It was island-based character drama and a Sawyer-centric episode this week. No flashbacks of flashforwards, per se, but a lot of non-linear storytelling. Spoilers from tonight’s episode after the jump.
Before I launch into the usual, I’d like to float a theory that I’ve recently concocted regarding John Locke’s significance to the island. We know that both evil factions (Linus and Widmore, respectively) were intent on Locke returning to the island—dead or alive, as it were. We also know that they both understand the island’s mystical time-traveling properties. From what Faraday’s (and Faraday’s mom) told us, and from what we’ve seen, time travel isn’t a way to change the future—the universe will find way to correct itself. What will happen, will happen. We also know that various people (Richard Alpert, Christian Shepard) have been prepping Locke for some sort of “sacrifice.”
Here’s my theory: what if the “sacrifice” they were talking about hasn’t happened yet? What if they didn’t mean, “get murdered by Ben so that you can be shipped back to the island via Ajira Airways”? I think maybe the powers-that-be have looked into the future and seen Locke commit some crucial act on behalf of the island, and he must be on the island in the future for that to happen. (Let’s side step over the philosophical dilemmas caused by the tension between free will and determinism for a moment. That morass has always been there and is not going away.)
Something to think about as we stumble our way through Lost’s penultimate season.
Links and miscellanea
- As the hype machine continues to roll for The Watchmen, I’ve been thinking about how much that graphic novel influenced Lost. Take, for example, the comments made in this Wired interview with the cranky old wizard Alan Moore (none too pleased with the movie, it should be noted):
[P]erhaps it is because of the combination of words and images in a readable form that comics does have this unique power. Now, of course, movies are a combination of words and images, but they have a completely different structure and completely different way of working. With a movie you are being dragged through the scenario at a relentless 24 frames a second. With a comic book you can dart your eyes back to a previous panel, or you can flip back a couple of pages to check whether there is some reference in the dialog to a scene that happened earlier.
You can also spend as much time as you want absorbing every image. This is especially true of something like Watchmen, where I was trying to take advantage of Dave Gibbons’ brilliant capacity as a former surveyor for including incredible amounts of detail in every tiny panel, so we could choreograph every little thing. The little symbols and signs appearing in the background, every little touch could be choreographed to the last detail, and we knew that the audienceâ€”because they’d be reading at their own paceâ€”would be able to study each panel and to take in these almost subliminal details. Even the best director in the world, even a person as talented as Terry Gilliam, could not possibly get that amount of information into a few frames of a movie. Even if they did, it would have zipped past far too quickly. Because the audience at the movie theater is not in control of the experience in the same way somebody reading is.
It strikes me that what the producers of Lost have accomplished, for viewers equipped with DVRs and easter eggs that sometimes flip by as quickly as a few frames at a time, is something very similar to the comic book experience described by Moore. And while composition in Lost is not quite as dense as The Watchmen, it is probably the most visually dense TV show every produced, and definitely takes its cues from graphic novels like The Watchmen by using recurring visual motifs and repeated symbolism.
- Christianity Today notes the similarities between the works of C.S. Lewis and Lost (linking to this analysis of Naria references on Lost by Jeff Jensen).
- A blogger at the LA Times asks, “Is Lost one big homage to Get Smart?” (Answer: No.)
- Here’s a Lost Twitter page featuring (made up) twitter feeds from the show’s characters. (Via The Swan Station.)
- Variety says that ABC is considering placing interactive “widgets” on the broadcast of Lost. Whatever that means.
- This analysis argues that season 5 may be the best one yet, and notes how the writers have employed the “riddle technique” as a storytelling device and to reassure viewers that the show knows where it’s going.
- The LA Times reviews Lost’s characters and rates their prognosis for getting killed in this photo gallery. (I espcially enjoyed this analogy: “Ditching Sawyer before the end would be like leaving Han Solo in carbonite for the third ‘Star Wars’ movie.”
- Honeysuckle has a nice breakdown of some Ajira Airways-related Easter eggs in this blog post.
- A German university student conducted a study on the Lost fan community and is posting his results to his blog.
- And finally, here are some cost-saving food tips for international reserach organizations in this difficult economic times.
Observations and speculations
- This episode picked up where we were three episodes ago, after Locke disappeared down the well and turned the Frozen Donkey Wheel and ended up where we ended last week (i.e., with Jin in a DHARMA jumpsuit discovering Jack, Kate and Hurley in the lagoon). In between, a lot of relationship-heavy stuff happens, and a little bit of mythology (not quite enough for my tastes).
- Probably the best moment of the episode didn’t last nearly long enough: we got to see the backside of the four-toed statue. It appears to have some sort of animal head, a skirt, and to be shirtless. Kind of seems vaguely Egyptian–Anubis or something the like. And it appears to be holding an Ankh, as Anubis sometimes is pictured doing.
Of course, an ankh shows up later in the episode, when Amy removes the necklace worn by her dead husband, Paul, and that same ankh becomes the source of the argument between Horace Goodspeed and Amy.
- Anubis, the jackal-headed god of Egyptian mythology was a sort of messenger who prepared the dead for their transmigration to the afterlife. The idea of a giant Anubis statute erected on the island’s shoreline fits right into recent symbolism involving Abaddon/This Place is Death/Cerebus. I still have no idea, though, why the statue only has four toes. Update: More support for my “four-toed statue is Anubis” theory can be found here. (“One of the most famous artifacts is the Anubis statue found in King Tutankhamun’s tomb. Watterson analyzes the statue like this: ‘Tutankhamun’s Anubis, like so many others, bears many features characteristic of a dog: long muzzle, eyes with round pupils, five-toed forefeet and four-toed hind feet.'”) This could be an explanation for the four-toed foot after all, since Anubis is sometimes portrayed as having four toes on his hind paws/feet.
- So when Locke turned the FDW, the nosebleeds stopped, the headaches stopped, and the time-skipping stopped, landing the Left Behinders in 1974, a time when DHARMA and the Others co-inhabited the island. That’s all well and good, but it doesn’t explain why the O5 were zapped back to 1974 when Ajira Airways passed within the island’s airspace. Is it too much to hope for an explanation for that as well?
- So what really motivates Sawyer? He stated (twice) that he’s willing to wait “as long as it takes” for his fellow Oceanic 815 survivors to return. Clearly, loyalty is one of his strong points. (Either that, or I guess he’s just really carrying a torch for Kate.)
- Once again, I really have to question the DHARMA folks’ taste in music. This time it’s Tony Orlando and Dawn‘s “Candida” on the DHARMA reel-to-reel. By the way, the girl dancing with Jerry, one of Sawyer’s security grunts, is wearing a Geronimo Jackson baseball shirt with American flag lettering. The DHARMA people just cannot get enough of Geronimo Jackson.
- Insidentally, if Phil and Jerry both kind of looked familiar, you might have seen either one of them on any number of shows where they have had recurring roles.
- Horace Goodspeed, first seen in this episode drunk and playing with dynamite, is someone we’ve seen a few times before. Remember, he was the one who happened to drive by the woods outside Portland, Oregon, right after Ben’s mother gave birth to him, and it was Horace who recruited and welcomed Ben and his father to the island. We also saw Horace in one of Locke’s dreams. He was repeatedly chopping down the same tree to build a cabin for “the missus.” Horace’s DHARMA jumpsuit has the Arrow insignia on it (a station identified as being used to defend the DHARMA group against the hostiles) and the job title, “Mathematician.” After seeing Horace in his dream, Locke later finds his corpse in the mass grave where Ben piled the DHARMA bodies after the purge. Before this episode, we never had any reason to believe that Horace had a leadership role in the DHARMA initiative.
- Horace, of course, was also one of the great classical poets. Then there’s homophone Horus, in keeping with the pseudo-Egyptian theme.
- Sawyer is now going by the alias “James (Jim) LaFleur,” and his head of security for DHARMA on the island. It seems to be a job he enjoys. Sawyer explains to Juliet later in the episode that he picked the name LaFleur because it’s “creole.”
- Miles also seems to work for Sawyer in security. And Jin as well.
- So why did most of the Left Behinders flash to 1974 and stay there, but Charlotte’s corpse flash away? I have a feeling that these are the types of questions that may never be answered.
- When Juliet and Sawyer find Faraday, he is mumbling, “I won’t tell her. I won’t do it. I wont—” I assume he’s talking about not confronting young Charlotte, if he ever runs into her (which of course, he does) and telling her not to return to the island.
- The burlap sack put over Amy’s head by the two hostiles was awfully reminiscent of the sacks that were put over the heads of Kate, Jack and Sawyer at the end of season 2.
- What’s with the “park” in the middle of the jungle and why were Amy and Paul visiting there for a picnic. Apparently, part of the “truce” was for the DHARMA people to stay away from the Other’s territory.
- I love the way that Sawyer cut right through Faraday’s philosophical malaise about determinism: “Yeah, thanks anyway, Plato!”
- The two Others/hostiles are ugly dudes, and one has a horseshoe tattoo.
- Sawyer and Juliet make a pretty effective team.
- Juliet: “It looks like some sort of sonic fence or something.” She’s not that great at ab-libbing, but under the circumstances, it’s understandable.
- Through Sawyer’s meddling, Juliet is able to have her first successful delivery of a live birth on the island. Sawyer’s supposition that “whatever made that happen hasn’t happened yet” appears to be correct—the island’s infertility issue hasn’t yet been triggered. Either that, or it applies only to Others and not DHARMA folks.
- A favorite technique of Lost writers is to recycle dialogue and situations. Here, we see Sawyer waking up on the couch in the barracks rec room with a headache, being asked “How’s your head,” and Sawyer answering, “It hurts.” Later, the scene is repeated, but with the roles reversed.
- Horace describes the Others as “hostile, indigenous people.” Of course, they hardly seem truly indigenous. We know that some of them arrived as recently as the 1950s.
- Charlotte is young, maybe four or five, in 1974. Still, it seems not to match up with her age in 2004. Perhaps leaving the island messed with her timeline.
- It’s worthy of a chuckle when Sawyer calls Alpert, “Eyeliner.”
- Alpert lets Horace know that the sonic fence does not keep Others out.
- It’s interesting that Locke told Sawyer about his visit to Richard Alpert. Then again, Locke has always been pretty forthcoming and doesn’t really believe in secrecy.
- I don’t quite understand Others justice, but apparently it has something to do with taking the corpses of your enemies. What do you suppose they do with the corpses? Defile them?
- The scene that really sunk the episode for me was Sawyer picking a flower on the way home, then returning to domestic bliss with Juliet. Ugh. I guess I’m just not that caught up in the love triangle/quadrangle/polyhedron/whatever-it-is.
- Sawyer’s little speech about three years being enough to get over someone was, frankly, not much better. Then the final scene didn’t have much suspense, either. The only wrinkle—that Sawyer didn’t tell Juliet about what was happening—also seemed somewhat predictable.
Overall, this was probably my least favorite episode of the season. Compared with other episodes in a very strong season, this one was just okay. I may be in the minority of folks who are somewhat ambivalent about the character’s various love interests. It wasn’t bad, necessarily, but it didn’t do much for me. Even the information we got about the island and DHARMA was kind of thin. Hopefully it will get more interesting when Sawyer tries to fast-talk his way around the sthe other Oceanic people showing up suddenly.
We’ll have a week off before the next episode airs. Until then, Namaste.