Thursday, March 20, 2008

Thoughts on Meet Kevin Johnson...

First, apologies to anyone who was spoiled by my post "I'm Here to Die..." I confused an on-line preview of the exchange between Sayid and Michael from Meet Kevin Johnson with their brief encounter at the end of Ji Yeon. The inference that Mike couldn't commit suicide turned out to be sound, but I would never have made the connection absent the preview, which was technically a spoiler. So sorry again to anyone who was spoiled -- I promise to be more careful about such things in the future!

That said, I'm glad I got at least one thing right because my prediction about physical time travel and Taller Ghost Walt was totally incorrect. Time travel may yet explain his adolescent appearance to Locke, but it will probably be via astral projection from the future, as predicted by a poster named Netprophet. That actually raises a disturbing possibility I'll return to momentarily. Before going there, however, I want to register my frustration with this episode -- and not because I guessed incorrectly.

For Michael's return to be plausible, he needed to explain how he and Walt made it back to civilization in that rickety little boat. The two presumably found rescue just as Ben promised, but how could he be sure? I understand that Walt's growth spurt limited what the writers could depict. But it would at least have been nice for Mike to mention where that compass heading of 325, which also appears on Rousseau's maps, deposited them. The episode left so many juicy questions unanswered -- it felt like kind of a tease

Speaking of Rousseau, she'd better not be dead -- that would be a golden opportunity wasted. Rousseau's flashback, particularly how Montand lost his arm, ranks right up there with an explanation of the Four-toed Colossus on my list of things I'd like to see. I'd also welcome a little mother-daughter bonding -- or frankly any emotion at all from Rousseau. She's seemed oddly detached since being reunited with Alex. My guess is that Karl is dead but Rousseau is not. Let's hope the latter, like Michael and Locke, still has work to do.

Locke brings me back to the aforementioned grim possibility concerning Walt. Michael saw the ghost of Libby just before activating the bomb, and earlier this season the ghost of Charlie appeared to Hurley. Lost seems to be going the route of HG Wells in depicting spirits as higher-dimensional beings capable of transcending time and space. We've already seen evidence that Walt can project his astral self in the same way. But what if the Taller Ghost Walt who appeared to Locke is actually dead in the future?

Such a speculation is obviously whackadoo because I seriously doubt a show on network television would ever be so dark. If I had to bet, my money would now be on Michael being in the coffin with Sayid as his mercy killer -- i.e., the former will ask the latter to kill him. Still...Walt dying in the flash forward but living on as a ghost would be the kind of bold narrative twist that, say, Stephen King might pull. Come to think of it, the coffin did seem a little on the small side...

Finally, on the subject of the King of Ka, I wanted to highlight a telling reference to the Shining. Recall that Mike is wasting time by bouncing a ball against the wall just like Jack Nicholson in the film version when Minkowski draws the comparison. I'm intrigued because the Shining strikes me as a perfect analogy for what's happening on Lost. Like the Overlook Hotel, the Island was once the site of some trauma that left a powerful psychic imprint upon it. Living and dead alike are driven by this imprint to repeat terrible events of the past.

Of particular relevance, both the Shining and Lost feature psychic children whose powers are intensified by proximity to the Island/Hotel. This booster effect makes the children more sensitive to the imprint but simultaneously gives them the power to resist it. That's why Walt eventually soured on the Island in a way Locke never did, even during his crisis of faith after finding the Pearl. The former is little Danny Torrance, and the latter his father, Jack. Like the Overlook Hotel, the Island needs a new caretaker...

Here are some other thoughts and questions I had about Meet Kevin Johnson:

* The scene with Michael throwing the ball also reminded me of the Great Escape, in which Steve McQueen similarly bounces a ball against the wall after being sent to solitary confinement in the Cooler. An early Simpsons episode parodied this scene brilliantly when Maggie was confined to the Box (i.e., a playpen) by the matriarch of the Ayn Rand School for Tots...

* I find it fascinating that Widmore and Ben each blame the other for the fake Oceanic 815 wreckage. Widmore strikes me as the most logical choice. But I still think it's possible neither one is involved -- the wreckage was staged by Chronology Protection Agents like Ms. Hawking.

* Alternatively, I know it's whackadoo it possible Ben and Widmore secretly collaborated on the cover-up and are now lying about it to their respective people for some unknown reason?

* Tom mentioned that the bodies in the fake Oceanic 815 wreckage were taken from a cemetery in Thailand. Didn't Jack's flashback to when he got his tattoo take place in Thailand? Which reminds me -- I read that Bai Ling was arrested recently for shoplifting. She always struck me as a little nutty...

* Also regarding Tom, it was nice that we got the pay-off to hints that he was the long-rumored gay character on the show. As suggested previously, however, there were so many other mysteries, I would rather have seen resolved.

* What did Tom mean when he said "some of us" can come and go from the Island. Is this a reference to loyalty? Or is there some physical or mental characteristic that suits people for such trips?

* Did anyone else think of Wiley E. Coyote -- and the Acme Co. -- when that flag popped up on the bomb? My first instinct was to be annoyed at such a farcical touch. Then it occurred to me that the bomb is a perfect metaphor for the Swan -- right down to the button labeled execute. Did Ben enter that code after all?

* There was another reference to Kurt Vonnegut. But are they confirming the Slaughterhouse 5 explanation for being unstuck in time or hinting at something deeper? As a poster named Turing's Ghost never tires of reminding me, Vonngeut leaves open the possibility that Billy Pilgrim's experience is a fantasy induced by his brain injury.

* Such ambiguity resonates with another another book conspicuously referenced on the show. The Swan Orientation Film was hidden behind Turn of the Screw, which similarly raises the possibility that the narrator is simply crazy. Would you be disappointed if Lost went the same ambiguous route?

* Another whackadoo speculation to ponder: Alex is pregnant with Karl's baby.

* Finally, be sure to check in periodically at Eye M Sick during the break. I'll hopefully have some new theories and speculations to share, and I welcome your replies!


lisa (lost pezhead) said...

i loved seeing Libby! and Tom ...didn't see that at all?

Capcom said...

I was a little spoiled, but still was surprised by many things! Wow, who figured on the hikers getting sniped? That shocked me. And Sayid was awesome, he didn't go by his heart in this episode! I was not at all upset by his ratting out Mike.

Jason said...

I'm a little bummed about Rousseau :(

This episode was very good, a better one to end on then last week's thankfully. I really expected to be as bored and annoyed with this episode as I was with Kate's, but I was actually very attentive and enjoying it.

Anxious to see what you've gotten out of this episode!

Caer said...

I'm wondering if the reason Michael/Kevin couldn't kill himself is the reason that Richard hasn't seemed to age. The island has a job for him so it's keeping him "preserved" until it's done. And how Locke survived being shot (thanks to that missing kidney).

I got the creepies when Ben sent them into the jungle. But I have a feeling that Rousseau's job isn't done either so I'm not sure that she's dead like Karl.

Landa said...

Solid episode. Could the betrayal of Michael be the catalyst that has Sayid working for Ben in the future? Also wanna know why/how Michael and Walt were able to slip back to 'reality' without anyone (except mother??) knowing? Who else had a feeling that Ben was sending Karl and Rousseau to death?

Lolagrrl said...

Tom's still alive?
Rousseau is dead?
... and who the hell were those snipers?

Why can't I ever figure this show out?!

Oh... wait. Tom ~was~ still alive. That was a "flashback" of sorts to before he was shot on the island...

Meh... I need more coffee.

neaux said...

I'm under the impression none of the oceanic 6 + or - Michael can die off the island.

Jack wasn't able to jump off the bridge.

Sun didn't die in Child Birth.

Hurley was driving recklessly after seeing visions of Charlie.. (he also tried to commit suicide ON THE ISLAND)

Michael's gun didn't fire.

The question is whether we see KATE try to off herself in a later episode.

lisa (lost pezhead) said...

that interesting neaux, kate seems to be the only one so far who hasn't hated off island life...i wonder if we'll see a change in that.

Christie said...

So the abc trailer for the April episodes did make it clear that Aaron was the Oceanic 6.
So my theory that Michael was one of the 6 wasn't true, but I do still think he's the one in the coffin. I still think he probably kills himself in the end. I don't think Sayid will do it but this show always keeps me guessing.
I was a little upset that Sayid was so quick to turn in "Kevin" to the captain. I can't believe that given everything on the boat that Sayid would trust the captain with the news. Did Sayid actually say that he's working for Ben or just one of the plane survivors? Hopefully there is more to why Sayid is ratting out Michael.

Wayne Allen Sallee said...

initially, i thought that there was way too much time in the michael flashback, but it paced out well once tom showed up. i'm still curious as to how the hell m. and walt got back to anywhere, never mind manhattan. (i had always suspected the boat took them straight to the freighter). the show is tightening up even with the slower scenes. who's the sniper? well, lapidus took that midnight flight, and it would be the perfect dodge to have him be the shooter, but i think he took those skeet-shooters with him.

Jason said...

Here's a random thought. We can't trust the captain, we obviously can't trust anything Ben says (even if preceded with "I'm telling you the truth, John"), is it possible the plain wasn't planted by either Widmore or Ben and instead maybe Paik (seeing as the bodies came from...was it South Korea)?

Jason said...

Wow, that's an amazing spelling of plane I just provided.

Wayne Allen Sallee said...

jason, it was bodies from thailand, not so. korea. but i think a lot of us know paik has his hand in all of this somewhere, i'm curious as to how much he is involved. where the hell was he when sun had her baby?

jason said...

Thanks for clearing that up, Wayne. And yes, interesting, he would have definitely been there for the birth if he could have. At least in flashbacks he appeared to care for Sun.

Capcom said...

Interesting post! I like the Shining connections a lot.

Does anyone think that maybe it was Mike bouncing the ball that Sayid and Des heard in their quarters? I haven't listened to them both and compared them yet. The Steve McQeen scene was also referenced in the episode of "From the Earth to the Moon" about building the LEM. Tx for that link too. :-)

Bai Ling a LITTLE nutty? Did you ever see her on that show with celebs singing pop tunes in a contest? Yowza!

I thought of Bugs Bunny when the bomb flag popped up! Like his popguns that said "BANG!". :-D

Yes, I definitely went "Ruh-roh" in my head, as Alex was standing there with her hand on her belly. Young girls with flat stomachs don't usually stand like that. :-o Maybe it was just a fluke.

lil-beeyotch said...

I thought Alex was preggers when Karl had his hand on her back sort of like protecting her and she looked kind of pregnant till she turned to face Ben...jeez that would complicate things!

Atleast we now know where the other Others are :)

I feel like the sniper is one of the others following Ben's instructions??

For some reason the captain also felt like working for his reaction to Mike seemed a bit like um okay I knew that already? I don't know if I'm making any sense...also who said not to trust the captain? Can anyone remember? I don't know WHO to trust, maybe Miles is lying when he said they are here to kill everyone?

Faraday and Charlotte went to that gas place to deactivate the thing apparently and Ben sent Juliet to stop them deactivating? He also sent his people off to the temple which he said was the safest place on the island? Maybe he wants Miles to kill everyone and take Ben and than the others would be safe and the oceanic people would be dead and Ben could pay Miles off?

Libby sounded like Juliet when Mike was in the hospital and that nurse was speaking to him, that freaked me out :O

Bigmouth said...

lisa: I agree -- it was great to see Libby. I was frankly a little frustrated by her abrupt departure from the show. I hope, however, that there's still more to her story. I'd love to see a Widmore flashback where we learn he paid her to provide Desmond the boat. I'm also still hopeful that we'll eventually learn that Hurley's Dave was originally her husband. I figured she ended up in the asylum after Dave died in the deck accident...

Capcom: The sniper attack was shocking, but not particularly satisfying to me for reasons stated above -- Rousseau had better not be dead. I also was fine with Sayid ratting out Michael, though I suspect the former will eventually regret having done so.

Jason: As stated above, I was actually a little frustrated by all of the questions left unanswered by this episode. But I'm with you that this was definitely better than Kate's flash forward.

Caer: Ooh, interesting connection between Mike's inability to die and Richard's immortality! Perhaps he was supposed to perform some task at a specific age, but was blasted physically back in time before he could do so. Now Richard can't grow older until he completes his work. I also wonder if Richard's immortality relates to his ability to come and go from the Island...

Landa: Good call re Sayid's betrayal of Michael being the catalyst for his working with Ben in the flash forward. Like I said to Capcom, I suspect Sayid will eventually regret ratting out Mike. I also agree that they should have explained how Michael and Walt made it back to civilization. I'm particularly curious how Ben could be so sure they would find rescue. It's like he can see the future, which strengthens your inference he sent Karl and Rousseau to their deaths.

Lolagrrl: LOL! I wondered about the identity of those snipers myself. The skeet shooting -- not to mention Alex's disclosure that she's Ben's daughter -- suggests it's the Freighter folks. I'm guessing that this connects back to Frank's special mission to the Island. Still...what self-respecting sniper uses a suppressed MP-5?

Neaux: Good call! I never thought about Sun surviving childbirth because of course correction. I think you may also have explained why these specific individuals are the Oceanic 6. Perhaps they survive because fate course corrects to prevent Widmore's people from killing them. I actually doubt Kate will try to commit suicide in the flash forward -- I think Aaron somehow protects her from course correction. The big dilemma will be convincing her to give up a much better life in the future to return to the Island and embrace her fate.

Wayne: I agree 100% on both of your points. I share your desire to know how Michael and Walt made it back to civilization. And I, too, believe Frank's mission was to deposit those snipers on the Island...

Christie: Your comment re the coffin just made me realize -- it can't be one of the Oceanic 6. Otherwise the press would have covered the death of a celebrity. As for Sayid, I think he still holds out hope that they will be rescued. Remember, he was struck by how forthcoming Captain Gault was with answers to their questions. Under those circumstances, I personally would have found it implausible if Sayid had done anything but rat out Michael. Y

Jason: Like Wayne says, the bodies were from Thailand, which actually suggests a Shepard connection. Of course, my belief is that Ben and Widmore are pointing fingers at each other because a third faction -- the Chronology Protection Agents -- were behind the crash.

Wayne: That's a great question -- where the heck was Paik when Ji Yeon was born?

Capcom: Wait...Bai Ling is a celebrity?! LOL! Seriously, though, good catch re Alex standing with her hand on her stomach. I wonder if her pregnancy will be what convinces Ben to leave the Island...

lil-beeyotch: Another excellent pointer to Alex being preggers -- maybe this speculation isn't so whackadoo after all! We don't yet know who wrote the note telling them not to trust Captain Gault. The logical assumption is it was Michael, but we really don't know for sure. I actually don't think the snipers are working for Ben, but it sure seems like he knew what would happen if he sent Alex to the Temple. Ben wanted Karl and Rousseau to die...

I think Ben is still playing an elaborate chess game that ends with him the last man standing on the Island. As you surmise, he wanted Juliet to stop Faraday and Charlotte so the gas would kill everyone. As I speculate in the Cancer Man's Con, that may be the only way for him to regain control of the Island. I think that may actually be why Libby's ghost told Mike not to activate the bomb -- Ben is trying to change the future. BTW, that scene with Libby in the hospital freaked me out, too!

Capcom said...

The weird thing about Alex getting pregnant is, how could she not know what will happen if she does? TPTB make it seem as if she is oblivious to the threat, and she and Karl are gonna get together regardless of what could happen. That's how it looks to me anyway. When Ben gave her the lecture about it a while ago, a normal teenager would have said, "Well DUH, Dad!". :o)

The Baker said...

Ok,The obvious answer for the snipers would be the gunslingers on the freighter... We havent seen any of them for some time, and we know that the chopper is gone... the obvious guess is that the snipers in the jungle are the creepy gunslingers who were shooting skeet perfectly with automatic weapons... thoughts?

Bigmouth said...

Capcom: Hmmm...good point about Alex not being particularly alarmed by her pregnancy. Maybe she thinks the pregnancy problem has been solved with Aaron's birth. Alternatively, maybe she hopes this will force Ben to let her leave the Island...

Baker: Agreed -- the snipers are the same guys who shot skeet on the boat. I've seen a screen capture where you can clearly see someone crawling in the grass, so the shooter was apparently close by. That would explain how they could be so accurate with just machine guns.

Capcom said...

Hmm, good point Big, teenagers think in limited ways like that. Such as if it was OK for Claire, then it's OK for everyone now. And, that it could be her ticket off-island.

BTW, not that I'm taking sides on who the snipers are or anything, but isn't blowing away a bunch of clay dishes with a machine gun a lot different that "one shot one kill" sniping? I could be wrong, but it doesn't seem like the former would require as much skill. :-)

Wayne Allen Sallee said...

my comment from yesterday didn't go through: i don'ty think that's michael's writing re: don't trust the captain. michael was an architect, i would assume his printing would be more precise. regina was acting loopy, it could have been her. or it could have been taller ghost walt, assuming he really does transport himself to faraway places...

Bigmouth said...

Capcom: That threw me, too, until I saw a screen cap suggesting the shooters were lying in the foliage right nearby.

M The Alien said...

Capcom, my guess is that they aren't working on improving their groupings, sometimes it's just fun to shoot stuff! Also, using a suppressor on an mp5, I think they had MP5SD's, slows the supersonic bullet to subsonic speeds, also dropping the bullet from around 940fps to 700fps. I guess i've hung out with to many soldiers/cops, i'd bring an MP5 with me on a mission like that, but i'd take a pistol with a supressor rather than the MP5SD. Even HK will tell you straight up, the MP5SD will malfunction before another MP5 without a suppressor, so i'm wondering if there will be a moment in an upcomping episode where tptp show us that yes, these guns do malfunction more than the other MP5'S.
Just a random bit of information, I haven't seen it mentioned anywhere so i'll drop it off here, the gas that Dan and Charlotte were trying to shut off was Thionyl chloride. Here's some info about that:
Health Hazards

Thionyl chloride is decribed as corrosive. It reacts with water with the release of hydrochloric acid and sulfur dioxide. It can be irritating to mucous membranes and can be damaging to the eyes, mouth, throat and lungs. Skin can be burned and inhalation can cause lung damage and pulmonary edema, which can be fatal. In some cases, ill efects from exposure have been delayed for several hours after exposure. Environmental exposure limits are generally set at 1 ppm (5 mg.m-3) for 15 min.

Risk and Safety Phrases.

R14-Reacts violently with water.
R20/22-Harmful by inhalation and if swallowed.
R29-Contact with water liberates toxic gas.
R35-Causes severe burns.
S1/2- keep locked up and out of the reach of children.
S26-In case of contact with eyes, rinse immediately with plenty of water and seek medical advice.
S36/37/39-Wear suitable protective clothing, gloves and eye/face protection.
S45-In case of accident or if you feel unwell, seek medical advice immediately (show the label where possible.)

Thionyl chloride is a versatile and effective chlorinating agent that can be used in a number of industrial chemical reactions. Despite the health hazards, thionyl chloride is easier to handle than other chlorinating agents and has the advantage of producing gaseous side products, which simplifies processing in industrial chemistry and also leads to high yields of products. The most important of these are the formation of the useful and highly reactive carboxylic acid chlorides, aromatic sulfochlorides and alkyl chlorides. Thionyl chloride also reacts with amines and sulfamic acids with the sulfamyl chloride reaction products from sulfamic acids being important intermediates in the synthesis of some herbicides. Thionyl chloride is also used as the electrolyte in high performance lithium-thionyl chloride batteries.


Thionyl chloride is used in the "di-di" method of manufacturing G-type nerve agents. It is another precursor that can be made from very common or easily made precursors including chlorine and oxides of sulfur.It can also be made in reactions using one of two other listed precursors: sulfur monochloride or sulfur dichloride.

I found it interesting that it reacts with sulfur, weren't they saying the shower water smelled like sulfur in the swan station? What better way to further the effectiveness of the gas, have the inhabitants shower in and drink one of the chemicals this toxic chemical reacts with to unleash it's deadly properties. Like everyone's sayin', that guy Ben is one smart cookie!
Ok this is my 3rd attempt at posting this, so if it shows up as a triple post, i'm sorry!

annebeth said...

Hi everyone :D I've got something realy cool, and probably incorrect, but anyway:

this episode made it more clear than ever that there are two stories, Ben vs Widmore. Hanso Foundation VS Maxwell group. Global against global (I guess, although Ben seems to work on his own).

But anyway, I was listening to DJ Dan for fun, and I know it's not considered canon (the most of it), but he was making a big point about all the global industries (including Hanso foundation), even if they seem enemies, they all work together (The Man don't hack The Man). That way they can do their evil while the normal people are being kept busy with their fake competition :)

Maibe Widmore and Ben DO work together :) Maibe...

Bigmouth said...

Wayne: would be great if we could compare the printing to Mike's suicide note but I can't find a good screencap. Regina is a great speculation for who wrote the note, but I suspect that Jacob was its real author.

M: Verrry interesting info, especially re the nerve gas connection. Why on (or off) earth was Dharma producing nerve gas? Is this a connection to Hanso's past as a munitions manufacturer? Did Ben make his money by selling chemical weapons to bad maybe Saddam?

Annebeth: I'd be careful of attributing too much significance to Find815 elements like the Maxwell Group. The part about finding the wreckage of the staged Oceanic 815 crash off Bali is clearly canon, but the writers have warned us against taking the rest as such.

Same with DJ Dan, though I think you're right that all of these powerful figures like Widmore and Paik do -- or at least did -- work together. I continue to believe Ben is a major player in their conspiracies, and that he may even have promised to deliver the Island at some point. The current conflict is partly the result of him somehow conning his co-conspirators.