Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Thoughts on The Last Recruit...

BIGMOUTH: Unfortunately, my recaps will be abbreviated for the next few weeks due to work obligations.  Thanks to you all everybody for your understanding!

I give "The Last Recruit" a 6 on the Sickness Scale (3 for mythology, 3 for character).  This was probably my least favorite episode of the season thus far -- even worse than "What Kate Did," in my opinion.  The purpose of the episode was obviously to position the characters and set up the storylines for the last few episodes of the series.  But with so little time left, and many mysteries still left to be answered, an episode with no mythological revelations of note was a luxury LOST just can't afford.  I can't help thinking that the awkward pacing of this season is a function of the Mirror reality, which has sucked away time from what many, myself included, really wanted: a satisfying end to this story and these characters whom we've come to know and love the past six years.

Speaking of the Mirror reality, nothing in this episode changed my view that it exists to give our characters happy endings.  In my recap of "The Package," I predicted that Mirror Sun would survive her gunshot wound, but the baby would not.  It turns out I was only half right -- silly me for thinking that the baby would have anything but a happy ending.  As I also suspected, our characters seem to be converging on St. Sebastian's Hospital, where they will presumably recover their memories of the Crash reality en masse.  And that brings me to one last spoiler-free speculation for your consideration:  Sawyer was the one Juliet shot in the outrigger canoe.  In an upcoming episode, we will see him shot in both realities simultaneously.  He will be taken to St. Sebastian's, where he will meet Juliet and remember their love.

The two will make plans to go for coffee and live happily ever after... LOST.  That's all from this end -- sorry again for the abbreviated recaps this week and last.  I'll try to make it up to you all everybody after the next episode in two weeks.

* * *

WAYNE: I give this 7 on the Sickness Scale, 4 for character and 3 for mythology.

One of my favorite Far Side cartoons by Gary Larson shows Satan gesturing his pitchfork at a regular schlub. who has to choose between two doors. One reads "Damned If You Do," the other "Damned If You Don't." That's how I see LOST right now, with the two realities. We've seen great scenes in Mirror reality (Keamy and the Kwons, this week it was Ford and Austen), and in Crash reality (Hurley and Isabella is the instance that shines the most).  But by dividing up these events, much of the excitement from past seasons are gone. 

I'm still enjoying the show, and the Island scenes are for the most part compelling, although my judgment may be clouded because we aren't seeing a bunch of shiny, happy people in the Man in Black's camp. We're seeing the unshaven and the scruffy, sweat-stained group that have been our personal Constants since September 22, 2004 of our Meta-reality.

Constants With A Consciousness. In the Mirror reality, it is becoming apparent that each character that suffers a near death experiences recalls a near-duplicate moment in the Crash reality. Sun reacts to the Man in Black as she is wheeled into St. Sebastian's alongside the injured John Locke, just as Desmond recalled Crash Charlie's "Not Penny's Boat" admonition after finding himself underwater and staring at Mirror-Charlie, who was making no effort to leave the sinking car. (Mirror Charlie also presumably did not think about Claire, until he was busy choking on his heroin stash.) In the case of Hurley and Libby kissing, I lean towards the soul-mate angle as being bogus and would rather see the two recalling a similar beach and how Libby was killed by Michael soon after she shared that other first kiss with Hurley.

I can argue the same for Daniel and the redhead; sure, Danny boy is telling Des all about true love, but the Constant part of the two realities is that Faraday held Charlotte in his arms as she died in Crash reality. And, yes, there's the incident where Desmond passed out after shaking Penny's hand in the Mirror reality, but he's the wild card in all realities.  Perhaps his consciousness is a portal to the entire multiverse. In addition, he not only has Penny as a Constant in the Crash reality, he also has that whole Faraday-Desmond-Penny three-way from back on the Kahana. ( A minor note: Minkowski and Desmond were also paired together in both realities, via the nosebleeds and the time-tripping.)  I'm not into the soul-mate thing at all. Collective consciousness is my bag.

Sweetzer-Verdansky. Ilana is a lawyer here in Mirror reality. Sweetzer is one street in the intersection where Desmond and Penelope would have their coffee date. Let's get to the significance of her last name in a moment. First, the logo on the door to the law firm: SV, the abbreviation for Svalbard, an archipelago in Norwegian waters. Makes me think of the listening station that was hooked up with Penny's phone, snowy landscape and all. We've seen this small isle referenced before via the ubernet: in "The Constant," we learned that Desmond was based at Camp Millar in Scotland during his short stay in the military. Yet there is no such military base in Scotland. Back to the interwebs: There is a Camp Millar in Svalbard, and in Philip Pullman's trilogy His Dark Materials, Svalbard was a gateway to multiple universes.

Which brings us back to Ilana and her perhaps-relative Vladimir Ivanovich Vernadsky. Through correspondence with Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, the concept of the noosphere came into being. Bigmouth has discussed de Chardin's discussions of the Omega Point, and Flannery O'Conner took one of his quotes for the title of her book Everything Which Rises Must Converge. Jacob was reading that book as Locke was pushed from the hotel window by Anthony Cooper in "The Incident." The noosphere is where it gets trippy, because it plays on everything Lost and all its ARGs are about, as well as a riff on Jacob hating technology.

de Chardin believed that with every passing day, it becomes a little more impossible for us to act or think otherwise than collectively. Verdansky's noosphere, on the other hand, was about the collective unconscious. A world that operates out of habit, by events that lead towards connectivity through advancement of skills. The spoken language becomes the written language. We've seen the Others speaking Latin and glyphs beneath the Temple. Verdansky wrote of the biosphere becoming the technosphere, starting with the atomic bomb and leading up to the crazy gadget named Google that gave me all the information about Svalbard. On Lost, we had Jughead and Apple computers. And in our Meta-reality, we have blogs and message boards.

The noosphere is a sphere of human thought. That's why so much of the Mirror reality is contradictory. The altercation between Sayid and Keamy occurs within a day or two of Oceanic 815's return to Mirror LAX. So how could Sun, having been accidentally shot in the aftermath, be brought to the hospital at the same time John Locke was, when the hit-and-run by Desmond occurred a week later? (The timeline is even referenced by Ford, when he is talking to Kate at the station house.) These aren't mistakes, rather, it shows a two-dimensionality to it all, like when the smoke monster scans someone's brain and comes away with the memories of other people in that mass of gray matter.

As an example, when Kate was scanned along with Juliet in "Left Behind," would the smoke monster then have vague memories of James Ford's becoming con man Sawyer in order to kill Anthony Cooper? I had hoped we would have seen much earlier in the season that this plastic dome of reality would be the visual for the Man in Black's allowing his recruits to see the world that could have been theirs, a world where Jacob did not touch them (because Jacob was dead at the point that this universe--past, present, and future--was created. Again, two days is a week in Mirror-reality. 1976 is 2004 is 2007, as well.) Since we've yet to see anyone in the Crash reality acknowledge its Mirror counterpart, I'm still at a loss. But I do not think of it as an escape hatch for happy endings. The cork between the Crash reality wine bottle and the invisibly connected Mirror reality is represented, I believe, by the imploded Hatch. An event will occur to make the realities almost touch, perhaps even be visible to each other, and then things will go all to hell. What if St. Sebastian's is a Mirror-reality analogue for the imploded Hatch?

Random observations. Is this the well where Desmond is trapped within vicinity of the Swan, much as there was a well near the Orchid? Is this why the Man in Black chose this location to hide "the package," because any electromagnetic activity would render any type of tracking device Widmore's crew might have placed upon Desmond useless? And, most of all, does that well seem very much like that structure in Tunisia where Ben had hidden his passports and money in the Deleted Scenes selection on the Season 4 DVD set? (The Romans would certainly have continued to build on the Island whatever structures they built before -- and however -- they were eventually displaced.)

Get off my damn boat. In closing, I bring up Jack's question to Sawyer, the one that got him booted off the Elizabeth (I hereby dub that group the "E6"). "If that thing wants us to leave, then maybe it's afraid of what happens if we stay." Easy answer: Jacob wins the game. Tougher answer: I still don't have a clue.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Thoughts on Everybody Loves Hugo...

BIGMOUTH: Unfortunately, my recaps will be abbreviated for the next few weeks due to work obligations.  Thanks to you all everybody for your understanding!

"Everybody Loves Hugo" gets an 8 on the Sickness Scale (4 for character, 4 for mythology).  While I dislike the general direction of the show -- i.e., happy endings in the Mirror universe -- it was hard to hate Hurley and Libby finally getting their first date.  The Mirror reality is really a reset for the writers, too, allowing them to remedy past mistakes, like the way they killed off Libby so unceremoniously in Season 3.  I also buy her as Hurley's catalyst for consciousness transfer -- and vice versa.  Love and death are two forces that have been proven to transcend spacetime on LOST.  Still... no happy endings!  Okay, maybe for Hurley and Libby, and Penny and Desmond, but nobody else, please.

The Whispers are ghosts.
  Here, I have to toot my own horn just a bit because I called this at the start of Season 2 in my post Chorus of the Dead.  The inspiration was Dr. Manhattan's transformation in Watchmen.  But I've always maintained that LOST is the ghost story like Turn of the Screw, the book that hid the Swan orientation film.  Some have expressed disappointment at this revelation.  And I'd be lying if I denied that my own speculations had grown since then to include more exotic possibilities like inter-dimensional bleed-through.  Still, if I was able to peg the Whispers' significance way back when, it's a sign the writers weren't simply making these elements up as they went along.

Kablammo!  There were two explosions of note, one that surprised me and another that didn't.  Hurley's dynamiting of the Black Rock was a thrilling shock and fitting end to the Black Rock's tale.  Unfortunately, I saw Ilana's explosive demise coming a mile away.  It was just too reminiscent of Arzt.  Like SKID among others, my question was why immortal Richard didn't carry the dynamite.  More generally, it was another clumsy exit for an intriguing character we hardly knew.  Ilana and Dogen were the poster children for this problem in Season 6, but there have been many others, including Libby, as I mentioned above.  It's a shame the writers finally did right by Libby just to make the very same mistake with Ilana.

Shade tippin'.  In the spirit of SKID's necktie watch, I've begun tracking Desmond's shade tippin'.  For those unfamiliar, shade tippin' is a film and television phenomenon where characters peer coolly over their sunglasses.  David Caruso of CSI: Miami is the paradigmatic shade tipper, but Henry Ian Cusick certainly distinguished himself this episode with ubiquitous shade tipping of his own.  A good example was when he gazed approvingly from afar at Hurley and Libby during their date on the beach.  Des reminded me of Mr. Roarke from Fantasy Island, reuniting two star-crossed lovers across space and time.  All that was missing was the late great Herve Villechaize in white suit yelling "da plane, da plane!"

Hit and run.  Another instance of shade tippin' occurred just before Desmond ran over poor Locke in the Mirror reality.  I can see at least two potential reasons why Des did so, neither of which is mutually exclusive.  The most obvious motive was to give Locke a near-death experience to show him the Crash reality, thereby jogging his memory thereof.  It's also possible Des somehow sensed that Locke will end up at Saint Sebastian's Hospital, where Jack will operate upon him and restore his ability to walk.  Indeed, I wouldn't surprised if Sun gets rushed to St. Sebastian's for her gunshot wound.  Perhaps Charlie and Claire will go there, too, for follow up treatment, and they will all recognize each other...

Throw the Des down the well
.  I think the Man in Black threw Desmond down the well because the former recognized the latter as a threat.  As I suggested last week, Desmond's mission is to show our Losties that they can live on in the Mirror reality if they sacrifice themselves for Jacob's plan in the Crash reality.  The Man in Black isolated Des to prevent such epiphanies.  But why not just kill him?  The appearance of Taller Ghost Jacob suggests it may be against the rules.  But if you really want to follow me down the whackadoo well consider the possibility that the Man in Black wants Des to take his place, like Kelvin did.  Who better to become the new Smoke monster than someone immune to the Island's exotic energy?
* * *

WAYNE: I'll admit I was more than a bit surprised that my esteemed compatriot Bigmouth (with his "Count to Five" St. Sebastian surgical precision to my "Connect Four" Santa Rosa ramblings) suggested an outcome that the Mirror reality will be a place for consciousness cross-over, where Crash-reality Sawyer can simply slip into the mind of Mirror reality's Detective Ford. I've talked with friends who think that the Mirror reality allows forthe important characters to live on through the looking glass. I have two words for that. To quote Col. Potter on M*A*S*H: "horse hockey." After last season's finale, I think we should all be ready for Lost's Long Con to run even longer.

Do the hustle. Before I talk about the Mirror reality, I do want to say that I am greatly enjoying the scenes on the main Island. We know who is in on the con at the Man in Black's camp, but now we see Hurley trying to hustle the group that had been Team Ilana, and then have Richard call his bluff by trying to hornswaggle the new team leader. Ghost Michael told Hurley it was a bad idea to blow up the Ajira plane, and after making his move and blowing the Black Rock to bits, Hurley throws down on Richard, pretending he is talking to Jacob. Richard tosses back, saying that if Jacob is there, then Hurley should ask him what the Island really is. Hurley has to admit that he is not really talking to Jacob. 

Richard himself is not completely honest in this scene, as Jacob did gave him lists to pass along to Ben and ordered the construction of the Hydra runway. Moreover, when Widmore chastised Richard for taking Little Ben to the Temple, Richard replied that "Jacob wanted it done." Right now, Richard doesn't have a clue, even though Ilana had mentioned several times that Jacob told her that the man who doesn't age would know what to do regarding the candidates.

Speaking of Island sacrifices. Ilana went and got herself blowed up in this episode, and just after she changed her clothes for the first time since the Ajira crash. Long, long ago, I suggested that all of the crash survivors were, in effect, chess pieces. Boone served his purpose and died when the Beechcraft plane fell to the ground. His radio call to Bernard served to make Ana-Lucia all the more suspicious of the Others who had been abducting the tail section survivors. Ana then shot Shannon, mistaking her for an Other, but not before Sayid, Shannon's, uh... companion, could see Dripping Wet Walt. Cause and effect. We saw this culminate on the Kahana, when ghost Christian allowed "Michael Dawson" to die as the ship exploded, causing Ghost Michael to be trapped on the Island.

It seemed almost comical, thinking back on how carefully Arzt placed his wet cloths over the dynamite, while Ilana bounced around with her four sticks of dynamite, tossing water bottles on top of them with no consequence, only to drop the bag with disastrous results. Ben, ever the life of the party, later pointedly states that Ilana died because the Island was done with her. I have a different take on that. Ilana, arguing with Hurley, was in the middle of revealing something when she dropped the bag. "And God help us all if it ever leaves the island! Because if it--"  I'm curious as to whether the Island made Ilana drop her bag to shut her up because Hurley and Co. weren't quite ready to hear the truth.

Does the Mirror reality matter at all? As I mentioned, I do believe we have another con coming up, even though I don't have anything concrete to back up my theory. As a writer, I'm trapped not being able to truly enjoy anything worth watching or reading, because I'm thinking ahead to the possible endings. I knew Bruce Willis's character was dead in M. Night Shyamalan's The Sixth Sense, and that Sam Jackson was the baddest bad guy of all in Shyamalan's follow-up film, Unbreakable. Then I found myself not having a clue in each of his following films, because -- and I know I'm not alone in my belief -- the films were just not that good.

My brain is still bouncing around my skull, so I know that LOST is not going to end in any lame way. The easiest thing that comes to mind is that the Mirror reality is Hell, and the con is to show the Man in Black's recruits a nice circle of Heaven. I said a few weeks back that when Miles listened in on Juliet's words from beyond the grave, he might actually have heard the Man in Black saying that "it worked," meaning that a new loophole opened up. Snow globes are filled with water, and I can easily see the Man in Black's finger poking through the sky of the Mirror reality, creating ripples, causing collisions, as with Ford and Kate.

If it says Libby, Libby, Libby on the label, label, label. All this talk about soul mates is what annoys me most about the Mirror reality, and it's also one of the reasons I'm still trying to think out a possible ending. As the Man in Black tells Sawyer at his camp, when Sawyer mentions that they are just twiddling their thumbs, fake Locke replies: "There's a difference between doing nothing and waiting." I'm waiting, because the Mirror reality is finally not "doing nothing."

Case in point: Libby. I think it's pretty wild that she knew Hurley from his Santa Rosa days in the Crash reality. On the one hand, Hurley certainly wouldn't remember this if he had the means to, as we, the audience, were the only ones aware of her presence at the mental institution. It was also one of the more concrete associations, more than just seeing a chocolate-chomping redhead. Most of all, it was a woman making the connection, which automatically makes me think of Connect Four. I really hate my brain. In the Crash reality, Libby's soul, her whispers, left the Island because she had shown true love to Hurley, and perhaps would have been his soul mate if Michael hadn't killed her.

Other examples of tainted love: Nikki using the razzle dazzle on Paolo, so she can find the bag of diamonds hidden where he parked his bike; Ana-Lucia going all tribal on Sawyer so she could snag his gun, the one Michael ended up using to kill her and Libby; and Kate...well, where to begin? Going back to the Whispers being souls, does this mean that the Island feeds on corrupted souls? Why did Ben warn Rousseau after he took Alex that if she ever heard whispers that she should run the other way? 

Jacob hates technology. I'm not certain, but my brain is nudging towards Mirror-reality Desmond pulling a whatever happened, happened deal at the end of the episode. I just kept thinking of the Incident, and the whole causality thing. I'm curious as to exactly what moment in the Crash reality made Mirror Desmond decide to ram into Locke with his car?  Was it when the Man in Black threw him into the well, or was it when the Man in Black asked Desmond if he knew who he was? To me, that slight hesitation before Desmond mentioned John Locke's name was reflected in the Mirror reality. I can actually see Des hesitating as his gaze went over Locke's name on the Oceanic manifest.

Man, I winced at the impact. Same thing happened to me in 1989, minus being in a wheelchair. 291 days in various casts, part of my right hip now embedded in my left arm, the rest of the forearm hollow. Typing with one finger, hence the time it takes to write the recap. Just making idle conversation here, but if you want to see photos, just write to me c/o General Delivery, The Twilight Zone.

Mirror Locke is still alive, perhaps lucid. Did he get a flashes before your eyes moment? Again, I can't make the logical leap from point A to point B, but I think we are going to see a reversal on Jacob's Luddite beliefs. Instead of a wooden chair and a painting of a dog, the Man in Black might find himself imprisoned in a wheelchair, with Mirror reality suddenly able to walk around. Will Desmond's touch do the trick? You got me. At least my brain is still working, so I haven't given up on the "Let's go dutch" and "by the way the Visitors are really lizards" aspect of the show. And I am truly digging the on-Island interactions. The dread is palpable.

Jack, meet Locke. That's all I have to say there. We all know that Ben and Oxycontin Jack were the only ones to see Locke in the casket. Dead is dead. I keep wondering when we will see Jill the butcher again.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Thoughts on Happily Ever After...

BIGMOUTH: Before I get to my recap of "Happily Ever After," I've got a fun little LOST mystery for you all everybody.  Where else have we met the enigmatic airline pilot who appears in the background of Desmond and Claire's encounter at Mirror-LAX?

Hint: he's someone we all know extremely well...

Give up? 

It's our own koreambear!  Now that he's famous, The K-Bear has asked me to communicate a few simple rules for fan encounters.  First, he's happy to sign autographs as long as he's not eating or with his family.  Under no circumstances, however, should you make eye contact, as that enrages him.  Also, he's available to make private appearances for a fee, which is non-negotiable and non-refundable.  Finally, if you want to get him a gift, he likes a nice spicy kimchi.  I'll be acting as The K-Bear's agent for the time being, so contact me for information about appearances, how to keep your eyes averted, and what brands of kimchi he prefers.

As for the episode, I'm admittedly torn.  I enjoyed the Mirror reunion of Desmond, Eloise, Penny, and Daniel.  I was also intrigued by Desmond's ability to flash sideways into that reality.  But I had some problems ranging from the nitpicky (couldn't Des have hit the brakes when Charlie grabbed the wheel?) to more substantial concerns about the logic and direction of the show.  I fear we may look back on this episode as the point when the mythology of LOST veered off the tracks.  So "Happily Ever After" actually gets two sickness scores superimposed like Schrodinger's Cat.  If I'm right, the episode is a 7 (5 for character, 2 for mythology).  If I'm wrong, as I hope I am, the mythological component boosts that score to a 9.

It is, in fact, a violation! Team Darlton promised that the conversation would change after this episode, and so it has.  But I can't shake the sense we're being misdirected big time.  Like many of you, my initial interpretation of the confrontation between Desmond and Eloise was that she must be some kind of inter-dimensional cop charged with preventing Desmond from making contact with our Losties in the Mirror universe.  Upon rewatching, however, I got a completely different vibe.  Eloise seemed more worried that Desmond might discover an embarrassing Widmore family secret (i.e., Penny's illegitimate birth) with his prying. When she said his conduct was a "violation," she meant of propriety and their privacy.

You're not ready, Desmond!

The scene obviously paralleled their encounter in "Flashes Before Your Eyes."  But watch the latter again and you notice some important differences.  Ms. Hawking displayed unambiguous knowledge not just of Desmond's future, but that of Mr. Red Shoes, too.  By contrast, Mirror Eloise never clearly established her awareness of what Desmond was supposed to do.  As I mentioned, everything she said can be read as an admonishment for him to mind his own damn business.  It's always tempting to attribute greater power to Eloise than she actually possesses.  After "Flashes Before Your Eyes," I figured she must see the future, too.  Now, of course, it seems her foreknowledge was limited to the information in Daniel's journal.

I think I already did.  Speaking of Dan the Man, his comments seemed to confirm that the bomb's detonation was responsible for creating the Mirror reality.  But therein lies another major concern because I fear the show is about to lapse into paradox.  Logically, if the timeline splits in 1977 because of the bomb, the two branches should differ only after the split.  They should share a common past in which the survivors of Oceanic 815 traveled back in time from the future of the Crash reality to cause the Incident in both branches.  This shared history should include all of the events that predate the Incident, including the time flashes, Little Ben Linus's shooting, and his subsequent bath in the Temple.  Here's how the timeline should look:

 Based on a diagram by Angela Jarecki

The alternative falls prey to a variation of the grandfather paradox.  To review, in a universe with only one timeline, traveling back in time and killing your grandfather creates a logical contradiction because his death means you shouldn't exist to travel back in time and kill him.  One way to avoid the paradox is if your act creates a second timeline branching from that point forwards in spacetime like the bomb did on LOST.  Obviously, you're never born or time travel in this new branch.  But the you who hails from the original branch must remain a part of the history of the new branch.  Erasing you yields another logical contradiction because the new branch depends on your act of murder for its existence.

Diagram by Dan Falk

Unfortunately, LOST may be taking precisely that paradoxical route.  As Netprophet and others note, the bomb seems to have had a retro-causal ripple effect that erased the events leading up to the Incident in the Mirror reality.  The first warning was in "Dr. Linus" when Mirror Roger wondered how different their lives would have been if they'd stayed on the Island.  Those don't sound like the sentiments of a father whose son was shot and kidnapped by the '77ers.  Indeed, Roger's wistful words suggest he didn't even realize the Island had sunk to the bottom of the sea.  Thus far, not one character in the Mirror reality seems to remember our Losties' traveling back in time from the Crash reality to cause the Incident.

The wild cards in this analysis are Charles and Eloise.  The former seemed blissfully ignorant in "Happily Ever After."  As I mentioned in my recap of "Recon," however, the possibility remains that he sent Charlotte to spy on James.  If so, Mirror Charles may indeed recall encountering Crash Sawyer on the Island.  It's also possible that Mirror Eloise remembers killing Crash Daniel.  She may have a copy of his journal and suspect his death is linked with Desmond in the Crash reality.  Perhaps she intervened to save Daniel's Mirror counterpart from a similarly grim fate.  I'm frankly skeptical this is the case, but I haven't abandoned all hope for a consistent Mirror timeline.  Hence the dual sickness scores in quantum superposition.

Is Eloise worried Mirror Daniel will follow the path of his Crash Counterpart?

I just have to show them something.  Many believe that Desmond will now be a catalyst for merger of the two realities into a third.  But I think his mission is less ambitious than that.  He must make contact with the same key players in both realities simultaneously, triggering cross-over events like those experienced by Charlie, Daniel, and Des himself.  This may involve more near death experiences, which propel them "between places" as Charlotte Malkin put it.  In some cases, however, it may be as simple as reminding them of someone they love.  The goal of these cross-overs will be to show our Losties that  they can live a new life in the Mirror reality even if they sacrifice themselves for Jacob's plan in the Crash universe. 

That's why Desmond is so abruptly sanguine about dying.  As the title of the episode suggests, his job is to show them how to live happily ever after.  And while there's nothing wrong with that in principle, it still strikes me as a bit of a cop out.  I used to think Damon shared my sentiments.  Prior to publication of the last Harry Potter book, he wrote a great New York Times op-ed arguing that "Harry has to die."  Damon's logic is as persuasive now as it was then: "Because it will be tragic. And emotional. And surprising. But most of all ... it will be fair."  That same logic, moreover, applies with equal force to LOST.  Allowing characters to cheat death by crossing over to the Mirror reality seems like... well, cheating.

When do we get started?

They're trying to have their cake and eat it too, an outcome I can stand for maybe one or two characters at most.  Without spoiling too much, Stephen King handled this well in the Dark Tower with his door to "happiness," as I think I've mentioned previously.  But please, no mass resurrection of the entire cast in the Mirror reality via consciousness transfer.  My apologies to you all everybody for being this week's turd in the punch bowl.  Over to you, Wayne...

 * * *

WAYNE: I give this a 9 on the Sickness Scale, 5 for mythology and 4 for characterization.

I suspect that many of us realized and expected that wild card Desmond would be the conduit between the Mirror and the Crash realities once we saw Charles Widmore set up camp on Hydra Island. I knew Desmond would be the (fail-safe) key back in "LA X." But I have to admit that I'm intrigued at the possibilities for the resolution of LOST that this episode offered. For an episode that brought more questions than answers, I am actually quite pleased. I've heard that Damon Lindelof twittered that the conversation would change after "Happily Ever After," while Carlton Cuse promised a new chapter in the story. Well, for the first time this season (and never mind my views about Twitter), I am now absolutely looking forward to next week's episode.  

The Flash of Two Worlds. DC Comics first explained the concept that would one day be called the multiverse in The Flash#123, back in 1961. In this issue, we get the full explanation on why there were no metahumans active during World War II. Pared down, Barry Allen was the Flash on Earth-1, and he encountered Jay Garrick, the Flash of Earth-2, after changing his body's vibrational frequencies to appear invisible at a childrens' charity event. In future meetings, a device called the Cosmic Treadmill was created as a bridge between realities.  Widmore's device of toroidal coils (which create a closed magnetic path with self-shielding loops that alternate between alignment with lines of latitude and the direction of the Earth's magnetic poles) reminded me of the contraption that The Flash used.  The difference was that Desmond didn't have to pump his leg muscles to get to the other reality. Or did he?

Rabbit, run. The shack where Desmond was brought against his will, with its wooden floor and lone chair, reminded me of Jacob's cabin.  I also thought of Locke's tribalistic sweat lodge from S3's "Further Instructions," because of Locke's self-induced vision quest. This was in the aftermath of the Hatch's implosion, in which Desmond survived an electromagnetic event by turning the fail-safe key.  Widmore seems to know all about that event because he hopes to duplicate it. Widmore pressed Zoe to get the coils up and running ahead of schedule, and we again get the impression that the guys in DHARMA security could have handled this job better after snarfing down those marijuana-laced brownies back in 1974. Frick goes out to check on a glitch, Frack realizes a switch was simply stuck, Frick gets fried. The first intended test subject was a white rabbit named Angstrom.

John Updike wrote a series of novels centering around Harold C. "Rabbit" Angstrom, a man whose character evolves through forces of circumstance, though he does not seem to be able to accomplish anything extraordinary. That sums up Desmond Hume as he was shuffled about with the help of Eloise Hawking, eventually entering the boat race -- which drew him to the Island -- to impress Charles Widmore, to prove that he had potential worth. Updike explained that he did not base the name "Angstrom" on the metric unit used to measure electromagnetic radiation.  Rather, he took it from the word "angst," which is Dutch for dread or anxiety. The author learned of this word in the writings of the existentialist Soren Kierkegaard, who was, of course, on the reading list of French science team's book club.

Rabbit hole, redux. After breaking free of the chair as the coils generate winds in another scene reminiscent of the the cabin, Desmond finds himself at Mirror LAX, checking for baggage arrivals. (Hmmm. Who arrived in the Mirror reality before he did, and what sort of emotional baggage do they already carry?) He's working for Widmore in a more passive capacity than Mirror Jin does for Paik.  Desmond's job somewhat resemble Mirror Sayid's -- he travels around and makes comfortable amounts of money, and perhaps it is only coincidence that these three men are currently on Hydra and not the main Island. Updike's sequel to Rabbit Run was Rabbit, Redux, and in this episode, Charlie becomes the rabbit to Desmond's Alice, first swerving Desmond's car into the harbor and later having Desmond chase him down the stairwell at St. Sebastian's Hospital. In each case, Desmond gets a flash to the Crash-reality, the first being what might prove to be the eeriest moment of the season. A submerged Charlie, blank palm to the car's window, with Des's flash showing the phrase "Not Penny's Boat," which heralded the end of the first half of LOST. 

Ominous words, right up there with Crash reality Widmore's "The Island isn't done with you yet." and Mirror reality Eloise's admonition that "You're not ready [to meet Penny] yet." On the plus side, George the chauffeur, in a ridiculously long tie, offered to procure some women for Desmond, who politely declined. When Desmond grabbed Charlie in the stairwell, the latter tells Des that they were sharing a moment, that Des was getting that Crash-reality vibe, just as Charlie did when he envisioned Claire while unexpectedly choking on his heroin stash in the Oceanic lavatory. Desmond was supposed to deliver Charlie to Eloise, as her son wanted to try fusing classical music with DriveShaft's rock. Eloise is first seen telling a waiter the proper way to line up a butter knife, and I thought of this as the most rudimentary version of course-correction: straightening out a mistake that almost everybody might completely not notice at all. Des explains to Eloise, who dismisses the news with the familiar lines "Whatever happened, happened." She didn't need the details, but I'm certain that she knew full well that Charlie provided the proper images and lines to get Desmond thinking.

Eloise, Protector of the Multiverse. I do believe that there are an infinite number of fractal realities, including the Meta version we were given in "Happily Ever  After." In the Meta reality, there's no Island, "Charlie Pace" is currently on Flashforward and "Kate Austen is appearing in commercials for L'oreal. Or Revlon. Or Calgon, I forget. So, whereas we don't have to worry about Eloise Hawking telling us what to do, there's an infinite number of the creepy, white haired, old bat. What happened was that the detonation of Jughead opened up the Mirror reality, because Lost has only concerned itself with the concept of twinning, for the most part. And, just as she protects her respective realities, she keeps Desmond on his leash, again keeping him from meeting Penny, just as she made him drive Penny away in "Flashes Before Your Eyes." The other realities are still there, they are simply not a concern. All we need are the equivalent of Earth-1 and Earth-2.

Daniel "not Faraday" Widmore has a talk with Desmond about his half-sister, Penny "not Widmore" Milton. But first he goes on about chocolate-loving Charlotte, and how he wrote these crazy equations that a friend at CalTech explained in terms that basically describe the Incident. Dan has this crazy thought that he has already caused such an explosion. His Crash-reality memory kicked in after seeing his lost love, and I'm wondering if there's this strange trinity of Desmond, Daniel, and half-sis Penny. (Makes you wonder what Crash-memory might have clicked when Det. Ford grabbed Kate or with the possibility of Dr. Linus spotting Juliet.) Also, it is intriguing that the only Mirror-reality character who has a relationship of any kind is John Locke, the one person in the pre-Crash reality truly alone. (Even Boone had Shannon. Eww? What of it?)

A lot can happen in twenty minutes. After shaking hands with Penny, Desmond wakes up on Crash-reality Hydra. Zoe asks why he has become so cooperative considering he was bashing Widmore with his IV cart just a short while back. Desmond explains that a lot can happen in twenty minutes. Just then, Sayid kills two of Widmore's men and tells Zoe to run. She does, and Desmond follows Sayid.  There's one good reason for Desmond's actions. In one final cut to the Mirror reality, he asks George for favor. All through the episode, Desmond was denied lists: the patient list at the hospital, the guest list at Eloise's party. What he asks for in the Mirror reality is the flight manifest for Oceanic 815. The Man in Black will be tricked into entering Widmore's gizmo, effectively trapping him in a science-version of Jacob's cabin. But what does it mean in the Mirror reality that Desmond meets Penny much too soon? (I'm guessing three years, the time difference between the two realities.) Twice now, Widmore's group have altered their time schedule, snagging Jin and sending Desmond on his mind-trip. Both times, things went OK, aside from Frick getting fried.

And this is why the episode pleased me so much. I expect Desmond to tell the main group about the other reality, which might make Richard recall seeing everyone die in 1977. As I said above, this is the first time this season I am absolutely looking forward to the next episode.

Game on.

Friday, April 02, 2010

Fringe: Whoah!

Just a quick heads up to you all everybody that I've posted a blog about the new episode of Fringe over on I Hate My DVR. Stop by and let me know what you think!