Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Thoughts on Lighthouse...

BIGMOUTH:  I give Lighthouse an 8/10 on the Sickness Scale (4 for mythology and 4 for character).  The episode offered some tantalizing new information but was ultimately kind of a tease.  The Mirror further illuminated Jacob's mysterious plan to save us all.  Claire reappeared in her new and far more interesting incarnation as crazy "Clairesseau."  In the LA X reality, we glimpsed what Jack's domestic life looks like minus the Island's influence.  We met David, the son he never had, and saw Jack's mother Margo once again.  All these Shephard family ties made the episode feel like a reunion party of sorts.  The problem was they forgot to invite the clan's most compelling member: Christian.

"You just don't have what it takes."

White Rabbit Redux.  The many allusions to White Rabbit just made Christian's absence all the more glaring.  Jacob told Hurley to reassure Jack that he "has what it takes" -- the opposite of what Christian told Jack as a child.  Hurley and Jack revisited the Caves, which Zombie Christian showed Jack shortly after the crash.  White Rabbit ranks among the best episodes of the show due in large part to John Terry, whose performance as Christian was simply riveting.  I hope he hasn't been retired for good now that the Smoke Monster is "locked" in Locke's form.  I would have welcomed one more glimpse of Christian through the Lighthouse Mirror.

At 108 degrees, the Mirror shows the temple where Jin and Sun married.

Mirror, Mirror.  That actually brings me to what I loved about the episode.  The Mirror was an elegant metaphor for the connection between Jacob, his Candidates, and the Island.  On a very obvious level, it resembled the Eye of Horus with its many arms reaching out like rays from the sun to touch the figures in Jacob's Tapestry.  Jacob used the Mirror to keep watch over his Candidates, utilizing the information gained from this surveillance to "push" them when his plan required it.  His reassurance to Jack was a perfect example of this modus operandi.  Jacob no doubt knew everything we've learned from the characters' flashbacks by gazing in to the Mirror.

Ka Is a Wheel.  The Lighthouse also further reinforced the Dark Tower parallel that I've previously noted.  The Mirror was like the Wizard's Rainbow, a collection of crystal balls that show visions of other times and places.  The Wheel of Candidates evoked the concept of "Ka," which translates roughly to destiny crossed with karma.  King describes Ka as a wheel whose inevitable turning can only be disrupted by death and betrayal.  Frank Duckett summarized the concept well when he whispered to Sawyer that "it'll come back around."  Ka's calling card is the number 19, which recurs throughout in the King multiverse.  Same with the six LOST Numbers -- they're the fingerprints of fate.

More specifically, the Numbers represent the Ka of the names associated with them.  As I mentioned last week, these Candidates are a "ka-tet" bound by the Numbers, just like the characters in the Dark Tower are the Ka-Tet of 19.  In that regard, I was wrong to suggest that the Numbers are significant simply because of their connection to the Valenzetti Equation.  They are indeed its core factors, but they're also Hurley's winning lottery combination, the stamp on the Swan Hatch, the code for the Swan computer, the jerseys at the airport, the mileage on Hurley's Camaro, degrees on the Candidate Wheel, etc.  The Numbers are all of these things and none.  They are Ka.

You Broke the Rose.  Even more fundamentally, the Lighthouse Mirror reminded me once again of the analogy between the Dark Tower and the Island itself.  The Tower serves as a keystone for all realities in the King multiverse.  It's located at the nexus of six(!) magical beams arranged like spokes on a wheel and forming the Tower's foundation.  The beams were once protected by twelve animal guardians (actually giant robots).  But these guardians malfunctioned over time, and four of the six beams collapsed.  The Ka-Tet of 19 must prevent the forces of chaos from breaking the last two beams, which would cause the Tower to fall, taking the entire multiverse with it.

Basically, the Island is the Dark Tower, with the Candidates as its beams.  As that comparison suggests, the Island's continued existence depends somehow on these Candidates.  The catch is that they're free to do what they please, as Jacob had Hurley remind Dogen.  The rules of the game forbid coercion by Jacob or the Man in Black, who must win the Candidates' hearts and minds to achieve their goals.  That's what Dogen meant when he said Claire had been "claimed" by the Man in Black.  Candidates who succumb to this "sickness" get crossed off the list.  Same with those who die.  Now only the Ka-Tet of the Numbers remains as the Island's last protection.

If the Island goes, then I suspect both the LA X and Season 1-5 realities will be shattered the way Jack smashed the Mirror.  As the nexus of two timelines, the Island must remain alive and well on at least one Earth.  Otherwise, the mirror histories currently in quantum superposition will collapse.  Interestingly, Darlton signaled these stakes last year in the video revealing "LA X" as the title of the Season 6 premier.  That video contained the line "you broke the rose," which I interpreted as a Dark Tower reference.  In our reality, the Tower exists as a single rose growing in an abandoned lot.  If the rose is damaged, the Dark Tower is as well, imperiling all creation.

Many analogies have been offered to explain the nature and purpose of the mirror realities on LOST.  Some compare them to the tangent and primary timelines in Donnie Darko, others to the alternate dimensions in Crisis on Infinite Earths.  I myself have suggested It's a Wonderful Life as a possible model.  But I'm increasingly skeptical that the resolution of the LA X storyline will involve either a choice between realities or their merger into one.   Rather, as the Dark Tower parallel suggests, the goal is actually to preserve both branches of the timeline.  That's my current paradigm for Season 6.  Over to you, Wayne....
* * *

WAYNE: Well, here's the mirror image to White Rabbit, the episode that's the the benchmark for every one to follow. Even though the introduction of Adam and Eve's skeletons was still an episode away, we met Ghost Christian for the first time.  Jack chased his dead dad through the jungle, yelling after him just as the Man in Black did to the blond-haired kid last week. The younger Shephard almost ended up tumbling from a small cliff, but was saved by Locke. The two men had a nice talk, and Locke reassured Jack that it's all right to chase after hallucinations, that no one's going to judge him even if he was re-enacting Wayne Newton's terrible 1972 hit "Daddy, Don't You Walk So Fast."

Apophenia, brotha. Seeing patterns in randomness. Patterns like squares and circles and rings. Like LA X Jack taking a key from a hole in a rabbit to get into his nameless ex-wife's pad because he has a son he sees once a month.  Speaking of which, David reminded me of a tween Faraday even before the piano recital. (Bad Tween? Don't go there, I'm serious.) I'm trying to make jokes at my own benefit, because these Lewis Carroll references really mess up my bipolar little brain. (Remember, the dormouse at the Mad Hatter's party said to feed your head. Uppity rodent.) Seriously, though, I swear to Paulo that, if Hurley and Miles had been playing Tic-Tac-Toe with multiple copies of VALIS and Carrie, I'd have... oh, who am I kidding? I'd have kept watching.

Everyone probably knows this by now, but this was the 108th episode. I'll be talking about that number later. For now, let's get back to Dogen talking with Jack as he looks at his rippled mirror image in the Temple Pond. Dogen asks if Jack's pals are returning, and Jack replies that he doesn't think so. Jacks asks if he has the choice to leave and Dogen says that free will is an option, but then says that Jack would be kept from leaving. As they have this talk, Hurley goes into the Temple to look for some chow and instead gets instructions from Jacob, who when first seen, seemes be in that death throes thing, the way he was almost doubled over at the edge of the Lazarus pit. He gives a ton of notes to Hurley, who dutifully records them on his forearm. Dogen finds Hurley scanning the walls in one corridor.  Jacob tells Hurley to say he's a candidate, and Dogen mumbles some Japanese that translates something like how he would cut Hurley's head off for taking that tone with him if he could. Dogen then goes back to his place to start in on Dear Diary with the manual typewriter.

Jack has to come with Hurley, and Jacob tells him what he has to say to persuade him: "You have what it takes." Which takes us back to White Rabbit, when Christian admonished young Jack for not having what it takes. See, Christian does, he's not afraid to act, which is why he's the brilliant surgeon. White Rabbit opened with Jack as a man of action, jumping into the ocean to rescue Boone, who himself tried to rescue another drowning swimmer named Joanna.  Jack is angry, saying that he should have at least known who Joanna was, how they were all still strangers. I'll get back to this later, but the one thing about the cave -- and now the lighthouse wheel -- that bothers me is that there are only last names mentioned. Sure, Jacob is a first name guy when he touches people (at least, he is with Hurley), but having a list of last names reminds me of a stack of time cards. Makes you think of that working man's song by Bob Seger, "Feel Like A Number." I'm not drifting off again, I'm coming back to this, too.

I'm sure the reason that LA X Jack has a son is to reflect the Christian/Jack dynamic.  But does it really matter who the mother is? I rule out Sarah, just on the basis of David's age. I'm sure there are people speculating that Jack's ex is Juliet, and I suppose a clue is in the scene where Jack finds that appendix scar.  (Recall that Juliet performed Jack's appendectomy in Something Nice Back Home.) But does it really matter? We've seen Margo Shephard in all of three episodes now.  And in every one she is either berating him or welcoming him home as one of the O6. 

Jack and Hurley start their old school trek and run into Kate, who wants to come with them.  Hurley, however, insists that it can only be himself and Jack.  So Kate says she'll continue to search for Claire, even though she seems more interested in sitting by the stream than looking for anyone. Yeah, that's just me being mean, as she could have been looking at her reflection and contemplating things, just as Jack was earlier. And for anyone thinking Jack was being a wiener, too, for not telling Kate about Claire being his sister, well, they never shared this information when they spent those few months together after the whole Oceanic 6 thing. I say months, because they couldn't have stayed together long.  I can't imagine Jack not telling Kate the truth about Aaron after Mrs. Littleton gave him the dilly-o on Claire. He started drinking instead, with the beard and the oxycodone coming later.

Kate Claire ought to be an interesting reunion.  Speaking of Claire, wasn't that boar skull baby just all-out creepy? It reminded me of Simon in Lord of the Flies. (People talk about me having a Norman Bates action figure on my desk, but in my defense, I also have one of Steve McQueen as Bullitt.) I think that, somewhere down the line, Sun will find some of the old Claire by showing her Charlie's DriveShaft ring. I wonder if this might piss off the Man in Black, as he was right there at the beach camp having a one-on-one with Ben when Sun was rooting around. I'm struck by the contrast to Jacob, who's all about order and patience. The Man in Black is sloppy and doesn't always pay attention to details. It reminds me of a scene in The Stand where Randall Flagg takes the form of a crow to spy on the Judge out in Oregon. The Judge takes a shot at Flagg, but the gun misfires. The Judge was old and arthritic, and yet if he had actually hit that crow, who knows what might have happened. With the Man in Black in Locke's form, it's a mixture of sloppiness and cockiness.

Hurley and Jack make it to the Lighthouse, and Jack questions why they've never seen it before. But I'm not surprised -- its not painted white and red, and it could easily blend in with the many trees when seen from a distance. Hurley is probably the candidate to have seen more of the Island interior than anyone besides Locke. Hurley's seen the cabin, the mass grave, the Black Rock, you name it. I wonder if, just as the mirrors allowed for the guidance for ships, maybe the Lighthouse itself can only be seen when needed for guidance of an individual.

When I saw the wheel with the names, I realized with absolute certainty that I just don't care for Jacob. This guy is all about determinism, and we know Kate is determined to find Claire, Sun to reunite with Jin, and Sawyer to con the Man in Black. There is the Jacob/Hurley dynamic going, as he is the only one Jacob offers an explicit choice to return to the Island or not. And I'm certain it is all about Hurley being able to see and talk to dead people. Hurley starts pulling the chains that adjust the mirror -- could Richard have been chained in the lighthouse? -- and tells Jack to tell him when they hit 108. Oh, I forgot to mention that, at one point, Hurley tells Jack "It doesn't work that way," when questioned about Jacob. Ben said that same thing about the Smoke Monster last season.

At the caves, Jack tells Hurley that he was broken and thought coming back to the Island would fix him. Then he starts seeing images -- the church where Sawyer wrote his letter, the temple where Jin and Sun got married -- and it makes you wonder if when the got up to the name (Brother) Campbell if we'd have seen the monastery where Desmond was a monk. It should be noted that the Jin/Sun image was well past the number 42, suggesting that Kwon is Ji-Yeon after all. Jack demands that the mirror be moved back to his number, 23, and freaks out after seeing images of his childhood home. Then what does he do? He breaks the mirrors, one after another. (There were four of them, one for each direction, but I'm thinking 4 as in 4th dimensional spacetime.) Jack doesn't need to fix things anymore. He breaks all the magic stuff, just as Locke destroyed all the science stuff, the Swan, the Flame, he even blew up the sub. And what is magic but science that we haven't come to understand yet?

Austen is 51, and back in the cave, it didn't matter that we didn't see Kate's name. Everything was written all over the place. Like Faraday's blackboard. Like my notepad right in front of me. But the Man in Black did make a point of saying names out loud to Sawyer, and James was listening. "Reyes." "You mean Hugo?" So Sawyer might be having something pulled on him, as well. Any thoughts on the numbers and the names from other visits? If Jacob can watch people from as far back as childhood, might he be choosing candidates based on individual abilities? I made me think of the Superman storyline where Brainiac's robots imprison the inhabitants of Kandor by shrinking the city and placing it in a bottle. The same thing happens to Argo City, which is found after Krypton's destruction.  But the robots kill anyone whose powers are already available. No duplicates. Does this mean there is no chance of a good twin or a bad twin on the wheel?

Apparently, 108 belongs to someone named Wallace. Again, no first names, which has always been so damned maddening when it comes to the Faradays, Hawkings, Coopers, Lockes. And the Wallaces. Who? Well, you can assume that Jacob has been watching a lot of people, and that "it only ends once" means there won't be another wheel starting at 360 again. Well there's this guy who did paintings very much like those found in the mural and in Widmore's office. Claire's boyfriend with no last name, Thomas. Could 108 be Aaron Wallace? Long ago, I was taken to task for bringing up the Swan mural, someone replying that, oh, all these paintings were by Jack Bender from the show. Well, yeah, but we can easily see the number 42 above the eyeball (Patchy's?) and next to the Black Rock. The original M SICK is faded away just below the hull. There are definite parallels between the mural and Thomas's painting of the crazy woman with the number 125. On the wheel, that number is assigned  to Owens, though I couldn't find any obvious connection.

On the mural, the top left clearly shows us the caves, and the stick figures are candidates. The chicken scratches are lines the Man in Black makes on his cave wall. There is a red line drawn from one of the sticks -- oh, let's just call them candidates and get it over with already -- connecting it one of the spokes to the sun which reads 108. There is what might be another 108 outside the sun, possibly signaling two realities, but it might actually be the number 16. I don't know. But I know who is in the upper right corner. Claire and her new friend, the Man in Black.

Two quick concluding thoughts. First, where do we see Jack at the end of the episode? On the rocks. Isn't that how Christian drank his whiskey? Just sayin.  Second, I described White Rabbit as a "benchmark" for all other episodes.  That word actually refers to a surveyor's mark on a permanent object of predetermined position and elevation used as a reference point. Interesting that we now have a kind of Island benchmark in the form of the Lighthouse.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Thoughts on The Substitute...

BIGMOUTH:  The Substitute confused me at first.  Why flash sideways to Locke's life in the LA X reality when the episode was seemingly about Sawyer?  Then it hit me: those shots from the Lockeness Monster's point of view were more than just cool camera work.  This was actually the first Smokey-centric episode of the show, and the Monster's tale is closely intertwined with Locke's, a point I'll revisit below.

And what an episode it was!  Easily a 9/10 (five for mythological advancement, and four for character development, especially Smokey) on the Sickness Scale.  Terry O'Quinn clearly relishes the role of villain, which comes as no surprise to anyone who remembers his menacing performance in The Stepfather (1987) an otherwise forgettable film.  And make no mistake, the Man in Black is a villain like Randall Flagg, another man in black who embodies evil in Stephen King's fictional multiverse.  I was reminded of how Flagg raised an army of darkness in The Stand as Smokey went about "recruiting" Richard and Sawyer with the promise to answers all their questions.

Flagg is reincarnated as "Russell Faraday" on a tropical island following a nuclear blast

But just how much of the Man in Black's story should we believe?   In a recent interview with NPR, Damon discussed so-called "Johnny Explainer" characters who "come strolling out of the jungle and tell you what the hell is going on."  He confessed that "what we love is when Johnny the Explainer is completely unreliable."  I've expressed skepticism in the past about the misleading answers offered by Eloise Hawking and Daniel Faraday, among others.  After the Man in Black's offer to explain everything, however, I suspect that Damon was mainly referring to Johnny Locke.  So, let's take a stab at separating truth from lies in the Man in Black's various claims.

What kid?  The Man in Black was clearly lying when he denied knowing what Sawyer meant... or was he?  The former kept yelling "Don't tell me what I can't do!" which we know is 100% Locke because it's part of his persona in the LA X reality, where the Island isn't a factor.  Did the real John Locke momentarily reassert himself?  Smokey has his memories, and I'm hoping there's some spark of the latter still left in his double.  Ilana said that Smokey is stuck in Locke's form -- maybe he must redeposit this "spark" in the corpse before changing appearance.  I foresee a final battle between Jack and the Man in Black, where Locke briefly reemerges and describes what it's like to have Smokey devour your soul.

And while we're discussing the kid, the casting is just too perfect for him to be anyone but Jacob, in my view.  But was his appearance a dream vision like bloody Boone, or an astral projection like wet Walt?  The kid first appears covered in blood while Smokey is talking with Richard, who doesn't see him, suggesting he's a figment of the Monster's guilty conscience.  Later, however, he reappears to Smokey minus the blood, and this time Sawyer sees him, too.  It reminded me of when Shannon and Sayid both see Walt whispering in the jungle.  I think Jacob, like Walt, was projecting himself through time and space.  His warning about the "rules" recalled Ben's bedroom confrontation with Widmore in Season 4. 

"You know the rules.  You can't kill him."

I was a man.  The Man in Black claims he was once a (human?) man who lived, loved, and lost like any other.  His wistful comments, and the way he licked the whiskey from his fingers as if tasting it for the first time in a long time, suggest he was being truthful.  But just how long has it been?  The Man in Black had already been trapped for ages by the time he threatened Jacob on the beach.  Yet the window to plausibly explain two white guys speaking perfect modern English gets progressively smaller the further you go back in history.  They could be from the future but for the Man in Black's comment that Of Mice and Men (1937) is "a little after my time."  Are he and Jacob the children of time travelers?
His name was Jacob.  The Man in Black implies that Jacob lived in the cave and wrote all those names.  But if you believe that, I've got a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you, because it was clearly the Man in Black's pad and graffiti.  The cave's complete isolation contrasted perfectly with Jacob's prominent home in the foot of a statue that presumably once greeted visitors to the Island.  The location by the sea evoked the cave lairs of mythical sea monsters like Grendel in Beowulf and Scylla in The Odyssey.  And the black and white stones on the scale brought to mind Claire's dream from Season 1 of Locke with one black and one white eye, a vision I believe was sent by the Man in Black.

"Everyone pays the price now."

Jacob had a thing for numbers.  Well, duh, but what do the numbers mean?  The Man in Black's dismissive answer suggests he may have no idea.  I'm guessing the names and numbers come from Jacob's lists, which the Man in Black had access to through Ben.  I further suspect that most of the numbers are meaningless and were assigned simply to confuse the Man in Black.  But we know, as I believe Jacob did, that six of the numbers have grave significance.  They're the core factors of the Valenzetti Equation, which predicts Armageddon.  In Dark Tower terms, the names associated with the Numbers are a "Ka Tet," a group chosen to follow the "Path of the Beam" and decide the fate of both realities emanating from the Island.

We also know that some very important names and numbers are missing from the cave.  Kate and Ilana are absent, even though each was touched by Jacob.  Even more significantly, the number 108, which features prominently in the Swan Mural, is nowhere to be seen.  I believe that 108, the sum total of all six Numbers, represents Aaron and Ji-Yeon, whose existence results from the combined efforts of all seven members of the Kat Tet (42 is Jin and Sun because Jacob touched them both).  I've previously speculated that these children are the keys to Jacob's creation of the Omega Point.  The Man in Black may suspect their importance, which is why he manipulated events to get them off the Island.  But I still don't think he sees the full scope of Jacob's end game just yet.

He was pushing you....  In A Little Push, I made the same basic claim as the Man in Black that Jacob rewove the individual fates of those he touched to bring them to the Island.  But I also stressed that Jacob was constrained by the free will of his Ka Tet to refuse destiny's call.  I thus believe the Man in Black was lying when he claimed that Sawyer never had a choice.  In fact, the former's goal all along has been to exploit the free will of our Losties in service of his dark agenda.  The Man in Black made them all miserable in hopes of manipulating them into making choices that would frustrate Jacob's plans.  Jacob's pushes were meant to compensate for this emotional manipulation.

Dear Mr. Sawyer...

How do you suppose the Man in Black knew that Jacob visited Sawyer when he was young and miserable?  It's because the Man in Black was the one who actually caused Sawyer's misery via Anthony Cooper.  Indeed, the Man in Black killed two birds with the Cooper stone, using him to ruin Locke's life, too.  I'll bet that, in the LA X reality, Cooper neither conned his son out of a kidney nor pushed him out of a window.  That's why LA X Locke's relationship with Cooper is so much happier, as evidenced by his invitation to the wedding and the picture of him in John's cubicle.  S1-5 Locke was angry because the Man in Black manipulated him emotionally from cradle to grave.  Hence Locke's amenability for coercion.

It means you have three choices.  The whole "three choices" spiel sent my BS detector dancing, especially the part about protecting the Island "from nothing."  Does that sound anything remotely like the Man in Black we met in The Incident, who spoke so vehemently of the way visitors fight, destroy, and corrupt?  How could someone who's lived for centuries -- perhaps millenia -- as a time traveling cloud of black smoke possibly say that "it's just a damn island"?  If anyone's the Island's protector, it's the Man in Black.  He claims to want to leave, but I'm not buying it.  I think the Man in Black needs everyone to die or depart the Island -- to clear the board of pieces -- before he can return home to the future or the stars.

* * *

WAYNE: First things first.  My thanks to several of you for biting your lips whenever my wacky Numbers=People theory was discussed in recent weeks, and I'm also talking about people who never ever comment on this blog.  I guess the reveal in the cave was out there in the spoilerverse for at least a few weeks.  And, thankfully, there is actual meaning for the Numbers.  The whole Oceanic Six thing was too easy, six numbers, six on the chopper.  And I must add that, until I write the posts, I stay away from comments, the Doc Jensen articles, and the like.  But this time I had to check Lostpedia.  I needed a screencap, because I saw the name Mattingly on that cave ceiling.  I wanted info, because, if Jacob was bringing these people to the Island as potential candidates, why would he plant his touching mitts on more than one member of that military team from 1954?  Lot of numbers up there, a lot of crossed out names.  Why are the numbers going in reverse order?

Or is the Man in Black yanking on Sawyer's whiskey bottle with the "Jacob likes numbers" line?  The first thing that comes to mind is that, if Jacob knows the past/present/future/(sideways?), and he knows that the Man in Black will get his loophole with LockeDark/LockeLite, it would make sense that the numbers become smaller as the loophole tightens like a noose.  So fill in the missing sequence of numbers, more importantly, who would have been the first three, if Locke was #4?  If the Man in Black has Locke's memories, then he knows how well Sawyer got played in the brig, strangling Anthony Cooper because Locke couldn't kill his dad himself.  And he gained Sawyer's confidence -- or at least thinks he did -- by giving Sawyer a helping hand when the ladder broke, a scene which mirrored Locke grabbing Jacks arm when he too was ready to topple off a cliff back in "White Rabbit." Now, the Man in Black might be cocky, or old and senile, maybe even resigned, but at first viewing, one might easily see Sawyer falling for the "Elvis has left the building" option.  He gave the Man in Black the rundown of his failed attempts, the plane, the raft, the sub, the chopper.  Does the Man in Black have a private jet or a time machine?  Nothing special about the Island?  You can't con a con man.  the Man in Black might think he has someone on board for Die Hard 5, but Sawyer has the upper hand.  Conning Ben at the statue is one thing, doing the same with Sawyer (who would catch the tell-tale signs of the Man in Black letting the liquor touch his lips but not drinking it; if he did, would it simply drain out of his make-believe human form?) is a different game altogether.

We have the answers to the three cabins on the Swan mural.  The cabin, the base of the statue, and now, the cave.  Man, does the Man in Black not have a single place on the Island for himself?  Maybe he lives under the Island, with the vents being his outlets.  I'm still saying that the Man in Black is not Smokey, but I think I'm going to end up being wrong.  I still want to know why he seemed to sneak away before the smoke monster killed Bram and the others.  Does he have to let his body sink into the ground and then reform as Smokey?  Back to the Jacob's summer homes.  Jacob left the cabin, showing Ilana the way by leaving the section of tapestry depicting Tarawet.  He left because he knew his list of candidates was down to single digits.  (And, if we stick with the reverse order thing, Lapidus might very well be below Locke's, his name going up during the freighter days.)  the Man in Black Christian could very well have not known about the piece of tapestry being left as a message, the cabin was dark enough, but he had to go and sit even further in the shadows, near his mason jars of goo.  There is just so much that can be written about this episode, just like "Walkabout" in S1 changed LOST's entire playing field.  Or backgammon board.  I'm no longer sure why Claire was in the cabin or who is the real bad guy, the Man in Black or Jacob.  Last season, the Man in Black ominously mentions Richard knowing what needs to be done about the Ajira passengers on Hydra.  They are no longer needed, because they will not need to be candidates.

So who was the kid?  Now, I'm not certain why Richard couldn't see him and Sawyer could, or why his hands were bloody the first time around.  The obvious visuals are visions of Aaron or a young Sawyer, even Zack.  Here's who I think it is, I just need to figure out the why part.  This is Charles Widmore when he was Ben Linus's age, that time he met pirate-y Richard past the sonic fence.  Widmore circa 1945, unless he'd been de-aged from bathing in the Lazarus pit, which I find doubtful.  No, I think his hands are bloody because he killed whomever it was that answered to Jacob.  The part I can't figure is not so much why Richard couldn't see the apparition, rather why the Man in Black freaked out when Sawyer saw the kid, too.  And for Sawyer, at that point, the con was on.  So who did young Widmore kill?  And why would this be a big deal to the Man in Black?  The only thing I can think of right now is that, if Sawyer saw the kid, somehow it meant he was at the Temple and saw the bloody/muddy water.  Why that would rattle the Man in Black, I don't know.

Speaking of cons, I'm wondering if we had a tiny one played on us by the producers.  They of the Crab Nebula scenario.  Last night, there was a crab next to Locke's corpse.  How does a crab move?  Sideways.  The Crab Nebula itself is a supernova remnant, and so the implication might be that the sideways reality is going to explode, symbolically or for real.  I think both, and here's why.  A star takes a very long time to go nova, just as lostmio pointed out about the Island sinking slowly over time.  The star will shrink and then blow the hell up.  For me, shrink is the important word.

The LA X reality is Desmond's bloody snow globe, only, well, in LA.  There was a discussion last week on how the sideways Kate/Claire story was so convenient.  I think it was meant to be that way.  On Monday, Gina Marie commented to me that Kate found Claire right where she left her because she took Claire's money and ID.  But I would go so far as to say that only Kate could have picked up Claire, that a bus driver could have been ready to give Claire a free ride, then Kate would have pulled up and it would be like Claire knew she should go with her.  Ethan wasn't in Portland last week, and Ben wasn't there this week, though he did look a little like Kevin Spacey.  Granted, there's no reason for either of them to be in Oregon at all.  I'm just saying that maybe there just isn't a Portland in the LA X reality.  I don't mean that someone would disappear into an anti-matter wall if they tried to go to the Mr.  Cluck's in Ventura County.  We already have people making with the deja vu glances, and various characters almost falling over each other.  The LA X reality is like that star, unable to sustain itself and thus exploding.  Which is really my way of saying the two realities will merge, but for all intents, we will never see outside of LA in sideways-land.  Next week we get Jack's story, the following week Jin and Sun will maybe re-unite, and then we can get down to business with that war.  Always great to see Katy Sagal, but in the interim since we last saw douche bag Randy, he now reminds me of the guy from FreeCreditReport.com singing about being in a band and wearing a pirate hat.

Score: 8/10 (five for character development, three for mythological advancement) on the Sickness Scale.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Still More Season 6 Spoiler Speculations (SPOILERS)...

As promised, I've created another post for spoiler discussions.  Feel free to post spoilers about Season 6 here, but please limit your discussion of them to this post, and this post only.  Thanks!

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Thoughts on What Kate Does...

BIGMOUTH: I rate this episode 7/10 -- four points for character development, particularly Dogen, and three for mythological advancement, which was less than I'd hoped after the bonanza of LA X.  Ultimately, I'm left with same nagging question I have after almost every Kate-centric episode: why is what Kate does always so lame? 

Seeing the LA X reality's parallels to Season 1 reminded me yet again of my dissatisfaction with her backstory.  Remember those early episodes when Kate was a mysterious bank-robbing badass, who tracked game like a pro and dropped men twice her size with a few swift kicks?  The narrative possibilities were endless.  I wondered at the time if Kate was a secret agent like Sydney Bristow of Alias, on the run from her evil former employers.  When we finally learned that what Kate did was murder her biological father for insurance money, it just seemed so... mundane.  I've never forgiven the writers for passing up the chance to make her character more fun and exotic. 

Besides, it's not like things have improved much for Kate since Season 1.  She seems locked in a permanent orbit between Jack and Sawyer, with baby Aaron as a small moon.  Beyond narrative stagnation, this also means Evangeline Lily gets paired with pros like Matthew Fox and Josh Holloway in many scenes.  Evie is beautiful to behold, and a fine actress when she tries, but you can tell her heart just isn't in it anymore.  Lily's withdrawal is especially stark in comparison to Holloway, who has blossomed into one of the best actors on the show.  I suspect Sawyer will be visiting some very dark places in coming episodes, and I'm confident Josh can pull it off with aplomb.

Still, the real star of this season so far is clearly Dogen.  The role of Temple Master seems pivotal, and LOST could not have cast a better actor than Hiroyuki Sanada, who reminds me (and everyone else) of Toshiro Mifune.  I've been a fan of Sanada ever since he played Capt. Kaneda in Sunshine (2007) Danny Boyle's entertaining, if flawed, science-fiction film.  The man exudes a quiet dignity and authority that's just perfect for Dogen.  The only minus I can see is that his elegantly accented English underscores how fake Jin sounds when he speaks.  (Wasn't Daniel Dae Kim raised by Asian parents who spoke proper broken English?!)  Sanada's the real deal.

In addition to being a great character, Dogen is well positioned to offer answers to many burning questions.  He's already shown us how little Ben was healed in the Temple, which apparently had nothing to do with Smokey.  (Or did it?  I'll return to that possibility shortly.)  He's also begun explaining the "sickness" that Rousseau first mentioned in Season 1, though the explanation has been a tad drawn out.  (Note to Dr. Jack: when someone tells you a patient is "infected," your first question should be "with what?")  But just who is Dogen, and when did he come to the Island?  What was that test he gave Sayid, and why does he think Claire is infected, too? 

Who is Dogen and when did he arrive?  I spotted a few potential clues to Dogen's identity and time of arrival.  The first is the small whistle-like object around his neck.  Initially, I wondered if it was a dog whistle for calling -- or controlling -- Cerberus.  (Did Smokey respond to Locke's wooden dog whistle in Season 1?)  It also occurred to me the thing might be a ship's captains whistle from the Black Rock.  But that's inconsistent with a second clue: the manual typewriter.  Dogen is a proficient touch typist, and the typewriter wasn't invented until the 1870s, decades after the Black Rock was lost at sea in 1845 (per the First Mate's ledger).  That leads me to clue number three: the baseball.

Dogen is presumably a fan, but baseball didn't come to Japan until 1878.  So, what if Dogen was a Japanese naval officer who was marooned on the Island during World War II?  He somehow managed to escape, but was captured by U.S. forces, who learned of the Island through his interrogation.  Dogen came to regret his decision to leave and agreed to help the Army find the Island, provided they took him with them.  He was part of the  Army expedition that landed there in 1954.   Because the Island allowed Dogen to return, the Others let him live.  He eventually ascended to the position of Temple Master and sustains his youth by bathing in the spring.

What was the test Dogen gave Sayid?
  Dogen's test had three elements -- ash, electricity, and fire -- each of which has precedent on the show.  The ash was the same substance the Others use to repel Smokey.  The electricity recalled Rousseau shocking Sayid to find out what happened to Alex -- and maybe also to see whether he had the sickness.  The fire evoked the Others' practice of burning their dead, presumably to prevent Smokey from snatching the bodies.  All this suggests to me that Dogen was testing for some infection associated with Smokey.  But what made him suspect that Sayid was infected?  The answer may relate to the murky water in the spring, which has precedent as well.

Remember that pit of murky water when Ben summoned the Monster from the secret chamber in his house?  I'm beginning to think that murk is connected somehow with Smokey, which brings me back to the above-mentioned question of how little Ben was saved.  In a few posts, I've raised the possibility that Ben was healed by Smokey when Richard took him into the Temple.  Seeing Sayid healed in the spring seemed to falsify that hypothesis -- unless, of course, the murk is indeed Monster-related.  Dogen claimed not to know what the murky water represents, but he may secretly recognize it from that fateful day Richard bathed little Ben in the Temple.

Why does Dogen think Claire is infected? But there's one more piece to this sickness puzzle that points to still another possible answer.  Dogen also mentioned to Jack that Claire was herself sick.  And since there's no indication she bathed in the spring -- murky or otherwise -- something else must explain her infection.  So, what else do she and Sayid have in a common?  A near-death experience!  Many of you wondered if Claire was killed when a missile struck her house in the Barracks.  It's possible she died temporarily, allowing the Man in Black to infect her soul.  Same with Charlotte Malkin's visions of Yemi after her drowning.  She was touched by the Man in Black while in "between places."

It may well be that everyone who has a near-death experience is at risk for such infection.  This could explain why Charlie had strange dreams that nearly led him to kill baby Aaron after surviving the Swan implosion.  In fact, if you really want to follow me down the whackadoo well, consider the possibility that all of the '77ers are themselves susceptible after their brush with death in the Incident.  Come to think of it, was Dogen's poison pill meant for Sayid, or was it actually a test of Jack?  Over to you, Wayne...
* * *

WAYNE: I have an announcement... Kate Austen is the Smoke Monster! Absolutely true. I had just let my border collie out as our 36 hour snowfall had finally split for the East Coast, allowing him to believe that snow was ice cream yet again, thus ensuring my having an entire pint for myself. I had made notes during my initial viewing of last night’s episode, and thought I’d rewatch the last half hour or so. The time was just after 3:30 a.m., and as I made my notes about Kate more legible, a Cerberus Vent opened about forty miles west of me. A 4.3 magnitude earthquake sounds like little more than an errant snowplow, but it was all in the timing. It startled my dog enough that he came into my computer room, promptly forgot he was scared once he saw the pint of ice cream, reminding me once again that karma is a fickle bitch.

I’ll talk about Kate in a moment, but as with the idea of Richard having once been in chains being the cool moment of “LA X,” I just about squealed when I saw that Claire’s ultrasound was date and time stamped 10/22/04 and somewhere close to 10 AM. You all everybody know that I love me my maps and my times, and I was happy to see a subtle difference between the LA X reality and that of S1-5. (I keep waiting for a ham-handed reference to the Red Sox winning the World Series -- if that part of history is revisited, I hope it amounts to no more than Desmond showing up to throw out Christian’s favorite line about the BoSox as perennial losers.) My best guess regarding the date change: someone is pushing the button on the Island, something happens to cause a system failure, there just isn’t an Oceanic plane flying overhead. Or the Island is underwater. (All depends on if the underwater foot we saw was from the LA X reality or from the actual ending of the show, right?)

OK. Kate. More selfish than I’d ever seen her, but I think this is the subtext we will see in the LA X reality. We’ve already seen Jack and Locke bonding in a way that didn’t involve the latter saving the former from toppling from a small cliff. So, of course, Kate will be more extreme. Part of the tension involving the cab was caused by Kate waving a gun with a pregnant girl sitting next to her, and I wasn’t far off in thinking last week that the result would be Claire going into labor. Kate steps up for Claire the way she did for Cassidy during the days of the fake-jewelry con. In this LA X reality, there is already a Kate/Claire/Aaron dynamic going. To be honest, I’ve always seen the “going back to the Island to find Claire” line as self-serving, but I understand it. Kate was mid-wife for Aaron’s birth, and I suppose you could say that she is presented in a different capacity when Ethan Goodspeed -- maybe Rom was on his diploma from Mittelos -- shows the grainy little shot of Aaron. In both realities, Kate saw Aaron before anyone else besides Claire. So, for me, what Kate does in this episode is help Claire decide to raise Aaron.

Meanwhile...back at the Temple. Everything seemed a bit subdued. I actually felt at times like I was watching something other than an episode of Lost, but I think this is because “LA X” ended without all the activity on the outside of the Temple. I had planned on coming up with a wonderful theory regarding Sayid that now seems blasted to bits. Shot to sunshine, as Ben once said to Jack. Going back to Bigmouth’s blog entry of September 14th, 2009, “The Two Bens,” I thought we might see the implications from the deleted scene in the Tunisian desert bear fruition. Something along the lines that we saw a live Ben glom a dead one and willingly ignore the fact completely. Two, bunnies, two Bens, two Lockes. I dunno. I was hoping for a different scene, maybe Sayid telling Jack he saw himself dead in the Dharma van. A resurrected Sayid willingly letting another Sayid die. Crazy, I know. Worth a shot thinking about, I guess.

I mentioned last week that MiB is not Smokey, that MiB exploited Ben the way Ben did to everyone else. Remember the conversation Ben had with Juliet while Paulo was eavesdropping at the Pearl? I’m wondering if Smokey isn’t even the security system for the Temple. That term has stuck out like Ben’s bug eyes since Rousseau first mentioned it to him while he was being given shock therapy the first time around. For a while, I was even toying with the phrase Temporal Security System. Sayid now has some sort of sickness that will claim him as it has Claire, and we saw her pulling her own personal Rousseau at the end of the episode. But if the science team succumbed to the sickness in 1988, why were they allowed out of the confines of the Temple? I think Rousseau always had the sickness, and the security system is really just individual people that take care of business in different ways than the Hostiles. Slim thinking here, I know, but I’m saying Sayid might not turn into a bad guy, just more a Unabomber-type, with the traps and the explosives. I’ll still present my "MiB is not Smokey" argument in fuller detail, but I think it should wait until we get an episode with the gang still near the statue. (Will these two group converge as we saw with the tail section group, this time around Jin and Sun standing in for Jack and Ana-Lucia)?

Dogen. When I saw the baseball, I thought of Yogi Berra’s famous comment “It’s like deja vu all over again.” But Dogen’s comment to Jack was exactly what Richard said to Locke about the compass. Baseballs, compasses, cigars -- some objects are exactly what they appear to be. A regulation ball also has 108 stitches and two curved (reality) lines, but it’s really just a ball. I just don’t want it to start changing hands like the compass. Though I do wonder if the ball might have come from Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox.

The name Dogen is mentioned in The Dark Tower as the control room of one’s mind, and huge dials and knobs are involved. I thought of Room 23 on Hydra, but then I thought of the doohicky clamped to Sayid’s skull, and the dial being replaced by an old-fashioned crank. Just sayin'. Aside from this, there is a tribe in Mali, not far from Tunisia, and the Dogon Territories are known as the “End of The World” to the rest of the Saharan country. The Dogon tribe, incidentally, retreated to a corner of Mali to avoid being forced to join the Muslim religion -- I suppose this might be a play on the phrase Hostile takeover *cough* -- because they would be forced into slavery. The spellings of Dogon and Dogen seem interchangeable, from various Google searches I made, but the former is how the tribe is mentioned in a 1976 book by Robert KG Temple (!) called The Sirius Mystery (!!). Building on the work of a French anthropologist who studied the Dogon between 1931 and 1956, Temple’s book illustrates how the tribe had knowledge of Sirius’s companion star and other facts about Jupiter’s moons and Saturn’s rings that could only have come from extra-terrestrial sources. Though the book has its critics, the main objection its thesis is simply that the Dogons were not as isolated as Temple led people to believe -- the Dogon fought alongside the French Foreign Legion during WWI. Man-o-Maneshewitz, that was a long-winded story. But I found the idea of the tribe’s retreat into what might be considered a Dark Territory interesting. Plus, the only other Dogen I came across is a billionaire in Turkey.

Dogen does tell Jack that he [Jack] knows who brought him to the Island. I’m seeing Dogen as the guy who stays in the Temple, and Richard as the guy who stays in the tents, and that there are two groups of Others. I think Dogen is the last of his crew, and the way it has looked all along, Richard is the last of the group from the Black Rock. When the war is over, will Jack be the sole survivor of the original Oceanic flight and be granted eternal life? Does any of this make sense, or is a baseball just a baseball and a compass always points north?

Episode Rating: 8/10 (5 for character development, 3 for mythological advancement).

Sunday, February 07, 2010

A Comment on Comments....

Thanks to you all everybody for bearing with me while we experiment with a new comments system.  As promised, I'm creating a separate post for feedback.  I have to be honest, unless the opposition is vehement, I'm inclined to stick with the new system.  I love how it eliminates spam, allows for greater customization, and lets me reply directly to comments.  The native Blogger system seems positively crippled by comparison.

In addition to general feedback, I'd like to know your feelings on a few issues:

1) In what order would you prefer comments listed by default?  It's currently set to display the most recent comments at the top so you don't have to scroll to the end of the comments section to see them.  This was very tedious on Blogger when there are hundreds of comments on multiple pages.  (Note: I'm merely asking what the default should be.  You can always sort the comments how you want using the menu underneath the comment box.)

2) Would you prefer that comments be paginated?  Initially, I turned pagination off.  But I know hundreds of comments can take a long time to load with slower connections.  I've set it now so a new page starts every 100 comments.  Should the number of comments per page be higher?  Lower?

3) Is anyone still having trouble with log-in prompts every time they post?  Please note that you must supply a valid email address even if posting as a guest.

PS: Happy Super Bowl Sunday to you all everybody.  Go Saints!

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Thoughts on LA X...

BIGMOUTH: And so the end begins in earnest...

The Season 6 premier lived up to my anticipation, answering some major questions, and raising a few new ones to take their place. It confirmed that the Man in Black is now the Smoke Monster in John Locke's form, and that the circle of ash around the Cabin fenced out Smokey. But does this mean Jacob was its ghostly occupant, or could that still have been the Man in Black? We also learned that Juliet detonated the bomb, resulting in two realities superimposed. But in which reality did the bomb explode, the one seen in Season 1-5 or its alternative where the Island sinks? And why, for that matter, bother depicting this facacta LA X reality at all?

The Man in Black is now Smokey in Locke's form. As Austin Powers might say, that's not John Locke, it's a Man in Black, baby!  Most reached this conclusion after the Season 5 finale, but it remained unclear whether the Man in Black was actually the Smoke Monster as well.  Does anyone still seriously dispute they're now one and the same after the events of LA X?  The scene where fake Locke disappeared, followed by Smokey's appearance, seemed pretty unambiguous.  Any lingering doubts I had were erased by fake Locke's line "I'm sorry you had to see me like that," and his heartbreaking claim that the real Locke's pathetic dying thought was "I don't understand."

The ash circle kept Smokey out of the Cabin.  I'm sorry to see Bram go, but confess loving the way Smokey thrashed his crew like a scene from the red tapestry.  My favorite part about the fight in the Foot was when Bram poured a circle of ash (collected from the Cabin?) around himself, briefly stopping Smokey in its tracks.  In the best LOST fashion, we were shown the answer to something we'd long suspected: the ash circle kept Smokey out of the Cabin like the sonic fence around the Barracks.  This conclusion was further strengthened when the Others poured a similar circle of ash around the Temple.  Speaking of which, can't Smokey just go under the circle and attack the Temple from below?

Who asked Locke to "help me"?  If Jacob's people use the ash as protection, and Ilana's crew expected to find him at the Cabin, the obvious answer is Jacob.  Maybe his ghost traveled back in time and required protection from Smokey.  But there are some major problems with this scenario.  For one thing, we've met Jacob's ghost, and it didn't seem particularly scared of Smokey.  We've also seen Jacob physically transcend time and space when he was alive.  What would the deceased Jacob need to do in the past that he couldn't have done as well, or better, while still in corporeal form?  If he needed Locke's help in 2004, for example, Jacob could easily have asked in person.

My gut still tells me it was the Man in Black imprisoned in the Cabin.  As I noted in Cabin Fever Relapse, he hasn't appeared as Titus Welliver since his talk on the beach with Jacob.  And the ghost therein more closely resembles Welliver than Pelligrino.  It also makes more sense to me that the Man in Black would request Locke's help, given his importance to the loophole.  But there are problems with this speculation, too, now that Smokey and the Man in Black are synonymous.  There was no sign of Smokey when Locke first visited the Cabin (though an ash circle was on the chair) and the Monster seems to move freely about the Island.  Why didn't the Man in Black ask John for help when they met in Walkabout?

The answer is that the Man in Black's essence was missing.  I've described this as his soul, but if that's too supernatural for you, think of it as his memories being trapped in the Cabin.  Remember how Kate distracted Smokey with dynamite in Exodus?  I'm guessing the explosion that destroyed the Statue also separated the Monster from its memories.  Indeed, now that Richard clearly recognizes the Man in Black, I'm more convinced than ever that Alpert helped cause this memory loss.  Smokey's amnesia persisted until the Cabin moved outside the ash circle.  The Monster entered and was restored to the same Man in Black he's always been, as symbolized by his new clothes upon exiting.

The bomb's detonation created two realitiesWhen Doc Jensen interviewed me recently for EW.com, he asked whether I was for or against a timeline reboot.  My answer was "both."  I said that, as a result of the Incident, there were now two possible timelines superimposed like Schrödinger's cat: one in which the bomb exploded, and another in which it did not.  After glimpses of the LA X reality where Oceanic 815 lands safely, I'm confident that's correct.  In one timeline, the Incident results in construction of the Swan Station, yielding the events depicted in Seasons 1-5.  In the other, it sinks the Island, rebooting history from 1977 onwards.

In which reality did the bomb explode?
  In that same interview, I predicted Miles was correct that the '77ers were always the cause of the Incident, meaning the Season 1-5 timeline actually depends on the bomb exploding.  I think failure of the bomb to negate the Swan anomaly was what sunk the Island in the LA X reality.  I can, of course, also see the logic of contrary speculations that the combined effect of the explosion and electromagnetism was what destroyed the Island.  Indeed, Team Darlton have implied as much with comments that "when the bomb went off, there was a reset," and that Faraday failed to consider the unforeseen effects of detonating a nuclear bomb.

Still, when asked point blank in a recent interview, Damon equivocated: "Should you infer that the detonation of Jughead is what sunk the island? Who knows?"  In the LA X podcast, moreover, he describes this speculation as "pervasive" and promises it will be revisited later in the season.  This careful parsing of words practically screams "head fake" to me.  Indeed, there are intriguing hints that the bomb detonated in the S1-5 reality.  Notice, for example, how Kate and Miles both flashed back to the future with hearing loss, as if they'd just heard a loud bang.  No one else experienced hearing loss during the time flashes, suggesting to me it was the bomb.

Remember how Richard said he saw the '77ers "all die"?  I think one major twist of Season 6 will be that Alpert saw the bomb explode, complete with telltale mushroom cloud.  In fact, this may be what they originally planned to show us at the end of Season 5.  In an interview from the Blu-Ray DVD extras, you can see a dry-erase board behind Damon that purports to describe "SCENE 11" of the Incident.  It says "JULIET * BOMB * BOOM," then "SEE JACK'S GROUP ABSORBED BY WHITE LIGHT," followed by "ALPERT POV * SEES EXPLOSION FROM A DISTANCE."  For the time being, therefore, I'm sticking with my speculation that the bomb detonated in the S1-5 reality.

Why bother depicting the LA X reality at all?  To my mind, that's the million-dollar question.  In It's A Wonderful LOST, I suggested that the Incident would blast Juliet's consciousness into the LA X reality, where she would be given a choice which timeline survived.  That didn't happen...or did it?  Like Charlotte, Juliet seemed to mind travel just before dying, mumbling something about getting "coffee sometime" and going "dutch."  I think she was experiencing the LA X reality, which fits with Miles's revelation that Juliet's dying thought was "it worked."  In fact, what if that coffee conversation was between her married self and Sawyer (or even Jack) in the LA X reality?

I'm not sold on Juliet being the one who chooses.  I could see Sawyer or Jack having to decide between a timeline in which Juliet is dead versus one where she's alive. Admittedly, this knowledge probably won't be the result of mind travel, as I'd originally surmised.  But I still believe some character will get to see what their lives would be like if they'd never crashed and fate had been allowed to take its natural course.  After this glimpse the LA X reality, he or she will conclude that the crash of Oceanic 815 served the greater good, and choose to preserve the Season 1-5 reality.  That choice is the ultimate purpose of the second timeline on the show.

* * *
WAYNE: Richard Alpert was not first mate on the Black Rock. He was a slave. I had intended meander through this first post differently, until I saw the Man in Black Locke do the smackdown on our ageless friend. Interesting that it paralleled how Richard pulled Ben along the sand and shove him down to stare at the Dead is Dead Locke. the Man in Black brought up the fact that Richard was out of his chains. Added to the scenes at the Temple, there was more outright hatred in this episode than...well, since Pickett had Sawyer on his knees in the pouring rain, ready to execute him as Kate watched.

I’ll say right now that I’m not going to search for little things like the book titles because I’ll likely be led into Spoilertown. So I’m just sticking with my notes. At least this one time.

I wasn’t concerned with the flight itself, I was looking at the pairings. Boone, complaining about his leg, and Locke, who discussed in detail the walkabout he supposedly completed. Hurley and Sawyer, with Hurley getting advice about not blabbing about being rich and happy. I made a comment in an earlier post that I hoped that the ALT reality would play out like this, subtle clues like the ones we saw in all of Locke’s dreams. (I think the dream Locke had in the sweat lodge, the one with Boone wheeling him around LAX was superb.) While I was off the boards, I thought about how, if Juliet detonated Jughead at the exact moment the Island chose to move again, a pattern might be involved, however random. This would explain the ALT reality, and since everyone flashed to 2007 with Juliet not being blown to bits, at least for right now I’m going with the idea that the Incident did and did not happen. And I think we were all (well, some of us) expecting Juliet’s last words to Sawyer would have been that she was pregnant.

The favor Ilana fulfilled for Jacob was to gather Bram and the others to act as protectors, but they were too late. Certainly it took time for Ilana’s burns to heal, and I’m wondering if the scene in “The Incident” with Ilana in the hospital bed happened as far back as 2004. Bram and company weren’t effecient at all -- I was reminded of Keamy and crew minus the Christopher Walken-ness -- and Bram tried to protect himself by making a circle of ash from Jacob’s pyre. I’m sure he’s not dead, just as a few of the freighter dudes survived with minor burns. And now we know, as Ben does, that the Man in Black is Smokey, which was pretty much hinted at when Ben was being judged by Alex. I wouldn’t doubt that before the Man in Black Locke emerged from the jungle while Ben and Sun were on the porch of Ben’s old house that he had just come from the Temple wall where he had weakened the very spot Ben fell through.

It’s election night here, so I missed a few seconds because of a robo-call (with the polls closed, welcome to Cook County, Illinois, where you vote early and often), but I gathered our gang was ambushed and taken to the Temple. You got me on why they were going to be killed, maybe it was the DHARMA jumpsuits and the Hostiles having an idea as to what happened between 1977 and 2007 in their own territory. I would think ex-stewardess current-Stepford mommy Cindy Chandler would have had something to say. And what’s with Hurley wearing a red shirt? I’ll bet it’s a dodge, he’s not going anywhere. Besides, he made it past the hole Ben fell through just fine.

At the point the flare went off, that was the start of the war. You got me who is going to fight whom, at least until next week. When the Man in Black told Ben about his pitiful old self, I recalled one of my favorite scenes, when Locke beat on the wall of the Pearl, realizing that his belief in pushing the button meant nothing, Eko looking at him with compassion. And he wants to go home. Where is that, the underwater foot? Did anyone else think we were going to see footage similar to what the Christiana I filmed of fake wreckage? In this strange reality of the flight where Charlie tells Jack he should be dead (by lack of oxygen, no less), did the Island sink?

Even before that final ALT reality scene, I knew Locke and Jack would be the last to leave the plane. Interesting that both Christian’s body and Locke’s box of knives are back in Sydney. And I had to laugh as Jack talked with his mother -- an you imagine if he were the youngest of five kids? He’d be a car salesman or something, he’d have so little self-esteem. Speaking of sales, Locke’s comment regarding the knives: is that an ALT reality tell of some sort? Locke didn’t answer Jack directly about why he had a box of knives – one of which I’m certain Ben used on Jacob – rather he simply agreed with what Jack had thrown out there, that Locke was a salesman. He certainly didn’t take the walkabout and ALT reality Boone didn’t see him in the wheelchair as Jack did. I never understood why Locke had that box of knives in the first place, way back when, because we all know that everything happens for a reason. Well, for right now they have a purpose, being in the same place as Christian in Earth 14's version of Sydney. Man, I could make a terrible pun on The Purpose-Driven Knife, and add that to the late Juliet’s book club.

I know more than a few of you know some of what is to follow in future episodes. Will Claire go into early labor because Kate is waving around that gun? If Desmond is in L.A., does he even know Penny? How the hell is this going to course correct?

I thank you for your time.

Just a heads up that I've changed the comments format. You can now respond directly to comments. There's no more anonymous posting, which will hopefully cut down on spam, but you should still be able to post as a guest. Please let me know if you have any problems or suggestions.

Monday, February 01, 2010


As Professor Hubert J. Farnsworth would say, good news (you all) everybody!  First, I'm pleased to announce a new feature for Season 6 on EyeMSick: our own Wayne Allen Sallee will be joining me in reviewing each episode.  As many of you know, Wayne is an accomplished author and one of the most prolific commenters on this blog.  The inclusion of his articulate commentary can only improve the quality of my recaps. 

Second, I've seen the Season 6 premier on-line and am happy to report it's amazing!  The copy I watched was a bad bootleg, but even the blurry picture and inaudible dialogue couldn't obscure the wicked awesomeness of this episode.  If you've resisted temptation thus far, I recommend that you wait one more day.  There are some shocking images that are best appreciated in broadcast quality.  But if you were weak like me, we're discussing the episode over on the spoiler thread.

As always, you're welcome to post anonymously, but please identify yourself somehow, so I can distinguish between anonymous posters. Thanks!