful shots in this episode, even if the cave of light was embarrassing. the sea turtle, the star wars sunset, the circling shots around man in black as he rages discovers uncle owen and aunt beru's charred bodies..
hoo boy: i've ridden a roller coaster of emotions over this episode, ranging from full on hatred to finally coming around and appreciating the ideas and information contained in it (despite questionable choices in the execution).
1. the real problems
2. the story in focus
3. the new game
4. the missing history
5. echoes of the future/past
6. other problems
8. next episode
1. the real problems
yes, there were so many problems with this episode. i could go on and on about them. it got to a point where i began deeply questioning whether damon and carlton would actually be able to write a satisfying finale. what most people claim to be bothered by are not the same things that bothered me. i love lost because the storytelling choices are always bold. to exclude the entire main cast in the episode before the finale suite? amazingly bold. to give us the largest mythological download we've ever had on the show? fantastic idea. give us 'the beginning' before sending us into 'the end?' genius. i'm glad that damon and carlton continue to stand behind their choices in conceiving this episode, because everything about it on paper is brilliant. after the success of 'ab aeterno,' i was ready to come out of this episode with my faith in the show fully renewed, perhaps twitching in ecstasy from having witnessed the most amazing episode of lost, ever. i can easily fall into the endless loop about what was wrong with this episode, but first lets talk about the intriguing ideas at play.
what has frustrated so many people is that, according to damon and carlton, 'this is what an answers episode of lost looks like.' and for an 'answers episode' it pretty firmly establishes the idea that no one on this island actually knows anything about what makes the island what it is. there is no answer to that question. but, and this is a capital b but, the reason this episode takes us to these specific events in history is because this is the true origin of the story of lost. that is the 'answer' we get. nothing before this point matters, and if it does, well, it doesn't.
another reason people hated this episode is because it is very cagey and mysterious about how it gives us those answers. like every episode, it has a larger picture that we're only getting a tiny glimpse of. at this point, the audience wants to see the whole damn picture already. my friends can attest that my faith was shaken, deeply. i was angry, annoyed. i thought 'wow, damon is so sensitive to criticism.. he must feel awful that this episode was such an abysmal failure..'
but after having watched it a few times, and after letting go of the problems in the execution, there is a nice little mystery story hinted at here. i'm going to re-tell the story of 'across the sea,' based on hints dropped, and my own theories.
2. the story in focus
we begin with claudia, washed ashore after a shipwreck, and speaking latin. is she egyptian? based on the beach photography, i think it is safe to assume that the events we're witnessing take place before the building of the statue, temple, and all other egyptian ruins.
claudia meets 'mother,' who delivers her twin babies then kills her. we see that mother does not age during the course of the 40 years covered in the story, so it's safe to assume that she has been acting as protector of the light for a very very long time. she distrusts people, which seems to be the reason she a) lives like a hermit, and b) hasn't found a replacement for herself.
when claudia washes ashore and has two babies in her, mother must have felt a tremendous amount of relief - 'finally, two little people i can mold, and if one does work out, i'll always have a backup!'
mother's life on the island has clearly included other people, otherwise she wouldn't speak the language, and she clearly seems to have personal experience with them given her speech later echoed by mib himself, 'they come, destroy, corrupt, etc..'
mother must have known that there were other survivors of claudia's ship, but for some reason, decided to let them live and build a village on the other side of the island. if she's the fierce protector of the light, why would she allow this? since she possesses mass-murder super-powers, why not just kill them all upon arrival? does she have her own candidacy-system that keeps her from abusing her powers?
once the boys discover other people, mother is forced to show them something they were not quite ready to see: a stream leading into a cave of illuminated midichlorians. apparently this cave is an entryway to the source of the energy of life. she tells them it is their 'reason' for being there, that she is the protector of it, and one of them will have to take over some day. it seems like a mighty vulnerable treasure, what with how it glows yellow light all day and night, but apparently it can only be found by the anointed protector of the island. boy in black will spend his next 30 years walking every inch of the island in search of it.
the next revelation is that boy in black shares hurley's power of being able to see the dead - claudia appears and tells him his true origin, causing boy in black to suffer a kind of 'truman show' syndrome in which he begins a quest to find the true world 'across the sea.'
right then and there, mother probably should have hit him with the same rock she used to kill claudia. instead, mother allows him to go. perhaps he'll learn the true nature of men and decide to come back to her eventually? or perhaps she likes him so much more than jacob that she can't give up hope on him becoming protector of the light just yet? or maybe she sees a spark of hatred in him that will come in very handy one day..
another key point is that man in black develops his manipulative attitude towards men while living amongst these people. he sees that they embody all the things mother warned him about, and yet remains with them because they are 'a means to an end.'
we can only assume that these people have been doing experiments with the light for decades, much like dharma had done - and however it is that man in black came to 'just know' that attaching a wheel to a system that channels the light and the water would send him home, we do know that his proposed machine actually works, and spits the user out in tunisia.
when she gets jacob to the cave, she makes him promise that 'no matter what you do, you won't ever go down there.' is this possibly because mother has been down the cave herself, and is trying to save jacob from a fate worse than dying? how else would she know what happens? clearly there is no smoke monster running around, or else mother would be focused on protecting her sons from it - unless at this point in time mother herself was the smoke monster.
next, mother is murdered - stabbed with the same knife that man in black will eventually give to alpert, who will use it to try and kill jacob. jacob will later give it to dogen, who will give it to sayid, who finally gives it back to the man in black by ineffectively stabbing him in the chest. when the man in black tells alpert how to kill jacob, his instructions are based on the successful murder of his mother, who also did not age. he tells him that jacob must be stabbed before he says a word, otherwise it will be too late (dogen says the same thing to sayid about killing the man in black, though mib managed to get out 'hello' before being stabbed. did this save him?).
it seems like whether or not the intended target actually gets words out is not as important as 'the rules.' jacob says plenty of words to ben before being killed - jacob was successfully killed because his brother had 1) gained an audience with jacob and 2) manipulated someone else into killing him.
so how is it that mother was able to be killed? mother doesn't seem to have a candidacy system in play (does she have a cave with two names written on it, jacob and the prince symbol?) - i think once a successor has been anointed, the previous protector becomes susceptible. after leaving man in black alive and then burning the village and filling in the well, i think she was only waiting for him to come back and kill her. and, perhaps mother actually used her favorite son as her escape route - much like man in black had to manipulate ben into killing jacob, mother orchestrated her own death by driving her favorite son to enough hatred to make the act a certainty. mother saw in the birth of the twins a perfect opportunity: she could mold these boys into becoming her successor and murderer, respectively.
3. the new game
the death of mother and the transformation of brother into smokey is the true start of the story of 'lost,' because before these events, the struggle of life on the island was simpler: there was a light to be protected, and there was one person assigned to protect it. the protector possessed two supernatural powers, imbued upon them by the light itself: agelessness (or a kind of immortality with limits), and (though we didn't see it directly) a smoke-monster-like ability to quickly kill an entire village (purge #1) and fill in a very deep well without any assistance.
when mother gave jacob the wine, she transferred to him the powers of agelessness and the ability to locate 'the source.' perhaps she intended that the smoke entity, an existence 'worse than death,' die with her, but when jacob threw his brother into the cave, i believe that this manifestation of her power was reborn, essentially splitting the numerous powers of 'the protector' between the brothers. the result was that the primary goal to protect the light became overshadowed by the rivalry between the brothers, both of whom now have powers originating from the same source, preventing them from harming each other. the new game is that jacob must find a successor before his brother finds a way to kill him. jacob came to see himself as smokey's warden, rather than the island's protector.
the great irony is that jacob was able to leave the island many many times in order to recruit his candidates, (it's likely mother did this as well, bringing claudia's shipwreck) an act that must have driven his brother mad - if only the brother had known the truth about the source, the limits of the job and the purpose of it, he might have accepted the responsibility of becoming protector at the cost of only being able to visit the places across the sea.
many questions have been asked about 'the rules' that govern jacob and the man in black - what forces uphold these rules? it seems that the answer truly is the island itself. this source, the light, has its hands in both jacob and man in black, and because they are 'cut from the same cloth,' they cannot harm each other - a rule that only became true once the two were imbued with mother's former powers.
4. the missing history
though we don't see them there are many missing discovery beats to the story of jacob and his brother that we can fill in using our knowledge from the show's history:
- man in black discovers that his shapelessness is actually capable of resuming his previous form.
- perhaps accidentally, man in black discovers that he can also take the shape of other dead bodies on the island.
- man in black appears as mother in order to freak jacob out. jacob probably cries.
- jacob likely has a similar journey of discovery that jack had regarding the visions of his dead father. jacob probably chased the ghosts around the island before finally deducing that his brother is behind it and did not actually die. that must have been a very weird day.
- a good amount of time probably passed while the two tried very hard to kill each other in various ways. similarly to how jack was prevented from jumping off the bridge, or how michael was prevented from shooting himself in the face, or how keamy was prevented from shooting michael in the face, fate (or the island) intervened in every murder attempt. this is probably known as the 'groundhog day' period in island history.
- jacob realizes that he needs to figure out how to find a willing successor before his brother figures out how to kill him. does jacob even care about the light? jacob somehow begins travelling off-island, touching people, and bringing them to the island.
- for centuries, people are brought to the island by jacob, who, eternally bitter at his mother, never interferes with the actions of the people he brings.
- the initial group of people brought to the island are egyptian, and exposed to the two forces at play. they take sides. the statue of tawaret is built in honor of jacob. those who join the man in black complete construction of his frozen donkey wheel. they dig the tunnels underneath the dharma barracks. the system developed by the man in black to channel the light and the water is used by his followers to create the lever that summons him when pulled. the inscription is carved depicting the battle between the monster and the statue.
- once construction on the wheel is complete, man in black realizes that 1) it works! and 2) it doesn't work on him. d'oh. i suspect that purge #2 happened around this point.
- jacob uses magnus hanso and his ship, the black rock to bring the next group of people to the island. they all die. richard alpert becomes jacob's spokesperson - it is at this point that 'the others' as we know them are officially formed.
- 'the others,' or jacob's people, grow in numbers throughout the years, many of them candidates, many of them not.
- 1954: the us army finds the island while doing nuclear bomb tests. jacob orders that they be purged (purge #3). jacob's people procure their tents and equipment. young charles widmore and eloise hawking are among jacob's people at this point.
- 1960's: the dharma initiative arrives on the island to research its properties. it is unclear if dharma's presence is connected to influence from the man in black. they clash with jacob's people, but also have a fence designed to keep smokey out - they are perhaps a neutral third party with purely scientific goals.
- 1973: truce between dharma and jacob's people is reached.
- 1977: last known successful on-island-conception birth: ethan
- 1977: the incident
- 1992: purge of dharma (purge #4?), ordered by jacob. were they getting to close to messing with the light? that whole detonating a nuclear bomb wasn't grounds for purging?
- 1992-2004 ben becomes leader of jacob's people, who move into the dharma barracks and continue the project operations.
- the boys discover that other people are on the island in a way meant to evoke our first discovery of the others in season 1. the primary narrative complication of season 1 was the discover that 'we are not alone.'
- the light emanating from the top of the source cave is meant to evoke the light emanating from the hatch.
- the revelation that the island houses an energy source needing protection and a line of replacement protectors evokes desmond's job and trial at the hatch in season 2.
- boy in black's decision to join 'the others' is reminiscent of the narrative turn in season 3 when the show suddenly shifted to their perspective.
- revelation of the origin of the donkey wheel recalls the biggest surprise of season 4
- the scene depicting the construction of the well is deliberately meant to recall the hatch construction site, where 'the incident' occurred at the end of season 5
- allyson janney. girl can rapid fire the sorkin dialogue but cannot latinspeak her way out of a wet paper bag. the role was conceived for and written specifically for her - damon and carlton were thrilled that she made time in her schedule to do it. whether you like it or not, hers is the face they envisioned as 'mother.' i would like to have seen someone with more otherness and mystery, someone like isabella rossellini.
- the kids. i think part of the problem with this episode is that it all just felt too modern and too midwestern american - whereas a strength of 'ab aeterno' came from having the bulk of the episode in spanish. yes it was a big, bold choice to set this episode in the time and place they chose to do it in, but the three central actors kept bringing us back to wisconsin. the kids could not carry it. the whole thing would have been immensely better if everyone was at least a foreign actor speaking english with an accent.
- the cave of light. also known as the midichlorian toilet. a wholly unspectacular visual to anchor the show's central struggle to. in the geronimo jack's beard podcast they reference that the source is described as a waterfall, not a cave - and man in black's line even refers to it as a waterfall.. was it just not possible to find a suitable location? are there no spectacular waterfalls in hawaii?
jacob: goodbye brother, goodbye
yes, the flashback to the scene in 'house of the rising sun' is horribly frustrating - really its inclusion cemented the episode as a failure in everyone's mind. it's irritating to see a show that so often relies on subtlety succumb to such blatant pandering. they have used other flashbacks this season in ways that didn't bother me because they were relevant to the characters - in 'the substitute,' as locke is showing sawyer the names scrawled in the cave, the show flashes back quickly to the moments that jacob touched each person, culminating in sawyer's realization that jacob did indeed touch him.
the problem with showing this flashback is that the identities of the bodies are totally inconsequential to kate, jack, and locke - it doesn't matter a whip to any of them who these people are. it seems like the intended effect was to have a big revelatory feeling of 'woah, so that's how the puzzle fits together' but instead it felt like 'see? see! we planned it! we did!' it treated us like idiots, which makes this perhaps the most hated preboomer in the entire history of 'lost.' damon and carlton have tried to defend the choice of showing the flashback by saying that they wanted to remind us how far the characters have come - but this interviewer pointed out quite well that the entire sideways plot serves that very purpose just as well.
the inclusion of the flashback is, i believe the weakest aspect of the episode - and based on the vitriolic reaction of jorge garcia's girlfriend in their latest podcast, the flashback scene was not in the original script.
8. next episode
is titled 'what they died for,' and is the beginning of the 'finale suite,' meaning damon and carlton consider this and the finale to be all in one. we don't know the full details, but i'm expecting that we will discover in retrospect that we did in fact need to know the events in 'across the sea' in order to fully understand what happens at the show's conclusion. will the island sink? does this mean the light goes out? is the parallel world the result of the light going out? is the sinking of the island actually a solution to a problem? does it free the island from needing a protector and finally allow smokey to go home? does smokey going home blink everyone into the parallel? or does the parallel blink itself out of existence?
it was extremely difficult to come to terms with this episode. at one point i was so disillusioned i said 'mission accomplished, damon and carlton: i'm ready to leave the island.' they didn't quite lose me, but they nearly did, and they have definitely lost others who are not so willing to give it a second (and third) look. but now the major mythological download is over. all that is left are our characters and the final fate of the island, and them. a week from now, all this will be over.
- parallel jack and locke
- what smokey wants
- echoes of the past
- the dead
- next episode
- the bomb was made of the exact same brand of c4 as the massive explosive wired up on the freighter in the season 4 finale. sayid's analysis of the bomb mechanics was also similar to his diagnostic skill in the same episode.
- whether or not to touch the bomb was an echo of the central argument of the season 2 finale in which desmond, locke, and eko debated whether or not to push the button - both choices with disastrous outcomes.
- the sub departing the island, heading for home happened in the season 5 finale, with sawyer, kate and juliet on board.
- sayid blew up while holding a bomb, as did arzt in the season 1 finale (though ilana's death was much more in that vein). the self-sacrifice is an echo of michael's death in the season 4 finale.
- underwater explosion and major character death by flooding: season 3 finale, when charlie died.
- sun and jin: after one poignant scene in which sun returns jin's wedding ring, the couple is tragically disposed of. what has bothered me more than anything are the missing beats in every sun and jin scene. missing beat #1: sun's discovery that jin has learned to speak english, which would fuel their english speaking scenes with an emotional weight instead of audience puzzlement as to why they're not just defaulting back to korean. missing beat #2: acknowledgement that jin is actively choosing to orphan ji yeon by staying with sun. in the last podcast, damon and carlton addressed this issue, saying that they as writers were faced with the same choice as jin, and ultimately chose to have him choose to stay with sun rather than face eternal separation from her - which is fine - but, have the characters address it. the scene would have been much much more powerful if both jin and sun took the time to lay out the full consequences of the choices made. it made me think of the similar (and much more emotional) scene in 'the abyss' - that scene worked because the characters dealt with the situation in the smartest way they knew how, and actively exhausted every possible option before succumbing to the inevitable. i wanted so much more from this scene - i should have been crying through the whole thing, not just when the other characters began to mourn.
- sayid: this one was interesting, because we already watched sayid die at the beginning of the season - since then we've had to question whether or not this resurrected person was actually 'sayid.' his actions seemed in line with who sayid has always been: someone caught between good and evil. he made a choice to prove to dogen that he was good, but then found that the task was a trap and chose the dark side almost out of spite (and because smokey promised him he would be reunited with nadia). despite all the zombie jokes, sayid seemed to still retain his humanity by being conflicted (as he always was) about the choice, and proved to be 'himself' again by not killing desmond in the well. his final self-sacrifice (if you can call it that, since he was kind of already dead) seems meant to solidify in our minds that yes, sayid was resurrected to full health by the temple and was indeed 'himself.' his is such a strange death on the show because we've kind of already mourned his loss. i'm disappointed though that resurrected sayid was killed without answering the basic mystery about his resurrection: what exactly brought him back to life if it wasn't the temple spring? why has there been no other instance of true resurrection from death on the show before sayid? also, all this business of being 'claimed' was raised as a major plot-point in the first third of the season, asking us to question whether or not claire and sayid were still 'themselves.' if it turns out that they were in fact always themselves (which it seems to be, given how they've disposed of sayid), then the temple stuff truly was 'filler,' padding out the early season with inconsequential plot-points.
- lapidus: so much for taking the ajira plane home.. lapidus' death felt like ilana's in that it seemed to come out of having no other plan for the character. it seems like lapidus has only been on the show out of coincidence (he happened to sleep in the morning of flight 815, and he also happened to be piloting flight 316). his character was kept alive for the majority of the season only to give plausibility to smokey's plan to take the ajira plane off the island. now that we're entering the final phase of the story, we know that smokey doesn't need a vehicle to get off the island, rendering lapidus useless. his loss is also part of the 'empire strikes back' storytelling model, in which the characters need to be backed into the worst corner possible before being allowed to find their way out in the endgame. i'll miss him, though i'm sure he'll pop up in the parallel.
the preboomers for the last several episodes seem to occur one beat after when the preboomer would traditionally occur - in this episode, it could have ended with the shot of jin's hands drifitng out of sun's - or it could have ended with jack crying on the beach. but instead the show is focused on keeping the forward momentum going, so it's not booming after resolutions but instead in the midst of rising action. it's certainly more 'intense,' but one of my favorite things about the show has been when it would occasionally use the preboomer to emphasize an emotional moment. there has been almost none of that this season. while many episodes end with emotional catharsis, nearly every ending has been punctuated by either a declamatory statement from smokey, a submarine poking out of the water, or some other mid-action suspense-builder. i would have preferred this episode to have ended with the shot of the hands, and a single harp-pluck with the 'lost' title card - sun and jin's episodes often ended this way, and giving them that moment would have helped make up for the mess of 'the package.'
directed by: stephen semel, who is primarily an editor on the show but has also directed the season 4 sun/jin episode 'ji yeon.' stephen's inherent understanding of pacing really helped this episode feel less like last week's ho-hum bridging episode and more like the steadily rising action and tension required to get us to the big finish.
cinematography by: stephen st. john. i'm starting to think that the variances in picture quality have less to do with who is actually behind the camera than the cooperation of hawaii's tumultuous weather. this episode was graced with beautiful, clear blue skies, and the return of desmond/libby's boat! there were also several very nice crane shots in the jungle, which coupled with the driving action of the plot gave the whole episode a nice sense of momentum that was missing last week.
basically: i really liked this episode - it paid off all the planning that went into plotting the parallel story threads, finally showing us how the alternate picture weaves together. in a way, the season 6 parallel story is a microcosmic mirror of the structure of the entire show. this episode also reminded me of the season 1 finale, giving each character a moment to shine.
- the weave of the parallel
- great musical moments
- the sun/jin reunion
- smokey's motivation
- jack's jump
jack and david could now be cover models for balboa bay window magazine. after 6 years of nearly every character on the show having daddy issues, it's shocking to see a healthy iteration of this relationship. we were reminded again of david's mother, but given no clues about who she might be (juliet???). i'm anxious to find out how the parallel is going to wrap up - because once everyone 'wakes up,' what is left to do? in that world, the island is underwater. is that truly the end of the show - an 'it was all a dream - in that we lived this complete other life and then erased it, but we still remember it' kind of way? the parallel has been building towards the reunion of the characters all season, but with four hours of show remaining, what remains to happen in the parallel? will everyone truly go on 'happily ever after,' armed with memories of an alternate experience?
i think this episode and 'ab aeterno' had the best music of the season so far - some great moments:
- the 'coincidence theme' as ilana discovers claire has walked into her office
- when desmond asks sayid 'what will you tell her?' the music is a dark, tremulous variation of one of the show's classic love themes
- a new adventure theme when kate and sawyer swim out to the elizabeth
my only complaint about this episode was the handling of this reunion. before i tear the scene apart, i'll first say that yes it made me cry. but that's despite everything that these two actors (and characters) had to work against in the show that seemed determined to ruin and undermine their moment.
second: zoe gets on her walkie and requests that the sonic fence be turned off - we get no confirmation that the fence is off as sun and jin run toward each other - also, there's a big wide shot of them both running directly for the sonic pylon standing between them. why didn't kate, or hurley, or anyone shout 'wait!!'?? so, everyone standing on that beach was perfectly happy to watch sun and jin run to their deaths?
i have to wonder if some moment dealing with the fence was cut from the final version. the lost opportunity is upsetting - it could have been funny, frustrating, and great if sun and jin ran towards each other and then had to stop suddenly, wait for the fence to be turned off, and then get their reunion moment. it would have at least added something a little more clever and interesting to this event we've been waiting for nearly as long as the characters have! to finally decide to allow them to coincidentally meet on the same beach feels lazy to me. both of them worked tirelessly to find each other (when the writing allowed for them to do those things) but the eventual meeting required nothing of either of them other than to just be present.
also - sun gets her english back, giving her plot contrivance handicap a duration of exactly two episodes. i will forgive this on one condition: that sun's loss of english on the island is foreshadowing that sun and jin might regain their english in the parallel once they fully 'wake up.'
4. smokey's motivation
i loved the scene between jack and locke that finally, officially laid out some ground rules about how smokey operates. we now know that yes, smokey requires a dead body on the island in order to assume the form of that person.
which means that the 'enhanced' airing of 'ab aeterno' from last week was operating entirely on assumptions (as it often does.. sigh) when is stated quite frankly 'this is not isabella. this is the smoke monster taking isabella's form in order to manipulate richard.' wtf, enhanced episodes?? i don't know why i watch them. they do nothing but infuriate me, especially when the enhanced commentary could actually help casual viewers understand the show better. instead, it's confusing them. arghrhag.
back to smokey - smokey tells jack that when he appeared as his father and led him to water in season 1, he was trying to 'help' him. uhh.. really? it's a nice idea, but i'm not sure we can truly trace this kind of 'helpful' motivation through all of smokey's appearances as either ghost or smoke. if smokey wanted all the candidates to either die or leave the island, why didn't he prevent the freighter from exploding? he was perfectly capable of appearing on it in christian shepard's form.. that freighter could have taken every last candidate off the island instead of just the o6.
another thing that's puzzling about smokey - is whether or not the parallel is actually the result of smokey getting off the island. several things are evident in the parallel that are in line with what we're told will happen if smokey gets off the island: 1) 'everything in this world will end,' - the parallel presents an entirely different universe. 2) sayid will be reunited with nadia - which happens in the parallel. but! jacob promised dogen that he would see his son again if he joined him, and voila, in the parallel dogen is back with his son.. hmm.. what if at the end of the show everyone gets on the ajira plane, and as it exits the perimeter of the island, it flashes right back to the start of season 6, with jack and company back on flight 815 in the parallel, and jack discovering that strange cut on his neck?
5. jack's jump
another scene with jack that i loved. jack is basically going through and winning back each character. he has had trust-building conversations with sun, hurley, kate, claire, and sawyer. now that he's back on the mainland, i'm sure he will be winning over the b-team of ben, miles, and richard who are still planning to blow up the ajira plane.
jack proves to sawyer that he can follow orders, and goes a step beyond by jumping off the boat with the same decisiveness that sawyer showed when he jumped out of the helicopter three years earlier. i love how there is no fight between these men anymore. jack's guilt over juliet's death is as deep as any blame sawyer might lay on him. i also love how jack has 'joined' smokey purely to oppose him. it seems pretty clear now that it is jack who is meant to take jacob's place. it makes me wonder what jacob's original story was - how did he end up being smokey's watchman? was there a previous list of candidates? if jack stays on the island, will he have to rebuild the lighthouse mirrors in order to find his successor?
locke: you're with me now
man, another episode that felt about 15 minutes long. no wtf-faces or major revelations here, just pure cliffhangery rising action. the music on this preboomer is great - it perfectly punctuates the line before the boom.
why did widmore go back on his deal with sawyer, and why are the candidates now being held by him at gunpoint? is he planning to use them as leverage to get desmond back? i think it's pretty clear that sayid did not kill desmond - hurley hinted at it by referencing anakin's return from the dark side. i think we'll also see a big payoff when sayid 'wakes up' in the parallel and finds himself actually faced with the conundrum desmond proposed to him: what will he tell nadia that he did in order to be reunited with her? how would nadia react when sayid says to her, 'i don't deserve to be with you because in an alternate timeline i was in a plane crash on an island and i tortured a guy because i thought he had an inhaler that belonged to a whiny blonde girl who i banged.'
7. next episode
it's billed as jack and locke centric. i imagine we'll finally see locke's father at the hospital, which might also draw sawyer into the picture. i would love to see juliet, but i have a feeling she is being saved for the finale, to bookend the season. on the island.. i have no idea what's going to happen.