LOST: “The Man from Tallahassee”

While other shows are in hiatus waiting for sweeps to come back around, LOST just keeps rolling with one great episode after another. Tonight’s Locke-centric episode was certainly no exception.

Links and miscellanea

  • This week saw the return of Producers/Writers Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof to the Official Lost podcast, with some fairly substantial nuggets of information, including:
    • We should regard everything that Mikhail Bakunin told Kate, Sayid and Locke was true, other than that he was a member of the DHARMA Initiative. His recounting of the conflict between DHARMA and the “hostiles,” including the subsequent “purge” in which the DHARMA people were wiped out, is accurate.
    • The Others did not know about the Swan Station or Desmond and Kelvin’s button-pushing activities prior to the Losties’ arrival on the island.
    • We’re guaranteed to like next week’s Nikki and Paolo’s episode next week. (I know there are many doubters, but I’m inclined to believe.)
    • “Jacob,” the unseen leader of the Others does exist, and we’ll be learning more about him.
    • LOST really does take place on an island. It seems silly, but there was a persistent rumor during seasons one and two that the island wasn’t an island at all and that this fact would be revealed at the end of the show. (On a related note, last week’s podcast featured an interview with a co-executive producer who talked about how all of the scenes in the movie, including the Iraq scenes and a snowy Buffalo, NY scene, were filmed on Oahu. Creative use of locations and background matting are used to create the illusion that the characters aren’t in Hawaii.)

  • There’s been a lot of speculation that Charlie palmed Claire’s note after he appeared to attach it to the migratory bird’s leg at the end of last week’s episode. I rewatched this scene several times on my DVR and can confirm that Charlie clearly was holding something that looked like a folded piece of paper in his palm at the end of that scene. But I’m torn on whether this was intentional. I think it may have been an unintentional production error that was either inadvertently or purposefully left in because it was the best of the many takes filmed for that scene.
    • The argument for it being a production error: It is totally inconsistent with the tone of the scene and what we know about Charlie’s character for Charlie to have palmed the note. It just doesn’t work. If it had been Locke, or Rose, or Walt before he became Creepy (characters that have each expressed a desire not to leave the island), that might make sense. But we’ve never gotten any indication that Charlie doesn’t want to be rescued.
    • The argument against it being a production error: the camera angles give the audience a clear view of Charlie’s slight of hand, and it seems unlikely that Dominic Monaghan didn’t know he had the paper in his hand when he was acting in that scene. As for the inconsistency with the mood of the scene, Michael Giacchino, the man responsible for the show’s musical score, has said before in interviews that he’s not privy to the LOST’s mysteries (and is, in fact, willfully ignorant of them) when he composes the background music.

  • LOST seems to be doing better on the ratings front despite (or perhaps because of) the time change. If my weekly Google News searches are any indication of the current media gestalt, it does seem that the prophesies of doom have died down and been replaced with spoilerish scoops. That has to be a good sign for the health of the show. (See also this blurb clearing up the misconception that LOST is at risk of being cancelled. “
  • You can buy a piece of the Oceanic Flight 815 plane at charity auction. The wreckage piece will be signed by Cuse and Lindelof, and the proceeds will go to fight AIDS and support democracy in Africa. Feel free to pick one up for me as well.
  • Evangeline Lilly was named the hottest woman on TV by TV Guide. But we already knew that. Right?
  • Also from TV Guide: this interview with Terry O’Quinn (Locke).
  • Finally, a comprehensive list of songs featured on LOST from Lostpedia.

Observations and speculations

  • Tallahassee has been mentioned on the show previously. Kate was on her way there when she was nabbed by the U.S. Marshall, who told her that it was “all strip malls and Waffle Houses.” (Couldn’t that be most any city in the South?). And Sawyer once commented that he picked up an STD in Tallahassee. (Ditto.)
  • I think we can infer that John Locke’s father, Anthony Cooper, is “the man from Tallahassee.” It’s also very likely, I think, that he at some point went by the name “Sawyer.” (In this episode he was going by the name “Adam Seward,” which is close to “Sawyer.”)
  • I like how the time period for Locke’s flashbacks can be measured by how much hair he has.
  • I think Danielle has the right idea: the only way to survive on the island with the Others is to steer clear. It didn’t work out so well for Kate, Locke and Sayid to try to infiltrate Othersville.
  • I searched in vain to find out what movie Locke is watching in his apartment when Peter Talbot comes to his door. Something about stolen Bolivian coal deposits, a villain named “The Cobra,” and a character named “Crystal.”
  • I’m struck once again by the tasteful decorating that the Others use in their littel Othersville bungalows. The cream-colored walls, the beadboard paneling, the modern accessories. Also, their rec room appears to have a pool table, foosball, and two old-school pinball machines. Not bad.
  • Locke has learned enough from his past to know when he’s being conned. But it was important enough for him to destroy the submarine that he didn’t care that he was being manipulated.
  • Watching Terry O’Quinn and Michael Emerson square off is just great television.
  • Ben Linus appears to have a star map on his wall, as well as several other interesting objects. He also has a black desk phone on his desk, which seems odd.
  • Ben mentions that he’s already eaten most of the dark meat chicken, while Locke eats the white meat. This is a continuation of the light/dark symbolism that’s been in the show since the first few episodes. And note that the food in Ben’s refrigerator is all DHARMA branded. When the airdrops stop, so will his food supplies.
  • How creepy is it that Ben keeps pictures of Alex on his wall, but told her that her mother was dead. I’m glad Sayid clued her in about Danielle. Alex still has a role to play in this show.
  • Ben continues to insist that he was born on the island. I tend to believe him, even though he’s a lying liar who lies. It’s significant that Ben calls it an “illusion” that the Others can “leave when they want to.” I’m not at all certain that Ben was actually going to let Jack and Juliet go, nor that Michael and Walt were really able to leave.
  • I loved the shot of Locke looking down the hatch of the submarine. It looked pretty familiar, didn’t it?
  • Just before Locke’s father shoves him out the window, he grabs a bottle of MacCutcheon 60-year-old scotch and pours two drinks. Nice touch.
  • Richard, the Other who is with Ben at the end of the episode, is Richard Alpert, the “Mittelos Bioscience Corporation” representative who recruits Juliet to the island.
  • So how did Anthony Cooper/Adam Seward/Probable Sawyer get on the island? Did the Others abduct him because they knew how powerful having him as a pawn would be for one (and probably two) of the survivors? Or was he there all along and that’s how they found out about Locke’s background? He appeared to have been roughed up and didn’t seem to be there voluntarily, but looks can be deceiving. In classic LOST fashion, the final reveal left us with more questions than answers.

This was a fantastic episode. The acting alone was worth the price of admission. We found out that Locke’s got his own agenda, apart and opposed to that of the other survivors. We had a hint of this earlier, but now there’s no doubt. I think it’s pretty obvious now that Locke intended to blow up the communications station, just as he blew up the sub.

See you all next week, after the much-anticipated (and equally feared) Nikki and Paolo episode.

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41 thoughts on “LOST: “The Man from Tallahassee”

  1. I don’t know if it’s just me, but every time Michael Emerson is on-camera, all I can think of is “Kevin Spacey must not have been available.” His performance as Ben just seems such an obvious channeling of the stuff Spacey is famous for doing.

    Otherwise, pretty good episode. I was actually kinda disappointed with the revelation of how Locke ended up paralyzed, just because it was so ridiculous and filled with holes in logic, but Locke’s my favorite so I was glad to see him front and center for this one.

  2. Greg,

    I agree, that was a fabulous episode. Ben and Locke finally confronting each other was certainly the highlight. I don’t know as yet which one has the upper hand. Certainly on Season Two, Ben had the upper hand, but I think Locke has learned a few things since blowing up the Hatch. The best line about Locke’s knowledge is when he tells Ben that “you’re in the wheelchair, I’m not.” I could tell early on in the episode that Ben must have had Locke’s father on the island. I guess I saw the foreshadowing led to just that. They still did a wonderful job leading up to that point.

    Oh and how better to build up the rivalry between Jack and Locke than for Locke to blow up the only way (at least that Jack can see) for Jack to get off the island. You could see murder in Jack’s eyes! He’s not a happy camper.

    I loved the very short, but powerful scene where Danielle saw her daughter Alex in the jungle. A very quick, but moving scene. Her daughter is indeed alive and looking good. Danielle is, I believe, the wild (literally) card. Sayid did his job in planting the seed in Alex that her mother is indeed alive.

    All in all, this is probably one of the best episodes of the show.

  3. LA Times says something interesting about Locke and his father:

    Now that Locke has blown up the submarine, it seems all of the castaways will have plenty of time for introspection. And fans will have lots of time to ponder. It will be five weeks before viewers see Locke and his father again, but when they do, the results will be an intense set-up for the season’s climax, Lindelof said.

    Are we really going to have to wait five weeks before we get back to that plot line?

  4. I pity all those who dumped the show from their schedule and moved on. These past few episodes have been excellent.

    Locke and Ben…wow! Greg nailed it with saying it’s great television.

  5. Awesome, awesome episode. Anyone not watching Lost right now is…well…wasting their time with whatever else they are doing during that hour.

    So who is going to die next week? The preview suggested that someone will die, could it be Paolo or Nikki? Or a regular?

    I too was a bit annoyed by the way Locke was paralyzed. They could have made it much more plausible. I mean, his father’s momentum would have carried himself out with Locke, plus the glass was WAY too weak for a high rise, plus 8 flights up? Come on. But whatever, there’s a black smoke that kills people and I’m complaining about the reality of the thickness of high rise glass.

  6. No one noticed the obvious Locke/Hurley connection (other than Locke worked for a box company and Hurley owned one).

    Recall in Hurley flashback, when he was talking with his accountant, a man fell past the window? Clearly, Hurley was in the same building as Locke’s dad, just a few floors down.

  7. Dan –
    hmmmm. Well, Hurley’s box company was in Canada, but I guess perhaps there is a problem there. I guess it depends on where Hurley’s accountant was.

  8. I’m trying to remember what it was (in an episode way back) that made Locke feel pain in his legs again (while he was on the Island). What did he do that offended the island, so to speak? He seems to have learned a hard lesson and I think he’s working from that vantagepoint when he talks to Ben about “cheating.”

  9. danithew, you’re thinking of episode 1.19 “Deux Ex Machina.” It wasn’t really clear to me what Locke did to anger the island, but he loses the use of his legs when he and Boone are hiking through the jungle and find the drug plane. Soon after, Boone falls, and Locke comes to believe that he was the sacrifice that the island required.

  10. Good catch, Ivan!

    A great episode. It made up for what I believe to be the worst episode yet – the one from a week or two ago when Hurley and the boys found the van.

    Ben plays an excellent cultist – he’s got those beedy, close together eyes, and the frantic nerves of an inbred outsider. Seeing him square off with Locke (the epitome of a “Mr. Regular Guy”) is a treat.

  11. I didn’t think that van episode was bad at all. Not as good as the other Hurley-centric episodes (which are typically second only to the Locke-centric ones) but not as bad as the second Ecko episode.

    The big question is whether that is really Locke’s dad or a doppleganger created by the island ala Jack’s dad from episode 1.3.

  12. A new theory that’s being floated around:

    Locke didn’t actually blow up the sub, but submerged it, sneaked out via some escape hatch or torpedo tube, and blew up the end of the pier. This explains why Locke was soaking wet when he was found, and also shows that Locke was able to one-up Ben.

    I like this theory. It’s got spunk.

  13. I like that theory too. I was wondering why they showed so much footage of him walking through the sub if all he was going to do was blow it up. Then the wet thing too, that didn’t make sense.

  14. I think there’s something else going on but I don’t think he drove the submarine away. But his going through the submarine was odd.

    No one else has any thoughts on the doppleganger issue?

  15. I just figured he was walking through the submarine so he could place the explosives at the best location (probably near the gas tank).

    Re: the doppelganger issue: Clark, are you suggesting that Locke’s dad is the same as Jack’s dad was, i.e. the monster in disguise? This was be interesting since it would mean the Others have the power to harness the monster. We haven’t really seen any indication that this is the case, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t so.

  16. I liked last week’s episode better than this week’s, but any episode that focuses on Locke is key — and worth the wait.

    This was a fantastic episode. The acting alone was worth the price of admission. We found out that Locke’s got his own agenda, apart and opposed to that of the other survivors. We had a hint of this earlier, but now there’s no doubt. I think it’s pretty obvious now that Locke intended to blow up the communications station, just as he blew up the sub.

    When I saw Sawyer reading The Fountainhead last week (or the week before?) I figured we would be seeing much more of Locke’s personal agenda and that his goal was to blow up the submarine. If there is supposed to be a parallel, however, between Locke and Howard Roark, I am confused about a number of things. For one, who is the Toohey to Locke’s Roark? — Jack? Ben seems the more obvious answer.

    From the beginning I have worried about Locke. I am not so sure he knows he’s learned how to tell when he’s being conned. He falls for it every time with his “dad”; if he has one-upped Ben by submerging the sub and destroying the pier, then more power to him — that would certainly fit better with a Roark analogy (although there again it breaks down because Roark blew up his own temple rather than let it be unappreciated). I think that Locke is fundamentally good by nature; however, I am starting to feel that this show is going to portray a good nature as something neutral and not inherently good and worthwhile in itself. Locke is the test case — he is good but easily manipulated and his actions so far have had an appreciably negative impact on the survivors. He has destroyed the hatch, the signal station, and now possibly the submarine. (Although the first thing my wife and I noticed was that he was soaking wet, which didn’t make any sense at all to us.)

  17. Brian, at first I thought he was just trying to find the fuel as well. But there was something odd about it all, as I said. His being wet could have been splash from the explosion but something makes me think he did something different.

    I don’t think the Others control the island or the monster. I think the Island is something like in Forbidden Planet and works off the unconscious fears and wishes of those who can communicate with it. Thus in the third episode when Jack sees his dad or last fall when Hurley sees his imaginary friend it is the machine working off of these impulses. Some people can connect to the machine which is probably what Hurley was. Ben of the Others can’t, which is why he is sick.

  18. “His being wet could have been from the explosion…”

    He was wet long before the explosion. As he walked down the dock it was clear he was soaked from head to toe. Curious indeed.

  19. Unless it was a manifestation of the island due to Hurley’s subconscious. Have you seen Forbidden Planet? There a mysterious giant computer is left by a dead race called the Krell 200,000 years before. An invisible monster starts attacking the ship and it turns out it is created by the planet via the unconscious nightmares of the scientist on the island. Sound familiar?

  20. Clark,

    Some people can connect to the machine which is probably what Hurley was. Ben of the Others can’t, which is why he is sick.

    Why would Ben, if he cannot control the island, have his men “get the man from Tallahasee?” He said that early on in the episode.

  21. My theory is that the Island is like the Forbidden Planet thingy, but

    that it has been working on all these characters for years – they all have been under the influence of the island – which is why there are so mnay connections.

    I think that really is Locke’s dad – and that the island brought him there, the same way it got it so that all the people who needed to be were on the same plane, etc. etc.

  22. Clark 26, the Forbidden Planet angle is a great insight. If there is a parallel, it makes Lost an even richer project. From the Wiki site you linked, I noticed this about Morbius, which seems, oddly enough, to capture Locke, who is undeniably one of the most, if not the most, in tune with (or in communion with) the Island:

    Although Morbius’ conscious mind was not strong enough to control the machine, his subconscious could and did, directing the attacks first against the Bellerophon party when they voted to return to Earth, and now the rescue ship. His deepest desire is simply to be left alone to study the Krell, and his subconscious is using the machine to fulfill that wish.

    Lost might indeed be building on the Forbidden Planet theme but adapting it and changing it considerably. First of all, it’s not hard to see a parallel or connection between the Dharma initiative and the Krell. The Morbius comparison might apply better to Ben than to Locke, and the Lost innovation would be in providing a rival to Ben-Morbius (in the person of Locke), someone to “cleanse” the Island, as Steve has said.

    Perhaps the Island brought all the survivors for that purpose, each of the people not on the list posing a unique threat to the Others. We shouldn’t forget that the crash of the airplane caught Ben and the others by surprise at the beginning of this season. Apparently, as the main post here notes, Ben and the Others didn’t know about the survivor’s hatch, which means they didn’t know about Desmond and his partner and their activities in the hatch. Remember the paranoia of the guy who got Desmond involved in the hatch (who also was the guy who got Said to become an interrogator for the U.S. in Iraq) about being outside of the hatch at all.

    But if the plane crash was not the doing of the Others, the mystery remains how the Others could be so deeply informed about each individual.

  23. John, I think they are using that “box” the island to get info on people.

    Regarding Forbidden Planet. I suspect Lost has the connection to that film that the film had to the Tempest. A lot of elements but a fairly different plot. (Obviously I guess – Hurley isn’t quite Robby the Robot)

  24. Something the podcast mentioned that I’d forgotten about was that Locke had destroyed the radio that they’d found and were trying to contact off the island.

    Someone else mentioned to me an other interesting parallel. Once again, not exact, but interesting. The House on Haunted Hill (the 1999 crappy version) has the haunted house that used to be an asylum actually “send out” to get the children of people cursed and brings them to the house where they are trapped. It then slowly kills them.

    I’d originally questioned this, but there are some strong elements to it. Especially now that we’re seeing all the interconnections.

  25. Did anybody notic the tatoo on Jack’s left arm and forearm when Locke looks at him with ben? Not the one on his shoulder.

  26. I’ve heard that that tattoo wasn’t actually new, but that it doesn’t show up that often because of where it’s placed (on the underside of Jack’s bicep. I don’t think it’s new.

    Re the submerged sub theory: I rewatched scene on my DVR (sadly, without HD), and was unable to determine whether the sub was located on the dock prior to the explosion. The relevant screen captures can be found here, and you can tell that there is *something* in the background, but it may or may not be a sub. When Locke enters the sub, he looks around with his pistol out to see if there are any Others guarding it. I still don’t get why Locke is soaked.

  27. Locke also didn’t have his backpack with him as he returned from the dock soaking wet. Would he have left the pack (a valuable asset for an outdoorsman like Locke to negligently leave in the sub) and Echo’s stick which was in the pack behind to be destroyed?

  28. Some excellent thoughts in this thread. I just saw this last night due to a busy life and the fact my stupid satellite feed went out and my tivo didn’t work.

    For that reason I caught the last fifteen minutes without seeing the beginning, and it made me wonder if it really was Locke’s dad or instead only a manifestation of what Locke fears most–something like that torture room in 1984 where what you fear most is what you get.

    I still think that could be a possibility. Let’s not forget that Ben is a liar.

    As far as the submarine. I too thought maybe he didn’t blow it up, but even if the visual is left ambiguous, you do certainly hear a lot of wreckage falling.

    Another point I find interesting is when Locke says, “For all you know, I could be a naval commander,” or something to that effect. It may be just me, but I read this scene and Ben’s reaction to suggest that maybe Ben doesn’t know as much about Locke as the other survivors.

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