LOST: “Catch-22”

Where are the Boones of yesteryear?

More snappy witticisms, including spoilers about tonight’s episode, after the jump.

Links and Miscellanea:

  • Some notes from the official podcast:
    • It’s very possible that we might see a future flashback episode explaining Juliet’s affair with Goodwin.
    • Ben could very well have been lying when he claimed to have cured Juliet’s sister, Rachel. Then again, he could be telling the truth.
    • We’ll return to the issue of pregnant women dying on the island, and specifically as it relates to Sun, in next week’s episode.
    • Juliet and Kate’s mud scene was added for continuity purposes, since a scene had already been shot for the last part of the episode that showed both already muddy.
    • Nikki and Paolo are actually dead and buried (alive!) and won’t be coming back.
    • Despite persistent rumors, there was no crucial clue in the pilot episode that has not already been explored on the show.
    • There is a reason why the smoke monster couldn’t jump the sonic fence, and it may have to do with the Monster’s need to maintain contact with the surface of the island. The DHARMA Initiative people discovered that they could use the sonic fence as an effective barrier for the Monster. (This bit is particularly interesting because it means that Smokie’s presence on the island pre-dates DHARMA’s, and that it was a threat, not a tool, of DHARMA.)
    • A LOST video game is going to be released this year by Ubisoft for XBox 360, PS3, and PC. (What no Wii? Ubisoft did excellent work for the Wii-launch title Rayman’s Raving Rabbids.)
  • Whitney at PopCandy notes that this episode is the first to feature the writing talents of Brian K. Vaughan, creator of the comic books Y:The Last Man and Ex Machina.
  • Last week, LOST experienced its “first ratings gain in two months.” It still came in lower than CSI:NY in its time slot. LOST remains a top ten show in a key demographic, so the ratings struggles have probably been overstated all along.
  • It must be awards season again: LOST has been nominated for its first BAFTA (in an international television category) and Jorge Garcia (Hurley) has been nominated for an ALMA.
  • Here’s my pick for the stupidest LOST-related item of the week: LOST should be canceled (along with The Simpsons, 24, ER, and CSI:NY). According to this MSNBC column by Andy Dehnart, “Let’s be honest: The only reason to watch “Lost” any more is to see how it ends.” Well, yeah. That, and the incredible acting, writing, editing, directing, musical score and storytelling. Honestly, I have to wonder if Dehnart has even watched the last half-dozen episodes. LOST is so clearly one of the best things on television (I would argue the best) that any debate on the topic would be ludicrous without giving LOST it’s due consideration.
  • ETonline.com has an interview with Yunjin Kim (Sun). She would like to see a kissing scene between Sun and Sawyer. With recent developments on the show, this scenario seems unlikely. But stranger things have happened on that crazy island.
  • I’ll admit, I didn’t really get the satire, but some of our readers might appreciate this Sherlock Holmes mystery, as if it was written by the writers of LOST.
  • Finally, TV Guide’s Michael Ausiello has some heavy spoiler-ish news about the accelerated death toll we can expect for upcoming LOST episodes.

Observations and Speculations:

  • This episode’s title, of course, refers to Joseph Heller’s classic World War II novel. By far the best think Heller ever wrote, the novel focused on the brutality of war and the senselessness and inhumanity of bureaucracy. I recall writing a college essay on Catch-22 as it relates to Kierkegaard’s concept of paradox—yes, I was a philosophy and liberal arts major—but I don’t remember anything about what I actually wrote. The term “Catch-22” itself has come to be known as a dilemma in which either alternative is unacceptable or absurd—a damned-if-you-do-damned-if-you-don’t situation, which is what Desmond thought he was faced with in this episode.
  • The book discovered by Desmond and is crew is Ardil-22, the Portugese-language version of Catch-22. Of course, the two men in the arctic monitoring station in the final scene of season 2 were speaking Portuguese. This suggests that the woman found hanging from her parachute is probably part of Penny Widmore’s search and rescue mission.
  • As noted above, this episode was written by noted comic book author Brian K. Vaughan, so it’s ironic that the episode opened with Hurley and Charlie debating the relative foot speed of Superman and the Flash. Wikipedia weighs in on the debate as follows: “On several occasions, the Flash has been shown in various races against Superman to determine which one is faster (or as part of a mutual effort to thwart some type of threat); these races, however, often resulted in ties (or indeterminate results). However, in recent races between [The Flash] and Superman, West has been shown to be the faster of the two.” The Flash and Superman are both, of course, members of DC Comic’s Justice League team of superheroes.
  • I loved seeing Charlie and Jin whistle “The Colonel Bogey March” from The Bridge Over the River Kwai as they walked along the beach.
  • We see Desmond in the monastery putting new label on a bottle of wine that says “Moriah Vineyards, Cabernet Sauvignon 1995,” which would make it approximately nine years before the crash of Flight 815. Incidentally, the older monk tells Desmond that they have only bottled 108 cases of wine that year. 108, of course, is the maximum number of minutes between button pushes in the hatch, and also the sum of the “numbers.”
  • As Desmond points out, Moriah is the site of Abraham’s attempt to carry out God’s command to sacrifice Isaac, his favorite son. This is generally regarded as a profound test of Abraham’s faith. This theme from the flashback is used to establish Desmond’s belief that he has to be willing to sacrifice Charlie in order to gain his own redemption, or at least be reunited with Penny. This also serves as a contrast with the the “man of faith” Locke from season 1 (episode 1.19, “Deus Ex Machina”) who believed that Boone was the sacrifice that the island required.
  • I also enjoyed Hurley’s explaination of the chupacabra: “a bear, with spines, but Mexican.” LOST needs more references to cryptozoology, if you ask me.
  • Desmond’s ex-fiancée mentions that she’s been dating Desmond for six years, and that the closest he’s ever come to a religious experience was “when Celtic won the cup.” The Celtic Football Club would have won the Scottish Cup in 1989, roughly six years before Desmond joined the monastery. When Desmond is getting drunk in the monastery, he is singing Celtic FC’s fan song.
  • Also, Desmond’s ex-fiancée is named Ruth, the name of a biblical character who is known for being devout to her adopted faith and loving to her husband, Boaz.
  • Penelope, on the other hand, is a name that comes from Homer’s epic, The Odyssey. Penelope was Odysseus’ wife who faithfully waited for her husband to return from the Trojan wars, a journey that was delayed by his many misadventures. At the end of the Odyssey, Penelope decides maybe it’s time to relent to her suitors and devises a contest whereby whichever man can string a bow and send an arrow through twelve axe handles can marry her. Odysseus, disguised as an old beggar, wins the contest and kills the suitor. Interestingly, the arrow that was to kill Charlie ends up going through his guitar neck, which may or may not be an allusion to Odysseus’ arrow flying through the axe handles in Penelope’s contest. (If you look very carefully, you can see that the arrowhead is still sticking out of the fingerboard of Charlie’s guitar in the next bushwacking scene.
  • The Jack-Juliet-Kate-Sawyer love quadrangle didn’t really interest me that much. Sawyer, naturally, figures out what was going on very quickly. He’s a guy with keen intuition.
  • I’m very confused by the photograph. How many of these things are there? We saw the scene in which this picture was taken earlier in the season, and was it not an instant photo?
  • The older monk has a picture on his desk of himself and and older woman, presumably his mother. The woman is Mrs. Hawking, the same woman that Desmond meets in the antique shop during “Flashes Before Your Eyes” who explains to Desmond that his fate is to go to the island and save the world by entering the numbers into a computer.
  • And finally, for what it’s worth, we now know how Penny and Desmond met.

UPDATE: Interesting note from the cast list on IMdB: the parachute girl is named “Naomi.” That ties her (thematically, at least) to Ruth, Desmond’s ex. Naomi, in the bible, was Ruth’s mother-in-law and cousin to Boaz.

This was a good episode, but not one that I would count among the best. It moved the plot along, but I’m guessing that things will start to move more quickly from this point on through the end of the season.


24 thoughts on “LOST: “Catch-22”

  1. Who’s the girl who dropped to the island by parachute. She did say “Desmond?” didn’t she, when the helmet came off? She dose look Portugese (tanned), but did it look like Desmond recognised her, or was that only me?

    And the photo of head-monk and Mrs Hawkings, it’s such a poor photoshopping job, is that intentional?

  2. I noticed the photo as well, didn’t think much about the poor quality of it. But, since it has been brought up several times, I think it could mean a few things:

    1. Intentional photoshopping for the story: though, I don’t know how this would be an important plot point. What would that prove? That the monk wants to be tied to this mystic woman in some way?
    2. Not intentional (more likely): several options here:
    — the actress who played the role would not reprise it for 1-2 photo shoots.
    — Or the monk had not been cast yet, therefore he was not available when she was.
    — OR, linking the two together was something that came up AFTER the episode with her had aired and BEFORE they shot this one (which might concede that the writers are making it up as they go along, or at least letting some plot lines remain open for further investigation later if time allows).

    I think by the end, when the monk insists that Des wait for Penelope to arrive, that means he must have these flashes as well, or he wouldn’t be so adamant. Heknows that Des HAS to meet Penny, which leads him to the island, which causes him to turn the switch, which, if he didn’t would mean the destruction of mankind.

    Sooo, the monk must have had a visit from the ring lady, too.

    The episode in general was “bleh,” not much to it, really. I wasn’t excited about this new person on the island. At least it was Cousin Oliver.

  3. “Who’s the girl who dropped to the island by parachute. She did say “Desmond?” didn’t she, when the helmet came off? She dose look Portugese (tanned), but did it look like Desmond recognised her, or was that only me?”

    Yes, she did say “Desmond.” So she recognized him, even if he didn’t recognize her. I also suspect that she was Portugese or Brazilian–based on the Portugese-language edition of Catch-22 found in the backpack–like the men in the arctic monitoring station at the end of season 2. This leads me to the conclusion that she is working for Penny Widmore as part of the search and rescue mission to find Desmond.

  4. I also noticed that Mrs. Hawkings seemed to have been photoshopped into the photo (but only after I freeze-framed the shot on my DVR). My guess is that this was simply an artifact of needing to put a prop together in response to a very tight production schedule. And the photo was on the screen so little that the production staff probably figured most people wouldn’t really notice.

  5. I suspect it’s an artifact as well. (BTW – did everyone recognize it immediately? I mentioned it to my wife and I had to rewind it twice to show her – she missed it completely)

    Overall not a great episode but obviously important. Like others the whole love triangle bit is uninteresting. Desmond is an interesting character but he came off as morally shady in this one. I’m not sure they intended him to be as problematic as he was. I did like the whole Flash vs. Superman bit though.

  6. I’m just glad that Desmond’s stilted way of saying “Can I help ya, brother” finally got explained.

    I think she recognized him because Penny’s made the team remember everything about who they’re searching for. Penny probably stayed behind to organize efforts.

    I do like the naming patterns in Lost. The love triangle bit was very annoying- but the Mix tape was cute. As you said earlier- Sawyer seems to be conned quite a bit lately.

    What was the beacon? Am I missing something?

  7. The writers intentionally make Sawyer likable and then have one episode where he reverts back to his “true” form. We’re back in the likable cycle. I’m sure he’ll squish a tree frog soon.

  8. I personally have been uninterested in the Jack/Kate/Sawyer love triangle since it started. I’ve become progressively more annoyed with the soap opera-y elements of the show, and this is near the top of that list. It probably doesn’t help that Jack and Kate are among my least favorite characters on the show.

  9. Except that it’s still 2004 there so that iPhone-ish phone is out of place no matter which way you slice it. Unless of course there is some weird thing about the island being on a different time continuum than the rest of the world.

  10. I think that it just proof that the Widmores are more influential and get cool apple swag two or three years before the rest of us.

  11. Are we sure it wasn’t a real Sat phone? Note that what makes the iPhone unique isn’t the black background with icons but the overall UI. I didn’t see anything to suggest this was *that* unusual.

  12. Clark, not sure. I’m going to guess that this was simply intended to be a cool-looking prop and that we weren’t to read too much into it. The Engadget folks claim that the user interface is OS-X, which would make it an iPhone. I’m pretty sure it’s intended to be a satellite phone for show purposes, though.

  13. How on earth would the Lost folks get an iPhone? Unless there is some key feature about it and some (paid for) product placement by Apple.

  14. one more thing to add. it has already been noted that that penny = penelope, and the allusions to homer’s odyssey. separately, it has also been noted that 108 = one of the numbers.

    to link these two things together, the character penelope in homer’s epic the odyssey had none other than 108 suitors courting her while odysius was out to sea.

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